AMES, Iowa – Lesia Oesterreich, an extension specialist in human development and family studies from Iowa State University, will receive the 2018 Excellence in Extension Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The award will be presented Nov. 11 during APLU’s 131st Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Oesterreich is a family life extension state specialist and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
“NIFA is proud to support the national network of extension experts and educators through our land-grant institution partnership,” NIFA acting director Tom Shanower said in a news release announcing the award. “This collaboration brings science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and community members to help them grow their businesses, raise healthy families and support their communities.”
The Excellence in Extension Award is given annually to one Cooperative Extension professional who excels at programming, provides visionary leadership and makes a positive impact on constituents served.
Oesterreich is being recognized for her educational programs that help teachers and caregivers significantly increase understanding in child development, early learning, positive behavior reinforcement and nutrition, as well as health and safety practices.
“Early childhood educators and child care providers are better qualified to educate and care for Iowa children thanks to Lesia’s efforts. Her programs are meaningful, practical and user-friendly, and her career demonstrates her dedication to serving all young Iowans,” said Debra Sellers, director of Human Sciences Extension and Outreach and associate dean in the College of Human Sciences.
For example, child care providers in both rural and urban areas had expressed their critical need for training. In response, Oesterreich collaborated with child care professionals, community educators and state agencies to develop 14 online programs addressing health and safety, child development, homelessness, child abuse and cultural diversity. The resulting self-paced series of classes are free, user-friendly and available 24/7. In the first 18 months approximately 36,000 early childhood professionals completed the training. These individuals teach and care for an estimated 165,000 children annually.
Oesterreich has received several awards from Iowa State University, including the Regents Award for Staff Excellence, the College of Human Sciences Dean’s Research Recognition Award and the ISU Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Extension.
In 2006, she received the Iowa Governor’s Above and Beyond Early Childhood Award, and in 2012 she received the Friend of Young Children Award from the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children.
She has received national and regional awards from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, as well as the National Extension Family Life Specialist Career Achievement Award.
Oesterreich earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a master’s degree in human development and family studies at Texas Tech University. She also is certified in the National Program for Infant and Toddler Caregivers, and as an early childhood Nature Explore instructor by the National Arbor Day Foundation.