BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Four Lee County Extension board members were honored by the Governor at a regional ceremony in Ottumwa on Wednesday.
Rick Tebbs, Tom Mohrfeld, Steven Newberry and Tina Loges were all honored for volunteer service with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Lee County Council.
Tebbs was honored for 20 years with the council. The board itself was honored at the Lee County Fair this year for a century of service to Lee County residents.
As volunteer service is a commitment with all of the award winners, Tebbs literally has close to 150 years of combined volunteer service in multiple organizations focused on outdoor stewardship, as well as community and county-focused organizations.
Tebbs was born and raised in Fort Madison and said volunteerism carries a simple philosophy for him.
“I just want to make a difference,” he said.
“That’s what I tell people and I always felt that way. You’re lucky enough to have support of family and friends and you want to make a positive impact. I want people to know that volunteering, for me, isn’t about the feather in your cap, or the pin, or the plaque – it’s letting them know that I care.”
Tebbs said the key to extended volunteerism is a strong family.
“A lot of my volunteerism wouldn’t be possible without the support of my wife of 29 years. She’s been wonderful and put up with a lot, and a person couldn’t be volunteering like this and have a job and a family without that kind of support.
Lee County Extension Program Coordinator Lee Ann Schaffer-Smith said the commitment of the board in her year and half with extension shows why it has been successful in the county for the past 100 years.
“With Rick, he’s very committed and very knowledgeable. He’s my go-to guy and he makes himself available… and sometimes it’s hard to get that from people. The partnership he’s helped forge between conservation and the extension is neat to see and that’s stuff very important to him.”
Tebbs said he’s been on the board for 20 years and believes in term limits, so he’s stepping off this year. The extension will have candidates on the election ballot for the board in the general election in November. Those interested in serving should contact the Shaffer-Smith for information on how to get on the ballot.
In addition to his work with the Lee County Extension board, Tebbs is probably one of the most visible men in the county. He has, or has held, positions with Pheasants Forever, Holy Family Parish Council, the Catholic Radio board in Fort Madison, 18 years in various capacities, including trustee, with the Fort Madison Elks; Knights of Columbus for 25 years; did a four-year term on God’s Portion Day for Holy Trinity Catholic schools; was Habitat chairman for Pheasants Forever; 15 years with Ducks Unlimited when Fort Madison had a chapter; 20 years with the Iowa Conservation Alliance where he was a founding member educating and lobbying the Iowa legislature on conservation stewardship; and six years with the Iowa Wild Turkey Federation, among others.
He’s also worked with the Vision Keokuk organization for eight years and completed the Lee County Leadership Program. Tebbs won the 2009 Iowa Environmental Excellence award and is a member of the Pheasants Forever Hall of Fame.
Steve Newberry was selected for a length of service award by ISU Extension and Outreach Lee County for his 40 years of service on the Lee County Extension Council. Tom Mohrfeld was selected for his 30 years of service on the council. Chris Lindner, Chairperson, was selected for his 20 years of service on the council and Tina Loges was selected for her 10 years of service.
Ken Parrish from Fort Madison was also listed on the individual honorees, as a member of the Des Moines County Emergency Preparedness Team and Des Moines SKYWARN.
The extension needs people in the county to step up and serve,” Tebbs said. “They are on a ballot and they are voted on for four-year terms. I’ve ran five terms and was voted in five times. My term is up this year and I believe in term limits and told them I wouldn’t be putting my name on the ballot.”
Shaffer-Smith said the work of the volunteers shows in all the Extension’s programs.
“The level of service and dedication these volunteers provide to Lee County Extension is invaluable”, states Lee Ann Shaffer-Smith, Program Coordinator. “The Extension Council is the heart of Lee County Extension.”