March 4, 2015

Character Counts hands out annual awards

A select group of Iowans is being honored for their efforts to promote what are known as the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Amy Smit, spokeswoman for Character Counts in Iowa, says this year’s Educator of Character Award goes to Scott Jeske, the principal of Robert Blue Middle School in Eagle Grove.

“Scott’s one of those guys that we’ve known for a long time and I’m not sure he’s ever been nominated,” Smit says. “He just quietly does the right thing and really promotes character in his school. Lots of times we see that in our nominees. They don’t ask for recognition, they’re just doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.”

One of this year’s top awards is named after a former Iowa governor. Smit says a central Iowa man is receiving the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award. “This year it’s going to Jim Aipperspach from Clive,” she says. “He has been helping the organization strategically find its place for a lot of years. We’re very lucky to have his wisdom. Governor Ray really appreciates all that he does.”

The Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award is named for a young man from Eagle Grove who was killed when a tornado hit a Boy Scout camp in western Iowa in 2008. Eilerts was known for spearheading a host of beneficial projects in his home town. Smit says the award in his honor is going to a student from central Iowa. “Lot of times, people with good character do good things in their community, but there seems to be people out there who go above and beyond to help,” Smit says. “So this year, Emma Rittgers from Ankeny is going to be receiving our Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award.”

The winners will be honored August 1st at the Iowa Character awards ceremony at the Hy-Vee Conference Center in West Des Moines. Learn more at: www.charactercountsiniowa.org

Here is the full list of the recipients to be honored this year:

Citizen of Character Award (Youth): Rose Eischeid of Carroll
Citizen of Character Award (Adult): Milton Cole of West Des Moines
Champion of Character Award: Bruce Clark of Waterloo
Educator of Character Award: Scott Jeske of Eagle Grove
School of Character Award: Clear Creek Elementary in Clear Lake
Pursuing Victory with Honor Award: Drake University Athletics Des Moines
Community of Character Award: New Hampton
Service Dog of Character: Puppy Jake of Des Moines
Organization of Character Award: Freedom Quilts of Fonda
Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award: Emma Rittgers of Ankeny
Partner of the Year: Wells Fargo
Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award: Jim Aipperspach of Clive

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City