CSU Extension Recognizes Deb Alpe, Tony Koski with Highest Honors

Two Colorado State University Extension employees were recently honored for their contributions.

The Alton Scofield Distinguished Service Award is Colorado State University Extension’s highest honor awarded to field staff. Jackson County Extension Director Deb Alpe received the award at the annual Extension Forum and banquet, held recently in Fort Collins. Alpe was nominated by the Colorado 4-H Agents association and the Jackson County commissioners.

“Deb’s work in Jackson County and before that in Routt County has been exemplary in every way,” said CJ Mucklow, Western Regional Extension director. “She has a great disposition that’s conducive for bringing people together and making things happen.”

Alpe’s accomplishments include:
• Co-creating and implementing the Jackson County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP). Alpe worked collaboratively with citizens, local fire professionals and natural resource agency representatives to complete seven CWPPs in the county. The collaboration secured grants in excess of $250,000 to assist landowners in completing wildfire hazard mitigation projects on approximately 2,000 acres with a protection value of $15 million. Alpe’s leadership role in the collaboration fostered strong community relations that have paved the way for future partnerships between neighbors and the community at large.
• Providing extensive support to North Platte Basin Roundtable project funded by the Water Supply Reserve Account to begin gathering evapo-transpiration and weather data for North Park. Alpe served previously as the recorder and currently as the roundtable education liaison to the Interbasin Compact Committee.
• Being instrumental in upgrading child care programs and support for parents in Routt County while also helping to secure adequately paying jobs for providers. During her tenure as the Routt County Family and Consumer Science and 4-H agent from 1996-2005, Alpe teamed up with the early childhood Colorado pilot project group and First Impression, an advocacy organization for at-risk children. Together with the help of government and industry, the group developed creative and flexible solutions to improve the quality of life for Routt County citizens.
• Collaborating on developing the Yampa Valley Community Indicators Project, which documented quality of life issues in Routt and Moffat counties. As one of the collaborators, Alpe co-facilitated the initial framework and process used to create the 1996 and subsequent reports. The project continues to update and publish reports that are critical resources for nonprofits, school and education administrators, business owners, local officials and other stakeholders interested in local concerns.

“It’s a reflection of her high standard of locally based programming, but the Alton Scofield Award isn’t the first that Alpe can hang on her wall,” said Colorado State University Extension Director Lou Swanson. In the 15 years that she’s served her communities, Alpe has received 13 other awards or recognitions.

Tony Koski, turfgrass specialist and professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State, received the F.A. Anderson Award, which recognizes an Extension professional for outstanding performance throughout their Extension career.

Koski has developed a research and outreach program that is respected not only regionally but nationally. He has been supportive of, and collaborative with, Extension field staff in many ways. Koski served as an associate director of CSU Extension while also performing his teaching, research and Extension duties. He currently serves as environmental horticulture work team leader. Koski collaborates with the Colorado Master Gardener (CMG) program, teaching the basic turfgrass curriculum every year. He has developed and taught additional turf classes for advanced CMG diagnosticians. Koski regularly contributes to "Green Scene" newsletter, a monthly collaborative publication for the Green Industry. He makes field visits with Extension staff to golf course, sports fields and homeowner lawns.

Koski also developed the highly successful LawnCheck program. In discussions with Green Industry turf collaborators, he learned that no company provided on-site turf diagnostics that were focused on educating customers. As a result, he proposed the LawnCheck program as a means for Extension agents to earn required user fees, improve lawns and educate Colorado citizens. Staff site visits began in earnest in 2008 with customers reporting they saved money, changed their watering practices, made adjustments in their sprinkler system, decreased water use and decreased the use of pesticides as a result of the program.

“Koski’s quality programming has included classroom and field instruction for agents, staff and volunteers on an array of turf topics,” Swanson said. “His guided diagnostic sessions and training materials have contributed to a better understanding of appropriate turf varieties, watering practices and fertilization requirements.” These efforts have included books, manuals and fact sheets and the facilitation and development of field reports, web sites, multimedia efforts and marketing materials such as bookmarks.

Colorado State University Extension provides reliable, research-based information, research capabilities and resources to Coloradans from all walks of life. Extension, which is available to residents in 60 Colorado counties, is dedicated to serving current and future needs of Coloradans by providing the information and programs that safeguard health, increase livelihood and enhance well being.