Many ways to share our story

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 25, 2019

One of the reoccurring themes I hear from staff and councils is that they want help to share our ISU Extension and Outreach story. Well, help is available in more ways than one. Did you know?

  • Next week I will be in Washington, D.C., with our Iowa delegates to the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET). Donald Latham (Alexander), Robert Petrzelka (Mt. Pleasant), Kevin Ross (Minden) and Sally Stutsman (Riverside) represent ISU Extension and Outreach as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in this national grassroots organization. CARET advocates for greater national support and understanding of the land-grant university system’s food and agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs that enhance the quality of life for all people. While in our nation’s capital, our delegates will be sharing Iowa State’s story with Congress.
  • ISU Day at the Capitol is March 6. This year’s event will showcase the university’s impact in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. ISU Extension and Outreach participates in this annual opportunity to meet face-to-face with our state legislators and showcase the impact Iowa State has on students, communities, businesses and Iowans across the state.
  • Our ISU Extension and Outreach 2018 Annual Report is available online. The report is filled with examples of how we are listening, learning and working for a strong Iowa. Share the url with your partners or download and print the pdf when you need paper copies to put in their hands. Connect the statewide content points to the educational programs in your county.
  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has begun sharing program success via the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Human Sciences at Work national website. The first story featured is our Growing Together Iowa program.
  • Remember that the county stakeholder reports are a great resource. We often have the opportunity to work across county lines, so it makes sense to keep informed about what our extension neighbors are doing. The stakeholder reports are filled with stories we all can share.
  • Each month the four program leaders provide me with two or three points of pride that I carry with me to share with groups throughout the state. These points are available on my “Did You Know” blog in the Program Updates category. It’s another great way to know and share what is happening across our programs.

Excellence in Extension Grants

The Excellence in Extension committee has announced the recipients of the 2019 Excellence in Extension Grants. Descriptions of the grants are available from the Excellence in Extension website.

  • Betty Elliot Professional Improvement Grant, two group recipients: 1 – Paul Gibbins, Marci Vinsand, Madisen Gaskin, Megan Freel, Michelle Schott and Cassie Odland; 2 – Holly Merritt, Shelly Smith, Ron Lenth, Roxanne Fuller, Shari Sell-Bakker and Cheryl Bruene.
  • Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant, one group recipient: Diane Van Wyngarden, Himar Hernandez, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides.
  • Innovative Program Grant, two group recipients: 1 – David Brown, Anthony Santiago, Malisa Rader, Eugenia Hartsook, Jathan Chicoine, Jeff Vaske and Brett McLain; 2 – Jeong Eun Lee, Suzanne Bartholomae and Sarah Francis.
  • Marvin A. Anderson Graduate Scholarship, three individual recipients: Sarah Zwiefel, Laura Liechty and Joshua Michel.
  • Individual Staff Development Grant: Angela Shipley.

More notes

  • Be sure to visit the Learning Fair during our ISU Extension and Outreach Annual Conference. The featured programs and resources relate to needs and issues that surfaced during the 2018 listening sessions.
  • When you see someone wearing a “Year One” sticker at Annual Conference, say hello and introduce yourself. Do your part to welcome these new staff members to our extension family.
  • Our Structured for Success committee is in data collection mode. The latest video and meeting notes are available on the committee website, along with the questionnaires the committee will be using in Iowa and in other states. You also can learn more about the committee’s work during Annual Conference.
  • I won’t be sending a message next week, since I’ll be with our CARET delegates in Washington, D.C. I will be back in your inbox on March 11.

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

A match made in Iowa

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 18, 2019

Twenty-five years ago, a beautiful relationship took root in this state, thanks to dedicated ISU Extension and Outreach personnel and the Iowa Legislature. It began through a series of discussions concerning how to encourage new farmers. They concluded that all Iowans would benefit from a statewide center focused on the needs and issues facing beginning farmers. They also decided it should help match beginning farmers with established farmers who want to transition their farm businesses to the next generation. That’s how the Beginning Farmer Center was established at Iowa State. The law creating the Center is set out in Chapter 266 of the Code of Iowa. Did you know?

  • Our Beginning Farmer Center in conjunction with our Agriculture and Natural Resources specialists provide programs and services to develop farmers’ skills and knowledge in financial management and planning, legal issues, tax laws, technical production and management, leadership, sustainable agriculture, human health and the environment.
  • The Center also collaborates extensively with other interested groups and agencies to promote the transition of Iowa’s farms.
  • Dave Baker joined the Center 13 years ago as a farm transition specialist and became director in 2018. On average, he conducts two family farm consultations per week, either at his office in Urbandale or around the state, and is working on 20 to 25 matches at any one time. Over 25 years, the Center has averaged eight matches per year.
  • Sometimes the work involves helping families make difficult decisions. In this #StrongIowa video, Dave tells the story of helping a family carry on after the death of a loved one in the midst of their farm’s transition.

The Beginning Farmer Center strengthens rural communities by counseling young, aspiring farmers and encouraging landowners and retirement-age farmers to consider transitioning their farms to the next generation. I’d call this a perfect match made in Iowa.

4-H program leader search begins

We have contracted with a professional search firm to assist in our national search to fill our 4-H program leader position. The committee members will meet for the first time Feb. 25 to receive their charge, prepare the position description and begin the process.

The committee will conduct the search and recommend candidates to bring to campus for interviews. The members represent program areas, program specialists, counties and partners. This small committee will do the heavy lifting, but all of us have a responsibility to provide input. Please share with them your suggestions for attributes you believe make a strong 4-H program leader and names of potential candidates who should be encouraged to apply. As we go through the search process, there also will be formal opportunities to provide input and to meet with candidates who will come to campus for interviews.

4-H/Youth Development Program Leader Search Committee:

  • Debra Sellers (committee chair), Human Sciences associate dean and director.
  • Curt Lang, Iowa 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees president.
  • Nichol Kleespies, Buena Vista County youth education coordinator.
  • Terry Maloy, Iowa Extension Council Association executive director.
  • Maya Hayslett, ANR program specialist working in youth development.
  • Norma Dorado-Robles, 4-H Youth Development field specialist.
  • Earl McAlexander, 4-H Youth Development field specialist.
  • Shelly Smith, Black Hawk County director.
  • Rosa Gonzalez, Human Sciences field specialist, Central Iowa.
  • Bonnie Dalager, 4-H Youth Development program specialist.
  • Jeffrey Macomber, Region 16 director.
  • Kris Kilibarda, Iowa Department of Education.

More notes

  • Please join me in congratulating Kameron Middlebrooks, who will be receiving a “Hidden Figure” award as part of the Wells Fargo Annual Black History Month Celebration Day on the Hill. The free, public event is Feb. 25, 1:30-3 p.m. at the Iowa State Capitol Building. Kameron is being recognized as a new, up-and-coming leader who is making a major impact in the community. He is a program coordinator in Community and Economic Development focusing on African and African-American small business and nonprofit development. He also is president of the Des Moines NAACP Branch.
  • Due to weather and road conditions, the Iowa Extension Council Association cancelled its 2019 IECA and 4-H Legislative Day, which had been set for Feb. 13. The Association is not planning to reschedule the event this year, but does plan to hold another legislative day in 2020.
  • ISU Day at the Capital is March 6. We’ll hope there’s no snowstorm then.

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

The education we offer

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 11, 2019

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach recently released Healthy and Homemade, the first full priority program developed through their Educational Offerings Life Cycle Process. The Healthy and Homemade series focuses on strategies to help Iowans use their time, dollars and skills wisely to save money and prepare nutritious, safe foods. It’s a complete educational package with marketing and evaluation materials, and it will be reviewed every two years. Human Sciences is using this new process to ensure all their educational offerings are research-based or evidence-based, up to date and appropriate for Iowans. Did you know?

  • Educational offerings refer to programs, consultations and resources — the menu of educational opportunities that Human Sciences Extension and Outreach provides to Iowans.
  • The life cycle process is a systematic approach to how and when Human Sciences Extension and Outreach creates, adopts, adapts and reviews subject matter to produce educational offerings.
  • All Human Sciences Extension and Outreach faculty and staff are expected to follow the process when creating, adopting or adapting new educational curricula and materials. Existing educational offerings are worked into the two-year review cycle.

Reviewing an educational offering won’t take long if the science has not changed. However, as Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Director Deb Sellers has noted, “If we are teaching something that is out of date, then we have a responsibility to change that content in our offerings.”

Goodbye … and welcome

In January, we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Natalie Oberbeck, Clinton County youth coordinator.
  • Elwynn Taylor, professor, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Dee Weiss, clerk III, Extension Information Technology.
  • Daniel Burden, program coordinator II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Jessie Soderstrum, Story County youth coordinator.
  • Courtney Chapman, Appanoose County youth coordinator.
  • Emily Yockey, Woodbury County youth nutrition educator.
  • Lisa Chensvold, Madison County office assistant/bookkeeper.
  • Alexis Seuntjens, Pochahontas County program coordinator.
  • Sean Murphy, Wayne County program coordinator.
  • Susan Roos-Rickels, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences.
  • Amanda Ruckdaschel, program assistant II, Conference Planning and Management.
  • Beth Bunkers, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

One more note: There still are opportunities to participate in “Creating Accessible Documents” workshops, to learn about new processes when working in Microsoft Office: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher and Outlook. Workshops will be held in Ames during February and March, in LeMars in April, and in Independence in April and May.

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

Stories we can share

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 4, 2019

The university doesn’t close very often, but it did last week due to bone-chilling cold. But extension professionals carry on. Campus folks relocated from their university offices to their kitchen tables or wherever their home offices might be. As the deep freeze spread throughout the state, staff and councils made their best decisions, based on local conditions, about whether to close offices or reschedule events. I thank you all for putting safety ahead of everything else under these extreme weather conditions.

I’d also like to thank our county staff and councils for preparing and sharing their 2018 county stakeholder reports. Not only are these reports useful to share with Iowans in each county, they also are a great way for us all to share program ideas across regions and throughout the state. Did you know?

  • With identity theft on the rise, in 2018, Lyon County educated more than 35 local residents on ways to protect themselves and their families.
  • Allamakee County’s Women in Ag Tour reached women who owned or worked in a farm business or agribusiness, as well as women who owned or worked in non-ag businesses. Participants appreciated the opportunity to network with other women, and gain a broader understanding of the diversity of agriculture in the county.
  • Since the 1970s, Fremont County 4-H members have participated in Citizenship Washington Focus. This year, 21 high school students and four adult volunteers spent a week in the nation’s capital, immersed in government, history and civic engagement.
  • Lee County Intern Connect engaged 20 interns in local networking and building relationships. Extension and Outreach partnered with Lee County Economic Development Group, Fort Madison Partners and Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce to create a positive experience and recruit interns back to the area after they graduate.
  • Stakeholder reports from the four corners of Iowa and throughout the state are available on the County Services website.

During the listening sessions last summer and fall, I often heard from staff and councils that we need to better tell our ISU Extension and Outreach story. These stakeholder reports are an important step to do just that. A stakeholder report is not an end product; it’s the beginning of the extension stories we can share. We share our stories with stakeholders because they have a stake in our impact and outcomes. We share our stories with the public to build their awareness of the education and information we can provide. We share our stories with taxpayers and the elected officials who allocate precious public resources so they understand their return on investment in ISU Extension and Outreach. We strive to serve all Iowans. A key to our success is making sure people know how we are working to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

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

February 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The ISU Extension and Outreach farm management team held 12 Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars during November and December, reaching 450 people with information on market outlook, profit potential, international ag and changes with cooperatives. A majority of attendees were ag lenders and other ag professionals, who walked away with ISU Extension and Outreach research-based materials that they could share with their clients. According to surveys conducted after the meetings, those in attendance will provide this information to an additional 3,400 people across the state.
  • Three Master Gardener webcasts this winter will discuss managing vegetable pests, engaging with new audiences and gardening in containers. The one-hour webcasts will be shown at ISU Extension and Outreach county offices and are free-of-charge and open to anyone who may be interested.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program will be conducting a series of “transportation assets and barriers” focus-group workshops in 10 communities. The workshops are part of the assessment process that the program conducts in client communities to provide local decision makers a framework within which to make informed choices. In February CED specialists Abbie Gaffey, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating focus groups in Royal, Hinton, Coggon, Sumner and Walcott.
  • Hosted by the Evelyn K. Davis Center in Des Moines, Master Business Bootcamp helps small business owners to improve their business outcomes through business workshops and one-on-one membership. Participants will be working on how to increase small business profit margins and sharpen their business practices. On Mondays in February, CED specialist Kameron Middlebrooks will be facilitating the bootcamp.
  • During February, Hawarden, Paullina, Sheldon, Hartley, Sanborn, Sutherland and Boone will be participating in Marketing Hometown America. Community and Economic Development offers the program to help communities focus on what people are looking for when they choose a place to live and do business.
  • During February, CED specialists will be conducting Township Trustee Training in Mills, Lucas, Louisa and Howard counties. Township trustee and clerk workshops help locally elected township clerks and trustees understand their roles and responsibilities. Iowa residents living in rural areas outside of incorporated cities rely on their local township government to provide a broad range of services, from vital functions such as fire protection to maintenance of public cemeteries and the resolution of fence disputes.


Human Sciences

  • The Parent Education Collaborative in Linn County is celebrating 20 years of improving child outcomes. In 1996, Kristi Cooper, a human sciences specialist in family life, and the county director brought together people interested in parent education. Through all these years, the collaborative has engaged in a shared mission and with shared leadership. Extension and Outreach has remained a staunch partner. For more information, contact Kristi Cooper,
  • Iowa State, Purdue, University of Illinois, University of Nebraska and University of Wisconsin participate in Growing Together, a multi-state SNAP-Ed and Master Gardener project to increase access to fruits and vegetables in food pantries. During the 2018 growing season 142,523 pounds of fruits and vegetables were supplied to food pantries and distribution sites, and 131,993 people with low income were served. In addition, 964 Master Gardener volunteers contributed their time and 615 community partners and agencies cooperated on the project.
  • Kids in the Kitchen reach and results for federal FY 2018 are as follows: 778 youth were served in EFNEP-funded counties (Black Hawk and Polk); 45 percent identified with an under-represented racial group; 10 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino; 73 percent of kindergarteners through second graders improved knowledge in choosing foods consistent with Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and 79 percent of children in grades 3-5 improved knowledge in choosing foods consistent with the guidelines.
  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) throughout 2019, in alignment with coordinated initiatives across the country. Watch social media for updates.

4-H Youth Development

  • Norma Dorado-Robles will lead an Iowa 4-H Recruitment, Retention and Engagement pilot to better engage underserved and underrepresented youth, parents and volunteers in four focus communities: Ames, Marshalltown, Meskwaki Settlement and Cedar Rapids. She also is working on a multidisciplinary College and Career Readiness Work Group to help develop and test new family curriculum and wrap-around components to encourage post-secondary education and career opportunities for different cultural groups.
  • Recent 4-H STEM activities around the state include: Cass County collaborating with Nishna Valley YMCA to offer a squeaky-clean magnets day camp for third through fifth graders; Dubuque County partnering with James Kennedy Public Library to offer an electrical engineering camp for third through fifth graders; the new 4-H club at Marshalltown’s Lenihan Intermediate School participating in “Engineering is Elementary” to learn about invasive species and water quality; and Warren County collaborating with the Irving Elementary School in Indianola and Heartland AEA to host the first STEAM Day with grades K-5.
  • Eleven Healthy Living Ambassadors have been selected from regions across the state to be leaders for delivering wellness initiatives and providing educational opportunities for youth in their communities. These ambassadors will represent Iowa 4-H at the National 4-H Healthy Living Summit in February to explore all the areas of wellness through workshops, guest presenters, networking with other 4-H programs from across the country, and career panelists. They will gather new ideas and put together an action plan for how they can make our state a healthy and strong Iowa.

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