Touring Gas Stations
“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.”
– Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media
According to his blog, Tim O’Reilly spends much of his time “encouraging people to work on stuff that matters.” That sounds like good advice for ISU Extension and Outreach. Funding streams change, percentages fluctuate, fiscal cliffs come and go. But when it comes to our work, we’re not doing a tour of gas stations.
This was well illustrated last summer, when campers at the Iowa 4-H Center experienced an Immersion in Wellness. This Iowa State research study is targeted toward lowering childhood obesity. According to extension nutrition specialist Ruth Litchfield, the kids really did immerse themselves in wellness — from gardening to learning how to cook to eating what they’ve actually grown in the garden and being physically active. They learned that being healthy is fun.
Youth program specialist Brenda Welch leads Mad Scientist Day Camps to get young people excited about STEM learning. When they conduct research-based experiments, such as extracting DNA from bananas, Brenda says, “Their excitement, and the smiles, and the laughter when they actually extract DNA and they can see it in the test tube — it’s incredible.”
During the slowly unfolding crisis of the drought last summer and fall, more than 6,000 Iowans participated in our meetings and webinars and called our hotlines and specialists for updates on crop, livestock, and horticulture issues. As beef specialist Denise Schwab says, “We’re not here for the cattle or for the crops, but we’re here for the farmers that we work with. That’s what makes this job fun and exciting and a challenge to go to work very morning.”
As we begin another year with a new Congress and the Iowa Legislature back in session, remember this: No matter what financial challenges we might face, we will pay attention to the funds, but ISU Extension and Outreach is not about the money. Instead, we’re focused on making sure Iowa State becomes the university that best serves its state. That’s our story. See you there.
P.S. Watch the videos about these Extension and Outreach efforts and review our annual report at the Our Story website.