Growing together – and grateful

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 27, 2017

Thanksgiving tends to make people think about what they’re thankful for. One thing we all should be thankful for is safe food. I recently learned about two of our programs that address food safety. In early November, I completed the ServSafe program required of food service managers. It is a daylong training provided by our human sciences specialists. (FYI, I passed the test and now have a backup plan if this university thing doesn’t work out.) I also spent time with our AnswerLine team on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. While they handle more than food questions, they typically have more than 400 phone calls in the four business days leading up to Thanksgiving. Many calls deal with proper thawing, cooking and left-over planning, all of which have food safety implications. These colleagues are a great resource for consumers and staff alike, and represent ISU Extension and Outreach at our best. They also have some interesting stories to tell.

Besides the time with family and friends, and a tasty and safe turkey dinner, I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve as your Interim VP. I continue to learn about, and be grateful for, our programs and our people. You make me proud every day as we work together to serve Iowans.

For example, “Growing Together Iowa” combines the efforts of Human Sciences with Agriculture and Natural Resources for a common goal – feeding people. For the second year in a row, our SNAP-Ed nutrition education and our Master Gardeners partnered with local food pantries to reduce food insecurity in Iowa. Did you know?

  • 74,924 pounds of fruits and vegetables were harvested and donated as of Nov. 8. This amount includes produce from Master Gardener mini-grant recipients in 15 counties as well as the home demonstration gardens on six Iowa State research farms.
  • More than 75 sites (food pantries, meal sites, shelters, etc.) received these fruits and vegetables.
  • Using a formula of three servings per pound, this year’s harvest yielded 224,772 servings of fruits and vegetables for Iowans with low income.
  • 231 Master Gardeners volunteered their time to the project. Assuming a 20-hour per person commitment (the annual Master Gardener volunteer requirement), the value of their time is estimated at up to $111,526 or 2.28 FTE.
  • An additional 457 volunteers participated in the project throughout the state.
  • New publications created as part of this project include recommended vegetables to grow for food pantry donation and food safety in donation gardens.

Other land-grant universities have been watching. Three (University of Wisconsin, Purdue University and University of Nebraska) recently completed their first year replicating our first-in-the-nation model of mobilizing Master Gardeners and SNAP-Ed to address access to healthy food.

One more thing: Iowa State recently won an Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Universities compete in four categories that recognize different components of economic engagement; Iowa State won the “talent” category. ISU Extension and Outreach has a key role in our university’s economic development efforts, and we played a part in winning this award as well. Our 4-H Culturally-based Youth Leadership Accelerator program was featured in a case study submitted with the award application. For more information, see the APLU news release.

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

STEM Lit to Go!

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 21, 2017

The WOW Center in the Extension 4-H Building looked like a warehouse and assembly line a few weeks ago, as our 4-H staff were putting together the pieces for another research-based curriculum, one kit per county. About 2,000 pie tins, 10,000 brown paper bags and 1,200 foam pool noodles cut in half lengthwise, along with stacks of children’s books, cans of Play-Doh and many more interesting items, were being squeezed into 100 plastic tubs. 4-H and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach call it “STEM-Lit to Go!” The program supports the development of STEM and literacy skills for K-3 youth. Did you know?

  • This program integrates inquiry-based STEM activities and carefully selected children’s literature. Through roller coasters, inventions and other engaging topics, children explore key STEM concepts such as the engineering design process and conducting investigations.
  • In each lesson, youth try a hands-on STEM experience and then read, write, speak and listen about that experience.
  • The curriculum draws from resources published by the National Science Teachers Association and the International Literacy Association. It also supports the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core English Language Arts Standards.

ISU Extension and Outreach state and county staff piloted “STEM-Lit to Go!” at 11 sites across the state during the summer of 2017. During YouthFest in late October, staff from all 100 county offices picked up a copy of the curriculum and a tub of supplies. Now they’ll start training their Clover Kids leaders to facilitate “STEM-Lit to Go!” for Iowa 4-H Clover Kids groups, day camps and afterschool programs, and through partnerships with local school districts.

A couple more notes

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Take time to enjoy family and friends and truly be thankful for those things you hold dear.

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

November 2017 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • During Iowa’s Living Roadways 21st annual celebration (Nov. 9), the 2017 visioning communities will showcase their proposed design projects. Representatives from the 2018 visioning communities also will attend to kick off the 2018 program. Community and Economic Development is the administering unit for the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program.
  • Jon Wolseth will be in Perry in November, assisting with biometric and survey data collection for the Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Abriendo Caminos pilot program. On Nov. 9, Himar Hernandez will co-facilitate the program in Ottumwa.
  • In November the Office of State and Local Government Programs is partnering with the Iowa League of Cities to deliver budget training to local government officials in Mason City, Cherokee and Atlantic, and the Municipal Leadership Academy to municipal professionals in Fairfield, Carroll and Corning. Mary Beth Sprouse is teaching the classes.
  • CED specialist Eric Christianson has been working this semester with an undergraduate planning studio on developing a comprehensive plan for Mitchellville. Christianson will be in Ames Nov.15 when the students will present their draft plan to CED staff, CRP faculty and Mitchellville residents. On Nov. 29, Christianson will be in Mitchellville when the students present their draft plan to the community.

Human Sciences

  • Nature Explore workshops for early childhood professionals help them transform their preschool or child care play spaces into fun, joyful areas to explore nature. In January 2017, human sciences specialists Cindy Thompson and Kristi Cooper began working with Northeast Iowa Community College and Child Care Resource and Referral to develop a vision for training, support and access to a sustainable, model Nature Explore classroom. Since the initial meeting, other agencies have joined the effort: providing grant writing, serving as fiscal agent, sharing expertise, conducting a needs assessment, and pledging money to the project. Conversations about supporting the project are happening in all six counties in ISU Extension and Outreach Region 4.
  • In the news: On Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa (Oct. 13, 2017) Kristi Cooper, human sciences specialist, and author Carol Bodensteiner discussed growing up in Iowa. See the October 2017 issue of Journal of Extension for an article by Dr. Connie Beecher and Lori Hayungs, human sciences specialist, “Getting Your Message Across: Mobile Phone Text Messaging” (JOE ID 16258TOT).
  • During the Iowa Hunger Summit, Christine Hradek, EFNEP and SNAP-Ed coordinator, and Susan DeBlieck, Master Gardener program assistant, were part of a panel discussing donation gardening initiatives to improve healthy food access for Iowans experiencing poverty.
  • Several human sciences specialists presented at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences meeting in Omaha, Neb. Cindy Baumgartner, Jody Gatewood and Jill Weber presented on “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” Kim Brantner, Cindy Thompson and Joy Rouse, along with Kristen Bieret, a naturalist and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach partner, presented “Growing Up WILD: Reaching Child Care Providers through Collaboration with Naturalists.”

4-H Youth Development

  • Iowa 4-H clubs may apply for spring 2018 DuPont Pioneer seed grants for community improvement projects. Intended to stimulate local 4-H clubs to plan and carry out community improvement activities, the grants are “seed money” to help the projects be successful. Applications are due in ISU Extension and Outreach county offices by Jan. 16, 2018.
  • On Nov. 1, Iowa 4-H clubs could begin a Race Across Iowa. Clubs take part in the challenge by introducing a variety of healthy living practices during club meetings each month and earn “miles” as they race across ISU Extension and Outreach’s 20 regions. The five clubs that log the most miles and complete the route by the end of June will be recognized for their accomplishments at the Iowa State Fair.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • During the 2017 growing season, the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic hosted nine bi-weekly video conference calls with, on average, 19 campus and county personnel who handle consumer horticulture inquiries. Participants shared advice, lessons learned, and ways to meet clientele needs. They also provided updates on topics ranging from high tunnel production and home demonstration gardens to dicamba drift and emerald ash borer.
  • Thirty-three watershed coordinators attended the Iowa Watershed Academy, Oct. 24-25 at the ISU Field Extension Education Lab. ISU Extension and Outreach sponsored the event along with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil and Water Conservation Society, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Conservation Districts of Iowa, Iowa DNR, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Watershed Approach.
  • Chris Rademacher and Jason Ross, Iowa Pork Industry Center, helped interview this year’s nominees for Master Pork Producer and the Master Pork Partner Award. Since 1942, IPPA and Iowa State have co-sponsored the Master Pork Producer program, recognizing producers for their expertise in the production cycle and understanding of current industry issues, quality assurance, animal identification and well-being and production efficiency. The Master Pork Partner Award was created in 2014 to recognize pork production company employees who have demonstrated positive impacts in their production systems and a commitment to the pork industry’s We Care ethical principles.
  • Winter programming for crop-related topics will kick off in the upcoming weeks: Ag Chemical Dealer Updates, Nov. 21 and Dec. 13; the Integrated Crop Management Conference, Nov. 29-30; and the Crop Advantage Series at 14 locations during January.

What regional directors do

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 6, 2017

In ISU Extension and Outreach, our 20 regional directors work to strengthen the partnership between Iowa State University and county extension districts, resulting in improved institutional outreach and higher quality of life for all Iowans. This statement from the website sounds good, but to understand what regional directors do, consider some examples. Did you know?

  • Regional directors help county extension council members serve effectively. They educate and consult with councils so they are better able to meet the legal, financial and programmatic needs of their extension district.
  • They advise councils and county staff members throughout the complex task of preparing a county budget.
  • Regional directors represent the ISU Vice President of Extension and Outreach in the field and raise the awareness of research and resources available from Iowa State University with extension councils, county staff members and local stakeholders.
  • Regional directors encourage county extension councils to collaborate and implement new initiatives such as the Rising Star Internship program and the Engaged Scholarship program.
  • They also facilitate annual county needs assessments, working in partnership with extension specialists across our four program areas.

Our regional directors have a variety of previous work experience – including K-12 education, social work, city administration and the U.S. Air Force. They also vary by degree – including ag economics, communications, horticulture, and family and consumer sciences. However, they all are deeply committed to taking our university to the people and communicating the needs of Iowans to Iowa State – to help shape research and program priorities.

Sharing Iowa’s history

Last week in Albia, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg helped commemorate the 160th anniversary of the State Historical Society of Iowa and the 50th anniversary of the Iowa Arts Council. The governor and lieutenant governor issued a proclamation, and the governor also added a sticker to the map on the Iowa History 101 mobile museum to recognize the visit to Monroe County, part of the museum’s 99 county tour. We’re glad to be a partner in this effort to bring our state’s history to Iowans.

One more thing: Last week I congratulated the football, cross country and volleyball teams on their success. Iowa State has one more national recognition to celebrate. The Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band has been recognized as one of the nation’s top marching bands. The band has won the 2017-2019 Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The award was announced last December, but the band was honored at the 2017 Homecoming football game. The Drumline from the band performed at the Office Professionals Conference and Youthfest, and they know how to liven up a room. Congratulations to these dedicated students.

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

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