Social media policy and best practices

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 18, 2019

I changed my personal Twitter username a few weeks back. Now you can follow me at @John_D_Lawrence. My old username had included ISU, which I discovered was violating Iowa State policy. (And this was only one of the ways I had been breaking the rules!)

Over the past year, Iowa State’s Office of Internal Audit reviewed ISU Extension and Outreach operations in several areas, including information technology processes and social media protocols. The auditors recommended we set social media policy and best practices related to personal use. The leadership team followed the auditors’ advice and developed a policy and best practices with one goal in mind: to protect the integrity and reputation of our organization and programs.

Did you know? Our new Social Media Personal Usage Policy covers prohibited uses and political activity. Our new Social Media Personal Usage Best Practices includes the purpose, scope and definitions, and a list of best practices for tagging and posting information. (You can download the documents from the links in this message. Staff and faculty also can log in to MyExtension for access to the documents.) I encourage you to read both documents. I also want to call your attention to a few key points.

  • Your social media accounts are personal accounts. This is true for me and for every one of you. If you are posting extension-related content to your personal account, then follow a best practice and add this disclaimer in your bio: The views expressed on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University (or Iowa 4-H).
  • Don’t use ISU Extension and Outreach or Iowa State University’s trademarks, logos, symbols, names, graphics or service marks in your account name or avatar. This includes using Iowa State University, ISU, Cy, Cyclones, 4-H, the clover or any of the institution’s trademarks.
  • Don’t use your official Iowa State email address for social media purposes unless specifically authorized to do so by ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • The best social media best practice for all of us to follow is to think before we post.

It’s likely our best practices will continue to evolve, just like social media evolves. We will revisit these best practices often and provide updates as needed.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Alexandria Merk, Boone County executive director.
  • Erin Pedersen, Humboldt County office manager.
  • Courtni Siela, Benton County youth coordinator.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Lexy Davies, Page County youth coordinator.
  • Evelyn Ganfield, Adams County youth coordinator.
  • Brigham Hoegh, Cass County wellness coordinator.
  • Stephanie Kosman-Baker, Monroe County, AmeriCorps.
  • Denise Lupkes, Lyon County office assistant.
  • Jamie Neff, Palo Alto County program coordinator.
  • Eva Woods, Montgomery County youth coordinator.
  • Alona Zermeno-Lechleidner, Woodbury County, AmeriCorps.
  • Dawn Krause, accountant II, Community and Economic Development.
  • Jonni Lenzini, program assistant II, Conference Planning and Management.
  • Malissa Tritsch, 4-H office manager, 4-H Youth Development.

More notes

  • Resources from County Services are available to councils as they make decisions regarding Structured for Success. County Paid Staffing Structure (June 2018) lists duties, responsibilities, and recommended qualifications for certain job categories. County MOU Shared Services Support has links to FY2020 maximum tax computations and FY2013-2019 annual reports of expenses for centralized services.
  • All extension staff are invited to participate in Epsilon Sigma Phi Alpha Mu Chapter’s book study this winter on “Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight,” by Des Moines psychiatrist Dr. Loren OIson. The book was selected as a way to build inclusivity by learning more about the needs of the LGBTQ community. The cost for extension staff who aren’t ESP members is $20, which includes the book. Participants are encouraged to form small groups to discuss the book during January-March. The study will culminate with a face-to-face discussion with the author on March 31. (This is the day before Annual Conference.) To participate, register online by Dec. 18. For more information, contact Barbara Dunn Swanson, ESP Alpha Mu Chapter president, bdswanso@iastate.edu.

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

Challenging youth through AgOvation

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 28, 2019

There’s nothing quite like a “Shark Tank” experience to test innovation. Like the popular TV program, AgOvation provides an opportunity for innovators to present their work to industry professionals. However, in this 4-H version, youth pitch their science-based solutions for local agricultural problems. Did you know?

  • AgOvation is a new, research-based competition for youth in grades 7-12. They work in teams of two to five members to identify an ag-based issue in their community and develop a project to address it.
  • Youth work with a team coach and mentor from the agricultural field that most closely relates to their project. They also are encouraged to connect with representatives from Iowa State and the agribusiness community.
  • Topics youth are addressing this year include technology for timed feeding of individual swine and easier snow removal on the farm. The teams have been developing prototypes and designs.
  • Youth participated in regional events in September. Teams from Cherokee, Dallas, Linn, and Sac counties will be participating in the final competition, Nov. 16 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory. There they will present their solutions to industry professionals and receive feedback. The top three teams will receive scholarships for post-secondary education. Support for the program this year has been provided by Cargill and Channel Seed.

Iowa 4-H already is planning for next year’s competition, because AgOvation helps develop our future workforce of agricultural scientists, engineers and technologists. County youth coordinators and other staff are encouraged to help recruit participants, adult mentors and supporters. The more counties and teams that get involved, the greater the learning opportunity and program impact. For more information, contact Maya Hayslett, crop sciences youth education specialist, hayslett@iastate.edu.

In other 4-H news, the numbers are in for the 2018-2019 4-H program year. Here are a few highlights.

  • More than 160,000 youth participated in 4-H last year, an 18.7 percent increase from 2017-2018. This includes youth who were enrolled in Clover Kids (for K-3 youth) or as 4-H members (grades 4-12), as well as youth who participated in either six or more hours of 4-H programming, and those who participated in six or fewer hours of programming.
  • The number of enrolled youth was slightly lower than the previous year. However, over 28,000 additional youth participated in six or fewer hours of programming, compared with the previous year. Our 4-H program continues to focus on moving these youth to longer-term involvement.
  • Community club membership is down, but after-school club enrollment is growing.
  • 4-H also has seen an increase in the number of youth participating in school enrichment programs for more than 6 hours: 38,370 youth, which is 781 more than in 2017-2018. This may be our best area for recruitment and growth, reaching families who might have other barriers to participation in community clubs, such as transportation.

More notes

  • Congratulations to David Brown, ISU Extension and Outreach colleagues, and partners in seven north central states working on Farm and Ranch Wellness: The Next Steps. The regional project has received a $480,000 grant from USDA NIFA as part of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. It is one of four regional projects funded by the FRSAN program, which was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. For more information, contact David at dnbrown@iastate.edu.
  • Learn about the Iowa Agricultural Extension Association during a Zoom informational meeting at 9 a.m., Oct. 30, or noon, Oct. 31. You’ll get a quick, general overview of IAEA and answers to questions you may have about the organization. The Zoom URL is https://iastate.zoom.us/j/2720995534; to join the meeting from a dial-in phone line, call +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833, with meeting ID 272 099 5534. If you are unable to join LIVE, you can watch a recorded version afterward. You also are invited to attend the fall meeting Nov. 14 at the Boone County Extension Office. For more information, contact Alan Ladd, aladd@iastate.edu.

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

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

Introducing MyData

John Lawrence’s message from June 17, 2019

Back in March I told you that we were getting closer to having one shared reporting system for our entire organization. Now I am pleased to introduce MyData, the centralized system that will expand our ability to collect and report numbers and narratives about program outcomes, partnerships and client relationships. Did you know?

  • Five counties (Carroll, Franklin, Monroe, Muscatine and Polk) and some campus staff currently are piloting MyData. For the next six to 12 months, they’ll be using the system; providing feedback on best practices for managing, sharing and accessing data; and suggesting improvements. They’ll also help to identify the reports, dashboards and other features that extension professionals are likely to request. In addition, they’ll become a cohort of users who can help develop and deliver training for the rest of us.
  • After the pilot has been completed and any necessary adjustments have been made, MyData will be rolled out in phases. The schedule and the training will be tailored to the specific needs, uses and work cycles of each extension unit.
  • If all goes as planned, MyData will be tested, tried and rolled out to the entire ISU Extension and Outreach system sometime in 2021.

The goal for MyData is to meet as many county and program reporting needs as possible. ISU Extension and Outreach units have unique needs for collecting and reporting data, which requires feedback from many to make MyData work for all of us. In the coming months you’ll be hearing more about MyData from the steering committee and your unit leaders. Because MyData is really our data, please engage in these discussions and provide feedback. Let’s work together to create the best system possible. You also can check MyExtension to follow MyData’s progress.

Internal Communications: Update

During our leadership team retreat on May 31, we started prioritizing and in some cases bundling the recommendations from the Internal Communications Task Force. As a result, on June 21 I will be meeting with staff from Extension Information Technology and Advancement for a preliminary discussion about a centralized, internal communications platform for extension staff and faculty. While I think of MyExtension as a file cabinet that stores tools, content and assets, I see this platform as a newspaper. This platform could include information from leadership, and other internal communications from the program areas, support units and counties. Other items like a virtual suggestion box, calendar of events, or my Vice President for Extension and Outreach schedule also could be included. This is an initial meeting to discuss what this platform might include and understand what sort of resources – technical or otherwise – might be needed.

These technological tools will help us better communicate virtually and stay informed. The in-person, area-wide meetings that will begin in August will help us put faces and names with the digital messages and build better relationships within our organization.

Interims from and in Advancement

Effective July 3, Jacy Johnson, director of ISU Extension and Outreach Advancement, will serve as interim executive director of ISU Strategic Relations and Communications, a new unit that will replace University Relations. The new unit is part of President Wintersteen’s efforts to re-envision the university’s approach to communicating and marketing to deal with budgetary challenges, and seek greater efficiency and continuous improvement. (You might say she is applying ISU Extension and Outreach’s model of Advancement to the rest of the university.) While Jacy is serving President Wintersteen, Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, will serve as Advancement’s interim director.

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

Taking research on the road

John Lawrence’s message from June 10, 2019

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has been making sure the “Adventure Comes to You” for a few years now. These annual travelling road shows of Iowa State research have helped Iowans examine the facts about processed foods and health, learn how mindful eating and behavior contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and explore youth literacy. This year’s adventure, “The Latest in Literacy” in partnership with the School of Education, will take place June 17 in Muscatine. Did you know?

  • Participants will learn about strategies that teachers, parents and communities can use to help children develop language and learning skills to be ready for kindergarten. They’ll also learn how supporting positive behavior can help struggling readers and writers.
  • Other topics include using immersive learning games to foster teamwork and critical thinking, supporting early literacy through active STEM learning, and evaluating pictures, themes and representations of students with disabilities.
  • The workshop is designed for teachers, early childhood educators, school administrators, home visitors, librarians, volunteers who run after-school programs, parents and guardians, and anyone else interested in supporting literacy.

“Adventure Comes to You” is another way ISU Extension and Outreach contributes to workforce development. We share Iowa State faculty expertise and current research to support literacy education, and we take time to learn about the needs and questions of local communities.

Structured for Success

In the summary from the May 22 Structured for Success committee meeting, I mentioned that we would announce a draft of alternative plans in early June to begin gathering feedback from councils and staff. As we continue to refine the plans, it is clear that we are “not ready for prime time.” We would rather not release premature drafts, so we are adjusting our schedule.

Later this summer (after fair season), we will announce draft proposals and provide an opportunity for local discussion and multiple methods of gathering feedback. I also am moving the completion date for the committee to release the revised or final alternative models from September to a later date this fall. This discussion is too important to rush.

State Fair Pitch Competition 2019 – Extension and Outreach Call for Proposals

It’s time to propose your “pitch” to be part of Iowa State’s 2019 Iowa State Fair exhibit on entrepreneurship and innovation. Extension and Outreach “pitches” featuring civic innovation or youth development efforts will be featured at the fair on Aug. 11-12. Anyone in ISU Extension and Outreach may submit a proposal now for this opportunity to showcase an innovative or entrepreneurial project with a live, 10-minute pitch at State Fair. If your proposal is selected for pitching, you will be awarded $500 for your project, and be in the running for more prize money.

Review the Call for Proposals on MyExtension; if you have questions, contact Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, koesterb@iastate.edu. Then submit a brief proposal to your unit leader or send your proposal directly to Billie. Don’t delay – the winning proposals will be selected on or before June 21. Help represent the innovative spirit of ISU Extension and Outreach to potentially thousands of fair-goers.

Dodds announces retirement

Assistant Vice President for County Services Bob Dodds announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019. He had alerted me earlier of his plans, something about a retired wife and grandkids in Texas, but he wanted to postpone the announcement. I want to thank Bob for his service to ISU Extension and Outreach as the County Extension Education Director for Lee County, Regional Director for Region 20 and most recently as Assistant Vice President. His focus is always on how ISU Extension and Outreach can best educate and serve Iowans and he did that by helping colleagues be successful. Much of Bob’s work was on the less glamorous but necessary tasks such as improving liability insurance coverage for counties; educating council members to better understand financial statements; onboarding newly elected council members or changing the date the councils must publish their year-end statements in local newspapers. However, he also provided navigation through difficult issues and was a steady hand on the wheel as our organization moves forward. He will be missed.

There will be a reception for Bob June 27, 2:30-4 p.m. in Beardshear Hall. I will be naming an interim AVP for County Services in the near future.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Anita Jeltema, Sioux County office assistant.
  • Lindsey Tague, Clinton County executive financial assistant.
  • Juan Ramirez, Dallas County youth and families education coordinator.
  • Morgan Matthews, Emmet County youth coordinator.
  • Kim Martley, Wayne County office assistant.
  • Jennifer Anderson, administrative specialist I, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Meghan Gray, Montgomery County youth coordinator.
  • Denise Wolf, Adams County office assistant.
  • Lori Mitchell, Montgomery County program coordinator.
  • Cynthia Adamson, Greene County office assistant.
  • Chyan Metzger, Kossuth County youth coordinator.
  • Summer Beery, Sioux County K-3 program coordinator.
  • Michaela Ostendorf, Story County media and ANR program coordinator.
  • Aubrey Houska, Clay County youth coordinator.
  • Katherine Stewart, O’Brien County K-12 program coordinator.
  • Anne Tedore, extension program specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

One more note: Read the June program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

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

MyExtension is our connection

John Lawrence’s message from May 28, 2019

With my smartphone in my pocket and my computer on my lap, it’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t so fully-connected as an extension professional. We’ve all come to rely on our ability to find what we need online as we serve Iowans every day. One of the tools that helps us do our work and maintain our connection is MyExtension. Did you know?

  • MyExtension was developed about four years ago. It is our intranet, a place for our internal “stuff” – resources that we need to access, but that the public doesn’t have to see.
  • MyExtension is for extension staff only; you must have a net ID and password to log in. (Resources that council members need are available through our public County Services site.)
  • Sometimes you may receive an email message (like this message from me) or newsletter with a link to MyExtension resources. For the link to open, be sure you are logged in to MyExtension before clicking on the link.
  • Our public ISU Extension and Outreach websites have red headers, while MyExtension pages have gold headers – so you can easily tell where you are.
  • You can make some choices about what appears on your MyExtension homepage. Every employee has the ability to add widgets – such as a particular department or favorites or frequently viewed pages. (The photo gallery widget is a great way to share local photos with the rest of the state.)

Since technology keeps changing, our intranet is never “done.” We always are looking for ways to make MyExtension better. For example, a landing page for all eAccessibility resources and tutorials will be coming soon. If you have comments or suggestions, contact the MyExtension content editors.

More notes

  • Four candidates will be interviewing for the 4-H Youth Development Program Leader position on May 29 and May 30. Information about the candidates and links to their webinars are available online.
  • You can review the May 22 meeting summary notes and video from the Structured for Success committee, as well as an archive of summaries from previous meetings.
  • Dates and locations for our first-quarter area-wide meetings have been set: Southwest, Aug. 28, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic; Northeast, Aug. 29, Waverly City Hall-Civic Center; Central, Aug 29 , Christy Hall, Story County ISU Extension Office, Nevada; Southeast, Sept. 10, Washington County Extension office, Washington; Northwest, Sept. 20, Clay County Event Center (Clay County Fairgrounds), Spencer. You can review the overall plans and expectations for these meetings.
  • ISU Rural Development Symposium: Research, Practice and Success is Aug. 15 in Ames. Save the date for this opportunity to engage with the researchers who study the issues and the people who put the research into practice. Hear about current research and success for economic development and quality of life in rural America. Registration will be available soon. For more information, contact Gary Taylor, gtaylor@iastate.edu.
  • From now through the end of June, the ISU Alumni Association is running a membership campaign tracking membership growth by county. They are telling Cyclones throughout the state how county extension offices are hard at work every day building even more Iowa State loyalty in our communities through programs and services that build a strong Iowa. This partnership with the ISU Alumni Association could help drive traffic to our county offices over the next few weeks, raising visibility for local programs and building our network of Cyclones everywhere.

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

A wonder league for Iowa’s future

John Lawrence’s message from May 14, 2019

Teach kids to code today – and make it fun – and before you know it, they’ll be the computer programmers, scientists and engineers of tomorrow. That’s the premise supporting Wonder League, a global robotics program that 4-H Youth Development offers for youth in grades K-3. The youth develop problem-solving and creativity skills while they build meaningful relationships with their peers. Did you know?

  • Over the past year, 21 Iowa Clover Kids teams participated in Wonder League. The theme was oceanography, leading teams through five, story-based missions under the sea.
  • In April, 17 Clover Kids from four counties participated in the Iowa 4-H Wonder League Robotics Exposition on campus. Teams programmed robots to return a sea creature to its natural habitat and launch sea turtle eggs into a nest.
  • Mahaska County has nine Wonder League teams and held its own expo last week. Additional expos will be held throughout the state.
  • Youth teams also may participate in a Clover Kids robotics experience Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Iowa State Fair.

Providing 4-H STEM activities for K-3 youth builds their school and career readiness skills, such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking. 4-H is creating a wonder league of learners and leaders for Iowa’s future.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Brianne Johnson, Clinton County youth coordinator.
  • Margaret Murphy, Lyon County horticulture educator/regional food coordinator.
  • Sherry McGill, Region 5 director.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Hilary Lanman, Wapello County program coordinator.
  • Kyler Waddle, Louisa County office manager.
  • Ashtyn Danker, East Pottawattamie County office assistant.
  • Kelli Anders, Wapello County local foods program coordinator.
  • Emily Belvel, Keokuk County program coordinator.
  • Jenna Koenigsfeld, Hardin County office assistant.
  • Erin Parker, Johnson County program coordinator.
  • Abby Boysen, Louisa County program assistant.
  • Alycne Boban, Mills County youth coordinator.
  • Chris Kick, communications specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Jill Goldsmith, clerk III, Extension Information Technology.
  • Prashant Jha, associate professor, Agriculture and Natural Resources/Agronomy.

Award recipients

Congratulations to the following ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff who will be honored during the university’s annual awards ceremony in September:

  • Regents Award for Staff Excellence: Malisa Rader, human sciences specialist, family life.
  • Inclusive Excellence: Angela Shaw, associate professor of food science and human nutrition.
  • Inclusive Excellence: Barbara Woods, special projects manager, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach.
  • Achievement in Economic Development in Iowa: Mark Edelman, professor of economics.
  • Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award: Mackenzie Johnson, human sciences specialist, family life.
  • Distinguished Service in Extension and Outreach: Kim Brantner, human sciences specialist, family life.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice: Anna Johnson, professor of animal science.
  • Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice: Shelley Oltmans, community development specialist.
  • R.K. Bliss Extension Award: Gene Mohling, Region 15 director.

One more note: The Office Professionals Conference is set for Oct. 8 on campus. Save the date!

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

Shared reporting is getting closer

John Lawrence’s message from March 11, 2019

I have good news to report – on reporting. For slightly more than a year and a half, a steering committee has been developing one Shared Reporting System for our entire organization. They have defined and aligned reporting terms, selected a database platform and hired a shared database coordinator. Construction of a practical, flexible and user-friendly database has steadily progressed, and this spring the committee will identify and invite three to five counties to voluntarily take the new shared system for a test drive. Did you know?

  • All campus, field and county staff who provide educational programming in the invited counties may volunteer to participate in the pilot.
  • Onsite user training will be scheduled at each of the invited counties, as well as on campus for the invited campus-based staff and faculty.
  • One guiding principle of the pilot is to take advantage of existing data collection processes and automatically bring them into the shared database when appropriate, such as registration data from Conference Planning and Management and participation data from 4HOnline.
  • Pilot participants’ feedback will be incorporated to make sure the final product meets as many county and program unit reporting needs as possible.
  • The pilot will continue for six to 12 months. Afterward, the committee will take the necessary time to incorporate required changes and develop appropriate professional development materials for the system-wide roll out.

The shared database will be rolled out in phases so it can be customized to the specific needs, uses and work cycles of ISU Extension and Outreach. Consequently, training for and timing of the database roll out likely will differ for each program unit and for county-based staff. If all goes as planned, the new database will be tested, tried and rolled out to the entire ISU Extension and Outreach system by January 2021. (If you want more background information about shared reporting, you can review my Everybody’s Job video message from September 2017.)

Tuition assistance available

As I said at Annual Conference, I am making tuition assistance available to all ISU Extension and Outreach staff for credit coursework that is consistent with their extension career path. My office will cover 50 percent of tuition (up to half the ISU tuition rate) for credit classes from Iowa State or other institutions beginning this spring. Details will be posted in the coming days.

Area meetings will be coming

I want to thank the Internal Communications Task Force for their 10 month research project. They officially presented the report at Annual Conference, and the leadership team will be reviewing the task force’s recommendations. In the meantime, as I said at conference, we are going to begin having quarterly area-wide county and field staff meetings. We’re dividing the state into five areas for meeting purposes only; this is not a reorganization and it is not another administrative layer. The boundaries aren’t fixed and they may change as our Structured for Success committee continues its work. There are more recommendations in the ICTF report and more steps to take, but this is a concrete action we can take now to improve communication in ISU Extension and Outreach. More details about these meetings will be available in the near future.

Insurance for county staff

Some of you left note cards after the Annual Conference panel discussion, or contacted me by email, wondering why we hadn’t discussed insurance for county staff. You correctly reminded me that it is an important topic and often was mentioned at the listening sessions. I apologize for not featuring it during the conference. I am working with County Services and Iowa Extension Council Association to evaluate alternatives and provide information to councils in the coming weeks. As you are aware, insurance is complex and costly, and will take careful preparation to move forward.

More notes

  • The 2019 Community Food Systems Annual Event is Friday, March 29 at the Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center in Des Moines. Keynote speakers are Sommer Sibily-Brown, founder and director of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and Arthur Neal, deputy director for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. ISU Extension and Outreach Local Foods, Value Added Agriculture, and Community and Economic Development are sponsoring the event. Cost is $60; register by March 18. Contact Courtney Long, court7@iastate.edu, for more information.
  • Be sure to read the March program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • The Third Annual Extension Council Conference is March 30 in Ames. This conference is planned by councils for councils. Council members, county staff, regional directors and others who work with councils may attend. The early bird registration deadline is March 18.

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

A new council year

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 7, 2018

This month our 100 county extension councils are organizing for a new year of providing access to ISU Extension and Outreach education and resources through our 99 county campus. When they get together for their first meeting, they will make motions and take actions to ensure they have fulfilled the requirements of Iowa’s extension law. Did you know?

  • Councils will adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, elect officers, appoint standing committees, adopt new personnel and fiscal policies, and set fiscal procedures.
  • They also will accept their county’s list of approved volunteers, and establish meeting dates and times in accordance with Iowa’s Open Meeting Law.
  • After they complete their organizational work, they’ll continue with regular council business, approving monthly financial transactions, and beginning work on the 2020 fiscal budget for the district.
  • They also will review and update the calendar of educational programs.

Five hundred Iowans were elected to their county extension councils in 2018. They, along with 400 returning council members, bring their understanding of local issues to important decisions about extension educational opportunities in their counties. We wish them well as they organize and establish important working relationships to operate effectively throughout the year.

Moving Forward. Together.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach annual conference is Feb. 28. We’ll start the day in Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building, reflecting on what we heard during listening sessions with 62 different audiences over the past year. I know, that adds up to a lot of conversations for reflection. Remember, these sessions were just the first step in our overall needs assessment process. Coming together Feb. 28 is an opportunity to share and discuss what we heard and learned, and continue to keep everyone involved in the process. Later in the day, we’ll recognize our length of service and award recipients, before heading to the Sukup End Zone at Jack Trice Stadium for a reception, a message from Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, and dinner followed by a keynote address from President Wendy Wintersteen. Take a few minutes to check out the agenda and register.

More notes

  • ISU P&S and Merit staff will receive a survey Jan. 9 about their interest in applying for a position in the Improved Service Delivery (ISD) model. Those on campus who have HR or Finance responsibilities should be familiar with ISD, the Job Showcase and the interest survey. (Those of you off campus may not be aware of ISD.) Those working in HR and Finance are encouraged to complete the survey. If you are not currently working in HR or Finance, but have some skills or education in those areas and would like to be considered for one of these positions on campus in the new ISD model, you are welcome and encouraged to complete the survey. If you have questions about ISD or the survey, please let me know.
  • Changes in IRS mileage reimbursement rates took effect Jan. 1. The default rate now is 29 cents/mile for ISU travelers who use a personal vehicle when a vehicle is available from Transportation Services. The 2019 full IRS rate is increasing to 58 cents/mile, which applies to travelers who are permanently based off-campus, and also to certain travel situations. For more information, contact John Flickinger, Extension Finance Office, jeflick@iastate.edu.
  • Office Clean Up Day is Jan. 10. It’s important to take time to create a safe and efficient office environment – from public spaces to individual desks and computer files.

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

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