A U.S. flag that flew over Camp Buehring Kuwait now hangs with surrounding pride in Baker-Hebron Hall at Upper Iowa University’s (UIU) Fayette Campus. Iowa National Guard Sgt. Isaac Sedlmayr recently presented the retired flag to UIU professor of science and Robert L. Fox endowed chair of science Dr. Scott Figdore and UIU associate professor of biology Dr. Jennifer Stoffel outside Baker-Hebron. A 2015 graduate of UIU’s conservation management program, Sedlmayr was among members of the 248th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB) deployed to Kuwait and Camp Taji Iraq from December 2017 to September 2018.
“I thought about doing this from the time I arrived at Camp Beuhring,” Sedlmayr said. “I practically lived in Baker-Hebron Hall during my college education and in return I wanted to provide the UIU faculty a token of my appreciation. The professors made a big impact on my life. I wasn’t just a number on their computer. They actually cared about me and my future.”
Growing up near Green Valley State Park in southwest Iowa, Sedlmayr’s passion for the outdoors led him to enroll in the UIU conservation management program. Stoffel quickly recognized his dedication to nature and a number of his other positive characteristics.
“At the time Isaac started college, I wanted to increase a sense of service, stewardship and pride in our graduates so that each of them could help pave a path of success for future Peacocks to follow,” Stoffel said. “I knew Isaac, along with a few other students, could help me catalyze the change I wanted to see in our program. I was right. He and his classmates were pivotal in promoting that change.”
Recalling the first time they met, Stoffel said Sedlmayr had just registered for his first UIU classes when he informed her that he would need to miss the first few days of classes for a National Guard drill. While advising him on how to maintain his grades during his absence, Stoffel was impressed by Sedlmayr’s respect and attention to detail.
“Isaac is the kind of person who expects a lot of himself and those around him,” Stoffel said. “He is one of the most reliable and selfless people I know. He has always been a loyal supporter of UIU and our science programs. Even more specifically, he has been an advocate for me and the vision we have for our conservation management program.”
The recent flag presentation isn’t the first time that Sedlmayr has given back to his college alma mater. As part of his senior project, he restored a 3.5-acre prairie near the Churbuck Prairie at Fayette Campus. The project was completed with the assistance of Stoffel, Figdore and Fayette County Conservation. The prairie area now complements UIU’s other existing outdoor learning spaces that most field science students utilize in their coursework.
“Isaac is one of the most generous individuals that I know,” Figdore said. “His humble dedication and service to his family, friends, school, community and nation truly defines who he is. Isaac’s gift shows a sincere appreciation for the faculty who influenced his educational experience. Graduates like Isaac have a similar impact on us. They are a key component in providing faculty the additional motivation to do our best each day.”
A Chinook technical inspector, Sedlmayr has served with the National Guard for six years. Isaac’s brother, Zac Sedlmayr, shares a similar passion for land and country. A 2011 graduate of UIU’s conservation management program, Zac serves with the U.S. Air National Guard and is employed as a senior conservation officer with the Idaho Fish and Game.
Isaac has been employed with Fayette County Conservation since April 2016. He and his fiancée, Alisha VanderWoude ‘17, reside in Elgin, Iowa. Alisha double majored in environmental science and conservation management at UIU. She is employed with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Allamakee County.