Integrated Crop Management … times 30

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 26, 2018

2018 has been a challenging year for Iowa crop production, given difficult growing conditions, tight margins and uncertainty on trade issues. That is all the more reason for farm operators to make informed, research-based decisions to increase the likelihood for success. It’s no surprise that 900 farmers, agribusiness professionals, industry representatives and educators are coming to Ames Nov. 28-29 for the Integrated Crop Management Conference. It’s the 30th annual meeting of inquiring ag minds to network and learn about research findings and technology from across the Midwest. Did you know?

  • This year guest speakers will discuss in-field variability and effects on yield, digital technology in U.S. crop production, nitrogen needs and recommendations, tar spot in corn, and crop rotation and environmental stresses limiting corn and soybean yields.
  • The 2018 program also will include weather and crop market outlooks, selling cover crop seed, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, insect resistance to Bt crops, soybean gall midge, and weed and crop disease management updates.
  • New this year is the Women in Ag Breakfast, offering women attending the conference an opportunity to network, discuss common goals and challenges, and explore potential mentoring or programming ideas.
  • Last year attendees reported they had direct impact on 1.8 million acres of corn and soybeans, and estimated a profit increase of $5-10 per acre because of knowledge they gained from the conference.

ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the ICM conference, and every year bring together a diverse range of topics, a slate of expert presenters, and results of the latest university research to help Iowa agriculture thrive, no matter the challenges.

More notes

  • Our Women in Ag program’s conference, “The Conversations of Leadership,” is already in progress and continues tomorrow. Speakers and panelists are covering a variety of leadership topics from conflict resolution to farm transition decisions, career conversations and organizational leadership. All sessions are designed to build skills that enhance women’s leadership on and off the farm.
  • I will be visiting with campus-based extension staff and faculty today and again on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Both sessions are 3-4:30 p.m. in 3228 Memorial Union. Like my visits to all 20 regions, the primary purpose of these visits is to listen and learn, and gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan.
  • The 2019 Annual Conference planning team needs your help. Please send your selfie to Rachel Tendall,, by noon, Dec. 3. She’ll be compiling all the photos she receives into an ISU Extension and Outreach team portrait that will be revealed when the conference registration opens. Close-up photos are preferred, and feel free to show your personality.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Dec. 4 and 5 in the Humboldt County office in Humboldt. Registration is open.
  • For an update on the Internal Communications Task Force Nov. 16 meeting, read the executive summary on Cybox.
  • The Structured for Success committee met Nov. 19. Check the website for a video report and related documents from the meeting.

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

Turkey feathers … and other thoughts

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 19, 2018

Some people see turkey feathers and imagine Thanksgiving dinner. However, Abby Steen sees turkey feathers and imagines art. The Iowa State student and former Plymouth County 4-H’er decided to try this new medium, and her efforts netted her a blue ribbon and Outstanding Junior Award at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. Her three art pieces feature turkeys, pheasants and an elk painted on turkey feathers, and are now on display in my office in Beardshear Hall. Did you know?

  • Abby had been inspired by the painted turkey feathers of artist Chancy Walters, whom she met at the Iowa Deer Classic. She got his permission and encouragement to try her hand at his type of painting.
  • Once you see the fine detail of her turkey feather painting, you won’t be at all surprised that she’s majoring in biological/pre-medical illustration here at Iowa State.
  • As a Grant Clever Clover, Abby completed many static projects and also showed chickens, goats and Holstein calves. 4-H offered her many opportunities to try something new – such as this turkey feather project – and that’s important to her. She says she always wants to keep pushing herself to try new things and to take what she learns and use it in other work.

Abby is only one example of the many young Iowans who are empowered to reach their full potential through our 4-H Youth Development program. Next time you’re on campus, be sure to stop by 2150 Beardshear to see Abby’s turkey feather art. You may be inspired to try something new.

More notes

  • Review the new State of Iowa 4-H Data for Decision Makers for updates on 4-H related trends. The report covers 2017-2018.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshop is Nov. 29 in the Extension 4-H Building on campus in Ames. Registration is open.
  • Whether or not turkey is on your menu this Thursday, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

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

Small changes for financial security

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 12, 2018

Small change can mean a lot more than nickels and dimes. In terms of financial security, making even a small change can have a big impact over time. That’s the point of “Small Change: Building Financial Security.” Human Sciences extension faculty and specialists in family finance teach this new game-based, personal financial management course for educators and other school personnel, and city and county employees. Did you know?

  • The blended course includes one in-person class followed by self-paced online learning. Participants choose from lessons covering finance fundamentals, insurance, investing and retirement planning. The course uses game-based learning principles so people can tailor their learning to their own interests and needs.
  • Participants who complete the course can improve personal knowledge and skills. Educators also can prepare themselves to teach financial literacy, a key component of the Iowa Core 21st Century Skills and Social Studies for grades K-12. The course connects them with vetted curricula, resources and school-based programs for elementary, middle and high school levels.
  • Human Sciences is offering the course with a two-year grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. Key partners include the State Library of Iowa, Iowa State Education Association and Iowa Public Employee Retirement System.

Cynthia Needles Fletcher, professor and extension resource management specialist, leads the project. In the grant’s first year, her team conducted focus group interviews and developed the curriculum. They piloted the course this summer with a group of teachers, and this fall and winter are offering it throughout the state.

Goodbye … and welcome

In October, we said goodbye to the following individuals:

  • Katie Diemer, Bremer County youth coordinator
  • Marisol Virgen-Axtell, Buena Vista County food and nutrition program assistant
  • Holly Frerk, Pocahontas County program coordinator
  • Kyle McClure, Davis County office assistant
  • Loralye Wibben, Lyon County office assistant
  • Stephanie Knox, Davis County program and NEST coordinator
  • Raquel Juarez, extension program assistant II, Human Sciences
  • Maria Regalado, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences
  • Cynthia Kendall, program coordinator III, Community and Economic Development

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Theresa Goode, Monroe County Family Matters coach/coordinator
  • Tammy James, Union County CACFP program coordinator
  • Linda Severson, Winnebago County office assistant
  • Ronda Morrett, Lucas County youth outreach educator
  • Mari Melvin, Davis County program coordinator
  • Lynn Bruess, Chickasaw County office assistant
  • Katlyn Fell, Winnebago County youth coordinator
  • Brenda Streeter, Clarke County program coordinator
  • Katie Goodell, Dickinson County ag program coordinator and office assistant
  • Rebecca Heckert, Story County office assistant
  • Billie Koester, communications manager I, Advancement
  • Bobbi Minard, program coordinator I, 4-H Youth Development
  • Doug Gass, extension program specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources

More notes

  • On Nov. 6, Kossuth County voters passed the Extension Referendum, making Kossuth the 100th Iowa extension district to do so. Passing the measure will increase resources available to the local council for extension work in the county.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshop is Nov. 16 in the Extension 4-H Building on campus in Ames. Registration is open.
  • Please consider making a gift to Excellence in Extension. Your contributions help to improve and enrich the quality of ISU Extension and Outreach education as you support your extension colleagues. For more information, contact Alison Boelman,
  • The deadline to complete Structured for Success Survey 1 is noon, Nov. 19. Your responses will be confidential and your identity will be anonymous. The Structured for Success Committee will use the aggregated survey results to better address the committee’s primary objectives.

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

WOW: Our building, councils, awards and EIE grants

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 5, 2018

It’s always a good idea to remember your anniversary. So I want to make sure you’re all aware that Nov. 8 is the 15th anniversary of the Extension 4-H Building, home of the WOW Center. Did you know?

  • WOW stands for “Why Opportunity Works.” The WOW Center was designed as an interactive area to interest youth in STEM and other fields in higher education.
  • In the WOW Center you’ll find two additions to Iowa State’s Art on Campus program: terrazzo floors by artists Carolyn Braaksma and Brad Kaspari, and a bronze casting of Christian Petersen’s “4-H Calf.” (Depending on the day, you also might find a “STEM Lit to Go!” or other 4-H materials assembly line or a meeting, workshop or other activity taking place.)
  • ISU Extension and Outreach broke ground for the building on June 27, 2002. 4-H youth, ISU and extension administrators, and representatives from the Iowa 4-H Foundation and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation participated.
  • The building was completely funded by $4.7 million in private contributions from individuals, businesses and organizations. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation provided $1 million to help build the new facility. Pioneer Hi-Bred International also contributed to the project.
  • When the building was dedicated Nov. 8, 2003, it was heralded as a gateway to Iowa State University and a welcoming place for Iowa youth and their families.

Also remember to thank our extension council members, who “wow” us with their support for ISU Extension and Outreach every day. They bring their understanding of local issues to important decisions about extension educational opportunities. They must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars as they bring significant programs to their county to help people solve critical issues affecting their lives.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Iowa voters in every county have the opportunity to elect five members to their county council. Depending on the county, candidates on this year’s ballot include Iowans who are running for the first time as well as incumbents seeking another term. Beginning in December, we’ll be providing orientation training for these new and returning council members.

Here are two more “wows” to acknowledge the great work you all do.

  • It’s time to submit nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms. The awards nomination deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. The deadline is earlier this year because our annual conference is Feb. 28, earlier than in previous years. The awards will be presented during annual conference. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible, as are volunteers and extension councils.
  • Apply now for Excellence in Extension grants to improve and enrich the quality of ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible. Up to $17,000 will be awarded in 2019 for professional development and continuing education, program innovation and program improvement. Individual grant information and application instructions are online. The grants submissions deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. If you have questions about the grants or application, contact Alison Boelman,

More notes

  • The Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, and ISU Extension and Outreach will award three $80,000 grants ($40,000 per year for two years) to eligible ISU Extension and Outreach county offices to participate in “PROSPERing Step-by-Step, State-by-State” (P2S). The primary goal of the P2S project is to address opioid misuse in rural counties through the delivery of programs that are evidence-based or reviewed and endorsed by the National Extension Opioid Crisis Response Workgroup. The funding is provided for an educator’s time on the project and to implement required activities. Nov. 30 is the deadline for completing a P2S Readiness/Capacity Assessment form, an initial step in the county grant selection process. For more information about this opportunity check the website,
  • Check the November program update from the leadership team.
  • Structured for Success – Please provide the committee your input through Structured for Success Survey 1 on two important questions: 1) What are the essential functions for ISU Extension and Outreach to successfully educate and serve Iowans and 2) What questions would you ask of other states to better understand how their extension system is organized. You may also leave other feedback for the committee through this anonymous survey. If you have an extension colleague in another state and would like to help us collect information on how that state is organized, please let me know.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Nov. 13 and 14 at the Mills County office in Malvern. Registration is open.
  • Please do not have clients send soil samples to the Soil and Plant Analysis Lab in Agronomy. The lab is closed and no longer is processing samples. Discussions are underway about modernizing and reopening the lab, but if and when it happens will be well into the future. Check with your field agronomist or horticulture specialists for the name and addresses of private labs that will process soil samples.

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

November 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • Iowa’s Living Roadways 22nd annual celebration is Nov. 16. Extension Community and Economic Development is the administering unit for the ILR Community Visioning Program. During the event, the 2018 visioning communities will showcase the design projects proposed through the process. In addition, representatives from the 2018 visioning communities will be in attendance to kick off the 2019 program. CED specialist Scott Timm is attending the event as part of the Decorah visioning steering committee.
  • 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. In November, she will present Grant Writing 101 in Ida Grove and Jefferson. She also will meet with foundation officials in Sioux City and Fort Dodge to discuss the workshop.
  • Tourism efforts from CED specialist Diane Van Wyngarden in November include conducting onsite agritourism consultations with business owners in Johnson County; facilitating an Iowa group travel session with motor coach operators from across the United States; conducting an Iowa tourism needs assessment session with group travel business owners; and meeting with central Iowa tourism leaders.
  • CED specialists Himar Hernández and Brian Perry will be presenting the CED leadership program, Leading Communities, in Henry County on Nov. 20. This program is made possible in part by an ISU Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • Family life extension state specialist Lesia Oesterreich has received the 2018 Excellence in Extension Award given by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The award is given each year to one Cooperative Extension professional “who excels at programming, provides visionary leadership and makes a positive impact on constituents served.” The Essentials Child Care Preservice Online program is an example of Lesia’s work and impacts. Since the 12-hour educational offering was implemented in September 2016, the total number of participants is 28,505. The monthly average number of participants enrolling is 874. The monthly average number of modules completed during the last quarter is 7,473. The total number of modules completed and certificates earned since the inception of the program is 260,720.
  • In Northeast Iowa, Cindy Thompson, a human sciences specialist in family life, is leading Nature Explore, an educational program of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. This effort focuses on providing research-based workshops, design consultations and resources to connect children and families to nature. Two all-day workshops, Learning with Nature and Using Your Outdoor Classroom, reached 33 participants from Allamakee, Clayton, Chickasaw, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard, Wayne and Winneshiek counties.
  • The Growing Together Iowa donation garden total is 75,618 pounds harvested during the 2018 growing season. In addition, the Donation Gardening Toolkit, which supports the Growing Together Iowa mini-grant projects, is live. It provides background on poverty, healthy food access, and guidance on planting, harvesting, food safety, and volunteers.

4-H Youth Development

  • In October, nearly 80 Des Moines multicultural youth and school staff members participated in the first Polk County 4-H RISE College Access Conference held at Grand View University in Des Moines. The event introduced 4-H to youth who have been underrepresented in 4-H programs. ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County sponsored the event, which included several sessions focused on leadership development, team-building and college and career exploration.
  • Nearly 60 youth participated in the Ujima/AAPI Culturally Based Youth Leadership Accelerator held in September. This retreat provided youth in grades 8-12 the opportunity to explore the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program through an African, African-American, Pacific Islander, and Asian-American perspective. Youth experienced the Iowa State University campus through college tours and workshops before spending the rest of the retreat at Clover Woods. Youth immersed themselves in learning, culture, new friends and fun throughout the weekend.
  • Iowa Schools and Extension staff participating in SWITCH for 2018-19 will be gathering on ISU campus Nov. 8-9 for the Annual SWITCH Conference. A new feature with the middle school pilot is to invite schools to bring a team of youth who will be trained to be SWITCH ambassadors at their school. 4-H will be leading the coordination of the youth portion of the training at the SWITCH Conference.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • European Corn Borer – Ecology and Management and Association with other Corn Pests (NCR 0327) is available in the ISU Extension Store. It’s an extensive update of the popular 1996 version published by the North Central Region. The European corn borer originated in Eurasia and was accidentally introduced into North America, readily adopting corn as a host and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in crop loss.
  • Twelve Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars will be held across Iowa in November and December. ISU Extension and Outreach economists will offer insights on key factors impacting 2019 operating decisions. Each three-hour seminar includes information on grain price outlook and global factors to watch, livestock prices and margins, and farmland operating margins, outlook and trends. A full list of dates and locations can be found on the Ag Decision Maker website.
  • The 2019 Garden Calendar is still available through the ISU Extension Store. Developed by Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist, the calendar showcases the beauty that can be found in backyards and public spaces throughout the year. The calendar provides space to record the progress of a garden, along with monthly tips that provide timely information for fruits and vegetables, lawn care, trees, shrubs and much more.

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