AMES, Iowa -- Several Iowa State University Extension faculty and staff were honored recently at Iowa State University’s fall convocation.
“It’s a great honor to present these awards and recognize these colleagues because of their significant contributions to this university, to the education profession, and in many cases, to our world at large through their teaching, research and service,” said Iowa State University President Gregory L. Geoffroy at the university’s fall convocation on Sept. 10, 2007.
Jerry DeWitt, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and a professor of entomology, received Extension’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award.
“The Iowa State University Award for Distinguished Service in Extension is the highest career award bestowed on an extension professional,” said Jack Payne, vice president for Extension and Outreach. “It recognizes sustained distinguished performance and educational contributions to Iowa State’s clientele through extension programs.”
DeWitt is a long-time leader in Extension and sustainable agriculture research who is widely recognized in Iowa and throughout the nation. His 35-year career with Iowa State, beginning as an Extension entomologist in 1972, includes service as coordinator of the Pest Management and the Environment Program, assistant director of University Extension, and associate dean of the College of Agriculture. In each of his positions, he has created collaborations to strengthen farming, promote environmental stewardship and enhance the quality of life in rural Iowa. He was the first non-farmer recipient of the Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture, and he was instrumental in creating a partnership between Extension and Practical Farmers of Iowa that earned a Rodale National Environmental Achievement Award.
Jack Van Laar, ISU Extension education director in Decatur County, and Holle Smith, ISU Extension education director in Emmet County, each received the ISU R.K. Bliss Extension Award. This award recognizes outstanding achievement of an ISU Extension staff member for developing an overall or continuing extension education program.
Van Laar’s 30-year career in Extension is distinguished by his outstanding programming to meet the diverse needs of clients and exceptional service to his community, including eight years as mayor of Leon, four years on the city council and continuing service on the Planning and Zoning Commission. In Decatur County, he is a member of the Economic Development Entrepreneurial Task Force, president of Pheasants Forever and past president of the Development Network. His professional work includes organizing and delivering some of the first viticulture programs to encourage and support that industry in Iowa, and several innovative youth programs.
Smith’s 30-year career in Extension has been marked by strong leadership skills and extraordinary rapport with clients of all ages and groups. She directs the county’s PROSPER program (Promoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience), one of 14 Iowa demonstration sites in the two-state, $21 million program led by ISU and Pennsylvania State University. She led the creation of the Emmet County 4-H Foundation to raise funds for youth activities and the Emmet County Community Foundation, and is active in many county and state youth development programs.
Terry Torneten, ISU Extension education director in Shelby County, received the Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award, recognizing a Professional and Scientific staff member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments unusually early in his or her professional career at Iowa State. Torneten has led an effective educational and community development program in Shelby County for the past five years. His program successes include: Community Diversity awareness, Circle of Support, Annie’s Project, Farm Safety Day Camp, Plant Iowa and Rural Women’s Conference. He is an active member of the Harlan and Shelby County community. For seven years was a board member and public relations director for the Carstens 1880 Farmstead Inc. historic preservation project, and he also served as co-chair of its fund-raising effort.
Matthew Helmers, assistant professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, received the ISU Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice recognizing a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in extension or professional practice unusually early in his or her career. Helmers has emerged as a leading researcher in water quality and drainage. He has led or collaborated on 21 research projects that have attracted more than $4.7 million in grants, and he oversees the work of 18 graduate students. His research has resulted in several peer-reviewed articles, a book chapter, and more than 40 other publications. Over the past three years, he has made more than 50 presentations to Extension meetings and conferences throughout the Midwest, including a series of drainage design workshops across Iowa in 2006 that helped the 213 participants save nearly $3,000 each through improved management decisions affecting 1.3 million acres.
Daryl R. Strohbehn, professor of Animal Science, received the Iowa State University Award for Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice, which recognizes a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding performance in statewide leadership in extension or professional practice and who has achieved national recognition for outreach activities. Strohbehn is recognized throughout Iowa and the United States for excellence and innovation in the systems approach to beef cattle production. He pioneered the Beef Cow Business Records program in Iowa; standardized performance analysis guidelines at the national level; programmed estrus synchronization and nutrition software; chaired regional extension handbook efforts; and organized several national conferences for in-service training for his peers. Much of his work has become the national standard in the industry. He has served on several regional and national commodity advisory boards, and he has helped countless producers make profitable production decisions based on his analysis of performance records.