The U.S. Army recognized the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office with a first-place award in the 2016 Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Communications Awards competition for "Community Relations -- Special Event."

The Army named their Earth Day event, held in April 2016, as the top event in the category after the team won at the Installation Management Command level earlier this year.

The event started with a simple suggestion, said Tiffany Wood, Public Affairs Office director.

A public affairs specialist in the office approached Wood with an idea for a special event, one Fort Leonard Wood hadn't participated in for a while. Wood said she approved the idea and left it up to the specialist to coordinate.

"My educational background in wildlife conservation and biology made facilitating an Earth Day event for post an easy fit," said Ryan Thompson, public affairs specialist.

Thompson took the lead and coordinated with local conservation, wildlife and agricultural organizations as well as local schools and other Fort Leonard Wood offices, such as the Directorate of Public Works, for support.

Public Affairs and DPW Environmental contributed more than 160 man-hours planning, coordinating and setting up the event.

In the end, a packed Nutter Field House and about 500 school-aged-children made it all worth it, Thompson said.

"Our Public Affairs staff put in outstanding work to ensure the success of Earth Day," Wood said. "The recognition, not only at the IMCOM level, but the Army level as well, is a testament to the hard work the staff puts in every day -- be it for a media engagement, the GUIDON or a special event."

Plans are already underway for this year's Earth Day event scheduled for May 5.

By placing first in the Army-level competition, the entry will now compete against the other services in the Defense Media Awards competition.