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UNL Panhandle Extension professionals recognized for efforts

Five Panhandle Extension employees received state recognition for their efforts at the Nebraska Extension Fall Conference in Kearney on Nov. 28.

Jessica Groskopf – Courtesy Photo

Extension Educator Jessica Groskopf, based in Scottsbluff, received the Chester I. Walters Extra Mile Award, which recognizes Extension staff who go beyond the call of duty in carrying out their responsibilities. Groskopf provided leadership in Farm Bill education for 2014 and is continuing as the current Farm Bill is being crafted. She is developing and delivering risk-management education for producers utilizing state-of-the-art methods, such as the Marketing in a New Era (MINE) market simulator and development of the Grain Marketing Plan App.

Connie Hancock. Courtesy Photo

Extension Educator Connie Hancock, based in Sidney, received the Innovative Extension Educator Award. Hancock was recognized for her role in numerous education programs aimed at helping Nebraska individuals, businesses, and communities to successfully integrate into the global economy and digital age. These include regional and statewide broadband plans; one of the first Nebraska Extension digital curricula using the ZMag format; and recently with the Library Commission and Nebraska Innovation Studio to bring Makerspaces to Sidney. Her other large project is as community coach with the Rural Futures Institute Rural Community Prosperity Research Project.

Dr. Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, Extension Community Vitality Specialist, received the Innovative Extension Specialist Award. Burkhart-Kriesel was recognized for her work focused on helping communities obtain the future they desire, through her leadership and involvement in programs such as the community-driven Red Carpet Service program and development of the multi-state Marketing Hometown America (MHA) program. Red Carpet Service has been delivered with team members in many locations in Nebraska and South Dakota, and has evolved to include an on-line program, a mini two-hour version, and two program spin-offs. Marketing Hometown America is an action-oriented, community engagement program focused on new resident recruitment and retention.

Terri Lemmon, Extension 4-H Assistant based in Chadron, received the Innovative Extension Managerial/Professional Award. Lemmon was recognized for her tireless work in the Dawes County 4-H program. A strong believer in partnerships, she has engaged with more than 30 groups the community. She enrolled 200 members in the 4-H program. Traditional club membership is up 60 percent since she started four years ago. She has started many special-interest programs, expanding her reach with a wide variety of volunteers. Program participation is up more than 250 percent. Lemmon took the lead in organizing the North Panhandle Animals Inside and Out Field Day. She introduced the Next Chapter to eighth-grade students and the Connecting the Dots program to help freshmen and sophomores visualize their path after high school. She also implemented the Academic Success program for high school juniors and seniors.

Mitch Stephenson. Courtesy Photo

Dr. Mitch Stephenson, Forage and Range Management Specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, received the Innovative Extension New Employee Award. Stephenson began working with Nebraska Extension in 2015. The award acknowledges his impact working with Extension teams to develop workshops and field days addressing cheatgrass management, grazing management, and crop/livestock integration. He is working with the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition on an on-farm project evaluating the use of annual forages at several locations. He also developed a Range and Forage Management website for UNL and was part of a team that developed the Range and Forage group UNL website.

In addition to the Extension awards, Groskopf and Extension Educator Jenny Nixon, based in Harrison, also received other recognition from their statewide peers.

Groskopf also was among those recognized by UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) during annual awards in Lincoln Dec. 1. The Omtvedt Innovation Award for Team was presented to the Commodity Marketing Education group, whose members include Groskopf. The award goes to IANR faculty, or a team lead by a faculty, who has demonstrated exceptional abilities in the areas of teaching, research, or extension education.

At the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association conference in Kearney, Nixon received the Epsilon Established Career Leadership Award. The award recognizes that, throughout her tenure, Nixon has grown in her Extension position to develop and deliver quality education and has also provided leadership throughout the organization. She has grown local, district, and state programming, particularly in Community Vitality. In addition, she has also grown community and state commitment to Extension through her professionalism, her willingness to take on new projects, and a steady, consistent work ethic.

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