Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- The 2019 Cash Rental Rates for Iowa Survey showed a 1.4% drop in cash rental rates for Iowa farmland, falling to $219 per acre from $222 an acre last year. This drop in rental rates won’t offset a much larger drop in corn and soybean prices, which have fallen 50% and 45%, respectively. Cash rental rates are down about 19% since their all-time high of $270 an acre in 2013, a decline that is in line with a 16.7% drop in land values over that same period. The full Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2019 Survey is available through the ISU Extension Store.
- The 2019 Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award was given to Master Gardeners in Buchanan County, recognizing their work revitalizing the grounds surrounding the county’s Prairie Pioneer Schoolhouse. Working with the Jesup School District and area businesses, Master Gardeners planted new flowerbeds, revitalized old flowerbeds, seeded prairie wildflowers and added pollinator-friendly plants.
Community and Economic Development
- Community and Economic Development is now offering data literacy workshops to help Iowans learn the skills needed to understand, visualize, interpret and practice with data relevant to communities, organizations and counties. The data literacy workshops can include a wide variety of topics, reviews of the data included in the Data for Decision Makers profiles, or an in-depth look at selected measures, indicators and trends. The workshops also can provide participants with knowledge and skills to discuss data, and bridge to applications and decision making with the data. During June Sandra Burke will be conducting health data literacy workshops in Cherokee, Cedar Rapids and Boone.
- In an effort to support independently-owned grocery stores in the rural Heartland, the CED program partnered with the Kansas State University Center for Engagement and Community Development and the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships to develop the proposal “Food Access and Independent Grocers: Strengthening Food Securities in Underserved Communities.” The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development funded the proposal with a planning grant of $22,012. The goal of the proposal is to compile existing resources that support independently owned groceries as sites of food security, social centers and economic opportunity from the three land-grant university partners; review the resources; and identify gaps where development of additional resources is needed. From there, the partner institutions will develop a joint curriculum for working with independently owned grocers that could be shared throughout the Heartland. On June 26–28 Lisa Bates and John Wolseth will be hosting colleagues from KSU and UME as part of this project.
- The 2019 Community Visioning Program begins transitioning from the assessment process to goal setting and design workshops. Goal-setting meetings are being conducted in Bedford, Coggon and Graettinger. Communities holding design workshops include Van Meter, Bedford, Coggon, Walcott and Sumner. The public is invited to attend and provide input on preliminary transportation enhancement plans.
- During June Leading Communities sessions will take place in Mitchell and Benton counties. The program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.
- Through a partnership with Hawkeye Community College, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach offered the How to Manage Your Money program to students who were English language learners. The community college also requested education about tax filing; eight students visited a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in Chickasaw County in spring 2018 and indicated an interest in learning more. Extension and Outreach partnered with a local nonprofit, and classes to train volunteers took place in fall 2018. In January 2019, five students (four Congolese and one Burmese ) and one individual from the nonprofit were certified as VITA program volunteers. Currently the site provides services in English, French and Burmese; Bosnian- and Spanish-speaking volunteers will be needed in the future. The Hawkeye Community College ELL program includes 805 students who represent 47 countries. During the 2019 tax season, 47 returns were completed; the majority of individuals assisted were part of the immigrant population. It is anticipated that the number of volunteers and returns completed will increase next year. The IRS visited the site and provided a positive review of the VITA Program.
- Lori Hayungs, human sciences specialist in family life, and Sue Boettcher, human sciences program coordinator in Dickinson County, have worked together to provide outreach to people with Parkinson’s disease. As a result, Sue has connected with local partners and a Parkinson’s group is launching in June. Sue is reaching out to similar groups around the state to inquire how they conduct their groups, and also has been in contact with Elizabeth L. Stegemöller, in the Department of Kinesiology, whose research includes how music therapy can benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.
4-H Youth Development
- Ninety-seven youth have been selected to attend the 2019 Animal Science Roundup as part of the State 4-H Conference June 25-27. This year marks the most species groups yet, including beef, dairy cattle, horse, meat goat (new), poultry, sheep and swine. Animal science faculty and staff are partners in this hands-on, science-based event.
- In partnership with Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group and National 4-H Council, Iowa 4-H once again was selected for a grant to implement the 4-H Ag Commodity Carnival. Currently, 11 fairs (including the Iowa State Fair) are scheduled to host the hands-on activity with a targeted reach of more than 8,000 youth.
- More than 50 Native Bee Challenge events are scheduled in 27 counties across the state this year. So far 4-H has completed 18 of these events, reaching more than 727 youth. Events are being facilitated by trained teen leaders, staff and volunteers. 4-H trained seven additional teen leaders at the 4-H Connect Retreat in April.
- Nearly 170 youth and adult chaperones took part in the 2019 4-H Connect Retreat held at both Iowa State University and Clover Woods Camping Center. Many county, field and state 4-H staff collaborated to make this a successful educational event for youth from across Iowa. This year’s retreat included New Volunteer Training for the adult chaperones, a more extensive chaperone orientation and Clover Woods tour, a partnership with the Experience Iowa State organization, and the integration of the 4-H Youth Leadership Planning Team. Initial feedback from the event has indicated that the youth learned more about themselves, their interests and made new friends, while the chaperones felt more a part of the planning process and involved in steps moving forward to engage long-term with the Iowa 4-H Program.