Oh, those awkward moments! I experienced one Thursday night at the ISU Extension Partner Banquet in Adel.
It happened when Caitlyn Lamm, marketing and communications coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, announced the winner of one of the door prizes, a lovely artwork by Betsy Peterson Designs.
“Sven Peterson,” Cait said, reading out the name of the lucky winner she drew from a gold fish bowl.
“Draw someone else,” Sven replied.
“Draw someone else?” asked Cait.
What were those not in the know thinking? How could you possibly turn down a one-of-a-kind artistic piece designed by Betsy Peterson? Why is he being so gracious as to let someone else have a chance at the door prize he won? Isn’t that against prize-drawing protocol to turn down a prize that you’ve won?
However, those in the know — and Sven himself — were pretty confident that he has easy access to artwork by Betsy Peterson Designs considering there’s a bit of a relationship: Betsy is Sven’s mom.
The ISU Extension and Outreach Partner Banquet was a grateful celebration of the partnerships formed across Dallas County “helping communities to prosper and thrive and turning the world over to the next generation better than we found it,” as the evening’s program put it. “Together, we are making this possible.”
It was an evening of friends catching up and new friends being made. There was good food — although no big birds were on the menu, Cy would not have approved — good conversations and the presentation of the 2015 Partner Awards.
And those who didn’t win a Betsy Peterson Designs art piece or one of the other coveted door prizes didn’t walk away emptied handed because there was a table of ISU bling available for all.
Lamm welcomed the attendees and expressed thanks to all the “local partners who help carry research-based education from ISU across the county. With their support, ISU Extension continues to stay focused on feeding people, keeping them healthy, helping communities to prosper and thrive and turning the world over to the next generation better than we found it.”
The highlight of the banquet was the awarding of the 2015 Partner of the Year Awards.
Sam Spellman, a Woodward farmer and Dallas County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner, received the Agriculture and Natural Resources Partner of the Year Award. Spellman has been partnering with ISU Extension and Iowa Learning Farms to research the effects of cover crops and no-till on Iowa’s soil and nutrient retention.
Spellman hosted a cover crop field day in November on his farm, where he shared his conservation experiences with other farmers.
“Not all on-farm practices go quite as planned every time or give immediate benefits,” said ISU Extension Council member Josh Williams, “but Sam has stuck with it and encouraged others to see what conservation methods work best on their farm.”
The Community and Economic Development Partner of the Year Award went to Butch Niebuhr, former city administrator in Perry, who has worked alongside ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development specialists for the last 10 years to develop a vision for downtown Perry, aiming to each the Latino population on home-efficiency projects and train Perry Planning and Zoning officials.
Niebuhr was also a key collaborator on Common Thread, a regional group that helps towns and businesses get the most out of central Iowa’s growing system of bike trails.
ISU Extension Council member Craig Fleishman said, “Butch consistently looked for ways to involve not only ISU Extension but ISU students on a multitude of projects to make the Perry area a better place to live and work.”
The Youth Development Partner of the Year Award was given to Denise Hansen of Waukee, 4-H leader of the Dallas Co. Boone Progressors. Hansen takes her leadership role beyond the club level by organizing the annual 4-H Clothing Event and expanding this opportunity to 4-H Clover Kids for K-3 grade.
Hansen has also chaperoned the Citizenship Washington Focus Trip to Washington D.C. and is currently involved in revitalizing the 4-H County Council composed of 4-H youth in grades nine through 12.
In presenting the award, ISU Extension Council member Sandy Bland said Hansen’s work with the council provides young people broaden their experience and develop leadership roles in Dallas County.
Christy Wellendorf of Waukee, center director for Westview Church Preschool, was awarded the early Care and Education partner of the Year Award. She helps provide scholarships to preschool-aged children of low-income families through ISU Extenion and Outreach grants funded by 4Rkids Early Childhood Iowa.
Wellendorf also participates in the voluntary Quality Rating System with the state, achieving the highest level of care to the families she serves.
“Christy allows her center’s space to be used for a director’s support group and training classes,” ISU Extension Council member Nicki Stajcar noted. “Christy shows a heartfelt interest in helping ISU Ext educate child care providers.”
Mike Thomason of Perry, director of the Dallas County Emergency Medical Services, took home the Human Sciences Partner of the Year Award.
Thomason has partnered with ISU Extension and Outreach in Dallas County to educate youth during the popular Babysitting Clinic program held 3 to 5 times per year. He presents safety topics, such as first aid, CPR and accident prevention, and always makes sure his presentations are entertaining and memorable for youth.
“Taking care of someone else’s child is a huge responsibility,” said katie Spellman, ISU Extension Council member, “but with Mike’s shared knowledge, youth are better equipped to handle emergency situations and be the best babysitters they can be.”
Lamm thanked everyone for coming to “celebrate the partnerships we have forged” to strengthen Dallas County Extension and Outreach. “When we’re not delivering education for parents, family caregivers, child care providers, farmers, gardeners and youth, we’re meeting up with produce growers, small businesses and city leaders one-on-one to help grow their industries and communities.”
The event was catered by Smokehouse Catering in Dallas Center. The scrumptious desserts were made by Sweet Rewards Gluten-Free Bakery in Waukee. Brynn Hansen and Abbi Anderson of the Dallas County 4-H Boone Progressors provided prompt service to the guests.
Many congrats to the award winners for 2015, and thanks to the ongoing wonderful work done by ISU Extension and Outreach.