Good work for our stakeholders

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 21, 2020

When the skies are gloomy and the snow is blowing, or any other time you need something to brighten your day, read a 2019 county stakeholder report or two – or go on a binge and read a bunch of them. You will learn a lot about the good work our extension colleagues are doing throughout the state. For example, did you know?

  • Residents of Mondamin, in Harrison County, have been participating in Marketing Hometown America. They are exploring their community’s potential to attract families looking for a place to live. Town aesthetics was one topic they wanted to pursue. Community art specialist Jennifer Drinkwater provided examples of how art has changed buildings in communities throughout Iowa. The group also continues to work with our community and economic development specialists and Southwest Iowa Planning Council on housing.
  • Hancock County reached 1,016 youth with 57 workshops from October 2018 through August 2019. Some workshops introduce a possible career path, while others provide opportunities to learn a new technique in a project area and complete a static exhibit for the fair. Many workshops provide opportunities for youth to enhance their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
  • Once a month at the Dubuque County office, local food producers from the area get together to network, share ideas and learn about each other’s farm businesses. Each month a different producer shares information about their business, how they got started, and how they market their product. This insight has given producers a real-world look at other farm businesses in the area, fostered connections among farmers producing a variety of local foods, and led to new marketing and business ideas.
  • The Wayne County Extension District sponsors the county’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which provides free tax preparation for individuals with low incomes. In 2019, seven volunteers assisted 200 clients. Federal refunds totaled $290,717, including over $111,000 in Earned Income Credit. The state refunds reached $50,313, including approximately $16,000 of Iowa Earned Income Credit. Two thirds of the returns were for families and one third of the clients were 60 years of age or older.

Thank you to everyone who contributes to county stakeholder reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in each county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.

Goodbye … and welcome

In December, we said goodbye to Felicia Marable-Williams, extension program specialist II, Human Sciences/EFNEP, who left ISU Extension and Outreach. We welcome the following new staff:

  • Kimberly Axne, Humboldt County office manager.
  • Amy Benge, Dickinson County office assistant.

More notes

  • You can review the Jan. 13 Second Monday Live archived webinar. The session focused on the Human Sciences Overview and Program Catalog, the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment and the 2020 Census. The next Second Monday Live is Feb. 10, 10 a.m., at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/.
  • Three counties have committed to becoming single-county regions under Model 2 of Structured for Success. On Jan. 14, vacancy announcements were posted for Dallas, Polk and Story County regional directors. The application deadline is Jan. 22.
  • Epsilon Sigma Phi Friend of Extension award nominations are due by midnight Feb. 3. For more information contact Vera Stokes, ESP awards committee chair, vstokes@iastate.edu.
  • Feb. 4 is the application deadline for Excellence in Extension grants. For more information, contact Alison DePenning, Professional Development program coordinator, depennin@iastate.edu.

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

Sharing our Crop Advantage

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 13, 2020

With up-to-date scientific knowledge from Iowa State, Iowa’s crop producers will be prepared to manage potential issues when they arise or even before they arise. That’s the goal that drives our annual Crop Advantage meetings. Every January, Agriculture and Natural Resources extension specialists travel to locations across the state to share updated management options and recommendations on current and future crop production issues. Did you know?

  • The 2020 meetings began Jan. 3 and conclude Jan. 30. Content at each of the 14 sessions is driven by county needs and local production issues.
  • Farmers and crop advisers who participate gain a solid foundation of current, research-based crop production information to help them make smart, informed decisions for their farming operations.
  • Last year more than 2,000 people, representing all 99 Iowa counties and surrounding states, attended Crop Advantage meetings. Eighty-four percent of participants said information they gained would likely save them between $5 and $20 per acre.

This year’s agenda includes the market outlook for 2020, weather and climate trends, grain drying and storage, emerging insect pests such as soybean gall midge, nitrogen management, tar spot and other corn and soybean disease issues, and fertilizer application technology. In addition, Certified Crop Advisers can receive continuing education credits and pesticide applicators can recertify.

More notes

  • Please review the January program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • The 2018-2019 4-H Statewide Data for Decision Makers and 4-H Data for Decision Makers by county reports are available for your use. These resources for 4-H data are helpful for grant opportunities, discussions with partners and county plans of work for local 4-H programs.
  • On Jan. 1, ISU Extension and Outreach entered a three-year memorandum of understanding with the ISU Alumni Association. The goal is to more fully support each other’s programs. We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase alumni engagement with extension programs, councils and county offices.
  • Remember to submit your 2019 stakeholder reports. We are publishing the reports on the County Services website as they are received. You can use your county stakeholder report throughout the year to build awareness of programs, demonstrate impact and outcomes, and show return on investment. Thank you to everyone who contributes to these reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in your county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.
  • Join Cyndi Wiley, Iowa State’s digital accessibility coordinator, for Making Social Media Posts Accessible, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. Connect online. This is the first in a new digital accessibility webinar series. The series will continue February through May on the last Tuesday of the month, 10-11 a.m.
  • Learn about the 2020 Census during a webinar Tuesday, Feb. 11 at noon. Community and Economic Development will share information about how the Census is conducted, what it means for communities and how county offices may be able to assist local officials. Watch for more information in the coming weeks.

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

January 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources + Community and Economic Development

Participants will learn about food entrepreneurship and inclusive partnerships during the Community Food Systems Annual Event, Jan. 9-10 in West Des Moines. The conference will feature nine breakout sessions on topics related to specialty crop and garden production, business development, farm to school, food systems and USDA programming. Local Food Leader and Business Model Canvas workshops will be held in advance of the conference.

More from Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Farmland values rose for just the second time in the last six years in 2019, climbing 2.3% according to the latest Land Value Survey released on Dec. 11. The statewide value of an acre of farmland is now estimated to be $7,432, with the jump driven by favorable interest rates, strong yields and limited land supply. The full 2019 Land Value Survey can be found on the ISU Extension Store.
  • The annual Returning to the Farm Seminar will be held Jan. 10-11 and Feb. 14-15, providing information to farm families who are beginning to think about farmland succession. Led by a group of ISU Extension and Outreach specialists, Iowa State University professionals and experienced farmers, the seminar is intended to help families make succession plans, learn to communicate better and answer critical questions.

More from Community and Economic Development

  • As the 2020 Community Visioning Program kicks off, Elkader and Wellsburg will be conducting their first meetings in January. Bioregional assessments will take place in Mingo and Polk City. ISU program staff will be conducting transportation surveys and focus groups with high school students in Reinbeck, Mount Pleasant and Elkader. ISU program staff will conduct training on transportation assets and barriers workshops (focus groups) for Trees Forever field coordinators on Jan. 29 in Ames. CED specialists Scott Timm, Abbie Gaffey, and Eric Christianson facilitate focus groups for these workshops.
  • CED specialists Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides created a guidebook for the Business Model Canvas, a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. At its most basic level, it is a canvas divided into nine individual rectangles representing the building blocks of all small businesses and nonprofits: 1. Customer Segments, 2. Value Propositions, 3. Channels, 4. Customer Relationships, 5. Revenue Streams, 6. Key Resources, 7. Key Activities, 8. Key Partnerships, and 9. Cost Structure. Using the Business Model Canvas, an entrepreneur will organize, analyze, adjust and implement premises on a feasible business concept. The nine building blocks will guide a person on the pathway to understanding how the business concept will create value for value in return (money). In January CED specialists will be presenting the Business Model Canvas in West Des Moines at the Community Food Systems Annual Event and in West Liberty.
  • During January, CED specialists will be facilitating Leading Communities in Atlantic, Mount Pleasant, Sac County, Centerville and Elma. This Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a vice president for extension and outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • The following data represent both SNAP-Ed and EFNEP-funded direct education work, which includes both “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” and “Plan, Shop, Save and Cook”:
    — 1,089 total participants. This is 130 more participants than FY 2018.
    — 91% female, with most under the age of 40.
    — 47% self-identify as part of an underserved racial or ethnic group.
    — 63% of participants have income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level, and more than 75% receive public assistance.
    — 94% of participants improved diet quality.
    — 83% increased their physical activity.
    — 78% improved food safety practices.
    — 49% reported increased food security.
    — 80% reported improved food resource management.
  • Cathy Hockaday was accepted into the University of Utah’s Grant Writing Coaching Research Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund. Participants will experience a four to six-month intensive writing and feedback process with skilled coaches via a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. Mack Shelley, chair of the Department of Political Science, will serve as the on-campus scientific advisor for Cathy as she develops an NIH proposal. Cathy will travel to University of Utah in January to begin the mentoring process.
  • Connie Beecher presented at the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association Convention the results of a comparison study of the Small Talk program. She and her team compared a group of parents who regularly attend the library with an equivalent group who completed the Small Talk program. Small Talk is a program that helps parents learn how to create an enriching home language environment for their child and how they can help their child’s brain development. The intervention group outperformed the comparison group (adult words, conversational turns and child vocalizations). Not only did the intervention group have statistically significant growth, but effect sizes range from .55- .85 and there was also a significant increase of parent knowledge of child development.

4-H Youth Development

  • Thirty-four youth from eighteen counties participated in Beef Blast in December. Quotes from the youth participants include: “Sometimes antibiotics are not the best option for treating baby calves.”; “Enjoyed making connections with other beef producers.”; “The nutrient requirements for cows and heifers are different.”; “How to cull in a herd, very helpful.”
  • State 4-H Council members participated in their annual Youth-Adult Partnership training in December. Youth-adult partnership is the practice of youth and adults working together in a democratic way, through shared work, over a sustained period of time-to strengthen their organization and/or community. Council members identified and brought a caring adult with them to learn and participate in programming centered around positive youth-adult partnerships. Topics included barriers and benefits, leadership styles, stress management and well-being, learning to give and receive feedback, and developing an action plan for your school, club, community, etc.
  • In October, schools attended the SWITCH School Wellness Conference in preparation for the 2020 implementation of SWITCH in over 50 schools across the state. School and extension staff learned ways they can integrate more physical activity and opportunities for nutrition throughout the school day and also how to engage with parents. ISU psychology professor Doug Gentile shared his research and best practices for screen time and youth. Six schools brought youth teams who will be ambassadors for SWITCH in their schools. Youth ambassador teams created promotional videos for their school social media pages and determined ideas of how they can help leverage the message for switching what they do, view and chew and influence their peers to jump on board with making simple health behavior changes.

When we serve all Iowans

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 6, 2020

The start of a new year is a good time for reflection, and I’ve been reflecting on something I read in a recent Human Sciences Community Chat newsletter. Special projects manager Barbara Woods offered her reflections on diversity and inclusion:

  • “I find hope in the difference we can make when we serve all Iowans, not just ‘some’ Iowans,” Barbara wrote. “Although it can be uncomfortable as we engage in the diversity and inclusion that surrounds us, I think with sincere and thoughtful engagement we can change our behavior. A quick scan of your programs’ participants should provide you with an answer to who currently shows up and participates in extension programs and who you are not seeing. I’d encourage you to find ways to connect with and include a more diverse group of Iowans for your program opportunities.”
  • She added that “there are various professional training opportunities that support us in our work with diverse audiences. Our co-workers who have built successful relationships with diverse audiences can be a resource to help us learn more and provide a safe space to ask probing questions.”
  • In conclusion she wrote, “I have found that who I include is more about who I am than who they are. This perspective provides me with opportunities to reevaluate my interactions with others to be more inclusive of people and ideas.”

I was particularly struck by Barbara’s last point, and it is a message I hope we all will embrace. The third goal in our strategic plan is to enhance efforts in programming, operations and staffing to reach diverse and underrepresented populations. We have specific strategies for reaching this goal, and this tactics-and-metrics approach is important for our organization. But just as important, for each one of us, is to strive to be more inclusive of people and ideas. That is how we will achieve our vision and accomplish our mission to engage all Iowans, not just some Iowans.

I thank Barbara for allowing me to share some of her thoughts in this message. I also encourage you to read her article in the Dec. 13 Human Sciences Community Chat newsletter. (The Community Chat archive is available via MyExtension, as well as instructions on how to subscribe.)

Second Monday Live

In response to an Internal Communications Task Force theme, we are offering a new, monthly opportunity for our staff and leadership team to interact. Our first Second Monday Live is set for Jan. 13 at 10 a.m. Please join us for this Adobe Connect conversation at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/.

  • Gary Taylor will talk about Community and Economic Development’s Rural Housing Readiness Assessment for communities struggling with where to start when seeking to address challenges to providing safe, affordable housing for their residents. The program engages community members in education, technical assistance and action planning. Gary will explain the program, its cost (including funds available from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to defray the costs) and how communities can apply.
  • Deb Sellers will share the new Human Sciences Overview and Program Catalog, explain how to access them and discuss potential audiences. We’ll seek your input on how you might use these materials in your county.

More notes

  • Congratulations to Jay Harmon, our new program director for Agriculture and Natural Resources and associate dean for extension and outreach programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He was named to the position Jan. 1.
  • Congratulations, Page County! The 100th anniversary of ISU Extension and Outreach in Page County was the Clarinda Herald-Journal’s story of the year for 2019.
  • Nominations for ISU 2020 Extension and Outreach Awards are due Feb. 10 at noon. A new award this year is the Pillar of Extension and Outreach Award, for individuals or teams from extension support units.
  • Mileage reimbursement rates have decreased as of Jan. 1 for ISU-paid employees. The new default rate is 28.75 cents/mile (50% of the full IRS rate) for trips over 100 miles if the traveler uses a personal vehicle when an ISU vehicle is available. The 2020 full IRS rate is decreasing to 57.5 cents/mile, which may be claimed under certain circumstances, as well as by ISU-paid employees permanently based off-campus. For more information contact John Flickinger, jeflick@iastate.edu.
  • Today is Office Cleanup Day, the annual day extension staff statewide devote to cleaning and organizing their offices for safety and efficiency. Office Cleanup Day resources are available from MyExtension.

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

Introducing Second Monday Live

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 23, 2019

Before I begin today’s “did you know,” I’d like to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for all that you do for ISU Extension and Outreach and the people of Iowa. I am extremely proud of our organization and the hardworking staff, faculty and volunteers who make us successful. I am looking forward to some down time, and I hope that you also unplug and enjoy time with friends and family.


One of the themes from the Internal Communications Task Force is to create opportunities for two-way feedback between field and campus to improve relationships and effectiveness. One way we are responding to this theme is with a new opportunity for our staff and our leadership team to interact via a monthly Adobe Connect conversation. We’re calling it Second Monday Live. Did you know?

  • Second Monday Live will take place the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. and run for about 30 minutes.
  • Each month a different member (or members) of the leadership team will briefly share an item of interest and then we will discuss it together. In my “Did You Know” email message the week prior to each session, I’ll send you the link, announce who will be sharing and briefly describe the topic.
  • Four times per year (one per quarter) the Second Monday Live will be an open forum with the leadership team. During these sessions we will discuss relevant topics that you provide.
  • All Second Monday Live sessions will be archived. If you can’t watch a session live, you can watch it later at your convenience.

Our first Second Monday Live is set for Jan. 13. Gary Taylor will talk about Community and Economic Development’s rural housing readiness assessment, and Deb Sellers will talk about a new product from Human Sciences, a print program catalog. Both concepts were mentioned during the 2018 Listening Sessions.

We are adding a Second Monday Live topic category to the Virtual Suggestion Box where you can offer ideas for topics we should discuss. You also can share your ideas directly with members of the leadership team. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing these casual conversations to enhance communication, build trust and foster a sense of community in our organization.

MOU revision process

A committee has been meeting to review and update the Memorandum of Understanding between Extension Districts and ISU Extension and Outreach. The MOU clarifies our partnership and the roles and responsibilities of each partner. The goal is to share the revised MOU with the Iowa Extension Council Association board at their Jan. 11 meeting. Following their approval, the MOU will be sent to extension councils for review and signing by June 1, 2020. The committee members are:

  • Bruce Clark, Black Hawk County Council.
  • Jamie David, Taylor County Council.
  • Jayne Lupkes, Worth County Council.
  • Joy Prothero, Mahaska County Council.
  • Lori Donahoe, Johnson County Council.
  • Terry Maloy, IECA executive director.
  • Paul Gibbins, Polk County executive director.
  • Britney Rosburg, Emmet County program director.
  • Alan Ladd, region 17 director.
  • Gene Mohling, region 15 director.
  • Andrea Nelson, assistant vice president, County Services.
  • Tiffany Magstadt, County Services.
  • Andrea Lutter, Extension Finance.
  • John Lawrence, vice president, ISU Extension and Outreach.

More notes

  • County Services has updated the extension council annual organization materials for 2020. For more information, contact your regional director.
  • On Jan. 1, 2020, the fee for new computer setups/repairs will increase from $100 to $125. As noted in Extension IT’s Dec. 3 Tech News, this is the first fee increase in over 20 years.
  • Save the date: The Office Professionals Conference is set for Oct. 20, 2020, in the Scheman Building on the Iowa State campus.

Have a wonderful holiday season. I will be back in your emailbox with a new “Did You Know” message on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.

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

We are change agents

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 16, 2019

2019 has been a year of change for ISU Extension and Outreach, as we’ve begun addressing our Internal Communications Task Force recommendations, adjusting to Improved Service Delivery and WorkDay, and preparing for Structured for Success (to name a few examples). You’d think we would be used to dealing with change, since extension professionals are change agents. Every day we engage Iowans in solving problems and preparing for a thriving future. We’re good at helping other people address real-life challenges, but we don’t necessarily like dealing with change ourselves.

Despite that paradox, with every action that extension professionals have ever taken for our organization, the goal has always been to better serve Iowans. From the moment our forebears invented extension, they started changing it – with Seed Corn Gospel trains and short courses, farm and home demonstrations, education for youth, and work in communities. They and we evolved how we deliver programming – from trains to cars, radio to internet, newspaper columns to digital blogs, print to Twitter, church basements to in-home online, desktop to smart phones. There’s no need for change agents in a world that stays the same, where people never grow or evolve. But that’s not the world we live in, so our organization continues to adapt to better serve Iowans.

We all can appreciate the legacy of our organization. However, as you engage with Iowans today, you are ensuring our future. Thank you for everything you do as extension change agents. Looking forward to 2020, together we will continue to adapt to change in our organization and support what Iowans value: a strong Iowa.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Katie Goodell, Dickinson County ag program coordinator and office assistant.
  • Steven Hardina, Woodbury County marketing program assistant.
  • Athena Speller, Black Hawk County extension program assistant.
  • Pamela Johnson, Scott County bookkeeper.
  • Jamiee Marvin, Lucas County office assistant.
  • Deanna Colwell, Harrison County youth coordinator.
  • Carol Tierney, program assistant II, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Nancy Radcliffe, Dickinson County office assistant.
  • Kelli Ireland, Clay County office assistant.
  • Alexis Seuntjens, Pocahontas County program coordinator.
  • Karrie King, Woodbury County director.
  • Leah Feltz, communications specialist II, Advancement.
  • Anne Tedore, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

More notes

  • Andrea Lutter has been hired as ISU Extension and Outreach budget officer effective Dec. 16 and will begin transitioning into her new duties immediately. Current budget officer John Flickinger will retire in early February and will be mentoring Andrea as she assumes many of the administrative duties that come with the post. Andrea has worked alongside John for nearly seven years and will bring new ideas to a solid foundation.
  • The Advancement team has secured approval from University Marketing to update our ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development staff apparel to increase visibility of the clover while maintaining the university’s co-branding guidelines. The new look for 4-H staff apparel will feature a larger green clover (compared with the clover on previous apparel) placed above a stacked and centered ISU Extension and Outreach wordmark. All other new staff apparel will use the stacked and centered wordmark (without the clover). The new designs will be available on both red and white apparel from the Extension Store. FYI: It still is acceptable to wear existing extension apparel with the flush-left wordmark, and watch for details from the Extension Store regarding discounted, in-stock items.
  • Beginning in January, Ross Wilburn will be taking a leave of absence to serve in the Iowa House of Representatives. Ross was elected to represent House District 46, which covers northern Ames, central campus and parts of western Ames, in a special election Aug. 6. He will be on leave from ISU Extension and Outreach without pay during the legislative session, roughly January through April. In Ross’ absence, if you need assistance related to diversity concerns, please contact Sean Nelson, seann1@iastate.edu. If you need assistance related to community and economic development issues, please contact Gary Taylor, gtaylor@iastate.edu. We thank Ross for his commitment to public service and look forward to his return to ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • With the Iowa legislative session beginning soon and in advance of the 2020 presidential caucuses and election, keep in mind the university’s guidance on political campaign activities.

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

Our Rising Stars’ impact continues

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 9. 2019

This week County Services begins interviewing students for Rising Star internships and plans to hire 16 interns for 2020. Each summer our Rising Stars live and work in rural Iowa communities, addressing real-life projects based on local needs. When the internship ends, our interns come back to Iowa State, but did you know? Our Rising Stars’ impact continues in rural Iowa.

When Region 3 Director Donovan Olson met with Latimer Development in 2016, the group was interested in revitalizing their downtown, addressing housing needs and attracting new development. Donovan helped them gain access to two ISU resources that were critical for their success. First the group worked with CyBIZ to study community needs and create a strategic plan to commercialize the downtown. The plan was completed and presented to the group in June 2017.

Then the Rising Star interns created a strategic implementation plan to help Latimer Development move forward on opportunities identified by CyBIZ. The Rising Stars simplified the options into two projects. The first was a plan to revitalize the downtown by developing a lot that the group owned. The second project laid out the steps to develop an independent living facility for seniors in the community. The Rising Star interns completed and presented their plan in August 2017.

This fall Donovan heard from Matt Hardy of North Iowa Cooperative, who said the Latimer Development group has made significant progress on the two projects. First, the group is working toward an agreement with Franklin General Hospital to construct a new clinic in downtown Latimer. Second, the group is assembling a list of community members interested in occupying senior housing and is working on acquiring the land to build a new multi-unit senior living facility. Latimer Development credits CyBiz and the Rising Stars with helping them identify a way forward and demonstrate that they were prepared to improve and expand their community.

ISU Extension and Outreach connects communities with resources they need. This Latimer example shows how our interns can have a lasting impact when they engage Iowans in solving today’s problems and preparing for a thriving future.

Internal Communications: County visit notification reminder

Back in July I shared how we would address two Internal Communications Task Force recommendations about informing county staff when you will be visiting or working in the county. I’d like to remind everyone about a simple action that will go a long way in improving communication within our organization. Visitors, send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why, and locals, acknowledge you received the message. For more information, please review my original update.

More notes

  • Registration is open for the 2020 Professional and Scientific Council Professional Development Conference, Feb. 13 at the Scheman Building. Register by Dec. 20 to get the early rate of $100. The regular registration rate will be $120 from Dec. 21 through Jan. 31.
  • Iowa State will reduce services for a partial campus shutdown during the week of Dec. 23-27. During this time campus staff may take vacation, work from home or work in their cold offices. (The university turns down the heat in many of the buildings to reduce energy costs.) Extension units, like other university offices, will have procedures in place to manage incoming messages or handle emergencies. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 30-31, are regular work days and Jan. 1 is a university holiday.
  • The Extension Information Technology office will be closed with minimal staffing during the university partial shutdown through Jan. 1. EIT will monitor networks, servers, and the EIT Hotline (515-294-1725) for critical issues and emergencies but will not be handling routine issues (though you still can send those questions to eit@iastate.edu). The EIT office will reopen on Jan. 2.

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

The farm bill and farm stress

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 2, 2019

Since mid-November our farm management specialists and local USDA Farm Service Agency representatives have been holding public meetings to provide an overview of the 2018 Farm Bill. Farmers, landowners and ag professionals have been gathering in extension offices, community centers and other venues, as they do most years when there’s a new farm bill, to learn about decision points and program rules and regulations that pertain to each part of the state. But that’s not all they’re learning about this year.

Did you know? In general, farmers are entering this farm bill with more financial stress and less operating capital than in 2014, when commodity prices were still high. The financial stress has the potential to impact not only the future of the farm, but also the health of the operator. That’s why at each farm bill meeting, a human sciences specialist in family life is presenting “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other.” This 40-minute, scenario-based, suicide prevention training reviews the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, as well as protective factors and a strategy for how to intervene.

Our farm bill meetings – more than 60 altogether – will continue through January. We will continue to educate Iowans about Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage to help them deal with the farm bill that affects their livelihood. But we’ll also continue to promote healthy strategies to help each other recognize and cope with the stress that impacts daily life.

ICM Conference

The Integrated Crop Management Conference is another way we help farmers and the ag industry prepare for 2020 and beyond. Nearly 900 attendees will gather for the Dec. 4-5 conference in Ames. Now in its 31st year, the annual event is a great opportunity for farmers, industry, ag retailers, agronomists and educators to network with each other, interact with university specialists, and learn about the latest in crop research and technology. ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the conference.

More notes

  • The public seminar by Jay Harmon, candidate for Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach and ISU Extension Program Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources, is Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. in 0013 Curtiss Hall and via Zoom, at https://zoom.us/j/415857802. Learn about his strategy for leading our ANR program. The seminar will be recorded and available for viewing beginning Dec. 4. The question and answer session will not be recorded.
  • Our Growing Together volunteers harvested and donated approximately 115,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables throughout the 2019 growing season. That’s nearly 345,000 servings of fresh produce to fight hunger in Iowa. Learn more about this and other programs in the December Program Update from the leadership team.
  • A committee has begun developing a new Memorandum of Understanding between Extension Districts and Iowa State that incorporates the Structured for Success plan for our future. The MOU will be ready for councils to review and begin signing in early spring 2020. (It must be signed by June 1, 2020.) The MOU will cover three years, July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023. We expect there will be one overarching MOU and three separate operating agreements depending on which model a council selects.
  • Congratulations to Van Buren County, the first county to submit its 2019 stakeholder report. The reports are due Jan. 1 and will be available from the County Services website. You can use your county stakeholder report throughout the year to build awareness of programs, demonstrate impact and outcomes, and show return on investment. Thank you to everyone who contributes to these reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in your county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.

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

December 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources

Master Gardener volunteers with ISU Extension and Outreach continue to improve the lives and communities of Iowa, using more than $50,000 awarded this year in Growing Together Iowa Mini-Grants and growing approximately 115,000 pounds of produce to be donated to local food pantries. Twenty-two counties in Iowa received the grants, which are funded by federal SNAP-Education and are focused on increasing food security and promoting healthy food access.

  • The produce that was harvested equals nearly 345,000 servings of fruits and vegetables. This is the largest donation to date, which is particularly impressive given the weather challenges this growing season.
  • 100,579 Iowans visited pantries where Growing Together Iowa produce was donated.
  • 277 Master Gardener volunteers contributed to Growing Together Iowa this growing season.
  • 662 community volunteers who are not Master Gardeners contributed to Growing Together Iowa projects.
  • 1,012 people with low income engaged in food gardening education through Growing Together Iowa this year.
  • 100% of counties with mini grants agree that the project built their community’s capacity to work on issues of healthy food access.

More from Human Sciences

On Nov. 2, Sara Sprouse and Kelsey Salow, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness, hosted a booth at the Iowa Nurses Association – Southeast Region’s Health Fair in Iowa City. Sara Sprouse also delivered a “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” presentation to 28 attendees during the health fair, which included resources to be used personally or in the clinical work setting. Several individuals downloaded the “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” app that day. The specialists used their iPads in navigating one-on-one when questions were asked at the booth. They also promoted Words on Wellness and more than 30% of attendees signed up for the monthly newsletter.

Most attendees were faculty and students from the University of Iowa, Mount Mercy University and Kirkwood Community College. Known counties represented were Benton, Linn, Johnson and Clinton. A faculty member indicated that the “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” resources now will be used during a practicum she teaches, where students work with recently incarcerated individuals on meal planning and other nutrition topics.

More from Agriculture and Natural Resources

ISU Extension and Outreach and Iowa State University’s Research and Demonstration Farms partnered once again this year to host field days across the state this summer. Over 15,000 people attended the field days, where they had an opportunity to hear from ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and specialists regarding topics tailored to the current conditions and issues facing farmers in their areas.

4-H Youth Development

  • Eighty-three middle school students from 14 schools in 8 counties participated in Youth Voice in Action, a regional youth summit hosted by Regions 4 and 9 in northeast Iowa this fall. This summit provided youth the opportunity to gain skills in communication and leadership so that they feel empowered to take action and use their voices to create positive change in their communities. Professionals in the areas of STEM, healthy living, leadership and civic engagement, and communication and the arts presented breakout sessions where youth learned about their importance within communities as well as possible careers and education. Youth learned about their leadership style through an interactive workshop and created an action plan with their school team with the guidance of their team’s adult mentor. The summit wrapped up with a large group service project in which youth decorated 450 kindness rocks to place around their communities.
  • Members of the newly formed Drake University Collegiate 4-H club met up with some members of the ISU Collegiate 4-H club at Clover Woods in late October to learn about their clubs. Both clubs are examples of student-run organizations on a college campus and both clubs focus on service projects and leadership development. This Collegiate 4-H meet up consisted of networking, creative idea sharing and a service project.
  • Plans are underway to strengthen Iowa 4-H’s partnership with Iowa Public Television. This collaboration will focus on how we can come together to support STEM education in ways that utilize IPTV’s STEM resources.

Community and Economic Development

  • CED provides goal setting and strategic planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop action plans to accomplish those priorities. In December, Aimee Viniard-Weideman will facilitate strategic planning for the Keokuk Economic Development Corporation, and she and Scott Timm will facilitate strategic planning for Oneota Co-op in Decorah. Viniard-Weideman and Eric Christianson will facilitate goal setting the Cedar Falls City Council.
  • The Municipal Leadership Academy provides elected municipal officials with a curriculum to assist them in effectively meeting the requirements of their office. The program offers a comprehensive overview of Iowa municipal government and is presented by the Iowa League of Cities and CED’s Office of State and Local Government Programs. During December Sara Shonrock will be conducting MLA training in Griswold, Algona and Van Meter.
  • During December CED specialists Lynn Adams and Jon Wolseth will be presenting the CED place-based leadership program, Leading Communities, in Cass County (Atlantic). CED specialist Jane Goeken will be in Orange City to speak to Sioux, O’Brien, Lyon and Osceola county extension council members about the program. CED specialists Aimee Viniard-Weideman and Himar Hernández will be teaching Leading Communities in Mount Pleasant, and CED specialists Jane Goeken and Jill Sokness will facilitate the program in Sac City. Himar Hernández and Shelley Oltmans will teach the program in Centerville. Scott Timm will teach the program in Cresco and with Aimee Viniard-Weideman in Protivin.

eAccessibility update

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 25, 2019

Iowa State University graduate Lauren Berglund, who is legally blind, feels strongly about the importance of accessibility to electronic materials. She’s encouraged that we are working to make our extension educational materials accessible. You can watch the video of Lauren’s story – with closed captioning so you can read what is being said, as well as with audio descriptions so you can hear what is being seen. This is another aspect of accessibility for all, and our eAccessibility team offers this update on our eAccessibility Initiative. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach is part of the eAccessibility Advisory Council of Iowa, which began meeting in May. The council also includes representatives from Drake University, Iowa Workforce Development, Easter Seals, Iowa Department for the Blind, and Tech4Impact, a private sector company.
  • We have a new partnership with the Iowa Department for the Blind. A department employee who uses a screen reader will be helping to inform and guide our eAccessibility actions for creating and revising documents.
  • Our eAccessiblity team shares best practices with those who work on ISU Extension and Outreach publications. This helps staff move beyond simply passing the accessibility checker to providing a good reading experience.
  • Four members of the team – Kristi Elmore, Robin Ertz, Chris Johnsen and Rachel Tendall – have dedicated over 3,000 hours to the initiative since December 2017.
  • Check MyExtension for more eAccessibility information.

In addition, five team members just returned from attending and presenting at Accessing Higher Ground 2019 in Denver, Colorado, which focuses on accessibility in higher education. As a result, the curriculum the team has put together has now been shared with 31 institutions. Our work continues to lead the way in document accessibility across the nation, and our team now has many new tools and techniques to aid in accessibility.

ANR director search

On Nov. 21 CALS Dean Daniel Robison and I announced that the candidate will interview for the position of Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach and ISU Extension Program Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources on Dec. 3. You can learn about the candidate’s strategy for leading our ANR program during a public seminar at 1 p.m. in 0013 Curtiss Hall. Those interested may attend in person or access the seminar via Zoom, at https://zoom.us/j/415857802. The seminar will be recorded and available for viewing beginning Dec. 4. The question and answer session will not be recorded.

More notes

  • You can begin nominating your colleagues for ISU Extension and Outreach awards. Nominations are due Feb.10 by 12 p.m. and nomination guidelines for each award are available online.
  • On Nov. 22 we announced Structured for Success: The Plan for Our Future. Please review the video message and document with details (These materials are archived on the Structured for Success feedback webpage and in MyExtension.) You’ll find specific information about timelines, the role of the regional director, expectations for county staff, cost estimates, and the added value for counties. Also FYI: In our online survey, which concluded Nov. 8, we asked county councils and staff to provide a nonbinding, general indication of which model they were interested in. Here are the results from that question.

On behalf of council: 36 responses; 13 for Model 1, 1 for Model 2, 22 for Model 3
Individual council member: 129 responses; 37 for Model 1, 11 for Model 2, 78 for Model 3
On behalf of county office staff: 33 responses; 12 for Model 1, 3 for Model 2, 18 for Model 3
Individual county staff member: 168 responses; 59 for Model 1, 13 for Model 2, 93 for Model 3
The number of respondents may not equal the votes for models, as some responded to the insurance question without indicating a preference for a model.

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

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