Tis the season of holiday greetings and letters filling our mailboxes and inboxes. Many holiday letters are a recap of or reflections on past year family highlights, vacations, and other accomplishments. In thinking about such, I wondered what AnswerLine would share if it were to write a holiday letter. Many thoughts came to mind as I reflected on my time at AnswerLine this past year.
First and foremost, I am privileged to work with three amazing home economists with different backgrounds who have years of experience as professionals as well as mothers and grandmothers. I have learned so very much from them. As such, we have had the privilege to answer over 17,000 calls and emails this past year which have run the gamut of consumer, home, and family issues to any question you could imagine. Thankfully we don’t have to do this job alone. As part of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, we have a wealth of experts whom we can call upon when the question is “too big” or out of our league–specialists in wildlife, forestry, agriculture, horticulture, entomology, farming, child care, and food safety and nutrition to name a few. Also, we have a partnership with Iowa Concern to help with legal, financial, crisis disaster, and teen issues.
It has been a joy to talk personally with numerous people across Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota one-on-one and help them resolve problems, issues, and concerns that affect their daily lives with research based information–removing stains in leather, canning green beans, managing meals, testing for radon, sewing new fabrics, preserving quilts and other heirlooms, selecting and using appliances, separating perennials, controlling fleas, getting food stamps and other subsidies, clearing up head lice, food safety, eating restrictions or disorders, 4-H project advice, dealing with natural disasters and power outages–just to name a few. Further, we have had the opportunity to share similar information with people around the world through email and Ask An Expert questions that come to our inbox daily. Many of our callers are friends we’ve never met; they call frequently and in doing so we’ve learned something about them and they about us. We love talking to people and NO question is silly or foolish; we’d rather answer a question and make someone’s day rather than to have them distraught for not asking it. While there is great satisfaction in helping each individual find a solution that works for them, the greatest satisfaction comes when a caller calls back or there is an email response, saying “you made my day.”
In addition to fielding calls and emails, we take turns writing blogs twice weekly on a variety of consumer and family topics. Many of the blog topics come from questions that come to us either by phone or email. In a day-and-age of social media, consumers may also find us on Facebook with daily postings sharing current information or recently written blogs. And occasionally, we Tweet or post to Pinterest. We have promotional magnets and bookmarks available in both Spanish and English and through a translation service, we have added the ability to speak with Spanish speaking callers.
AnswerLine has been answering calls (and later emails) for 43 years beginning in 1975. In that time, there have been 30 different operators, now known as program specialists, who have been advising clients as best as they know how with either the best science based info available or personal knowledge/experience. Thank you to the many consumers, past and present, who have challenged us daily with questions. We hope consumers will continue to challenge us with calls and emails from 9-4 M-F and share with family and friends that AnswerLine is ready and willing to help should they need us. I, and the AnswerLine staff, wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!
Marlene along with Liz, Beth, and Marcia