January 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Registration is still open for CropsTV and subscribers can interact live with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists through February 4 to gain crop production information and Certified Crop Adviser continuing education. Content also is available for viewing on demand. More than 800 subscribers from Iowa and 14 other states have already stacked up over 5,500 episode views.
  • Extension dairy experts will present a Virtual Dairy Day February 9. Producers and industry partners will have a chance to hear about current and relevant information to help them make sound management decisions.
  • The Pesticide Safety Education Program will host statewide online 2020-2021 Private pesticide applicator Continuing Instruction Courses, beginning January 20. PSEP will offer additional virtual P-CIC programs in February, March, and April.
  • An interactive online-only course will be offered on January 20 and 21 leading to Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance designation as a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule. The course is being offered jointly by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative program and the American Feed Industry Association.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2021 Community Visioning Program kicks off virtually in January with Program Overview and Communications Strategies virtual workshops for Calamus, Wheatland, Emmetsburg, Shenandoah, Malvern, Tama, Toledo, and Princeton.
  • In cooperation with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund, CED specialists will be conducting Rural Housing Readiness Assessment educational workshops for Keokuk, with Ohio State University for Noble County, Ohio, and for Nevada. CED specialists will teach RHRA workshops #1 and #2 for Estherville.
  • CED provides goal setting, strategic planning, and action planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop plans to accomplish those priorities. In January CED specialists will conduct strategic planning for the American Poultry Association, National 4-H Equity Design Team, and Salud! in Storm Lake. CED specialists will facilitate goal setting for the National Extension Tourism Board.
  • CED staff will be conducting virtual Navigating Difference modules 2 and 3 for Cedar Valley Catholic Schools in Waterloo and Centro Latino in Council Bluffs.

Human Sciences

  • ISU SNAP-Ed helped Table to Table, a nonprofit food rescue in Iowa City, fund increased service during the growing season to increase access to fruits and vegetables in food pantries in Southeast Iowa. During this past growing season, Table to Table collaborated with six farms, 11 gardeners, and 40 businesses to collect 512,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
  • Human sciences specialists facilitated an online offering of Preschoolers and Pennies: Read, Talk, Learn, and Play. Thirty-one childcare providers from 16 Iowa counties attended the two-hour workshop. Each completed an action plan that included writing a goal using what they learned.
  • COVID-19 amplifies the challenges of caregiving. Our Powerful Tools for Caregivers master trainers developed a plan for online, virtual class leader trainings. From May through September 2020, 58 individuals were trained to become certified class leaders.
  • Nutrition and wellness state specialists and a graduate student in food science and human nutrition have a new Journal of Extension article on assessing and responding to COVID-19 pandemic nutrition and wellness impacts on Iowans.

4-H Youth Development

  • ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium will be sponsoring 10 StoryWalk pilots. One will occur this winter, while the rest will take place in the spring. The StoryWalk team is working with extension offices in Pocahontas, Marshall, O’Brien, Guthrie, Cass, Jasper, Allamakee, Monroe, and Mahaska counties.
  • The State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa is virtual this year. SSTFI is open to any student (grades 6-12) residing in or attending school (public, private, parochial, and home school) in Iowa. At this time there is no qualifier fair (local, conference, district, or regional) required for participation in the March event. To learn more, please visit the Iowa 4-H SSTFI webpage.
  • The 4th annual Healthy Living Club Challenge has begun. Clubs and staff teams are invited to focus on their different dimensions of well-being to learn, grow, and explore ways to practice a variety of healthy habits. Wellness officers from participating clubs meet monthly to learn about the upcoming month’s club activities so they can coordinate it locally.
  • The National 4-H Healthy Living Summit will be held virtually February 12-15. While the 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors will miss the Washington, D.C., experience, they are excited to invite their peers from across the state to join in the virtual experience. Teens from across the state are encouraged to participate.

December 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Ellie Foelske, Chickasaw County youth outreach coordinator
  • Pam Henry, Iowa County office assistant
  • Eleni Parsons, Chickasaw County youth coordinator
  • Mark Schroeder, Clinton County program coordinator
  • Emily Heaton, professor of agronomy, state biomass crop specialist, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Keri Jacobs, associate professor of economics, state co-ops specialist, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Brian Lang, field agronomist, Agriculture and Natural Resources (retirement)
  • Mark Shour, extension specialist, Pesticide Safety Education Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources (retirement)

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Janea Blomquist, Pocahontas County program coordinator
  • Bailey Clemens, Boone County youth outreach coordinator
  • Diane Lascot, Shelby County office assistant
  • Shayla Martsching, Appanoose County youth coordinator
  • Amber McClary, Mills County youth coordinator
  • Katelin Pagel, Hancock County youth outreach coordinator

November 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Tenysa Handrock, Clarke County office assistant
  • Jennifer Lamos, Wapello County horticulturist and local foods
  • Kyler Waddle, Louisa County office manager
  • Jerolyne Packer, secretary III, Agriculture Program Services
  • Mary Barber, education extension specialist III, Iowa Concern, Human Sciences
  • Jen Lamos, education extension specialist II, EFNEP, Human Sciences
  • Billie Koester, manager communications, Advancement
  • Gale Francione, extension program assistant II, EFNEP, Human Sciences

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Marissa Foels, Allamakee County youth coordinator
  • Megan Janssen, Emmet County program educator/coordinator
  • Nancy Kincaid, Monroe County NEST coordinator
  • Brenda Lechner, education extension specialist I, Iowa Concern, Human Sciences
  • Demi Johnson, program specialist II, Human Sciences
  • Shannon Hoffman, program specialist II, Human Sciences
  • Olivia Hanlon, education extension specialist I, Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development

December 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • State Council members have continued their CloverCast podcast channel that they started this past summer. The first episode introduced the hosts and aired November 4. Episodes will be released the first and third Wednesday of each month. This podcast is in partnership with the Iowa 4-H Foundation and will highlight a variety of 4-H topics throughout the next year.
  • Members of Collegiate 4-H at Iowa State University worked together to create short, accessible training videos for each club officer role. They also teamed up to create a parliamentary demonstration video. These videos are being piloted by eight counties throughout the fall and winter. The videos surround the training and descriptions from 4-H’s current “So You’re Club President …” series.
  • SWITCH is wrapping up the training phase in preparation for program implementation in January. Seventy-three people, including school and 4-H staff from across Iowa, tuned in for the virtual SWITCH Conference on October 22. Nine PE Warm-up videos have been filmed and will be available for SWITCH schools to use as brain breaks or warm-ups for PE class. Teachers can share these videos in their classroom face-to-face or virtually. The first video, Pedometer Challenge, is available to view on the SWITCH YouTube channel. Four SWITCH website help sessions were held through the end of October and beginning of December. School and 4-H staff attended these sessions to review the process of uploaded classes and students into the SWITCH website, as well as how to print Welcome Letters for parents.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • ISU Extension and Outreach, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will offer manure training and certification workshops in January and February 2021. Confinement site manure applicators and anyone interested in learning about manure issues are invited to attend Confinement Site Manure Applicator Workshops scheduled in January and February. Dry Manure Applicator Certification Workshops for dry/solid manure operators are scheduled at six different dates and locations in February.
  • A virtual Boots in the Barn for Dairy Women, a three-part series for women involved in a dairy operation or industry and will be held as a webinar series on January 22, 29 and February 5, 2021 via Zoom.
  • The Water Rocks! program is delivering virtual, interactive science-based lessons to individual classrooms in Iowa schools. Water Rocks! Live Streaming debuted in November and incorporates live presentations, music, guest experts, and online scavenger hunts facilitated through shared Google docs.

Community and Economic Development

  • CED specialists facilitated the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment with Central City in December. 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 the creation of local housing policy that is appropriate for community needs and desires.
  • CED provides goal setting, strategic planning, and action planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop plans to accomplish those priorities. In December CED specialists conducted strategic planning for National 4-H Equity and Iowa 4-H.

Human Sciences

  • As the pandemic continued, human sciences specialists offered Environment Rating Scale Trainings virtually through Zoom and Canvas. This allowed Human Sciences to continue to meet the need for these trainings and open them to providers statewide, making the trainings more accessible. Throughout the spring and fall classes were offered virtually on the following scales: infant/toddler (14 classes), early childhood (8), school-age care (1), and family child care (2). There have been roughly 295 participants in these series through October.
  • Iowans struggled to find food at the grocery store during the pandemic and began starting or expanding vegetable gardens. Human Sciences responded by providing free, online food preservation classes. Seven basic food preservation sessions were held with 339 participants from 80 Iowa counties, 20 other states, and Canada. Due to participant feedback and in keeping with pandemic restrictions, additional sessions were offered on seasonal apple and tomato preservation, reaching 111 participants from 50 Iowa counties and 6 other states. Overall, 450 participants attended a preservation class and 75% of the participants indicated they were very likely to preserve food after taking a class.
  • The following data represent both SNAP-Ed and EFNEP-funded direct education work that includes both “Buy, Eat, Live Healthy” and “Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook.” There were 1,096 total participants. This is seven more participants than FY 2019 and the second year in a row of increased participation. In addition: 94% were female, with the majority being age 21-49; 52% self-identified as part of an underserved racial or ethnic group; 58% had income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level; more than 72% received public assistance; 91% improved their diet quality; 82% increased their physical activity; 74% improved food safety practices; 38% reported increased food security; and 84% reported improved food resource management. The behavior change measured is similar regardless of teaching mode (face-to-face or virtual).

November 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • As of October 15, the EFNEP and SNAP-Ed teams had delivered 1,028 virtual lessons during the pandemic.
  • According to Buzzsprout, the Science of Parenting has had more than 10,000 podcast downloads.
  • The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 was held virtually in Polk County with five families.
  • Recent in-person education programs included Actions Speak Louder Than Words childcare training for 13 childcare providers in Howard County, a full day Nature Explore workshop in Marquette for15 early childhood professionals and outdoor educators, and the Powerful Tools for Caregivers series for seven individuals in Vinton.

4-H Youth Development

  • The first Iowa 4-H Robotics monthly challenge is available on the Extension Store. These challenges are designed to advance robotics, coding, and computer science skills for youth in grades 4-12. In addition, career education is highlighted.
  • Iowa 4-H Healthy Living is a recipient of the National 4-H Healthy Habits Grant via the Walmart Foundation. 4-H has been awarded $57,200 toward nutrition education, food access/security initiatives with youth audiences across Iowa for the 2020-2021 program year. An additional $7,500 was awarded to implement the Soccer for Success program in partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. This program utilizes volunteers to serve as coach mentors to youth to help build character through learning basic soccer skills and nutrition education.
  • The National Wildlife Habitat Education Program is a hands-on environmental education program. WHEP also provides youth participants an opportunity to test their wildlife knowledge in a friendly competition, as each state supporting WHEP conducts an annual contest where teams of three to four similarly aged individuals gather. The winning senior (14-19 years of age) WHEP team from each state earns the right to attend the annual National WHEP Contest, typically held the last full week of July. The national contest moves to a different state each year and Iowa hopes to host this event in 2022. Iowa 4-H WHEP is seeking individuals with interest in becoming volunteer coaches.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held virtually this year on Monday, Nov. 23, in keeping with COVID-19 regulations. A half-day of presentations and interactions with industry experts will take the place of the normal meeting.
  • The fourth annual ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference features speakers ready to share leadership knowledge and skills that participants can apply to succeed in farm or agribusiness careers. This year’s virtual conference is Nov. 30, 1-3:30 p.m., and Dec. 1, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • The annual Pro Ag Outlook and Management meetings will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19 concerns. With a virtual format, participants will be able to hear from five ISU Extension and Outreach economists. There will be one speaker each day from 1-2 p.m. on Dec. 7–11.
  • Iowans can expect next year to be bright and colorful – at least according to the images found within the 2021 Garden Calendar produced by ISU Extension and Outreach. With a theme of Iowa Natives, the new calendar features 12 months of native plants, including bloodroot, bluebells, prairie smoke, bur oak, witch hazel, winterberry, and others.

Community and Economic Development

  • Iowa’s Living Roadways will hold its annual celebration November 12. Because of COVID-19, the event will be held virtually for the first time, and CED specialists will be producing the event. During the event, the 2020 visioning communities will have the opportunity to present and discuss the design projects proposed through the process.
  • CED provides goal setting, strategic planning, and action planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop plans to accomplish those priorities. In November CED specialists will facilitate action planning for extension regions 18, 25 and 26, and ISU Extension and Outreach Polk County. CED specialists also will deliver action plan reports to the Ottumwa Parks Foundation Board and the Mount Pleasant Community Childcare Board, and conduct strategic planning for the Des Moines Partnership, Linn County Child Abuse Prevention Coalition, Iowa 4-H state and county staff, and National 4-H Equity Strategic Planning. In addition, CED specialists will facilitate goal setting in Cedar Falls.
  • The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It is a simplified, visual, open source tool, which is user-friendly, hands-on, and a step-by-step guide for future direction. CED specialists will present the Business Model Canvas in English and Spanish at the Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit on November 21.

October 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Alycne Boban, Mills County youth coordinator
  • Emily Ide, Adair County youth coordinator
  • Angela Shipley, Louisa County economic development
  • Jamie Nguyen, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences
  • Charles Schwab, professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering, and extension safety specialist, Agriculture and Natural Resources (retirement)

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Jeri Crile, Jefferson County office assistant
  • Samantha Hendricks, Monroe County office assistant
  • Sheila Hlas, Benton County youth coordinator
  • Kaitlin Isbell, Winneshiek County youth coordinator
  • Sheila Oswalt, Davis County office assistant
  • Gracie Stallman-Perry, Monroe County youth coordinator
  • Amber Wengert, Story County marketing/office coordinator

September 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Morgan Bjerke, Allamakee County youth coordinator
  • Alisha Davidson, Lee County 0ffice assistant
  • Tanner Messerli, Story County program coordinator
  • Lori Padget, Jefferson County office assistant
  • Yenibeth Lopez-Ortiz, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences
  • Karisa Leinen, P&S temporary employee, 4-H Youth Development
  • Nancy Brannaman, P&S temporary employee, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Mark Barron, program coordinator II, Human Sciences
  • Richard Jauron, extension horticulturist, Agriculture and Natural Resources (retirement)

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Marcelina Ceniceros, Johnson County BBBS community-based mentoring specialist
  • Erika Kirchhoff, West Pottawattamie County program assistant
  • Kelly Waters, Henry County marketing program coordinator
  • Katie Sorrell, extension program specialist III, Human Sciences
  • Abby Boysen, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development
  • Courtney Chapman, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development

October 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership 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. In October CED specialists will be conducting RHRA workshop #3 with Creston and workshop #1 with Keokuk. The program is virtual and funded by the Empower Rural Iowa grant through IEDA and the Office of the Governor. By invitation of Ohio State University Extension, CED specialists will be delivering RHRA workshop #1 virtually in Noble County, Ohio, also in October.
  • CED specialists will perform and facilitate a process evaluation for Leading Communities: A Place-Based Leadership Program taking place in New Hampton (ISU Extension and Outreach Chickasaw County) in October.
  • CED specialists will be working with Salud! Multicultural Health Coalition of Storm Lake to craft a new vision and mission statement. The October workshops are virtual and supported by ISU Extension and Outreach Buena Vista County.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences collaborated with Mt. Pleasant Corrections and FDIC to offer the Money Smart curriculum online at the corrections facility. Prior to the pandemic, Human Sciences had offered face-to-face classes at the facility.
  • The Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 has completed four face-to -face trainings in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Safety measures were put into place to keep people safe and healthy. No illnesses had been reported at the two-week check-in with the training sites.
  • In collaboration with COVID Recovery Iowa, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering “I Worry All the Time: Resources for Life in a Pandemic”. The virtual program was held on four dates during August and September.
  • From mid-June through mid-September, the nutrition and wellness team of educators have safely provided 71 ServSafe® in-person classes with 544 people in attendance. This effort supported Iowa’s restaurants and food establishments as they attempted to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the summer.

4-H Youth Development

  • 4-H Youth Development has launched a new Iowa 4-H STEM webpage to share information about programs happening around the state. 4-H STEM programs work to engage youth through hands-on experiences that connect to their lives and respond to their interests. 4-H programs use hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math to teach problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, and inspire kids to explore STEM professions.
  • The 4-H virtual learning team surveyed counties to determine the usefulness of the On the Go publications series created this summer. There have been over 2,800 downloads from the Extension Store. Forty-four county staff members responded that they used these publications to create an estimated total of over 28,000 to-go lessons distributed to Iowa youth.
  • The Collegiate 4-H Club at Iowa State University hosted a successful, in-person welcome event for new members to kick off the new school year, with 26 college students in attendance. The event was held outside the state 4-H office with social distancing guidelines followed. The club will host their main meetings virtually this semester and continue inviting guest speakers to present virtually.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • A new series of videos on performing visual soil health assessments is now available on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Agriculture and Natural Resources YouTube channel. The videos explain the basics of how to perform visual assessments and demonstrate some simple, on-farm methods that can be used for assessing compaction, water infiltration, aggregation, temperature, biology, and decomposition in soils.
  • It is the end of an era for the popular Hortline telephone service at ISU Extension and Outreach. Richard Jauron, the most recognizable voice behind the Iowa State University consumer horticulture effort, has retired after more than 36 years of dedicated service. Resources can be found on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Horticulture and Home Pest News website. An extensive amount of horticulture information is available, all searchable by resource, topic or keyword.

August 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Jennifer Fischer, Jones County director
  • Courtney Hale, Davis County youth coordinator
  • Malorie Irving, Decatur County youth coordinator
  • Katie Moyer, Sioux County youth coordinator
  • Fallon Reicks, extension program specialist II, Iowa Concern, Human Sciences
  • Chad Higgins, senior director (director II), Office of the Vice President for Extension and Outreach

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Ellie Foelske, Chickasaw County youth outreach coordinator
  • Jenna Keene, Sioux County youth coordinator
  • Ellen Lupkes, Madison County youth coordinator
  • Emily Zahurones, Wright County youth coordinator
  • Casey Wenstrand, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development
  • Hallie Robinette, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development
  • Emily Damro, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development

September 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The COVID 19 pandemic prevented Iowa State University from holding in-person field days at research and demonstration farms during summer 2020. However, the research continued. A series of virtual tours, August 31 through September 4, provided an update on this year’s results.
  • Responding to weather: ANR specialists are compiling helpful resources in response to the derecho that moved through the state on August 10. Although this storm came and went within a day, the impact is being felt in the weeks after and will continue into the coming months. New resources continue to be developed and added to the list. In addition, drought is still a major concern for Iowa farmers. ANR specialists are keeping a close eye on the Iowa Drought Monitor and the crops team has compiled resources to help producers make decisions related to drought.
  • The Back to Business podcast from Farm, Food and Enterprise Development has been a great success. The podcast launched its first episode in April and continues to provide great information to business owners.

Community and Economic Development

  • Master Business Bootcamp helps small business owners to improve their business outcomes through business workshops and one-on-one membership. Participants work on how to increase small business profit margins and sharpen their business practices. CED specialist Kameron Middlebrooks will be facilitating the first half of a virtual bootcamp for small business owners in the Des Moines metro area in September.
  • Communities can use the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment to self-assess their housing needs and make decisions for addressing those needs. The assessment checklists aid in the creation of local housing policy that is appropriate for the needs and desires of a community. In September, CED specialists will be conducting RHRA workshops with Manning and Creston.
  • The Iowa State University Local Food Leader (LFL) certification program is intended for beginning local food practitioners, although it is open for anyone who is interested in food systems development and collaboration. The program teaches several foundational competencies critical to a successful involvement in community food systems development. The Community Food Systems (CFS) certification is intended for intermediate levels of food system practitioners. It is a process-based certification that increases capacity for food system practitioners to work within community and develop food systems. Courtney Long, Kaley Hohenshell, and Bre Miller will deliver the two programs in September.

Human Sciences

  • Recent work related to stress and mental health includes the following: David Brown and Anthony Santiago, family life state specialists, taught a free Mental Health First Aid training in Jones County on August 21 for extension staff from surrounding counties as well as community partners. Ten “Stress on the Farm: Strategies that Help” virtual programs are scheduled from August 28 to September 30. Marketing is being done via traditional outlets, Facebook, all agriculture partners, and the Iowa Corn Growers Association. In collaboration with COVID Recovery Iowa, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering “I Worry All the Time: Resources for Life in a Pandemic.” The virtual program will be held on four dates during August and September.
  • Iowa Concern Hotline is prepared to help families navigate the complexities of child care. Since mid-August, the staff has been equipped to talk with callers about child care needs, sharing Human Sciences’ new COVID-19 Child Care Considerations publication series, In addition, three family life specialists – Cheryl Clark, Malisa Rader, and Cindy Thompson – are available to take child care related calls. The hotline staff continue to provide 24/7, 365-day access to stress counseling.
  • Katie Sorrell has joined the Family Nutrition Program (SNAP-Ed) team. She is an ISU grad and registered dietitian with more than 10 years of experience in SNAP-Ed in Iowa and California. She will coordinate initiatives meant to create more health-promoting policies, systems, and environments for Iowans with low income. She also will coordinate Growing Together Iowa and existing healthy food access work in food pantries, as well as the scale-up of SNAP-Ed work to new sectors and audiences.
  • Home visiting will no longer be allowed in SNAP-Ed and EFNEP (Expanding Food and Nutrition Education Program). All participants will be served in a public location. This significant policy change is meant to support a productive and safe teaching environment for staff and participants.

4-H Youth Development

  • SWITCH is transitioning to virtual for schools, and resources related to the Do, View, and Chew themes will be shared with schools on the SWITCH dashboard this fall. Module enhancements to SWITCH include new PE warm-ups, social emotional learning skill building, and two new heart health lessons created in partnership with the Iowa Heart Center Foundation. 4-H is exploring ways for 4-H professionals to connect with schools virtually during SWITCH implementation including hosting statewide (or local) brain breaks, taste tests, kick-off events, and family engagement events. School registration for SWITCH opened in late August 24. SWITCH training for 4-H professionals will be held virtually on September 22 and 30. The SWITCH conference will be held virtually on October 22. Virtual “coffee chats” between 4-H staff and the SWITCH schools they support will occur in November.
  • The Wildlife Habitat Education Program is a hands-on, 4-H and FFA youth natural resource program dedicated to teaching wildlife and fisheries habitat management to junior and senior level (ages 8-19) youth. This program opportunity is made possible through a partnership with Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach and Iowa 4-H. Today’s youth are our future land stewards. Youth in WHEP will have a greater understanding of the value of land and how it can be managed to benefit many wildlife and fish species. When they join the work force, former WHEP participants can apply their WHEP skills and knowledge to create better habitat for wildlife and fish, no matter what professional field they have chosen. Volunteer training for WHEP is scheduled to debut this fall, with a program kick-off this winter.
  • The Leadership and Civic Engagement priority team has begun work on a civic engagement program for 7th-12th grade 4-H’ers in partnership with the Secretary of State’s office. The program, which will debut in January 2021, will include teams of five to seven youth from counties and one adult mentor per team. Each month a new civic engagement related topic will be released for all teams to engage in. Each month’s topic will consist of team activities, challenges, quiz questions, educational content, and report back options. Topics will cover voting, taxes, service organizations, local government, public education, and more.

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