PROSPERING Step-by-step, State-by-state

John Lawrence’s message from July 30, 2018

Follow the prevention evidence one step at a time: That is the basis for a new, two-year project we’re helping fund to continue the fight against substance misuse in Iowa. The evidence comes from our work with PROSPER and the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14. The new project is PROSPERing Step-by-step, State-by-state (P2S): Science-based Prevention Workforce Training Systems to Combat the Opioid Crisis. According to the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy, opioid abuse is Iowa’s fastest growing substance abuse issue. P2S is extension-powered and guided by scientific evidence, with the goal of building rural communities’ capacity to address the opioid crisis and achieve positive impacts for youth and families. Did you know?

  • The P2S team expects to assist three rural sites in their application of resources to address opioid-related problems and issues.
  • The majority of youth and their families in the selected sites are expected to participate in research-based or evidence-based school and family programs. One option will be SFP 10-14, which has previously demonstrated reductions in opioid misuse.
  • P2S training systems will provide educational opportunities to all ISU Extension and Outreach county-based educators in the counties in which the selected sites are located. Several will receive more intensive training and support to enhance their capacity to form community partnerships addressing the opioid issue. Field specialists also will be eligible for training to support their assigned counties. Selected educators will be eligible for a train-the-trainer effort to grow and sustain P2S in Iowa.
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health and Midwest Counterdrug Training Center are partnering with us. Together we will demonstrate an innovative opioid prevention workforce development model that can be exported to other states and territories.
  • To learn more, contact Iowa State’s Richard Spoth ( and Lisa Schainker ( Spoth and Cathy Hockaday ( are part of the Extension Opioid Crisis Response Workgroup, which is considering how extension nationwide could expand capacity to address the opioid crisis.

The PROSPER Rx Project is hosting a free capacity-building workshop Sept. 12 in Ames. All extension staff and faculty are invited to attend. It’s a good professional development opportunity to learn more about opioid and prescription drug misuse, mental health concerns, and readily available tools and resources, as well as network with potential partners to conduct prevention work in communities. Register online; the deadline is Aug. 22. See the flyer for more information; contact Lisa Schainker, PROSPER Rx principal investigator (, with questions.

One more note: We left our mark on this year’s RAGBRAI bikers, with about 3,000 ISU Extension and Outreach branded sunscreen sticks. After the bikers rode their Cyclone loop through Jack Trice Stadium, they could stop by our tent to get a stick, which featured our wordmark and website url, along with broad spectrum SPF 30 protection. We’ll also be giving out sunscreen sticks during 4-H Day on the Grand Concourse during the Iowa State Fair.

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

Opening doors

John Lawrence’s message from July 24, 2018

When you approach a closed door you have two options – you can open it and go through or leave it closed and stop. In terms of economic development, our state does better when we open the door. That is what our Latino business and entrepreneurship team has been doing since 2003, and that is why the team has received the ISU Award for Achievement in Economic Development in Iowa. Community development specialists Lisa Bates, Himar Hernandez, Victor Oyervides, Jill Sokness, Scott Timm and Jon Wolseth have impacted more than 150 businesses. In the past three years, they have broadened their scope to work with not only Latino entrepreneurs, but also entrepreneurs from other minority business groups, including African-American and refugee populations. Did you know?

  • The team helps entrepreneurs with comprehensive, business improvement practices and strategies. As a result, minority-owned businesses have been able to apply for and receive loans, renovate their store façades, get required permits from city hall and ultimately expand their businesses.
  • Most minority-owned businesses are located in downtown areas, so the team works broadly with these and other business owners to invigorate downtown revitalization efforts.
  • The team has linked minority-owned grocery stores in eight Iowa communities to local food producers and farmers. This initiative has resulted in more markets for local producers and greater availability of locally grown produce for underserved populations.
  • The team also opens the door for ISU students, helping to link them to minority-owned business communities for applied learning.

These examples are real success stories for Iowa State, ISU Extension and Outreach, and Iowa communities. Mark your calendars for Sept. 14, when the Latino business and entrepreneurship team and other award recipients will be honored during the university’s annual awards ceremony.

We’re opening another door through translation and interpretation. ISU Extension and Outreach has committed resources to fund a half-time position to provide language translation and interpretation support for our educational programs. Juan Ramirez, who has been and will continue as youth and families education assistant program coordinator in Dallas County, now will also provide language translation and digital voiceover support for our organization. He also will serve as an interpreter for scheduled events in which he is an identified trainer, such as ServSafe, Juntos and Maize. Juan, who is an Iowa State graduate, is fluent in English and Spanish, and is proficient in French and Portuguese.

You may submit your translation request by emailing Juan at In your email message please include your name, project name, program name, and date that you need the translation completed or date of your event (for interpretation support). For translation, please attach your content as a Word document or PDF.
After Juan receives and reviews your request, he will provide you an estimated completion date based on the size of the task, date received, due date, complexity of the content, and the number of requests in the pipeline ahead of yours.
Jeff Jackson, Dallas County executive director, and Ross Wilburn, our diversity officer, will supervise Juan’s workflow. For more information, contact Jeff ( or Ross (

One more note: Many thanks to Deb Sellers, Barbara Woods and Keli Tallman for compiling ISU Extension and Outreach data for the 2018 Healthy Iowans Progress Report. The report, as well as Iowa’s revised Health Improvement Plan 2017-2021, is available on the Healthy Iowans website.

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

A lab in the field

John Lawrence’s message from July 16, 2018

Down the road and around the corner from the ISU Agronomy Farm, you’ll find a hardworking example of how teaching, research and extension come together in the field, literally. The Field Extension Education Laboratory, also known as FEEL, is a 23-acre teaching and demonstration facility where crop production professionals can get hands-on learning experience with a wide range of management problems, solutions and diagnostic challenges. Did you know?

  • Just a few miles west of Ames, the lab hosts demonstration projects and workshops throughout the summer. For example, last week FEEL held a field diagnostic clinic and a crop management clinic for agribusiness professionals and crop producers. Iowa Certified Crop Advisers could gain continuing education credits from both clinics. Later this month high school students will compete in the eighth annual Crop Scouting Competition for Iowa Youth.
  • Agribusinesses and industry can rent FEEL for professional development, clinics, demonstrations and training events. The FEEL learning experience features air-conditioned classrooms, Wi-Fi, parking and field plots within walking distance of the main building.
  • FEEL coordinator Warren Pierson says approximately 1,615 people participated in FEEL education last year.

FEEL has been part of ISU Extension and Outreach since 1987. If you’re ever in the neighborhood (1928 240th Street, Boone) stop in for a visit. Or, for a drone’s-eye view of FEEL, watch this aerial tour of the field lab.

One more note: In June, I made my first four regional VP visits (1, 4, 17 and 20) and I think everyone involved would call them a success. Staff engaged in discussions about local needs, challenges and opportunities in their positions. Councils shared their perspectives on their role, local needs and opportunities. The stakeholders who participated included a variety of community leaders and partners, and we had good conversations about local, regional and statewide issues. I will continue the visits sometime after the Iowa State Fair and wrap up “before the snow flies.” When the dates are set, the regional directors will send the invitations, and I encourage you all to attend. These visits will continue to focus on listening and learning. After all the visits are complete, I’ll share a summary of what I learned.

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

Fairs, festivals, events and a plan

John Lawrence’s message from July 9, 2018

They really know how to make pancakes in Johnson County. I had a few samples Sunday morning during Johnson County’s 100-year anniversary event. Today I’m in the office for a teleconference and a one-on-one meeting. On Tuesday I’m back on the road for centennials in Winneshiek and Delaware counties. My July includes 17 county centennials, at last count, and I hope to visit a few additional fairs along the way. (I also want to thank my leadership team colleagues who are covering other centennials that I can’t get to.) Luckily, I have an online schedule and excellent staff to help me keep track of where I’m supposed to be at any given time.

However, it takes a lot more than luck to carry out all these county extension centennials, as well as county fairs, festivals and community events across the state. “We’ve always done it this way” had to start somewhere. Call it art or call it science, managing fairs, festivals and events can be a huge task for local organizers. Fortunately, ISU Extension and Outreach has a resource that can help. Did you know?

  • You can share our “Event Management Training Toolkit for Managers of Rural Iowa Fairs, Festivals, and Events” with your clients. The 15-page toolkit is available for free download from the Extension Store. It provides resources for solving some of the more challenging aspects of managing events, such as crises and controversies, security, cross-promotional activities, media relations and regulations.
  • Eric Olson and Lakshman Rajagopal, from Iowa State’s Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management, created the toolkit supported by the Heddelson Junior Faculty Grant. This fund was established to ensure that new human sciences faculty are exposed to and incorporated into ISU Extension and Outreach projects in Iowa counties.
  • The toolkit is based on results from a survey of 212 Iowa managers examining the challenges in planning and managing events. Read about the research behind the toolkit in the Journal of Extension.

Festivals, fairs and events have a great economic impact in Iowa communities. In addition, when people work together to carry out these events, they are developing their community identity and increasing social capital, which helps to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

  • Make sure to review the July program update from the leadership team.
  • Our Disaster Recovery website includes information on dealing with flooding, as well as severe weather, fire and drought.
  • The Internal Communications Task Force met again July 2 and the executive summary from the meeting is posted on Cybox.

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

July 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage during which steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts. During July, design review meetings will be conducted in Peterson, Moville, Graettinger and Forest City.
  • Cindy Kendall, Cindy Stuve and Elizabeth Gartin will host the 43rd Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy July 16–27 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This is a targeted training for more than 200 city clerks, finance officers and other city staff to further professionalism, knowledge and efficiency in Iowa cities. All training in this venue qualifies for certification in the International Institute of Municipal Clerks as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association certification program.

Human Sciences

  • Military couples have needs similar to other couples, but also deal with challenges such as frequent relocations, deployments and separations. Military leaders can benefit by being able to reinforce healthy couple and family functioning with those they supervise and command. That is why Human Sciences Extension and Outreach offered Healthy Relationship Education Training for Iowa State’s Army ROTC cadets in April. Anthony Santiago, college projects specialist, and David Brown, human sciences specialist in family life, facilitated the program for 21 Army ROTC senior cadets in collaboration with the Department of Military Science. Evaluation results showed greater understanding of many aspects of relationships: 94 percent of the cadets have a greater knowledge of stress reduction, communication and healthy conflict management; and 100 percent of the cadets are confident they can help individuals and couples support healthy living choices. As one participant stated, “I now have the tools to help future soldiers.”
  • Elizabeth Stegemöller, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and a Human Sciences Extension and Outreach summer faculty fellowship recipient, and David Brown, a human sciences specialist in family life, will offer A Journey through Parkinson’s Disease facilitator training for human sciences specialists on Aug. 16. This train-the trainer workshop will enable human sciences specialists from any discipline to provide this educational offering in their communities. The training will review the causes and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how treatments work. The training also will cover therapeutic activities that can be completed in the home by those who have the disease.
  • Sanjuana Graves, a “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” educator in Scott County, received the Helping Us Grow (HUG) award from the Davenport Community School District for outstanding service. Her work is primarily with pregnant and parenting students at Mid-City High School. The school provides an electric skillet or slow cooker to every student who graduates from “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.”
  • Grisel Chavez and Norma Dorado-Robles presented at the Cambio de Colores conference June 7 in Kansas City. Grisel is a “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” educator in Marshall County and Norma is a current 4-H staff member and former BELH educator. They discussed the work they completed with Mid-Iowa Community Action to provide nutrition education to a group of parents while their children engaged in 4-H activities. The parents’ group consisted of 16 Burmese participants.

4-H Youth Development

  • Fifty Iowa 4-H members received 2018 state 4-H project awards. They were recognized for exhibiting exceptional leadership, communication and civic engagement within their project area. The awards are given to 4-H’ers who have displayed mastery, leadership, communication and service in a specific project area. Each youth recipient also was granted a $100 award from Glen and Mary Jo Mente of Ames and the Iowa 4-H Foundation.
  • About 700 youth packaged 50,000 meals as their Meals from the Heartland service project at the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. Their service learning continued with a culture fair on central campus. The youth learned dances, made crafts and learned about the history of different cultures in Iowa, including Swedish, African American, Asian, Czech, Latino and more. They also heard from Iowa 4-H alumni who shared their 4-H stories and described how community service and volunteerism has played a role in their lives within their communities and careers. Panelists included Kyle Munson, Senator Dan Zumbach, Rachel Wall, Charlene Watkin, Don McDowell and Cheri Doane.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • A new approach to using social media is helping researchers map the spread of southern corn rust. Research published by the American Phytopathological Society examines the usefulness and feasibility of using social media as a method of disease and pest data sharing among crop scouts, industry agronomists and university extension specialists across the country. Two Twitter accounts, @corndisease and @soydisease, were created to track the appearance of disease in corn and soybeans fields across the country. The project was successfully able to track the movement of southern rust northward, providing advance notice for targeted crop scouting efforts. ISU Extension and Outreach specialists Daren Mueller, Adam Sisson and Rachel Kempker contributed to the publication. Read more about the project.
  • Dave Baker has been named director of the ISU Extension and Outreach Beginning Farmer Center. Baker has been with the center since 2006 and had been serving as interim director since January 2018. Created by the Iowa Legislature in 1994, the Beginning Farmer Center assists in facilitating the transition of farming operations from established farmers to beginning farmers.
  • The Pocahontas and Webster County Master Gardeners received the 2018 Search for Excellence award for their work in their communities. The winning project in Pocahontas County involved Master Gardeners’ work with the annual Garden Extravaganza, where they led classes on gardening topics while also overseeing an expo that saw 30 venders showcase plants, artwork, tools and supplies related to gardening. Webster County’s award came in the youth garden category, in which they partnered with local 4-H clubs to tend to the historic Frontier Garden at the Fort Museum in Fort Dodge.

Still calling Iowa Concern

John Lawrence’s message from July 2, 2018

Sometimes a phone call can make all the difference, and even save a life. ISU Extension and Outreach learned that lesson more than 30 years ago. When Iowa farmers, families and rural communities were under stress and needed help during the 1980s farm crisis, we responded with Iowa Concern. Today we continue to answer Iowans’ calls 24/7, not only with stress counselors and a toll-free phone number, but also with live chat capabilities, email and a website. Iowa Concern provides Iowans with access to an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach started the referral service, originally called Rural Concern, in cooperation with Iowa Department of Human Services and United Way of Central Iowa in 1985 (thus the phone number, 800-447-1985). Initially it was funded through donations from Farm Bureau, FmHA and the Farm Credit System. In 1986, the Iowa General Assembly appropriated money to continue the service, according to “75 Years of Service: Cooperative Extension in Iowa,” an extension history book by Iowa State’s Dorothy Schwieder.
  • After the floods of 1993, the name was changed to Iowa Concern to expand the hotline’s reach as a source of help for all Iowans in need.
  • According to Tammy Jacobs, current coordinator for Iowa Concern and all other Human Sciences Extension and Outreach hotlines, Iowa Concern answered 7,826 calls in 2017. All contacts are confidential.

Tammy says the hotline has seen a slight increase in ag-related calls in the last few months. Caller concerns include the farm bill, ag prices and most recently how this year’s flooding has been impacting farmers. Iowa Concern also answers calls related to financial issues and basic needs – such as connecting Iowans with assistance for rent, utility, food and medical needs, to name a few. Iowa Concern focuses on the immediacy of the individual’s need and works to connect people with helpful resources. For more information, contact Tammy directly at or 515-727-0656.

Recently each county office received at no cost a package containing two mini tabletop displays and a supply of information cards and bookmarks highlighting Iowa Concern and AnswerLine. We hope you will use these resources at upcoming community events and programs to raise awareness among our clients. Thank you for partnering with Human Sciences to get the word out about these valuable resources.

One more note: Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.

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

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