Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Award
For outstanding outreach by an amateur astronomer to children and the public
The Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Award, given for the first time in 2001, seeks to honor outstanding educational outreach by an amateur astronomer to K-12 children and the interested lay public.
The 2018 recipient is Don Ficken, a member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society.
Established by Wayne Rosing and Dorothy Largay, the Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Award honors outstanding educational outreach by an amateur astronomer to K-12 children and the interested lay public. The 2018 recipient is Don Ficken, a member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society who has performed remarkable services in expanding the outreach programs of the society.
Since 2014, Ficken has developed and managed the SLAS Library Telescope program which now circulates 135 telescopes through libraries in eastern Missouri and western Illinois in addition to another five telescopes made available to local pre-college educators. Ficken also expanded the educators’ telescope program to include 13 Sun Spotter telescopes, dedicated to solar viewing, used by library branches for eclipse programs during the summer of 2017. In 2018 Ficken joined an Astronomical Society of the Pacific committee to develop a nationwide Library Telescope Program.
In addition he founded the St. Louis Eclipse 2017 Task Force which worked three years to prepare the St. Louis metro area for the historic 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Ficken delivered more than 200 presentations in the St. Louis area and grew the task force to more than 300 representatives from schools, science museums, local and state agencies, businesses, libraries, universities, astronomy clubs, and civic groups in central and eastern Missouri and western Illinois. Ficken also produced the June 19, 2017 Saint Louis Solar Eclipse Expo attended by over 4,000 people which included the procurement and distribution of over 160,000 solar eclipse-viewing glasses at no cost to pre-college students and their educators. Ficken subsequently coordinated the collection of over 23,000 used solar viewing glasses for use by schools in South America located in the path of the 2019 solar eclipse.
Highly regarded by his peers in both professional and amateur public outreach, Ficken’s passion for astronomy and space represents the very best practices in amateur STEM education. In praise of his work, one of his nominators said, “Don’s efforts for the expo not only touched the lives of the visitors that day, but it also inspired and enabled other groups to do their own major eclipse outreach efforts.”
Please contact the Awards team if you have questions about the nomination process