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

Building a culture of conservation

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 19, 2019

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

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

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

Structured for Success: Link for Aug. 20 Webinar

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

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

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

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

What works in rural development … and why

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 12, 2019

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

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

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

Register to attend an area-wide meeting

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

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

Pitching Iowa State at State Fair

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 5, 2019

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

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

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

Internal Communications: VP website and suggestion box

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

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

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

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

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

Extension signs of summer

John Lawrence’s message from June 3, 2019

For some people, the end of the K-12 school year and turning the calendar to June are the true signs that summer is finally here. But in ISU Extension and Outreach, we have our own signs of summer: field days, summer camps, college students working in county offices, and fairs. Did you know?

  • Many field days and workshops are already scheduled at ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Topics include crops and soils, cover crops, nitrogen and water, Forecast and Assessment of Cropping sysTemS (FACTS) and demonstration gardens. Iowa Learning Farms also hosts a variety of field days. Most events are free and open to the public.
  • Young entrepreneurs will be camping in Woodbury County, and crime spy scientists will be at work in Van Buren County. Chickasaw County youth will experience outdoor survival camping, but youth in Guthrie County will be wandering the watershed. On any summer day, any number of ISU Extension and Outreach summer camps are engaging young Iowans across the state. To learn more about the camps near you, check the county websites for details.
  • Last year, 164 college students (from Iowa State as well as other colleges and universities) served as summer assistants in our county offices, and additional students served as extension assistants on campus. This year’s count isn’t completed yet, but I’ll wager that a similar number of students will be serving ISU Extension and Outreach in summer 2019. These student assistants play a vital extension role as they help with 4-H programs, county fairs, farmers markets, and other educational programs and events. We appreciate their hard work and we are glad to mentor them along their career path.
  • Fair season is just around the corner. The earliest county fairs are Butler and Worth beginning June 19 and the latest one is Clay, finishing Sept. 15. The third week of July is the peak of fair season, with 40 county fairs sharing July 20. They would not be as successful without the partnership of county fair boards, extension councils and FFA chapters. Fairs are an important celebration of our rural heritage, a culmination of a lot of work for 4-H and FFA youth, and a lot of fun. Enjoy!

These extension signs of summer help us engage Iowans with university research and resources as we work to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

  • Presentation recordings and feedback surveys are available from the 4-H Youth Development program leader interviews. If you want to provide feedback on any or all of the candidates, complete the appropriate surveys by close of business, June 4.
  • Our final three counties will celebrate their 100-year anniversaries this summer: Jefferson County, June 13; Page County, July 23; and Dallas County, Aug. 10. Since 2012, these 100-year anniversaries have brought Iowans together to celebrate our 99 county campus and land-grant mission. We all can be proud of our heritage as we look toward our shared future, working together with the people of our state to build a strong Iowa.

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

Joining forces for farm, food and enterprise development

John Lawrence’s message from April 29, 2019

ISU Extension and Outreach’s programs in Local Foods and Value Added Agriculture recently joined forces. Although the resulting program has a new name – Farm, Food and Enterprise Development – the combined program team offers the same, great technical assistance and resources for Iowa farmers, food systems advocates and business owners. Did you know?

  • Topics in the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development wheelhouse include small farm profitability, agritourism, community food systems planning and development, farm to school and farm to early childhood education, and business feasibility and financing.
  • Christa Hartsook leads the small farms area, serving farmers, acreage owners and service providers.
  • Courtney Long leads food systems, serving community coalitions, city planners, nonprofits and county extension staff.
  • Brian Tapp leads enterprise development, serving small business owners, entrepreneurs and start-ups.

Program Manager Craig Chase says focusing on small farms, food systems and enterprise development will allow the 20-member team to develop stronger educational programs and collaborative partnerships. You can contact the team at contactFFED@iastate.edu, 515-294-3086.

One more note: Mark your calendars and save the date for our next Annual Conference, April 1, 2020.

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

Following our lead

John Lawrence’s message from April 15, 2019

When we lead, others will follow. In mid-March, our e-Accessibility Initiative team began sharing our online, self-guided courses for creating accessible materials far beyond ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know? So far, 12 universities have downloaded our free accessibility training curricula and toolkit for creating accessible documents. That’s great, because when more of us design for all, we increase our chances of justice for all – even more.

By the way, you still can participate in a Creating Accessible Digital Documents Workshop this spring, April 30 or May 1 in Independence. Another round of workshops begins in August.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Yvonne McCormick, Hamilton County extension horticulturist.
  • Sarah Lenz, Keokuk County program coordinator.
  • Anne Pierce, East Pottawattamie County office assistant.
  • Rita Schoeneman, Hardin County office assistant.
  • Theresa Voss, Lucas County office assistant.
  • Amy Lewman, Greene County office assistant.
  • Kristi Cooper, field specialist III, Human Sciences.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Kali Downs, Dallas County office assistant.
  • Nancy Henry, Story County office assistant.
  • Yenibeth Lopez, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences.

More notes

  • Year-end computer purchases: Extension Information Technology says if you are planning to spend year-end money for new computers, you need to place your order by April 30. Check the EIT website for more information and the order form. If you have questions, contact Mike Mauton, mmauton@iastate.edu.
  • Next week’s message will focus on the Internal Communications Task Force Report Executive Summary.

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

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