Comito Honored with a National Wetlands Award

AMES, Iowa — The Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C., is announcing the recipients of the prestigious National Wetland Awards. For 26 years, individuals from across the country have been recognized for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands.

Jacqueline Comito, director of the Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! programs at Iowa State University, will be recognized in the category of Education and Outreach. She was nominated by Clare Lindahl, Conservation Districts of Iowa executive director.

Comito is an advocate for all Iowa wetlands — whether they are natural or strategically constructed — because all wetlands are vital to sustaining Iowa’s ecosystems as well as delivering significant water quality benefits. Wetlands are one of the tools in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy to reduce nitrates in Iowa’s water bodies.

“Dedication, perseverance and excellence mark the common attributes of the extraordinary individuals recognized as this year’s National Wetlands Award winners,” stated ELI Acting President Scott Schang. “Wetlands protection and restoration only occur when exemplary leaders in all areas of service — scientists, educators, government officials, private landowners, community advocates, and conservationists — work to achieve a common goal. With our federal agency partners, we salute these individuals and their skillful efforts to protect and restore wetlands for the good of people, places and the planet.”

Comito is being recognized for her work leading her team in wetlands promotion through Iowa Learning Farms and teaching about wetlands with the Water Rocks! program. Since 2005, she has partnered with numerous state organizations and federal agencies to help implement Iowa Learning Farms, a statewide demonstration and outreach program promoting water and soil conservation. In 2013, she developed and launched Water Rocks!, a youth water education program which utilizes science and the arts to teach students about the importance of water and wetlands. Water Rocks! has taught over 15,000 students to date. She oversaw the development of the Conservation Station fleet – three interactive, mobile learning centers that have been to 389 events, all 99 Iowa counties and engaged 51,000 people in natural resource education.

“The long term health of our land and water, especially wetlands, rests in our youth — the future decision makers,” said Comito. “We use music, science, math, art, videos and technology as the means of increasing young people’s awareness that clean water and healthy wetlands are essential to life.”

The 2015 National Wetlands Award recipients will be honored at a ceremony on May 21, at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.  The winners of the U.S. Ramsar Wetlands Photo Contest will also be announced and displayed at the ceremony. The public is invited to attend.

For more information about Iowa Learning Farms go to: ; and for Water Rocks! visit: