Field directors come and go. Although CSWE does not keep statistics on the average tenure of field directors, many of us suspect it is five years or less. Then we have Virginia Cooke “Ginger” Robbins, who was a field director for 36 years, the last 27 of which were spent at at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (UH GCSW). Ginger retired on January 31, 2013, with the academic rank of clinical professor.

Ginger received the MSW degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana. She was employed as a staff associate in the National Office of NASW and at California’s Child Welfare before moving to Houston. She started and ended as a field director at UH GCSW; she also worked at Houston Baptist University.

The AGIFT (Agencies for Gerontological Intercultural Field Training) Program is one of Ginger’s major accomplishments, expanding and enhancing services to seniors in Houston as well as solidifying the collaboration among AGIFT members. AGIFT was created as part of the Practicum Partnership Program in Gerontology funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, Inc. of New York City. Ginger was one of the first six funded. As Principal Investigator, her expertise has created internship opportunities for students and has given her a national presence. This innovative model has been duplicated nationally.

Ginger’s influence is far and wide. At last year’s APM, Ginger was honored for her contributions as co-chair of North American Network of Field Education Directors. One of her other duties was as co-chair for APM Field Track, which is the final review of “field” abstracts. As an active member of CSWE, she also served as Chair for the Commission of Field Education (now known as Field Council). At the state level, she was also chair and active member of the Texas Field Educator Consortium (TFEC). She has published and presented widely on the topic of field education.

Ginger’s contributions to social work education have affected thousands on local, state, national, and international levels. She never had time for anything, yet she made time for everything. She befriended and mentored many field directors, including me. This influence will live on as we pass on her insight and wisdom to others over the years.

There are no words to sufficiently honor Ginger’s contributions to social work field education. Her retirement celebration at UH GCSW outlined her accomplishments with eloquence and humor. This retirement is well deserved. Although it is cherished by her family, which includes her three grandsons and a granddaughter to be, her retirement has saddened many and her absence will be deeply felt at the next APM and in years to come.