LINCOLN – Faculty and staff from the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were honored at a virtual awards ceremony on Dec. 9.
Lew Sieber, fire shop manager of the Nebraska Forest Service in Mead, received an Outstanding Employee Award. The nomination narrative said Lew was on the response team for the historic floods that affected much of eastern Nebraska in 2019. Under Lew’s leadership, the Nebraska Forest Service provided trucks and equipment which proved crucial to volunteer fire departments. One short year later, during the beginning of this pandemic, Lew was a vital component in helping create 200,000-plus gallons of hand sanitizer for essential institutions throughout Nebraska. He delivered sanitizer to UNL’s Food Processing center, K-12 schools, emergency managers, fire departments and chambers of commerce throughout the state. Lew is a valued member of the NFS, IANR and UNL.
The Outstanding Employee Award recognizes employees who have gone above and beyond their job responsibilities. Recipients received $750, a certificate, and a lapel pin.
Sieber was also a member of the Food Processing Hand Sanitizer team that was recognized in the team category of the Omtvedt Innovation Awards, which recognize exceptional service for innovative research and teaching. The recipients of the individual award for teaching, research and extension each received $2,500 and a plaque. The recipients of the team awards received $5,000 for the team and a team plaque.
In response to COVID-19, this team went from brainstorming on April 1 to successfully blending more than 1,200 gallons of hand sanitizer by April 5. To assemble the necessary equipment, devices and supplies to establish a functioning facility in the parking lot west of the Food Innovation Center showed ingenuity and innovation. Over the four-month period the hand sanitizer production facility operated, almost 200,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and disinfectant were blended and packaged. Product was shipped directly to 70 of the 93 counties in Nebraska and distributed to K-12 public schools, county fairs and throughout the NU system. Additional units went to USDA FSIS inspectors across the US and numerous medical providers and health agencies.