His official title is state senator, but over the years Daryl Beall has become an ambassador for Iowa and its people.
The Democrat from Fort Dodge has visited 31 countries. And when he's home in Iowa, he helps to host about 24 groups of international visitors every year, often by taking them on tours of the state Capitol.
His citizen diplomacy was honored Tuesday when he received the Robert D. Ray Iowa Sister States Service Award from leaders of Iowa Sister States during a meeting of the Fort Dodge Kiwanis Club.
Carol Grant, executive director of the Iowa Sister States program, presents Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, with the Robert D. Ray Award for his contributions to international understanding and citizen diplomacy during the Noon Kiwanis meeting Tuesday at the Chen Garden Restaurant in the Crossroads Mall.
''Without fail, Sen. Beall is there for us,'' said Carol Grant, the executive director of Iowa Sister States, a nonprofit group that works to connect Iowans with the rest of the world.
Beall said it felt ''kind of strange'' to get an award for something he loves doing.
''When I'm hosting or traveling, I don't have an R or a D behind my name,'' he said. ''I'm an Iowan. I'm an American.''
The senator said that when he's traveling abroad or welcoming international visitors he's representing his state and country.
''I happen to love that duty,'' he said.
''I can cite you all sorts of magnanimous, altruistic, noble reasons why we ought to be engaged - global literacy, international peace and understanding, educational exchanges, the search for new markets for Iowa products and exports - lots of good reasons,'' Beall said. ''There's another one. It's fun. I love getting to know people that look different than the reflection in my own mirror.''
Beall is a member of the Legislature's International Relations Committee, a panel that includes both senators and representatives.
Tom Rial, the president of Iowa Sister States, said Beall is helping to establish relationships between Iowa and Kosovo, a Balkan nation in which troops of the Iowa Army National Guard served as peacekeepers during 2007 and 2008. Rial added that the senator is working on setting up a sister state relationship between Iowa and a province in South Korea.
Beall was a charter board member of the United States Center for Citizen Diplomacy, and was a board member of the Iowa International Center. He is a member of the Iowa Resource for International Service, the Iowa Asian Alliance and the Iowa Chinese Association.
Following the Kiwanis meeting, Beall said he made his first overseas trip in 1977, when he and his wife, Joanne, visited Britain. He said he thought that trip would satisfy his urge to travel. Instead, he said, it sharpened his appetite for more. He said there are now just three continents he has not visited: Anarctica, Australia and South America.
Ray, for whom the award is named, was governor of Iowa from 1969 to 1983. He helped thousands of refugees from Southeast Asia settle in Iowa. He was also the first president of Iowa Sister States.
Iowa now has eight official sister states: Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan; Yucatan, Mexico; Hebei Province, China; Terenggau, Malaysia; Stavropol Kria, Russia; Taiwan; Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine; and Veneto Region, Italy.
The award was presented at the Kiwanis meeting because Beall is a member of the group.