Together for farm progress

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 27, 2018

The Farm Progress Show is billed as the nation’s leading outdoor farm show. Held in Iowa every other year (the show rotates annually between Iowa and Illinois), it’s a three-day showcase of agricultural research, innovation and technology. This is an Iowa year, so once again Iowa State University and ISU Extension and Outreach will be participating in the show, Aug. 28-30 at the Central Iowa Expo site east of Boone.

Most of the exhibitors focus on what you buy in the bag or machine, apply to the crop or manipulate in the soil. However, Iowa State focuses on educating farmers who are making management decisions. We help them learn about the latest research, which innovations to watch, and how to evaluate the technology for their conditions. Did you know?

  • The Iowa State tent, at the corner of Central Avenue and 7th Street, is the place to start a conversation, watch a demonstration or check out innovations. Show visitors can learn about our work with soil, water and crops, as well as weeds, monarchs and soybean-stressor-detecting technology.
  • Visitors can talk about the weather with agricultural meteorologist Elwynn Taylor, insects with entomologist Erin Hodgson, agricultural economics with economist Wendong Zhang, and many other topics with many other specialists at our “Ask an Expert” area. These are two-way conversations: We share current research, and farmers and ag professionals tell us more about the complex and critical issues they face. Conversations may begin by chance at the show, but they continue long after because of trust and reliability.
  • We’re also sharing our Land Grant Legacy project to help visitors understand our history and mission, and what this rich legacy means to Iowa, agricultural education and those involved in agriculture.

For three days every other year, the Farm Progress Show is a great opportunity to highlight how Iowa State research, education and outreach extend across the landscape to support agricultural sustainability. However, it’s also a great reminder to our clients and to ourselves that we work together for farm progress in our state every day, all year long.

More notes

  • The Internal Communications Task Force met twice in August and the executive summary from the meetings is posted on Cybox.
  • I’ll be making more regional visits next week, with sessions in Region 7 on Sept. 4 and Region 9 on Sept. 5. I hope to visit all 20 regions by mid-October.
  • I am sending a letter today to Counties, Councils, Regional Directors, and 4-H Staff and CYCs about moving 4-H Club and Learning Community accounts under the County Extension Districts. This is not a new topic, but there has been confusion surrounding the implementation. If you are among the groups receiving my letter, please watch for and read it.

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

These stars are rising

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 20, 2018

ISU Extension and Outreach has cultivated another fine crop of Rising Star Interns. Twelve Iowa State University students served northwest and southeast Iowa from mid-May through early August. As they lived and worked in local communities, they experienced what their future could hold as extension professionals. They determined needs in their communities and then designed and implemented projects to meet those needs. Many times, their projects were team efforts and multi-disciplinary. Rising Stars have the opportunity to take skills learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world. Few internships offer this much opportunity and freedom. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach sponsors the program in partnership with the Colleges of Design, Human Sciences, and Agriculture and Life Sciences, and with county extension councils.
  • Forty-eight students have participated in the program since 2014. All students accepted into the program have completed the internship.
  • Regional directors supervise the interns, with mentoring assistance from program specialists and county staff. In 2014, the program started in two regions (10 counties). This year, four regions provided the program, serving 19 counties.
  • Over the years, interns have raised the awareness of local foods and healthy living as they have assisted communities, schools, underserved audiences, producers, farmers markets, and community and economic development entities.

Thanks to the Rising Star Internship Program, Iowa State students have a greater understanding of the land-grant mission and our extension program areas. They’re also gaining an understanding of rural Iowa’s strengths and challenges. The internship may have a role in ISU Extension and Outreach’s succession plan, as well. Since 2014, two Rising Star alumni have accepted positions with county extension districts, and one ran and was elected as a county extension council member. If you are interested in the 2018 interns’ experience, read their blog or check their Facebook page. If you are interested in having Rising Star Interns work in your county in 2019, contact your regional director.

More notes

  • Congratulations to the extension professionals who will be participating in the inaugural year of Cardinal Women, a professional leadership development program at Iowa State: Jeannette Mukayisire, Human Sciences; Christine Knight-Gipe, Extension Finance; and Hanna Bates, Iowa Water Center.
  • My next round of visits begins next week, with sessions in Region 5, Aug. 27; Region 6, Aug. 28; and Region 12, Aug. 29. I hope to visit all 20 regions by mid-October.

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

Useful and easy to find

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 13, 2018

We’re a few days into the 2018 Iowa State Fair and so far I have visited with 4-H alumni and friends, identified weeds (or at least, I tried), cheered as Cy stomped grapes, toured the Master Gardeners’ Discovery Garden, and encouraged extension staff and volunteers working at exhibits throughout the fairgrounds. Before the fair is over, I’ll be taking in a few 4-H livestock shows and the 4-H Hall of Fame. I may even work the grill for the Iowa Pork Producers.

You’ll always find extension professionals at the Iowa State Fair, serving research-based education and information to fairgoers, because something deep fried or on a stick won’t sustain folks long-term. This year you’ll also find strategically placed, red buckets at some ISU Extension and Outreach venues: the grape stomp by Grandfather’s Barn, the 4-H beef and swine barns, and the Master Gardeners’ Discovery Garden. So why did we print our wordmark on buckets? Because they’re useful and they’re easy to find in a crowd, just like extension people in our red shirts. Did you know?

  • The Iowa State Fair provides an opportunity to connect with Iowans who may not be familiar with our research, education and extension experiences.
  • State Fair also provides a way to connect with audiences who currently are underrepresented in our programs.
  • Some fairgoers may be familiar with 4-H, but they may not understand how it relates to Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach. The fair provides an opportunity to build awareness of this important connection.

The Iowa State Fair is an entry point to ISU Extension and Outreach. We offer visitors the opportunity to continue engaging and connecting with us long after the fair is over.

red bucket filled with merchandiseMore about the buckets

On 4-H Day at the fair, 251 fairgoers entered a drawing for one of our red buckets filled with ISU Extension and Outreach merchandise, including tote bags, pens, pencils, a water bottle, a rain gauge and measuring spoons.

FYI: A limited number of empty buckets are available from the Extension Store. For only $13, one of these buckets can be yours – and you can fill it yourself.

One more note: On Aug. 3, Andrea Nelson, Chad Higgins and I hosted a webinar to talk with 4-H staff about the transition in 4-H leadership. (The archive of the webinar is available.) Iowa 4-H simply has had a change in leadership. 4-H has not changed direction. We will continue to strengthen our core of clubs, curriculum and volunteers, and we will continue to actively recruit new participants. We are committed to being inclusive and welcoming, and to fulfilling the national 4-H goal of having members, volunteers and staff who reflect Iowa’s population.

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

A challenge for healthy living

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 6, 2018

A lot of people recently completed a race across Iowa. No, I don’t mean RAGBRAI; that’s a ride and this year the route covered only 428 miles. I’m talking about a greater challenge that had more than 2,000 4-H’ers and staff crisscrossing the state (figuratively, anyway) and earning up to 3,000 “miles” as they made changes for healthier living – for themselves, their families and their communities. From Nov. 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, these folks competed in the 4-H Race Across Iowa, a healthy living club challenge. Did you know?

  • The route connected a community in each extension region, starting in Region 1 and zigzagging across the state to Region 17, covering 1,400 miles (according to Google Maps). Clubs were challenged to earn at least 1,400 miles during the eight months of competition.
  • Clubs earned miles by setting goals and completing challenges at their monthly club meetings, gaining 75 miles for offering water, 100 miles for having fruit or vegetables as a snack, and 125 miles for coordinated or structured physical activity.
  • Bonus challenges involved other areas of wellness and well-being, including social (teambuilding), emotional (brain and mental health), and community outreach by engaging others in healthy living. For example, the KW Hustlers from Clarke County made potted gardens as gifts for food pantry patrons. Riverside Rockets from Fremont County were “Health Heroes” in a local parade, promoting the benefits of healthy choices to their community. Jackson Wise Owls from Jones County built raised garden beds for a care center so residents in wheelchairs could tend to the garden.
  • 4-H healthy living specialist Laura Liechty said 127 clubs and county extension office staff teams from 42 counties participated, and 71 reached at least 1,400 miles; 10 clubs reached the maximum 3,000 miles. All participating clubs are invited to a recognition event during 4-H Healthy Living Day Aug. 11 in the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair.

4-H healthy living programming focuses not only on physical well-being practices, such as nutrition and exercise, but also encompasses all areas of wellness and well-being, as young people learn to make healthy life choices. This 4-H Race Across Iowa may have been imaginary, but the 4-H’ers’ enthusiasm for pledging their health to better living is real.

Interim 4-H leadership

Iowa 4-H has recently undergone a leadership transition. Andrea Nelson, director of Region 13, will serve as interim program leader while a national search is conducted for a permanent successor. Andrea has served in a variety of leadership roles with ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County and Region 13. In addition to working directly with Iowa 4-H, she also served as county youth coordinator, where she managed a network of 200 adult volunteers to provide educational experiences for urban Polk County youth. Andrea brings more than 15 years of experience building working relationships with individuals and groups inside and outside of ISU Extension and Outreach. As a regional director, she has experience with both urban and rural counties and has served on numerous state committees. Under Andrea’s leadership, 4-H Youth Development at Iowa State University will continue its long and successful record of engaging young people across the state.

More notes

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

August 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • The Human Sciences Extension and Outreach team serving regions 4 and 9 has developed a partnership with Gunderson Palmer Lutheran Hospital. First, the team delivered the “What About Me? My Wellbeing” series at the hospital earlier this year. As a result, additional programming was scheduled and delivered. The team presented “Caregiving Relationships: Conversations on Aging” to hospital staff. The two, one-hour sessions introduce the topic of caregiving, the changes families face and the skills individuals can use when facing later life situations. The sessions also build interest in the “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” series.
  • Carl Weems, professor and chair, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, provided insights on childhood trauma in the Science of Parenting blog, July 2, 2018.
  • A new “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” cohort began July 9: Abigail Spiegel, Dubuque County (new unit); Athena Speller, Black Hawk County; and Jamie Nyugen, Linn County.
  • The human sciences team in regions 1 and 5, along with the program’s creative projects specialist, created “Do. Plan. Promote!” to assist county partners. The document provides a list of educational offerings that can be planned for, offered and promoted within Human Sciences Extension and Outreach.
  • The ISU SNAP-Ed team underwent a management evaluation from the USDA regional office in July. The reviewers complimented our programming and partnerships. A full report of findings will be available by early September.

4-H Youth Development

  • Individual enrollments of underserved youth into the Iowa 4-H program have nearly doubled since the 2013-2014 program year. Now 1,485 youth of color are participating in learning communities and clubs.
  • From February through August, 60 Monarchs on the Move events will have been held at 40 locations in 30 counties, reaching more than 1,000 youth across the state.
  • Thirty-nine young leaders have begun their terms on the 2018-2019 State 4-H Council. They will serve as ambassadors for the 4-H Youth Development program throughout the state and in their local counties.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Master Gardener registration is now available for 2018 training sessions. The trainings will take place in 43 locations across Iowa and are open to anyone who is passionate about volunteering and gardening. Training sessions will begin in August or September, depending on location, and the training locations are listed online. Iowa Master Gardeners donated more than 115,000 volunteer hours during 2017, providing the equivalent of $2.7 million in labor to help beautify Iowa and address ongoing food security issues.
  • Farmland leasing meetings are being held across Iowa. The annual meetings address questions that landowners, tenants or other interested individuals have about leasing farmland. The 2018 meetings will focus on farmland ownership and tenure in Iowa, the latest on the economics of cover crop research, implementing conservation practices in leases, land values and cash rent trends, cost of production, methods for determining a fair rental rate, and legal updates that impact farm leases and land ownership. ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialists will lead the meetings. More information is available through the Ag Decision Maker website.
  • Managing Farmland Drainage workshops will be held on Aug. 7 in Mason City and Aug. 15 in Fort Dodge. The workshops are geared toward women landowners and will provide opportunities to discuss drainage issues that exist on Iowa farmland. The workshops also will cover different styles of drainage systems and how to address drainage water quality within the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage. Steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts and design teams are presenting final concepts to the public. During August, design reviews will be conducted in Plymouth and Wapello. Public presentations will be held in Corning, Glidden, Peterson, Coon Rapids and Forest City.
  • During August CED specialist Brian Perry will be meeting with several communities to discuss the Leading Communities program. He will meet with regional director Kraig Tweed and community development specialist Scott Timm in Decorah, regional director Paul Mariman in Dubuque and regional director Jeff Macomber in Tipton. The program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative and features the creation of an additional module addressing immigrant social capital.
  • Susan Erickson, Lisa Bates and Diane Van Wyngarden will be attending the Iowa Downtown Conference Aug. 28-30 and providing an ISU Extension and Outreach CED presence as an exhibitor in Waterloo. The Iowa Downtown Conference is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

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