20 Artists, 20 Parks

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 14, 2019

Jennifer Drinkwater and Clark Colby are artists, extension specialists and faculty members in art and visual culture in Iowa State’s College of Design. They also are participants in 20 Artists, 20 Parks. Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Arts Council and Iowa State developed this project to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iowa state parks in 2020. Did you know?

  • Twenty Iowa State faculty and graduate students have been matched with 20 state parks. Their assignment is to create artwork that reflects their particular park and share a program about their park experience. Jennifer has created paintings that connect current images of Pine Lake State Park with stories from its past – showing her view of the park’s assets. Clark has used 360-degree and traditional photography to capture the essence of Stephens State Forest.
  • Jennifer is an extension community arts specialist whose background is in painting and anthropology. She brings an artist’s perspective to her extension work, helping communities see possibilities through art for community and economic development.
  • Clark is the first arts, communication and design specialist for our Iowa 4-H program and may be one of the first in the nation. His background is in architecture, photography and ceramics. He helps 4-H youth realize that when they take time to look deeply and observe details, they can see the wonder and beauty of a place or an event, which they can communicate through art and design.

Watch the video and read the news release about Jennifer and Clark’s experience. Their art will be on display with the 20 Artists, 20 Parks exhibit that will travel to at least three Iowa venues in 2020. The yearlong celebration will highlight the impact our state parks have on Iowa’s quality of life.

More notes

  • The Structured for Success Model 3 video overview and white paper are available for review. Council members may access these materials from the Structured for Success feedback page. Extension staff and faculty may access these materials from MyExtension (use your net ID and password to log in). The deadline for feedback on all three models is Nov. 8.
  • “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” will be featured during today’s Iowa Hunger Summit, part of the annual World Food Prize celebration in Des Moines. All the recipes that will be served at the luncheon are from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. Approximately 400 to 500 people are expected to attend. Christine Hradek, nutrition education program manager with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, will introduce Spend Smart. Eat Smart. in a 1-minute video that will be shown at the beginning of the luncheon.

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

Addressing rural mental health and the farm economy

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 7, 2019

Rural mental health and the farm economy are often intertwined in an agricultural state like Iowa, particularly when farmers are experiencing another year with tight margins and decreasing value of total farm assets and net farm worth. During our 2018 listening sessions, we identified both as critical statewide issues impacting the ability of Iowa communities to thrive over the next five years. We also examined what ISU Extension and Outreach could do to appropriately address how these issues intersect. We knew it was important to positively impact farm families with research-based information and education. Did you know?

  • Since May 1, David Brown has been serving as ISU Extension and Outreach’s behavioral health state specialist. He provides subject matter support and leadership to programs dealing with farm stress, stress management, mental health literacy, disasters and other behavioral health related issues.
  • We are expanding Mental Health First Aid. This evidence-based, 8-hour course can help you learn what to do, what to say, and how to offer support and resources to help Iowans who may be experiencing a mental health related problem or crisis. We will continue to provide the training to our staff (and the next scheduled workshop is Nov. 7), but we also are exploring how to offer the training for university, community and agribusiness organizations.
  • In collaboration with our farm management specialists, our family life team will provide scenario-based suicide prevention training at more than 50 Farm Bill meetings in November, December and January. “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other” reviews risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs of suicide, as well as a strategy for how to intervene.
  • Iowa Concern continues to provide confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge.

Iowa farm families are facing challenges and we are committed to this work long-term.

More notes

  • Please review the October program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • We have read and considered all the questions and comments we have received regarding Structured for Success. The common themes FAQ has been updated to reflect questions and comments submitted during the virtual listening sessions, the area-wide meetings and other face-to-face sessions, and via the virtual suggestion box.
  • It’s National 4-H Week. Iowa 4-H Youth Development reaches nearly 100,000 youth each year, preparing them to be successful, contributing members of society – and that deserves celebrating!

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

October 2019 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2018 Iowa Farm Costs and Returns analysis shows that despite a slight increase in net farm income, farmers saw another year of tight margins and a decrease in total farm assets and net farm worth. The average accrual net farm income increased by 6% in 2018, while the average value of total farm assets declined 6% and farm net worth fell by 7%. The full report is available in the September issue of Ag Decision Maker.
  • Ever wonder about ANR’s impact on social media? Social media continues to be an influential platform for the agricultural industry as a whole; and that trend continues to hold true here in Iowa. Many Iowans are looking for a fast, easy way to collect and share information with the agriculture and natural resources community and ANR specialists and teams have joined the conversation. Here’s how many people are following the 114 ANR accounts collectively: Twitter – 58,450; Facebook – 18,957; Instagram – 3,685; Youtube/Vimeo – 3,689; Pinterest – 114; and Overall total – 84,812 followers.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program is transitioning to the implementation planning stage during which design teams are presenting feasibility reports and steering committees are meeting to plan project implementation. In October, design teams are presenting feasibility reports to Durant, Coggon and Sumner, and implementation planning meetings will be conducted in Sumner and Coggon.
  • The Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshop is a three-hour session designed to introduce the basic principles of land use planning and development management to elected officials, planning and zoning officials, and board of adjustment members without formal training in the subjects. During October CED specialist Eric Christianson will be conducting workshops in Waterloo, Iowa City and Storm Lake.
  • During October CED staff will be facilitating Navigating Difference cultural competency training in Cedar Rapids and Mount Pleasant.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is transitioning to Raising School Ready Readers for early literacy efforts. It is a contemporary educational offering based in modern-day research with a variety of families. Literacy development starts at home with parents and caregivers serving as a child’s first teacher. Raising School Ready Readers offers parents fun ways to engage their 3- to 6-year-old children in literacy play. It is a five-week series of 90-minute workshops grounded in the Engaging Families in Children’s Literacy Development Workshop Series created by Scholastic. Sessions focus on developing six core literacy areas that give children a head start on school readiness. Facilitator training for educators was held in June and September. Some participants had facilitated the previous Family Storyteller program, but others were newly engaged in literacy work. Several series have been completed with others in the planning stages.
  • Four human sciences staff members received university awards at the ceremony in September: Malisa Rader, human sciences specialist in family life, Regents Award for Staff Excellence; Barbara Woods, special projects manager, Award for Inclusive Excellence; Mackenzie Johnson, human sciences specialist in family life, Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award; and Kim Brantner, human sciences specialist in family life, Award for Distinguished Service in Extension and Outreach.
  • David Brown and Anthony Santiago presented at the Annual National Association for Rural Mental Health Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico in August. Their presentations included “Responding to Behavioral and Mental Needs among Rural Iowans and Farming Communities” and “Cohesive Promotion and Implementation of Healthy Relationship Education in Rural Iowa to Promote Overall Health and Wellness.” This presentation provided an overview of the Healthy Relationship Education Training program and featured work completed by Mackenzie Johnson, human sciences specialist in family life, and Brenda Schmitt, human sciences specialist in family finance.

4-H Youth Development

  • Iowa hosted the Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition at the Field Extension Education Lab, in Boone, Iowa. This year’s competition featured nine youth teams representing Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kentucky. The competition is designed to educate students through hands-on interaction in crop fields, through scouting for plant injury and identifying pest and situational problems, culminating in designing their own effective solutions and management strategies. When surveyed, students responded that the competition was fun, and they enjoyed engaging with friendly staff. Team coaches reported that the competition helped students learn concepts of IPM, teamwork skills, and communication skills, and prepare for a future career in agriculture.
  • This year 4-H State Council members can sign up to serve on the Finance, Youth Voice, or Service and Outreach committee. Through these committees, the council members will get to share their voice, come up with county and statewide service projects, or learn about the financial process of the 4-H’ers for 4-H Campaign and budgeting for Youth Conference and other initiatives. State Council members will also continue to serve on one of six Youth Conference committees. At their October retreat they will begin planning for this annual event.
  • 4-H youth who participated in regional chili cook-off competitions this summer were invited to participate in ICS Chili Inc.’s World Championships event Sept. 7-8 in Ankeny. Several youth participated and Clara Damman from Story County 4-H placed 5th in the homestyle division. Iowa 4-H was also able to showcase our program and highlight Healthy Living and making healthy choices count.

Valuing Iowa forests

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 30, 2019

Billy Beck is looking forward to seeing you out in the woods. He’s our new extension forestry specialist and wants to help all Iowans understand the value and potential of our forests. Woodlands provide wildlife habitat and can be a sustainable source of income for a farm enterprise, but that’s not all they do. Did you know?

  • Whether he’s educating landowners in his extension role or teaching ISU students as an assistant professor, Billy combines the hydrology and water quality benefits of trees with the overall benefits of a healthy forest. His research shows that trees play an important role in water quality, whether they’re along streams and rivers acting as riparian buffers, in separate woodlands or in urban locations.
  • He will be out meeting Iowans at six forestry field days in October. These statewide events will cover water quality, wildlife and the aesthetic value of trees, as well as how to manage a forest for profit. Participants will learn about forest establishment, tree protection and invasive species control, herbicide use, forest products, portable sawmills, timber marketing and the legal aspects of forestry.

Extension forestry programs provide Iowans with knowledge and resources to see the value and discover the potential of their trees, woodlands and forests. Learn more from the ISU Extension and Outreach Natural Resource Stewardship website.

More notes

  • Congratulations to the extension professionals honored during the university’s annual awards ceremony.
  • The National Association of County Agricultural Agents will hold their Annual Meeting/Professional Improvement Conference in Des Moines Aug. 13-17, 2023. This will be the first time that Iowa will host the event. For more information contact Kapil Aurora, pbtiger@iastate.edu.
  • All ISU professional and scientific employees will have a new job title structure in place when UHR’s classification and compensation review is completed. The goal is to improve Iowa State’s ability to attract and retain P&S employees. Learn more from a recent Inside Iowa State article, the Classification and Compensation website or Chris Johnsen, johnsen@iastate.edu, a P&S Council extension representative who is part of the advisory team. Chris also can submit anonymous questions or comments to UHR on your behalf.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach’s 5th annual United Way fundraiser picnic is Friday, Oct. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Extension 4-H Building’s patio. All are welcome. The event includes a $5 walking taco lunch, silent auction, and games with prizes. United Way pledge envelopes can be returned at the picnic as well.

FYI: Goodbye … and welcome

With our Improved Service Delivery human resources staff on board and as we adjust to HR processes in Workday, we are bringing back our monthly list of people who have left or joined ISU Extension and Outreach. Over the past three months, we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Laura Johnson, Woodbury County, 4-H youth worker and nutrition educator.
  • Nancy Eichmann, Polk County, Master Gardener coordinator.
  • Kelli Steinlage, Howard County, youth coordinator.
  • Meghan Gray, Montgomery County, youth coordinator.
  • Julie Mayhew, Floyd County, food and nutrition program assistant.
  • Jaclyn Tweeten, Chickasaw County, youth coordinator.
  • Heather Miller, Scott County, families program assistant.
  • Angela Strohman, Palo Alto County, program educator.
  • Sophia Coker-Gunnink, Wapello County, Food Corps service member.
  • Pamela Jacobsen, Shelby County, office coordinator.
  • Sean Murphy, Wayne County, youth coordinator.
  • Leann Baumhover, Buena Vista County, office assistant.
  • Melanie McMann, Adams County, office assistant/youth coordinator.
  • Ashley Sherrets, Buchanan County, horticulture program coordinator.
  • Taylor Trudell, Jefferson County, youth coordinator.
  • Mackenzie Wagner, Lyon County, program coordinator/office assistant.
  • Debra Swanson, Page County, youth coordinator.
  • Katharine Beason, Bremer County, program coordinator.
  • Aracely Martinez, Muscatine County, program coordinator.
  • Grant Theesfeld, Sac County, Clover Kids program coordinator.
  • Robin Hoffman, Johnson County, 4-H/BBBS mentoring grant coordinator.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Diane Rinner, Washington County, youth outreach educator.
  • Tina Gress, Crawford County, program coordinator.
  • Samantha Jamison, Louisa County, program coordinator.
  • Susan Strock, Polk County, office assistant.
  • Wendy Richter, Cass County, P2S project coordinator.
  • Dawn Henderson, Lyon County, program coordinator.
  • Sonya Peck, Lee County, bookkeeper.
  • Dee Dino, Page County, office assistant.
  • Amanda Crow, Clinton County, youth coordinator.
  • Abby Sorensen, Mills County, extension director.
  • Sidney Riemenschneider, Emmett County, youth coordinator.
  • Maddie Mardesen, Dallas County, extension educator.
  • Syerra Niday, Wayne County, office assistant.
  • Kathleen Owens, Polk County, office assistant.
  • Tanner Messerli, Story County, program coordinator.
  • Chris Shepard, Wapello County, Food Corps service member.
  • Jennifer Zamora, Muscatine County, Latino outreach coordinator.
  • Eleni Parsons, Chickasaw County, youth coordinator.
  • Clint Mercer, Jefferson County, youth outreach educator.
  • Sara Nelson, STEM program specialist, 4-H.
  • Danielle Day, field specialist II, Human Sciences.
  • Molly Hewitt, regional director, County Services.
  • Mae McCarty, field specialist II, Human Sciences.
  • Deb Nistler, state program leader, 4-H.
  • Sara Mohr, field specialist III, 4-H.
  • Sarah Larkin, customer relations specialist I, Extension Store.
  • Mica Redenius, administrative specialist III, Office of Vice President for Extension and Outreach.

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

Testing MyData

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 23, 2019

Extension staff in five counties and on campus are busy testing MyData, our centralized system for collecting information about partnerships, client relationships and outcomes. The pilot phase started in April and is a time to test, learn, adjust and improve the system. If something is not working, this phase allows us to solve issues early, resulting in responsive changes for more consistent, robust and useful data collection. Did you know?

  • The current priority for testers is to collect Civil Rights data – gender, race and ethnicity – for both their direct and indirect contacts.
  • Tester Joy Rouse, a human sciences specialist in family life, is busy making MyData part of her regular routine. She appreciates the ability within MyData to report indirect contacts, partners and other staff with one entry.
  • Another tester, Kristin Taylor, Human Sciences creative projects specialist and MyData steering committee member, likes how the new system allows users to enter event details; and then the automated functions send a request for registration services to Conference Planning and Management, populate public calendars and program webpages with upcoming events, and set email reminders to enter post-program information.

We thank our pilot testers for the time they are investing to improve this tool and customize it for our needs. Because of their feedback, demographic fields were expanded to better understand participant reach, overall reporting is being reduced as current reporting systems are streamlined into MyData, and report functionality is being broadened to meet federal, state and local reporting requirements.

We expect a systemwide rollout of phase 1 by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Future phases will focus on developing a customer relations management platform; recording inputs such as volunteer hours, funding support, and educational material development; and collecting outcome data about client changes in learning, actions, and life conditions.

You can keep up-to-date on MyData progress. Please contact our database coordinator, Phil Heckman, pheckman@iastate.edu, with specific questions or ideas. When we roll out MyData, all staff will be asked to use this tool, and ongoing support and training will be offered. By working collectively toward our goal of consistent reporting, we can more accurately reflect our statewide client touchpoints and share how we’re building a strong Iowa through impact-rich programming.

Internal Communications: Area-wide meetings and Structured for Success

Thank you to those who participated in the area-wide meetings and thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on Structured for Success. These efforts directly relate to recommendations from our Internal Communications Task Force for two-way communication and a field-to-campus feedback loop. The Structured for Success committee offered two models for review, and extension staff, faculty and council members provided feedback during the Aug. 20 webinar and via the virtual suggestion box – also a result of a task force recommendation. (You can review the Structured for Success FAQ common themes, as well as the entire archive of FAQs.) We have had engaging discussions during the area-wide meetings and are receiving thoughtful feedback during the virtual meetings. In addition, a group of county directors has proposed a third model. We’re reviewing their draft with Iowa State Human Resources and University Counsel, and I expect to share a third model after the review is complete.

Please continue to provide feedback. Together we will improve communication and accountability across our system as we develop our organizational structure for success.

One more note: Deb Tootle and Gary Taylor’s presentation and handout on rural resilience and community capitals are available on the area-wide meetings webpage.

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

Assessing housing readiness

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 16, 2019

During our 2018 listening sessions, housing was identified as one of the top five issues affecting Iowa communities’ ability to thrive. We weren’t surprised. For years, our Community and Economic Development program staff have conducted housing needs assessments in Iowa communities, often in the wake of natural disasters, such as the 2008 flooding in eastern Iowa and the 2011 tornado in Mapleton. The Rural Housing Readiness Assessment is a new example of the research and best practices gained from CED work. Iowans can use this data-gathering tool on their own to assess their community’s housing situation and make informed decisions. Did you know?

  • CED specialist Jon Wolseth and ISU grad student Caleb Knutson had been identifying best practices for improving housing access and quality for immigrants and refugees in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties. They gathered existing housing needs assessments and plans for communities (other than Des Moines) in the three counties.
  • Caleb developed a rubric for evaluating the documents. CED specialists Abbie Gaffey and Eric Christianson helped Jon identify the information to include in the new assessment tool and where to find it.
  • In evaluating the documents, Jon determined that the information they were discovering was applicable to any population facing housing issues. This spring he shared the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment at the Iowa Rural Development Summit and the Southeast Iowa Housing Conference.

All Iowans benefit when rural communities can address their local housing concerns. To learn more about the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment, contact Jon Wolseth at 515-509-0558 or jwolseth@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • Please review the September program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • Registration is open for the 2019 Office Professionals Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Iowa State University Memorial Union. (An optional pre-conference opportunity is Monday, Oct. 7.) All office professionals are encouraged to attend and connect with resources and peers from across the state. For detailed information and to register, please visit the conference website.
  • Need volunteers? Call on Cyclones! Please fill out this form if you would like the ISU Alumni Association to help you reach Iowa State alumni and friends with volunteer opportunities in your county.
  • Structured for Success virtual meetings begin Sept. 18. For all dates, times and the Adobe Connect link, go to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff). A new FAQ addresses common themes from questions and comments we have received so far. An archive of all FAQs also is available.

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

Responding to Structured for Success

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 9, 2019

For three weeks now, the Structured for Success proposal has been top of mind for many of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. During our first three area-wide meetings, we’ve had good discussions about proposed Models 1 and 2. We’ll be discussing the proposal at the remaining area-wide meetings as well, on Sept. 10 and 20.

In addition, many extension staff and council members have been using our new virtual suggestion box to share their perspectives on the proposed models. I am reading every comment submitted. Some people have offered ideas for alternative models. Some are asking questions, and Andrea Nelson and I are providing answers in FAQ documents. Others have been expressing their worries or concerns, which may not have an “answer.”

A few individuals were upset by the way the proposal was announced, and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. We announced the proposal during a webinar because it seemed to be a good way to provide the information to everyone at the same time.

Some people have been voicing concerns about the role of regional directors in the proposed models and how they will be assigned to the new regions. Others wonder whether staff who will be transitioning to a different role – in a region or in a county – will have the necessary skills for the new role. They’re anxious about degree requirements for the career path from one role to another. Some people are worried about what the proposal means for their council and their county budget. Others are concerned about where the final regional borders will be drawn and how the new regions will affect existing partnerships across county lines.

The first three FAQ documents address questions the Structured for Success Committee had anticipated, as well as the questions we received during the webinar and in the first few days afterward. As we compare those FAQs with the comments continuing to come in via the virtual suggestion box, we are seeing some common themes in the questions that are being asked and some common confusion about what the committee envisioned for the proposal. We are putting together a new FAQ to address these themes and, we hope, lessen the confusion. It will be added to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff) by the end of this week.

I will be holding virtual listening sessions by Adobe Connect at the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m.

Please remember that the Structured for Success Committee reviewed information collected during the 2018 Listening Sessions, gained from the Internal Communications Task Force Report, and gathered from our counties and from other states in the north central region. After completing this review, the committee determined that to be successful, ISU Extension and Outreach’s organizational structure must enable us to:

  • effectively educate and serve Iowans with resources from Iowa State;
  • increase focus on engagement, programming, and partnership development;
  • recruit and retain talented, professional, and passionate staff;
  • reduce the burden on councils related to human resources, finance, and program selection; and
  • improve communication and accountability within our system.

These are the goals for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. You may continue to provide feedback until Oct. 11 through the virtual suggestion box or by phone or email to any member of the Structured for Success committee. Then we’ll review the feedback and revise the proposal as needed. Our target date for sharing the final version is Oct. 21.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Structured for Success proposal and thank you for all you do for ISU Extension and Outreach.

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

September 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • The 4-H project area hot sheets have been redesigned, updated, made digitally accessible and posted to the Extension Store. The new design kept many of the previous features and now includes sections on goal setting, record keeping and entrepreneurship. Each publication also features college and career connections.
  • Twenty-three middle and high school youth from across the state took part in the first InventSTEM Iowa State Fair Challenge sponsored by Alliant Energy. John Larsen, chairman and CEO of Alliant Energy, and other Alliant Energy team members were on hand to mentor youth and present awards. The event began with a mini circuit lesson; then youth were tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine using only the tub of materials provided. There were two overall winners of the challenge. One team created a fanny pack with attached fan and cell phone holder. The second created a neck travel pillow with attached fan and side snack holders. Nate Weber and Rachel Shannon supported this event.
  • Clubs who participated in the Healthy Living Club Challenge were recognized at the Iowa State Fair. Sixteen clubs tied for first place, earning 2,850 miles, the maximum possible. This means they completed each of the three challenges every month (water, fruit/vegetable and physical activity) in addition to each monthly bonus challenge featuring a new area of well-being (social, personal, emotional, financial, environmental and community).

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farm field days have been taking place throughout the summer and will continue into September. Seventeen field days were scheduled in 2019. Additional information on field days can be found through the Iowa State Research and Demonstration Farms website.
  • Eleven Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training meetings have been scheduled by ISU Extension and Outreach, providing information and training for those interested in fruit and vegetable production, as well as those interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Training sessions will be held across the state, beginning Nov. 6 in Harlan and running until March 2020. More information can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach Safe Produce website.

Community and Economic Development

  • In July, AARP awarded the Iowa League of Cities a Community Challenge Grant, a program designed to make communities livable for people of all ages. The project is being conducted in partnership with the CED program. As a part of the grant, the League will develop and host a day-long workshop Sept. 18 focused on leveraging local government data. The workshop will incorporate the themes of city finance, housing and transportation, including information related to older adults and the overall community. The day also will include an immersive problem-solving session, designed to bring together city officials and data experts to explore and solve a local issue: mobility in Marshalltown. In addition, the grant will fund a “smart cities” demonstration project in Marshalltown, using the roadmap and input gained in the workshop session. CED faculty and staff participating in the workshop include Erin Mullenix, Chris Seeger, Biswa Das and Abbie Gaffey.
  • Several CED faculty and staff will be attending the Iowa League of Cities Conference, Sept. 25-27 in Dubuque. Eric Christianson will present on nuisance abatement. Erin Mullenix will co-present a session on preparing for AV-ready Iowa. Sara Shonrock will present on housing programs and incentives. Other CED faculty and staff who will attend include Gary Taylor, Scott Timm and Aimee Viniard-Weideman.
  • Diane Van Wyngarden will lead the Best of the Upper Mississippi River Road Scholar tour Sept. 8–14 and again Sept. 22–28. Through these travel courses, participants from 15 states (first tour) and 13 states (second tour) will learn about community histories, local economies, innovative local projects and community challenges. Communities along the first tour include McGregor, Dubuque, Calmar, Spillville and Dyersville. The second tour will feature Marquette, the Quad Cities, Scott County and Decorah.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach had four pitches in “The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION.” Malisa Rader pitched Little Free Libraries, a statewide contest engaging extension staff, volunteers and 4-H clubs to be creative in “investing” in their community with a Little Free Library and making books readily available. Christine Hradek pitched Growing Together Iowa, which aims to offer additional development opportunities such as Navigating Difference for Master Gardener volunteers working on healthy food access initiatives across the state. Lori Hayungs pitched Welcome Kits for life changes: Welcome to Iowa, Welcome to Parenting, Welcome to Retirement and Welcome to Your New Health Journey. Connie Beecher and Sara Nelson pitched Checkout Iowa Backpacks. A team of education faculty and students created engaging activity kits that include quality books that families can check out from the library.
  • Food Preservation 101 was held in the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 15. This program was co-taught by Holly Van Heel and Kelsey Salow, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness. They estimate 40 people attended from various counties across Iowa, and many participants personally thanked them for the abundance of information and resources.
  • The World Food Prize events include a day called the Hunger Summit in which professionals and lay people come together to learn about current issues related to food security domestically and internationally. The day always includes a Hunger Luncheon where an organization fighting hunger (such as Meals from the Heartland or Meals on Wheels) is featured. This year the Hunger Luncheon will feature a meal prepared from “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” recipes to highlight resources for healthy eating on a budget. The Healthiest State Initiative recommended that “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” be featured at the luncheon. The summit is Oct. 14.

Helping custodial grandparents and grandchildren

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 3, 2019

In Iowa approximately 13,000 grandparents have custody of their grandchildren and are responsible for their care, without the birth parents being present. These children – more than 20,000 throughout the state – likely were exposed to adversity early on and may exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties at home and at school. Their grandparents may experience depression and anxiety from the stress of child care and may face health challenges due to aging. Despite their needs and challenges, both groups are underserved, with little access to social and technical resources. That’s why Human Sciences recently was awarded a Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant to improve the lives of custodial grandparents and grandchildren here in Iowa. Did you know?

  • Jel Lee, an extension state specialist and assistant professor in human development and family studies, is principal investigator for the five-year, $640,000-grant focused in Story and Woodbury counties. Her team includes Amie Zarling and Jiyoung Choi from the College of Human Sciences, and Brenda Allen, Eugenia Hartsook, Malisa Rader, Molly Hewitt and Lori Hayungs, all with ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • They’ll be using an evidence-based program that is based on the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model to improve positive developmental and mental health outcomes for custodial grandparents and their middle school-age, custodial grandchildren.
  • The program has online and in-person components to promote emotional regulation, self-efficacy, decision-making skills, prosocial attitudes and behavior change necessary for fulfilling and contributing lives. The team also will incorporate various types of 4-H activities.

Next round of area-wide meetings

With three down and two to go in our first round of area-wide meetings, we have set dates for the next quarter’s meetings. Mark your calendar and save the date for an area-wide meeting near you:

  • Southwest: Nov. 26, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic.
  • Southeast: Dec. 2, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Cambridge Building, Fairfield.
  • Northwest: Dec. 5, Aurelia Community Center, Aurelia.
  • Northeast: Dec. 6, location to be determined.
  • Central: Dec. 11, Polk County Extension Office, Altoona.

One more note: Three sets of Structured for Success FAQs are available. FAQ #1 was developed by the Structured for Success Committee in anticipation of potential questions. FAQ #2 provides answers to questions that were submitted during the Aug. 20 webinar. FAQ #3 addresses questions submitted via the virtual suggestion box. Extension staff and faculty can access the FAQs via MyExtension; councils should go to this County Services page. Continue to review the proposal and keep asking questions; we will provide answers as promptly as possible.

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

Discovering rocket science

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 26, 2019

Like many people, this summer I’ve been fascinated by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing. I remember watching it on a black and white TV with tin foil on the rabbit ears to improve the reception. The anniversary brings out our inner rocket scientist – whether we remember the Apollo program or, for younger Iowans, are learning about it for the first time. Our 4-H aerospace project area is helping young people discover that rocket science is not only interesting, it’s also fun and offers a future career. Did you know?

  • In July, some of our county offices offered youth the opportunity to participate in the Global Rocket Launch challenge, an effort by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to break a world record for launching rockets on one day. To keep the momentum going, 4-H STEM specialist Sara Nelson authored a Global Rocket Launch facilitator guide. The activities in the guide can be used throughout the year to encourage youth to learn about rockets and NASA.
  • The STEM-Lit to Go! Iowa Clover Kids curriculum Includes a “Blast Off!” lesson. Youth learn about astronauts Peggy Whitson and Clayton Anderson and participate in space-themed activities.
  • The FLEx mobile learning platform will be adding activities related to aerospace discovery as well. FLEx Space is designed to engage youth around the Apollo anniversary, the 60th Anniversary of NASA, and a variety of historical, current, and future earth and space concepts. FLEx Space was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

In 4-H aerospace, youth build skills by working the way scientists and engineers do – in teams. They get to solve problems and make decisions using science process skills, and they learn how science relates to the real world and people’s lives. Here’s to the next generation of Iowa rocket scientists!

More notes

  • Please review the Structured for Success draft proposal and other materials. (Staff may access the materials from MyExtension. Councils have access from County Services.) Discuss the proposal with your colleagues and provide your feedback by Oct. 11. You may send feedback initially via our virtual suggestion box. Additional ways to provide feedback will become available over the next several weeks. Thank you for your assistance in determining an organizational structure that will help us effectively educate and serve Iowans.
  • Our area-wide meetings begin this week: southwest on Aug. 28, and northeast and central on Aug. 29. We’ll learn about rural resiliency and discuss extension’s role in helping communities thrive. We’ll also talk about Structured for Success and emerging issues, get program updates and have time for networking.
  • David Hora, Washington County 4-H member and an innovator for Continuum Ag, received the $5,000 Best of Show award at the Iowa State University entrepreneurial pitch-offs at the Iowa State Fair. In addition, two pitches sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach were among the seven finalists receiving $2,500 awards. The Civil Teen Discourse 4-H group of Owynn McNutt, Charlize DeArmond and Nicholas Stocks received the $2,500 Youth Entrepreneur Award. Lynn Bolin, with the New Day Dairy pitch, received the $2,500 Community Entrepreneur Award. Congratulations to these honorees and thank you to all who participated in this event.

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

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