Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
- Data analysis is underway for the engaged scholarship project in Calhoun County, which is exploring the feasibility and effectiveness of virtual singing groups for Iowans with Parkinson’s disease. In 2016 the extension council accepted a proposal from Elizabeth Stegemöller in the Department of Kinesiology, whose research has demonstrated that singing training can significantly improve swallowing and respiratory function for people with Parkinson’s disease. David Brown, a human sciences specialist in family life, is the project’s local leader. Over several months, they selected the Calhoun County site (Rockwell City), recruited participants and collected pre-data. Then Dr. Stegemöller led and recorded eight, one-hour sessions with a singing group in Ames, which were used to facilitate the virtual singing group in Calhoun County in spring 2017. Buena Vista County became interested, so a virtual singing group for people with Parkinson’s disease will be facilitated in Storm Lake in August. Other efforts include developing an introductory curriculum centered on Parkinson’s disease for eventual statewide use.
- Over the past 11 years, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has supported 6,822 child care center teachers and their directors with the Better Kid Care program. During program year 2017, a total of 751 child care center teachers from 57 Iowa counties participated in the new staff orientation program. They viewed videos of best practices and completed lessons on 30 topics covering basic health and safety, and child development. Participants showed statistically significant gains in each of 11 learning outcomes. Highest ranked skill improvements included working effectively with other staff, teaching and modeling good health and safety practices, communicating well with a supervisor or director, and feeling more confident about their abilities to teach and care for children. In addition, 89 center directors participated in the director’s online training, with 48 percent in their first year as director. Overall, the directors reported serving approximately 7,035 children. They also reported statistically significant improvements in their skills in each of seven learning outcomes, expressing the highest level of confidence in their ability to effectively identify a staff member’s lack of understanding about a practice or procedure and respond in a positive, supporting manner.
4-H Youth Development
- Soccer now is part of the Iowa 4-H healthy living program priority. In partnership with Genesis Inc., a Polk County nonprofit serving African immigrant and refugee youth, 4-H has started the 4-H Genesis Club. Entrenched in the youth’s passion for soccer and a successful Oregon 4-H model, 24 K-7 youth have the opportunity to develop new soccer skills while discussing teamwork, positive relationships, and healthy living and nutrition, guided by a set of diverse volunteers including Central College soccer alumni. As Robert, a sixth grade participant, said, “I learned how to dribble better, start looking up, how to keep my handle on the ball better and how to communicate with my teammates.”
- Older 4-H youth often teach younger 4-H youth. For example, Benton County 4-H’ers Elizabeth Martin, Bobbie Hilmer, Ally Bierschenk and Piper LeGrange volunteered their time as camp counselors at Region 10’s junior camp. This opportunity helped the youth develop citizenship and leadership skills. They also were able to help campers have a great experience and gain a sense of belonging. Elizabeth said, “Helping at the camps is a wonderful experience, which I will continue to encourage others to participate in.” Bobbie said, “Being my second time at the camp helped me understand what works and what doesn’t. I learned by experience.”
- Sixteen Iowa youth participated in the 2017 4-H Safety and Education in Shooting Sports National Championships held in Grand Island, Neb. Iowa team member Eric Keller placed sixth for daily score in muzzleloader competition. All competitors gained great experiences. Most team members had family members attend the SESS Championship event with them.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Iowa ranks 12th in the nation in milk production. June Dairy Month events increased awareness of Iowa’s dairy industry and offered educational opportunities for the public to learn about the roles of milk and dairy products in a healthy diet. Iowa State University and the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance held open houses and nearly 1,500 people attended each event. The Iowa State open house included an agricultural discovery area with representation of other Iowa commodity groups (corn, soybean, beef and pork) as well as dairy and Iowa Ag Literacy. Nearly 1,000 people attended Breakfast on the Farm at Iowa’s Dairy Center in Calmar. The event included breakfast, a petting zoo, cow milking and a demonstration of robotic milking. Attendees left with positive opinions on the way dairy farms protect the environment, take care of their dairy cattle and modern dairy farming. Approximately 550 nutritionists, consultants and other agri-business professionals participated in the annual 4-State Dairy Conference held in Dubuque. ISU Extension and Outreach collaborated in planning and organizing the conference with the University of Illinois Extension, University of Minnesota Extension and University of Wisconsin-Extension. Conference topics included nutrition and management to improve cow performance, foot health and overall cow health.
- Many farmers are looking for a fast, easy way to collect and share information with the agriculture community. ANR specialists and teams have joined the conversation through ANR social media, creating an opportunity to influence Iowans with the goal to create a #StrongIowa. To date, 117 ANR accounts reach 62,837 followers and subscribers, which is up 7,232 in the last six months. Notably, Twitter is the most influential platform with 48,100 followers looking for ANR information, followed by Facebook with 12,056 page likes.
- In July, 118 people participated in five Nitrogen and Water Week events. They learned about water quality research being conducted by Iowa State University, how water quality data are collected and how agronomic practices effect drainage water quality. They also observed research on actual in-field and edge-of-field management practices that impact water quality, and learned about recommendations for nitrogen application rates.
Community and Economic Development
- Susan Erickson and Abbie Gaffey represented CED at the 2017 Iowa Downtown Conference, offered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. They talked about ISU Extension and Outreach and met with community officials, Main Street directors, Chamber of Commerce directors and members, community volunteers, and retailers. The Iowa Downtown Conference is a statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.
- On Aug. 17, Courtney Long will be in Mason City working on a supply chain project. She helps make connections between North Iowa Fresh, producers and business for local food connectivity and procurement.
- Lynn Adams and Jon Wolseth will facilitate strategic planning for the Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines on Aug. 19. The initiative focuses on providing culturally appropriate leadership training for promising Latina women so they are prepared to serve on boards and commissions and in other leadership capacities.
- Bailey Hanson will be instructing the Essentials of ArcGIS workshop Aug. 24-25. This course is intended for both new and experienced users of geographic information systems and will cover making maps from geospatial data, mapping data from tables, querying a database and selecting features by location, and displaying, projecting and editing data.