May 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources and 4-H Youth Development

  • The 11th annual Crop Scouting Competition for Iowa Youth will be held July 26 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory in Boone. The in-person event is presented by the Integrated Pest Management program and 4-H Youth Development is a sponsor. Students completing grades 7-12 are invited to put their crop scouting skills to the test against other Iowa youth teams across the state. This event provides youth an opportunity to obtain knowledge and skills helpful in future careers related to agricultural and environmental sciences.

More Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Our Agriculture and Natural Resources program provides clients, policy makers, agencies, agribusiness professionals, and other stakeholders the opportunity to learn from research-based education to inform their decisions, which leads to a sustainable agriculture and environment. In turn, this benefits all Iowans by ensuring clean water, profitable farms, thriving communities, and a more secure food system. Take a look at our 2020 ANR by the Numbers.
  • The derecho that swept across Iowa and the Midwest in August 2020 caused extensive damage to forests and woodlots – but not all of it was negative. Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist, has put together a series of YouTube videos that explain how woodland owners can recover, and make their forests more resilient than before.
  • For the first time in two years, the Beef Improvement Federation’s annual meeting and research symposium will be held in person. Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director and extension beef specialist, said Iowa State faculty and staff are excited to host this year’s event, set for June 22-25 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

More 4-H Youth Development

  • SWITCH Facebook Live events reached 2,470 families virtually this spring. Each month, SWITCH (School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health) team members demonstrated how to make a Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe using a featured fruit of the month (which SWITCH students taste-tested in school that month). Local 4-H staff worked with the school core teams to provide to-go bags that included ingredients to prepare the recipe at home, as well as an activity for families to complete together. The goal is to get students to switch to consuming more fruits and vegetables. SWITCH registration for the 2021-2022 school year is now open.
  • Youth will participate in Astro Camp events across the state June 14-18. Astro Camp gives youth the chance to experience STEM and inspires future astronauts and engineers to learn about space with activities unique to NASA. Activities include creating a mission patch and building a space habitat, as well as a statewide rocket launch. The camp is a great way to help youth foster career dreams of tomorrow and develop life-changing goals through Next Generation science, math, and engineering skills.

Community and Economic Development

  • The Great Iowa Road Trip took place April 30 and May 1 in Marion and Mahaska counties. Community residents and visitors followed a mapped route featuring a self-guided tour of 42 cool places and special activities in towns such as New Sharon, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, and Pella. Tourism specialist Diane Van Wyngarden led this special weekend event cosponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach to assist small communities.
  • The 2021 Community Visioning Program completed community assessment work in April and local steering committees are reviewing the assessment data provided by the ISU research team. During May assessment reviews will be conducted in Alleman, Emmetsburg, Conrad, and Malvern.
  • During May, Rural Housing Readiness Assessment workshops continue for Harrison County, Glenwood, Pacific Junction, and Malvern. CED specialists will facilitate Leading Communities for Osceola and Wayne counties. Navigating Difference will be conducted for Region 6 Public Health and Centro Latino.

Human Sciences

  • Buy, Eat, Live Healthy education continued during the pandemic. The SNAP-Ed and EFNEP team taught 1,864 lessons virtually over the past year, and group-based lessons with long-standing partners have been part of this success. For example, the YWCA in Fort Dodge is home to women experiencing substance abuse recovery and 49 women at the Y have completed Buy, Eat, Live Healthy education with technology support from the Y staff. In April the Metro High School in Cedar Rapids initiated a group class for soon-to-be independent teenagers.
  • Two Human Sciences Extension and Outreach outcomes were featured as part of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences IMPACT 2021 reports shared with national legislators and stakeholders. In the “Protecting Our Resources – Family Life” category, Iowa offered “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other” to 4,376 participants; 86% agreed they were able to recognize risk factors and warning signs that someone is distressed or potentially suicidal. Additionally, 79% agreed they were more willing to engage with someone who is distressed. In the “Improving Children’s Lives” category, Early Childhood Education Trainings in Iowa increase educators’ ability to identify strengths and limitations and prioritize changes. Of 570 participants, 96% indicated growth in these areas and initiated a workable plan for program development.
  • The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative operates the Double Up Food Bucks project in Iowa. An Iowan who shops with SNAP dollars at a participating site can receive $1 of Double Up Bucks for every $1 of SNAP benefits spent on fresh fruits and vegetables. The currency is redeemable at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. Beginning with the summer distribution, Double Up Food Bucks currency will feature a QR code to the Spend Smart, Eat Smart Produce Basics page. This partnership will provide resources related to produce selection, storage, and use to all Double Up Food Bucks shoppers.

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