Outstanding leadership, dedication and accomplishments were recognized during the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association's annual conference in Omaha Nov. 13-15.
Elbert Dickey, dean and director of University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, announced award recipients Nov. 14. Honorees are Alan Baquet, Chuck Burr and Terry Hejny, extension coordinators for the Farmers and Ranchers College; Dewey Teel, extension educator in Antelope County; Don Adams, beef specialist at NU's West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte; Soni Cochran, extension associate at Lancaster County Cooperative Extension; Vernon Waldren and Myrna Powell, co-unit leaders for Douglas/Sarpy Cooperative Extension; and Rosie Nold, animal science youth specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Excellence in Team Programming Award for the Farmers and Ranchers College was presented to Baquet, director of NU's South Central Research and Extension Center; Burr, extension educator in Clay County; and Hejny, extension educator in Fillmore County. They helped found the Farmers and Ranchers College in 1999, along with area agribusinesses. College organizers say collaboratively, extension and agribusiness can provide more effective continuing education in a rapidly changing global agricultural environment. The college brings the best presenters to both grain and beef producers in meeting local needs. Some of the programs have had standing room only, and several participants said the college taught them the importance of planning, better production knowledge and marketing their commodities. One banking sponsor of the Farmers and Ranchers College said the program helps producers "spot opportunities ... it sharpens them and makes them think out loud."
Teel received the Distinguished Educator Award. The Antelope County extension educator's diverse programming includes rural revitalization and technology education for five rural communities in Antelope and Holt counties. He has attained thousands of dollars in grants for housing and has helped develop an area golf course and a bid for a regional correctional facility. Teel helped develop the Master Navigator curriculum, which trains participants on Internet usage; they, in turn, spend 30 hours training others. Teel also was instrumental in developing Nebraska Electronic Main Street, which ultimately reached 125 business owners in the state with over half of them building Websites. Teel's technology training continues with Technologies Across Nebraska, an NU-led team of more than 40 agencies. The Maywood native is a former extension educator in Hitchcock and Holt counties.
Adams received the Distinguished Specialist Award, in part for his nationally respected work in range cattle nutrition. Adams provides research-based information to veterinarians as well as producers, and helped start the Nebraska Ranch Practicum in 1999. The practicum is taught over seven months to help producers understand concepts and see them applied in the field under changing conditions. The Utah native also serves as faculty supervisor of the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory, which facilitates NU's beef education outreach. Adams' outreach efforts are estimated to have saved producers more than $1 million. By eliminating unnecessary feed supplements, one producer alone reported saving $10,000.
Cochran received the Distinguished Associate Award. Cochran annually handles more than 4,000 urban pest management and wildlife queries, and is a frequent radio guest. Cochran served on a Lincoln Public School head lice task force and helped make an award-winning videotape on this topic available on cable television and the Internet. Subsequently, LPS reported nearly 60% fewer head lice cases. Cochran also is involved with helping develop parenting guides for divorced parents, has co-chaired the earth wellness festival for about 20,000 area youth, and helps coordinate environmental education programs with state and regional entities. The Lancaster County Cooperative Extension office Website, which the Crete-area native coordinates and maintains, receives more than 100,000 hits per month.
Vernon Waldren and Myrna Powell received the Chester L. Walters "Extra Mile" Award. Their award nomination notes they have worked hundreds of hours to better inform local decision makers about extension's unbiased, scientifically sound educational programs on topics such as household pests and wildlife, family life, food safety and nutrition, and gardening and agriculture. As a result, a better understanding and appreciation of extension exists in the state's largest city. Powell, a Beatrice native, started her career in extension as a 4-H aide in 1975, was the office media coordinator before assuming current duties and has earned several media awards. Waldren, a Tribune, KS, native, began his extension career as an educator in Sarpy County in 1976, and was president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents in 2000-01.
Rosie Nold received the Extension New Employee Award. Nold has developed several programs for youth based on a safe food supply, leadership and character development, and educational campus visits.