It seemed like things couldn’t get better for Robert A.Waterson.
It was 2003. Waterson was in Washington, D.C., to accept an award from then Secretary of State Colin Powell for his work developing high school students in their study of diplomacy as part of a new international program.
As a social studies high school teacher for 25 years, he knew his subject, his audience and his purpose. But during the moment of success, he realized it wasn’t enough to be recognized by his country for forming responsible citizens. He had more to do. So he left.
“I left all that I had loved,” Waterson said. “I mean all of it.”
He left Indiana, his home state. He left the high school where he taught. After studying year-round for three years, he earned a doctorate of philosophy in curriculum and instruction from Purdue University. After serving one year as an assistant professor in Texas, he chose West Virginia University, a place open to teaching students through experience how to be complete, responsible community members.
Fewer than three years later, he is being recognized for his public service to West Virginia with the WVU Gerry and Ethel Heebink Award for Distinguished State Service, in the beginning service category.
Robert Dailey, who is being recognized with the Heebink Award in the extended service category, has a lengthier story at WVU.
A faculty member since 1977, he has worked weekdays and many weekends teaching students the latest practices in the dairy industry as well as shaping the state’s dairy industry.
With the help of a student and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, he developed the West Virginia Dairy Quality Assurance Program. He has advised many undergraduate and graduate students and he has guided the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design as interim dean. He also served as interim director of the Division of Animal & Nutritional Sciences.
They work in different areas, and they’ve served for varying years, but they both bring innovative service to WVU and the state.
Dailey and Waterson will be recognized during Honors Week (April 8-17).
In class, he prepares students to teach in 5th through 12th grade classrooms with innovative curriculum. His students learn to incorporate community into their teaching as they volunteer with political campaigns, interview World War II veterans, make Abraham Lincoln’s legacy come alive, and examine controversial public issues such as Sept. 11, 2001.
Mary Haas, a professor who chaired the committee that selected Waterson, noted the effectiveness of his methods.
“I have been present at all of the projects and observed the enthusiasm of the students and public participants,” she wrote. “Such efforts are unique in the nation and much needed in today’s age of rapid change that tends to isolate people rather than to recognize and work for the improvement of civic life.”
Throughout his education career, Waterson has seen how the ideals and practice of citizenship haven’t been nearly as prevalent as America’s Founding Fathers intended.
“It hasn’t been a focal point for a long time in our society as you look around the world today,” Waterson said. “Nothing is more relevant right now in the world than developing ideas about democracies.”
Though he’s not from West Virginia, he immersed himself in the state’s history, people and challenges. Though it’s important to recognize needs, he said, it’s vital to provide service to meet those needs.
In educating the WVU and general communities, Waterson follows President Jim Clements’ recently stated vision of “serving the state like never before.”
“I have always taken that challenge pretty seriously, even more so today,” he said.
Waterson serves on two West Virginia boards, the West Virginia Civic Literacy Council and the West Virginia Holocaust Education Commission.
If you ask people to tell you about Bob Dailey, they’ll say the Davis-Michael Professor of Animal Physiology is always there.
He works with the state and region’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America dairy cattle judging teams, created honors and other courses for non-majors to connect them with farm and veterinarian practices, spreads information to dairy farmers on the latest cow breeding issues, writes for “Hoard’s Dairyman,” served on review panels for the WVU Board of Governors and wrote the history of the Davis College.
Whether he’s advising the dairy science club after hours or finding funding for waste biomass projects, Dailey supports the people around him and the industry he’s invested so much in.
“The dairy industry has been an important sector to the state agricultural and rural communities,” Dailey said. “Our industry does not incorporate the modern practices of most of the large dairy farms because of the limitations that we have in topography and infrastructure. We do have potential to remain a viable and sustainable industry by incorporating wider use of our grasses in our programs.”
According to Jean Woloshuk, a 4-H Youth Extension specialist, Dailey has served as all things to all people.
“The effectiveness of any educator involves extending knowledge, being in touch with the people, and having a desire to serve the people,” she said.
“Professor Dailey’s attention to these aspects of his profession have made him one of the best faculty members in the Davis College and one whose leadership skills, creditability, integrity, commitment, and genuine concern for the people of the state are recognized throughout the agricultural community of the state.”
Jane Tabb, president of the West Virginia Dairy Cattle Show Inc., has seen Dailey organize the State Dairy Judging contest for years.
“Managing college and high school students on such a trip is no easy task,” Tabb said. “Add coaching duties into the mix and it is evident that it is a labor of love.”
Dailey said he was honored to receive the award.
“The award is in recognition for our program that we have within the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences and the past efforts that we have given to providing service for clientele in the state: in my case service to the people in the dairy industry and youth programs in particular,” he said.
During his career, Dailey has also received the Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award and been named a Benedum Distinguished Scholar.
The Gerry and Ethel Heebink Awards for Distinguished State Service were created in 1982 by David Heebink in honor of his parents to reward exemplary service of WVU faculty and staff to the state of West Virginia. Gerry Heebink was a dairyman with the WVU Agricultural Extension Service from 1935 until his death in 1956. Ethel Heebink taught English at WVU for several years after World War II.
The beginning service award goes to a staff or faculty member who has served fewer than eight years, and the extended service award goes to someone who has served at least eight years.
CONTACT: WVU University Relations
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