National Association of County Ag Agents Recognizes Top Achievers

Conference recognizes more than 100 ag leaders across nation

August 28, 2023, 1:00 pm | Kelvin Leibold, Carter Oliver

AMES, Iowa – The National Association of County Agricultural Agents recognized top achievers during its annual conference, Aug. 12-17 in Des Moines.

This was the first year the annual meeting and professional improvement conference was held in Iowa, hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. More than 1,100 people from across the nation were in attendance. The organization is geared toward Extension educators and has been gathering annually since 1916.

Phil Durst speaking at NACAA.Keynote speeches were given by Simon Estes, internationally acclaimed opera singer from Iowa; Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig; Jolene Brown, author and professional speaker on farm succession; and Jason Henderson, vice president for Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University.

“Iowa has been a great host for our members," said Phil Durst, extension educator with Michigan State University and past NACAA president. "They diligently planned each detail and worked together with many volunteers to make a great conference. Through ISU Extension and Outreach professionals, we have learned not just about the great agricultural state of Iowa, but about successful programming and effective extension work.”

"It was an honor to host the national conference last week in Des Moines! We had a great lineup of speakers that educated and motivated, and the networking with colleagues from across the country was invaluable,” said Carter Oliver, president of the Iowa NACAA. “Congratulations to the award winners that were recognized for their accomplishments and achievements in programming and years of service."

The Service to American Agriculture Award was presented to Kenneth M. Quinn, former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam and the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Quinn was born in the Bronx, New York, and grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. A graduate of Loras College, he and his wife, Le, have three sons.

He is recognized internationally for his success in confronting hunger, enhancing rural development and thwarting terrorism by promoting “Peace through Agriculture.”

Quinn assumed leadership of the World Food Prize Foundation on Jan. 1, 2000, following his retirement from the State Department after a 32-year career in the Foreign Service. Quinn retired from the foundation in January 2020, but continues to serve as special consultant and is a lifetime supporter of agriculture and public service.

Kenneth Quinn.The NACAA award recognizes a U.S. citizen who has made a major contribution to American/world agriculture and is recognized by peers and the general public. These individuals serve to inspire the members of NACAA.

“Ambassador Quinn is a true servant-leader who has dedicated his career to advancing agriculture and combating world hunger,” said Kelvin Leibold, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach and award nominator. “The NACAA is honored to recognize his commitments to agriculture around the globe.”

In addition, Manjit Misra, formerly on the faculty of Iowa State University, and now the director of USDA NIFA, spoke to the members and met with administrators during the conference.

The Hall of Fame Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated commitment, dedication and leadership as an outstanding educator for their association involvement at both the state and national level, along with outstanding humanitarian service.

Hall of Fame winners and the region they represent are: North Central Region (Larry Howard from Nebraska); North East Region (Lee Stivers from Pennsylvania); Southern Region (Paul Wigley from Georgia), and Western Region (Janet Schmidt from Washington).

More than 60 members were honored as Distinguished Service Award recipients. The DSA recognizes members for excellence in their field of work as a professional. These individuals have more than 10 years of service, have conducted outstanding programs, and are held in high esteem by their fellow colleagues.

The award encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional Extension for members with more than ten years of service.

The Iowa awardee was Madeline Schultz, program manager for women in agriculture with ISU Extension and Outreach. Schultz was honored nationally for her work as the Women in Agriculture program manager with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm Management Team. With her team, Schultz led development of ten curricula and more than 200 Annie’s Project and other multi-session farm management courses for women. She also initiated the annual Women in Ag Leadership Conference. She directed 40 grant and gift projects bringing more than $3.5 million to Iowa and national extension programming.

Schultz also serves as the Economics and Community Development Committee national chair, communications committee co-chair for the 2023 national conference, and is a past state president.

Another 60 members were honored with Achievement Awards. This award encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional extension for members with less than 10 years of service.

See all of the award winners from the 2023 conference on national NACAA website.

Shareable photo: 1. Phil Durst, past president of NACAA and extension educator with Michigan State University. 2. Kenneth Quinn, recipient of the Service to American Agriculture Award. 3. Crowd in attendance at the 2023 NACAA conference, held in Des Moines.

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