Planning a program of work

John Lawrence’s message from June 25, 2018

Last week as I began my visits to every region in the state, I had the opportunity to meet with stakeholders, staff and extension council members in Regions 1, 4 and 17. (I’m in Region 20 today.) We talked about issues that impact their region’s ability to thrive and, given our core programs, where they see ISU Extension and Outreach helping them address the issues. With staff and councils we also discussed how we strengthen our organization and our partnership. These regional discussions have been great, and I am looking forward to visiting the rest of the regions later this summer and fall.

A key responsibility of each of our county extension councils is to plan for extension programming to meet the needs of the people in their county. To be successful, councils have to be able to plan and carry out a strong county extension program with county office staff. A group effort from County Services and the regional directors is making this task easier. Did you know?

  • The new County Extension Council Educational Program of Work template is designed to help councils take a systematic approach to providing research-based educational programs and services to the people in their communities. (County staff can download the template from MyExtension for council use.)
  • The template offers a sequence of questions and considerations for addressing an identified need with an action plan and the budget to support it. The template lays out outputs, outcomes, and evaluation steps, as well as risk management precautions.
  • A council’s programming committee would take the lead in working with county staff to complete the template and draft a program plan for each specified need. Then the entire extension council would review the program plans and make informed decisions to distribute and approve resources.

The program of work template doesn’t need to be completed for every county activity. For example, club calf weigh-ins and pressure gauge testing, though important, don’t require the same level of preparation as a sequenced series of educational workshops. As councils and county staff work together to meet the needs of Iowans with new programming, the County Extension Council Educational Program of Work template helps everyone keep track of the details, meet research-based program expectations and promote accountability by all parties.

More notes

  • The Internal Communications Task Force met again June 18 and the executive summary from the meeting is posted on Cybox. The task force’s role is to gather input and make recommendations by the end of the year. The leadership team will make the decisions regarding implementation.
  • Lea Baumhover, a former 4-H’er and current summer assistant in Buena Vista County, narrates a new College of Human Sciences student recruitment video for family and consumer sciences education and studies. Emily Bormann, a 2017 Rising Star intern from Region 5, also is featured in the video. (To learn what our current Rising Star interns are doing, read their Rising Star blog.)
  • This week we will welcome almost 900 teens to campus for the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. It’s a unique opportunity for young Iowans to experience campus life and meet new people from across the state.

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

Clearing the path

John Lawrence’s message from June 18, 2018

It’s always easier to get somewhere when you have a clear path to follow. That is why ISU Extension and Outreach staff in human sciences, 4-H youth development, and community and economic development, along with local partners and Iowa State faculty, are working together to help Iowa’s Latino families find their way to better health. Their combined effort, Abriendo Caminos: Clearing the Path to Latino Family Health, is an integrated, community-based, extension research project to promote healthy lifestyles among Latino families and prevent or reduce obesity among Latino youth. Did you know?

  • Abriendo Caminos uses a “whole family approach.” It builds upon traditions of family mealtimes, being physically active as a family, healthy nutrition, and strengthening family routines and communication. Iowa State is one of four universities partnering with the University of Illinois to further develop and test the effectiveness of the curriculum.
  • In 2017, more than 140 youth and parents in 47 families participated in Abriendo Caminos in Ottumwa, Perry and Postville. Half of the families were randomly assigned to the intervention group and participated in the workshop series, and half were randomly assigned to the control group and received printed materials related to topics covered in the workshops.
  • The research team collected data from both groups before the workshop series, two weeks afterward and six months later. They collected data related to body mass index, blood pressure, body fat mass, types of foods regularly consumed, physical activity, food insecurity, social support, depression, stress and family routines.
  • At one site, they collected hair samples to examine cortisol, an indicator of stress. Findings revealed that social support decreased and cortisol levels increased among families in the control group. However, social support increased and cortisol levels did not increase among families in the intervention group. Participation in Abriendo Caminos may have led to increased social support among families, which in turn buffered stress they experienced. Family Life Extension State Specialist Kimberly Greder says further analysis will help to determine if positive changes in diet and physical activity also reduce stress among youth and parents who participate in Abriendo Caminos.

In 2018, more families are participating in Abriendo Caminos in Ottumwa, Perry and Postville, as well as in Des Moines. To learn more, contact Greder,

More notes

  • Refer to our new Disaster Recovery webpage for resources related to drought, flooding, severe weather and fire. (This page replaces previous “Dealing with Disaster” topic pages.) The new page is linked under “Learn More About …” on the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage. As events and conditions warrant, we’ll add more resources.
  • This week I begin my visits to the four corners of the state: June 18, Ossian; June 20, Sheldon; June 21, Malvern; and June 25, Mt. Pleasant. I’m looking forward to the discussions. A foundation of the extension idea is to listen, because often the best research ideas come from our stakeholders.

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

Time for a visit – or 20

John Lawrence’s message from June 11, 2018

“Forward planning has been one of the strong features of Iowa’s extension work.” Did you know? That’s a quote from R.K. Bliss. It’s from his extension history book published in 1960. It’s a quote that would be accurate at any time in our history, as well as our present day and as we look ahead to our future. In ISU Extension and Outreach we plan ahead, but we don’t do it alone. We need to hear from the people we serve.

As I mentioned during annual conference, I intend to visit every extension region in the state to learn from staff, extension council members and stakeholders. I’m starting next week with the four corners of the state:

  • June 18, Region 4, Ossian
  • June 20, Region 1, Sheldon
  • June 21, Region 17, Malvern
  • June 25, Region 20, Mt. Pleasant

During each visit, I will meet with staff, council members, and stakeholders, and briefly share news about some of our great work. The primary purpose of these visits is to listen to and learn from each group, and to gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan. I know many people across the state and hope to strengthen those relationships, but just as important, I want to establish new connections. I appreciate the work you all do every day to engage with Iowans and this is a chance for me to learn more about your work, challenges and opportunities. I look forward to our discussions.

The regional directors are handling the invitations and working with Advancement and staff from the host counties to make sure our guests feel welcome and informed. I thank them for their efforts to make these visits meaningful for everyone involved.

We’ll work the bugs out of the process with these four regions, and then plan visits for the rest of the regions, working around county centennials, county fairs, and other events on my schedule. I will keep you informed as plans develop.

More notes

  • Make sure to review the June program update from the leadership team.
  • Team PrISUm is taking Iowa State’s solar car for a drive June 11-20 for the annual SunRun. The team will visit 17 counties to promote STEM education and get communities excited about sustainable transportation. Team PrISUm is working with 13 county extension offices to coordinate stops at 4-H STEM camps and other extension events during SunRun.

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

June 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The “Pasture Management Guide for Livestock Producers” has been updated for the publication’s 20th anniversary. ISU Extension and Outreach specialists from multiple disciplines have updated this comprehensive resource with information on managing pasture plants and livestock, planning for improvements in grazing systems, monitoring and evaluating the grazing system, managing risk in grazing systems and more. Since its first release in 1998, the guide has become one of the most popular and widely read resources available through ISU Extension and Outreach for anyone managing the production of livestock.
  • Many field days and workshops have been scheduled for this summer at Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms. Topics include crops and soils, cover crops, nitrogen and water, “Forecast and Assessment of Cropping sysTemS (FACTS)” and demonstration gardens. Most events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule of events is online.
  • A new series of publications, “The Iowa Watershed Approach,” is available through the ISU Extension Store. The 10 publications highlight a variety of practices that can be implemented to reduce flooding and improve water quality. Topics include wetlands, farm ponds, water and sediment control basins, grade stabilization structures, oxbow restoration, channel stabilization, terraces, buffers, floodplain restoration and perennial cover. Each publication walks readers through the impact these practices have on flood reduction, water quality, watershed management, wildlife benefits, financial incentives and more.

Community and Economic Development

  • Communities participating in the 2018 Community Visioning Program are transitioning from the assessment process to goal setting and design workshops. In June, Graettinger, Moville, Peterson and Wapello will have goal-setting meetings. Communities holding design workshops include Corning, Forest City, Graettinger, Moville, Peterson, Plymouth and Wapello. The public may attend these workshops and provide input on preliminary transportation enhancement plans. Also in June, steering committees in Decorah and Glidden will do preliminary reviews of concept designs.
  • CED specialist Jane Goeken developed a Grant Writing 101 workshop because communities had indicated an interest in and a need for grant-writing skills to find financing for community projects. On June 11, Goeken will present Grant Writing 101 for Rising Star interns in Spencer. On June 21, she will present the workshop at the Polk County Extension and Outreach office. On June 22, Goeken and CED specialist Eric Christianson will co-present the workshop in Polk County.
  • On June 28, Dave Peters, extension sociologist and assistant professor, will be in Fort Dodge for the Mid-Iowa Growth Partnership. He will present key issues facing rural Iowa related to declines in farm income, rural labor shortage and availability of community services. Following the presentation, Peters will facilitate a discussion of possible solutions in mid and north Iowa to address some of these challenges.
  • Program coordinator Courtney Long will be in the Virgin Islands (St. Croix/St. Thomas/St. John) June 2–10 for disaster recovery and food systems development. The Community Food Systems program is working with several different partners including Farm to School, farmers, ISU Extension and Outreach, FEMA and others to understand the conditions of food systems prior to and after the hurricane.

Human Sciences

  • Specialist Cathy Hockaday and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Director Debra Sellers attended a two-day meeting in Lima, Peru, to discuss and explore a partnership with the Pan American Health Organization and DEVIDA (Peru’s national drug commission) to combat substance use through the implementation of Familias Fuertes (the Spanish adaptation of Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14). DEVIDA currently delivers the program to more than 20,000 families in Peru every year. Hockaday and Sellers were invited to consult with DEVIDA about the possibility of implementing a randomized control trial of Familias Fuertes in Peru.
  • Suzanne Bartholomae, assistant professor in human development and family studies, is representing ISU Extension and Outreach in the newly formed Iowa Identity Theft Victim Assistance Coalition. The coalition is comprised of private and public agencies, including the Iowa Insurance Division, Office of the Attorney General, the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association, and the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. The coalition was established from a U.S. Department of Justice grant to the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance, a nonprofit organization that assists crime victims. The purpose of the coalition is to enable members to assist clients who have been the target of identity theft and to help others avoid identity theft. The members also receive training relative to their mission.
  • Jel Lee, assistant professor in human development and family studies, Jan Monahan, human sciences specialist in family finance, and Sue Boettcher, Dickinson County human sciences program coordinator, piloted two lessons of a curriculum related to future care planning for older adults at the Spirit Lake Senior Center. The lessons assist older adults in proactively seeking support and include information related to planning for appointments with physicians, communication strategies, and end of life documents, including advance directives. This educational offering provides opportunities for older Iowans to learn how to be better advocates for their own health care and how to marshal support when needed. The majority of pilot respondents reported satisfaction with the program, and 15 out of 20 reported preparing a tool kit after attending the first lesson. Additional pilot sessions are planned.

4-H Youth Development

  • With four months left in the program year, 4-H has already reached last year’s participation numbers. As of May 15, Iowa 4-H had more than 23,000 club/individual enrollments. 4-H has also seen a 7.3 percent growth of Clover Kids (K-3) enrollment from last year. Final numbers will be available in early October 2018.
  • SWITCH wrapped up the 2017-2018 program year on April 27. Twenty-five schools from 18 counties completed the 12-week program, building capacity to establish a more wellness focused school environment and offering more than 1,900 fourth and fifth grade students new opportunities to set goals to grow healthy habits. Recruitment and enrollment is underway for the 2018-2019 school year. The goal is to have all 40 elementary spots and all 12 spots in the new middle school pilot filled before June 30. More than 40 youth and adults from four school districts attended the SWITCH Youth Summit Pilot. They were immersed in a variety of healthy living workshops and discussed how their teams could take action to create healthier school environments where all youth have the opportunity to “switch what they do, view and chew.” They learned fun ways to be active (without screen time and their electronic devices) and discovered the science behind why physical activity is important for our bodies. They were challenged to practice mindfulness and be more aware of the present moment, and they put their creativity into practice by creating their own recipe and learning how to conduct a taste test back in their school. This event will be replicated in other regions across the state next year.
  • Nicole Hanson and Sara Nelson presented a workshop on the STEM-Lit to Go program at the Iowa Impact After School Conference in April. About 30 out-of-school-time professionals attended this hands-on session to learn how to use the STEM-Lit to Go framework to develop their own high-quality STEM and literacy experiences for young children. In addition, many participants expressed interest in partnering with local ISU Extension and Outreach staff to bring the curriculum to their programs.
  • The 2018 Youth Equine Extravaganza, held March 23-25 in Iowa Falls, drew nearly 200 youth and parents. Fifteen volunteers assisted as youth competed in individual and team events including hippology, quiz bowl, horse judging and public speaking, as well as horseless horse categories such as creative writing, photography, drawing, crafts, woodworking, painting and digital storytelling. Youth also experienced a hands-on clinic with a clinician from Texas. The winning senior team, Story County Team #1, qualified to participate in the Western National Roundup, January 2019 in Denver.

Team vs. beetle

John Lawrence’s message from June 4, 2018

A shiny green beetle, about a half-inch long, soon may be appearing in an ash tree near you. It’s the time of year when the emerald ash borer and the damage it causes become easier to see. An invasive and destructive tree pest, EAB is damaging ash trees in over half of Iowa. Did you know?

  • EAB is native to Asia, where native parasitic wasps and Asian ash tree resistance keep it under control. Through international trade, EAB accidentally was introduced to North America. It was first found in the U.S. (southeast Michigan) in 2002. Since North American ash species have not developed resistance to fight back, EAB continues to spread.
  • EAB was first detected in Iowa in 2010, when it was officially confirmed in Allamakee County. In April 2018 with USDA confirmations in Taylor and Carroll counties, EAB now has been detected in 57 counties. If EAB is found in one location in a county, eventually it will be found elsewhere. For example, EAB was officially detected in Story County (in Story City) in 2014, and was found in Ames last week.
  • The adult beetle colonizes the top of ash trees first and then moves down the tree. The larval stage tunnels just under the bark, feeding on wood tissue containing nutrient- and water-conducting vessels. The ash tree will die within two to five years.

Fortunately, there is a bright spot amid the destruction: The Iowa EAB team provides EAB diagnostic assistance to landowners. The team includes ISU Extension and Outreach specialists in entomology, horticulture and forestry; and officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the USDA Forest Service. Through collaborative efforts, the team helps identify where EAB has been detected in the state, and educates Iowans about treatment options for healthy ash trees and alternative species to replace declining or damaged trees. The emerald ash borer is spreading across the state, but the Iowa EAB team is making sure Iowans are prepared.

More notes

  • Deb Sellers and Ross Wilburn are leading a task force to determine how we can improve communication within ISU Extension and Outreach. I’ve asked the task force to gather information from across the system, assess what they learn and share their recommendations with the Leadership Team. On May 29, the task force reviewed current methods of communication within our organization and met with members of the Leadership Team to hear their perspectives. One theme that surfaced was that a lack of clarity in roles, structure and processes might be contributing to our communication challenges. The task force is working on ways to collect input from internal stakeholders throughout our system. Please contribute to this process when asked. As their work progresses, the task force will post reports on Cybox.
  • As I mentioned during annual conference, I intend to visit every extension region in the state to learn from staff, partners and stakeholders. The first four visits are scheduled for the second half of June. I will keep you informed as plans develop.

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

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