Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
4-H Youth Development
- Overall, 5,079 unique 4-H exhibitors entered 13,560 entries at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. That means nearly 25 percent of grade-eligible community club members exhibited at State Fair, showcasing 4-H youth outputs of our long-term educational experiences. Other participation numbers include: 8,580 livestock and horticulture entries from 2,096 non-duplicated exhibitors; 121 Awardrobe participants representing 71 counties; 1,200 communication entries from 1,008 exhibitors; and 3,659 state entries from 2,767 exhibitors.
- Polk 4-H partnered with Grubb YMCA to provide Power Scholars summer programming at Findley Elementary. 4-H youth program specialists trained staff from Grubb YMCA on the “STEM Lit to Go!” curriculum to deliver to first and second graders over six weeks. The program provided 18 hours of STEM and literacy programming to youth. The 65 youth participants included 52 Hispanic, 8 African American, and 5 white youth, all who live in a low-income area. Grubb YMCA plans to provide additional “STEM Lit to GO!” sessions for youth during the school year.
- Despite the storm in July, Marshall County summer youth gardens donated 500+ pounds of food to those in need. Seven of the eight participating gardens were summer garden education sites. Youth learned about parts of the plants, how to harvest fruits and vegetables, how to make their fruits and vegetables into a healthy recipe, and more. Volunteers contributed 113.5 hours of work in the gardens. There were also 1,445 contact hours with youth.
- In just over a month, Iowa 4-H collected 1,128 lbs. of pop tabs for Jacy McAlexander. Jacy, a state 4-H council member who lost his battle with cancer in May, was the son of Kerri and Earl McAlexander, 4-H youth program specialist. Jacy had been passionate about helping others through the Ronald McDonald House. Iowa 4-H brought the tabs to the State Youth Conference in June. In late July, 4-H staff, state council members, and the McAlexander family delivered the pop tabs to the Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines. The 2018-19 State 4-H Council will continue collecting pop tabs for Jacy this 4-H year. For more information, contact Haley Jones, 4-H civic engagement and leadership program specialist.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Four Focus on Nitrogen workshops were held across the state, with 125 people attending. The workshops provided ISU Extension and Outreach specialists an opportunity to share research-based information on maximizing profitability with nitrogen management, while also increasing the understanding of the practices that minimize and reduce nitrate-nitrogen loss.
- ISU Extension and Outreach specialists held a series of meetings during July and August to discuss drought conditions causing concern for crop and livestock producers. Farmers could discuss crop growth and development under drought conditions, feeding drought-damaged crops, silage and crop insurance considerations with experts from ISU Extension and Outreach, the USDA and NRCS. A total of 211 people attended. Farmers also could bring corn stalk samples for a nitrate assessment.
- Social media continues to be an influential platform for the agricultural industry as a whole and the trend holds true here in Iowa. Many producers are looking for a fast, easy way to collect and share information with the agriculture community and ANR specialists and teams have joined the conversation, creating an opportunity to influence Iowans with the goal to create a #StrongIowa. The ANR Social Media Directory captures 123 social media accounts across seven social media platforms posting on behalf of ANR. To date, those accounts reach 76,487 followers and subscribers; up 5,952 in the last six months. Notably, Twitter is the most influential platform with 57,354 followers seeking ANR information, followed by Facebook with 13,929 page likes.
Community and Economic Development
- Design teams in the 2018 Community Visioning Program are presenting final concepts to the public and are moving into the implementation planning stage. In September, public presentations of concept designs will be conducted in Graettinger, Plymouth and Decorah. The Peterson steering committee will review the design team’s feasibility study, and the Forest City steering committee will begin implementation planning.
- Diane Van Wyngarden is leading the Best of the Upper Mississippi River Road Scholar tour Sept. 9–15. Through this travel course, participants from eight U.S. states will learn about community histories, local economies, innovative local projects and community challenges. Communities along the tour include the Quad Cities, Guttenberg, McGregor, Marquette, Balltown, Bellevue, Hurtsville, Clinton and LeClaire.
- Several CED faculty and staff will be attending the Iowa League of Cities Conference Sept. 12-14 in Council Bluffs. Eric Christianson will conduct outreach in the vendor area and present on nuisance abatement. Erin Mullenix will present a workshop on local government economic conditions. Biswa Das and Kimberly Zarecor will present on the Iowa Government Finance Indicators project and small towns thriving in Iowa.
- 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. She will be delivering the workshop in Decorah and Ottumwa in September.
- Throughout September, Jennifer Drinkwater will be working in Perry on a mural next to City Hall that depicts migration stories of local Latina residents.
- Through the creation of universal child savings accounts, a $100 deposit will be made for each kindergarten student in Hamilton County schools this school year, with administration provided by the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County. The potential impacts of these accounts include less student debt, better academic and career outcomes, and improved financial literacy over the long term. ISU Extension and Outreach played a significant role in this innovative, countywide effort. Cindy Fletcher, professor and resource management extension state specialist, led initial efforts. Barb Wollan, human sciences specialist in family finance, is a core member of the coalition, which formed in February 2015. Project members will spend the coming school year creating account structures, engaging in outreach to parents and building community awareness. The first contributions will be deposited at the end of the school year, in June 2019.
- Families in northwest Iowa are visiting their libraries to check out STEM backpacks. Connie Beecher, assistant professor and family literacy extension state specialist, Sara Nelson, a post-doctoral research associate with the School of Education and 4-H, and Mackenzie DeJong, human sciences program coordinator in Region 1, collaborated on an Excellence in Extension grant to create the backpacks, which include STEM materials, books and easy-to-follow instructions. (School of Education students in Ames created the lessons and tested them with parents in the Ames Public library.) Each participating library in northwest Iowa received eight backpacks – two copies of each of four lesson kits. The libraries report that the kits are popular and are checked out continuously. After seeing the positive response, each of the county extension offices provided additional funding to purchase more backpacks for the libraries. The team received inquiries from other Iowa regions and states interested in replicating the backpacks. Next steps include formal evaluation, dissemination of the purchase lists and activities to facilitate the creation of additional backpacks in other counties, and working with ISU education students and Ames Public Library to create more backpacks and lessons. This project is an outgrowth of an Engaged Scholarship Funding Program project conducted by Beecher and assistant professor Mollie Appelgate. In summer 2017, they created an internship program for pre-service teachers in libraries in regions 1 and 2 focused on STEM literacy.
- In August, Christine Hradek, coordinator for EFNEP and SNAP-Ed, and representatives from other states currently involved with Growing Together gardening and food donation projects, met with representatives from additional states that have indicated an interest in joining this expanding effort. The meeting took place in Madison, Wis., and included Master Gardeners and SNAP-Ed staff. The members in attendance identified multiple opportunities for sharing resources and strengthened their plan for shared evaluation beginning in 2019.
- Faculty and staff who lead the community-based CYFAR Juntos project in Des Moines and Muscatine presented at the 2018 Children, Youth and Families At-Risk Conference in June in Alexandria, Va. They told colleagues across the country about effective strategies to promote communication and relationships necessary for program sustainability. Presenters included Kimberly Greder, associate professor and family life extension state specialist; Paul Gibbins, Polk County executive director; Michelle Schott, Polk County family life extension educator; Krista Regennitter, Muscatine County extension director; and Aracely Martinez, Muscatine County youth program coordinator.