The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Panhandle Extension staff receive 2014 Extension Awards


Several Nebraska Extension staff from the Panhandle District have received statewide or national recognition for their accomplishments.

The Broadband Planning Team, which includes Extension Educator Connie Hancock of Sidney, received the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources 2014 Omtvedt Innovation Award for its efforts to improve the speed of internet service to rural Nebraska. Broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. Broadband adoption and Internet use in some areas of the state and among certain population groups remains low.

Goals of this initiative include increasing adoption and utilization of broadband in communities and regions with an emphasis on unserved and underserved regions; working as a region in developing regional broadband plans that increase adoption and utilization; and increasing understanding of importance of broadband as a foundation of economic growth.

The award was presented to the group by Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president and Harlan vice chancellor for IANR, This award was made possible through the generosity of Lee Harlan and her late husband, Neal, in honor of Dr. Irv Omtvedt and his distinguished career at the University of Nebraska.

Several other Extension employees from the Panhandle received awards at the Nebraska Extension Fall Conference recently in Kearney.

The Food Website Team, including Dawes County Extension Educator Jamie Goffena, won the Innovation in Team Programming Award. Also on the team was Extension Nutrition Specialist Lisa Franzen-Castle, formerly based in the Panhandle but now in Lincoln. The team increased their content, social media postings and listserv creation since fall of 2013. Products include three blogs, four monthly newsletters, a food calendar, six peer reviewed journal articles, six reviewed national presentations, seven poster sessions, two national webinars, two first-place and two second place national awards.

Panhandle Research and Extension Center Associate Director Jim Schild was the winner of the Chester I. Walters Extra Mile Award. Schild was recognized for his leadership with two key projects in the Panhandle in 2013 and 2014. The first is the renovation and update of meeting rooms at the Elliot Building, for which Schild provided guidance and secured additional funding. The second was the development of a staffing plan for the Northern Panhandle, after four resignations depleted their staff. Schild led efforts with the remaining educators to develop a plan, then met with stakeholders from the three counties involved to successfully facilitate buy-in.

Extension Educator Jessica Johnson was presented with the Innovative Extension New Employee Award. In a little over two years of employment, Johnson has been constantly looking for new ways to share information and to make it more useable and accessible to clients, including a web page with videos and downloadable documents. She also has a Twitter account with more than 256 followers. She is continuing to grow a text messaging service that sends weekly price and basis information to subscribers.  In addition, with a team, Johnson is working to develop a grain marketing smart phone app, which will be the first of its kind.

The Co-Parenting for Successful Kids team received the Creative Team Award from the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association. Team members include Panhandle educators Jackie Guzman and Susan Pearman. Onsite and online classes are offered throughout Nebraska to meet the needs of a variety of learners. Onsite classes are offered at 10 sites, serving more than10,000 since 1999. Both onsite and online classes include 3-4 hours of interacting instruction.

Guzman also was recognized as the Nebraska state winner and third-place Central Region winner of the Communication Award for Ages & States NebGuide. The award came from the Nebraska Affiliate of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.


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