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K-State Today Student Edition

March 30, 2012



Projects with earthworms, Fort Leavenworth win university's first Excellence in Engagement Awards

By David Procter

The Office of the Provost and the Center for Engagement and Community Development have announced the winners of K-State’s Excellence in Engagement Awards.

A review committee of on- and off-campus stakeholders selected two initiatives, Earthworms Across Kansas and K-State’s Adult Education Program Engagement with the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth as winners.

The awards recognize faculty initiatives that exhibit sustained efforts in university/community-engaged scholarship – via research, teaching and/or outreach. Selections were made on several criteria including the strength of the partnerships, student involvement, and the benefits derived from the initiative.

 “We are very pleased to be able to recognize two outstanding examples of engaged work for the inaugural K-State Excellence in Engagement Awards,” said David Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development. "Both award winners demonstrate how engagement can be effectively integrated into university research and teaching missions.”

Winners of the K-State’s Excellence in Engagement Awards will receive a plaque at the Center for Engagement and Community Development’s 2012 Spring Engagement Symposium April 26 and will receive $2,500.

Earthworms Across Kansas, a citizen-science project lead by Bruce Snyder of the Division of Biology, encourages K-12 students to engage in hands-on science research. To date, it has involved more than 4,000 students across Kansas exploring the life and habits of invasive earthworms. Students have collected specimens and sent them to K-State for tissue sampling and identification.

The Earthworms Across Kansas project has improved understanding of earthworm invasions, made teachers more aware of citizen science programs and allowed K-12 students to contribute to scientific research.

K-State’s Adult Education Program Engagement with the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth has demonstrated engagement through cooperative course work and educational programs offered at the Command and General Staff College. This partnership is lead by Cheryl Polson, director of Fort Leavenworth graduate programs and outreach and Jeff Zacharakis, of educational leadership.

More than 600 Command and General Staff College students have earned master’s degrees in adult education and 10 students have earned their doctorate, with another 17 working toward this achievement.

"This is the first year for Kansas State University engagement awards and I am very pleased to see the caliber of recipients,” said April Mason, provost and senior vice president at Kansas State University. “Engagement is an essential part of the land-grant mission and I am pleased to honor this worthy recognition."

The mission of Center for Engagement and Community Development is to promote engagement across the breadth of our campus – in teaching, research and outreach – and to connect the resources of K-State to the significant issues of public need facing Kansas and communities worldwide.