An award-winning week for ILF/WR!

The Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! team is coming off quite an eventful week for our programs!  Three school visits, one farmer workshop, and one community presentation … that’s all in a usual week’s work. However, we were also honored with two separate awards recognizing our team’s efforts in conservation outreach across the state!

Soil and Water Conservation Education Award from East Pottawattamie SWCD


Ann Staudt and Nathan Stevenson proudly display the Soil and Water Conservation Education Award, given to the Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! team at the East Pottawattamie SWCD Awards Night on March 9, 2016.

On Wednesday, March 9, Nate and I spent the full day in southwest Iowa – first giving classroom presentations to all of the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students at AHST (Avoca-Hancock-Shelby-Tennant) Elementary in partnership with East Pott’s outreach coordinator Jamie Meek. We then served as guest speakers for the East Pottawattamie Soil & Water Conservation District’s evening awards banquet, leading our interactive program called “How Does Your Water Shed?.”  Once we finished our part of the program, we did our best to quietly and efficiently pack up our materials as we still had quite a drive ahead of us that evening.

Well, totally unbeknownst to us, the East Pottawattamie SWCD commissioners had a trick up their sleeves, as they bestowed us with their Soil and Water Conservation Education Award!  We were completely blindsided!  I was in the midst of packing up the cups and “mock pollutants” that we had just finished using. Nate was actually in the kitchen dumping out our jars of dirty water from the demonstration, when one of the SWCD commissioners pulled him aside and firmly suggested that he shouldn’t be leaving, that he should be out in the main room where the program was happening.

“I thought I was being scolded, like I needed to get out there and pay attention to the people that were receiving the awards. What an awesome honor to find out they were recognizing US!”

Nate and I proudly accepted the award on behalf of the Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! team, with the award reading, “In recognition of and appreciation for your outstanding dedication to soil and water conservation education and land stewardship.”  A special shout out and word of thanks to Jamie Meek, the 3rd grade Superheroes, and the rest of the East Pott SWCD crew – your enthusiasm is contagious! This special recognition was a TOTAL surprise, and what a genuine honor to be recognized in this way.


CYtation Team Award from ISU Professional and Scientific Council


ISU Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert recognizes the ILF/WR! crew with a CYtation team award on March 10, 2016. From left: Nathan Stevenson, Jacqueline Comito, VP Wickert, Liz Juchems, Ann Staudt, and Matt Helmers.

The next morning, March 10, the full Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! team was on hand at Iowa State University’s Professional and Scientific Council CYtation Awards Breakfast. While this team award was not a surprise – we found out about it back in January – that made it no less of an honor!  We were nominated by our colleague Jamie Benning, Water Quality Program Manager with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, for our exceptional efforts towards soil and water conservation outreach across the state. In the nomination, Benning wrote,

“If the team had just done what they were being contracted to do in their grants, it would have been impressive. However, in 2015, they went well beyond the call of duty and produced some staggering outputs: 25 research/on-farm demonstration sites, 132 youth/community outreach events, 29 farmer field days/workshops and 31 conferences, presentations and educator training workshops! All told, this team’s conservation outreach efforts in 2015 were 50% beyond what their grants require them to do. This outstanding P & S team (along with seven talented summer student interns) had quality educational encounters with 22,100 Iowans this year!”

At the CYtation awards breakfast last week, 15 individuals and 5 teams from across the University community were presented with Professional and Scientific Council CYtation Awards.

“These individuals are wonderful representations of work that Professional and Scientific Employees are engaging in throughout our University and were nominated for performing above and beyond the call of duty, doing something extraordinarily well, and for making a difference,” said Professional and Scientific Council President Tera Lawson.

Speaking for the whole team, we are passionate about what we do, and we are truly honored. Many thanks!

Ann Staudt

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