IVCCD Bestows Ambassador of the Year Award to Brendan Kelly

During the Iowa Valley Community College District All Staff Day, held August 17 at Marshalltown Community College, the District recognized several individuals that have contributed to the success of the campus communities.

IVCCD President Dr. Kristie Fisher presented the awards as follows:

Ambassador of the Year: The Ambassador of the Year Awards are designed to recognize community members or organizations that have represented IVCCD’s Core Values through their service or accomplishments that have directly benefited IVCCD and/or its students.

Ambassador of the Year Award to Brendan Kelly

Brenda Kelly was nominated by two IVCCD employees for his contributions to the District. Brendan helped drive the kids camps Outdoor Adventure and Kids in College forward. The first award nomination read, in part, “(Outdoor Adventure) IVCCD collaborated with the ISU Tama County Extension office and Tama County Conservation to host a kid’s camp for Tama County students in the summer of 2018.  This collaboration has continued to provide a quality summer camp for students not only in Tama County but also to Marshall and Grundy county students.  Brendan was instrumental in coordinating the activities and leading many of the sessions.  We needed to think outside the box last summer as Otter Creek Park would not be available due to lake restoration.  Brendan quickly reached out to the Union Grove Conservationist and secured a date for us to host the camp. 

(Kids in College) His ability to say yes and want to partner to bring additional experiences to students from our district is truly an incredible gift.  He sees the value of the partnership and continues to support the growth of opportunities for students around the area.  He is passionate about what he does and he is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things outdoors. He is so good at what he does and he is never intimidating, always kind-spoken, and willing to share his love of the outdoors.  His passion is contagious. Brendan Kelly is truly a gift to IVCCD.  His partnership and collaboration are greatly appreciated and I look forward to the future planning for our area youth!  He is an asset to the IVCCD community!

The second nomination read, in part: Brendan Kelly works at Tama County Conservation as a Naturalist.  His partnership has been instrumental in providing MCC students with unique learning experiences.  Without his work, we would not be able to provide the same quality, real-life learning experiences in the field of Ecology and Biology.  As part of an NSF project, I was tasked with forming a community partnership and providing laboratory experiences in the field.  This proved to be a more difficult task than first imagined.  Finally, we found the perfect partner at Tama CC. Brendan was more than willing to work with our group and even worked on the weekends.  He met with our group on multiple occasions to collect field samples used for the study.  But his enthusiasm and connection with the students were the most life-changing part of this partnership.  He made science come alive for them and provided a glimpse of what a career in biology can look like.  This three-year project started prior to COVID and the derecho.  Unfortunately, both of these events put a hold on our 3rd year of work for a short while.  However, as soon as it was safe, we returned to Otter Creek to continue the project.  Brendan met with us on a weekend and helped our upper-level students complete the requirements for their field research class.  Without his assistance, this would not have been possible.  When we were asked to report our findings on the NSF grant project, MCC was the only group (out of all of the CC in the state) to have students complete the stand-alone field research class.  Despite COVID and natural disasters, this partnership survived and our students had life-changing experiences.  This partnership literally embodies the district’s mission of “providing quality learning experiences and ensuring student success”.  All students that completed this project have graduated and continued their work in Biology either in the field or at a university. Based on their experience with Brendan, two students changed their specific majors in the field based on seeing first-hand what opportunities are possible and Brendan’s positive influence.  This is the true definition of a successful partnership.