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4 Corners 4-H Club (video)
Organization of Character

“Nothing is intimidating to this group,” says nominator Marilee Miller.  “When given an assignment, they are always ready to tackle the project.  They have the abilities to analyze a project and apply their skills to finish the job.”

The Club’s skills go a long way in making their community a better place.  The group donated and planted trees for walking trails, made picnic tables for churches and parks, donated food baskets, donated funds to send care packages to soldiers overseas, collected 20,000 pull tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, and baked items for bake sales.  These are just a few of the many projects that the 4 Corners 4-H Club have taken on.

The Club members have become a dependable resource to the community.  Jayne Wells from the Cantril Grassroots organization says, “Their willingness to do what is needed and do it with a positive attitude is so refreshing.  It inspires other volunteers to do just a little more and do it with more joy.”

Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling (video)
Partner of the Year

Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling has been the Tyler family business for five generations.  Over the years, one thing has remained the same:  the company’s dedication to their community and state.

Atlantic Bottling has supported Character Counts In Iowa since its inception.  Their support has provided critical funding for our projects throughout the state.

As importantly, Atlantic Bottling is an active advocate of our mission.  The Tyler family is always eager to speak to others on the importance of character and civility.  They never lose an opportunity to describe the ways that Character Counts In Iowa is working to promote character and civility in our state.

Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling has been an innovative partner, always eager to find new ways to support our mission.

Fort Dodge, Iowa (video)
Community of Character

A 1998 community-wide survey reported that Fort Dodge needed to help their youth succeed and reach their full potential. A task force was formed to investigate various youth programs and initiatives around the country, which resulted in the creation of Character Counts in Fort Dodge in 1999.

An 18 member Coordinating Council was established in 2000 and a coordinator was hired to lead the initiative. Since its inception, Character Counts in Fort Dodge provides youth with opportunities to develop important character values and leadership skills.  The goal is to help youth reach their full potential and become positive and productive members of the community.

Since 2000, the community has created city street banners promoting CHARACTER COUNTS!, conducted city-wide CC! Training for all employees and police officers, integrated character into the city hiring process, recognized local students who live by the Six Pillars of Character in The Messenger newspaper, conducted an annual Youth Character Awards Contest recognizing elementary, middle and high school youth and much, much more.

Lowell Elementary E.L.P. (video)
School Organization of Character

Students in the Expanded Learning Program (E.L.P.) at Lowell Elementary became alarmed when they witnessed litter in their local waterways. The students saw plastic bags and beverage rings discarded throughout their community.

The ELP students decided to take action and developed a project called “The Planet Protectors Against Plastic.” The 13 students challenged their families and friends to make changes in their personal behavior.  Next, they asked the entire community to support the project by asking everyone to evaluate and change their practices regarding plastic in our environment.

The students collected plastic bags and recycled them to turn them into park benches and picnic tables for school grounds and local parks.  Additionally, the students made reusable grocery bags from donated t-shirts.


Tipton Elementary & Middle School (video)
School of Character

The faculty and staff have enthusiastically worked on character education at Tipton Elementary & Middle School for more than four years.

After completing a thorough course on CHARACTER COUNTS! implementation, educators at Tipton eagerly began teaching their students about the Six Pillars of Character.

Tipton Middle School began the Power2Achieve curriculum in 2011 to help students focus on how character helps doing their best work.

”Teacher Jayne Erickson says, “The life-changing heart of our school community flows from an attitude of strong character exemplified in the lives of our students and staff.  It’s what we believe in and live everyday.  It’s an embedded part of who we are as individuals and as a community.

As both of our buildings embrace and live out the Six Pillars of Character, we are beginning to see our enthusiasm spread beyond the walls of the schools, into our community and beyond.  Even people in neighboring communities recognize the quality and caring nature of our schools, as evidenced by the large number of students open-enrolling to our district.  At Tipton Elementary and Middle School, we truly believe that character counts!”


West High School Volleyball Team (video)
Pursuing Victory With Honor

How we react in the wake of tragedy reveals our character.  For the members of the West High School volleyball team, their strength of character has been displayed every day for nearly a year.

After team member Caroline Found passed away due to a moped accident, the team united to honor Caroline’s memory – by pursuing victory with honor.

Instead of dwelling on their loss, they chose to let it inspire them daily and “Live Like Line”.  They put this phrase and her jersey number (#9) on shirts and wristbands to help keep her close and to inspire them everyday.

School Guidance Counselor Paul Breitbach nominated the team for an Iowa Character Award.  “Words can’t express how much pride I have in our volleyball team,” said Paul.  “I have been around athletics for a long time and what our team has done is the best example of teamwork, courage, dedication, determination, will power, compassion and love I have ever seen.”


Abigail Frommelt (video)
Citizen of Character

Abigial is the daughter of Greg and Marsha Frommelt of Eagle Grove. At 14 years of age, her good character has already made an impact on her peers, teachers and family.

One of Abbie’s classmates says, “Abbie is a very kind and respectful person. I think it is because she stands up for everyone.  She is responsible in the

classroom and is very trustworthy.  She is an amazing friend who will help you make the right decision in whatever you’re doing.”

Beth Stephas, Abbie’s school guidance counselor, nominated Abbie for the Iowa Character Award.  Beth says, “Abbie not only does her share, but also more than her share.  She is so quick to recognize the needs of others and help out.  Other students love to have Abbie as their partner for group activities because they know she will give her all to insure the best possible result.”

Abbie’s dedication to helping others reaches beyond her school.  She regularly participates in events at the local nursing home, including playing music for the residents, helping cater special dinners, and taking residents to the state fair.

Dr. David Maxwell (video)
President Drake University

David Maxwell, Ph.D., has been president of Drake University since May of 1999.  His presidency at Drake has been an example of leading with character and civility.

Using the University’s Statement of Principles as a guide, President Maxwell encourages the campus community to engage in healthy debate and discussion of differing opinions – supporting a climate of respect and tolerance.  He has supported a meaningful partnership between Drake University and Character Counts In Iowa – a partnership which innately supports the University’s culture of excellence.

Born in New York City, Dr. Maxwell earned his bachelor’s degree in Russian area studies from Grinnell College in 1966.  He received his master’s and doctorate degrees in Slavic languages and literatures from Brown University, in 1968 and 1974, respectively.

President Maxwell serves on the Community Board of the Wells Fargo Bank, Iowa, the Implementation Committee of the Capital Crossroads initiative and is a member of the Greater Des Moines Committee.  He is a past member of the Board of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, past President of the Des Moines Higher Education Collaborative, past chair of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, and past chair of the Missouri Valley Conference.

In 2011, Dr. Maxwell received the Chief Executive Leadership Award from District VI, Council for
Advancement and Support of Education.  In 2012, he received the A. Arthur Davis Distinguished
Community Leadership Award from the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.

Dr. Maxwell is married to Madeleine Mali Maxwell, formerly a creative director.  They are the parents of Justin, a user experience guru in Silicon Valley, and Stephen, a physicist at a national laboratory.

Sophie Neems (video)
Citizen of Character

“Making good choices is not always the easiest path, especially as a teenager and in the society we live in,” says Julie Stone, Sophie’s aunt. “Sophie has made good choices by being a leader in her school and in her activities. She actively chooses to spend her very rare free time volunteering in our community.”

As a member of the Interact Volunteer Club for four years, Sophie has demonstrated good character and impacted her community in a variety of ways.   From organizing fund raising events to developing her school’s recycling program, Sophie strives to make her community better.

Sophie is able to balance her community service with excellence at school and extra-curricular activities.  “No one could achieve the things Sophie has without persistence,” Julie says.  “Her course load alone would leave many without the time or inclination for extra-curricular activities.  Sophie not only participates in various choir, orchestra and drama productions, she does so while keeping her grades at a remarkable level.”

Harold "Bud" Lawton (video)
Citizen of Character 

Susan Stock, Harold's daughter, nominated him for an Iowa Character Award. "As I look to where he has been in life, the trail of wonderful projects and friends that follow him, I am so proud of him," Susan says. "I am proud of the legacy that he has left for me. He made the right choices without bragging or pointing out what he was doing. He just took action that he felt necessary, especially when it would help someone else and offered him no reward."

At 88, Harold has not stopped contributing to his community. After noticing that the local gold course had no recycling bins, he took it upon himself to set up a building with recycling bins and garbage cans. A few times a week Harold heads to the course to empty the garbage and sort the recycling. 

Susan says, "His powerful character traits have crossed generations. As a little girl, I could always count on people knowing and admiring my dad, and it still continues today. My sister and I, and our families, consider Dad the role model we want to be."  

Greg Pavelka (video)
Character Champion

Greg Pavelka has been an advocate of the Six Pillars of Character in his personal and professional life.

Greg goes above and beyond when his company, East Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperatives, sponsors a CHARACTER COUNTS! workshop for local teachers.  He helps coordinate the logistics of the workshops and then arrives early to greet the participants and thank them for coming.

Greg’s enthusiasm and support has ensured that hundreds of Iowa teachers hear about the Six Pillars of Character.

His support of our mission doesn’t stop when the work day is over.  He eagerly volunteers for Character Counts In Iowa – including at the State Fair and the Iowa Character Awards selection committee.


Catherine Timmerman (video)
Educator of Character

Catherine is the K-8 principal at West Central Elementary School.  After helping to develop the school’s Necessities in Character Education (NICE) program in 1998, Catherine leads the school’s character education, school mentoring, and at-risk programs.

Co-worker Julie Bloom says, “I have worked with Cathy for 17 years and admire her work ethic and look up to her for guidance and unmatched integrity.”

A recent graduate reflected upon his time with Mrs. Timmerman since 8th grade.  “When I think of a remarkable person, I see Mrs. Timmerman’s smiling face,” he said.  “Her love and inspiration to kids shows her willingness to go the extra mile for this school to succeed.  And the fact that many great people that she helps turn into outstanding citizens is a remarkable achievement on its own.  Mrs. Timmerman, I just want you to know  nobody could ever replace you.”


Ryan Speer (video)
Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award

Several years ago, Ryan was a patient at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines for an extended times. While he was in the hospital, his parents stayed at the Ronal McDonald House.

The services of the Ronald McDonald House has such a positive impact on Ryan, he wanted to find a way to give back and help support the Ronald McDonald House and the other families who would stay there. 

Over the past four years, Ryan has collected 140 gallons of pop tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House. Last year, Ryan involved his classmates and they collected 177 gallons of pop tabs. “This entire project has been one that Ryan initiated on his own,” says nominator Dewey Hupke. “He is always willing to tell others about his pop tab project and enjoys giving back to the Ronald McDonald House in this way.”

In addition to community service, Ryan is known for his good character. “Ryan is a respectful student,” says Hupke. “He likes to help other students when they need it. Ryan is trustworthy and dependable, and his caring attitude towards others makes him the fine young boy that he is.” 

August 21, 2020
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August 18, 2020