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

August 2019 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Jill Weber, human sciences specialist in nutrition and wellness, has a successful community partnership in West Union (Fayette County). Public Health and Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital worked jointly to create a mobile community teaching kitchen. Funding from 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count helped to provide eight participant stations and one instructor station stocked with tools and equipment. Jill pilot tested classes from the Healthy and Homemade series and provided feedback on the mobile kitchen as the classes progressed. She worked with Master Gardeners on a May herb class and then it was on to jam and salsa workshops for youth and Food Preservation 101 during the county fair. In the fall, she will use the mobile teaching kitchen for a Stay Independent series in Oelwein. The community partners recognize Jill’s teaching abilities in delivering high quality programs, and she appreciates the opportunity to deliver programs in Fayette County using the new teaching kitchen.
  • Suzanne Bartholomae and the family finance team have created a successful partnership with the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS). Including funding, the partnership involves regional delivery of the Creating a Secure Retirement program to IPERS members. During FY20, the team will deliver the program 20 times, including 12 times at the IPERS headquarters in Des Moines by a combination of human sciences specialists in family finance, with Joyce Lash and Barb Wollan co-leading. The summer and autumn regional pilots have been set for Sioux City, Mason City, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa and Council Bluffs. In the next few months, focus groups will be conducted with IPERS members who attended the program in the past year. Late this year and/or early next year focus groups will be held to explore program opportunities with younger IPERS members.
  • Small Talk: Big Future is featured on the APLU Board on Human Sciences website. This program helps parents from many backgrounds to consistently provide enriching language interactions to their children, thus creating habits that may benefit their children for many years to come.

4-H Youth Development

  • Sara Nelson has been hired as the new 4-H STEM program specialist for the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. She will oversee STEM product development and STEM literacy outreach to enhance access to educational learning opportunities for all K-12 youth.
  • In 4-H, parents, extension staff and volunteers communicate and work together to meet each child’s specific needs. Two Washington County youth show what is possible with good communication and understanding prior to the county fair. See the video and news release to learn about Sophie’s and Blake’s stories.
  • 2019 looks to be a record-breaking year for Iowa State Fair 4-H Livestock entries. This year, 8,750 entries have been pre-entered by over 2,300 Iowa 4-H exhibitors. Growth is expected in the individual livestock areas of dairy and meat goat, dog and swine. Pre-entered dairy and meat goat entries have increased by nearly 40 each, dog entries are up 10 and swine numbers are 235 entries higher than previous years.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2018 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll shows Iowa farmers are seeing a steady shift in who is responsible for what happens on the land they farm. The poll showed an increase in farmers who agreed that conservation practices are their responsibility on land they rent as opposed to the land’s owner, although renters were hesitant to invest their own money on structural conservation practices in land they rent. The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll also examined perceptions of quality life and farm financial well-being, awareness of and participation in watershed management activities, and the use of precision agriculture practices.
  • A tool developed at Iowa State University to help farmers make decisions, including decisions about nitrogen applications, has expanded to cover Illinois and Indiana. The FACTS project was launched in 2015 in Iowa to provide yield and soil nitrogen predictions at a field scale. Weather data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, soil information from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and management information from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service and local experts all feed into a single program that quickly analyzes the information to offer meaningful agronomic information.
  • A preventive controls for animal food standardized course to serve employees and managers of facilities that are processing any type of animal food will be held in Ames, Aug. 13-15. The course is offered by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and will help facilities comply with new, good manufacturing practices and implement a written animal food safety plan.

Community and Economic Development

  • Steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts and design teams are presenting final concepts to the public in this stage of the 2019 Community Visioning Program. During August, public presentations will be held in Audubon, Coggon, Durant, Walcott and Van Meter. On Aug. 28, the design team will present the feasibility report to the Durant steering committee.
  • Diane Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions throughout August for the following organizations: the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Davenport, and the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Bettendorf. Diane, along with Himar Hernández, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides, received a Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant to develop the curriculum.
  • Susan Erickson and Lisa Bates will be attending the 2019 Iowa Downtown Conference in Dubuque and providing an ISU Extension and Outreach CED presence as an exhibitor. The Downtown Conference is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

July 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage; steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts. Design review meetings will be held in Durant, Van Meter and Hinton. The public presentation of design concepts will take place in Royal.
  • The 44th Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy is July 15–26 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This is a targeted training for more than 200 city clerks, finance officers and other city staff to further professionalism, knowledge and efficiency in Iowa cities. All training in this venue qualifies for certification within the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association.
  • In July CED specialists Lisa Bates and Brian Perry will be in Osage (Mitchell County) facilitating sessions 3, 4, and 5 of Leading Communities. Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will be delivering Leading Communities in Norway (Benton County). Leading Communities is made possible in part by a vice president for extension and outreach initiative.
  • During July Diane Van Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions at several locations: the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, Jasper County; Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines; Matchstick Marvels, Gladbrook; Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce; Tyden Farm No. 6, near Dougherty; and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Stockman House, the River City Society for Historic Preservation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Historic Park Inn and the MacNider Art Museum, all in Mason City.

Human Sciences

  • Christine Hradek, coordinator for SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, presented to the Cyclone Scholars and George Washington Carver summer interns on June 12. She shared the landscape of healthy food access for Iowans with low income and how Growing Together Iowa aims to improve access to fruits and vegetables.
  • Cindy Thompson, human sciences specialist in family life, co-led her fourth Powerful Tools for Caregivers series, along with a staff member from the Northeast Iowa Area on Aging. Six participants completed the series and one care receiver attended. When asked about their biggest accomplishments during the series, one participant stated, “When my [relative] says he doesn’t want to live, I now say ‘I’m sad you feel that way. That must be hard.’” Another said, “I’m letting go of the guilt a little.” All indicated they would recommend participation in the series to a friend.
  • Nicole Leidal, family nutrition program assistant, and Mary Wilkins, youth outreach coordinator, have been working as a team to provide “wrap around” education for individuals within the Buy Eat Live Healthy classes. As Nicole teaches the nutrition lesson to the parents, Mary provides education to their children, and together they share the other opportunities ISU Extension and Outreach in Story County has for families. The goal is to lessen the burden on the family needing childcare, provide quality adult and child education, and increase awareness of the office. Due to the quality team work of the staff, ISU Extension and Outreach has gained lifelong extension users in Story County.

4-H Youth Development

  • Mahaska County 4-H offered their first Ricochet Leadership Club in 2019. Eleven students in sixth and seventh grade at Oskaloosa Middle School participated in the hybrid Ricochet program partnership between ISU Extension and Outreach in Mahaska County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahaska County, Oskaloosa Middle School, William Penn University, and United Way of Mahaska County. Five William Penn University students served as site-based mentors and helped process Ricochet activities and plan a service project. This program made an impact in the lives of the participants by providing them with a better sense of civic engagement, leadership, communication and teamwork. The group took part in collaborative decision-making processes to figure out the focus for their service project. They voted to fight hunger in the community. The project also provided an opportunity for participants to enhance communication skills. They had to “pitch” the service project to Oskaloosa School District staff. Mentors provided guidance and rehearsal time.
  • Invent STEM is a new Iowa 4-H program focused on wind energy and innovative solutions to real world problems. The program will be available this fall and is sponsored by Alliant Energy. An Iowa State Fair kick-off for Invent STEM will occur on Aug. 11. Youth will be tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine.
  • Healthy living programs at Oakridge reached more than 60 youth this spring. The Des Moines housing complex has a large African refugee population. Intern Tre Goode worked with the high school students over four months – identifying issues in their community, discussing college and career, and planning a community cookout as a way to unite their community and engage youth in 4-H activities. Youth program specialist Lisa Green and 4-H volunteer Gerald Joseph took the middle school youth through a 16-week entrepreneurship program. Youth taught others what they had learned by showcasing their business concepts at the cookout. Goode also worked with a new 4-H volunteer, introducing 4-H to fifth graders in the community by exploring the four priority areas in a weekly after school program. Youth in the Oakridge Community are excited about 4-H and many have asked staff if they could take part next year. A new 4-H volunteer plans to continue programming with the elementary students next year.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Gardeners will have the opportunity to learn about growing cut flowers, sweet corn and tomatoes in the home garden during this year’s Demonstration Garden Field Days, hosted by ISU Extension and Outreach and the ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Seven field days will be held across the state, focusing on three main themes: home-grown bouquets; augmented sweet corn; and a showcase of different types of tomatoes.
  • A series of six agritourism checklists were designed by ISU Extension and Outreach agritourism experts to help ensure farmers and landowners who open their property to the public follow safety best practices. The checklists cover bio-security, emergency preparedness, food safety, pesticide safety, play area safety and negligence mitigation. The checklists are not to be considered a certification, but they can help producers understand their strengths and weaknesses. The checklists are available through the ISU Extension Store (FFED 0025 A-F).
  • Field days and workshops are continuing to be scheduled for this summer 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. Most events are free and open to the public.

June 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2019 Cash Rental Rates for Iowa Survey showed a 1.4% drop in cash rental rates for Iowa farmland, falling to $219 per acre from $222 an acre last year. This drop in rental rates won’t offset a much larger drop in corn and soybean prices, which have fallen 50% and 45%, respectively. Cash rental rates are down about 19% since their all-time high of $270 an acre in 2013, a decline that is in line with a 16.7% drop in land values over that same period. The full Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2019 Survey is available through the ISU Extension Store.
  • The 2019 Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award was given to Master Gardeners in Buchanan County, recognizing their work revitalizing the grounds surrounding the county’s Prairie Pioneer Schoolhouse. Working with the Jesup School District and area businesses, Master Gardeners planted new flowerbeds, revitalized old flowerbeds, seeded prairie wildflowers and added pollinator-friendly plants.

Community and Economic Development

  • Community and Economic Development is now offering data literacy workshops to help Iowans learn the skills needed to understand, visualize, interpret and practice with data relevant to communities, organizations and counties. The data literacy workshops can include a wide variety of topics, reviews of the data included in the Data for Decision Makers profiles, or an in-depth look at selected measures, indicators and trends. The workshops also can provide participants with knowledge and skills to discuss data, and bridge to applications and decision making with the data. During June Sandra Burke will be conducting health data literacy workshops in Cherokee, Cedar Rapids and Boone.
  • In an effort to support independently-owned grocery stores in the rural Heartland, the CED program partnered with the Kansas State University Center for Engagement and Community Development and the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships to develop the proposal “Food Access and Independent Grocers: Strengthening Food Securities in Underserved Communities.” The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development funded the proposal with a planning grant of $22,012. The goal of the proposal is to compile existing resources that support independently owned groceries as sites of food security, social centers and economic opportunity from the three land-grant university partners; review the resources; and identify gaps where development of additional resources is needed. From there, the partner institutions will develop a joint curriculum for working with independently owned grocers that could be shared throughout the Heartland. On June 26–28 Lisa Bates and John Wolseth will be hosting colleagues from KSU and UME as part of this project.
  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program begins transitioning from the assessment process to goal setting and design workshops. Goal-setting meetings are being conducted in Bedford, Coggon and Graettinger. Communities holding design workshops include Van Meter, Bedford, Coggon, Walcott and Sumner. The public is invited to attend and provide input on preliminary transportation enhancement plans.
  • During June Leading Communities sessions will take place in Mitchell and Benton counties. The program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • Through a partnership with Hawkeye Community College, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach offered the How to Manage Your Money program to students who were English language learners. The community college also requested education about tax filing; eight students visited a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in Chickasaw County in spring 2018 and indicated an interest in learning more. Extension and Outreach partnered with a local nonprofit, and classes to train volunteers took place in fall 2018. In January 2019, five students (four Congolese and one Burmese ) and one individual from the nonprofit were certified as VITA program volunteers. Currently the site provides services in English, French and Burmese; Bosnian- and Spanish-speaking volunteers will be needed in the future. The Hawkeye Community College ELL program includes 805 students who represent 47 countries. During the 2019 tax season, 47 returns were completed; the majority of individuals assisted were part of the immigrant population. It is anticipated that the number of volunteers and returns completed will increase next year. The IRS visited the site and provided a positive review of the VITA Program.
  • Lori Hayungs, human sciences specialist in family life, and Sue Boettcher, human sciences program coordinator in Dickinson County, have worked together to provide outreach to people with Parkinson’s disease. As a result, Sue has connected with local partners and a Parkinson’s group is launching in June. Sue is reaching out to similar groups around the state to inquire how they conduct their groups, and also has been in contact with Elizabeth L. Stegemöller, in the Department of Kinesiology, whose research includes how music therapy can benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

4-H Youth Development

  • Ninety-seven youth have been selected to attend the 2019 Animal Science Roundup as part of the State 4-H Conference June 25-27. This year marks the most species groups yet, including beef, dairy cattle, horse, meat goat (new), poultry, sheep and swine. Animal science faculty and staff are partners in this hands-on, science-based event.
  • In partnership with Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group and National 4-H Council, Iowa 4-H once again was selected for a grant to implement the 4-H Ag Commodity Carnival. Currently, 11 fairs (including the Iowa State Fair) are scheduled to host the hands-on activity with a targeted reach of more than 8,000 youth.
  • More than 50 Native Bee Challenge events are scheduled in 27 counties across the state this year. So far 4-H has completed 18 of these events, reaching more than 727 youth. Events are being facilitated by trained teen leaders, staff and volunteers. 4-H trained seven additional teen leaders at the 4-H Connect Retreat in April.
  • Nearly 170 youth and adult chaperones took part in the 2019 4-H Connect Retreat held at both Iowa State University and Clover Woods Camping Center. Many county, field and state 4-H staff collaborated to make this a successful educational event for youth from across Iowa. This year’s retreat included New Volunteer Training for the adult chaperones, a more extensive chaperone orientation and Clover Woods tour, a partnership with the Experience Iowa State organization, and the integration of the 4-H Youth Leadership Planning Team. Initial feedback from the event has indicated that the youth learned more about themselves, their interests and made new friends, while the chaperones felt more a part of the planning process and involved in steps moving forward to engage long-term with the Iowa 4-H Program.

May 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • Once a month, Cerro Gordo County 4-H news and photos are featured in one full page in the Globe Gazette. Ads from area businesses, arranged by the Globe Gazette, pay for the page. This innovative, new partnership has begun thanks to Kelsey Spotts, Cerro Gordo County youth coordinator, and it is working. For the first time in many years, spring break camps were full.
  • Norma Dorado-Robles, youth program specialist, developed a new partnership with the Marshalltown High School Mathematics’ Department. She engaged 50 freshman youth throughout the school day in sampling a 4-H STEM Lit-to-Go activity at the Math Center. At least 80% of the youth that day had little to no prior knowledge about 4-H. Many of these students were very interested in a follow-up session that will be part of the 4-H youth needs assessment facilitated by Norma and Ani Das, 4-H youth stakeholder and partnership coordinator.
  • 4-H Healthy Living and the SWITCH program were featured at the Iowa Department of Education’s School Wellness Conference on March 28. School staff in attendance learned about “Engaging Youth to Enhance School Wellness Initiatives.” 4-H SWITCH Ambassadors from Earlham Middle School co-presented about their involvement in boosting wellness opportunities for their peers. They taught the audience a brain break and led a taste test to demonstrate the Cafeteria Coaching program. Many schools were intrigued by SWITCH and the ISU Extension and Outreach partnership with schools; 4-H hopes this will help grow recruitment for the upcoming year.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Master Conservationist program will be offered in four locations across Iowa in 2019. The program will take place in Region 7 (Humboldt, Wright, Webster and Hamilton counties), Region 14 (Jasper, Poweshiek, Marion and Mahaska counties), Story County and West Pottawattamie County. The program is designed to create a community of passionate conservationists and is led by local conservation professionals, state specialists and Iowa State experts.
  • The inaugural Iowa Equine Day will be held May 4 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames. The event will feature presentations related to horse and rider care, safety and horse nutrition. A ranch riding and showmanship clinic presented by Doug Bogart also will be held.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program completed community assessment work on April 6 and local steering committees are reviewing the assessment data provided by the ISU research team. In May, assessment reviews will be conducted in Walcott, Coggon and Durant. Following the assessment reviews, steering committees will conduct performance objectives meetings in Walcott (May 15) and Durant (May 22).
  • CED is working with Human Sciences on Early Childhood Iowa, a federal grant that focuses on identifying challenges and issues regarding childcare in Iowa for children ranging from infant to preschool age. During May, CED specialists will be conducting focus groups with parents, preschool providers, and daycare providers in Storm Lake, Creston, Marshalltown, Waterloo, Mount Pleasant, West Des Moines and Fort Dodge.
  • The Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshop is a three-hour session designed to introduce the basic principles of land use planning and development management to elected officials, planning and zoning officials, and board of adjustment members without formal training in the subjects. In May, workshops will be conducted in Dubuque, Fairfield and Davenport.
  • CED is now offering data literacy workshops to help Iowans learn the skills needed to understand, visualize, interpret and practice with data relevant to communities, organizations and counties. The data literacy workshops can include a wide variety of topics, reviews of the data included in the Data for Decision Makers profiles, or an in-depth look at selected measures, indicators and trends. The workshops also can provide participants with knowledge and skills to discuss data and bridge to applications and decision making with the data. Sandra Burke will be conducting health data literacy workshops in Boone, Davenport and Adel during May.

Human Sciences

  • Boone County will become the first Kids in the Kitchen rural site with a current staff member trained to deliver Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) curricula for youth as a regular aspect of programming. Boone County will begin service this summer. This approach should help expand youth EFNEP programming to rural areas in a way that is cost-effective and sustainable.
  • Nine human sciences specialists are trained to deliver “Growing Up Wild.” The four-hour workshop requires two facilitators – an outdoor educator and an early childhood specialist. Human sciences specialists have worked with 38 naturalists in the last five years at 35 training locations, reaching 560 participants representing 58 counties. Barb Gigar, Project WILD state coordinator from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is the lead state partner for this effort. Human Sciences Extension and Outreach also is sharing the program beyond Iowa. On April 10, Kim Brantner, Cindy Thompson and Joy Rouse presented a national webinar for the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, reaching 22 participants representing 21 states. Their presentation helped participants understand the benefits of nature in early education, learn about Growing Up Wild and explore collaboration options for outdoor education.

April 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • The Financial Literacy Lesson Plans (Grades K-5) curriculum is available for free download from the ISU Extension Store, either by grade level or as an entire K-5 curriculum. The user guide includes the scope and sequence of four lessons for each grade. Each lesson provides an overview of the agenda, purpose, objectives, needed preparation, vocabulary and standard(s) being addressed. There are directions for the lesson warm-up, main activity, wrap-up and reflection; ideas for extending the lesson; and home talk with parents or guardians. Worksheets and graphics are included, and most lessons feature reading and discussion of a storybook as the main activity. Support from the Iowa Insurance Division made the project possible.
  • In “A Journey Through Parkinson’s Disease,” participants learn how to recognize the symptoms of PD; how to seek medical care and what to expect; the causes of PD; how treatments work; alternative therapies, such as singing and exercise; and simple at-home activities and tools to help with symptoms. Sessions are held once a week for three weeks with each session lasting 45 minutes. Program authors Elizabeth Stegemӧller and David Brown trained facilitators in August 2018. After some time spent developing partnerships, planning and marketing, the facilitators are now implementing the program. Sessions have been held in Keosauqua, Cherokee and Sioux City, and with extension county partners, Siouxland Aging Coalition members, Dickinson County with the local YMCA and in Chickasaw County with Mercy Hospital in New Hampton.
  • The Sioux County PROSPER Team, in conjunction with West Sioux Schools and Hawarden community leaders, created Hawarden Table Talks to increase engagement of community businesses and citizens with the issue of youth risk-taking behaviors. Conversations focused on supporting youth and encouraging their families to engage in the community. Over the last several months, more community leaders have joined the conversation, increasing the capacity of the group and resulting in an investigation of transitioning to a community coalition. Leaders of the Table Talks recognize that creating opportunities that encourage building relationships with youth and adults from all cultures will benefit the overall workforce development of Hawarden.
  • Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook is a four-lesson series on basic nutrition, meal planning, saving money and cooking skills. It takes roughly four hours to deliver and is appropriate for a wide variety of participants. The SNAP-Ed funded staff are learning and practicing the lessons with anticipated implementation in late April or May.

4-H Youth Development

  • Maya Hayslett, 4-H crop science specialist, has been training teen leaders for the Native Bee Challenge. This statewide program includes hands-on activities facilitated by teen leaders in many locations across the state. In March, 18 youth and 10 adult staff and volunteers attended the state training at Reiman Gardens to learn about the program’s educational activities and how to lead the challenge. Each youth will share the program with 50 youth in grades 4-8 in their home communities.
  • H2Oh! Is a new program on well water safety being piloted in Story, Tama and Jefferson counties. The feedback from the pilots will be used to revise the program, which will then be available for all counties to use. Results also will be presented at the Iowa Governors Conference on Public Health in April.
  • Thirty-nine SWITCH schools have wrapped up nine weeks of program implementation focusing on how their students can “switch what they do, view and chew.” Students are tracking their health behaviors each week in their web-based accounts. Middle school students are challenged to establish a goal that they actively work toward and document the following week. 4-H has been seeing great outcomes from schools’ special projects to enhance wellness in their school, activating their lessons and incorporating more movement while learning. Schools are now helping to design a sensory walkway that can be incorporated in school hallways to encourage sensory-based movement to release energy, boost brain function and create focus upon entry to the classroom. As SWITCH wraps up for this year, 4-H is preparing to recruit for the 2019-2020 school year.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Prices for performing custom work are expected to jump in 2019, according to the 2019 Custom Rate Survey. The survey showed a 7% price increase across all surveyed categories. Changes from 2018 to 2019 varied across categories, with complete harvesting and hauling for corn and soybeans increasing by 6% and hired labor going up 7%. The full survey is available through Ag Decision Maker or the ISU Extension Store and was conducted by Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist.
  • Registration for the ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program is now available online. Classes will be held across the state this fall; contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office for training locations and start dates. After completing the course, Master Gardener trainees volunteer within the community, volunteering 40 hours. To maintain Master Gardener volunteer status, they volunteer 20 hours per year and build their gardening know-how by participating in 10 hours of continuing education.
  • Adam Janke’s Woodworking for Wildlife publications highlight simple projects that can enhance habitat for animals in a backyard. Three publications provide detailed instructions and a materials list for creating a backyard bat box, blue bird box, and wood duck box. Janke, assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist, also includes basic information about the animals each project is designed to attract. A fourth publication provides instructions and a materials list to build the iconic Aldo Leopold bench.

Community and Economic Development

  • Iowa Retail Initiative provides the foundation for local retail decision makers to assess and work to address their community’s existing and future retail districts. IRI has recently gone through an update or “reboot” into a comprehensive approach that includes a three-part, nested program — consisting of IRI Champions, IRI Coaching and IRI Snapshot — to enhance and strengthen local retail. The first step in the program is the IRI Champions workshop, which provides training and resources to community decision makers and retail supporters, such as chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. During the day-long workshop, participants will learn how they can assess existing and future retail needs, evaluate their retail district amenities, identify funding opportunities, maximize the use of social media, and explore retail niches. CED specialists Steve Adams, Lisa Bates, Susan Erickson, and Victor Oyervides piloted IRI Champions in Wright County on April 2.
  • CED is now offering data literacy workshops to help Iowans learn the skills needed to understand, visualize, interpret and practice with data relevant to communities, organizations and counties. The data literacy workshops can include a wide variety of topics, reviews of the data included in the Data for Decision Makers profiles, or an in-depth look at selected measures, indicators, and trends. The workshops also can provide participants with knowledge and skills to discuss data and bridge to applications and decision making with the data. Sandra Burke will be conducting two health data literacy workshops in Muscatine on April 26.
  • Diane Van Wyngarden, Himar Hernández, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides received a Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant to develop a new Iowa tourism guide program curriculum. A statewide guide training workshop will be held at the Central Iowa Expo in Boone April 11. The workshop is designed specifically for staff and volunteers who lead guided programs at Iowa’s community tourism attractions, including but not limited to museums, parks and conservation areas, historic sites, science centers and agritourism.
  • The Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshop is a three-hour session designed to introduce the basic principles of land use planning and development management to elected officials, planning and zoning officials, and board of adjustment members without formal training in the subjects. During April, workshops will be conducted in Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Johnston and Council Bluffs.
  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program continues with community assessment work in April, including the final transportation assets and barriers focus group workshop in Coggon; a bioregional assessment in Durant; transportation inventory and analyses in Sumner, Durant and Walcott; and a review of all community assessments in Sumner.

March 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • Transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops are continuing in Community Visioning Program communities. The workshops are part of the assessment process conducted in client communities to provide local decision makers with a framework for making informed choices. In March, CED specialists Abbie Gaffey, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating the focus groups in Durant, Van Meter, Audubon, Bedford and Treynor.
  • On March 20, the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission will hold its 33rd annual symposium. “Move Passion to Progress” will highlight the goal of helping people move beyond emotions toward tangible, substantive community progress. The symposium will feature national speakers Richard Edmond Vargas (subject of the CNN documentary, “The Feminist in Cell Block Y”), and Linda Sarsour (cofounder of the Women’s March) to motivate attendees to move beyond just being passionate and moving their communities toward progress. ISU Extension and Outreach community development specialist Kameron Middlebrooks is the chair of the Des Moines Human Rights Commission.
  • On March 29 in Des Moines, the Community Food Systems program will hold its fourth annual event. The goal is to engage, support and inspire individuals from all areas of Iowa’s food system in conversation about community food systems. Participants will attend workshops, hear from expert panelists and speakers, and network with colleagues, building robust local food systems all across Iowa.
  • In March, CED specialists Lisa Bates and Brian Perry will be in Osage working with a group to bring Leading Communities to the county. CED specialists Eric Christianson and Shelley Oltmans will be facilitating Leading Communities in Wever. CED specialists Himar Hernández and Jon Wolseth will deliver session five of Leading Communities in Mount Pleasant. The Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach Initiative.

Human Sciences

  • Two new healthy food access specialists started work in February. They will partner with food banks, food pantries and Growing Together Iowa projects to promote healthy food access for Iowans experiencing poverty. Judy Dittmar is housed in the West Pottawattamie office and Jen Lamos is located in the Johnson County office.
  • During federal FY 2018, the “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” app was installed on 3,406 mobile devices. Apple installs were down, compared with FY 2017, while Android increased 150 percent. The “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” website had 119,546 users (an increase of 22 percent over federal FY 2017): 77 percent of users are age 44 or younger, and 73 percent of users are female. The vast majority of users access the website in English; 113 accessed it in Spanish and 105 in Chinese. Forty-seven percent of users now access the site via a mobile device.
  • “Market Outlook 2019 and Stress of the Farm: Strategies that Help” was developed to offer agriculture producers and agribusiness professionals an opportunity to learn more about the signs of stress, how to cope with stress, how to help others and available resources. In this way, the agriculture producer and agribusiness professional may be more aware of the signs of stress, and also be more willing to help others to find the assistance they need. This effort was a collaboration with Chad Hart, associate professor of economics and extension crop markets specialist, and eight human sciences specialists in family life; Lori Hayungs, Mackenzie Johnson, Kim Brantner, Joy Rouse, David Brown, Cindy Thompson, Dawn Dunnegan and Barb Dunn-Swanson. In January, the session was offered across Iowa at 14 Crop Advantage meetings. Approximately, 2,127 agriculture producers and agribusiness professionals attended, and 563 participants completed evaluations. The following results note the percentage of participants who responded either strongly agree or somewhat agree that they feel more confident that they can:
    • Recognize the signs that someone may be dealing with stress (82 percent; N = 481)
    • Use the strategies that help with stress for myself or to assist others (80 percent; N = 478)
    • Offer help to someone who may be stressed or in a crisis (79 percent; N = 476)

4-H Youth Development

  • Marybeth Foster, Leslie Stonehocker and Bonnie Dalager worked with field specialists and county staff to streamline the data collection process. The Annual County Plan of Work Form and new Program Data Collection Form (formerly known as the Group Enrollment Form) were simplified significantly. In all, nine separate forms were condensed to just two forms. The goal was to create a process that provides clarity and simplicity for county staff and youth program specialists, and encourages a culture of reporting by filling out a report form for every event, no matter the number of education hours. Compiled information will be used in state and federal reports.
  • The National 4-H Ag Innovator’s Experience national training was held Feb. 8-10 at Reiman Gardens in Ames. Twenty teens and adults from Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa came to the Iowa State campus for the national training to hear from experts and participate in learning experiences about pollination and native bees. They will take this information back to their states and host their own trainings. The state training for Iowa was March 2-3 in Ames.
  • Dickinson County started Clover Kids in January 2019 for the first time in 13 years. Clover Kids has been started as an after-school program in three towns. In two of the towns, 4-H is partnering with local libraries. Friends of the library are providing snacks for the program. This partnership is a perfect fit, as both libraries were looking to increase youth programming. Each month the Clover Kids receive a list of books available at the library for check out that tie in with the theme. The third location is in a smaller community that did not have many after school activities. Clover Kids sessions will be hosted at the school with the support of one faculty member per session. So far 52 Clover Kids have enrolled and they are in the process of making their first Clover Kids Fairbook.
  • Counties across Iowa spent January and February conducting annual 4-H volunteer training. This year the theme was “4-H Fosters Independence.”

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • A new publication from the Iowa Beef Center highlights a project that was designed to identify costs, environmental impacts and best practices for Iowa cow-calf operations. “Iowa Cow-calf Production – Exploring Different Management Systems” (IBC 0131) is the result of cooperation of Iowa State and producers, with Iowa Beef Center faculty and specialists examining years of production results to better understand how traditional grazing, extensive grazing and limited or no grazing operations run across the state. The data were used to develop decision aids and educational tools to assist cow-calf producers across all systems and improve sustainability of the cow-calf segment in Iowa.
  • “Learn It. Do it. Share it.” is the theme of the third annual Women in Agriculture Conference, set for March 23 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The conference’s goal is to show women of all ages the importance of not just learning something, but how to put that knowledge into action and share it with others. More information about the conference and registration can be found through the ISU Extension and Outreach Washington County office.
  • Growing Together Mini-Grants have been awarded to 22 Iowa projects. This is the fourth year mini-grant funds have been available through the ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program, with more than $50,000 in grant money from the SNAP-Education program being distributed across the state. The projects being funded are focused on increasing food security and promoting healthy food access throughout Iowa. A full list of the projects funded through the mini-grants can be found online.

February 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The ISU Extension and Outreach farm management team held 12 Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars during November and December, reaching 450 people with information on market outlook, profit potential, international ag and changes with cooperatives. A majority of attendees were ag lenders and other ag professionals, who walked away with ISU Extension and Outreach research-based materials that they could share with their clients. According to surveys conducted after the meetings, those in attendance will provide this information to an additional 3,400 people across the state.
  • Three Master Gardener webcasts this winter will discuss managing vegetable pests, engaging with new audiences and gardening in containers. The one-hour webcasts will be shown at ISU Extension and Outreach county offices and are free-of-charge and open to anyone who may be interested.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program will be conducting a series of “transportation assets and barriers” focus-group workshops in 10 communities. The workshops are part of the assessment process that the program conducts in client communities to provide local decision makers a framework within which to make informed choices. In February CED specialists Abbie Gaffey, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating focus groups in Royal, Hinton, Coggon, Sumner and Walcott.
  • Hosted by the Evelyn K. Davis Center in Des Moines, Master Business Bootcamp helps small business owners to improve their business outcomes through business workshops and one-on-one membership. Participants will be working on how to increase small business profit margins and sharpen their business practices. On Mondays in February, CED specialist Kameron Middlebrooks will be facilitating the bootcamp.
  • During February, Hawarden, Paullina, Sheldon, Hartley, Sanborn, Sutherland and Boone will be participating in Marketing Hometown America. Community and Economic Development offers the program to help communities focus on what people are looking for when they choose a place to live and do business.
  • During February, CED specialists will be conducting Township Trustee Training in Mills, Lucas, Louisa and Howard counties. Township trustee and clerk workshops help locally elected township clerks and trustees understand their roles and responsibilities. Iowa residents living in rural areas outside of incorporated cities rely on their local township government to provide a broad range of services, from vital functions such as fire protection to maintenance of public cemeteries and the resolution of fence disputes.

 

Human Sciences

  • The Parent Education Collaborative in Linn County is celebrating 20 years of improving child outcomes. In 1996, Kristi Cooper, a human sciences specialist in family life, and the county director brought together people interested in parent education. Through all these years, the collaborative has engaged in a shared mission and with shared leadership. Extension and Outreach has remained a staunch partner. For more information, contact Kristi Cooper, kcoop@iastate.edu.
  • Iowa State, Purdue, University of Illinois, University of Nebraska and University of Wisconsin participate in Growing Together, a multi-state SNAP-Ed and Master Gardener project to increase access to fruits and vegetables in food pantries. During the 2018 growing season 142,523 pounds of fruits and vegetables were supplied to food pantries and distribution sites, and 131,993 people with low income were served. In addition, 964 Master Gardener volunteers contributed their time and 615 community partners and agencies cooperated on the project.
  • Kids in the Kitchen reach and results for federal FY 2018 are as follows: 778 youth were served in EFNEP-funded counties (Black Hawk and Polk); 45 percent identified with an under-represented racial group; 10 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino; 73 percent of kindergarteners through second graders improved knowledge in choosing foods consistent with Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and 79 percent of children in grades 3-5 improved knowledge in choosing foods consistent with the guidelines.
  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) throughout 2019, in alignment with coordinated initiatives across the country. Watch social media for updates.

4-H Youth Development

  • Norma Dorado-Robles will lead an Iowa 4-H Recruitment, Retention and Engagement pilot to better engage underserved and underrepresented youth, parents and volunteers in four focus communities: Ames, Marshalltown, Meskwaki Settlement and Cedar Rapids. She also is working on a multidisciplinary College and Career Readiness Work Group to help develop and test new family curriculum and wrap-around components to encourage post-secondary education and career opportunities for different cultural groups.
  • Recent 4-H STEM activities around the state include: Cass County collaborating with Nishna Valley YMCA to offer a squeaky-clean magnets day camp for third through fifth graders; Dubuque County partnering with James Kennedy Public Library to offer an electrical engineering camp for third through fifth graders; the new 4-H club at Marshalltown’s Lenihan Intermediate School participating in “Engineering is Elementary” to learn about invasive species and water quality; and Warren County collaborating with the Irving Elementary School in Indianola and Heartland AEA to host the first STEAM Day with grades K-5.
  • Eleven Healthy Living Ambassadors have been selected from regions across the state to be leaders for delivering wellness initiatives and providing educational opportunities for youth in their communities. These ambassadors will represent Iowa 4-H at the National 4-H Healthy Living Summit in February to explore all the areas of wellness through workshops, guest presenters, networking with other 4-H programs from across the country, and career panelists. They will gather new ideas and put together an action plan for how they can make our state a healthy and strong Iowa.

January 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • Fifty youth from 17 counties participated in Beef Blast in December: 100 percent of youth gained new knowledge in beef quality and yield grading; 78 percent gained new knowledge in beef selection and evaluation; 84 percent gained new knowledge in beef management; 66 percent gained new knowledge in advocacy; and 91 percent gained new knowledge about the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the department of animal science.
  • Iowa 4-H has received the National 4-H Council Ag Innovators State Implementation Grant. This means that Iowa will host a series of workshops across the state called “The Native Bee Challenge,” reaching at least 1,000 youth in grades 3 to 8 with curriculum facilitated by trained teen leaders.
  • The State 4-H Council participated in the annual Youth-Adult Partnership Training in Ames. Council members brought a caring adult with them, someone that they have worked closely with or who has played a positive role in their 4-H career. Both the youth and adults participated in a variety of activities throughout the training. They learned about youth in governance, 4-H yoga, leadership styles, creating action plans, and understanding the value of working together in decision making opportunities within their schools, communities, 4-H and beyond.
  • Iowa 4-H has received three STEM grants. Iowa 4-H was awarded $55,000 from Alliant Energy to develop and implement Invent STEM. This curriculum will focus for the first year on wind energy and the STEM behind wind turbines. Iowa 4-H also was awarded $20,000 from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. The award is for FLEx Space: No Limits. It will focus on developing virtual reality experiences that celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission. In addition, Iowa 4-H was awarded $38,400 from National 4-H Council for the 4-H and Microsoft Digital Ambassadors program to fund local projects in Muscatine and Clinton counties. The Digital Ambassadors program will help close the broadband internet access gap in 80 counties across the United States. This partnership will elevate teens to be teachers by providing training and communication to help adults in their community increase their comfort level for using technology. This work will impact education, workforce development and community sustainability.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa State University has received a grant to continue hosting the North Central Region Center for FSMA Training, Extension and Technical Assistance to help fruit and vegetable growers and processors comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The nearly $800,000 grant from the USDA continues to fund ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff efforts to support the infrastructure of the national food safety program by communicating and coordinating information within the North Central Region related to the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Control Rule.
  • Results of the 2018 ISU Land Value Survey were released on Dec. 12 at a press conference held by Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist. The average statewide value of an acre of farmland decreased by 0.8 percent, marking a decline in farmland values for the fourth time in the last five years. An average acre of Iowa farmland is now valued at $7,264 an acre. Full results of the ISU Land Value Survey are available through the ISU Extension Store.
  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Beginning Farmer Center is hosting its Returning to the Farm Seminar on Jan. 10-11 and Feb. 8-9. The event provides a place for conversations about when a farm transition from one generation to the next should be made and the direction of the farm. The four-day seminar also allows families to begin developing a succession plan. Additional program and registration information can be found through the Beginning Farmer Center website.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program kicked off on Nov. 16 with the Iowa’s Living Roadways Annual Celebration. In January, the following communities will be conducting their first meeting: Sumner, Coggon, Treynor and Audubon. ISU program staff conducted training on the visioning process for Trees Forever field coordinators, landscape architects and design interns on Jan. 9 in Ames.
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development unit has been offering the Marketing Hometown America program that has been successfully used by Cooperative Extension programs in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota to help communities home in on what people are looking for when they choose a place to live and do business. In January, CED specialist Jane Goeken will meet with MHA coordinators in O’Brien County and in Hawarden (Sioux County).
  • On Jan. 2, Himar Hernández facilitated a community partners presentation to the Appanoose County Extension Council on the Leading Communities program. Brian Perry, Lisa Bates and Deb Tootle will be in Osage meeting with the Mitchell County Leading Communities planning committee on Jan. 17 to explain the program and demonstrate a module. On Jan. 22, Himar Hernández and Jon Wolseth will be facilitating the program in Mount Pleasant (Henry County). This Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.
  • The Office of State and Local Government Programs began conducting township trustee and clerk workshops in the 1970s to help trustees and clerks understand their roles and responsibilities. In January, CED specialists will be conducting Township Trustee Training in Ida Grove (Ida County), Spencer (Clay County), Montrose (Lee County) and Greenfield (Madison County).
  • Susan Erickson will be in Lenox for an Iowa Retail Initiative Champions Workshop with Lisa Bates, Victor Oyervides, Steve Adams and Jon Wolseth. The team is conducting the first pilot of the workshop for multiple community leaders around the Lenox area.

Human Sciences

  • In November, 14 child care providers attended an Infant Feeding 101 training at the Johnson County Extension Office. The participating child care providers were from both center and home settings. Objectives of the training included teaching the benefits of breastfeeding, appropriate bottle and formula preparation, Child and Adult Care Food Program guidelines for 0-12 months of age, and paced bottle feeding. The training was sponsored by 4Cs Community Coordinated Child Care in Iowa City, which administers the CACFP program in Johnson County. The training was co-taught by Kelsey Salow and Rachel Wall, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness.
  • The following data represent “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” achievements for federal FY 2018 (SNAP-Ed and EFNEP funded):
    — Staff partnered with 218 different agencies including 37 new partnerships in 2018.
    — 959 total participants, 93 percent female, 74 percent age 40 or younger.
    — 71 percent identify as White, 16 percent as Black or African American, and 27 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.
    — 69 percent have income at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, and 84 percent receive public assistance.
    — 95 percent improved diet quality, 86 percent increased their physical activity, 84 percent improved food safety practices, 47 percent reported increased food security and 87 percent reported improved food resource management.
  • Powerful Tools for Caregivers provides caregivers with “tools” to help them reduce stress, improve caregiving confidence, establish balance in their lives, communicate their needs, make decisions, and locate helpful resources. In fall 2018, O’Brien County hosted nine to 15 local caregivers for each week of the six-week series. Five caregivers participated in the series hosted by Dickinson County. One participant’s comments captured ideas that many had expressed: “I am taking better care of myself and I have less guilt. I feel less ‘alone’ knowing that others understand. I have better approaches.”

December 2018 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach staff are organized into two-region “blocks” throughout the state, although regions that are more populous stand alone. County staff partners who focus on human sciences work are also part of the block teams. Staff within Block 1/5 (comprised of regions 1 and 5) prepare an annual educational offerings report and map. The document highlights efforts via face-to-face contacts, including the numbers reached in terms of educational offerings, sessions and participants for each county, and a listing of the various educational offerings delivered. The report also features highlights of other work accomplished throughout the year, including newsletters, blogs, community meetings and more. This fiscal year, the staff in Blocks 1 and 5 hosted 142 educational offerings with 205 sessions and reached 3,037 participants throughout the nine counties. On average, they impacted 21 Iowans with each offering.
  • Cindy Thompson, Kim Brantner, Joy Rouse and Mackenzie Johnson, all human sciences specialists in family life, have been accepted to present a national webinar for the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences titled, “Birds, Bugs and the Benefits of Collaboration in Supporting Children’s Sense of Wonder through Nature.” The specialists will explore with participants the benefits of children’s exposure to nature. They will discuss the role early education professionals play in creating these experiences and the importance of collaboration in enhancing early education trainings. They will share information about Growing Up WILD, a Project WILD resource, and how it can be used locally.

4-H Youth Development

  • State 4-H staff partnered with Region 4 staff to pilot “Youth Voice in Action” in Fayette at Upper Iowa University. Nine schools from six counties brought a team of four to six students, chaperoned by a teacher, to participate in this civic engagement experience for sixth through eighth grade students. Students participated in an educational workshop of their choice related to 4-H priority areas. Local professionals in those fields led these workshops. Students also learned about their leadership style and how it can help them communicate and work closely with others in a variety of settings. Finally, the nearly 55 youth and their adult mentors participated in a service project, heard from a police officer about why he chose a career in service, and then worked as school teams to create an action plan for implementing a service project in their communities or schools.
  • In November, 42 school core teams and extension staff who support those counties attended the annual SWITCH Conference trainings. Attendees learned how to implement the SWITCH program to help students monitor their health habits and establish goals to make better choices to impact health. The schools piloting the new middle school program participated. Three schools brought a team of youth to be trained as SWITCH ambassadors. These youth learned how to switch what they do, view and chew. The youth ambassador teams strategized how to make a healthy change in their school related to these behaviors. Then they shared it with their adult school team and discussed how to collaborate on these initiatives to improve school wellness.
  • In October, Sioux, O’Brien, Lyon, Osceola, Plymouth and Chereokee counties held their annual STEMfest at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon. The event is a partnership between the community college, ISU Extension and Outreach, and other local entities. Area youth participate in a day-long STEM experience, including sessions on Robot Olympics, Drones, Fossil Discovery, Maker Space, Water Quality and heart monitors. Afterward, the event received positive feedback. For example, a parent posted a review on the Sioux County Facebook page, saying their child enjoyed STEMfest greatly and that it was worth the 320 mile round trip they made to attend.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Designing an effective weed management plan to combat troublesome weeds and delay the development of herbicide resistance requires careful planning. An online course, “Herbicide Resistance and Weed Management,” provides farmers and agribusinesses the necessary tools and resources to create an effective long-term weed management plan. The interactive and self-paced course contains presentations narrated by ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and specialists, along with lesson activities that can be completed according to the user’s timeline.
  • The third Soil Health Conference will be held in Ames on Feb. 4-5, 2019. The event will consist of two full days of presentations on a wide variety of topics related to “Science Meets Practice for Advancing Soil Health.” Topics covered include economics of soil health, agronomic and economic benefits of soil health, integration of perennials in row cropping systems, and landowner and manager roles in building soil health.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach economists are offering valuable insights on key factors impacting 2019 operating decisions at 12 Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars across the state in November and December. Each three-hour seminar includes information on grain price outlook and global factors to watch, livestock prices and margins, and farmland operating margins, outlook and trends. A full list of dates and locations can be found on the Ag Decision Maker website.

Community and Economic Development

  • ISU Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development program will be facilitating goal setting and strategic planning for local governments and nonprofits, a role previously provided by the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. In April 2018, UI announced it was closing the institute, along with several other programs. The institute’s mission was to provide information and services that assist in maintaining and strengthening the effectiveness of Iowa’s state and local governments. CED staff have had a long history of working with the institute to provide services and educational programming. In December, CED specialists will be presenting goal-setting workshops in Carroll and Manchester, and conducting strategic planning with Ringgold County Support Services in Mt. Ayr. During these sessions, leadership teams address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop action plans to accomplish those priorities.
  • Other CED programming for local governments in December includes the following: Data analyst Erin Mullenix will present the advanced session of the Iowa League of Cities Budget Workshop in Fairfield and Johnston. CED specialist Eric Christianson will conduct an Introduction to Planning and Zoning workshop in Warren County.

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