Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Two new video series are helping gardeners grow their skills, along with fresh produce. The Sow, Grow, Eat, and Keep series will be produced weekly and packages information about the garden, food preparation or food preservation. The series is a combined effort of ANR and Human Sciences, involving horticulture specialists and nutrition and wellness specialists. The Gardening While Isolated series is shown weekly on the ISU Extension and Outreach Facebook page and is produced by ISU Extension and Outreach horticulture specialists.
- Safe mushroom foraging workshops are being offered online for anyone interested in learning more about identifying and foraging local mushrooms. The first workshop was May 5; the second will be held in the fall. Participants in this virtual workshop will discuss proper identification traits, foraging safety, distinguishing between edible and non-edible varieties, and best harvesting practices including how to avoid any potential post-harvest contamination.
- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact agricultural markets and supply chains, ISU Extension and Outreach has resources that can help farmers manage their finances. A full listing of resources can be found through ISU Extension and Outreach, and includes farm financial associates, Ag Decision Maker, and members of the farm management team.
Community and Economic Development
- The Rural Housing Readiness Assessment helps communities self-assess their housing needs and guides them in the decision-making process when addressing those needs. It guides communities in considering options that ensure existing and potential residents can find safe, secure, and quality housing that meets their needs and fits within their budgets. The assessment checklists aid in creating a local housing policy that is appropriate for the needs and desires of a community. CED specialists have developed a way to deliver the program virtually, and Abbie Gaffey will conduct Workshop 1 for Ida Grove on May 20. Workshop 1 will be conducted for Keokuk sometime in May as well.
- Goal setting, strategic planning, and facilitation are more important than ever for nonprofits and local governments. CED has moved this type of programming to a virtual format. Kam Middlebrooks and Himar Hernández will facilitate an online goal-setting session with CoSI (Community in Support of Immigrants) in Grinnell sometime in May.
- More CED virtual offerings: CED local government specialists created a virtual version of the Introduction to Planning and Zoning for local officials and offered the training in late April and early May. CED specialists will deliver Leading Communities virtually for Mount Pleasant (Henry County) and for Centerville (Appanoose County) in May. CED specialists will present a virtual version of Grant Writing 101 for Madison County on May 21. A session for Linn County and a statewide workshop also are planned.
- Iowa Department of Public Health reached out to AnswerLine’s Beth Marrs and asked for suggestions on reaching Latino communities in Iowa to share information regarding COVID-19. In response, Dr. Kim Greder, family life state specialist, asked several extension program specialists to share with IDPH what they know is happening in specific Latino populations. This sharing will help IDPH build a plan to reach these populations.
- Virtual education has begun for SNAP-Ed and EFNEP educators. So far, 15 lessons have been delivered to date to individuals as well as co-residing groups. Staff are using phone calls and video chat to deliver lessons.
- The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team has mobilized a response to the concerns COVID-19 has raised for families, including:
— Two Facebook Live events per week (one individual exercise opportunity on Wednesdays at noon and a family activity every Friday at 10 a.m.).
— A cooking or food prep video every Monday.
— Building a library of video content to release over social media in the coming weeks. Videos include simple recipes, kitchen organization/management ideas, cooking with youth, and tours of the website.
— A revised blog schedule. Bloggers are highlighting skills that are useful during this time through personal blogs about their own meal planning and cooking.
4-H Youth Development
- The Iowa 4-H At Home Learning webpage offers online educational opportunities for youth created by Iowa 4-H professionals. The webpage has received approximately 8,500 views over the past month.
- Registration is open for the 2020 Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition on July 30 for youth in grades 7-12. An in-person competition is planned. If state guidelines do not allow in-person meetings by July 30, it will be an interactive distance competition. The planning team is creating a list of strategies for how youth teams can study and engage with materials over the summer while practicing appropriate social distancing.
- A new online STEAM academy has been created through a partnership between Iowa 4-H and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. Each week a new STEAM challenge for youth in grades 4-12 is released online. These challenges also showcase a tie to NASA work and STEM professions.