Congratulations to the 2018 MWA
Distinguished Service Award Winners!

Distinguished Service to Community – Vickie Schwass, Illinois
Distinguished Service to FSA/Agriculture – Kevin Beekman, Minnesota
Distinguished Service to NASCOE – Tony Augustine, Illinois

Distinguished Service to Community
Vickie Schwass, Illinois

Distinguished Service Award Winner for Service to Community
From Left: DSA Award Winner Vickie Schwass, IL pictured with IL Awards Committee Chair Pam Cremeens

Nomination Essay for Vickie Schwass, Illinois
Submitted by Philip Newendyke, Illinois

It is my pleasure to bring attention to the service above self a fellow manager provides within her community to the benefit of community members, particularly African American youth in the Quad City Area. Vickie Schwass, Mercer/Rock Island County Executive Director, has served in numerous capacities on several service groups throughout her career to promote and seek opportunities for youth to better themselves and the world we live in. Ms. Schwass is a pillar in her community and some examples of her service and the organizations she belongs to are to follow.

Vickie is currently a chapter officer, as well as program chair, within the Xi Eta Omega Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Moline, IL. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was founded in 1908. In January of 2018, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. will be celebrating 110 years of service to all mankind. Vickie is the Co-Chairman of the USA-United Nations Program as well as Social Chairman.  The USA-UN Program is focused on introducing young men and women to the UN process and being global citizens.  It provides community service projects for them to participate as well as introduces them to our state and federal representatives.  As the current Connection Chairman for the chapter, Vickie helps keep the community members aware of the elections and works with the Deputy Register on voter registration.  Each January the chapter holds an annual food drive with the River Bend Food Pantry. The Chapter offers scholarships to local young women and conducts bi-annual fundraisers in connection with the national program. Since becoming a member Vickie has chaired the Little Miss Fashionetta Program twice, which focuses on 7-10 years old girls.  The organization offers a monthly program that promotes, educates and exposes youth to Community Service, Global Awareness, Education, Social manners, and Health and Welfare; often through team building experiences.

Vicki is also an active member of the Quad Cities Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.  The Links, Inc., established in 1946, is made up of 14,000 professional women of color with chapters in 41 states. Its members are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African Ancestry. There are five program facets of The Links, Incorporated. Vickie is currently the Chairperson of the Services to Youth Facet, she is also on the Membership and 2017 Beautillion Committees. Her responsibilities as Services to Youth Chair are to assist the Chapter in meeting the National Administration initiatives which are Education, Community Service, Health and Human Services and addressing the needs for the community by helping young people ages 7-18 years of age.  One focus is encouraging young men to become community service orientated, help them prepare for ACT/SAT tests, prepare them for post high school education and offer career readiness opportunities during and/or after high school graduation.  Vickie has planned and managed two successful STEAM programs with the partnership of Western Illinois University, Moline, IL.  The STEAM program’s mission is to expose and prepare the youth for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. Additionally, she is an active member of the 2017 Beautillion Committee, which is for junior and senior high school boys that focuses on etiquette, fiscal responsibility, men’s health, career readiness, and public speaking. At the end of the four-month program each “beaux” and their guests attend a black-tie gala.  Vickie was in charge of the Educational Program this season and planned sports outing with the Quad Cities Mallards, Professional Hockey Team. Most of the programs that The Links, Inc. offer seek to help at risk or socially disadvantaged young men and women that exhibit high scholastic aptitude and are seen as leaders by their peers, parents, teachers and churches.

Both organizations are supported by women who are professionals and leaders within their work organizations and community who seek to shape our young people to be well educated, community service oriented, self-confident global citizens. For Vickie’s efforts in supporting and volunteering her time to such valuable and important service groups that are beneficial to youth and our communities, I am proud to nominate Vickie for the Distinguished Service Award.

Distinguished Service to FSA-Agriculture
Kevin Beekman, Minnesota


L to R MWA Exec Chris Hare, DSA winner Kevin Beekman, MWA Awards Chair Kathy Balbaugh

Nomination Essay for Kevin Beekman, Minnesota
Submitted by Curt Houk, Iowa

It is my honor and privilege to nominate a man that has had an extraordinary impact on Minnesota FSA for the Distinguished Service to FSA-Agriculture award.  Kevin Beekman started working for the Farm Service Agency in 1987 as a County Operations Trainee (COT).  During his 29 years with FSA, Kevin has served as CED in Faribault County until 2008 when he had an opportunity to move to a higher position within the Minnesota FSA State office as the Chief Program Specialists in Price Support.  Kevin felt that his experience and knowledge were well suited to help guide and mold Minnesota Agriculture and FSA.  He served in in the State Office position until 2012 when he made the decision that the relationships with the local producers and being able to deeply root himself into small town and local agriculture was his true calling and something that he truly missed.  I have heard Kevin say that he made the decision that he “preferred dirt to cement”, so, when the opportunity arose for him to return to the County Office in the area where he grew up he seized the moment and said goodbye to the State Office.

Kevin is currently the CED in a shared management unit in Renville and Redwood Counties in Minnesota.  Redwood County includes 23 townships, 2268 farms enrolled in FSA programs, 449,624 acres of row crops, 1376 CRP contracts, and 3997 farmers.  Renville County Includes 27 townships, 1852 farms enrolled in FSA programs, 554,276 acres of row crops, 979 CRP contracts, and 4134 farmers.  In Renville/Redwood Counties, Kevin manages 9 Program Technicians.  Anyone who has worked for Kevin will echo that you never truly work for him, you work with him.  Kevin is more than a manager.  He is always there working by their side and supporting the office wherever needed.  His “hands-on” approach is valued by both his employees and producers in the counties making sure to get to know everyone of the customers that walked into the door.  Kevin knows all of the programs that are available and is versed on the software needed to complete the application and contracting process for them.  He is great at trouble shooting problems and always finds the answers.

Kevin is a strong advocate for FSA and the service that FSA supplies to the farmers and ranchers of this great country that we live in.  This commitment to agriculture cultivated a desire to influence the future of the agency through development of future leaders.   Kevin dedicates time to training COTs that has afforded 18 trainees the opportunity to learn from one of the best CEDs in Minnesota.  When speaking with his peers around the state, one could easily assert the admiration that anybody that knows Kevin has.  He is often called upon by other CEDs asking for guidance and advice.  He keeps in touch with his trainees as they continue their careers and provides a solid foundation for one to grow from.  Much to the efforts of Kevin, trainees have gone on to be very successful within FSA.

Respect for Kevin and his knowledge and abilities has been evident by actions taken by the Minnesota State office as well.  He has often been called on to help with special projects.  Kevin never shies away from volunteering and doing his part serving FSA and its customers.  Special projects include NRRS training as well as DCP training across the state.

Many describe Kevin as a very humble person.  He would rather commend the successes of his staff and coworkers than be in the spotlight himself.  Staff is encouraged to strive for success and go the extra mile.  He insures that the employees are properly trained and that they have all of the resources needed to succeed.   Kevin knows the value of a fully-staffed, well-trained office and insures that any office he works in is has adequate resources.  He knows that this is one of the keys to keeping morale up as well as insuring that the producers we serve will receive the level of service that they deserve.  So, when you ask about what awards Kevin has received for his efforts, the answer is none.  Kevin insures that the people that work for him receive the recognition and takes the satisfaction of helping others succeed as his award.

Kevin has also been very involved in the communities in which he lives in serving as a varsity and junior varsity assistant football coach, Minn-Iowa Golf Board member, and assisting with International You Can Make a Difference Campout for youth.

Kevin has been a member of MNASCOE/NASCOE for the entire 30 years of his career with FSA.  He is very active with MNASCOE serving on various committees as well as serving as a director on the state board of directors.   Kevin has served as President of MNASCOE 3 times over the years each time for a two year term also serving in the capacity as Past President each time.  He was appointed as MidWest Area Legislative Chairperson and served in that capacity in the past.  During his time he has attended multiple national conventions participating in molding the future of FSA and agricultural policy.  Kevin has a strong passion for NASCOE and all that it stands for leading him to become one of the leading promoters for our association.   He takes every opportunity to tell our story and encourage employees and trainees to become members and get involved.  Kevin is a regular at state conventions and definitely someone who many look forward to seeing.  All COTs who train with Kevin get to learn about his experiences with NASCOE and what NASCOE means to him.  Kevin had the opportunity to participate in NASCOE Legislative Conferences and took the opportunity to build relationships in order to help advise the nation’s leaders on key issues concerning agricultural policy as well as FSA and its employees.  He encourages anyone who asks to take that opportunity if it was given.

It is my belief that Kevin exemplifies all the qualities fitting for this award.  While researching Kevin’s history with the Agency, I came across a newspaper article from the Faribault County Register, December 2008, when they ran a story about Kevin leaving their County for bigger and better things.  When one reads the newspaper article the local community wrote about him as he was departing for the State Office, it is apparent how much the community that Kevin submerses himself into values his commitment.  His efforts during his illustrious career have no doubt led Minnesota Agriculture and FSA to a better state.  Kevin’s selfless actions are and will be felt for years to come.  A true and loyal friendship has emerged out of our work experiences.  Kevin has provided me, as well as many others, with a solid foundation to grow upon.

Distinguished Service to NASCOE
Tony Augustine, Illinois

MWA Chair Chris Hare, DSA-NASCOE winner Tony Augustine, MWA Awards Chair, Kathy Balbaugh, IL President, Debbie Staley

L to R MWA Exec Chris Hare, DSA winner Tony Augustine, MWA Awards Chair Kathy Balbaugh, IL President Debbie Staley

Nomination Essay for Tony Augustine, Illinois
Submitted by Debbie Staley, Illinois

Tony has worked for USDA-FSA since August, 1983 to Present.  He has served our State Chapter (IASCOE) in several different positions; as a District Director from 1988 to 1998; he was 2nd Vice President from 1992-1994; he was 1st Vice President from 1994-1996; he was the Legislative Chair from 1994 – 1996; he then served as our State President from 1996-1998; he also served as our State Benefits Chair from 2004 – 2007, and then he settled back into the Legislative Chair position again in 2007 and still holds that position at present. Tony has also served as the Mid-West Area Legislative Chair from 2010 to 2012.  He has been dedicated to NASCOE in so many ways, through state and area positions and still to this day continues to be passionate about the mission.  He is knowledgeable about the legislative process and has been instrumental in showing the process of our Washington DC visits to many officers in the state of Illinois.  He has made a considerable number of trips to Washington DC for Legislative Conferences and has attended several Area Conventions as well as National Conventions over the years.

He serves as the CED in Vermillion County and has spent the whole of his career in that county.  He has also served as the Acting CED in Champaign and Iroquois Counties, Illinois during his FSA Career.  He has been a training CED for the County Operation Training Program in Illinois.  On a personal note, he volunteers for the Kennekuk Road Runners in the Danville, IL.  They are a road & trail running club.  He helps with the IL Marathon in the Champaign, IL area; also helps each year with the Georgetown Fair in Georgetown, IL.  Tony is also an avid watcher of a popular satellite program called Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and has set a personal goal of trying to visit every restaurant featured on the show as he travels.  He has been to several of them to date.

Tony has a great sense of humor, is very caring, is dedicated in pursuing his personal likes and goals, offers to volunteer in his community, he is devoted to his family, his county, and is committed to his state chapter of NASCOE.   He is humble but truly inspiring, he is positive and confident, yet sensible and discerning, he is certainly a valuable member of NASCOE and personal challenges have not prevented him from having a full life and successful career.   He is well respected by many in FSA, IASCOE and NASCOE.

Tony has dedicated years to serving NASCOE in several different capacities, he has touched many people along the way and his involvement has made our organization better.  I believe Tony is so very deserving of this recognition.

MWA Awards Report

This year is the second year of using the online nomination system for the Distinguished Service Awards.  It seems most of the issues we had last year have been worked out; I didn’t have any complaints or issues with our nominations!  I feel it was definitely easier and encouraged people to do more than ‘think about’ nominating someone!

In the MWA alone, we received FORTY-ONE total nominations in the categories of Service to NASCOE, Service to FSA/Agriculture and Service to Community.  THIS IS AMAZING!!!  We DOUBLED the nominations from last year – Way to go MWA!!!  This is wonderful to see so many people nominate their colleagues for their hard work both on and off the job!

Applications for nominations had to be submitted by January 1, 2017.  The breakdown of nominations is as follows:

Distinguished Service Award for services to NASCOE:  9

Illinois – 1                            Indiana – 0

Iowa – 0                               Michigan – 0

Minnesota – 1                    Missouri – 4

Ohio – 2                               Wisconsin – 1
Distinguished Service Award for services to FSA/Agriculture:  26

Illinois – 3                            Indiana – 1

Iowa – 10                             Michigan – 5

Minnesota – 2                    Missouri – 1

Ohio – 3                               Wisconsin – 1
Distinguished Service Award for services to Community:  6

Illinois – 1                            Indiana – 0

Iowa – 1                               Michigan – 1

Minnesota – 1                    Missouri – 0

Ohio – 1                               Wisconsin – 1

The nominations have been forwarded to the appropriate states for judging.  On February 2, the state winners will be sent on to the Area judges where those winners will be selected and then sent on to the National judges by March 1st.  Congratulations to all our nominees and thank you to the nominators for taking the time to recognize your co-workers

Last year I challenged each state to have AT LEAST one nomination in each of the three categories.  Congratulations to Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin for meeting this challenge!   I would like to challenge each state next year to have AT LEAST TWO nominations in each of the three categories!  Start thinking about it now; write up a summary and add to it throughout the year as you get more information about your nominee.  It won’t be so tough to come up with WHY someone is deserving of the award when you look back at what they’ve accomplished over the last year.  I’m sure we all know someone who excels at work, in NASCOE, and around their community!

At the state level, certificates will be awarded to employees who have accumulated 1000, 1500, and 2000 hours of unused sick leave.  Also, plaques are awarded to employees who have accumulated 2500, 3000, and 3500 hours and above of unused sick leave.  Certificates and plaques will be distributed at the MWA Rally, so make sure that information is relayed to me 60 days before the rally.

A HUGE thank you to all the state chairs and both the state and area judges!!  Without you, we would not be able to make this process work as smoothly as it does and recognize so many deserving individuals.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or need more information please let me know!

Kathy Balbaugh
MWA Awards Chair


Kathy Balbaugh

MWA Awards Chair

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