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

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

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

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

Produce with a Purpose

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 4, 2019

Wapello County believes in Produce with a Purpose. The extension council and county staff support this project that focuses on increasing the number of fruit and vegetable producers in a six-county region, increasing the number of consumers who purchase local foods in Wapello County, and providing high quality, relevant educational opportunities to producers and consumers. Did you know?

  • Produce with a Purpose works like a CSA – community supported agriculture. Participating consumers pick up their box of locally grown produce twice a month either at the ISU Extension and Outreach Wapello County office or at 13 worksites in the area.
  • The nonprofit sources local food from producers in Mahaska, Keokuk, Wapello, Jefferson, Davis and Van Buren counties. For $15 per box, consumers get to enjoy a variety of produce throughout the season as they support multiple farming families.
  • The produce arrives at the Wapello County office and is stored in commercial refrigerators. Volunteers and employees pack food boxes on delivery days, and boxes are transported in coolers with ice packs to maintain appropriate temperatures, as needed. Each delivery site has a coordinator and a designated spot for deliveries.
  • Newsletters and publications are provided with each delivery, with information about local producers, farmers markets, local food events, produce selection and purchasing tips, and recipes that highlight locally available items.
  • Producers are surveyed and educational programs are scheduled to meet their needs. This year producers could attend “Are You Ready for FSMA Compliance?” and a “Market Ready” workshop.

Produce with a Purpose makes it easier for consumers to purchase local produce, especially in areas of Wapello County that have been identified as food deserts. The number of boxes ordered has increased each year – from 52 in 2017 to 121 in 2019. Oct. 29 and 30 were the final pickup dates for this year. For more information, contact Hilary Lanman, Produce with a Purpose coordinator, hilaryl@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • Reminder: County staff and council members are invited and encouraged to complete the Structured for Success online survey. We want to better understand county extension councils’ interest in Models 1, 2, or 3 and county staff interest in ISU medical and/or dental benefits. (If you choose, you may read this review copy of the survey before completing the survey online.) Please complete the survey by 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8.
  • We’ve provided information about ISU insurance plans being offered to county paid staff in this new Structured for Success common themes document. It also will be available on the Structured for Success feedback page and in MyExtension.
  • Congratulations to Angela Shaw, associate professor and food safety specialist, and Cynthia Fletcher, professor and resource management extension state specialist, who will be featured on the 2020 Women Impacting ISU calendar. They were nominated and selected because of their outstanding accomplishments and positive impact at Iowa State. The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics will include the names of all 12 women selected for the calendar in the center’s Nov. 12 Voices newsletter. They will be recognized at a reception Jan. 15, at 3:30 p.m. in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.
  • Over the past three years the State Historical Society of Iowa partnered with ISU Extension and Outreach and local organizations as the Iowa History 101 Mobile Museum shared the story of Iowa across the state. During a brief ceremony in Osceola on Oct. 31, the museum received its final sticker – for Clarke County – ending its tour of all 99 counties. In March the historical society will announce plans for the museum’s next tour, partnering with educational institutions. Our Clover Kids network will work with the museum on curriculum that satisfies education standards. Nicole Hanson and Cayla Taylor are leading the effort for 4-H Youth Development.

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.