Jim Douglas, UAF Cooperative Extension Service agent, recently received the 2002 Emil Usibelli Distinguished Public Service Award and an accompanying check for $10,000.
The annual awards are funded from an endowment established in 1992 from the Usibelli Coal Mine. According to Douglas, founder Emil Usibelli established the foundation to award the top researcher, teacher and person in service for their achievements and contributions to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
"He only finished the third grade," Douglas said, "but he was a very knowledgeable man."
Douglas has been with CES since 1984, and acts as community resource development and horticulture agent for the northern half of the Southeast district, 4-H agent for the Southeast district and the Kodiak district and state 4-H program chair.
In 2000, Douglas organized the UAF for Youth Campaign, a program that seeks to inform the community of the relationships between 4-H, UAF and the Cooperative Extension Service. The program is in its third year.
During the program's first year, Douglas led 4-H youth in a statewide signature campaign in support of University of Alaska's budget.
"The signatures were delivered in different communities in different ways," Douglas said. "Some were delivered by dogsled and by snowmachine, and some even were delivered in official pony express bags. We wanted to gain publicity for the signature campaign."
They collected 6,000 signatures and brought them to Juneau, where 60 to 80 youths from around the state marched to the front steps of the Capitol to present legislators with the signatures.
Douglas also has worked with nonprofit groups to provide CES training in volunteer and board management and worked with master gardeners in Juneau to start a community garden.
According to UAF's University Relations staff, the Usibelli awards are considered one of the university's most prestigious awards. Nominees are evaluated by a committee, which includes members of the faculty, the UAF student body and a member of the UA Foundation Board of Trustees. Awards of $10,000 are given for distinguished teaching, research and public service.
This year, professor of chemistry and biochemistry Larry Duffy was recognized for his research contributions and instructor of mathematics Marty Getz was recognized for teaching.
Douglas said he plans to share the winnings with his wife Caroll. They will each get $1,000 to spend and the rest will go toward taxes or savings. He said she too deserves the award for supporting him through the years.
"When one looks at the hours I have put in at the job, there are very few women in the world who would put up with the nonsense," Douglas said. "Caroll allows me the freedom to put in all this time. I think that's very unusual."
Emily Wescott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.