Responding to Structured for Success

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 9, 2019

For three weeks now, the Structured for Success proposal has been top of mind for many of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. During our first three area-wide meetings, we’ve had good discussions about proposed Models 1 and 2. We’ll be discussing the proposal at the remaining area-wide meetings as well, on Sept. 10 and 20.

In addition, many extension staff and council members have been using our new virtual suggestion box to share their perspectives on the proposed models. I am reading every comment submitted. Some people have offered ideas for alternative models. Some are asking questions, and Andrea Nelson and I are providing answers in FAQ documents. Others have been expressing their worries or concerns, which may not have an “answer.”

A few individuals were upset by the way the proposal was announced, and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. We announced the proposal during a webinar because it seemed to be a good way to provide the information to everyone at the same time.

Some people have been voicing concerns about the role of regional directors in the proposed models and how they will be assigned to the new regions. Others wonder whether staff who will be transitioning to a different role – in a region or in a county – will have the necessary skills for the new role. They’re anxious about degree requirements for the career path from one role to another. Some people are worried about what the proposal means for their council and their county budget. Others are concerned about where the final regional borders will be drawn and how the new regions will affect existing partnerships across county lines.

The first three FAQ documents address questions the Structured for Success Committee had anticipated, as well as the questions we received during the webinar and in the first few days afterward. As we compare those FAQs with the comments continuing to come in via the virtual suggestion box, we are seeing some common themes in the questions that are being asked and some common confusion about what the committee envisioned for the proposal. We are putting together a new FAQ to address these themes and, we hope, lessen the confusion. It will be added to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff) by the end of this week.

I will be holding virtual listening sessions by Adobe Connect at the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m.

Please remember that the Structured for Success Committee reviewed information collected during the 2018 Listening Sessions, gained from the Internal Communications Task Force Report, and gathered from our counties and from other states in the north central region. After completing this review, the committee determined that to be successful, ISU Extension and Outreach’s organizational structure must enable us to:

  • effectively educate and serve Iowans with resources from Iowa State;
  • increase focus on engagement, programming, and partnership development;
  • recruit and retain talented, professional, and passionate staff;
  • reduce the burden on councils related to human resources, finance, and program selection; and
  • improve communication and accountability within our system.

These are the goals for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. You may continue to provide feedback until Oct. 11 through the virtual suggestion box or by phone or email to any member of the Structured for Success committee. Then we’ll review the feedback and revise the proposal as needed. Our target date for sharing the final version is Oct. 21.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Structured for Success proposal and thank you for all you do for ISU Extension and Outreach.

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

September 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • The 4-H project area hot sheets have been redesigned, updated, made digitally accessible and posted to the Extension Store. The new design kept many of the previous features and now includes sections on goal setting, record keeping and entrepreneurship. Each publication also features college and career connections.
  • Twenty-three middle and high school youth from across the state took part in the first InventSTEM Iowa State Fair Challenge sponsored by Alliant Energy. John Larsen, chairman and CEO of Alliant Energy, and other Alliant Energy team members were on hand to mentor youth and present awards. The event began with a mini circuit lesson; then youth were tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine using only the tub of materials provided. There were two overall winners of the challenge. One team created a fanny pack with attached fan and cell phone holder. The second created a neck travel pillow with attached fan and side snack holders. Nate Weber and Rachel Shannon supported this event.
  • Clubs who participated in the Healthy Living Club Challenge were recognized at the Iowa State Fair. Sixteen clubs tied for first place, earning 2,850 miles, the maximum possible. This means they completed each of the three challenges every month (water, fruit/vegetable and physical activity) in addition to each monthly bonus challenge featuring a new area of well-being (social, personal, emotional, financial, environmental and community).

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farm field days have been taking place throughout the summer and will continue into September. Seventeen field days were scheduled in 2019. Additional information on field days can be found through the Iowa State Research and Demonstration Farms website.
  • Eleven Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training meetings have been scheduled by ISU Extension and Outreach, providing information and training for those interested in fruit and vegetable production, as well as those interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Training sessions will be held across the state, beginning Nov. 6 in Harlan and running until March 2020. More information can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach Safe Produce website.

Community and Economic Development

  • In July, AARP awarded the Iowa League of Cities a Community Challenge Grant, a program designed to make communities livable for people of all ages. The project is being conducted in partnership with the CED program. As a part of the grant, the League will develop and host a day-long workshop Sept. 18 focused on leveraging local government data. The workshop will incorporate the themes of city finance, housing and transportation, including information related to older adults and the overall community. The day also will include an immersive problem-solving session, designed to bring together city officials and data experts to explore and solve a local issue: mobility in Marshalltown. In addition, the grant will fund a “smart cities” demonstration project in Marshalltown, using the roadmap and input gained in the workshop session. CED faculty and staff participating in the workshop include Erin Mullenix, Chris Seeger, Biswa Das and Abbie Gaffey.
  • Several CED faculty and staff will be attending the Iowa League of Cities Conference, Sept. 25-27 in Dubuque. Eric Christianson will present on nuisance abatement. Erin Mullenix will co-present a session on preparing for AV-ready Iowa. Sara Shonrock will present on housing programs and incentives. Other CED faculty and staff who will attend include Gary Taylor, Scott Timm and Aimee Viniard-Weideman.
  • Diane Van Wyngarden will lead the Best of the Upper Mississippi River Road Scholar tour Sept. 8–14 and again Sept. 22–28. Through these travel courses, participants from 15 states (first tour) and 13 states (second tour) will learn about community histories, local economies, innovative local projects and community challenges. Communities along the first tour include McGregor, Dubuque, Calmar, Spillville and Dyersville. The second tour will feature Marquette, the Quad Cities, Scott County and Decorah.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach had four pitches in “The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION.” Malisa Rader pitched Little Free Libraries, a statewide contest engaging extension staff, volunteers and 4-H clubs to be creative in “investing” in their community with a Little Free Library and making books readily available. Christine Hradek pitched Growing Together Iowa, which aims to offer additional development opportunities such as Navigating Difference for Master Gardener volunteers working on healthy food access initiatives across the state. Lori Hayungs pitched Welcome Kits for life changes: Welcome to Iowa, Welcome to Parenting, Welcome to Retirement and Welcome to Your New Health Journey. Connie Beecher and Sara Nelson pitched Checkout Iowa Backpacks. A team of education faculty and students created engaging activity kits that include quality books that families can check out from the library.
  • Food Preservation 101 was held in the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 15. This program was co-taught by Holly Van Heel and Kelsey Salow, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness. They estimate 40 people attended from various counties across Iowa, and many participants personally thanked them for the abundance of information and resources.
  • The World Food Prize events include a day called the Hunger Summit in which professionals and lay people come together to learn about current issues related to food security domestically and internationally. The day always includes a Hunger Luncheon where an organization fighting hunger (such as Meals from the Heartland or Meals on Wheels) is featured. This year the Hunger Luncheon will feature a meal prepared from “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” recipes to highlight resources for healthy eating on a budget. The Healthiest State Initiative recommended that “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” be featured at the luncheon. The summit is Oct. 14.

Helping custodial grandparents and grandchildren

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 3, 2019

In Iowa approximately 13,000 grandparents have custody of their grandchildren and are responsible for their care, without the birth parents being present. These children – more than 20,000 throughout the state – likely were exposed to adversity early on and may exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties at home and at school. Their grandparents may experience depression and anxiety from the stress of child care and may face health challenges due to aging. Despite their needs and challenges, both groups are underserved, with little access to social and technical resources. That’s why Human Sciences recently was awarded a Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant to improve the lives of custodial grandparents and grandchildren here in Iowa. Did you know?

  • Jel Lee, an extension state specialist and assistant professor in human development and family studies, is principal investigator for the five-year, $640,000-grant focused in Story and Woodbury counties. Her team includes Amie Zarling and Jiyoung Choi from the College of Human Sciences, and Brenda Allen, Eugenia Hartsook, Malisa Rader, Molly Hewitt and Lori Hayungs, all with ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • They’ll be using an evidence-based program that is based on the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model to improve positive developmental and mental health outcomes for custodial grandparents and their middle school-age, custodial grandchildren.
  • The program has online and in-person components to promote emotional regulation, self-efficacy, decision-making skills, prosocial attitudes and behavior change necessary for fulfilling and contributing lives. The team also will incorporate various types of 4-H activities.

Next round of area-wide meetings

With three down and two to go in our first round of area-wide meetings, we have set dates for the next quarter’s meetings. Mark your calendar and save the date for an area-wide meeting near you:

  • Southwest: Nov. 26, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic.
  • Southeast: Dec. 2, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Cambridge Building, Fairfield.
  • Northwest: Dec. 5, Aurelia Community Center, Aurelia.
  • Northeast: Dec. 6, location to be determined.
  • Central: Dec. 11, Polk County Extension Office, Altoona.

One more note: Three sets of Structured for Success FAQs are available. FAQ #1 was developed by the Structured for Success Committee in anticipation of potential questions. FAQ #2 provides answers to questions that were submitted during the Aug. 20 webinar. FAQ #3 addresses questions submitted via the virtual suggestion box. Extension staff and faculty can access the FAQs via MyExtension; councils should go to this County Services page. Continue to review the proposal and keep asking questions; we will provide answers as promptly as possible.

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

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