University of Wisconsin-Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agents and specialists received special recognition from their peers for outstanding work, leadership and program innovation. The awards acknowledge the contributions these agents and specialists have made in identifying needs of stakeholders and audiences and then developing and implementing programming to respond to those needs. The five award categories are Team/Workgroup Leadership and Responsiveness, Program Innovation, Outstanding UW-Extension Specialist, Outstanding UW-Extension Agent, UW-Extension Mentor.
Team/Workgroup Leadership and Responsiveness Award #1
Team Grains were the recipients of the Agriculture and Natural Resources program area Team/Workgroup Leadership and Responsiveness Award.
A wet spring combined with the coldest summer in 60 years and excessive fall rains created harvest, storage and utilization challenges for the 2009 corn and soybean crops. A multidisciplinary effort, lead by Team Grains, brought people together across pathology, agronomy, dairy, livestock and engineering for the common goal of a unified effort to help Wisconsin farmers best cope with the 2009 crop challenges. The team also conducted a statewide screening of corn to identify mold and potential toxin problems in the crop.
In addition, Team Grains held a webinar to present materials with 244 participants attending in 61 locations statewide; 98 percent of the participants indicated that the webinar materials were useful. The materials developed for the webinar were also used in magazines and industry e-mail newsletters. The archived webinar received 450+ YouTube views in two months.
Team/Workgroup Leadership and Responsiveness Award #2
Agriculture agents from the UW-Extension Western District: Bob Cropp, Carl Duley, Tim Jergenson, Lee Milligan, Randy Knapp, Steve Huntzicker, Jon Zander, Bill Halfman, Mahlon Peterson, Ryan Sterry, Maria Bendixen, Trisha Wagner and Gregg Hadley received the Agriculture and Natural Resources program area Team/Workgroup Leadership and Responsiveness Award for their Farm Succession in Western Wisconsin program.
Team agents created a comprehensive program designed to provide tools and information to address issues of farm succession. The program that the team created will help succeeding generations establish a firm financial footing and learn to manage the business and address issues of the retiring generation who must be willing to turn over control of the business and trust their successor.
"This district effort was the most effective and comprehensive farm succession programs ever experienced in my Extension career," noted one of the nominators.
The Farm Succession Program began in three Western District locations with over 200 participants, 85 percent of which indicated they plan to develop a farm business arrangement as a result of attending the program. This program helps farm families gain skills necessary to make the transition smoother and improve their ability to communicate the transfer details with family members.
Program Innovation Award
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Innovation award went Purnendu C. (PC) Vasavada for his leadership and innovation in leading the UW River Falls Food Microbiology Symposium and Rapid Methods in Microbiology Workshop.
For the past 30 years, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Food Microbiology Symposium, "Current Concepts in Foodborne Pathogens and Rapid Methods in Food Microbiology," has been organized by Professor Vasavada, Food Safety and Microbiology Specialist. From its inception as a regional dinner meeting in response to concerns about rising incidence of Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella contamination, the event has grown in scope and stature as evidenced by an international audience of over 110 attendees who represent large and small companies, regulatory agencies and academia.
The symposium has attracted national and international attention and has provided a model for several conferences organized around the world. Dr. Stephen C. Ridley, Emeritus Professor of Food Science and former Dean of the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences noted, "This symposium and workshop brings a lot of visibility to the campus and community. As a result, there are people on literally every continent of the world who have heard of or been to River Falls."
Outstanding UW-Extension Agent Award
Matt Hanson, Dodge County UW-Extension agent, received the Agriculture and Natural Resources program area Outstanding Agent Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership and contributions in developing research-based educational programs.
Nominators said, "Hanson has established an approachable and collegial relationship with colleagues. His experience and personality allows him to mold ideas into workable solutions and he is characterized by his nominators as someone who, 'always has his hand in the air' when you need assistance with state or regional educational research efforts.
An example of Hanson's proactive approach is his assistance with statewide research programs that determined the value of corn foliar fungicides and corn yield response to nitrogen rate. Hanson realized the need for local input as well as the need for a robust statewide database. He volunteered to conduct several research trials, which necessitated finding cooperators, coordinating field activities and collecting and disseminating data, all while planning for Farm Technology Days.
"We believe Matt is deserving of this award," wrote his nominators, "not only because of his professional accomplishments but especially for his ability to work with colleagues in a manner that is professional, productive and ultimately enjoyable."
Outstanding UW-Extension Specialist Award
Bryan Jensen, an Outreach Program Manager/Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, received the Agriculture and Natural Resources program area Outstanding UW-Extension Specialist Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership and contributions in developing research-based educational programs.
Jensen was nominated by the agricultural agents from Monroe, La Crosse, Trempealeau, Buffalo and Chippewa Counties. "Bryan has been a tremendous asset to our crop pest management programming efforts," said his nominators. "He shares his thorough knowledge and experience with agents and farmers in a wide variety of ways including presenting at field days and winter workshops; helping plan, implement and staff displays and demonstrations at Farm Technology Days; and provides leadership and help for planning and conducting on farm research trials throughout the state."
Jensen's nominators noted that, "He is always willing to travel out to the counties for programming efforts and work directly with Wisconsin farmers." They added, "His relaxed style and delivery of practical information has made him a reliable, trusted source of information for both farmers and agents."
Outstanding UW-Extension Agent Award: Special Recognition Award for Career Service and Leadership
Lee Milligan, a former St. Croix UW-Extension agriculture agent, was nominated posthumously for the 2010 ANRE Outstanding Agent Award and received a Special Recognition Award for Career Service and Leadership. Eighteen Western District ANRE agents nominated Milligan for the award to show their deep admiration for Milligan's contributions to agriculture in Wisconsin. Milligan passed way on January 10, 2010.
"Lee Milligan's work is not forgotten," said John Shutske, Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources State Program Director. "Instead, it raises the bar of accomplishments and impact which we all aspire to attain."
Lee Milligan was an outstanding agriculture agent and skilled teacher who tapped evidence-based research information. As a lead in Dairy/Livestock/Farm Management focus, Lee championed (AgFa) in the region. He worked closely on Farm Succession programs with several specialists from the Center for Dairy Profitability as well as on-farm livestock facility visits, which demonstrated important impact. Milligan was also instrumental in the host farm dairy modernization for the 2010 Farm Technology Days.
Milligan's nominators noted that, "In St. Croix County, Milligan developed a successful dairy milking parlor workgroup and had hundreds of dairy farmers who sought his advice on solutions. Milligan made more farm visits with detailed correspondence and resources then any other agent."
UW-Extension Mentor of the Year
Mark Kopecky, Price County UW-Extension agriculture agent was awarded the 2010 UW-Extension Mentor of the Year for his work as a long-standing agriculture educator.
One of Kopecky's nominators commented that, "Kopecky's long tenure in the system has given him a tremendous base of knowledge from which to offer encouragement and advice whether looking at what specialists to involve or how to advertise a program; his insights on developing programs have been priceless."
"He was critical to my early success as an ag agent and made sure I got off to a strong start, noted another nominator, "he included me in almost all of his programming during my first year."
His nominator continued, "He was available to answer the many questions I had regarding how Extension works, how county government works, as well as answer all sorts of technical questions. In short, he not only helped me when I asked for help, but could somehow anticipate a need or question before I was even aware of that need."