BOISE, Idaho (KLIX) – An Idaho educator and former astronaut was given the state’s highest civilian honor today by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Barbara Morgan received the Idaho Medal of Achievement by the governor after his State of the State address, given before a joint session of the Idaho Legislature at the State Capitol in Boise.

Morgan is the first recipient of the award, which was created in November 2015 to honor civilians who give “exceptional, meritorious, and inspirational” service to fellow Idahoans, reads information from the Governor's Office.

“It is a great honor to live and work with the people of Idaho,” Morgan said. “This beautiful award gives me the opportunity to thank everyone. I want especially to thank the Idaho Medal of Achievement commissioners, our Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, and the school teachers of Idaho, who are my inspiration.”

According to the news release:

Morgan spent 24 years as an elementary school teacher and was the back-up to Christa McAuliffe, who was to be America’s first teacher in space. Following McAuliffe’s death in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Morgan became the first teacher-astronaut to travel to space aboard the shuttle Endeavor in 2007. Since then, in addition to her work with NASA Morgan has provided vision and leadership for Idaho K-12 STEM teachers and now is a distinguished teacher in residence at Boise State University.

“It is uniquely fitting that the first recipient of Idaho’s highest civilian honor goes to a pioneering educator who brought the promise of space flight to our students from a classroom above the clouds,” Otter said in the prepared statement.

“Her career as an educator and then an astronaut has inspired a generation of young people not only about the importance of science but how high you can go when you aspire to do great things.”

Former Idaho Chief Justice Linda Copple Trout, who led the Idaho Medal of Achievement Commission, added: “We were highly impressed by the caliber of the candidates, which made the commission’s job of narrowing the field all the more challenging. However, Barbara’s legacy as an educator and pioneer in her field made her candidacy emblematic of what this award was designed to honor.”

The Idaho Medal of Achievement is awarded annually to individuals – living or dead – who are nominated by the public.

Contact the Governor’s Office online or by mail to nominate deserving individuals for the 2017 award, which will be presented at the end of the Governor 2018 State of the State address. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 award is March 31.


More From News Radio 1310 KLIX