Holiday greetings from Beardshear Hall

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 17, 2018

As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, I want to thank all of you who have made 2018 a good year for ISU Extension and Outreach and for me personally. It has been a busy year with listening sessions, centennial celebrations and county fairs, along with day-to-day operations and long-range planning.

county map of Iowa.While the map in my office shows the places I have visited in the 21 months since I started this role, it doesn’t capture the hundreds of people I have met and discussions I have had. It also doesn’t reflect the dedication and passion of our staff and faculty, nor the appreciation Iowans have for the work you do. That would be a topographic map showing a mountain range. Thank you for all you do for Iowa State and Iowans.

I hope you will take time during the holidays for friends and family, to appreciate the blessings we each enjoy and to catch your breath before diving into 2019. My break will be different this year. My daughter is getting married Dec. 29. She, my son-in-law-to-be and some of his family from Germany will be joining us for Christmas. Then the wagon train of people and decorations will move to the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska, for the wedding. Think of a destination wedding with a beautiful venue, but without the beach. It also is near where Kathy and I grew up and our families.

Thus far, the wedding plans are going well, considering the groom didn’t have a visa to enter the country a week ago. The bride and mother-of-the-bride have only occasional moments of panic, thinking of things left to do. I tend to focus on the things NOT to do, like don’t ask how much something cost or don’t think about the emotions of walking Caitlin down the aisle. Father issues aside, I am really excited about the holidays and the wedding.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the coming year!

Goodbye … and welcome

In November, we said goodbye to the following individuals:

  • Renae Kadolph, account clerk, Extension Store.
  • Elizabeth Kurt, program coordinator II, Conference Planning and Management.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Lynnae Smits, Sioux County Clover Kids program assistant.
  • Tenysa Handrock, Clarke County office assistant.
  • Debbie Van Horn, Davis County office assistant.
  • Erin Greazel, Story County program coordinator.
  • Angela Ayala, Dallas County education program assistant.
  • Hilary Pierce, extension program specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Leslie Stonehocker, program coordinator II, 4-H Youth Development.
  • Brian Dougherty, field specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

More notes

  • Nearly 30 Extension professionals from ISU Extension and Outreach Polk County and K-State Research and Extension from Johnson and Wyandotte counties participated in the 2018 Urban Extension Exchange Nov. 28 in Olathe, Kansas. Extension professionals from the three similarly sized county extension offices met to learn about internal operations, expand their professional network, facilitate idea sharing and highlight best practices. For more information, contact Paul Gibbins, Polk County executive director,
  • Many Iowa State offices and departments will operate at reduced levels Monday, Dec. 24, through Tuesday, Jan. 1, as part of the annual partial campus closing during the winter break. Many building thermostats can be adjusted during this time, resulting in significant energy savings for the university. Campus offices are to include their reduced office hours and emergency contact information in voice messages and on websites.
  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Awards nomination deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms.
  • The Excellence in Extension grants submissions deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. Individual grant information and application instructions are online.

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

Still growing together

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 10, 2018

If all Iowans are going to eat healthfully, they need access to healthy food. That’s why our Growing Together Iowa project combines the efforts of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Human Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources programs for a common goal – feeding people. For the third year in a row, SNAP-Ed nutrition education and Master Gardeners partnered with local food pantries to reduce food insecurity in Iowa. The ISU research farm gardens and the county Master Gardener mini grant projects grew fresh produce for donation. Did you know?

  • Growing Together Iowa donated more than 90,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to Iowa’s food pantries this growing season. This equals 270,000 servings.
  • 95,721 Iowans visited pantries where Growing Together Iowa produce was donated.
  • 339 Master Gardener volunteers contributed to Growing Together Iowa this growing season.
  • 1,477 people with low income engaged in food gardening education through Growing Together Iowa this year.
  • 100 percent of counties with mini grants agree that the project increased their community’s capacity to work on issues of healthy food access.

This good work will continue. Virginia, Illinois and Michigan are in their first year of replicating the Growing Together project. Wisconsin, Nebraska and Indiana are in their second year. Here in Iowa we’re looking forward to Year 4, and applications for Growing Together Mini Grants are due on Jan. 11, 2019.

More notes

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

December 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach staff are organized into two-region “blocks” throughout the state, although regions that are more populous stand alone. County staff partners who focus on human sciences work are also part of the block teams. Staff within Block 1/5 (comprised of regions 1 and 5) prepare an annual educational offerings report and map. The document highlights efforts via face-to-face contacts, including the numbers reached in terms of educational offerings, sessions and participants for each county, and a listing of the various educational offerings delivered. The report also features highlights of other work accomplished throughout the year, including newsletters, blogs, community meetings and more. This fiscal year, the staff in Blocks 1 and 5 hosted 142 educational offerings with 205 sessions and reached 3,037 participants throughout the nine counties. On average, they impacted 21 Iowans with each offering.
  • Cindy Thompson, Kim Brantner, Joy Rouse and Mackenzie Johnson, all human sciences specialists in family life, have been accepted to present a national webinar for the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences titled, “Birds, Bugs and the Benefits of Collaboration in Supporting Children’s Sense of Wonder through Nature.” The specialists will explore with participants the benefits of children’s exposure to nature. They will discuss the role early education professionals play in creating these experiences and the importance of collaboration in enhancing early education trainings. They will share information about Growing Up WILD, a Project WILD resource, and how it can be used locally.

4-H Youth Development

  • State 4-H staff partnered with Region 4 staff to pilot “Youth Voice in Action” in Fayette at Upper Iowa University. Nine schools from six counties brought a team of four to six students, chaperoned by a teacher, to participate in this civic engagement experience for sixth through eighth grade students. Students participated in an educational workshop of their choice related to 4-H priority areas. Local professionals in those fields led these workshops. Students also learned about their leadership style and how it can help them communicate and work closely with others in a variety of settings. Finally, the nearly 55 youth and their adult mentors participated in a service project, heard from a police officer about why he chose a career in service, and then worked as school teams to create an action plan for implementing a service project in their communities or schools.
  • In November, 42 school core teams and extension staff who support those counties attended the annual SWITCH Conference trainings. Attendees learned how to implement the SWITCH program to help students monitor their health habits and establish goals to make better choices to impact health. The schools piloting the new middle school program participated. Three schools brought a team of youth to be trained as SWITCH ambassadors. These youth learned how to switch what they do, view and chew. The youth ambassador teams strategized how to make a healthy change in their school related to these behaviors. Then they shared it with their adult school team and discussed how to collaborate on these initiatives to improve school wellness.
  • In October, Sioux, O’Brien, Lyon, Osceola, Plymouth and Chereokee counties held their annual STEMfest at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon. The event is a partnership between the community college, ISU Extension and Outreach, and other local entities. Area youth participate in a day-long STEM experience, including sessions on Robot Olympics, Drones, Fossil Discovery, Maker Space, Water Quality and heart monitors. Afterward, the event received positive feedback. For example, a parent posted a review on the Sioux County Facebook page, saying their child enjoyed STEMfest greatly and that it was worth the 320 mile round trip they made to attend.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Designing an effective weed management plan to combat troublesome weeds and delay the development of herbicide resistance requires careful planning. An online course, “Herbicide Resistance and Weed Management,” provides farmers and agribusinesses the necessary tools and resources to create an effective long-term weed management plan. The interactive and self-paced course contains presentations narrated by ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and specialists, along with lesson activities that can be completed according to the user’s timeline.
  • The third Soil Health Conference will be held in Ames on Feb. 4-5, 2019. The event will consist of two full days of presentations on a wide variety of topics related to “Science Meets Practice for Advancing Soil Health.” Topics covered include economics of soil health, agronomic and economic benefits of soil health, integration of perennials in row cropping systems, and landowner and manager roles in building soil health.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach economists are offering valuable insights on key factors impacting 2019 operating decisions at 12 Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars across the state in November and December. 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.

Community and Economic Development

  • ISU Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development program will be facilitating goal setting and strategic planning for local governments and nonprofits, a role previously provided by the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. In April 2018, UI announced it was closing the institute, along with several other programs. The institute’s mission was to provide information and services that assist in maintaining and strengthening the effectiveness of Iowa’s state and local governments. CED staff have had a long history of working with the institute to provide services and educational programming. In December, CED specialists will be presenting goal-setting workshops in Carroll and Manchester, and conducting strategic planning with Ringgold County Support Services in Mt. Ayr. During these sessions, leadership teams address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop action plans to accomplish those priorities.
  • Other CED programming for local governments in December includes the following: Data analyst Erin Mullenix will present the advanced session of the Iowa League of Cities Budget Workshop in Fairfield and Johnston. CED specialist Eric Christianson will conduct an Introduction to Planning and Zoning workshop in Warren County.

Leadership based on place

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 3, 2018

Iowans care about the places where they live and work, whether small towns, big cities or somewhere in between. Our state’s communities are diverse and have varying needs. That’s why our Community and Economic Development program offers “Leading Communities: A Place-Based Leadership Program.” ISU Extension and Outreach and University of Wisconsin-Extension developed the program based on cutting-edge community leadership research. Our CED specialists are rolling it out across Iowa to revive community engagement and participation. Did you know?

  • Our specialists teach a specific curriculum, but clients organize the program at the local level – bringing together a steering committee, identifying participants and handling local logistics.
  • The program typically takes place over six months, with one three-hour training session each month. Educational materials are learner-centered and structured to create a collaborative learning environment.
  • Participants learn about the importance of community leadership. They build skills and core competencies so they can address local issues and opportunities.
  • Some places opt to include a community project or a local networking opportunity during the process. In these cases, an approved ISU educator delivers the program and works with a local partner to offer the additional components.

Leading Communities helps Iowans develop social relationships, social capital, shared understandings and collaborative efforts. Iowa State research has shown that these community characteristics are critical for economic development and quality of life in our state. CED specialists are currently delivering the program in Henry and Lee counties. They’ve also taught it in Buena Vista and Kossuth counties. To learn more, contact Deborah Tootle,, or Brian Perry,

More notes

  • Congratulations to Julie Weeks, who has been named the Ames Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year. Julie serves as president and CEO of Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau and ISU Extension and Outreach Conference Planning and Management. Julie and her team build relationships and provide quality service as they promote Ames and Iowa State as “the destination” for group tours, conferences, meetings and events. Their efforts result in many thousands of people visiting Ames and Iowa State each year.
  • I will be visiting with campus-based extension staff and faculty on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 3-4:30 p.m. in 3228 Memorial Union. The purpose is to listen and learn, and gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshop is Dec. 10 on campus. Registration is open.
  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Awards nomination deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible, as are volunteers and extension councils. The awards will be presented during annual conference.
  • The Excellence in Extension grants submissions deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible. Individual grant information and application instructions are online. If you have questions about the grants or application, contact Alison Boelman,
  • Interactive training sessions for extension council members will be hosted at several sites across Iowa beginning Dec. 8, with additional dates in December and January. All dates and locations feature the same training. All newly elected council members, current council members and county extension staff are invited to attend. Registration is open.

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

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