ISU Extension and Outreach Holds Annual Awards Recognition

April 4, 2018

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach presented awards March 26 at the 2018 Annual Conference to extension professionals for their meritorious and length of service, as well as to valued partners. The awards ceremony at the Scheman Building in Ames was a combined ceremony with Epsilon Sigma Phi, ISU Extension and Outreach’s honor society.

Named Epsilon Sigma Phi "Friends of Extension" were April Hemmes, Farm Credit Services of America – Emmetsburg office, and Undersecretary Bill Northey.

April Hemmes has been a Franklin County 4-H club leader, volunteer and mentor. Her contributions to Women in Ag programming have helped make it one of the most successful ag education programs for women in the country. Hemmes has served as an Iowa 4-H Foundation Board Member and a task force adviser making recommendations for agricultural education to Iowa State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a 20-year Franklin County Soil and Water District Commissioner, Iowa Soybean Association director and United Soybean Board member.

The Emmetsburg office of Farm Credit Services of America goes above and beyond the corporate reputation for supporting rural communities. They support a wide spectrum of educational extension youth and ag programs including: Educational Partners, Kids and Agriculture, farm safety day camps, and Women, Land and Legacy educational events. They support projects like Feed Our Kids-Emmetsburg Back Pack program, provide school garden supplies, and have donated funding to Clay County Fair livestock projects.

Bill Northey, former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and current Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a well-respected advocate for ISU Extension and Outreach with influences reaching across all extension programs. He encourages the improvement of agriculture, which in turn improves everyone’s life. Undersecretary Northey will guide production and conservation efforts, calling on professional and personal experiences influenced by a long-time association with ISU Extension and Outreach.  

Additional ESP awards and recognition

Rachel Wall, human sciences specialist in nutrition and wellness, received the Early Career Service Award. Wall strives to empower people and grow lives through her extension work. She co-developed an online ServSafe class registration system and makes a monthly television appearance to respond to current nutrition trends.

Barb Fuller, human sciences specialist in nutrition and wellness, received the ESP Mid-Career Service Award. Fuller helps coordinate food safety training delivered by program specialists. She has been a participant in several state nutrition and wellness grant-funded research projects and is active with ESP scholarships, awards and recognition committee. She currently serves as Alpha Mu chapter president.

Sandra McKinnon, human sciences specialist, family finance, received the Distinguished Service Award. McKinnon’s colleagues know her as a dependable, creative and tech-savvy extension professional. They recognize her for her innovation and teamwork, and for reaching diverse audiences. She provides project leadership and initiates and participates in training and new initiatives.

Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State University President, was awarded the Distinguished Service Ruby Recognition. Wintersteen is Iowa State’s 16th and first woman president. She was the holder of the university’s first endowed deanship as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She served as senior associate dean and Experiment Station associate director, professor of entomology, director of Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources, and pesticide management/pesticide applicator training program coordinator. She is the author of training materials used to annually educate 20,000 farmers and 10,000 ag business professionals.

ISU Extension and Outreach Awards

ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are presented each year to extension professionals who colleagues consider to be exemplary in their service to Iowans.

The County Extension Council Distinguished Service award was presented to the Wapello County Extension Council with members Jack Church, Elaine Heisdorffer, Glenn Kesselring, Mary Kivlahan, Joyce Kramer, Doug McMullin, Jolene McNabb, Roger Meier and Stan Thompson. The Wapello County Council was nominated by Regional Director Sue Henderson because of their achievements that include the employment of a bilingual educator to involve Hispanic parents in programming, an expanded Clover Kids program with 10 low-cost day camps, and an office relocation to the improved Expo building to better serve Wapello County.       

The Creativity in Service to All Iowans award was presented to the northwest Iowa team of Mackenzie DeJong, Rahn Franklin, Lori Hayungs, Nichol Kleespies and Ben Pullen. This innovative team created the Northwest Iowa Cultural GRiT (Getting Real Together) Conference – a regional Culturally-based Youth Leadership Accelerator. This conference has strengthened the partnership between 4-H and Human Sciences, and with Northwestern College. Many GRiT youth now participate in or lead other 4-H activities.

The Excellence in Partnership to Iowans award was presented to Cindy Kendall, program coordinator for Community and Economic Development Extension and Outreach. Kendall provides access to year-round education for city, county and township staff and elected officials through the Office of State and Local Government Programs. She partners with state agencies and associations to strengthen local governance and community sustainability and shares resources and coordinates programming to avoid duplication and cut costs.

The award for Excellence in Research-Based Programming was presented to Bailey Hanson, GIS systems analyst and Christopher Seeger, Extension Landscape Architecture, for their work with Iowans Walking Assessment Logistics Kit (I-Walk). I-Walk uses crowdsourcing to help local leaders and citizens assess community walkability and has been conducted at more than 55 locations. I-Walk helps Iowans understand the relationship between built environment and physical activity and helps communities develop safe walking routes for all ages

The award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Community Engagement was presented to Tera Jordan, assistant professor of human development and family studies. She was recognized for her use of research principles to develop partnerships with organizations and connect with African American communities to improve family health and well-being. Jordan actively seeks education, connections, and grants to support community-based work with extension faculty and staff and disseminates research results through community presentations and reports written in “useful terms” for Iowans.

The Exceptional Volunteer Service Award was presented to two groups this year, Woodbury County Master Gardeners and Lorna Grow

Woodbury County Master Gardeners Randy Burnight, Jenny Jorgensen, Mark Raymond and Ron Rohlena were recognized for their “Up from the Earth” donation garden project that increases access to fresh produce for those in need in Sioux City. Since 2014, the project has donated 32 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to 15 food pantries serving more than 5,000 people. In 2017, these volunteers contributed 716 hours – for greater food security in Woodbury County.

Lorna Grow, club leader for Sugar Grove Sunshine 4-H Club – the largest, most active, and oldest club in Dallas County. Grow was recognized for leadership she gave to mobilizing 4-H’ers, club leaders and parents to develop weather-related STEM learning projects for the National Weather Service Open House. She has served Dallas County for more than 52 years and continues to assist county youth and support extension staff.

The award for Originality and Innovation in Programming was presented to the 4-H Youth Development team of Nicole Hanson, Sara Nelson, Katie Peterson and Brenda Welch. This team created “STEM Lit to Go!” a program that engages K-3 youth with STEM and literacy experiences as it infuses positive youth development and experiential learning throughout the curriculum. This program closes the gap in high quality, informal STEM education while increasing foundational literacy skills in K-3 youth. This innovative program encourages university and external partnerships.

The award for Outstanding Achievement in Advancement was presented to Brooke Vaske, Region 13 marketing coordinator. Vaske was recognized for making sure Region 13 uses advancement resources and advances the ISU Extension and Outreach brand and for working closely with county offices to improve visual identity and ensure promotional materials are consistent and engaging and identifies new items to engage new audiences – keeping our branding at the forefront

The award for Outstanding Practice in Community Engagement was presented to Community and Economic Development Housing Needs Assessment Team of Biswa Das, Abbie Gaffey and Jon Wolseth. These specialists are responsible for producing housing needs assessments and research for communities facing complex issues. They collaborate with local stakeholder groups to create an accountable infrastructure, then educate and empower communities to make their own choices and decisions based on data they understand, help collect, discuss, disseminate, and evaluate.

The Powerful Partnerships award was presented to community and economic development specialists Victor Oyervides, Jill Sokness and Jon Wolseth. They are the “Shop Healthy Iowa Team” and work with Latinx retailers to increase sales of produce and other healthy foods to Iowans. They help store owners to improve store layout, energy efficiency, marketing, food labeling, ordering and displaying produce and pricing strategies. They partner with Iowa Department of Public Health and University of Iowa in these efforts

The Pride of Extension award was presented to Jen Lamos, Wapello County horticulturist and local food coordinator. Lamos led efforts to develop and grow a school garden, and start a regional food box program. She supports Master Gardeners and co-facilitates a 4-H food club. She fosters relationships with local partners and organizations, helps clients who need answers to questions about garden or household pests and plants, and mentors other staff members.

 The Spirit of Cy award was presented posthumously to Greg Wallace, advancement specialist, and accepted by his parents, Doug and Jenice Wallace. Wallace was the extension “social media guy” – engaging citizens, extending Iowa State resources statewide, and placing ISU Extension and Outreach among the top extension services nationally. He always told the extension story: writing news and features, coordinating the #ISU99 campaign, and supporting faculty and staff in their social media efforts.

"Greg exemplified 'Work hard. Play hard. Be present. Be kind.' He embodied the 'Spirit of Cy,'” said his supervisor Jacy Johnson, who along with the ISU Extension and Outreach Advancement Unit, nominated Wallace for the award.

"Greg is remembered fondly by his co-workers," Johnson said.


This release has been prepared for county offices, program areas and departments to customize for use with local media and in announcements. Feel free to use only the sections of the release that are appropriate for your audience.

Photos taken at the awards ceremony are in a folder on SmugMug.