Provost's office honors 32 extension professionals for their innovation

Iowa State's extension and outreach professionals worked tirelessly over the last two years to help Iowans navigate the effects of a pandemic, including economic and emotional challenges, all the while maintaining excellent programming in youth development, human sciences, agriculture and natural resources, and community and economic development.

In celebration of their efforts, the provost's office has recognized 32 extension faculty and staff with Innovation Awards. Each awardee will receive a one-time monetary award. Funding was provided by a generous donor supporting excellence in achieving the university's mission.

Here are a few examples of their work:

  • At the height of the pandemic, Victor Oyervides, a field specialist for Latino small business development, used social media, radio programs, podcasts and virtual meetings to spread the word about programs to assist small business owners.
  • Brianna Montross, a healthy food access specialist in southeast Iowa, builds partnerships that make healthy choices easier for Iowans who shop at food pantries, including new ways to prepare frozen meats.
  • Christa Hartsook, leader of extension's small farms sustainability program, uses innovative approaches to bring educational opportunities to her clients, including the "Small Farm Sustainability" podcast.
  • Beth Bunkers, a youth 4-H extension specialist on the northwest field team, works to develop innovative programs for Iowa youth, including Precision Ag Days, STEMfests, Clover Crates and summer day camps.
  • Ron Nelson, document accessibility specialist, is a resource both on campus and nationally for enhancing accessibility in Adobe InDesign and PDF documents, ensuring extension publications are available to all Iowans.

"Iowa State's outstanding extension and outreach professionals are the face of our 99-county campus," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "Every day and with every program, they ensure the university's scholarship reaches every corner of the state and addresses the most pressing needs of Iowa communities."

Here is the full list of the innovation awardees, by educational area:

Agriculture and natural resources

  • Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist, central region
  • Jennifer Bentley, dairy extension specialist, northeast Iowa
  • Tim Christensen, farm management specialist, southwest Iowa
  • Fred Hall, dairy extension specialist, northwest Iowa
  • Christa Hartsook, manager, agri-tourism and small farms
  • Courtney Long, manager, food systems
  • Mary Reynolds, beef cattle specialist, Iowa Beef Center
  • Rebecca Vittetoe, field agronomist, southeast Iowa

Community and economic development

  • Chelsea Krist, Farm to School coordinator, community economic development
  • Victor Oyervides, field specialist, Latino small business development
  • Sara Shonrock, director, Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy
  • Scott Timm, field specialist, community economic development
  • Aimee Viniard-Weideman, field specialist, community economic development

Human sciences

  • Suzanne Bartholomae, associate professor of human development and family studies and state extension specialist
  • Mona Berkey, online program coordinator, I-Learn Early Childhood Education
  • Beth Marrs, AnswerLine management, human sciences extension
  • Brianna Montross, human sciences healthy food access specialist, southeast Iowa
  • Jeannette Mukayisire, human sciences extension specialist, north central Iowa
  • Kristin Taylor, creative projects specialist

Youth and 4-H development

  • Beth Bunkers, youth 4-H extension specialist, northwest field team
  • Emily Damro, youth 4-H extension specialist, central/highway 30 region
  • Nicole Hanson, youth 4-H extension, program specialist
  • Kim Kuester, 4-H positive youth development specialist, south central field team
  • Lorena Dorado Robles, recruitment, retention, and engagement lead


  • Mary Adams, community development specialist and Navigating Difference facilitator
  • Gayle Coon, professional development specialist and Navigating Difference facilitator
  • Jed Findlay, multimedia/creative manager, advancement
  • Himar Hernandez, community economic development assistant program director and Navigating Difference facilitator
  • Kaleena Middendorf, services coordinator, conference planning and management
  • Ron Nelson, document accessibility specialist, professional development
  • Malisa Rader, family wellbeing specialist and Navigating Difference facilitator
  • Maddie Reed, MyData registration coordinator, registration services