Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
- 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.