Nov 14, 2022

Dordt recognized at national level for Extension partnership

Four award recipients stand together with the award.

Dordt University is the recipient of one of four National Friend of Extension Awards, which recognizes Dordt’s long-term, dedicated partnership with Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach.

Dordt also received the Excellence in Partnership Award from the ISU Extension and Outreach at both the regional and state levels. Dordt was nominated by local ISU Extension and Outreach Youth Program Specialist Beth Bunkers and the Northwest Iowa youth staff team whom Dordt partners with on several projects.

“I’m sure the Extension has a lot of partners across the country, so being named one of four nationally is really impressive,” says Agriculture Department Instructor Gary De Vries.

“Dordt University is a highly-positive model of a true partnership,” says Bunkers. “They are always at the table on planning committees, providing presenters at events, offering facilities to host events, and helping the youth of Northwest Iowa grow.”

Bunkers says that Dordt is easy to work with and that “they understand and help bring life to the mission of the ISU Extension and Outreach, to engage Iowans in research, education, and Extension experiences to address current and emerging real-life challenges.”

Together, Dordt University and ISU Extension and Outreach have collaborated to host STEAM Fest for 10 years, Sioux County’s Your Future @ Work for seven years, a 4-H Multi-Regional Livestock Workshop for three years, and various other presentations and partnerships for multiple years.

Agriculture Department Instructor Gary De Vries says the mission of both institutions align well.

“We are looking to help folks not only learn more but also find their place in God’s world,” he says. “We realized that if our two organizations put our resources together, we could do a better job.”

Dordt students are heavily involved in the three collaborative events, adds De Vries.

“Whether they’re presenting or organizing, gaining hands-on experience through these events gives students a chance to practice skills they might need post-graduation. They are also helping young people develop, grow, and explore. That’s part of what we should be trying to do through these events.”

De Vries credits Emeritus Professor of Engineering Dr. Nolan Van Gaalen and Former Business Administration Department Assistant Vicky Vermeer for their extensive work with the Extension. He also is thankful for Beth Bunkers, who worked on applying for the award on Dordt’s behalf.

“This partnership benefits multiple counties and many, many young people,” Bunkers says. “Dordt University is a star partner to ISU Extension and Outreach.”

Bunkers said that as professional partners, Dordt, and ISU Extension and Outreach have been better able to share resources and create larger, more innovative programs. This helps to extend educational opportunities and resources to many local communities, which may not otherwise have the resources or staff to have such events.

Epsilon Sigma Phi, who sponsors the awards, is one of the oldest and is the largest organization of Extension professionals. Their mission is to foster standards of excellence in the Extension System and to develop the Extension profession.

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. For six years in a row, Dordt has been named number one in the nation for student engagement by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, the Wall Street Journal,, Washington Monthly, Princeton Review, and more.

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers