Strong partnerships for prevention

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 30, 2017

Each partnership is stronger than the one before: That is the model for the work Human Sciences Extension and Outreach does with the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State. This successful working relationship began in the 1990s, with interventions designed to address youth substance abuse and other problem behaviors. As they’ve increased competencies in families and youth, their work has led to a robust research base and international acclaim. Did you know?

  • Human sciences specialists, county staff and community members have led the internationally renowned “Iowa Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14” since the early 1990s. SFP 10-14 is evidence-based, which means we have the research to prove it gets results.
  • Experience with earlier projects led to PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience). These partnerships make it easier to deliver scientifically tested interventions and promote youth competence. Several human sciences specialists spend about 20 percent of their time as prevention coordinators in PROSPER counties.
  • Mackenzie Johnson, a human sciences specialist in family life, is working with PROSPER staff to update the “Family Matters” curriculum, which will be used with two PROSPER projects. She will help the team remain true to the core components of the evidence of the curriculum while updating it to be engaging and usable for today’s parents.
  • Specialists Sara Sprouse, Joyce Lash, Mackenzie Johnson and Lori Hayungs recently were trained in the “Universal Prevention Curriculum.” The goal of the series is to ensure effective delivery of prevention interventions. PROSPER offered this opportunity to our staff in appreciation for the partnership Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has with PPSI.

It is more effective to prevent substance abuse and other problem behaviors before they begin, than to try to stop them after they start. It’s not rocket science; it’s prevention science – and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is a key partner in sustaining these efforts.

A few more notes

  • Iowa State University has a new president, with a close extension connection. Wendy Wintersteen began her career as a field agronomist in east central Iowa, served as an integrated pest management extension associate and worked her way up with leadership positions in ISU Extension and Outreach, as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. We look forward to working with ISU President-Select Wintersteen. (Her official start date is Nov. 20. See the news release and her first message to the Iowa State community.)
  • The application deadline for the 2018 Rising Star Internship program is Nov. 1. For a reminder of why we support this program, watch this video: some of our 2017 Rising Star Interns share their stories.
  • Congratulations to Iowa State’s Women’s and Men’s Cross Country Teams winning the Big XII championship, Women’s Volleyball knocking off #11 Kansas and the Football victory over the second top 5 team in a month. All in Homecoming week!

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

Other duties as assigned

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 23, 2017

About 100 office professionals representing all areas of ISU Extension and Outreach and from throughout the state will be coming to Ames later this week for the Office Professionals Conference. We are pleased to offer them this professional development opportunity.

“Office professional” must be one of the most far-ranging job categories we have in ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know?

  • According to Human Resources Coordinator Kaela Black, job titles within the category include office assistant, office manager, bookkeeper and administrative assistant. You’ll also find secretaries, administrative specialists, account clerks and others.
  • Currently 147 county paid employees work in an office professional role throughout the state. Another 27 employees serve as office professionals on campus.
  • An office professional’s responsibilities may include answering client questions on the phone or face to face and maintaining payroll information and fiscal and other records. On any given day, these staff members may order supplies, organize volunteers, update databases or certify manure or pesticide applicators. Their work even may include occasional heavy lifting – of files, books, stacking chairs, meeting room tables and whatever else might need to be moved. (Then the rest of us expect them to know where everything is!)

And of course, office professionals have “other duties as assigned” as they work together with everyone else in the office to make sure that the people they serve have access to Iowa State’s research and resources. They are often the first contact between the public and ISU Extension and Outreach. We appreciate their skills, their professionalism and their commitment to Iowans. We can’t be a 99 county campus without them.

A couple more notes

  • We also appreciate our first cohort of mentors who took part in continuing professional development last week. While it is everyone’s responsibility to make our organization a rewarding and enjoyable place to work, these mentors will be guiding our new colleagues and helping them launch successful careers. They are committed to ensuring our culture continues in the next generation of ISU Extension and Outreach. Our second cohort of mentors will begin their training in our next Mentor Academy, Nov. 28-29.
  • The Epsilon Sigma Phi Annual Meeting is Oct. 26, 9-11 a.m. via Adobe Connect. ESP focuses on fostering excellence in the Cooperative Extension System and developing extension professionals. Annual ESP members have voting privileges, but all extension staff members are invited to attend and learn more about the organization.

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


Knowledge teams for greater impact

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 16, 2017

Many people often think of Iowa as rural, and agriculture with its related processing and manufacturing is the economic foundation for much of the state. However, our citizens live in communities, large and small, highly structured and unincorporated, and operate differently than a family or farm when it comes to governance, finance, enforcement and a vision for the future. Across Iowa, some communities are prospering while others are struggling, but all are dealing with the challenge of change.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development faculty and staff work to identify critical issues facing communities in our state and determine how best to address them for greater impact. Their combined efforts have resulted in a new team approach to community and economic development efforts. Did you know?

  • CED now focuses on five critical issues: housing, demographics, local economies, built environment, and civic engagement and leadership capacity.
  • CED faculty and staff are organized into six knowledge teams based on their expertise: art and design applications; civic engagement and leadership; data and technology; local economies; local governments and nonprofits; and promoting equity, inclusion and respect in communities.
  • CED knowledge teams include both campus and field-based specialists across the state. They are all responsible for statewide programming. However, each person serves as a point of contact for regional and county directors to help them link to CED people and programs.

CED teams address client-identified needs and opportunities, and foster creative and robust local decision-making. The goal is to build capacity in Iowans – so they can sustain their communities and make them better places to live, work and play.

County website update

Our current web content management software, Drupal 6, is no longer being updated, making it unsecure and unreliable. That is why Extension Information Technology is beginning to develop a new framework for county websites in Drupal 8. EIT will be building the new framework to improve accessibility, responsiveness and brand management, and to make adding content easier. Content editors and county offices can share feedback with the transition team by responding to surveys between October and December. Information about the surveys and links to complete them will arrive in your email soon. As the project moves forward, the transition team will provide status reports on MyExtension (login with your Net-ID and password to view). If you have questions about the project, contact

A couple more notes

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

October 2017 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week, “Putting Farm Safety into Practice,” was Sept. 17-23 in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week. News releases on the farm safety website (with 205 unique page views) and radio interviews increased awareness and reminded farmers to discuss safety with and educate family members and workers. During the past year, ISU Extension and Outreach’s set of Safe Farm publications has been downloaded more than 10,000 times from the ISU Extension Store, often duplicated and distributed to program audiences, increasing awareness of this important topic.
  • The Iowa Beef Center Feedlot Short Course provided beef feedlot managers and employees with hands-on and classroom instruction on a variety of feedlot topics including nutrition, animal health and welfare. Thirty people from across Iowa and other participants from Indiana, Utah and Canada representing more than 1 million head of cattle participated in the three-day event. They toured the Iowa State beef nutrition research farm, a local feedlot and other Iowa State facilities. Sessions included a feed mixing demonstration, chute-side safety, and the opportunity to network with industry leaders and other producers.
  • More than 200 beef producers from four states and two countries participated in an August bus tour featuring some of Iowa’s successful grazing and confinement cow operations. The tour was a component of the Cow Systems Project, created to evaluate management practices among operations ranging from extensive grazing systems to year-round confinement. The primary goal of the program is to help increase producer profitability and determine how to better use production and financial records to develop best management practices.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach Horticulture Program field days educate Iowans. The 2017 Horticulture Fruit and Vegetable Field Day attracted 175 participants, including growers, extension staff, county horticulturists, students, and representatives from state and federal agencies. The event provided research-based information on a variety of topics including high tunnel pepper production, tomato grafting, peach production, grape cultivar trial, integrated vegetable and poultry production, and insect management in cucurbit crops. The Iowa Turfgrass Field and Demo Day attracted more than 200 professionals from the sports turf and golf course industry, providing information on turf and pest management, as well as equipment demonstrations. The Master Gardener program organized several home demonstration field days at various university research farms. Nearly 300 people attended, gaining up-to-date information about ornamental and vegetable crops.

Community and Economic Development

  • The Office of State and Local Government Programs is taking the Municipal Professionals Institute “on the road” with courses on budgeting, exams and accounting for municipalities throughout October. Courses were set for Denison, Pella, Fayette, Iowa City and Algona.
  • Extension CED co-sponsored the Refugee Summit Oct. 6-7 at the Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines. Community development specialist and refugee coordinator Ani Das assisted in planning and helped facilitate the event. Community development specialist Jon Wolseth discussed community supports and structural barriers for refugees in rural Iowa, and Sandra Oberbroeckling provided information on CED during the event.
  • Several CED staff members participated in the 2017 Upper Midwest Planning Conference in Dubuque Oct. 4–6. Courtney Long presented with the City of Dubuque about design of public edible landscape. Deborah Tootle and Brian Perry are promoting the work of ISU Extension and Outreach in helping Iowa communities navigate changing social and economic conditions. Program Director Gary Taylor and community development specialist Eric Christianson also attended.

Human Sciences

  • “Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14” has been selected by the state of Michigan as one of their multi-pronged approaches for combating the opioid crisis. Michigan received more than $16 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction. SFP 10-14 master trainers have begun conducting statewide trainings in Michigan.
  • The application for 2018 SNAP-Ed funding has been approved. This program will receive $785,641 for use between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018. Funding supports the “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” program in nine counties, the “Growing Together Iowa” healthy food access projects and a social marketing campaign to promote use of “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” The budget includes 5.33 FTE of campus staff time, which involves part-time work from two undergraduate and two graduate students and $201,000 in contracts to Iowa counties.
  • On Oct. 18, 2017, Suzanne Bartholomae will present “Research on the Role that Financial Capability Plays in Student Success” as part of the webinar “Financial Capability for College and Career School Students” sponsored by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. Bartholomae is presenting data from the 2017 Study on Collegiate Financial Wellness, a multi-institutional survey of more than 28,000 college students administered by Ohio State University. A collaborator on the project, she also will provide an overview of the Cooperative Extension system and the value of extension as a resource. The Financial Literacy and Education Commission was established under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. The commission was to develop a national financial education website ( and a national strategy on financial education. The commission is coordinated by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Security. The Secretary of the Treasury chairs the commission, which is included the heads of 19 additional federal agencies.

4-H Youth Development

  • 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. Activities included simulating an eclipse, learning how to be safe in the sun, making special viewers to safely view the solar eclipse, making solar ovens and using a sun dial. Youth comments included: “This is so awesome!” “I see it! I see it! I see it!” “Look, I knew the shadow would move this way (referring to the sun dial).” “It feels cooler outside and look, the street lights came on.”

20 years of IECA

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 9, 2017

We’ve been celebrating a lot of county 100-year anniversaries this year, and next year we’ll be celebrating even more. However, there’s another important occasion coming up in 2018: The Iowa Extension Council Association will be 20 years old. The association was incorporated in January 1998. Did you know?

  • IECA provides a way for our county extension councils to have a greater impact and voice on local and state issues. The association monitors legislative action and alerts IECA members to proposed legislation that might affect ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • IECA communicates directly with ISU Extension and Outreach leadership. The board members and executive director make sure we hear concerns, opinions and suggestions from councils throughout the state. They also keep county council members and staff up-to-date on ISU Extension and Outreach plans, policies and initiatives.
  • IECA helps facilitate extension council training, including webinars, extension council orientation and the 2018 Extension Council Conference. IECA members also meet to discuss best practices, common issues and solutions to common problems. This knowledge sharing helps councils adopt necessary changes more quickly.
  • Each spring IECA hosts a legislative day and 4-H public leadership experience at the Iowa Capitol. Council members serve as mentors for selected 4-H’ers, who have the opportunity to meet with legislators and learn about the legislative process.

I met with the IECA Board of Directors in late September. We from campus provided updates on 4-H, a survey of county leaders and progress on a couple of MOUs. The board asked thought-provoking questions and we had a good discussion. Thanks to the IECA structure, we can easily share information and gather feedback. Effective partnerships require communication and trust, and the IECA/ISU Extension and Outreach connection is key to the shared success of both counties and campus.

A couple more notes

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

True leaders

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 2, 2017

Happy National 4-H Week! This year the focus is on true leaders, grown by 4-H, who give back to move their community forward. Whether or not we were 4-H’ers ourselves, 4-H Week is the time of year that brings out the clover in all of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. We all can be proud that our 4-H Youth Development program continues to focus on the needs and strengths of youth, their families and communities. Today Iowa 4-H is addressing three growing concerns that impact Iowa’s young people. Did you know?

  • In many rural communities, highly skilled, creative, or well-educated people leave for better pay or conditions elsewhere. As rural communities lose younger Iowans, they also lose their skills and expertise, and see their overall populations decline. 4-H is working to reverse this “brain drain,” encouraging Iowa youth to remain in or return to their communities and use their skills to shape Iowa’s future.
  • 4-H is addressing achievement or opportunity gaps faced by youth with low income, youth of color and English language learners – so all Iowa youth can develop their capacity for academic success.
  • 4-H is building skills in Iowa youth to improve their college and career readiness. Youth are college and career ready when they have gained the knowledge and skills they need to enroll and succeed at postsecondary educational institutions or training programs.

Through our 4-H Youth Development programs we empower Iowa’s young people to reach their full potential and prepare them to be successful, contributing members of society. Sounds like we’re growing true leaders. (Want the numbers for your county? Download 4-H Data for Decision Makers.)

Congratulations to Award Recipients

Congratulations to the following extension professionals honored during Iowa State’s annual awards ceremony Sept. 25:

  • Donna Donald, field operations specialist, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach – Award for Distinguished Service in Extension
  • Russell Euken, beef and swine field specialist – R.K. Bliss Extension Award
  • Bailey Hanson, systems analyst, Community and Economic Development – Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice
  • Elizabeth Juchems, extension program specialist, agricultural and biosystems engineering – Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award
  • Tom Baas, professor of animal science – Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Jay Harmon, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and interim director for Agriculture and Natural Resources – Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Hongwei Xin, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, assistant dean for research, Iowa Egg Council Endowed Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, professor of animal science – International Service Award

A few more notes

  • National Manufacturing Day is Oct. 6. ISU Extension and Outreach is cooperating with CIRAS and a number of organizations to highlight manufacturing across Iowa on Friday and throughout the month. For example, Keokuk County is partnering with Axmear Fabricating in Thornburg to host tours of the facility. They have invited Indian Hills Career Academy’s machine and welding classes as well as the county’s FFA chapters.
  • If you happen to be in Ames Oct. 10, stop by the Brunnier Art Museum in the Scheman Building from 7-8:30 p.m. to celebrate Rose Frantzen and the 39 portraits included in the Faces of Iowa State exhibition. University Museums Director Lynette Pohlman will make brief remarks at 7:30. Light refreshments will be served.
  • I encourage our office professionals to register for the 2017 Office Professionals Conference. The registration deadline is close of business on Monday, Oct. 16. The conference is a great opportunity for professional development and networking with colleagues from across the state. If you have questions about the conference, contact Director of Professional Development Carol Heaverlo,

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

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