Our Rising Stars’ impact continues

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 9. 2019

This week County Services begins interviewing students for Rising Star internships and plans to hire 16 interns for 2020. Each summer our Rising Stars live and work in rural Iowa communities, addressing real-life projects based on local needs. When the internship ends, our interns come back to Iowa State, but did you know? Our Rising Stars’ impact continues in rural Iowa.

When Region 3 Director Donovan Olson met with Latimer Development in 2016, the group was interested in revitalizing their downtown, addressing housing needs and attracting new development. Donovan helped them gain access to two ISU resources that were critical for their success. First the group worked with CyBIZ to study community needs and create a strategic plan to commercialize the downtown. The plan was completed and presented to the group in June 2017.

Then the Rising Star interns created a strategic implementation plan to help Latimer Development move forward on opportunities identified by CyBIZ. The Rising Stars simplified the options into two projects. The first was a plan to revitalize the downtown by developing a lot that the group owned. The second project laid out the steps to develop an independent living facility for seniors in the community. The Rising Star interns completed and presented their plan in August 2017.

This fall Donovan heard from Matt Hardy of North Iowa Cooperative, who said the Latimer Development group has made significant progress on the two projects. First, the group is working toward an agreement with Franklin General Hospital to construct a new clinic in downtown Latimer. Second, the group is assembling a list of community members interested in occupying senior housing and is working on acquiring the land to build a new multi-unit senior living facility. Latimer Development credits CyBiz and the Rising Stars with helping them identify a way forward and demonstrate that they were prepared to improve and expand their community.

ISU Extension and Outreach connects communities with resources they need. This Latimer example shows how our interns can have a lasting impact when they engage Iowans in solving today’s problems and preparing for a thriving future.

Internal Communications: County visit notification reminder

Back in July I shared how we would address two Internal Communications Task Force recommendations about informing county staff when you will be visiting or working in the county. I’d like to remind everyone about a simple action that will go a long way in improving communication within our organization. Visitors, send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why, and locals, acknowledge you received the message. For more information, please review my original update.

More notes

  • Registration is open for the 2020 Professional and Scientific Council Professional Development Conference, Feb. 13 at the Scheman Building. Register by Dec. 20 to get the early rate of $100. The regular registration rate will be $120 from Dec. 21 through Jan. 31.
  • Iowa State will reduce services for a partial campus shutdown during the week of Dec. 23-27. During this time campus staff may take vacation, work from home or work in their cold offices. (The university turns down the heat in many of the buildings to reduce energy costs.) Extension units, like other university offices, will have procedures in place to manage incoming messages or handle emergencies. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 30-31, are regular work days and Jan. 1 is a university holiday.
  • The Extension Information Technology office will be closed with minimal staffing during the university partial shutdown through Jan. 1. EIT will monitor networks, servers, and the EIT Hotline (515-294-1725) for critical issues and emergencies but will not be handling routine issues (though you still can send those questions to eit@iastate.edu). The EIT office will reopen on Jan. 2.

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

The farm bill and farm stress

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 2, 2019

Since mid-November our farm management specialists and local USDA Farm Service Agency representatives have been holding public meetings to provide an overview of the 2018 Farm Bill. Farmers, landowners and ag professionals have been gathering in extension offices, community centers and other venues, as they do most years when there’s a new farm bill, to learn about decision points and program rules and regulations that pertain to each part of the state. But that’s not all they’re learning about this year.

Did you know? In general, farmers are entering this farm bill with more financial stress and less operating capital than in 2014, when commodity prices were still high. The financial stress has the potential to impact not only the future of the farm, but also the health of the operator. That’s why at each farm bill meeting, a human sciences specialist in family life is presenting “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other.” This 40-minute, scenario-based, suicide prevention training reviews the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, as well as protective factors and a strategy for how to intervene.

Our farm bill meetings – more than 60 altogether – will continue through January. We will continue to educate Iowans about Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage to help them deal with the farm bill that affects their livelihood. But we’ll also continue to promote healthy strategies to help each other recognize and cope with the stress that impacts daily life.

ICM Conference

The Integrated Crop Management Conference is another way we help farmers and the ag industry prepare for 2020 and beyond. Nearly 900 attendees will gather for the Dec. 4-5 conference in Ames. Now in its 31st year, the annual event is a great opportunity for farmers, industry, ag retailers, agronomists and educators to network with each other, interact with university specialists, and learn about the latest in crop research and technology. ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the conference.

More notes

  • The public seminar by Jay Harmon, candidate for Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach and ISU Extension Program Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources, is Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. in 0013 Curtiss Hall and via Zoom, at https://zoom.us/j/415857802. Learn about his strategy for leading our ANR program. The seminar will be recorded and available for viewing beginning Dec. 4. The question and answer session will not be recorded.
  • Our Growing Together volunteers harvested and donated approximately 115,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables throughout the 2019 growing season. That’s nearly 345,000 servings of fresh produce to fight hunger in Iowa. Learn more about this and other programs in the December Program Update from the leadership team.
  • A committee has begun developing a new Memorandum of Understanding between Extension Districts and Iowa State that incorporates the Structured for Success plan for our future. The MOU will be ready for councils to review and begin signing in early spring 2020. (It must be signed by June 1, 2020.) The MOU will cover three years, July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023. We expect there will be one overarching MOU and three separate operating agreements depending on which model a council selects.
  • Congratulations to Van Buren County, the first county to submit its 2019 stakeholder report. The reports are due Jan. 1 and will be available from the County Services website. You can use your county stakeholder report throughout the year to build awareness of programs, demonstrate impact and outcomes, and show return on investment. Thank you to everyone who contributes to these reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in your county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.

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

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