And the nominees are …

John Lawrence’s message from May 15, 2018

In ISU Extension and Outreach, we believe in people and their right to make their own decisions, and we believe that education is the key to helping people help themselves. Some of us believe these things because we are extension professionals; however, our county extension council members are believers too. 2018 is an extension council election year, so we are looking for a few more people in every county who are willing to commit to these beliefs.

Each county extension district will elect five council members in November, and each person will serve a four-year term. If a council has appointed someone to complete the unexpired term of a council member, then that position also will be up for election this year. Did you know?

  • As required by Iowa law, each council will be appointing a nominating committee. These folks will be seeking candidates who have the talent, skills and energy to help determine how ISU Extension and Outreach can make a difference in their county.
  • Potential candidates should reflect their county’s population. They shouldn’t all be from the same town, and they should have diverse backgrounds and interests. That way they’ll be better able to connect Iowa State resources with everyone in the county, including under-represented groups and organizations.
  • Whenever possible, committees should nominate enough candidates to ensure that voters have a choice, which this year means nominating five or more candidates.

All of us can help these county nominating committees find good candidates. Think about people you know and work with in your communities. What could they bring to the table as county extension council members? Show them this new video, direct them to this webpage with more information and encourage them to contact their county extension office.

More notes

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

Sharing with our stakeholders

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 19, 2018

Who are our stakeholders? They are the people who have an interest or a share in what we do. Maybe they’ve made an investment in ISU Extension and Outreach, whether in time or money. They may have a personal or emotional concern related to our work. They may feel connected to Iowa State for any number of reasons. Whatever the case, they have a stake in our impact and outcomes. It makes good sense to keep them informed about our work.

For the public, telling our story is a way to shed the title of ISU Extension and Outreach being the “best kept secret.” Telling our story to taxpayers and the elected officials who allocate precious public resources shows them their return on investment. We’re lucky to have multiple opportunities to keep them up to date. Did you know?

  • Our extension districts produce annual stakeholder reports that describe program successes in food and the environment, health and well-being, economic development and K-12 youth outreach. They are available online for download and although they look nice, the reports themselves aren’t what is most important. What really matters are the conversations that these reports can spark. If we want decision makers to understand what we do, we have to show them and tell them. At the county level, stakeholder reports often are the right tool for the job.
  • On Feb. 26, several extension professionals will be in Des Moines for ISU Day at the Capitol. It’s an annual opportunity to meet face-to-face with our state legislators to showcase the impact Iowa State has on students, communities, businesses and Iowans across the state. ISU Extension and Outreach is a big part of this conversation. We’ll be sharing highlights from our 2017 annual report.
  • The Iowa Extension Council Association’s annual Legislative Day is Feb. 28. IECA members will be meeting with state legislators to share extension impacts. They also will be modeling public leadership to the 4-H’ers participating in IECA’s 4-H Public Leadership Experience. Senior 4-H’ers from each county will have the opportunity to meet with legislators, tour the capitol, and learn about the legislative process and the bearing it has on ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • In March, our Iowa delegates to the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) will head to Washington, D.C., to share Iowa State’s story with Congress. Kevin Ross (Underwood), Donald Latham (Alexander), Sally Stutsman (Riverside), and Robert Petrzelka (Mt. Pleasant) represent ISU Extension and Outreach as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in this national grassroots organization. CARET advocates for greater national support and understanding of the land-grant university system’s food and agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs that enhance the quality of life for all people.

While these are purposeful discussions with specific stakeholders, do not be bashful about telling our story – your story – every chance you get. We strive to serve all Iowans. A key to our success is making sure people know about ISU Extension and Outreach, and how we are working to build a strong Iowa.

One more thing: Iowa State is rolling out Okta, a new application. (It reminds me of the letters left at the end of a Scrabble game.) Okta is going to change the look and feel of the login page when you sign into MyExtension, Office 365, CyBox and other Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach resources. Okta also gives you the ability to add (at a later date) something called multi-factor authentication to your account. Multi-factor authentication adds protection to your account by requiring a second verification in addition to your password. This second verification can be an app on your phone, a code sent via text message, a voice call or a small physical device called a Yubikey.

The look and feel portion of Okta will be rolling out on March 1. Currently, multi-factor authentication is optional and can be turned on in the settings in Okta. For more information, plan to attend a webinar with Deb Coates, EIT manager, on Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. To log in, go to https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/eit.

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

If not research, then what?

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 12, 2018

ISU Extension and Outreach engages all Iowans in research, education, and extension experiences to address real-life challenges and prepare for a thriving future. That’s how we advance our land-grant mission. We are committed to helping Iowans build their capacity to better their lives and make sound decisions. If our work is not based on research and evidence, then what is it based on? Rumor? Politics? Whichever way the wind blows? Let’s hope not. Our integrity is in our research. That is why we work together with the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station and other researchers to plan, discover and deliver science-based knowledge for the benefit of Iowans. Did you know?

  • The Experiment Station was founded at Iowa State in 1888, and soon began conducting research, advancing science and addressing the needs of Iowans.
  • The Experiment Station isn’t a physical place. It’s not a building and it’s not a farm. It is a research program involving hundreds of people and partners, along with extension connections reaching Iowans in every county.
  • Our combined plan of work addresses community and economic development, expanding human potential, food security, health and well-being, natural resources and environmental stewardship, sustainable and renewable energy, and youth development.

The leadership team has been compiling the data for our Combined Research and Extension Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results, also known as the federal report. We will be submitting it to USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in a few weeks. This is another way we use the information you report to us. We’re sharing the value and impact of ISU Extension and Outreach with our federal partners, funders and decision makers.

A few more notes

  • Make sure to review the February program update from the leadership team.
  • Register now for annual conference. The March 26 event includes acts of service and the annual awards ceremony and reception. Come to learn, network with a purpose and celebrate.
  • I want to give a shout out to the ISU Extension and Outreach county offices that will host the Farmers Market Nutrition Program training for farmers so they can become certified to accept Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks. In 2017, WIC recipients in Iowa redeemed $383,000 and seniors redeemed $477,000 in these checks. These funds are spent only at farmers markets and with local farmers for locally grown fruits and vegetables. Without this program, many of these shoppers likely would not have gone to the farmers market or purchased local fresh produce. In addition, given this opportunity to buy local, they may have spent more on fruits and vegetables than the combined $860,000 from the program. 2018 marks the first time our county offices will offer training for this program that helps local farmers and farmers markets, as well as the young families and seniors who participate.

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

County budget time

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 5, 2018

Rumor has it that knowledgeable groundhogs saw their shadows on Friday. So that must mean there are six more weeks until county budgets are due. Each year at about this time all 100 of our county agricultural extension districts are working to complete their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. They have to meet requirements for salaries, travel, rent, office supplies, programming and other educational services. Did you know?

  • Counties begin preparing their budgets in the fall as early as October, but more often in November or December. Initial budgets are prepared using our universal extension accounting system, Microsoft GP.
  • Eventually, detailed budgets are rolled into summary form and must be entered into the Iowa Department of Management’s web-based system, typically in December. The IDOM site provides transparency so the public can easily view their county’s budget plan and tax request.
  • At their January organizational meeting, each county extension council approves the new fiscal year’s budget, directs publishing in the newspaper and sets the date for a public hearing, usually in February or early March.
  • When approved, the budget is marked approved in the IDOM website and filed with the county auditor by March 15.

But the work’s not over yet. At the same time they’re finishing the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, councils also are reviewing the current year’s budget and actual expenditures. If it looks like their expenditures will be higher than originally budgeted, they have to amend the budget, which has to be completed before May 31. Then they have to publish their annual report in the summer and begin an audit in the fall, and before you know it, it’s time to start working on the next year’s budget. We’re lucky to have 900 dedicated county extension council members making sure the county budget process runs smoothly throughout the state, all year long.

Save the date: Our ISU Extension and Outreach annual conference is March 26 in Ames and registration will open this week. I am really excited about this year’s conference as it focuses on two things that speak to us as extension professionals: service to others and networking with a purpose. We will hear from Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa, and get hands-on service with Meals from the Heartland. You will also have ample time to network with colleagues and learn about the different roles ISU Extension and Outreach plays in feeding people.

The theme of annual conference is WE > ME. For those who have forgotten junior high math, it means “we are greater than me.” As ISU Extension and Outreach, we are stronger, smarter and better together. We are a system of professionals with different training and skills, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, you are connected to colleagues who do. We provide a comprehensive approach to finding solutions to both challenges and opportunities for a strong Iowa. I look forward to seeing you March 26.

One final reminder: Nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are due at noon, Feb. 9.

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

Ag innovation … and monarchs

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 16, 2018

Over 100 years ago, ISU Extension and Outreach engaged 4-H youth in growing better varieties of corn as a way to get the innovation to their farmer parents. When your son or daughter has higher yields than you do, you pay attention. That proven method of technology transfer is being rolled out again.

Here in Iowa we care about agricultural innovation and we care about Monarch butterflies. So it’s no surprise that Iowa is leading the five-state implementation of the National 4-H Ag Innovators Experience featuring “Monarchs On the Move!” Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Illinois are aiming to reach 5,000 youth from urban, suburban and rural backgrounds: getting them interested in agriculture innovation and careers, and giving them the opportunity to develop workforce skills to feed the planet. Did you know?

  • Iowa was chosen to be the lead state through a competitive grant process, and we received $20,000 to develop the curriculum. Lynne Campbell, professional development specialist, leads the development team that includes Maya Hayslett (Crop Sciences), Amy Powell (Animal Science), Brandon Kleinke (Integrated Pest Management), Cayla Taylor (4-H Youth Development), and ISU Extension and Outreach Senior Director Chad Higgins from Iowa State; and Richard Hellmich and Keith Bidne from USDA.
  • Three teen leaders and one adult leader from each state will attend the national training on the curriculum at Reiman Gardens Feb. 2-4. Later, each state’s teen leaders will train 20 additional youth to lead local and regional events.
  • Maya Hayslett and Cayla Taylor will lead the program in Iowa. Programming will be delivered in a variety of 4-H formats including day camps, summer camps, school collaboration, afterschool programming and clubs.
  • The 2018 experience focuses on the importance of biodiversity to agriculture, specifically relating to monarch butterfly habitat. Youth get to experience the life of a Monarch caterpillar and the factors that impact whether it survives and becomes a butterfly. They also look at the land from a butterfly’s perspective, as they learn to identify locations where milkweed and nectar plant can be grown – the Monarch idea of a nutritious meal.

Educating youth through the 4-H Ag innovators Experience benefits the butterflies as well as our state overall. We’re also fortunate to have the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, a community-led organization focused on enhancing monarch butterfly reproduction and survival in Iowa. Iowa State is a member of the consortium in partnership with farmer and conservation organizations, state agencies and companies.

A couple more notes

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

What regional directors do

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 6, 2017

In ISU Extension and Outreach, our 20 regional directors work to strengthen the partnership between Iowa State University and county extension districts, resulting in improved institutional outreach and higher quality of life for all Iowans. This statement from the website sounds good, but to understand what regional directors do, consider some examples. Did you know?

  • Regional directors help county extension council members serve effectively. They educate and consult with councils so they are better able to meet the legal, financial and programmatic needs of their extension district.
  • They advise councils and county staff members throughout the complex task of preparing a county budget.
  • Regional directors represent the ISU Vice President of Extension and Outreach in the field and raise the awareness of research and resources available from Iowa State University with extension councils, county staff members and local stakeholders.
  • Regional directors encourage county extension councils to collaborate and implement new initiatives such as the Rising Star Internship program and the Engaged Scholarship program.
  • They also facilitate annual county needs assessments, working in partnership with extension specialists across our four program areas.

Our regional directors have a variety of previous work experience – including K-12 education, social work, city administration and the U.S. Air Force. They also vary by degree – including ag economics, communications, horticulture, and family and consumer sciences. However, they all are deeply committed to taking our university to the people and communicating the needs of Iowans to Iowa State – to help shape research and program priorities.

Sharing Iowa’s history

Last week in Albia, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg helped commemorate the 160th anniversary of the State Historical Society of Iowa and the 50th anniversary of the Iowa Arts Council. The governor and lieutenant governor issued a proclamation, and the governor also added a sticker to the map on the Iowa History 101 mobile museum to recognize the visit to Monroe County, part of the museum’s 99 county tour. We’re glad to be a partner in this effort to bring our state’s history to Iowans.

One more thing: Last week I congratulated the football, cross country and volleyball teams on their success. Iowa State has one more national recognition to celebrate. The Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band has been recognized as one of the nation’s top marching bands. The band has won the 2017-2019 Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The award was announced last December, but the band was honored at the 2017 Homecoming football game. The Drumline from the band performed at the Office Professionals Conference and Youthfest, and they know how to liven up a room. Congratulations to these dedicated students.

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

Strong partnerships for prevention

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 30, 2017

Each partnership is stronger than the one before: That is the model for the work Human Sciences Extension and Outreach does with the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State. This successful working relationship began in the 1990s, with interventions designed to address youth substance abuse and other problem behaviors. As they’ve increased competencies in families and youth, their work has led to a robust research base and international acclaim. Did you know?

  • Human sciences specialists, county staff and community members have led the internationally renowned “Iowa Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14” since the early 1990s. SFP 10-14 is evidence-based, which means we have the research to prove it gets results.
  • Experience with earlier projects led to PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience). These partnerships make it easier to deliver scientifically tested interventions and promote youth competence. Several human sciences specialists spend about 20 percent of their time as prevention coordinators in PROSPER counties.
  • Mackenzie Johnson, a human sciences specialist in family life, is working with PROSPER staff to update the “Family Matters” curriculum, which will be used with two PROSPER projects. She will help the team remain true to the core components of the evidence of the curriculum while updating it to be engaging and usable for today’s parents.
  • Specialists Sara Sprouse, Joyce Lash, Mackenzie Johnson and Lori Hayungs recently were trained in the “Universal Prevention Curriculum.” The goal of the series is to ensure effective delivery of prevention interventions. PROSPER offered this opportunity to our staff in appreciation for the partnership Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has with PPSI.

It is more effective to prevent substance abuse and other problem behaviors before they begin, than to try to stop them after they start. It’s not rocket science; it’s prevention science – and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is a key partner in sustaining these efforts.

A few more notes

  • Iowa State University has a new president, with a close extension connection. Wendy Wintersteen began her career as a field agronomist in east central Iowa, served as an integrated pest management extension associate and worked her way up with leadership positions in ISU Extension and Outreach, as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. We look forward to working with ISU President-Select Wintersteen. (Her official start date is Nov. 20. See the news release and her first message to the Iowa State community.)
  • The application deadline for the 2018 Rising Star Internship program is Nov. 1. For a reminder of why we support this program, watch this video: some of our 2017 Rising Star Interns share their stories.
  • Congratulations to Iowa State’s Women’s and Men’s Cross Country Teams winning the Big XII championship, Women’s Volleyball knocking off #11 Kansas and the Football victory over the second top 5 team in a month. All in Homecoming week!

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

20 years of IECA

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 9, 2017

We’ve been celebrating a lot of county 100-year anniversaries this year, and next year we’ll be celebrating even more. However, there’s another important occasion coming up in 2018: The Iowa Extension Council Association will be 20 years old. The association was incorporated in January 1998. Did you know?

  • IECA provides a way for our county extension councils to have a greater impact and voice on local and state issues. The association monitors legislative action and alerts IECA members to proposed legislation that might affect ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • IECA communicates directly with ISU Extension and Outreach leadership. The board members and executive director make sure we hear concerns, opinions and suggestions from councils throughout the state. They also keep county council members and staff up-to-date on ISU Extension and Outreach plans, policies and initiatives.
  • IECA helps facilitate extension council training, including webinars, extension council orientation and the 2018 Extension Council Conference. IECA members also meet to discuss best practices, common issues and solutions to common problems. This knowledge sharing helps councils adopt necessary changes more quickly.
  • Each spring IECA hosts a legislative day and 4-H public leadership experience at the Iowa Capitol. Council members serve as mentors for selected 4-H’ers, who have the opportunity to meet with legislators and learn about the legislative process.

I met with the IECA Board of Directors in late September. We from campus provided updates on 4-H, a survey of county leaders and progress on a couple of MOUs. The board asked thought-provoking questions and we had a good discussion. Thanks to the IECA structure, we can easily share information and gather feedback. Effective partnerships require communication and trust, and the IECA/ISU Extension and Outreach connection is key to the shared success of both counties and campus.

A couple more notes

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

Everybody’s job

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 25, 2017

Say what you’ll do, do what you say and prove it with numbers. That’s a basic premise of quality management, and it is top of mind as we strive to maintain and improve the quality of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It’s everybody’s job, in every part of our organization, to create and share the value and impact of our work. So we’re taking action to get better at sharing our story. Did you know?

  • Our updated ISU Extension and Outreach strategic plan will be ready sometime this fall.
  • A steering committee is working on developing one reporting system for our entire organization.
  • We’re developing resources for public value training.

Learn more in this video message about our strategic plan, our reporting system and our public value.

still image from John Lawrence video

County Stakeholder Reports

Each fall we ask county offices to create county stakeholder reports highlighting programs with significant local impact. These reports are a good way to help citizens, stakeholders and decision makers understand how we connect the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources. Our goal is to have all the 2017 reports completed by Jan. 1, 2018, before the start of the next legislative session. In the meantime, you can review the 2016 county stakeholder reports online.

Need Input on County Fair MOU template

A couple of weeks ago I shared that a committee representing ISU Extension and Outreach, county fairs and FFA is drafting a template/checklist to help local leaders develop their own county fair MOU. We’re sharing one video message with the three groups at the same time about the process underway and we’re asking everyone for input on what the template/checklist should include. If you have input for the committee, please contact one of these ISU Extension and Outreach representatives before Nov. 1:

  • Bryan Whaley, Region 2 Director, bwhaley@iastate.edu, 515-341-6967
  • Joe Sellers, Beef Field Specialist, sellers@iastate.edu, 641-774-2016
  • Nancy Adrian, Washington County Extension Director, nadrian@iastate.edu, 319-653-4811
  • Mandy Maher, Fremont County Program Coordinator, mmaher@iastate.edu, 712-374-2351
  • Annette Brown, 4-H Youth Program Specialist, annbrown@iastate.edu, 515-432-3882
  • Bob Dodds, Assistant VP, County Services, redodds@iastate.edu, 515-294-0013
  • John Lawrence, Interim VP for Extension and Outreach, jdlaw@iastate.edu, 515-294-6675

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

Minding the store

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 6, 2017

I still remember the first extension publication I authored as a new livestock economist at Iowa State: “Electronic Markets for Feeder Pigs” back in 1992. Think of it as eBay for animals. Maybe it wasn’t pure poetry, but it was good research-based information that farmers could use. We printed a couple thousand copies, which were available from the Extension Distribution Center. Back then it was a warehouse, with extra storage offsite. Every publication was available in print, often by the thousands or tens of thousands. How times have changed! Today there still is some warehouse space with tangible, hard copy publications on the shelf, but most of the inventory is online at the Extension Store. Did you know?

  • Extension’s eCommerce site began in fall 2001 and was primarily text-based with limited details about available publications. Thumbnail images, descriptions, related products and apparel were added in the mid-2000s, after a full time programmer and data architect joined the staff. Enhancements continue today, and the store partners with ISU Information Technology as needed.
  • All of ISU Extension and Outreach’s tangible publications now are warehoused within 4,500 square feet in the Printing and Publications Building on campus. The Garden Calendar (HORT 3027) is the most popular, with approximately 2,500 copies sold each year.
  • The Extension Store has 2,000+ unique digital products from all program areas available for free download. In FY17, those publications collectively were downloaded 1.9 million times worldwide. The Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey (FM 1698) is the most popular digital publication, with 82,500 downloads per year.
  • You can check the Extension Store for new, revised or back in stock titles at any time.
  • The Extension Store also serves as a fulfillment center for several Iowa Department of Public Health divisions, housing more than 200 tangible titles available exclusively to IDPH staff. Annually about 100,000 copies are distributed within Iowa.

The Extension Store’s five fulltime employees have been with ISU Extension and Outreach for 15+ years, on average, but not because they like the fumes from ISU Printing. They are dedicated to getting research-based information to people in Iowa and around the world. The next time you’re on the north side of campus, stop in to say hello and get a tour, and thank them for their efforts.

One more thing: The ISU Trademark Office is sponsoring a contest for county offices for the ISU/Iowa CyDAY Friday on Sept. 8. The county office that shows the most spirit/creativity – AND posts photos to the Iowa State CyStyle Facebook page or emails photos to cydayfriday@iastate.edu – will receive a limited CyDAY Friday prize. Go Cyclones!

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

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