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Brad Jakubowski doesn't need accolades for inspiration.
But when the Nebraska Arborists Association (NAA) presented him with their Educator of the Year Award last week, he didn’t simply shrug it off.
He couldn’t help but smile and savor it.
“I think it’s an added bonus,” said Jakubowski, an adjunct environmental sciences professor who splits time between Doane’s School of Arts and Sciences in Crete and School of Graduate and Professional Studies Lincoln. “It’s something that I haven’t necessarily strove for, but like I said, it’s a humbling opportunity to be recognized by your peers or people that you work with in the industry. You always try to do your best.”
Doane isn’t the College of world-class classes without innovative faculty like Jakubowski.
And his recognition during a brief award hand-off with Kent Holm, one of the NAA’s past presidents, captured that sentiment Friday afternoon in the Lied Science and Mathematics Building on the Crete campus.
“Brad’s been involved with our Arbor school in Novemeber at the Lied Lodge the last couple of years and has done a great job,” said Holm, who doubles as the Douglas County Environmental Services Director and a member of the NAA’s Board of Directors. “We’ve got all sorts of good, positive comments about his teaching style and just all the things he brings to that class.”
The lessons Jakubowski has imparted during soil training through the NAA have been as beneficial for him as they have been for the arborists. Those November stints the last two years at Nebraska City’s Lied Lodge have enriched his own knowledge. In turn, the Doane professor is bringing enhancements back to all of his science classes – geography of agriculture, meteorology, physical geography, physical geology, soil systems and sustainability, and sustainable turf grass and urban landscapes.
“It helped me stretch my envelope (as an instructor), as far as applying soil and tree interactions or just soil and plant materials and how they interact with soils,” Jakubowski said.
“Everything starts in the soil. The more you know about your starting point, the more successful you’re going to be with that.”
Holm, who nominated Jakubowski for the award, said the Doane professor is a deserving recipient because of his outstanding work during an invaluable portion of the arborists’ overall training.
“The soils piece of it is really a big deal when it comes to trees because that’s the foundation of everything for a tree, so it’s really important that we have a good instructor for that,” Holm said. “Brad’s done a great job.”
Jakubowski has continued to do that in Doane's environmental sciences department, which is part of why Doane is the College of get a great job. Much like the biology faculty, they have taken a progressive approach to adapting their curriculum and introducing new classes to prepare students for the needs of the 21st-century job market.
“It’s really shown that being a smaller school, we offer good curriculum,” Jakubowski said. “We’re still a small-enough size that we’re flexible enough that we can really make some neat changes as far as curriculum goes and identify needs for the students.”