Todd wins Epsilon Sigma Phi Outstanding Extension Leadership Mid-Career award

Todd wins Epsilon Sigma Phi Outstanding Extension Leadership Mid-Career award Thursday, January 19, 2017

by Lana Koepke Johnson

Kim Todd
Kim Todd

TV celebrity, university and community leader, teacher, adviser, landscape designer and Grandma are just a few of Kim Todd’s titles. Somehow she finds time and energy to excel at all of them.

For her years of dedicated leadership, service and programming to the state, to Nebraska Extension and the University of Nebraska, Todd was awarded the Outstanding Extension Leadership Mid-Career Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi.

The Mid-Career Service Award recognizes the experienced Extension professional who has consistently exhibited leadership and excellence in extension program planning, delivery, evaluation and administration for over 10 years and less than 20 years. Recipients must also be a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Extension professionals organization, and dedicated to fostering standards of excellence throughout Extension.

An associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture since 2002, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in woody and herbaceous plant identification, landscape design and landscape management.

Todd’s profound impact on countless college students is evident. Former students have successfully started their own businesses in landscaping, nurseries, landscape management, water features such as ponds and fountains and hardscapes such as retaining walls and patios. Three of her graduate students have become Extension educators; one currently teaches at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Her involvement and connections within the University of Nebraska-Lincoln system and with the environmental horticulture industry helps connect her students and graduates with businesses looking to hire. By working very closely with university Landscape Services, Todd fosters learning experiences for her students while helping maintain campus landscapes.

Numerous leadership roles both on campus and in the community have fostered Todd’s connections. Currently she is on the Dean’s Extension Advisory Committee and the Friends of Maxwell Arboretum board of directors.

She has co-chaired the university’s Chancellor’s Commission for Environmental Sustainability. She is past president and has served on the board of directors for the Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association.

Downtown Lincoln Association, Capitol Environs Commission, Urban Design Committee for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska Board of Landscape Architects, Nebraska Invasive Species Council, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Honorary Council and GreatPlants for the Great Plains Committee boards of directors are other organizations Todd has served.

The Extension horticulture specialist and licensed landscape architect is behind the landscape design of Raising Nebraska: Outdoors at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. Using ideas from her landscape design students, Todd worked with local nurseries, volunteers, and department faculty and staff to build the creative outdoor presentation of Nebraska’s agricultural diversity.

“Kim is one of those people who you hope to get on your team, because things will get done and get done right the first time,” award nominator Elizabeth Killinger, Nebraska Extension educator in Grand Island, said.

In addition to designing Raising Nebraska: Outdoors, Todd worked alongside volunteers to build it. She coached those with less experience and would let those who had experience, succeed on their own.

“Kim surrounds herself with people who share a common vision and are willing to work with her,” Killinger said.

The most famous of Todd’s activities is as host of Backyard Farmer, the longest running, non-syndicated, public television program in the nation. For each show, Todd selects panel participants, develops the script, selects viewer’s questions to be answered and stars in topic relevant informational video segments. After each show, she starts the process all over again for the following week.

“There is a degree in irony that we nominated her for a mid-career award when her impact and positive reputation for Nebraska Extension is more indicative of a senior faculty member,” Killinger said.

As busy as she is, Todd always makes time to spend with her children and grandchildren. When asked about them, she starts talking and lights up like a Christmas tree.

The award was presented Nov. 8, 2016 at the Nebraska Extension Fall Conference.

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