Excellence in Mentoring Awards

Established in 2009, the Excellence in Mentoring Awards gives Iowa Mentoring Partnership (IMP) certified programs the opportunity to recognize outstanding long-time youth mentors. Individuals selected have served as a mentor a minimum of two years and exemplify both the spirit and positive benefits of mentoring.

All recipients are nominated by the program at which they volunteer. Mentors are selected based on their advocacy and leadership in mentoring, innovation, impact, commitment to their mentee, the match relationship, and the program itself. Many recipients possess a compelling mentoring story that illustrates how positive experiences alter the life of a young person for the better.

"We invite the public to help identify Iowans who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and leadership as a volunteer and/or mentor.  Those who have gone above and beyond their expected duties to improve lives are the people we wish to honor,” stated Governor Terry E. Branstad.

The Excellence in Mentoring Award is the most prestigious honor that a youth mentor in Iowa can receive. 


2017 Excellence in Mentoring Award Winners


Buzz Paterson from Storm Lake has been mentoring with STARS Mentoring Program for 12 years. He has mentored three middle school boys, serves on the advisory board, recruits mentors and helps with fundraising and marketing for STARS. Leveraging his position as a radio manager, Buzz shares mentoring stories on air to build community support for the program. In his mentoring relationships, Buzz persists in providing all his mentees with the care and thoughtfulness the youth need to flourish. His mentees know Buzz will always be there for them.

Drew Gentsch of Des Moines has been volunteering as a mentor for 13 years with Everybody Wins! Iowa. He has mentored nine students and read with many more.  Despite working with a variety of readers at different reading levels he has helped each child grow in their abilities. Drew was a founding member of Everybody Wins! Iowa and advocates for young people in his community while engaging his friends and family to volunteer as mentors or supporters as well.

Donette Griffin from Blue Grass, Iowa, has mentored for 11 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County. She serves as an advocate for mentoring in her community through public speaking and interviews with the local press to about the positive impact of youth mentoring. She hosts an annual cookie social for community members to talk about mentoring and the needs of the community. Her match with her mentee is the longest in the program currently. Donette says, ‘There were times I questioned whether I was making a difference. Then other times there are tears in my eyes because it’s just the best match.”

Mike Bauer of Shenandoah has been mentoring through Links to LNX e-Mentoring for 6 years where he has mentored over 10 students. As a member of the Advisory Council he started a mentoring club, MC2 organizing many group activities and community workplace tours. Mike listens to the students’ ideas and facilitates career exploration opportunities expand his horizons and connect students to the community. Mike has an open-door policy for all his mentees, and they know he is there for them they need him.

Rose Strickland from Muscatine has been mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mississippi Valley for 5 years. Rose exudes genuineness which gives her credibility when talking with others about her match and in articles she has written to encourage mentoring.  She has seen her mentee dare to dream of accomplishing things that years ago she would have thought impossible.  Early in the match, her middle school mentee would ask if they would still be together in high school. Rose’s response was always, “I am here for you as long as you want me to be with you!”


The Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame and the Excellence in Mentoring Awards are coordinated by Volunteer Iowa.  For more information, e-mail icvs@iowa.gov or call 1.800.308.5987.



Printed from the website on March 19, 2018 at 1:01am.