Extension awards

Panhandle Extension professionals recognized for efforts

Several Extension professionals from the Panhandle Extension District have received state or national recognition recently.

Two individuals from and Panhandle, and two teams that included members from the Panhandle, were honored Nov. 8 at the Nebraska Extension Fall Conference in Kearney.

Extension Educator Gary Stone received the Chester I. Walters Extra Mile Award, which recognizes Extension staff who go beyond the call of duty in carrying out their responsibilities.

Stone has been an Extension Educator since 2007. When Extension Educator Jim Schild was appointed associate Research and Extension Director in 2013, Stone took over several major areas previously covered by Schild, including coordination of the Master Gardener Program and delivery of pesticide education for private and commercial applicators. He also helps with chemigation training for Scotts Bluff, Morrill and Garden counties and continues to help irrigators install and understand soil moisture probes for irrigation management.

Stone has taken on new projects, including the Panhandle’s test plots for the Nebraska Hops Project and supervising three summer interns in 2016. He is part of a “Cheatgrass Challenge” with the University of Wyoming, to compare effectiveness of management strategies.

Extension Entomologist Jeff Bradshaw received the Innovative Extension Specialist Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions by an Extension Specialist in his program areas. In recent years the wheat stem sawfly has re-emerged to become the most important insect pest of wheat in Nebraska. About five years ago Bradshaw initiated a wheat stem sawfly survey, collaborating with farmers, extension educators and crop consultants.

The survey, probably unique in the United States, has produced five years’ worth of data and helped create a network of people interested in participating in tracking this pest. The survey has revealed the presence of a parasitoid wasp and helped track its spread, as well as that of the sawfly.

As of 2015, the survey included 36 fields in 25 counties, owned by 32 wheat growers. Products include a map of the geographic area infested and density of infestation. It is hoped that survey data will suggest possible responses to the pest, such as crop rotations, agronomic practices, or geographic areas that should receive priority, and also identify needs for further research.

Also at the state Extension conference, several teams were recognized for their work. The Innovation in Team Programming Award went to went to the Go NAP SACC program, whose members include Erin Kampbell, Nutrition Education Program Assistant in Scottsbluff.

Go NAP SACC stands for Go Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care, a program designed to promote healthy child development by supporting healthy eating and physical activity for children with child care providers. Go NAP SACC looks at providers’ health-related policies, practices, and the overall environment of child care through a self-assessment.

The Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association presented the Outstanding Programming Team Award to the Animals Inside and Out program, whose Panhandle members include Jana Schwartz, 4-H Associate in Scotts Bluff County; Terri Lemmon, 4-H Assistant in Dawes County; Deb Kraenow, 4-H Assistant in Box Butte County; and Melissa Mracek, 4-H Assistant in Sheridan County.

Animals Inside and Out is designed for elementary students to explore the science of animals. Students learn more about animals and learn where their food comes from. They also have the opportunity to explore careers related to animal science and agriculture. Pigs, cows, dogs and more are part of hands-on events where students learn about animal health and how animal bodies work inside and out.

Along with the State Extension Award, Animals Inside and Out also won the Excellence in Science Programming Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) at this fall’s national conference in New Orleans.

Two Extension educators from the Panhandle received national awards at the conference. Cynthia Gill, Extension Educator in Cheyenne County, received a National Communicator Award for her published photo of a 4-H member and his chicken bonding at the fair. She also received the Achievement in Service Award (ASA) for Nebraska, for members with at least two years of service to Extension.

Sue Pearman, Extension Educator in the Central Sandhills office, was part of a team that received the Educational Piece Team Award, a National Specialty Award, for the new STEAM Clothing Curriculum. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math. The curriculum is now endorsed as national 4-H curriculum. Pearman was involved in planning, piloting and photos.