August 2021 program update
4-H Youth Development
- After instruction from Iowa PBS professionals, a new cohort of Iowa 4-H Reporters is well prepared to cover the Iowa State Fair. These youth will showcase their new media knowledge by sharing fair features and 4-H stories. The Iowa 4-H Reporters program, now in its fifth year, is an opportunity for youth who have an interest in media and communications to learn more about the industry and develop news media during the Iowa State Fair.
- Thirty-six youth in grades 7-12 from across Iowa tested their knowledge of integrated pest management, crop growth, and pest identification during the 11th annual Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition on July 26. The event, hosted by the Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management Program and Iowa 4-H Youth Development, provided youth with the opportunity to work with and learn from Iowa State faculty, staff, and agronomists, as well as professionals in crop-related careers.
- The 4-H Livestock Quiz Bowl and State 4-H Skillathon contests will be held together on September 18 at Iowa State. These competitions encourage 4-H youth to develop a more complete knowledge of animals and related subjects. The top senior level 4-H teams in both contests will represent Iowa at the National 4-H Skillathon Contest and National 4-H Livestock Quiz Bowl competition in Louisville, Kentucky, at the North American International Livestock Exposition.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Crop growers will get an update on the latest advancement in strip tillage at this year’s fall field day at Iowa State University’s Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farms on September 8. Strip-till allows producers to till and plant into narrow strips, leaving crop residue undisturbed between the rows. Participants will learn about its potential for central Iowa farms, how they can get set up for strip-tillage or improve what they are already doing. There also will be field demonstrations of how different manufacturers’ strip-till equipment works in oat stubble.
- Food businesses interested in expanding the processing and retail side of their operation have a new resource published by ISU Extension and Outreach. The “Scaling Up Specialty Crop Processing Toolkit” provides an overview and case study of the different criteria for food businesses interested in processing specialty crops through small scale value-added processing – such as product development, commercial kitchens, increasing sales and more. The publication is being released at a time when local food businesses and small-scale processors are seeing increased demand – partly due to COVID-19. Topics like licensing, retail and processing design, employee health and safety precautions, and standard operating procedures are all covered. This project was funded through the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.
- The emerald ash borer continues to make its way through Iowa. In early August it was confirmed in Calhoun, Winnebago, and Worth counties for the first time. This invasive insect has now been found in 84 of Iowa’s 99 counties since its first detection in 2010. The State of Iowa monitors the spread of EAB on a county-by-county basis. Before a county can be declared positive, a life stage of the insect must be collected and confirmed. ISU Extension and Outreach specialists are part of the Iowa EAB team, along with specialists from IDALS and DNR.
Community and Economic Development
- Regional Small Business and Organization Ecosystem Study: The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Polk County and other regional community partners are working to improve economic stability and recovery from COVID-19. As part of this effort, ISU Extension and Outreach is supporting the project through understanding small business (under 50 employees) and community organizations’ challenges and needs in the current environment. The study region includes Boone, Story, Marshall, Guthrie, Dallas, Polk, Jasper, Poweshiek, Adair, Madison, Warren, and Marion counties. Input sessions will be offered for individuals to provide feedback on how community elements strengthen and hinder small business and community organizations. In early August CED specialists helped conduct input sessions at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines and at the ISU Extension and Outreach Polk County office in Altoona.
- The 2021 Community Visioning Program is in design phase of the process. In August Emmetsburg will have a design workshop; preliminary design concept reviews will take place in Princeton, Conrad, Shenandoah, Malvern, and Alleman; and design concepts will be presented to the public in Shenandoah and Calamus.
- In August CED is conducting virtual Rural Housing Readiness Assessment workshops for Rock Valley, Sidney, and Sheldon, through its continuing collaboration with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund.
- CED continues to facilitate ISU Extension and Outreach’s cultural competency training, Navigating Difference. CED specialists will facilitate the program virtually for Public Health Service Area 6 and for IMPACT, a nonprofit that provides families with access to assistance for housing, food, disaster, etc., in Des Moines.
- The Financial Security I-Team supports seven counties to help communities address financial security issues. In response, Human sciences specialists hosted eight statewide online series January through May 2021, using three lessons from the FDIC Money Start for Adults. The topics included prioritizing bills, managing debt, and improving credit, and 147 participants attended at least one session. Evaluation results are positive, with the team moving forward to refine the classes and offer them in a face-to-face format. Because of this class, 91% of participants say they better understand their money picture and the consequences of not paying bills in full or on time; 85% grew their financial knowledge and decision making by using a short-term spending plan; and 94% increased their knowledge of how to find reliable resources to make financial decisions.
- Vermeer Corporation (Pella) recently promoted the Preserve the Taste of Summer 101 Online program to employees as a wellness activity. Employees complete wellness activities as incentives for a discount on their health insurance plan. Six employees (and a partner) attended the July 21 class.
- The National Council on Family Relations held its first specialty conference for family life educators on June 25. The Science of Parenting work team was part of that virtual venture, sharing “Research and Reality: Helping Parents Find, Value, and Utilize Trustworthy Information” with 30 educators from across the nation. NCFR is the premier professional association for understanding families through interdisciplinary research, theory, and practice.