CLINTON — Wednesday night was full of surprises as the Clinton Jaycees held their 69th Annual Awards Banquet at Rastrelli’s Banquet Center.

Perhaps most unexpected was the selection of two Distinguished Service Award winners, Tom and Jeni Van Buer, presented by Eric Van Lancker, last year’s winner.

Tom Van Buer served as the 2005 Jaycees president and is the current chairman of the board. He “has been dedicated to the Jaycees Senior Christmas Party” said Van Lancker, and “was also heavily involved in the Jaycees sandbox fill program.” In addition Tom was indispensable in bringing a carnival back to Clinton for the 2006 Fourth of July celebration.

The Van Buers do extensive work in the Prince of Peace parish. Jeni serves as a YWCA Board member, Girl Scout Leader and assists with the hotline for the Pregnancy Center.

“That’s in addition to the countless random acts of kindness,” Van Lancker said, “such as providing meals to people and families who are in crisis.

“And last, but certainly not least,” he said, the Van Buers have “been instrumental in making sure that everyone knows that Clinton, Iowa, is an Iowa Great Place.”

The Outstanding Young Farmer Award was presented to Tyler Davisson, of DeWitt, who has farmed about 4,000 acres near Grand Mound, Calamus, Lost Nation and Welton on a corn and soybean rotation for the past six years. His harvested crop is taken to Archer Daniels Midland-Growmark. Davisson has used GPS by using yield maps to determine where fertilizer is needed and in precision farming.

Davisson is on the Calamus Volunteer Fire Department and is a member of the Clinton County Cattlemen’s Association. He was nominated by Ashley Leibold, Clinton County youth coordinator with Iowa State University Clinton County Extension.

Georgianne “Gigi” Fairchild, a science teacher at Prince of Peace College Preparatory, received the Outstanding Young Educator Award.

Fairchild earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University, majoring in biology and secondary education with teaching endorsements in biology, chemistry, physical science and general science. She “broadened her own education with study-abroad experiences in Australia and Florence… she gained hands-on teaching experience as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the ISU department of biology.”

In the two years Fairchild has worked as a full-time educator, she “has enhanced the science education at Prince of Peace College Preparatory by strengthening the curriculum, introducing an Advanced Placement biology course and inspiring students to appreciate the sciences.

“When a group of (Prince of Peace) 2005 graduates returned to school to advise underclassmen on preparing for college,” Principal Nancy Peart wrote on the nomination form, “they recommended that our students take as many of Miss Fairchild’s classes as possible, indicating how well prepared they were for collegiate studies in the sciences.”

The Outstanding Young Religious Leader Award went to the Rev. Thomas Hennen, a priest with the Davenport Diocese and Parochial Vicar with the Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.

Hennen conducts three weekend Masses and three daily Masses each week. He administers Sacraments and presides at funerals.

Hennen has been very involved with youth ministry, and he recently attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Atlanta with 52 youths from the parish. He is the Knights of Columbus Chaplain and works with the Victory Center.

The final Community Award was presented to Pat Drennen, CEO of 1st Gateway Credit Union.

Drennen “has leadership, vision, honesty, dedication and is a good listener,” wrote Dennis Duerling. “True leaders are not those who strive to be first but those who are first to strive and give their all for the success of the team.”

Drennen led the 1st Gateway Credit Union to grow from $18 million in credit to $46 million, and under his direction it has grown from one office to four total.

He graduated from Dennison High School, received a degree in finance from ISU, and graduated from the CUNA Mutual Management School in Madison, Wisc

Drennen served as the first vice chairman of the Iowa Credit Union League and has been the director and executive committee member of the Iowa Credit Union League Board since 1994.

The Dr. H.L. Burkert Project of the Year Award was given to Jessica Hilgendorf for her work on the Senior Christmas party, and Travis Flatten was named Officer of the Year. Steve Napolitano received the Key Leadership Award, and Gena Schneider and Jessica Hilgendorf each were recognized as Jaycee of the Year. Two winners also were selected for the Jasper W. Morgan Outstanding First-Year Jaycee Award, Carrie Schwartz and Kristina Bellich.

The members of the Symphony of Lights Board were recognized by Chairman Matt Deminsky, and Tom VanBuer acknowledged the Jaycee members who had coordinated a project throughout the year.

The night’s keynote speaker was Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Lauver, who touched on mistakes leaders make and provided an overview of Iowa Great Places elements, Vision Iowa progress and other projects taking place in the community.