The food safety program protects public health by working to reduce the occurrence of foodborne illnesses, to reduce potential contamination sources for food consumed by the general public, and to promote compliance with state food safety laws and regulations through education and enforcement.
- Licenses and inspects restaurants, grocery stores, schools, food processors, mobile food units and pushcarts, farmer’s markets, and temporary events.
- Reviews construction plans for new or extensively remodeled food establishments and ones that are changing ownership.
- Investigates foodborne illness outbreaks and performs inspections originating from consumer complaints.
- Maintains a retail food establishment ratings list that is available to the public.
No More Empty Pots, ServSafe Education Partner
The mission of No More Empty Pots is to fight poverty with local foods, training, jobs and entrepreneurship. The Food Hub is based on a system of interdependent activities including commercial kitchens, community café, cold/dry storage, and food systems focused incubator rooted in proven models that deliver positive outcomes in job training, workforce readiness, food waste reduction, healthy food access, income generation and business development.
Extension works with Nancy Williams, co-founder and president/CEO, and Susan Whitfield, director of Operations, to provide food safety training for their staff and participants. This is just one step in their incredible program that makes their clients ready for a job in food service.
Entomology Award presented to Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (OHKA), Entomology Partner
OHKA is a nonprofit organization that works to create a Healthy Home for every child. Their main goal is to bring awareness and education to families in the city about environmental hazards, green and Healthy Homes, and lead poisoning. We believe that education is fundamental for empowering people and creating change. Through their work to create environmental equality in Omaha for all they offer education on health hazards in the home, tenant legal rights, environmental testing, and information on the community resources available in the city.
Urban Agriculture Award presented to the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College, Urban Agriculture Partner
Metro Community College Institute of Culinary Arts has been a valuable partner in the Local Foods for Local Tables Symposium since its inception in 2016. The symposium is an annual event hosted by a collaborative partnership of local organizations that strengthens the local food ecosystem in the Omaha metro by creating a space for dialog, network building, and assisting leaders and organizations in determining strengths and needs of the local food system. Aside from planning and serving an outstanding menu for the event food service, MCC ICA has taken on an even bigger role within the last year as Extension became the lead organization of the local foods collaborative partnership, including hosting on-site, logistics, and developing a facilitation framework to gather feedback from participants. For their excellent work in this partnership, Metro Community College Institute of Culinary Arts is our 2018 Urban Agriculture Program Partner honoree.
The 4-H staff presenting to the 4-H honorees are Therese Laux, Extension Educator and Monte Stauffer, Extension Educator.
Ryan Sedlacek, Outstanding 4-H Member
Ryan has been an active 4-H member for 5 years and has been a junior leader for 4 years. He is a member of several 4-H clubs. Ryan's 4-H projects included showing horses, cattle and swine and horticulture. Ryan has served as a delegate, representing Nebraska at the National 4-H agriculture innovators experience conference. He was challenged to educate at least 60 youth, so far he has educated 200 youth around the state. Additionally, he represented his county at the Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium, where he was named Chief Innovation Officer and worked with a group to create a beef recipe that won the competition.
Ryan's most memorable experience was being the Head Youth member at the Nebraska Youth Leadership Pork Conference. He learned about opportunities and issues in the pork industry. Through this experience and others he has developed a passion for educating youth and helping them to understand different ways they can be a part of the agriculture industry.
Ryan has volunteered in many ways at the Sarpy County Fair. He explained that the responsibility he has taken on in this role has given him a chance to use so many of the things he has learned in 4-H.Ryan has just completed his years as a 4-H member and is now attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He graduated from Gretna High School in 2017 and is currently a freshman at UNL, majoring in Animal Science with an emphasis on meat. Works part-time for a UNL alumni, exercising the horses.
Doug and Vikki Henry Family, Outstanding 4-H Family
Doug has his agronomy degree from UNL and works for TurfCare, Inc. in Omaha. Vikki has her paralegal degree from College of Saint Mary in Omaha. After years in the legal field, she chose to stay home to care for her children and works various part-time jobs at Boys Town, American Greetings and Fat Brain Toys. Everett and Darien both graduated from Westside High School and after a year at UNL, Everett began attending Metro Community College in Omaha to earn his associate's in Horticulture and then head back to UNL. Darien is currently working full-time at Fat Brain Toys and is working on an associate's degree in welding at Metro. Erik is a junior at Westside High School and is a member of the marching band and the Student Mentoring Program.
Doug, Vikki and boys Everett, Darien and Erik Henry, have been involved in 4-H and Extension since 2006. The boys began to exhibit projects at the Sarpy County Fair as 4-H'ers and as Clover Kids until they were old enough to exhibit as full-fledged 4-H'ers. They enjoy working on projects for the Fair including the heritage, photography, science/conservation and horticulture categories.
In 2009, Everett participated in his first horticulture ID contest at the county level. That started all the boys on a journey. They have participated in the state contest since 2009 and first formed a team of the three of them at state in 2012.
They have grown as individuals by meeting and working with Extension Educators from across the state, especially with the horticulture contests. They have grown as team members when working with other members of their competition teams and they are mentors for the younger kids in the Shooting Sports program.
Everett and Darien represented Nebraska as members of a 3-person team in the 2014 national contest held in Lexington KY by the National Junior Horticultural Association. They placed 2nd overall as a team. This past year, Erik, who is 16, participated by himself at the State Fair and was a member of a 4-person team at the nationals held by NJHA in Indianapolis. His team brought home the 1st place prize and all four members placed in the top ten!
Vikki has been an Extension Board member for five years and has been serving as the President for the past year. She attends Friends of Extension Foundation meetings and various meetings with educators and the Unit Leader in order to help the Board understand and advocate for Extension.
As a family, they volunteer for the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society, Wildlife Rescue Team, Inc. and the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.
Taylor Barnes, 2017 4-H Outstanding Alumni
Taylor Barnes has continued to dedicate much of her time to Douglas-Sarpy 4-H after she aged out of the program as a youth member. Whether announcing at the county fair livestock contest, the horse show, serving as superintendent of the rabbit show, ring steward at the Fremont 4-H Show, or teaching youth at local clinics, she was ready and willing to make the Douglas/Sarpy 4-H program a success. She has helped others gain the opportunities she had as a 4-H member. In addition, for several years, Taylor assisted at the District 4-H Horse Show as well as the State 4-H Horse Show in Grand Island as announcer, taking Horse Judging Reasons, or as a Trail Judge. She has also assisted at the Nebraska State Fair in Herdsmanship Judging, as an office assistant, and scribe for judges. Taylor continued to sit on the Douglas-Sarpy 4-H Council, served as Secretary in 2014, and volunteered for the Coronation, Recognition, and Scholarship committees.
Taylor took over coaching the Douglas-Sarpy Horse Bowl Team and led her first group to a State Championship in 2014 and on to a National Championship in January 2015. She also coached a younger Horse Bowl team to Reserve Champion at the 2015 State 4-H Horse Stampede and assisted with Individual and Team Demonstrations through the day. While she continues to coach Horse Bowl, she also took over Hippology in 2017, and will take her State Champion team to the All American Quarter Horse Congress contest in Ohio in October 2017. She drives in from Lincoln to run the weekly practices almost year-round and help at the shows and fundraisers, dedicating many hours to make the best better! It is rewarding to see a successful 4-H member continue to give back to the program in so many ways.
Wild Clovers, 2017 Outstanding 4-H Club – Leader – Cindy Lake Reilly
The Wild Clovers 4-H Club has an outstanding history contributing to Douglas-Sarpy 4-H. They meet each month for a business meeting, a club project and a community service project. Some of the projects have included archery, entomology, healthy living, and internet safety. In addition they learned about swine and the life cycle of chickens. The club participates in several community services which included Operation Christmas Child Boxes, a Heart Health event which raised $1,000 for the American Heart Association, a blood drive for the American Red Cross, Open Door Mission supplies collection, and Deputies Helping Hounds. This collections involved having members collect new or gently used leashes and collars to be used by Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department. Many times when the sheriffs are on response calls these items are of great assistance. The club was also actively involved in the Sarpy County Fair and 4-H contests. This club has encompassed the 4-H pledge within their club’s activities, and through their exceptional, thoughtful and ambitious attitude they have lived the motto, “to make the best better”!
Nutrition Education Program Awards presented to Phil’s Foodway Omaha & Nena’s Omaha, Nutrition Education Partners
In 2009, Nebraska Extension became a part of the Healthy Neighborhood Store efforts in Douglas County. These efforts are led by the Douglas County Health Department and is funded through federal and local grants. The goal of this initiative is to work with qualifying stores to make the healthy choice the easy choice by increasing the availability, appeal, and affordability of healthy food options in impoverished area of Douglas County.
Nebraska Extension employees, MJ Adams and Lisa Williams work very closely with storeowners, and managers. They conduct on-site food demonstrations at Healthy Neighborhood Stores offering customers healthy food samples, and teach customers how to improve the health of their family through good nutrition.
We would like to recognize the two stores that have been pivotal in championing these healthy retail efforts. Since 2010, Phil’s Cost Saver and Nena’s Zamora Market have been our allies, and advocates in improving the health of our community.
- Phil’s Cost Saver (formally Phil’s Foodway) at 30th and Ames. Phil’s was the very first Healthy Neighborhood Store in Nebraska. In 2010, Thomas allowed us into the store and their team (Thomas M. Davis, Ron Hrabik, and Byron Morrison) have been going above and beyond ever since.
- Another store that continues to be a model Healthy Neighborhood Store is Nena’s Zamora Market in South Omaha, owned by Candi and Angela Zamora. Their store offers a wide variety of healthy foods that meet the diverse needs of their community.
Both have these stores have made substantial improvements in their store increasing the availability, quality, and visibility of nutritious foods. Resulting in increased sells of healthy food and residents that are leading healthy lives through good nutrition.
Horticulture and Master Gardener Awards
Mulhall’s Nursery, Horticulture Business Education Partner
Mulhall’s Nursery is a family run garden retail center that has been in business since the late 1950’s, located on 120th and Maple Sts. in Omaha, Nebraska. The Mulhall family has been a proud sponsor of Master Gardener fundraising efforts and other Extension programming. Mulhall’s values the educational services that Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties offers and sends their staff to the Professional Horticulture Series that is offered every winter. Mulhall’s invites Extension Staff to present seminars at their store throughout the growing season. Along with the Community Environment team, the Nutrition and Food Safety have presented on canning and food preservation.
Mulhall’s landscape designers and diagnostic staff frequently utilize the horticulture team with the Extension Office when lacking evidence based information to respond to questions that they receive from their customers. As a result of this relationship, Mulhall’s staff respond in a similar manner to Nebraska Extension and do not shoot from the hip when answering questions and seeking out research based information.
When the Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties Office was facing budget elimination from the Douglas County Commissioners, Sean Mulhall was a staunch advocate on our behalf. He spoke with the commissioners advocating the importance of Extension and the services that we provide for the public and garden businesses.
Mid American Exposition, Horticulture Business Promotion Partner
Mike Mancuso of Mid-America Expositions has been and continues to be an outstanding businessperson and business to work with. Each year for almost 20 years, Mike has collaborated with Extension horticulture staff for the spring Lawn, Flower and Patio show held at the Century Link Center. This is the premiere garden show of the spring with much anticipation on the part of the public. Mike seeks our input for the show’s main attraction and is like-minded when it comes to our recommendations for people who have a solid background in horticulture, rather than the fly-by-night “puffs” who lack horticulture understanding. Mid-America welcomes Extension input for the garden theater seminars too and we populate the roster of speakers with many local Extension experts.
Mike has provided booth space at no cost to Extension for an “Ask the Master Gardener” table every single year. The Lawn, Flower and Patio show is not the only event MidAmerican Expositions manages. Each October, Mike and MidAmerican hosts the Fall Home and Garden Expo. Again, Mike offers booth space for the Master Gardeners at no cost to them or Extension. Unlike other gardening venues, Mike has been a strong proponent of Nebraska Extension’s involvement and input for horticulture in the Omaha Metro area.
Karla Rizzo, Master Gardener Distinguished Service Volunteer
Karla joined the Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program in 1996 and was recognized in 2017 as the Distinguished Master Gardener of the Year in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. Karla has volunteered over 6,600 hours in the last 21 years serving as the editor for Roots & Shoots. Her knowledge and talents of copyright laws, literature citations, and publishing software has been the backbone to the newsletter success.
Diane Kepler, Horticulture & Friends Foundation Volunteer
Diane Kepler joined the Master Gardener program in 1998. She has been an active member of the Master Gardener Roots & Shoots newsletter editing team and the Master Gardener raffle committee, one of our fund-raising projects. Diane has also helped with demonstration gardens. For the newsletter, Diane submits articles and provides her expertise in editing the newsletter.
Diane has been a member of the Master Gardener Raffle Committee since the committee’s inception in 2006. For the past two years, Diane has been the chairperson of the committee. She has been instrumental laying the groundwork for the Raffles success. Under her able leadership, the committee has grown in the number of Master Gardener participants, where she has streamlined the tasks each Master Gardener accomplishes. This has paid off in the results, with Diane and her committee raising over $10,000 each year. These funds go to the Friends of Extension and 4-H Foundation and help support the thirteen Master Gardener demonstration sites in the two-county area. Diane’s attention to detail, her accounting credentials and her ability to understand the complex laws associated with raffles have been a solid asset to the Master Gardener raffle team.
Peg Conley, Longest Tenured Master Gardener
Peg Conley is the longest serving Nebraska Extension Master Gardener in Douglas-Sarpy Counties and quite possibly in the state. She joined the ranks 39 years ago in 1979 when the program came to Nebraska. Over the years Peg has served as crew leader, Master Gardener Advisory Council board member, answering the phones with the Horticulture Helpline, flower judge for county fairs, and so much more. She also served on the foundation board in its early years.
Tom Brison, Outstanding Support Staff
Tom Brison, Computer Support Associate for NE Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties is being recognized for his outstanding innovations in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the Extension Units new website design, implementation and administration.
Thanks to Tom’s tireless efforts in creating novel design and administration solutions for the website, the local extension office possesses a highly functional, visually attractive and easy to administer cross-platform website solution which efficiently leverages other online/social media functionality in the marketing toolkit. In particular, he has been responsible for running research and development meetings with our Extension Unit Food, Nutrition and Health program team and UNL staff to redeploy an online payment function, serving a substantial client base seeking the food safety ServSafe Manager and Food Handler training programs.
Midland Scientific was founded on April 1, 1975 by John Gondring in Omaha, NE. The company’s objective was to meet the needs of industrial and commercial laboratories in the upper Midwest. John had previously worked in the Marketing Department of Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in St Louis. MO. A year later, John was joined by his wife Maggie, who brought ten years of experience at Monsanto in St Louis, MO with her. In 2007, the company was acquired by the current owner, Vivian Pappel.
Midland Scientific, Inc. is a woman-owned, full line distributor of laboratory products such as chemicals, instrumentation, general lab supplies, glassware, lab consumables, media, measurement equipment, plasticware, reagents, solutions, and much more. MSI primarily serves the agricultural, educational, food, industrial, and research markets with a sales force that covers the entire United States.
Midwest Laboratories Inc., Premier Partner
Midwest Laboratories, Inc. opened its doors for business on May 15, 1975 in Omaha, Nebraska. Since then, they have expanded into a 10-building campus devoted to performing a wide variety of analyses in a highly-regulated environment, providing the most thorough and customizable data in the industry.
Midwest Laboratories’ mission has remained singular throughout its substantial growth over the past four decades. Their staff strives to provide an exceptional experience to meet and exceed the expectations of clients, all the while maintaining a close relationship with those clients to add value to their operations.
They are constantly looking forward, pushing internal processes to meet and exceed new standards, gain more accreditations and provide precise and customizable data. This means working with all of their employees to accelerate the purchase of new instrumentation and develop new methods that meet the constantly evolving needs of clients.
Their Management Team ensures that all systems are in compliance with the necessary accreditations and certifications to guarantee the highest quality of analysis possible. Midwest Laboratories has over 140 employees and continues to build on its rich 40+ years of service.
Midwest Labs is also heavily in involved in the community.
Ken Pohlman, CEO
Ken has been in the laboratory business since 1964 with the exception of a two-year stint with Northrup King Seeds. Ken is the original founder of Midwest Laboratories which was started in May, 1975. Ken is still passionate about seeing Midwest Laboratories continued growth. In his spare time, Ken enjoys farm activities at Stanton Nebraska. Ken has two children: Brent and Amy and seven grandchildren. Ken enjoys attending activities with his children and grandchildren.
Brent Pohlman, president
Brent is a second-generation owner. Brent came back to Midwest Laboratories in 2005 as Marketing Director and became President in 2016. Previous to Midwest Laboratories, Brent worked at several corporations like HDR, Mutual of Omaha and Arthur Andersen. In addition, Brent has taught at the High School and College Levels. In his free-time, Brent enjoys spending time with his wife, Michele and their five children. He also served on the foundation board in its early years.