As Executive Director of the Iowa 4-H Foundation, I received a question from a volunteer regarding what is being done to help the local county Extension staff transition to a new Extension structure in Iowa. Here is my response and thought you might be interested in knowing the answer as well.
I read the editorial from the Register and have had the opportunity to attend two of the listening sessions where extension director Jack Payne discussed the budget situation, background, and decisions that were made. I’ve also had the chance to visit with many of our County Extension Education Directors and Area Extension Education Directors — this is a rough time personally for many of them and anything we can do to listen and help and provide personal support is important to do.
Our 4-H Foundation, under the leadership of our president, Dennis Goering, and trustees like Rozanne King and Barb Determan (among others) took the lead to limit the budget cuts dealt to 4-H, and they are continuing with communications efforts to protect the program in the future. The Foundation has pledged to raise an additional $150,000 to support staff; essentially limiting the number of 4-H positions that will be lost as a part of the budget. I realize this is not much, but we’re hopeful we can move aggressively on an endowment fundraising effort to fund that commitment in perpetuity so we can continue with the program support that is needed and maintain the growth of county endowments to help 4-H locally (a million dollar endowment would essentially fund a county’s 4-H program: CYC, program, member fees, etc).
Chuck Morris, our State 4-H Leader, is working with a plan to adjust roles and responsibilities so the 4-H Program can remain strong across Iowa and continue to be a source of pride in every county. That plan — which is essentially an accelerated version of our state plan in support of 4-H club growth (which has been working; not as fast as we would have liked, but it is working) — is currently being fine-tuned with input from a number of 4-H staff and will then need to be approved by ISU HR. He’s doing his best to communicate with all our staff through a weekly Adobe Connect which is archived for them to review if they cannot attend the live-feed. Again, its not enough, but we’re working to do everything we can.
Please keep in touch, and continue being an advocate for 4-H — and encourage your family, friends, business associates and neighbors to do the same!
If you have any similar questions or comments, we would be happy to field them through this website.
–Joe Leisz, Executive Director, Iowa 4-H Foundation