Useful and easy to find

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 13, 2018

We’re a few days into the 2018 Iowa State Fair and so far I have visited with 4-H alumni and friends, identified weeds (or at least, I tried), cheered as Cy stomped grapes, toured the Master Gardeners’ Discovery Garden, and encouraged extension staff and volunteers working at exhibits throughout the fairgrounds. Before the fair is over, I’ll be taking in a few 4-H livestock shows and the 4-H Hall of Fame. I may even work the grill for the Iowa Pork Producers.

You’ll always find extension professionals at the Iowa State Fair, serving research-based education and information to fairgoers, because something deep fried or on a stick won’t sustain folks long-term. This year you’ll also find strategically placed, red buckets at some ISU Extension and Outreach venues: the grape stomp by Grandfather’s Barn, the 4-H beef and swine barns, and the Master Gardeners’ Discovery Garden. So why did we print our wordmark on buckets? Because they’re useful and they’re easy to find in a crowd, just like extension people in our red shirts. Did you know?

  • The Iowa State Fair provides an opportunity to connect with Iowans who may not be familiar with our research, education and extension experiences.
  • State Fair also provides a way to connect with audiences who currently are underrepresented in our programs.
  • Some fairgoers may be familiar with 4-H, but they may not understand how it relates to Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach. The fair provides an opportunity to build awareness of this important connection.

The Iowa State Fair is an entry point to ISU Extension and Outreach. We offer visitors the opportunity to continue engaging and connecting with us long after the fair is over.

red bucket filled with merchandiseMore about the buckets

On 4-H Day at the fair, 251 fairgoers entered a drawing for one of our red buckets filled with ISU Extension and Outreach merchandise, including tote bags, pens, pencils, a water bottle, a rain gauge and measuring spoons.

FYI: A limited number of empty buckets are available from the Extension Store. For only $13, one of these buckets can be yours – and you can fill it yourself.

One more note: On Aug. 3, Andrea Nelson, Chad Higgins and I hosted a webinar to talk with 4-H staff about the transition in 4-H leadership. (The archive of the webinar is available.) Iowa 4-H simply has had a change in leadership. 4-H has not changed direction. We will continue to strengthen our core of clubs, curriculum and volunteers, and we will continue to actively recruit new participants. We are committed to being inclusive and welcoming, and to fulfilling the national 4-H goal of having members, volunteers and staff who reflect Iowa’s population.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

A challenge for healthy living

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 6, 2018

A lot of people recently completed a race across Iowa. No, I don’t mean RAGBRAI; that’s a ride and this year the route covered only 428 miles. I’m talking about a greater challenge that had more than 2,000 4-H’ers and staff crisscrossing the state (figuratively, anyway) and earning up to 3,000 “miles” as they made changes for healthier living – for themselves, their families and their communities. From Nov. 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, these folks competed in the 4-H Race Across Iowa, a healthy living club challenge. Did you know?

  • The route connected a community in each extension region, starting in Region 1 and zigzagging across the state to Region 17, covering 1,400 miles (according to Google Maps). Clubs were challenged to earn at least 1,400 miles during the eight months of competition.
  • Clubs earned miles by setting goals and completing challenges at their monthly club meetings, gaining 75 miles for offering water, 100 miles for having fruit or vegetables as a snack, and 125 miles for coordinated or structured physical activity.
  • Bonus challenges involved other areas of wellness and well-being, including social (teambuilding), emotional (brain and mental health), and community outreach by engaging others in healthy living. For example, the KW Hustlers from Clarke County made potted gardens as gifts for food pantry patrons. Riverside Rockets from Fremont County were “Health Heroes” in a local parade, promoting the benefits of healthy choices to their community. Jackson Wise Owls from Jones County built raised garden beds for a care center so residents in wheelchairs could tend to the garden.
  • 4-H healthy living specialist Laura Liechty said 127 clubs and county extension office staff teams from 42 counties participated, and 71 reached at least 1,400 miles; 10 clubs reached the maximum 3,000 miles. All participating clubs are invited to a recognition event during 4-H Healthy Living Day Aug. 11 in the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair.

4-H healthy living programming focuses not only on physical well-being practices, such as nutrition and exercise, but also encompasses all areas of wellness and well-being, as young people learn to make healthy life choices. This 4-H Race Across Iowa may have been imaginary, but the 4-H’ers’ enthusiasm for pledging their health to better living is real.

Interim 4-H leadership

Iowa 4-H has recently undergone a leadership transition. Andrea Nelson, director of Region 13, will serve as interim program leader while a national search is conducted for a permanent successor. Andrea has served in a variety of leadership roles with ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County and Region 13. In addition to working directly with Iowa 4-H, she also served as county youth coordinator, where she managed a network of 200 adult volunteers to provide educational experiences for urban Polk County youth. Andrea brings more than 15 years of experience building working relationships with individuals and groups inside and outside of ISU Extension and Outreach. As a regional director, she has experience with both urban and rural counties and has served on numerous state committees. Under Andrea’s leadership, 4-H Youth Development at Iowa State University will continue its long and successful record of engaging young people across the state.

More notes

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

August 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • The Human Sciences Extension and Outreach team serving regions 4 and 9 has developed a partnership with Gunderson Palmer Lutheran Hospital. First, the team delivered the “What About Me? My Wellbeing” series at the hospital earlier this year. As a result, additional programming was scheduled and delivered. The team presented “Caregiving Relationships: Conversations on Aging” to hospital staff. The two, one-hour sessions introduce the topic of caregiving, the changes families face and the skills individuals can use when facing later life situations. The sessions also build interest in the “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” series.
  • Carl Weems, professor and chair, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, provided insights on childhood trauma in the Science of Parenting blog, July 2, 2018.
  • A new “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” cohort began July 9: Abigail Spiegel, Dubuque County (new unit); Athena Speller, Black Hawk County; and Jamie Nyugen, Linn County.
  • The human sciences team in regions 1 and 5, along with the program’s creative projects specialist, created “Do. Plan. Promote!” to assist county partners. The document provides a list of educational offerings that can be planned for, offered and promoted within Human Sciences Extension and Outreach.
  • The ISU SNAP-Ed team underwent a management evaluation from the USDA regional office in July. The reviewers complimented our programming and partnerships. A full report of findings will be available by early September.

4-H Youth Development

  • Individual enrollments of underserved youth into the Iowa 4-H program have nearly doubled since the 2013-2014 program year. Now 1,485 youth of color are participating in learning communities and clubs.
  • From February through August, 60 Monarchs on the Move events will have been held at 40 locations in 30 counties, reaching more than 1,000 youth across the state.
  • Thirty-nine young leaders have begun their terms on the 2018-2019 State 4-H Council. They will serve as ambassadors for the 4-H Youth Development program throughout the state and in their local counties.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Master Gardener registration is now available for 2018 training sessions. The trainings will take place in 43 locations across Iowa and are open to anyone who is passionate about volunteering and gardening. Training sessions will begin in August or September, depending on location, and the training locations are listed online. Iowa Master Gardeners donated more than 115,000 volunteer hours during 2017, providing the equivalent of $2.7 million in labor to help beautify Iowa and address ongoing food security issues.
  • Farmland leasing meetings are being held across Iowa. The annual meetings address questions that landowners, tenants or other interested individuals have about leasing farmland. The 2018 meetings will focus on farmland ownership and tenure in Iowa, the latest on the economics of cover crop research, implementing conservation practices in leases, land values and cash rent trends, cost of production, methods for determining a fair rental rate, and legal updates that impact farm leases and land ownership. ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialists will lead the meetings. More information is available through the Ag Decision Maker website.
  • Managing Farmland Drainage workshops will be held on Aug. 7 in Mason City and Aug. 15 in Fort Dodge. The workshops are geared toward women landowners and will provide opportunities to discuss drainage issues that exist on Iowa farmland. The workshops also will cover different styles of drainage systems and how to address drainage water quality within the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage. Steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts and design teams are presenting final concepts to the public. During August, design reviews will be conducted in Plymouth and Wapello. Public presentations will be held in Corning, Glidden, Peterson, Coon Rapids and Forest City.
  • During August CED specialist Brian Perry will be meeting with several communities to discuss the Leading Communities program. He will meet with regional director Kraig Tweed and community development specialist Scott Timm in Decorah, regional director Paul Mariman in Dubuque and regional director Jeff Macomber in Tipton. The program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative and features the creation of an additional module addressing immigrant social capital.
  • Susan Erickson, Lisa Bates and Diane Van Wyngarden will be attending the Iowa Downtown Conference Aug. 28-30 and providing an ISU Extension and Outreach CED presence as an exhibitor in Waterloo. The Iowa Downtown Conference is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

PROSPERING Step-by-step, State-by-state

John Lawrence’s message from July 30, 2018

Follow the prevention evidence one step at a time: That is the basis for a new, two-year project we’re helping fund to continue the fight against substance misuse in Iowa. The evidence comes from our work with PROSPER and the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14. The new project is PROSPERing Step-by-step, State-by-state (P2S): Science-based Prevention Workforce Training Systems to Combat the Opioid Crisis. According to the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy, opioid abuse is Iowa’s fastest growing substance abuse issue. P2S is extension-powered and guided by scientific evidence, with the goal of building rural communities’ capacity to address the opioid crisis and achieve positive impacts for youth and families. Did you know?

  • The P2S team expects to assist three rural sites in their application of resources to address opioid-related problems and issues.
  • The majority of youth and their families in the selected sites are expected to participate in research-based or evidence-based school and family programs. One option will be SFP 10-14, which has previously demonstrated reductions in opioid misuse.
  • P2S training systems will provide educational opportunities to all ISU Extension and Outreach county-based educators in the counties in which the selected sites are located. Several will receive more intensive training and support to enhance their capacity to form community partnerships addressing the opioid issue. Field specialists also will be eligible for training to support their assigned counties. Selected educators will be eligible for a train-the-trainer effort to grow and sustain P2S in Iowa.
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health and Midwest Counterdrug Training Center are partnering with us. Together we will demonstrate an innovative opioid prevention workforce development model that can be exported to other states and territories.
  • To learn more, contact Iowa State’s Richard Spoth ( and Lisa Schainker ( Spoth and Cathy Hockaday ( are part of the Extension Opioid Crisis Response Workgroup, which is considering how extension nationwide could expand capacity to address the opioid crisis.

The PROSPER Rx Project is hosting a free capacity-building workshop Sept. 12 in Ames. All extension staff and faculty are invited to attend. It’s a good professional development opportunity to learn more about opioid and prescription drug misuse, mental health concerns, and readily available tools and resources, as well as network with potential partners to conduct prevention work in communities. Register online; the deadline is Aug. 22. See the flyer for more information; contact Lisa Schainker, PROSPER Rx principal investigator (, with questions.

One more note: We left our mark on this year’s RAGBRAI bikers, with about 3,000 ISU Extension and Outreach branded sunscreen sticks. After the bikers rode their Cyclone loop through Jack Trice Stadium, they could stop by our tent to get a stick, which featured our wordmark and website url, along with broad spectrum SPF 30 protection. We’ll also be giving out sunscreen sticks during 4-H Day on the Grand Concourse during the Iowa State Fair.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Opening doors

John Lawrence’s message from July 24, 2018

When you approach a closed door you have two options – you can open it and go through or leave it closed and stop. In terms of economic development, our state does better when we open the door. That is what our Latino business and entrepreneurship team has been doing since 2003, and that is why the team has received the ISU Award for Achievement in Economic Development in Iowa. Community development specialists Lisa Bates, Himar Hernandez, Victor Oyervides, Jill Sokness, Scott Timm and Jon Wolseth have impacted more than 150 businesses. In the past three years, they have broadened their scope to work with not only Latino entrepreneurs, but also entrepreneurs from other minority business groups, including African-American and refugee populations. Did you know?

  • The team helps entrepreneurs with comprehensive, business improvement practices and strategies. As a result, minority-owned businesses have been able to apply for and receive loans, renovate their store façades, get required permits from city hall and ultimately expand their businesses.
  • Most minority-owned businesses are located in downtown areas, so the team works broadly with these and other business owners to invigorate downtown revitalization efforts.
  • The team has linked minority-owned grocery stores in eight Iowa communities to local food producers and farmers. This initiative has resulted in more markets for local producers and greater availability of locally grown produce for underserved populations.
  • The team also opens the door for ISU students, helping to link them to minority-owned business communities for applied learning.

These examples are real success stories for Iowa State, ISU Extension and Outreach, and Iowa communities. Mark your calendars for Sept. 14, when the Latino business and entrepreneurship team and other award recipients will be honored during the university’s annual awards ceremony.

We’re opening another door through translation and interpretation. ISU Extension and Outreach has committed resources to fund a half-time position to provide language translation and interpretation support for our educational programs. Juan Ramirez, who has been and will continue as youth and families education assistant program coordinator in Dallas County, now will also provide language translation and digital voiceover support for our organization. He also will serve as an interpreter for scheduled events in which he is an identified trainer, such as ServSafe, Juntos and Maize. Juan, who is an Iowa State graduate, is fluent in English and Spanish, and is proficient in French and Portuguese.

You may submit your translation request by emailing Juan at In your email message please include your name, project name, program name, and date that you need the translation completed or date of your event (for interpretation support). For translation, please attach your content as a Word document or PDF.
After Juan receives and reviews your request, he will provide you an estimated completion date based on the size of the task, date received, due date, complexity of the content, and the number of requests in the pipeline ahead of yours.
Jeff Jackson, Dallas County executive director, and Ross Wilburn, our diversity officer, will supervise Juan’s workflow. For more information, contact Jeff ( or Ross (

One more note: Many thanks to Deb Sellers, Barbara Woods and Keli Tallman for compiling ISU Extension and Outreach data for the 2018 Healthy Iowans Progress Report. The report, as well as Iowa’s revised Health Improvement Plan 2017-2021, is available on the Healthy Iowans website.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

A lab in the field

John Lawrence’s message from July 16, 2018

Down the road and around the corner from the ISU Agronomy Farm, you’ll find a hardworking example of how teaching, research and extension come together in the field, literally. The Field Extension Education Laboratory, also known as FEEL, is a 23-acre teaching and demonstration facility where crop production professionals can get hands-on learning experience with a wide range of management problems, solutions and diagnostic challenges. Did you know?

  • Just a few miles west of Ames, the lab hosts demonstration projects and workshops throughout the summer. For example, last week FEEL held a field diagnostic clinic and a crop management clinic for agribusiness professionals and crop producers. Iowa Certified Crop Advisers could gain continuing education credits from both clinics. Later this month high school students will compete in the eighth annual Crop Scouting Competition for Iowa Youth.
  • Agribusinesses and industry can rent FEEL for professional development, clinics, demonstrations and training events. The FEEL learning experience features air-conditioned classrooms, Wi-Fi, parking and field plots within walking distance of the main building.
  • FEEL coordinator Warren Pierson says approximately 1,615 people participated in FEEL education last year.

FEEL has been part of ISU Extension and Outreach since 1987. If you’re ever in the neighborhood (1928 240th Street, Boone) stop in for a visit. Or, for a drone’s-eye view of FEEL, watch this aerial tour of the field lab.

One more note: In June, I made my first four regional VP visits (1, 4, 17 and 20) and I think everyone involved would call them a success. Staff engaged in discussions about local needs, challenges and opportunities in their positions. Councils shared their perspectives on their role, local needs and opportunities. The stakeholders who participated included a variety of community leaders and partners, and we had good conversations about local, regional and statewide issues. I will continue the visits sometime after the Iowa State Fair and wrap up “before the snow flies.” When the dates are set, the regional directors will send the invitations, and I encourage you all to attend. These visits will continue to focus on listening and learning. After all the visits are complete, I’ll share a summary of what I learned.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Fairs, festivals, events and a plan

John Lawrence’s message from July 9, 2018

They really know how to make pancakes in Johnson County. I had a few samples Sunday morning during Johnson County’s 100-year anniversary event. Today I’m in the office for a teleconference and a one-on-one meeting. On Tuesday I’m back on the road for centennials in Winneshiek and Delaware counties. My July includes 17 county centennials, at last count, and I hope to visit a few additional fairs along the way. (I also want to thank my leadership team colleagues who are covering other centennials that I can’t get to.) Luckily, I have an online schedule and excellent staff to help me keep track of where I’m supposed to be at any given time.

However, it takes a lot more than luck to carry out all these county extension centennials, as well as county fairs, festivals and community events across the state. “We’ve always done it this way” had to start somewhere. Call it art or call it science, managing fairs, festivals and events can be a huge task for local organizers. Fortunately, ISU Extension and Outreach has a resource that can help. Did you know?

  • You can share our “Event Management Training Toolkit for Managers of Rural Iowa Fairs, Festivals, and Events” with your clients. The 15-page toolkit is available for free download from the Extension Store. It provides resources for solving some of the more challenging aspects of managing events, such as crises and controversies, security, cross-promotional activities, media relations and regulations.
  • Eric Olson and Lakshman Rajagopal, from Iowa State’s Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management, created the toolkit supported by the Heddelson Junior Faculty Grant. This fund was established to ensure that new human sciences faculty are exposed to and incorporated into ISU Extension and Outreach projects in Iowa counties.
  • The toolkit is based on results from a survey of 212 Iowa managers examining the challenges in planning and managing events. Read about the research behind the toolkit in the Journal of Extension.

Festivals, fairs and events have a great economic impact in Iowa communities. In addition, when people work together to carry out these events, they are developing their community identity and increasing social capital, which helps to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

  • Make sure to review the July program update from the leadership team.
  • Our Disaster Recovery website includes information on dealing with flooding, as well as severe weather, fire and drought.
  • The Internal Communications Task Force met again July 2 and the executive summary from the meeting is posted on Cybox.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

July 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage during which steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts. During July, design review meetings will be conducted in Peterson, Moville, Graettinger and Forest City.
  • Cindy Kendall, Cindy Stuve and Elizabeth Gartin will host the 43rd Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy July 16–27 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This is a targeted training for more than 200 city clerks, finance officers and other city staff to further professionalism, knowledge and efficiency in Iowa cities. All training in this venue qualifies for certification in the International Institute of Municipal Clerks as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association certification program.

Human Sciences

  • Military couples have needs similar to other couples, but also deal with challenges such as frequent relocations, deployments and separations. Military leaders can benefit by being able to reinforce healthy couple and family functioning with those they supervise and command. That is why Human Sciences Extension and Outreach offered Healthy Relationship Education Training for Iowa State’s Army ROTC cadets in April. Anthony Santiago, college projects specialist, and David Brown, human sciences specialist in family life, facilitated the program for 21 Army ROTC senior cadets in collaboration with the Department of Military Science. Evaluation results showed greater understanding of many aspects of relationships: 94 percent of the cadets have a greater knowledge of stress reduction, communication and healthy conflict management; and 100 percent of the cadets are confident they can help individuals and couples support healthy living choices. As one participant stated, “I now have the tools to help future soldiers.”
  • Elizabeth Stegemöller, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and a Human Sciences Extension and Outreach summer faculty fellowship recipient, and David Brown, a human sciences specialist in family life, will offer A Journey through Parkinson’s Disease facilitator training for human sciences specialists on Aug. 16. This train-the trainer workshop will enable human sciences specialists from any discipline to provide this educational offering in their communities. The training will review the causes and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how treatments work. The training also will cover therapeutic activities that can be completed in the home by those who have the disease.
  • Sanjuana Graves, a “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” educator in Scott County, received the Helping Us Grow (HUG) award from the Davenport Community School District for outstanding service. Her work is primarily with pregnant and parenting students at Mid-City High School. The school provides an electric skillet or slow cooker to every student who graduates from “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.”
  • Grisel Chavez and Norma Dorado-Robles presented at the Cambio de Colores conference June 7 in Kansas City. Grisel is a “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” educator in Marshall County and Norma is a current 4-H staff member and former BELH educator. They discussed the work they completed with Mid-Iowa Community Action to provide nutrition education to a group of parents while their children engaged in 4-H activities. The parents’ group consisted of 16 Burmese participants.

4-H Youth Development

  • Fifty Iowa 4-H members received 2018 state 4-H project awards. They were recognized for exhibiting exceptional leadership, communication and civic engagement within their project area. The awards are given to 4-H’ers who have displayed mastery, leadership, communication and service in a specific project area. Each youth recipient also was granted a $100 award from Glen and Mary Jo Mente of Ames and the Iowa 4-H Foundation.
  • About 700 youth packaged 50,000 meals as their Meals from the Heartland service project at the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. Their service learning continued with a culture fair on central campus. The youth learned dances, made crafts and learned about the history of different cultures in Iowa, including Swedish, African American, Asian, Czech, Latino and more. They also heard from Iowa 4-H alumni who shared their 4-H stories and described how community service and volunteerism has played a role in their lives within their communities and careers. Panelists included Kyle Munson, Senator Dan Zumbach, Rachel Wall, Charlene Watkin, Don McDowell and Cheri Doane.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • A new approach to using social media is helping researchers map the spread of southern corn rust. Research published by the American Phytopathological Society examines the usefulness and feasibility of using social media as a method of disease and pest data sharing among crop scouts, industry agronomists and university extension specialists across the country. Two Twitter accounts, @corndisease and @soydisease, were created to track the appearance of disease in corn and soybeans fields across the country. The project was successfully able to track the movement of southern rust northward, providing advance notice for targeted crop scouting efforts. ISU Extension and Outreach specialists Daren Mueller, Adam Sisson and Rachel Kempker contributed to the publication. Read more about the project.
  • Dave Baker has been named director of the ISU Extension and Outreach Beginning Farmer Center. Baker has been with the center since 2006 and had been serving as interim director since January 2018. Created by the Iowa Legislature in 1994, the Beginning Farmer Center assists in facilitating the transition of farming operations from established farmers to beginning farmers.
  • The Pocahontas and Webster County Master Gardeners received the 2018 Search for Excellence award for their work in their communities. The winning project in Pocahontas County involved Master Gardeners’ work with the annual Garden Extravaganza, where they led classes on gardening topics while also overseeing an expo that saw 30 venders showcase plants, artwork, tools and supplies related to gardening. Webster County’s award came in the youth garden category, in which they partnered with local 4-H clubs to tend to the historic Frontier Garden at the Fort Museum in Fort Dodge.

Still calling Iowa Concern

John Lawrence’s message from July 2, 2018

Sometimes a phone call can make all the difference, and even save a life. ISU Extension and Outreach learned that lesson more than 30 years ago. When Iowa farmers, families and rural communities were under stress and needed help during the 1980s farm crisis, we responded with Iowa Concern. Today we continue to answer Iowans’ calls 24/7, not only with stress counselors and a toll-free phone number, but also with live chat capabilities, email and a website. Iowa Concern provides Iowans with access to an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach started the referral service, originally called Rural Concern, in cooperation with Iowa Department of Human Services and United Way of Central Iowa in 1985 (thus the phone number, 800-447-1985). Initially it was funded through donations from Farm Bureau, FmHA and the Farm Credit System. In 1986, the Iowa General Assembly appropriated money to continue the service, according to “75 Years of Service: Cooperative Extension in Iowa,” an extension history book by Iowa State’s Dorothy Schwieder.
  • After the floods of 1993, the name was changed to Iowa Concern to expand the hotline’s reach as a source of help for all Iowans in need.
  • According to Tammy Jacobs, current coordinator for Iowa Concern and all other Human Sciences Extension and Outreach hotlines, Iowa Concern answered 7,826 calls in 2017. All contacts are confidential.

Tammy says the hotline has seen a slight increase in ag-related calls in the last few months. Caller concerns include the farm bill, ag prices and most recently how this year’s flooding has been impacting farmers. Iowa Concern also answers calls related to financial issues and basic needs – such as connecting Iowans with assistance for rent, utility, food and medical needs, to name a few. Iowa Concern focuses on the immediacy of the individual’s need and works to connect people with helpful resources. For more information, contact Tammy directly at or 515-727-0656.

Recently each county office received at no cost a package containing two mini tabletop displays and a supply of information cards and bookmarks highlighting Iowa Concern and AnswerLine. We hope you will use these resources at upcoming community events and programs to raise awareness among our clients. Thank you for partnering with Human Sciences to get the word out about these valuable resources.

One more note: Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Planning a program of work

John Lawrence’s message from June 25, 2018

Last week as I began my visits to every region in the state, I had the opportunity to meet with stakeholders, staff and extension council members in Regions 1, 4 and 17. (I’m in Region 20 today.) We talked about issues that impact their region’s ability to thrive and, given our core programs, where they see ISU Extension and Outreach helping them address the issues. With staff and councils we also discussed how we strengthen our organization and our partnership. These regional discussions have been great, and I am looking forward to visiting the rest of the regions later this summer and fall.

A key responsibility of each of our county extension councils is to plan for extension programming to meet the needs of the people in their county. To be successful, councils have to be able to plan and carry out a strong county extension program with county office staff. A group effort from County Services and the regional directors is making this task easier. Did you know?

  • The new County Extension Council Educational Program of Work template is designed to help councils take a systematic approach to providing research-based educational programs and services to the people in their communities. (County staff can download the template from MyExtension for council use.)
  • The template offers a sequence of questions and considerations for addressing an identified need with an action plan and the budget to support it. The template lays out outputs, outcomes, and evaluation steps, as well as risk management precautions.
  • A council’s programming committee would take the lead in working with county staff to complete the template and draft a program plan for each specified need. Then the entire extension council would review the program plans and make informed decisions to distribute and approve resources.

The program of work template doesn’t need to be completed for every county activity. For example, club calf weigh-ins and pressure gauge testing, though important, don’t require the same level of preparation as a sequenced series of educational workshops. As councils and county staff work together to meet the needs of Iowans with new programming, the County Extension Council Educational Program of Work template helps everyone keep track of the details, meet research-based program expectations and promote accountability by all parties.

More notes

  • The Internal Communications Task Force met again June 18 and the executive summary from the meeting is posted on Cybox. The task force’s role is to gather input and make recommendations by the end of the year. The leadership team will make the decisions regarding implementation.
  • Lea Baumhover, a former 4-H’er and current summer assistant in Buena Vista County, narrates a new College of Human Sciences student recruitment video for family and consumer sciences education and studies. Emily Bormann, a 2017 Rising Star intern from Region 5, also is featured in the video. (To learn what our current Rising Star interns are doing, read their Rising Star blog.)
  • This week we will welcome almost 900 teens to campus for the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. It’s a unique opportunity for young Iowans to experience campus life and meet new people from across the state.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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