Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
Community and Economic Development
- Transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops are continuing in Community Visioning Program communities. The workshops are part of the assessment process conducted in client communities to provide local decision makers with a framework for making informed choices. In March, CED specialists Abbie Gaffey, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating the focus groups in Durant, Van Meter, Audubon, Bedford and Treynor.
- On March 20, the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission will hold its 33rd annual symposium. “Move Passion to Progress” will highlight the goal of helping people move beyond emotions toward tangible, substantive community progress. The symposium will feature national speakers Richard Edmond Vargas (subject of the CNN documentary, “The Feminist in Cell Block Y”), and Linda Sarsour (cofounder of the Women’s March) to motivate attendees to move beyond just being passionate and moving their communities toward progress. ISU Extension and Outreach community development specialist Kameron Middlebrooks is the chair of the Des Moines Human Rights Commission.
- On March 29 in Des Moines, the Community Food Systems program will hold its fourth annual event. The goal is to engage, support and inspire individuals from all areas of Iowa’s food system in conversation about community food systems. Participants will attend workshops, hear from expert panelists and speakers, and network with colleagues, building robust local food systems all across Iowa.
- In March, CED specialists Lisa Bates and Brian Perry will be in Osage working with a group to bring Leading Communities to the county. CED specialists Eric Christianson and Shelley Oltmans will be facilitating Leading Communities in Wever. CED specialists Himar Hernández and Jon Wolseth will deliver session five of Leading Communities in Mount Pleasant. The Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach Initiative.
- Two new healthy food access specialists started work in February. They will partner with food banks, food pantries and Growing Together Iowa projects to promote healthy food access for Iowans experiencing poverty. Judy Dittmar is housed in the West Pottawattamie office and Jen Lamos is located in the Johnson County office.
- During federal FY 2018, the “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” app was installed on 3,406 mobile devices. Apple installs were down, compared with FY 2017, while Android increased 150 percent. The “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” website had 119,546 users (an increase of 22 percent over federal FY 2017): 77 percent of users are age 44 or younger, and 73 percent of users are female. The vast majority of users access the website in English; 113 accessed it in Spanish and 105 in Chinese. Forty-seven percent of users now access the site via a mobile device.
- “Market Outlook 2019 and Stress of the Farm: Strategies that Help” was developed to offer agriculture producers and agribusiness professionals an opportunity to learn more about the signs of stress, how to cope with stress, how to help others and available resources. In this way, the agriculture producer and agribusiness professional may be more aware of the signs of stress, and also be more willing to help others to find the assistance they need. This effort was a collaboration with Chad Hart, associate professor of economics and extension crop markets specialist, and eight human sciences specialists in family life; Lori Hayungs, Mackenzie Johnson, Kim Brantner, Joy Rouse, David Brown, Cindy Thompson, Dawn Dunnegan and Barb Dunn-Swanson. In January, the session was offered across Iowa at 14 Crop Advantage meetings. Approximately, 2,127 agriculture producers and agribusiness professionals attended, and 563 participants completed evaluations. The following results note the percentage of participants who responded either strongly agree or somewhat agree that they feel more confident that they can:
• Recognize the signs that someone may be dealing with stress (82 percent; N = 481)
• Use the strategies that help with stress for myself or to assist others (80 percent; N = 478)
• Offer help to someone who may be stressed or in a crisis (79 percent; N = 476)
4-H Youth Development
- Marybeth Foster, Leslie Stonehocker and Bonnie Dalager worked with field specialists and county staff to streamline the data collection process. The Annual County Plan of Work Form and new Program Data Collection Form (formerly known as the Group Enrollment Form) were simplified significantly. In all, nine separate forms were condensed to just two forms. The goal was to create a process that provides clarity and simplicity for county staff and youth program specialists, and encourages a culture of reporting by filling out a report form for every event, no matter the number of education hours. Compiled information will be used in state and federal reports.
- The National 4-H Ag Innovator’s Experience national training was held Feb. 8-10 at Reiman Gardens in Ames. Twenty teens and adults from Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa came to the Iowa State campus for the national training to hear from experts and participate in learning experiences about pollination and native bees. They will take this information back to their states and host their own trainings. The state training for Iowa was March 2-3 in Ames.
- Dickinson County started Clover Kids in January 2019 for the first time in 13 years. Clover Kids has been started as an after-school program in three towns. In two of the towns, 4-H is partnering with local libraries. Friends of the library are providing snacks for the program. This partnership is a perfect fit, as both libraries were looking to increase youth programming. Each month the Clover Kids receive a list of books available at the library for check out that tie in with the theme. The third location is in a smaller community that did not have many after school activities. Clover Kids sessions will be hosted at the school with the support of one faculty member per session. So far 52 Clover Kids have enrolled and they are in the process of making their first Clover Kids Fairbook.
- Counties across Iowa spent January and February conducting annual 4-H volunteer training. This year the theme was “4-H Fosters Independence.”
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- A new publication from the Iowa Beef Center highlights a project that was designed to identify costs, environmental impacts and best practices for Iowa cow-calf operations. “Iowa Cow-calf Production – Exploring Different Management Systems” (IBC 0131) is the result of cooperation of Iowa State and producers, with Iowa Beef Center faculty and specialists examining years of production results to better understand how traditional grazing, extensive grazing and limited or no grazing operations run across the state. The data were used to develop decision aids and educational tools to assist cow-calf producers across all systems and improve sustainability of the cow-calf segment in Iowa.
- “Learn It. Do it. Share it.” is the theme of the third annual Women in Agriculture Conference, set for March 23 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The conference’s goal is to show women of all ages the importance of not just learning something, but how to put that knowledge into action and share it with others. More information about the conference and registration can be found through the ISU Extension and Outreach Washington County office.
- Growing Together Mini-Grants have been awarded to 22 Iowa projects. This is the fourth year mini-grant funds have been available through the ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program, with more than $50,000 in grant money from the SNAP-Education program being distributed across the state. The projects being funded are focused on increasing food security and promoting healthy food access throughout Iowa. A full list of the projects funded through the mini-grants can be found online.