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Illinois Extension educators recognized for outstanding contributions by professional organization

Illinois Extension IEAA members at NACAA conference

URBANA, Ill. — University of Illinois Extension was represented by 20 Illinois Extension Agricultural Association members and two life members at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Development Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa where several IEAA members from the delegation were recognized with awards.

Illinois Achievement Award

Nathan Johanning, commercial agriculture educator, was recognized as the Illinois Achievement Award winner. Nathan has championed education and outreach in many areas of agriculture while serving as an Extension educator over the last eight years. Three main areas of focus have included pumpkins, cover crops, and no-till crop production. Johanning has taken his personal on-farm experiences to help relate to cropping system issues at hand for farmers across Illinois and the Midwest. 

Illinois Distinguished Service Award

Andrew Holsinger, horticulture educator, was recognized as the Illinois Distinguished Service Award winner. Andrew Holsinger has 10 years of exceptional service to Illinois Extension. Holsinger has been dedicated and devoted to Extension programs and to the audiences both at local and statewide levels. He provides horticultural education for gardeners of all ages and skill levels. Andrew offers expertise in pruning techniques, plant identification, tree fruit culture, and using technological methods for teaching.

National Communications, Website/Online Content Award

Emily Swihart, Ken Johnson, and Chris Enroth, horticulture educators, were recognized as the National Award winner for Communications, Website/Online Content. This award was in recognition for Good Growing blog, a weekly blog, co-written by these educators. The blog covers a wide range of horticultural topics, “Keeping you (and your garden) growing with good ideas.” Each author is responsible for writing, posting, and formatting their blog posts. The blog is part of the Extension website. The blog was started in 2015 and has grown to be the most-viewed University of Illinois Extension blog with 290,000 views.

National Finalist for Communications, Newsletter Award

Emily Swihart was recognized as a National Finalist Award Winner for Communications, Newsletter. The award was for her newsletter, “The Outsider - A Newsletter Inviting People into Horticulture.” The Outsider Newsletter is a monthly publication designed for the public as an easy-to-access, single-subject horticultural resource for readers already enthusiastic about the outdoors and those who have yet to fully embrace being an outsider.

Additional Awards

Other Conference Activities

  • IEAA members were actively engaged at the conference where they assisted Iowa Agricultural Extension Association members by volunteering as meal hosts, registration desk attendants, and directing tours.
  • Members also hosted a hospitality room for national vice-president nominee, Teresa Steckler, commercial agriculture educator, who served as 2022-23 North Central Region Director.
  • Andrew Holsinger and Elizabeth Wahle, Extension specialist agriculture and agribusiness, presented Behind the Scenes with OBS and Other Creative Tools for Program Presentation seminar.
  • Dennis Bowman, Extension digital agriculture specialist, represented University of Illinois Center for Digital Agriculture at the event.

SOURCE/WRITER: Jennifer Fishburn, horticulture educator, Illinois Extension

EDITOR: Dolan Klein, senior manager for marketing and communications, Illinois Extension

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.