Building a culture of conservation

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 19, 2019

It started as a simple idea: helping farmers talk to other farmers about protecting Iowa’s soil and water. Fifteen years later, Iowa Learning Farms has built a strong foundation for a culture of conservation. Their multidisciplinary approach to increase adoption of conservation practices has led to greater natural resource protection throughout our state. Did you know?

  • Farmers, researchers and ILF team members work together to identify and implement best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable.
  • Program director Jacqueline Comito says ILF now has 88 farmers located in 51 Iowa counties. Field days have grown from five to 32 annually (with more than 265 field days over 15 years) and have engaged more than 13,621 attendees. In addition, cover crops were planted on more than 880,000 acres in 2018.
  • ILF partners include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, ISU Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319) and GROWMARK Inc.
  • ILF also reaches out to all Iowans through community outreach, the Conservation Stations and an online and social media presence. The Conservation Stations have been in all 99 counties at least once, for 1,286 events reaching 185,535 people.

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Aug. 21 at noon about how the program has evolved over the past 15 years and what new goals and challenges the future holds. (If you can’t watch it live, you can watch the archive on the ILF website for watching at any time.) You also can learn more from ILF’s 15-year report, “Building a Culture of Conservation – 2004-2019.

Structured for Success: Link for Aug. 20 Webinar

On Aug. 20 at 3 p.m. the Structured for Success Committee will present a draft proposal and models for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. The URL for the live webinar will be https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo.

Please plan to participate. The committee is sharing this proposed plan to start a discussion and requests your feedback. During the webinar if time allows, the committee will take questions at the end of the presentation. After the webinar, we will send the link to the white paper and executive summary that describe the committee’s process and findings. Answers to frequently asked questions also will be available. The webinar will be archived for later viewing, and this link will be available on Aug. 21.

There will be multiple ways to provide feedback over the next several weeks. Thank you for your assistance in determining an organizational structure that will help us effectively educate and serve Iowans.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

What works in rural development … and why

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 12, 2019

When you think of rural America, do you imagine corn and cattle and farmers working the land? Well, that’s one way to look at it. However, for the complete picture you need to think much more broadly. Rural America includes every place that is not urban – from micropolitan areas with up to 50,000 residents, to the smallest, unincorporated towns and open country. This week at Iowa State’s Rural Development Symposium we will explore the challenges facing these places and discuss how to build capacity and create support for rural development efforts. Did you know?

  • The symposium will cover current research, practices and success for economic development and quality of life in rural America. Conference speakers include representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Iowa State, other Midwestern universities and nonprofit organizations.
  • Presentations and panel discussions will cover community well-being, labor markets, business succession and retention, business location and expansion, and rural capital and innovation.
  • Participants will be able to engage with the researchers who study the issues, as well as the people who put the research into practice.

The challenges facing rural America are complex and vary widely from community to community. Community and Economic Development Director Gary Taylor says the symposium is an opportunity to learn what works in rural development and, perhaps more important, learn why it works.

Register to attend an area-wide meeting

Be sure to register online to attend a first-quarter area-wide meeting:

  • Southwest, Aug. 28, Atlantic.
  • Northeast, Aug. 29, Waverly.
  • Central, Aug 29, Nevada.
  • Southeast, Sept. 10, Washington.
  • Northwest, Sept. 20, Spencer.

The overarching theme for the day is rural resiliency. We’ll learn together, talk together and take time for networking. Leadership team members will provide updates, and we’ll also engage in issue-based and program-based discussions. Our goals for these meetings are to improve internal communication and align vision and mission throughout our organization, to enhance interdisciplinary and multi-county programming, and strengthen relationships with our colleagues.

Counties are strongly encouraged to support all their staff attending these meetings. Field specialists who serve counties in more than one area should plan to attend at least one area meeting per quarter, and coordinate with teammates so there is program representation at all area meetings. Campus-based staff and faculty are encouraged to attend at least one area meeting per year.

More notes

  • Tune in on Aug. 20 at 3 p.m. for a live update from the Structured for Success committee. The presentation also will be archived for later viewing. More information will be provided closer to the date. Stay tuned.
  • Take a moment to review the August program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • Seven years and 100 anniversaries later, we now have celebrated 100 years of organized extension work all across our 99 county campus! The final event was held Saturday in Dallas County. From banquets and award ceremonies to plaque presentations at county fairs and ag shows, these events have brought Iowans together to honor our land-grant mission. Thank you to everyone who helped make these anniversaries true celebrations of the many ways ISU Extension and Outreach focuses on feeding people, keeping them healthy, helping their communities prosper and thrive, and turning the world over to the next generation better than we found it.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

August 2019 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Jill Weber, human sciences specialist in nutrition and wellness, has a successful community partnership in West Union (Fayette County). Public Health and Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital worked jointly to create a mobile community teaching kitchen. Funding from 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count helped to provide eight participant stations and one instructor station stocked with tools and equipment. Jill pilot tested classes from the Healthy and Homemade series and provided feedback on the mobile kitchen as the classes progressed. She worked with Master Gardeners on a May herb class and then it was on to jam and salsa workshops for youth and Food Preservation 101 during the county fair. In the fall, she will use the mobile teaching kitchen for a Stay Independent series in Oelwein. The community partners recognize Jill’s teaching abilities in delivering high quality programs, and she appreciates the opportunity to deliver programs in Fayette County using the new teaching kitchen.
  • Suzanne Bartholomae and the family finance team have created a successful partnership with the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS). Including funding, the partnership involves regional delivery of the Creating a Secure Retirement program to IPERS members. During FY20, the team will deliver the program 20 times, including 12 times at the IPERS headquarters in Des Moines by a combination of human sciences specialists in family finance, with Joyce Lash and Barb Wollan co-leading. The summer and autumn regional pilots have been set for Sioux City, Mason City, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa and Council Bluffs. In the next few months, focus groups will be conducted with IPERS members who attended the program in the past year. Late this year and/or early next year focus groups will be held to explore program opportunities with younger IPERS members.
  • Small Talk: Big Future is featured on the APLU Board on Human Sciences website. This program helps parents from many backgrounds to consistently provide enriching language interactions to their children, thus creating habits that may benefit their children for many years to come.

4-H Youth Development

  • Sara Nelson has been hired as the new 4-H STEM program specialist for the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. She will oversee STEM product development and STEM literacy outreach to enhance access to educational learning opportunities for all K-12 youth.
  • In 4-H, parents, extension staff and volunteers communicate and work together to meet each child’s specific needs. Two Washington County youth show what is possible with good communication and understanding prior to the county fair. See the video and news release to learn about Sophie’s and Blake’s stories.
  • 2019 looks to be a record-breaking year for Iowa State Fair 4-H Livestock entries. This year, 8,750 entries have been pre-entered by over 2,300 Iowa 4-H exhibitors. Growth is expected in the individual livestock areas of dairy and meat goat, dog and swine. Pre-entered dairy and meat goat entries have increased by nearly 40 each, dog entries are up 10 and swine numbers are 235 entries higher than previous years.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2018 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll shows Iowa farmers are seeing a steady shift in who is responsible for what happens on the land they farm. The poll showed an increase in farmers who agreed that conservation practices are their responsibility on land they rent as opposed to the land’s owner, although renters were hesitant to invest their own money on structural conservation practices in land they rent. The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll also examined perceptions of quality life and farm financial well-being, awareness of and participation in watershed management activities, and the use of precision agriculture practices.
  • A tool developed at Iowa State University to help farmers make decisions, including decisions about nitrogen applications, has expanded to cover Illinois and Indiana. The FACTS project was launched in 2015 in Iowa to provide yield and soil nitrogen predictions at a field scale. Weather data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, soil information from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and management information from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service and local experts all feed into a single program that quickly analyzes the information to offer meaningful agronomic information.
  • A preventive controls for animal food standardized course to serve employees and managers of facilities that are processing any type of animal food will be held in Ames, Aug. 13-15. The course is offered by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and will help facilities comply with new, good manufacturing practices and implement a written animal food safety plan.

Community and Economic Development

  • Steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts and design teams are presenting final concepts to the public in this stage of the 2019 Community Visioning Program. During August, public presentations will be held in Audubon, Coggon, Durant, Walcott and Van Meter. On Aug. 28, the design team will present the feasibility report to the Durant steering committee.
  • Diane Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions throughout August for the following organizations: the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Davenport, and the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Bettendorf. Diane, along with Himar Hernández, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides, received a Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant to develop the curriculum.
  • Susan Erickson and Lisa Bates will be attending the 2019 Iowa Downtown Conference in Dubuque and providing an ISU Extension and Outreach CED presence as an exhibitor. The Downtown Conference is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

Pitching Iowa State at State Fair

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 5, 2019

Can you make your pitch for Iowa State entrepreneurship and innovation in five minutes or less? Twenty-plus extension staff, clients, 4-H members and Rising Star Interns are betting they can, as they look forward to influencing fair visitors and winning prize money at the Iowa State Fair. They, along with other ISU students, alumni and partners, will be demonstrating the return on investment that our university delivers to Iowans and our state. Did you know?

  • Iowa State “pitchers” will be pitching their projects at the Iowa State exhibit in the Varied Industries building throughout the fair. ISU Extension and Outreach will be pitching on Aug. 11-12. Our folks will be battling head to head, with two individuals or teams facing off each hour. They simply will make their pitch; no PowerPoint presentations allowed – though sharing a prototype, drawing, handout or product will be accepted.
  • After our pairs of people make their pitches, fair visitors will vote. They will be given soybeans (one fairgoer, one soybean, one vote) that they can place in the jar of their preferred pitcher. Stop by and support your colleagues by listening to their pitches and casting your vote.
  • The winner from each pitch pairing throughout the fair will compete in the semi-finals Aug. 16-17. The semis will bring more head-to-head pitching, this time to invited judges who will grade participants based on their project’s content and business viability. Finalists will be chosen, and they will pitch to a panel of judges, who will determine category winners and “best of show.” President Wintersteen and Provost Wickert will present the awards Aug. 18 at 1 p.m.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach pitching crew represents 4-H, Human Sciences, Community and Economic Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. Whether or not they receive an award, their projects are great examples of civic innovation and youth development efforts that build a strong Iowa.

Internal Communications: VP website and suggestion box

Several of the Internal Communications Task Force’s recommendations were related to developing methods for two-way, field-to-campus feedback to improve our relationships and effectiveness. As a result, we’re implementing a new website for providing information and a new means for sharing ideas:

  • The Office of the Vice President website is live, at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/vp/. (You can bookmark the VP homepage for future reference; or, from the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage go to the About Us tab and click on “Office of the Vice President.”) On this new website you’ll find links to special initiatives, area-wide meeting information, my weekly “Did You Know” messages, other updates from my office, our strategic plan and other information about our organization.
  • One prominent feature on the page is our Share with Us virtual suggestion box. We value your thoughts and ideas and encourage you to share your questions, comments and concerns at any time. About every two weeks, I will review these comments with the leadership team and provide responses. Occasionally we will ask for input on specific proposals and upcoming decisions. Your feedback always will be anonymous and confidential.

We are still working through options to update MyExtension to better serve our staff and facilitate sharing information internally.

One more note: Our ISU Extension and Outreach buckets will be back at the Iowa State Fair this year with a “to do” bucket list for fair visitors. Our red, five-gallon buckets, as well as bucket-themed photo frames, will be placed at extension venues around the fairgrounds, including Grandfather’s Barn and the 4-H Exhibits Building.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Preserve the Taste of Summer

John Lawrence’s message from July 29, 2019

Many Iowans might not remember a time when preserving summer’s bounty of fruits and vegetables meant using an open kettle on top of the stove – and that’s a good thing. Thanks to USDA and modern research, today we know that the old, open kettle method is unsafe, because undesirable microorganisms can still grow after food is heated that way. Our nutrition and wellness specialists in Human Sciences teach Iowans the safe way to Preserve the Taste of Summer, our comprehensive food preservation program. Did you know?

  • The program began in 2011 as eight online lessons followed by four optional, hands-on workshops. Over the years, feedback indicated that clients viewed the online lessons as barriers to participation. So, our food preservation workgroup dropped the online component and revised the four workshops to include a comprehensive discussion of safe food preservation practices followed by a hands-on practicum.
  • The workshops provide the most current USDA-approved food preservation recommendations for making salsa, jam, pickles and pickled products, as well as instruction in dehydrating, freezing and pressure canning.
  • This spring the workgroup completed the first workshop for youth, jam making. Two more youth workshops, salsa making and pressure canning, are being developed.
  • Sarah Francis, nutrition and wellness extension state specialist, says that in a 2018 survey, 88% of workshop participants reported being very satisfied with the relevance of the information they received, and 94% were very satisfied with the overall quality of the workshops. All stated the information was understandable.

Preserve the Taste of Summer’s impact has spread beyond Iowa. Washington State University Extension and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Extension have been using it as their food preservation program since 2013. Sarah also shared the impact in a Journal of Extension article. For more information, contact Sarah at slfranci@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • Our Rising Stars are completing their internships with their final presentations Thursday, Aug. 1 from 10-11:30 a.m. We are working to make a livestream available. Check the Rising Stars Facebook page on Aug. 1 for a link to the livestream to learn about their projects focused on community access to nutritious food, as well as community economic development.
  • Our Goodbye and Welcome list is on temporary hiatus as our Improved Service Delivery human resources staff come on board and HR processes move to Workday. We are working on a new way to compile our monthly list of people who have left or joined ISU Extension and Outreach. We will resume the monthly list soon, and we thank you for your patience.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

It’s time to SWITCH

John Lawrence’s message from July 22, 2019

Once again, it’s that time of year when Iowa schools can SWITCH — for School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health. 4-H Youth Development is recruiting schools to join this evidence-based program that helps school leaders plan, implement and sustain effective wellness programs and education environments. Registration is open for the 2019-2020 school year. Did you know?

  • The 12-week program is designed to help youth switch what they do, view and chew for a healthy lifestyle, both in school and at home. That means getting kids to participate in 60 minutes of physical activity, spend less than two hours watching a screen (on any electronic device), and eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • The materials are designed for fourth through eighth grade students and are available to all Iowa schools.
  • Schools that enroll in SWITCH and complete all program steps are eligible for a $500 mini grant. The mini grants are intended to help school leaders put wellness ideas into action in their buildings.

SWITCH is designed to help schools meet USDA guidelines for school wellness and build capacity to sustain wellness programming over time. The SWITCH experience has grown in Iowa from eight schools participating in 2016-2017 to 39 schools participating during the 2018-2019 school year. To learn how schools can enroll in SWITCH, contact Ann Torbert, 4-H program specialist, atorbert@iastate.edu.

FYI: In Iowa it’s always time for 4-H clubs. Our three-year club survey confirms that the longer youth participate in 4-H clubs, the more knowledge they gain. For more information, contact Marybeth Foster, 4-H organizational accountability manager, mbfoster@iastate.edu.

One more note: The Iowa State University Rural Development Symposium: Research, Practice and Success will be held Aug. 15, at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. Register now and plan to attend. During the symposium you’ll learn what works in rural development and, perhaps more important, you’ll learn why it works. For more information, contact Gary Taylor, gtaylor@iastate.edu.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Master Business Bootcamp

John Lawrence’s message from July 15, 2019

Since 2015 the Master Business Bootcamp has helped more than 250 small businesses in the Des Moines area to survive and thrive. Now our Community and Economic Development unit is partnering to expand this coaching and mentorship program across the state. Did you know?

  • Kameron Middlebrooks has cofacilitated the program and coached business owners for two years, first as part of the Financial Empowerment Center at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, where the program originated. He has continued working with the bootcamp since joining ISU Extension and Outreach in 2018 as our minority business coordinator.
  • To qualify for the program, participants must show that they have been operating their business for at least six consecutive months and have established clients who currently use their products or services. The free program targets minority populations with low-to-moderate income; however, it is open to any small business owners.
  • Master Business Bootcamp reinforces essential skills necessary to own, manage, grow and operate small businesses. Kameron coaches bootcamp participants as they develop their own business profile, including their vision, mission, objectives, slogan, values and a thorough description of their products and services.

When we build Iowans’ capacity to develop successful businesses, our communities are more likely to prosper and thrive, leading to a strong Iowa. To learn more about Master Business Bootcamp or other services for small-business development, contact Kameron at 515-231-5055 or kameronm@iastate.edu.

Internal Communications: County visit notification

The Internal Communications Task Force Report acknowledges that too often campus folks, as well as field staff, don’t tell county staff when they will be visiting or working in the county. Two of the recommendations request we develop a method or system to provide advance notice. It seems to me that the recommendations boil down to this: Show respect and professional courtesy to one another.

  • Campus faculty and staff – When you are planning to be out in the state somewhere representing ISU Extension and Outreach in any way, please inform that county extension office and the regional director.
  • Regional and county staff – When you are planning to present at an event, ISU sponsored or not, or are initiating a partnership, please inform the extension office of the county you will be visiting, as well as the regional director.
  • County staff – If you receive a message from campus or regional staff alerting you that they will be in your county, please acknowledge it. Offer to assist them or invite them to stop by the office for a cup of coffee.
  • In any case, visitors, send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why; and locals, acknowledge you received it. This simple action will go a long way in improving communication within our organization.

Over time, we may discover that we need a more complex or automated system. However, sending an email to let our colleagues know when we’ll be visiting their county is a best practice that we all can implement right now. Thank you.

More notes

  • Our 12 Rising Star interns had their mid-point check-in at the end of June and they reported on a wide range of activities. Here’s a sample of their efforts: helping develop the Ag Bite by the Barn for Adults at the Clay County Fair (Region 1); analyzing and developing four strategic plan options for a day care facility in Sheffield (Region 3); running the Power of Produce clubs for approximately 120 youth (Region 5); and conducting a “new foods” program for kids and food demonstrations at area farmers markets (Region 20). To keep up with everything our Rising Stars are doing, subscribe to their blog and engage with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Global Rocket Launch Day celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with activities to help youth learn about rockets and NASA. Our 4-H program will be using these activities throughout the year to engage youth in the 4-H aerospace project area. For more information, contact Sara Nelson, state STEM lead, sdnelson@iastate.edu.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

40 years of Master Gardeners

John Lawrence’s message from July 8, 2019

Any gardener can seek education for self-improvement, and many do. However, Extension Master Gardener volunteers seek and use research-based horticulture and gardening knowledge and practices to benefit others. They also take on projects that promote healthy communities. Iowa Master Gardener volunteers have been building a strong Iowa for 40 years. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach piloted the Master Gardener program in Scott County in 1979, using a program that had originated in Washington State. Today, there are Master Gardeners in more than 80 Iowa counties.
  • Master Gardeners receive specialized training in garden best practices from ISU Extension and Outreach. In return they contribute their time (20 hours per gardener per year) doing garden-related volunteer outreach in their communities.
  • Once again, our Master Gardeners are partnering with our Human Sciences staff to fight hunger in Iowa. Thanks to USDA SNAP-Education funding, 22 mini grants were awarded to Master Gardeners in 2019 for food pantry donation gardens. Last year, over 90,000 pounds of fresh produce were donated.
  • At the International Master Gardener Conference last month, the Linn County Master Gardeners were recognized for their ongoing pollinator project. They built partnerships to increase pollinator habitat by 2,000 acres.
  • State coordinator Susan DeBlieck says nearly 2,000 Master Gardeners were active across Iowa in 2018, compiling 113,392 volunteer hours. That averages out to nearly 60 hours worked per volunteer. Those volunteer hours are valued at $2.7 million spent improving Iowa.

Over the past 40 years, more than 14,300 Iowans have participated in the Master Gardener training to volunteer in their communities. Iowans who would like to join this impactful group can apply online to attend Master Gardener training, starting around the state in August.

One more note: Take a moment to review the July program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

A special thank you: Today is Linda Brinkmeyer’s last day as my administrative assistant. She is retiring to start the next adventure in her life. I want to personally thank her for helping me get grounded in this job and for being an important part of the leadership team. She kept the plates spinning as we worked on several priorities to move our organization forward. She will be missed. Thank you, Linda!

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

July 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage; steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts. Design review meetings will be held in Durant, Van Meter and Hinton. The public presentation of design concepts will take place in Royal.
  • The 44th Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy is July 15–26 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This is a targeted training for more than 200 city clerks, finance officers and other city staff to further professionalism, knowledge and efficiency in Iowa cities. All training in this venue qualifies for certification within the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association.
  • In July CED specialists Lisa Bates and Brian Perry will be in Osage (Mitchell County) facilitating sessions 3, 4, and 5 of Leading Communities. Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will be delivering Leading Communities in Norway (Benton County). Leading Communities is made possible in part by a vice president for extension and outreach initiative.
  • During July Diane Van Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions at several locations: the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, Jasper County; Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines; Matchstick Marvels, Gladbrook; Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce; Tyden Farm No. 6, near Dougherty; and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Stockman House, the River City Society for Historic Preservation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Historic Park Inn and the MacNider Art Museum, all in Mason City.

Human Sciences

  • Christine Hradek, coordinator for SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, presented to the Cyclone Scholars and George Washington Carver summer interns on June 12. She shared the landscape of healthy food access for Iowans with low income and how Growing Together Iowa aims to improve access to fruits and vegetables.
  • Cindy Thompson, human sciences specialist in family life, co-led her fourth Powerful Tools for Caregivers series, along with a staff member from the Northeast Iowa Area on Aging. Six participants completed the series and one care receiver attended. When asked about their biggest accomplishments during the series, one participant stated, “When my [relative] says he doesn’t want to live, I now say ‘I’m sad you feel that way. That must be hard.’” Another said, “I’m letting go of the guilt a little.” All indicated they would recommend participation in the series to a friend.
  • Nicole Leidal, family nutrition program assistant, and Mary Wilkins, youth outreach coordinator, have been working as a team to provide “wrap around” education for individuals within the Buy Eat Live Healthy classes. As Nicole teaches the nutrition lesson to the parents, Mary provides education to their children, and together they share the other opportunities ISU Extension and Outreach in Story County has for families. The goal is to lessen the burden on the family needing childcare, provide quality adult and child education, and increase awareness of the office. Due to the quality team work of the staff, ISU Extension and Outreach has gained lifelong extension users in Story County.

4-H Youth Development

  • Mahaska County 4-H offered their first Ricochet Leadership Club in 2019. Eleven students in sixth and seventh grade at Oskaloosa Middle School participated in the hybrid Ricochet program partnership between ISU Extension and Outreach in Mahaska County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahaska County, Oskaloosa Middle School, William Penn University, and United Way of Mahaska County. Five William Penn University students served as site-based mentors and helped process Ricochet activities and plan a service project. This program made an impact in the lives of the participants by providing them with a better sense of civic engagement, leadership, communication and teamwork. The group took part in collaborative decision-making processes to figure out the focus for their service project. They voted to fight hunger in the community. The project also provided an opportunity for participants to enhance communication skills. They had to “pitch” the service project to Oskaloosa School District staff. Mentors provided guidance and rehearsal time.
  • Invent STEM is a new Iowa 4-H program focused on wind energy and innovative solutions to real world problems. The program will be available this fall and is sponsored by Alliant Energy. An Iowa State Fair kick-off for Invent STEM will occur on Aug. 11. Youth will be tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine.
  • Healthy living programs at Oakridge reached more than 60 youth this spring. The Des Moines housing complex has a large African refugee population. Intern Tre Goode worked with the high school students over four months – identifying issues in their community, discussing college and career, and planning a community cookout as a way to unite their community and engage youth in 4-H activities. Youth program specialist Lisa Green and 4-H volunteer Gerald Joseph took the middle school youth through a 16-week entrepreneurship program. Youth taught others what they had learned by showcasing their business concepts at the cookout. Goode also worked with a new 4-H volunteer, introducing 4-H to fifth graders in the community by exploring the four priority areas in a weekly after school program. Youth in the Oakridge Community are excited about 4-H and many have asked staff if they could take part next year. A new 4-H volunteer plans to continue programming with the elementary students next year.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Gardeners will have the opportunity to learn about growing cut flowers, sweet corn and tomatoes in the home garden during this year’s Demonstration Garden Field Days, hosted by ISU Extension and Outreach and the ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Seven field days will be held across the state, focusing on three main themes: home-grown bouquets; augmented sweet corn; and a showcase of different types of tomatoes.
  • A series of six agritourism checklists were designed by ISU Extension and Outreach agritourism experts to help ensure farmers and landowners who open their property to the public follow safety best practices. The checklists cover bio-security, emergency preparedness, food safety, pesticide safety, play area safety and negligence mitigation. The checklists are not to be considered a certification, but they can help producers understand their strengths and weaknesses. The checklists are available through the ISU Extension Store (FFED 0025 A-F).
  • Field days and workshops are continuing to be scheduled for this summer at ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Topics include crops and soils, cover crops, nitrogen and water, Forecast and Assessment of Cropping sysTemS (FACTS) and demonstration gardens. Most events are free and open to the public.

Review and renew with our strategic plan

John Lawrence’s message from July 1, 2019

As we ring in the new state fiscal year, it’s a good time to review our ISU Extension and Outreach Strategic Plan and renew our commitment to reaching our goals. Take some time to reread the plan, consider how your own role aligns with the goals and strategies, and share your thoughts with your colleagues. Having a strategic plan doesn’t mean much if it’s only a link on a website or a downloaded and forgotten PDF. Each of us needs to act, if we’re going to achieve our goals. I hope you know:

  • The first goal in our strategic plan is to engage all Iowans with access to research-based education and information. When Iowans are engaged with us, they are fully involved in our vision and mission as we work together to solve today’s problems and prepare for a thriving future.
  • The second goal is to build capacity for council members, faculty, staff and volunteers. We need to keep developing and honing our skills and abilities, so we can continue to address Iowans’ changing needs.
  • The third goal is to enhance our efforts in programming, operations and staffing to reach diverse and underrepresented populations. We want our faculty, staff, students and everyone we serve to know they are welcomed, supported and valued. We are dedicated to serving all Iowans.

Our strategic plan aligns with Iowa State’s strategic plan and sets the framework for what we do. It also gives us something to report against. ISU Extension and Outreach is a dynamic organization of dedicated people who love the work they do. Together we can build a strong Iowa.

Improved Service Delivery

Our Human Resources transition to Improved Service Delivery begins today. The first few days will be new for everyone, so please be patient, professional and polite. We will get through this transition and we will build new working relationships with the members of the Pine Team assigned to ISU Extension and Outreach.

Field specialists and county staff may be asking how this impacts them. Probably very little, but if you ever called Kaela Black or Jessica Stolee with HR questions, you will have a new contact. Although she isn’t our daily contact, we still have a connection to Jessica, who now is senior HR partner for the Pine team, serving ISU Extension and Outreach as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. However, we say good-bye to Kaela, who now is the HR partner serving the College of Human Sciences and Office of the Vice President for Research.

You now may begin working with our new HR contacts:

  • Brad Kerr, HR partner (bkerr@iastate.edu, 515-294-1482), is here to work with and help ISU’s leaders succeed.
  • Malissa Tritsch, HR coordinator, (tritschm@iastate.edu, 515-294-3283) is the first point of contact and local HR representative for supervisors or employees.
  • Betsy Happe, recruitment specialist (betsykh@iastate.edu, 515-294-8646), is here to streamline the staff hiring process and get us the right talent for staff and post doc positions.
  • Recruitment specialist Jamie Wilson will begin July 12.

Review this ISD-HR document to learn more about the responsibilities of each of these new HR roles. If you have questions or comments about human resources service delivery, send them to hr_delivery@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • On June 27 I sent all extension staff a message about Workday (Subject: Workday and ISD Extension Need to Know). Your head probably is still spinning from all the details, announcements and attachments. But do keep the information where you can easily find it and refer to it often as you get used to the new system. Watch for a Workday email in your inbox on July 2. It will provide the link and sign-in instructions.
  • Congratulations to our eAccessibility team, who received the Team Excellence Award from the National Extension Technology Community at the 2019 NETC conference last week. The award honors outstanding effort, encourages workplace creativity and innovation, and celebrates the achievements of extension information technology professionals. The award confirms what we already know: Our eAccessibility Team is a national leader in bringing extension resources into compliance with digital accessibility rules, regulations and best practices.
  • I hope that you take time during the Fourth of July holiday to relax with family and friends and to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Be careful around any fireworks you may be lighting or watching and have a happy Fourth of July.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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