And justice – and design – for all

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 29, 2018

Check the fine print on ISU Extension and Outreach educational materials and you’ll find a nondiscrimination statement (also known as the justice statement). We include it because it’s required by federal regulation, but more important, we want our clients to know we’re committed to equal opportunity and equal access to our programs and activities. However, a statement in fine print is only a small first step. Now ISU Extension and Outreach is taking a giant leap forward to make sure our digital documents are available and accessible to all. Our clients may or may not have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities; so we want to make sure our digital materials can be easily navigated and understood by everyone. And we’re committing $111,000 to the effort. Did you know?

  • Our learners are diverse. They vary in capabilities, needs and aspirations. Universal design considers their needs, respects their contributions and includes as many people as possible. Digital resources that incorporate universal design can be used by a wide spectrum of potential online visitors, rather than only by an ideal (and nonexistent) average user.
  • Extension Information Technology, Professional Development and Advancement are creating professional development opportunities to help staff learn how to make their digital documents accessible, whether they are sharing their documents on the Extension Store, on websites or via email. The team is working on a variety of formats, such as webinars, face-to-face and self-guided courses – because we’re not average users, either.
  • First, the team will work with staff who submit publications to the store in InDesign. Second, they’ll be hiring students to help remediate existing publications on the store. Third, they’ll help educate web content editors on Microsoft Office products and the accessibility needs related to the software. Finally, they’ll offer professional development to all ISU Extension and Outreach staff.
  • For more information on this Digital Universal Design Compliance Project, contact Robin Brekke in Professional Development, Kristi Elmore in Extension IT or Chris Johnsen with the Extension Store.

Our accessibility efforts aren’t limited to digital documents. We’re also working to improve the accessibility of our videos and webpages, as well as web conferences, live streaming events and online courses. Because when we design for all, we increase our chances of justice for all.

A couple more notes

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

Numbers … and impact

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 22, 2018

There comes a time each year when whoever is at the helm for ISU Extension and Outreach must sign off on the organization’s annual report. Perry Holden’s first extension annual report covered fiscal year 1906-1907, when corn trains stopped at 670 towns and extension professionals gave 1,085 talks and lectures to more than 127,000 people. In that first year, Holden gave 172 lectures, conducted 77 corn judging contests and spent another 28 days in short course work. In home economics, Mary Rausch gave 90 lectures, conducted 41 demonstrations and judged 17 contests. She also led short courses at Iowa State and in Red Oak, Mount Pleasant, Lenox, Spencer and Dows. (Yes, I’ve been reading my R.K. Bliss extension history book again.)

In keeping with tradition, we have numbers in our 2017 annual report as well: More than 1 million people directly benefit from our educational programs every year, and we reach more than 4 million through our digital presence. However, more important than the numbers is the impact. Did you know?

  • We help parents raise healthy kids. For every $1 invested in Buy Eat Live Healthy nutrition education, $2.48 is saved in future health care costs. This free program helps parents learn how to provide nutritious food, leading to healthy children and strong families.
  • Our Iowa Government Finance Initiative provides Iowa’s 945 cities with customized socioeconomic and fiscal information, offering a clear perspective about their financial health and performance.
  • More than 12,000 youth tried virtual reality, 3D prototyping, circuit bending and other emerging design technologies through FLEx, Forward Learning Experience. Practicing 21st century design thinking prepares young people for future careers.
  • We help farmers connect through peer networks to increase the success of Iowa farm operations, improve the equity and management responsibilities of beginning farmers, and help farm businesses pass to a new generation.

You’ll find more examples of our impact in our annual report: read the webpage or download the pdf. I imagine Perry Holden was proud of all he accomplished that first year, and probably grumbled about reporting his numbers to administrators. Some things never change. However, I know that all of us on the leadership team are incredibly proud of the work you all do, which contributes to ISU Extension and Outreach’s impact statewide. Thank you for your service.

One more thing: Speaking of that great work you all do, nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are due at noon, Feb. 9. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms.

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

Ag innovation … and monarchs

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 16, 2018

Over 100 years ago, ISU Extension and Outreach engaged 4-H youth in growing better varieties of corn as a way to get the innovation to their farmer parents. When your son or daughter has higher yields than you do, you pay attention. That proven method of technology transfer is being rolled out again.

Here in Iowa we care about agricultural innovation and we care about Monarch butterflies. So it’s no surprise that Iowa is leading the five-state implementation of the National 4-H Ag Innovators Experience featuring “Monarchs On the Move!” Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Illinois are aiming to reach 5,000 youth from urban, suburban and rural backgrounds: getting them interested in agriculture innovation and careers, and giving them the opportunity to develop workforce skills to feed the planet. Did you know?

  • Iowa was chosen to be the lead state through a competitive grant process, and we received $20,000 to develop the curriculum. Lynne Campbell, professional development specialist, leads the development team that includes Maya Hayslett (Crop Sciences), Amy Powell (Animal Science), Brandon Kleinke (Integrated Pest Management), Cayla Taylor (4-H Youth Development), and ISU Extension and Outreach Senior Director Chad Higgins from Iowa State; and Richard Hellmich and Keith Bidne from USDA.
  • Three teen leaders and one adult leader from each state will attend the national training on the curriculum at Reiman Gardens Feb. 2-4. Later, each state’s teen leaders will train 20 additional youth to lead local and regional events.
  • Maya Hayslett and Cayla Taylor will lead the program in Iowa. Programming will be delivered in a variety of 4-H formats including day camps, summer camps, school collaboration, afterschool programming and clubs.
  • The 2018 experience focuses on the importance of biodiversity to agriculture, specifically relating to monarch butterfly habitat. Youth get to experience the life of a Monarch caterpillar and the factors that impact whether it survives and becomes a butterfly. They also look at the land from a butterfly’s perspective, as they learn to identify locations where milkweed and nectar plant can be grown – the Monarch idea of a nutritious meal.

Educating youth through the 4-H Ag innovators Experience benefits the butterflies as well as our state overall. We’re also fortunate to have the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, a community-led organization focused on enhancing monarch butterfly reproduction and survival in Iowa. Iowa State is a member of the consortium in partnership with farmer and conservation organizations, state agencies and companies.

A couple more notes

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

January 2018 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • The North Central Iowa Youth Beef Conference, “Making the Grade,” is Jan. 27 at the Ellsworth Community College Ag and Renewable Energy Center. The conference is for Iowa youth who want to learn more about beef production. Youth participants will be certified for YQCA (Youth for the Quality Care of Animals).
  • State, field, and county staff in youth-serving roles are planning to attend the Cultural Conversations Retreat, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Clover Woods Camp. This retreat will provide experiential learning for 4-H staff through in-depth conversations on reaching new audiences throughout the state – sharing successes, providing networking opportunities and learning from experts.
  • 4-H Youth Development is seeking educational workshop proposals for the 2018 Maize Retreat, April 13-15. Maize is a culturally-based youth leadership accelerator. Workshops will relate to healthy living, STEM, citizenship and leadership, and communication and the arts, and often will provide a Latino or Native American perspective.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Pesticide Applicator Training for spring 2018 will involve several programs offered at the county level, including private applicators, commercial ag, certified handlers, ornamental and turfgrass, and seed treatment. Training also will be held in conjunction with organization meetings including Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Aerial Applicators, Crop Advantage Series, Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers, Shade Tree Short Course and Weed Commissioners. These programs will impact an anticipated 18,000+ pesticide applicators across Iowa during the spring programming season.
  • The 2017 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll summary report has been released. The 2017 survey collected data on farmers’ experiences with and management of herbicide resistant weeds, actions taken to improve soil health, perspectives on extended crop rotations, and influence of key agricultural stakeholders on crop production and soil and water conservation. The poll was established in 1982 and is the longest running survey of its kind.
  • The Iowa State University Integrated Crop Management Conference brings together a diverse range of topics, expert presenters and results of current university research. Participants receive practical, take-home information on current issues and best management practices. The November 2017 conference featured 81 hours of educational programming through 14 concurrent sessions. The 923 participants represented 10 states; 54 percent were below age 46; 63 percent identified as ag retail, industry representative, ag sales or crop consulting, and 10 percent were actively farming. In addition:
    –94 percent of those who had attended previous ICM Conferences stated the information was useful for making management decisions on their own or their customers’ operations.
    –64 percent of participants estimated this information increased profits by $5 or more per acre.
    –509 participants received Certified Crop Adviser CEUs, and 151 received commercial pesticide applicator recertification.

Community and Economic Development

  • The fourth annual Community Food Systems Event, Jan. 12 in Ames, highlights best practices across all areas of community food systems from around the region. The Community Food Systems program, developed in partnership with the ISU Community Design Lab, is based on community engagement practices of public interest design, strategic doing and collective impact. It is a multi-phased, multi-year program within the ISU Extension and Outreach local foods and community and economic development programs.
  • On Jan. 16, Himar Hernandez, Jill Sokness, Victory Oyervides and Jon Wolseth will be meeting with our partners from Iowa Department of Public Health to plan for this year’s Shop Healthy Iowa initiative in Des Moines, Storm Lake and Denison.
  • Extension CED staff will be conducting Navigating Difference training workshops in West Des Moines (Jan. 16, 20 and 30) and Ames (Jan. 31).
  • Extension CED specialist Eric Christianson will be conducting Introduction to Planning and Zoning workshops in Pocahontas (Jan. 16) and West Liberty (Jan. 23).

Human Sciences

  • Suzanne Bartholomae, family finance state specialist and assistant professor in human development and family studies, and co-presenters shared “Findings in Financial Literacy” at the 2017 Federal Student Aid Training Conference in Orlando, Florida, in November. Nearly 1,000 professionals learned about research on the role that financial capability plays in student success. The presentation highlighted the 2017 Study on Collegiate Financial Wellness and also included an overview of the Cooperative Extension System and highlighted the benefits of partnering with extension educators. Watch the presentation:
  • The multi-state data analysis for Growing Together is complete. During 2017, teams from the four participating universities – Iowa State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Purdue – agreed on common metrics for multi-state reporting. The results are in: 497 Master Gardener volunteers contributed their time; 542 community partners and agencies cooperated; 101,873 pounds of fruits and vegetables were supplied to 131 food pantries; and 63,595 people with low income were served. Projects leveraged $56,940 in non-SNAP-Ed funds to support the work, and all four universities will continue with Growing Together during the 2018 growing season.
  • Dawn Dunnegan, a human sciences specialist in family life, started her employment with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach in January 2017 and focused on learning about and delivering priority programs. She attended class leader training for Powerful Tools for Caregivers within her first month of employment, and since then has co-led multiple series. She had previous experience with the Strengthening Families Program 10-14 and arranged for a facilitator training in southeast Iowa. Dawn called on her network of relationships with community partners to find people willing to become facilitators and to secure financial support. Through her grant application to DECAT, Dawn was awarded $4,483 for a series of SFP 10-14 for Louisa County. She submitted a second application for a series of Powerful Tools for Caregivers and this request for $4,480 also was awarded. Dawn has almost $9,000 to support two priority, multi-session programs that are evidence-based.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach has been educating parents and supporting families through the Growing Strong Families program since 1999. The program teaches parents about child development, nutrition, money management, and health and safety, and in 2012 earned the Iowa Family Support Credential from the Iowa Department of Management and Public Health. At that time it was only the 15th Iowa program to earn this distinction and was available in Adair, Fremont, Page, Taylor and Wayne counties. The credential is awarded to programs that go through an external evaluation and are found to substantially adhere to the Iowa Family Support Standards. The credential is valid for five years. Throughout the past year the team worked diligently to become recertified. An onsite review took place in August 2017 after submission of extensive documentation. On Oct. 30, the team received word the program again would be awarded the State of Iowa Family Support Credential, having passed in both policy and in procedures and practice.

From Ackley to Zwingle

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 8, 2018

If you travel in Iowa for any length of time or distance, you’ll notice that many places offer one-stop-shopping for donuts, pizza and gasoline, and whatever else you may need when you’re on the road. ISU Extension and Outreach applies this convenience store concept to data, but does it one better: all the merchandise is free. I’m talking about the Indicators Portal from our Community and Economic Development program. The portal provides one-stop access to reliable, current data on all things Iowa. Did you know?

  • Originally funded as a Vice President for Extension and Outreach Strategic Initiative in 2013, the Indicators Portal is designed to be useful for local and regional decision-making. This tool makes it easy and convenient for all of us to find, use and visualize information.
  • The portal team recently released City Data for Decision Makers reports for all of Iowa’s 945 cities. From Ackley to Zwingle, the reports show population trends, demographics and socioeconomic indicators such as income, poverty, employment, housing characteristics and health insurance coverage.
  • The Indicators Portal also provides access to Data for Decision Makers reports by county, Iowa Senate district, Iowa House district, and ISU Extension and Outreach region, as well as reports of youth and 4-H program data.

Visit the portal and look around. You’ll likely find what you need and a lot more.

A few more notes

  • Excellence in Extension offers grant opportunities for all ISU Extension and Outreach staff (county, state, faculty, P&S, merit and hourly) to improve and enrich the quality of our programs. The application deadline is Feb. 1.
  • It’s time to acknowledge our Friends of Extension for their efforts on our behalf. Submit award nominations by close of business Feb. 2 to (select “Other recognition, Friends of Extension” from the drop-down menu). Then our Epsilon Sigma Phi/Alpha Mu Chapter awards committee will review the nominations and submit our state winner to national. For more information, contact Jerry Chizek,
  • Nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are due at noon, Feb. 9. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms.

One more thing: I want to take a moment to remember Greg Wallace, who died in an in-home accident in late December. Greg led our social media initiative for ISU Extension and Outreach as part of the Advancement team. Our Facebook, Twitter and other online presence has grown exponentially in recent years and is one of the largest digital footprints of any extension program in the nation. Greg alone wasn’t responsible for all of this growth, but he played a key role in helping guide others and in managing and monitoring the posts and tweets that carried our brand. We all have benefited from his work, and we are richer for having known him. Rest in peace, Greg.

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

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