Best practices for diversity

John Lawrence’s message from March 19, 2018

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or status as a U.S. veteran. This opening sentence of our non-discrimination statement is important. It not only applies to all Iowans, it applies to all of us: Not just those who are on federal funding, who work on campus, or who work in a particular program, but everyone who is part of ISU Extension and Outreach. But it is only the bare bones of our diversity and inclusion commitment. To get to diversity and inclusion’s heart and soul, we have to take action.

The third goal in our 2017-2022 Extension and Outreach Strategic Plan is to enhance efforts in programming, operations, and staffing to reach diverse and underrepresented populations. The strategies we’ve set for this goal include

  • doing more to recruit, hire, onboard and retain diverse faculty and staff;
  • making sure our partnerships support inclusion and involve underrepresented audiences;
  • taking stock of how well we’re doing (during annual performance reviews); and
  • becoming more competent in working with diverse and underserved audiences.

These efforts are best practices that will make ISU Extension and Outreach more diverse, our programs more inclusive and overall help us become a better organization. We have great resources to help us. Did you know?

We educate farmers so they can adopt best practices in agriculture. We share research so communities can grow or shrink smart. We teach families the steps for healthier eating, and we build skills in youth so they are ready for college and careers. So surely we can adopt best practices to reach all Iowans. President Wintersteen aspires for Iowa State University to be the most welcoming and inclusive university in the country. Let’s do our part and aspire for ISU Extension and Outreach to be the most welcoming and inclusive extension service.

A couple more notes

  • You won’t get a message from me next Monday, March 26. Instead, I hope to see you at Annual Conference.
  • Make plans now for Extension and Outreach Week, April 16-21.

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

Building our capacity

John Lawrence’s message from March 5, 2018

In ISU Extension and Outreach, we focus on building capacity in our clients and communities, and rightly so. As R.K. Bliss says in his extension history book, “Helping people to help themselves and working with people rather than for people are good slogans to remember in extension work.” However, we also need to focus on ourselves. I think even R.K. would agree that there is good reason to build the capacity of our organization: Our people are our greatest asset and we must invest in them.

Did you know? Capacity building helps an organization deliver on its mission over time, according to the National Council of Nonprofits, a resource and advocate for charitable nonprofits in the U.S. However, capacity building isn’t a one-time effort for short-term effectiveness, the council states. Instead, it is a strategy for continuous improvement. By building their own capacity, organizations can develop the competencies and skills they need to become sustainable – so they can continue to have a positive impact on the people and communities they serve.

ISU Extension and Outreach is a learning organization. We know we have to keep developing and honing our skills and abilities so we can continue to address Iowans’ changing needs. If we truly intend to build a strong Iowa, as we claim in our mission statement, we have to be ready, willing and able to do the work. The second goal in our 2017-2022 Extension and Outreach Strategic Plan is to build capacity for council members, faculty, staff and volunteers. It’s an appropriate goal because:

  • We believe in taking care of our own. We are committed to ongoing professional development for our council members, faculty, staff and volunteers.
  • We also want to encourage Iowans to join our ranks – whether as employees or council members, or in other volunteer roles.
  • And since none of us will be here forever, one of the crops we need to cultivate is the next generation of extension professionals.

ISU Extension and Outreach has a bright future. We are a dynamic organization of dedicated people who love the work they do. Our success isn’t based on any one individual, but rather, on what we can accomplish together. As our Annual Conference theme states, we are greater than me. And WE are Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

A few more notes

  • Make sure to review the March program update from the leadership team.
  • During ISU Day at the Capitol, we shared stories of Iowa State’s value and impact. Watch the video.
  • At last year’s Annual Conference, we kicked off the “GIVE mine to EIE” campaign for Excellence in Extension. By the end of 2017, we had raised more than $8,000. Our goal is to reach $12,000 by April 2018. You can contribute online any time. You also can donate at our 2018 Annual Conference and receive a “GIVE mine to EIE” button. Together we can reach the goal and support Excellence in Extension – another way we build our capacity.
  • Since March 12-16 is Iowa State’s spring break, you won’t get a message from me next Monday. Also, I will be away from the office for a few days recovering from surgery. Nothing major, in at 6 a.m. and out by 1 p.m., but a while to recover. Sometimes growing older isn’t much fun, but it beats the alternative. I’ll be back in your emailbox on Monday, March 19.

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

March 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program will be conducting a series of transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops in 10 communities. The series is part of the assessment process that the program conducts in client communities to provide local decision makers a framework within which to make informed choices. In March, transportation assets and barriers workshops will be conducted in Coon Rapids, Peterson, Glidden, Decorah and Corning. CED specialists Abbie Gaffey, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating the focus groups.
  • CED specialists Jill Sokness and Jon Wolseth will be presenting an overview of the new CED leadership program, Leading Communities, in Storm Lake on March 8, in advance of starting the program in April. This Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative and will feature the creation of an additional module addressing immigrant social capital. On March 14, Himar Hernández, Shelley Oltmans and Jon Wolseth will deliver the Leading Communities program in Mount Pleasant.
  • CED specialists Scott Timm and Jill Sokness will coordinate energy-efficiency evaluations for local, Latino-owned businesses in Sioux City through MidAmerican Energy March 14–16. Sokness is connecting local businesses to this service and Timm is the liaison to the energy company and will serve as Spanish-language interpreter on the days of the evaluations.
  • Extension CED staff will be conducting a Navigating Difference© training workshop in West Des Moines on March 13.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach specialists Malisa Rader, Brenda Schmitt, Barbara Dunn Swanson and Vera Stokes attended the National Land-Grant Diversity Conference in Kentucky. They shared Human Sciences Extension and Outreach efforts with diversity and inclusion. They also learned much from their counterparts across the country, including the concept of equitable civic engagement and the role privilege plays in diversity. The conference provided a good reminder to make sure our target audiences are at the table, identifying what they need, and also to have the community help us design, deliver and evaluate programs.
  • Growing Together Iowa funding awards were announced in February. The 26 funded projects are in the following counties: Black Hawk, Bremer, Boone, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Cass, Cherokee, Clayton, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Monona, Muscatine, O’Brien, Osceola, Polk, Poweshiek, Story, West Pottawattamie and Woodbury.
  • Suzanne Bartholomae, family finance state specialist, and co-authors Maria Pippidis from University of Delaware and Elizabeth Kiss from Kansas State University have released “Cooperative Extension’s Capacity to Demonstrate Impact in Financial Capability and Well-Being: A Briefing Paper.” They build the case for creating one system for reporting Cooperative Extension’s family resource management impact nationally and sharing Extension’s story with a broader audience, whether stakeholders, funders or the research community.

4-H Youth Development

  • State 4-H Recognition Day is March 24 on campus. 4-H’ers will be interviewed for opportunities including the National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Congress, State 4-H Council, State Project Awards and the State 4-H Shooting Sports Ambassador Program.
  • The 2018 4-H Maize Retreat is April 13-15. Through this culturally based youth leadership accelerator, youth in grades 8-12 explore 4-H and Iowa State University. Youth participants from across Iowa will gather to experience 4-H healthy living, STEM, civic engagement, leadership, and communication and the arts programs through a Latino and Native American perspective.
  • The 2018 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference is June 26-28. This year’s theme is “Your Passport to Adventure.” Registration is planned to open mid-March.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa State University faculty and staff provided education for pork producers at the Iowa Pork Congress in January. Extension specialists were present both days of the event and offered training opportunities for pork quality assurance and transport quality assurance. Also presented at the event was “How NOT to fail an Audit: Euthanasia and other considerations.” Euthanasia is a critical part of the Common Swine Industry Audit; this session was designed to improve participants’ confidence in their ability to recognize compromised pigs and talk through the euthanasia process. The Iowa Pork Industry Center is taking the lead on an industry-wide project on sow mortality. Meetings with farm owners and allied partners began in November 2017 and are scheduled to June 2018.
  • Boots in the Barn, a new program for women dairy producers, was developed and delivered in a three-part series during January and February. The program was held in Dyersville to serve the needs of women dairy farmers in Clayton, Delaware and Dubuque counties. These three counties have strong dairy operations and represent 25 percent of Iowa’s dairy herds. Topics for the first two sessions were milk quality and udder health, and feed quality. The third session was led by Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine staff. The session provided participants the simulated opportunity to deliver a fully jointed, life-size calf, using a model, and also to practice difficult deliveries.
  • Seventy individuals attended the third Iowa Small Farms Conference on Feb. 10 at the Scheman Building in Ames. Nine breakout sessions were held; three were hands-on sessions. When conference attendees were asked what changes they would make after attending the conference, 34 percent indicated they would be making some changes or modifications to their small farm based on the information they received. The most intended changes included adding bees, using enterprise budgets, installing drip irrigation, harvesting maple syrup and growing mushrooms.

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