BOZEMAN — Montana State University Extension staff, faculty and partners were recently recognized at a spring conference in Billings.

Sharla Sackman, MSU Extension agent in Prairie County, received the 2021 Silver Buffalo Award in recognition of 20 years of exceptional service. The award, granted by Montana's Joint Council of Extension Professionals, is MSU Extension’s highest honor.

Sackman, who currently serves as the president of the Montana Joint Council of Extension Professionals chapter, has trained counselors for an 11-county camp and leads 4-H horse and livestock statewide programs and curriculum. She has led the Winter Ag Series in the Eastern Region and the Tri-County Weed Tour in southeast Montana.

According to her nominations, Sackman’s presence, leadership and thoughtfulness shine in her work with youth, volunteers and Extension faculty, and she is highly respected among neighboring agents and in her community, county and the state for her teaching skills and collaborative nature.

Katie Weaver, MSU Extension community development associate specialist, received the Anne Wiprud Memorial Award. This award recognizes a staff member with fewer than 10 years of experience for their outstanding achievement and accomplishment in a special program or project involving "people development."

Weaver has been with MSU Extension for nine years. During that time, she has worked to develop people and relationships for community change through the Leadership 49 program, recently graduating the program’s eighth class, marking 130 leadership alumni in Park County. Weaver is currently helping launch the Big Sky, Big Leadership program in more counties around the state and with an MSU Extension needs assessment.

Northern Ag Network, which is a longtime supporter of MSU Extension, received the Arrowhead Award, which recognizes an individual, firm, corporation or organization outside of MSU Extension that has assisted with and contributed to MSU Extension programs.

Northern Ag Network provides regular media coverage of MSU Extension programs, sharing information with Montanans and extending educational impact to residents across the state.

The network was nominated for sponsoring the first virtual “Annie’s Project” by providing complimentary promotion, which included several short announcements and a recorded interview covering program details.

MSU Alumni Foundation 2021 Homecoming Awards

Jennifer Saunders, Extension agent in Fergus and Petroleum counties, received the Distinguished Staff Award, which recognizes a non-faculty staff member for work in leadership, achievement, outreach and meritorious service to MSU Extension.

According to her nomination, Saunders has brought distinction to MSU Extension and 4-H for more than 22 years. She has been a role model for thousands of 4-H members and leaders and is passionate about providing a safe, encouraging space for children to learn and grow.

Jamie Doggett, MSU Extension representative for the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching, received the Honorary Extension Professional Award. This award recognizes someone whose extraordinary service has advanced Extension and made significant and lasting contributions.

Doggett’s nomination described how her professional, personal, civic and philanthropic pursuits reflect the high standards and values associated with MSU and Extension.

Verna Billedeaux, Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program agent for the Blackfeet Reservation, received the Distinguished Faculty Award.

According to her nomination, Billedeaux has brought distinction to MSU Extension with her programs on American Indian farmer and rancher productivity and management, tribal youth, and 4-H. Her 4-H program annually enrolls more than 100 youth.

Billedeaux was recognized nationally by colleages with the USDA and Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program in other states for her extensive historical knowledge, ability to overcome adversity and longstanding service through the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program in tribal communities.

Michelle Grocke, assistant MSU Extension professor, received the Early Career Faculty Award, which is given to an early career faculty member with excellence in MSU Extension programming.

According to her nomination, Grocke has brought distinction to MSU Extension with her exemplary contributions, a dedication to the fulfillment of Extension goals and mission, her professional accomplishments, and her service.

As a health and wellness specialist, Grocke has led a statewide needs assessment and connected research and outreach through the Strong People program. Additionally, Grocke has provided state and national leadership in partnerships that address opioid and farm stress challenges facing Montana.

The Montana Association of Community Development Extension Professionals granted the Community Impact Award to the Reimagining Rural planning committee, which worked to change perceptions and narratives about rural communities. The Reimagining Rural program aims to engage and inspire local leaders to get more involved and see opportunities for positive change. Committee members included Tara Mastel, Jennifer Anderson, Katie Weaver, Ashley Kent, Mandie Reed, Eric Austin, Mel Widas, Maggie Sullivan and Elisa Fiaschetti.

The Montana Association of Extension 4-H Agents awarded Kellie Kahtani, Extension agent in Butte-Silverbow County, and Emily Standley, former Extension agent in Fergus and Petroleum counties, the Achievement in Service award for three to six years of service. Dave Brink, Extension agent in Mineral County, and Josie Evenson, Extension agent in Richland County, were honored with the Youth Development Distinguished Service Award for seven or more years of service, and Brett Schomer, 4-H program and events coordinator, was presented the Meritorious Service Award for 15 or more years of service. Lastly, Roni Baker, Extension agent in Yellowstone County, and Jane Wolery, Extension agent in Teton County, were recognized for 25 years of service.

The Montana Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences recognized the Food Preservation 101 Series Program team with a second-place Western Region award and a third-place national award. Both awards are granted by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science. Team members included Brianna Routh, Janelle Barber, Katrin Finch, Wendy Becker and Lorelyn Meyer. Former Extension employees also recognized included Katelyn Andersen, Holly Miner and Alice Burchak. Routh was also awarded state winner of ‘Innovation in Programming’ for the Master Food Preserver Program.

The Montana Association of County Agricultural Agents recognized Rose Malisani, Extension agent in Cascade County, for the Achievement in Service Award. Wendy Becker, Extension agent in Roosevelt County, was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. Several current and former Extension employees, including Adriane Good, Julianne Snedigar, Colleen Buck, Jesse Fulbright, Kim Woodring, Kari Lewis, Tyler Lane, Karen Forseth, Rose Malisani, Mat Walter, Katie Hatlelid and Emily Standley were recognized as finalists for their work on a regional newsletter. Awards are granted by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents. Good was also named a state winner for the Search for Excellence in 4-H programming.

- bu MSU News Service -