Everybody’s job

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 25, 2017

Say what you’ll do, do what you say and prove it with numbers. That’s a basic premise of quality management, and it is top of mind as we strive to maintain and improve the quality of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It’s everybody’s job, in every part of our organization, to create and share the value and impact of our work. So we’re taking action to get better at sharing our story. Did you know?

  • Our updated ISU Extension and Outreach strategic plan will be ready sometime this fall.
  • A steering committee is working on developing one reporting system for our entire organization.
  • We’re developing resources for public value training.

Learn more in this video message about our strategic plan, our reporting system and our public value.

still image from John Lawrence video

County Stakeholder Reports

Each fall we ask county offices to create county stakeholder reports highlighting programs with significant local impact. These reports are a good way to help citizens, stakeholders and decision makers understand how we connect the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources. Our goal is to have all the 2017 reports completed by Jan. 1, 2018, before the start of the next legislative session. In the meantime, you can review the 2016 county stakeholder reports online.

Need Input on County Fair MOU template

A couple of weeks ago I shared that a committee representing ISU Extension and Outreach, county fairs and FFA is drafting a template/checklist to help local leaders develop their own county fair MOU. We’re sharing one video message with the three groups at the same time about the process underway and we’re asking everyone for input on what the template/checklist should include. If you have input for the committee, please contact one of these ISU Extension and Outreach representatives before Nov. 1:

  • Bryan Whaley, Region 2 Director, bwhaley@iastate.edu, 515-341-6967
  • Joe Sellers, Beef Field Specialist, sellers@iastate.edu, 641-774-2016
  • Nancy Adrian, Washington County Extension Director, nadrian@iastate.edu, 319-653-4811
  • Mandy Maher, Fremont County Program Coordinator, mmaher@iastate.edu, 712-374-2351
  • Annette Brown, 4-H Youth Program Specialist, annbrown@iastate.edu, 515-432-3882
  • Bob Dodds, Assistant VP, County Services, redodds@iastate.edu, 515-294-0013
  • John Lawrence, Interim VP for Extension and Outreach, jdlaw@iastate.edu, 515-294-6675

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

All around the block

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 18, 2017

At about the time I joined ISU Extension and Outreach as a livestock economist in the early 1990s, Home Economics Extension was transitioning to Extension to Families. The staffing pattern was changing from county home economists to families field specialists. This was part of an overall restructuring in our organization to become more flexible, respond to changing needs and better serve Iowans. When you look at our history in ISU Extension and Outreach, this seems to be the bottom line. We don’t rest on our laurels. We look for better ways to do what we do. So a few years ago, Extension to Families became Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, once again looking for a better way to serve Iowans.

In summer 2014, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach implemented a new “block” concept with specialists working as teams to deliver education. Results of their efforts are coming in, and one example is the Regions 1 and 5 block, served by specialists Lori Hayungs (family life), Jan Monahan (family finance) and Renee Sweers (nutrition and wellness), along with Mackenzie DeJong, human sciences coordinator for O’Brien, Lyon, Osceola and Sioux counties. Did you know?

  • The team was involved in nine collaborative community groups and released a quarterly newsletter featuring upcoming program dates and highlighting past programs.
  • Working together, they reached more people. From last year to this year, they hosted 16 more programs, 25 more sessions and reached 750 more participants. On average, they hosted a face-to-face educational session more than once every other day.
  • Annually nearly 1,800 new mothers in all nine counties receive physical copies of the first month of the “Just in Time Parenting” newsletter, in English and Spanish as needed. All school districts within the nine counties receive the September issue of the “Dare to Excel” newsletter.
  • ServSafe courses are taught throughout the year, helping local businesses meet food safety training requirements and keep customers safe. Iowa State dietetics interns spend time in the region learning about the dietitian’s role within ISU Extension and Outreach. Rising Star interns are trained on food safety and receive guidance throughout their internship. In summer 2017, a College of Human Sciences Heddleson intern delivered nutrition programming in Clay County.
  • Through partnerships and capacity building, eight communities took new action to address public issues.

This is but one example of successful Human Sciences Extension and Outreach programs that result from strong partnerships among county staff, volunteers and specialists – all around the block and throughout the state.

Office Professionals Conference

Registration is open for the 2017 Office Professionals Conference at the Iowa State University Memorial Union. This will be a great event tailored to the needs of the front-line professionals who represent ISU Extension and Outreach to the public every day. We start Wednesday, Oct. 25, with a preconference on the nuts and bolts of accounting and financials, and continue Thursday, Oct. 26, with a full day of workshops and roundtable updates about county delivered programs and best practices for effective office operations. I strongly encourage office professionals to attend, and learn and connect with campus resources and peers from across the state. Check the conference website for details about the workshops and roundtable topics and to register. The conference promises to be an informative and valuable training, and we will have some fun as well. I look forward to seeing you in Ames!

One more thing: Congratulations to Ida County, winner of this year’s CyDAY Friday contest. The ISU Trademark Licensing Office selected Ida County because “they showed their Cyclone spirit and we liked the community involvement.” Ida County hosted a tailgate in front of their office in Ida Grove, featuring photos with Cy, games for youth and local firefighters who brought along their red firetruck. A Cy-cone ice cream machine provided cones for all.

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


More than butts in the chairs

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 12, 2017

Two sure signs of fall: the leaves start turning … and the manure starts churning. For many in Iowa agriculture, manure hauling waits until harvest is completed. However, for custom applicators the work often starts as soon as an individual field is harvested. There is a lot of manure to apply and a relatively short time to apply it – between harvest and frozen ground. (Liquid manure typically is injected beneath the soil surface.) Our Dan Andersen, @DrManure, estimates that approximately 17 percent of Iowa’s cropland receives manure; that’s about 3.8 million acres. (Dan is an agricultural engineering extension specialist and assistant professor at Iowa State.)

R.K. Bliss noted that Bulletin Extension Agronomy No. 1, published in 1907, addressed the value of manure, how to prevent losses, and economical preservation and application. Today, 110 years later, we still educate on those topics, plus worker safety and water quality. (Watch “Utilizing Manure Value.”) The cornerstone of Iowa manure education is the Manure Applicator Certification program approved by the Iowa Legislature in 1998, directed by Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and developed and delivered by ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know?

  • Each year we train approximately 550 Iowa commercial businesses and their 2,000+ employees. An additional 30 businesses and 120 employees from surrounding states are trained to operate in Iowa.
  • We educate approximately 2,800 confinement site applicators, farmers who apply manure from their facilities.
  • Many applicators attend one of 60+ scheduled meetings across the state and others watch the presentation on a DVD at their county extension offices. Thanks to our county staff for making the training available and convenient.

However, the MAC program is more than regulations and economics, and it is more than butts in the chairs. Improper manure handling can have deadly consequences, and the MAC program helps farmers learn how to protect themselves, their employees, their livestock and the environment. For example, a Plymouth County farmer was working with her husband to agitate a pit, and when she saw pigs behaving strangely, she knew how to respond. She immediately ran out of the building and lowered the curtains to bring in fresh air. Some of the pigs did not survive, yet Sue is alive because she knew the signs of pit gas poisoning – something she learned from ag engineering specialist Kris Kohl during an ISU Extension and Outreach training session. Watch the video to hear Kris tell the story.

County Fair Memorandum of Understanding

County fairs require many people working together to be successful. With turnover on fair boards, within FFA programs, and in our county offices, good communication and documentation are essential. So last spring Bob Dodds and I started talking with the Association of Iowa Fairs and Iowa FFA to improve and formalize the agreements among our three organizations at the local level. A committee with members from all three organizations is developing a template (or you could call it a checklist) to facilitate local discussions. Watch this video for an overview of our process. We’d appreciate your input over the next few weeks. The committee will meet again by mid-November to consider the feedback and complete the template/checklist by early December. Counties then can use it to review their existing MOU or draft a new one.

A couple more notes:

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

September 2017 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • During the 2017 Iowa State Fair, 121 Iowa 4-H volunteers from 94 counties were inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, including two volunteers over 100 years of age: Alice Walters of Greene County and Ruth Angus of Ringgold County. All honorees were selected for their service and dedication to 4-H’ers and the 4-H program.
  • More from the Iowa State Fair:
    — Nearly 800 head were exhibited in the 4-H beef show, and 990 head were exhibited the 4-H swine show – both record numbers.
    — More than 100 4-H’ers participated in the Iowa 4-H Awardrobe Clothing Event, showcasing their apparel design and production knowledge, as well as their creativity skills. Some 500 people attended the fashion showcase and closing event.
    — Iowa 4-H held its second annual Global Citizenship Day at the Iowa State Fair. Projects and performances from all over the world were part of the celebration.
  • On Aug. 21 Iowa 4-H, county extension offices, and partner organizations offered more than 75 4-H solar eclipse day camps across Iowa. Nearly 2,000 young Iowans participated.
  • New and potential 4-H volunteers can get information about the Iowa 4-H program from a growing library of volunteer orientation videos online.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Farm management specialists led 89 farmland leasing meetings during July and August across the state, with attendance estimated at 1,800 participants. The program focused on farmland values and leasing outlook for 2018 and improving landlord-tenant communication. Participants also learned about current issues and conservation methods, and being an advocate for the land. Other topics included current survey trends, cost of production, types of lease arrangements and legal aspects of farmland leases. Participants received updated reference materials for leasing negotiations and were directed to other ISU Extension and Outreach resources.
  • Participants in the Iowa Drainage School Aug. 22-24 learned how to design sub-surface drainage, keeping in mind functionality, performance and flexibility. Training topics included unmanned aerial vehicle surveying, laser and GPS leveling, drainage tile size and spacing, soil properties, laws and pipeline safety. Twenty-seven contractors, engineers, farmers and consultants working in teams designed drainage for 24 acres at the Borlaug Learning Center located at the Iowa State University Northeast Research Farm. Survey respondents indicated they would employ the drainage design techniques learned in the school in their installation practices.
  • The Pesticide Safety Education Program recently revised several, category-specific training manuals with input and assistance from university subject matter experts, industry specialists and certified applicators. The revised manuals include the information needed to pass the pesticide applicator certification exam as well as new research. In addition, the Worker Protection Safety train-the-trainer course was developed to be delivered online, increasing access to the material across the globe.
  • The annual Iowa Crop Scouting Competition educates Iowa youth on crop scouting and integrated pest management. Youth teams from around the state are scored on their knowledge of crop-related disciplines — insects, diseases, growth and development, herbicide and spray issues, and weed identification — with a written test and field stations located throughout the Field Extension Education Laboratory, Boone, Iowa. In partnership with sponsor representatives, ISU Extension and Outreach specialists judge the event, taking time to talk with students, answer questions and teach about good pest management practices. Twenty-two junior and senior high students participated in the July 31 event. Watch the highlight video.

Community and Economic Development

  • lSU Extension and Outreach is a sponsor of the third annual Southeast Iowa Nonprofit Summit Sept. 21 in Ottumwa. The summit is designed for board members, staff and volunteers. Topics to be covered include improving organizational culture and attracting and retaining top talent, as well as human resources regulations and board structure and responsibilities.
  • The Office of State and Local Government Programs is participating in the Iowa League of Cities 2017 Annual Conference in Davenport Sept. 27–29. It is the largest training in the state designed specifically for Iowa’s elected and appointed city officials. Local government specialist Mary Beth Sprouse is helping organize the conference, and CED specialists Eric Christianson and Becky Leurs will be presenting workshops.
  • The Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa is a collaboration of service providers, government agencies, religious groups, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that serves central Iowa’s refugee population. Recently, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines gave the Alliance its 2017 Better Together Award, which recognizes nonprofit organizations, civic groups and individuals who are building social capital in the community. The award included $2,500 to be used toward advancing efforts to make Des Moines a more engaged and networked community. Anindita Das works as a refugee specialist and program coordinator for RACI in partnership with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Human Sciences

  • The 2018 Healthy and Homemade Calendar is available via the online store and advance order copies have been delivered. Human Sciences Extension and Outreach sold 279,531 copies of the calendar. The Spanish calendar is sold out online, but the version in English is still available.
  • The Human Sciences Extension and Outreach early childhood team has developed a Mandatory Child Abuse Reporter curriculum. The self-paced, online class will be available to participants 24/7 beginning in October 2017 through the ISU Extension and Outreach Moodle site. Participants completing this training join a dedicated team of more than 20,000 early childhood professionals who serve as “frontline” reporters to protect children from abuse and neglect.
  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach partnerships in Charles City make a difference for Iowa families. For example, When RAGBRAI passed through Charles City this year, Variety wanted to donate bikes to underserved children as part of the celebration. Variety contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters for help in identifying children; Big Brothers Big Sisters called the human sciences educator in Floyd County to inquire if “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” families might enjoy receiving the bikes. Seventeen children from these families received a bicycle and helmet that day. As another example, a local farmer, the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, and Community Revitalization established a community garden in Charles City three years ago. All three years, five or six “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” participants and graduates have worked in the garden. Through the community partnership and grant funds, the $15 plot fee was waived and seed costs were covered for these individuals. In addition, new gardeners worked with experienced gardeners. One of the “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” graduates who participated the first year is now the volunteer garden manager.

Minding the store

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 6, 2017

I still remember the first extension publication I authored as a new livestock economist at Iowa State: “Electronic Markets for Feeder Pigs” back in 1992. Think of it as eBay for animals. Maybe it wasn’t pure poetry, but it was good research-based information that farmers could use. We printed a couple thousand copies, which were available from the Extension Distribution Center. Back then it was a warehouse, with extra storage offsite. Every publication was available in print, often by the thousands or tens of thousands. How times have changed! Today there still is some warehouse space with tangible, hard copy publications on the shelf, but most of the inventory is online at the Extension Store. Did you know?

  • Extension’s eCommerce site began in fall 2001 and was primarily text-based with limited details about available publications. Thumbnail images, descriptions, related products and apparel were added in the mid-2000s, after a full time programmer and data architect joined the staff. Enhancements continue today, and the store partners with ISU Information Technology as needed.
  • All of ISU Extension and Outreach’s tangible publications now are warehoused within 4,500 square feet in the Printing and Publications Building on campus. The Garden Calendar (HORT 3027) is the most popular, with approximately 2,500 copies sold each year.
  • The Extension Store has 2,000+ unique digital products from all program areas available for free download. In FY17, those publications collectively were downloaded 1.9 million times worldwide. The Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey (FM 1698) is the most popular digital publication, with 82,500 downloads per year.
  • You can check the Extension Store for new, revised or back in stock titles at any time.
  • The Extension Store also serves as a fulfillment center for several Iowa Department of Public Health divisions, housing more than 200 tangible titles available exclusively to IDPH staff. Annually about 100,000 copies are distributed within Iowa.

The Extension Store’s five fulltime employees have been with ISU Extension and Outreach for 15+ years, on average, but not because they like the fumes from ISU Printing. They are dedicated to getting research-based information to people in Iowa and around the world. The next time you’re on the north side of campus, stop in to say hello and get a tour, and thank them for their efforts.

One more thing: The ISU Trademark Office is sponsoring a contest for county offices for the ISU/Iowa CyDAY Friday on Sept. 8. The county office that shows the most spirit/creativity – AND posts photos to the Iowa State CyStyle Facebook page or emails photos to cydayfriday@iastate.edu – will receive a limited CyDAY Friday prize. Go Cyclones!

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

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