July 2020 goodbye … and welcome

In July, we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Madeline Belknap, Des Moines County program coordinator
  • Whitney Howell, Louisa County 4-H and K-12 youth enrichment coordinator
  • Madison Kahoe, Monroe County office manager
  • Kathryn Laurson, Appanoose County Pick a Better Snack educator
  • Alexis Seuntjens, Pocahontas County program coordinator
  • Grace Traini, Black Hawk County, Food Corps
  • Peggy Lockhart, extension program specialist I, Iowa Concern
  • Grant Wall, communications specialist IV, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Jan Monahan, field specialist III, Human Sciences (retirement)
  • Cynthia Needles Fletcher, faculty, Human Sciences (retirement)

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Julie Fossum, Allamakee County director
  • Heidi Hoffman, Muscatine County director
  • Ashley Hofmann, Wayne County Pick a Better Snack program coordinator
  • McKinley Lain, Appanoose County Pick a Better Snack coordinator
  • Michelle Sillman, Linn County communications and public relations director
  • Allison Wisgerhof, Dallas County youth coordinator
  • Sarah Merrifield, regional director, County Services
  • Katie Lubbert, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development

August 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • Fifty Iowa 4-H members have been awarded 2020 state 4-H project area awards following the statewide recognition process, held virtually this year. Each was granted a $100 award from Glen and Mary Jo Mente of Ames and the Iowa 4-H Foundation.
  • Nearly 6,000 livestock entries are pre-entered for this year’s State Fair Special Edition: 4-H Livestock Shows to be held in August. Overall, entries in many species are 80% of 2019 numbers, signaling strong participation.
  • Two virtual STEM opportunities will be held August 16 and 17. The first will highlight InventSTEM sponsored by Alliant Energy. The second will highlight the WISE/FLEx program and the collaboration with Iowa 4-H and NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium.
  • Forty Iowa youth are beginning their new terms as State 4-H Council members. These young leaders will serve as ambassadors for 4-H Youth Development throughout the state and in their counties. State 4-H Council members are responsible for organizing and implementing the annual Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. They also serve at the Iowa State Fair and other Iowa 4-H events, visit counties to encourage other 4-H’ers to get involved with state and national 4-H opportunities, and coordinate, promote, and oversee the 4-H’ers for 4-H fundraising campaign.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • With large portions of Iowa experiencing some form of drought, a series of drought meetings is being planned for both in-person and online participation. ANR is partnering with USDA and IDALS to offer a webinar series that will be held on Thursdays. (It began on July 30.) The series will answer key questions regarding development of drought and impacts on row crops and forages. A series of in-person meetings will be held across the state during the first week of August. Producers will have an opportunity to bring five corn stalk samples for a quick nitrate assessment conducted on site.
  • A new workshop series for winemakers will be held in August, to provide information to producers regarding the cleanliness of their working environment, winery, and cellar, and the proper and practical use of sulfur dioxide as a preservative. The webinars are made possible by the Midwest Grape and Wine Institute at Iowa State.
  • Master Gardener training is held every fall. This fall will be no exception, but the method of delivery will be a bit different. All Master Gardener training classes will be held online, providing the same information in a new virtual format.

Community and Economic Development

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Visioning Program has adapted what had been exclusively in-person meetings to a hybrid format. In August, the steering committees for Mingo and Wellsburg have virtual planning meetings scheduled. In lieu of in-person design workshops, which are open to the public, visioning program staff created installations showing proposed designs to be placed throughout the communities to allow residents to see and comment on projects without attending large gatherings. These “Walk-by Design Workshops” have been installed in several communities. In August, an installation will be in place in Reinbeck.
  • The Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) is a tool that 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 are able to find safe, secure, and quality housing that meets their needs and fits within their budgets. The assessment checklists aid in the creation of 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. CED specialists will be conducting RHRA workshop 3 (action planning) for Ida Grove and RHRA workshop 1 (education) for Creston and Manning.
  • Virtual sessions of Leading Communities continue in August with three sessions for Sac County. Sac County is the third of three counties to complete the program virtually.

Human Sciences

  • Since March 2020, David Brown, behavioral health state specialist, and Dawn Dunnegan and Danielle Day, human sciences specialists in family life, offered the Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) program virtually 28 times with 473 participants. Participants learned how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. The program was primarily directed toward the agribusiness community, however, many human service professionals, extension staff, and other professionals also attended. Attendees represented 12 states and Canada.
  • The Nutrition and Wellness team converted the Healthy and Homemade education offering to quickinars (short video lessons) to share via websites and social media. The videos focus on strategies for using one’s time, money, and skills to save money and prepare nutritious and safe foods. The quickinar series reached 264 viewers throughout Iowa as well as 12 other states. In addition, nutrition and wellness specialists developed new technological skills by creating the quickinar videos.
  • A team of family life specialists is offering six series of Telehealth Powerful Tools for Caregivers throughout the upcoming fiscal year. The course helps family/unpaid caregivers learn communication techniques, set goals, and problem solve as well as reduce stress, guilt, and anger. Caregivers of adults with chronic conditions can participate in the six-week series with classes starting in August, October, January, February, and May. An October series is planned for caregivers of children with special health and behavioral needs. Additional face-to-face series may be scheduled.
  • Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other took place at Farm Bill meetings held November 2019-February 2020. Three-month follow-up results show very little change from immediate results. Percentages indicate those participants who either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement (N=379):
    — (84%) I am now able to recognize the risk factors and warning signs that someone is distressed or potentially suicidal.
    — (79%) I am now more willing to engage with someone who is distressed or potentially suicidal.
    — (73%) I am now better able to communicate with someone who is distressed or potentially suicidal and ask the tough question, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
    — (86%) I am now more aware of the resources available should I choose to engage with someone who is distressed or potentially suicidal.

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