Written by Juanita Fox
Foodie Fay Strickler has traveled the world, tasting exotic cuisines. Through her career as a Penn State Extension Family and Consumer Science Educator she is a recognized source of practical, research-based educational information. As a member of national and international professional organizations, Fay visited every state in the U.S., as well as all seven continents.
She and her husband enjoyed dining at local restaurants during their travels, savoring traditional dishes. Fay applies these international experiences to her passion for cooking, baking and hosting friends in her home.
Fay started her career with UGI, demonstrating the use of gas appliances through grilling and cooking for large audiences in the UGI demonstration kitchens and for private parties.
When gas supplies waned and prices started to rise in the early 1970s, Fay moved to Berks County Pennsylvania State University’s Cooperative Extension as a Family Living Educator. At the start, she was the sole resource for the 300,000 people living in the county. Penn State’s Extension Program delivers research-based information from Penn State to the citizens of the communities they serve.
She was awarded the Thomas E. Wilson Fellowship by The Wilson Foods Corporation in 1979 for graduate studies. She earned a Master of Science degree in agricultural and extension education in 1980.
Over the next 35 years Fay transitioned with her industry, moving from teaching women how to make men’s polyester suits in the 1970s to training restaurant staff on food safety and creating curriculum like “Cooking for a Crowd” for nonprofit organizations like fire companies, churches, etc., in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Fay taught consumers through seminars, a live production TV-show called “Let’s Go Shopping,” radio shows on WEEU, and weekly columns, “A La Carte,” in the Reading Eagle and “Consuming Thoughts,” in Lancaster Farming.
A natural leader, Fay served as president of her sorority at Albright College and quickly stepped into leadership at Penn State. As the extension program grew, she hired, taught and directed a team of nutrition education advisors who taught important food preparation and safety classes to the public. She worked with women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, creating programs that applied to the diverse community in Berks County.
Fay joined Epsilon Sigma Phi, Cooperative Extension’s professional organization. Her leadership and involvement in this organization at the state and national levels led her to travel across the country and around the world. She served as national president of Epsilon Sigma Phi and held other leadership roles with American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Pennsylvania affiliate of the Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. In 2005 she was honored with the National Extension Educator of the Year Award by her peers.
A trained food judge, Fay has judged food submissions in county fairs across the state. She also judged family living and child development exhibits at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Each fall she judges the apple pie submissions for the Fall Festival in October and the baked goods for the Garden Spot Village Team Bake Off in September.
Fay recently started to use her training as a foods judge to review local restaurants and offer insight on the best entrees and offerings at local fine and casual dining establishments. Her reviews are posted regularly on gardenspotvillage.org as a way to connect prospective residents to the wealth of dining opportunities here in central Pennsylvania.
To explore the list of restaurants and Fay’s recommendations, click here.