Taking research on the road

John Lawrence’s message from June 10, 2019

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

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

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

Structured for Success

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

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

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

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

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

Dodds announces retirement

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

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

Goodbye … and welcome

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

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

We welcome the following new staff:

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

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

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

MyExtension is our connection

John Lawrence’s message from May 28, 2019

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

Guiding tourism for success

John Lawrence’s message from May 20, 2019

With a trained tour guide, a community tourism attraction has a better chance for success. That’s why some of our Community and Economic Development staff used Excellence in Extension funding to develop a new curriculum. With their Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant, Diane Van Wyngarden, Himar Hernández, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides created Professional Guide Training and Certification. The new program is the first of its kind in Iowa: It is designed for staff and volunteers who lead guided programs at community tourism attractions, such as museums, parks, conservation areas, historic sites, nature centers and agritourism venues. Did you know?

  • The one-day Guide Training workshop features interactive methods and techniques for creating and delivering dynamic guided programs, with a focus on guiding adult visitors.
  • Everyone who completes the workshop has the option to receive Professional Guide Certification from Iowa State University for an additional fee. Certification is completed at the individual’s workplace or tourism location.
  • In April, 85 people attended the first Guide Training workshop. The next statewide workshop is June 13 in Mason City and is open to the public. The fee is $10 per person and includes the course workbook, workshop activities, lunch and refreshments. This low fee is made possible through the team’s additional funding partnership with Iowa Economic Development Authority/Iowa Tourism Office and the Central Iowa Tourism Region.
  • This month Diane has conducted certification sessions with the Iowa Arboretum near Madrid, the Iowa Railroad History Museum in Boone, the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames, the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the Mahanay Bell Tower and Thomas Jefferson Gardens of Greene County in Jefferson, the State Theatre in Washington, the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City, and the Botanical Center and Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines.

Tourism guidance is one of the ways our CED unit strengthens communities and their local economies. All Iowans benefit when local people join together to make their communities better places to live and work. For more information or to pre-register (by June 5) for the June workshop, contact Diane Van Wyngarden at dvw@iastate.edu.

Tuition Assistance Program

ISU Extension and Outreach is a knowledge-based organization and our people are our greatest asset. The Vice President for Extension and Outreach Tuition Assistance Program is designed to help our people move forward with their extension careers. The program will reimburse tuition costs up to one-half of 4 credits per term, once each term (Fall, Spring and Summer) – up to one-half of 12 credits per year. County-paid and ISU-paid extension employees may apply for the program, whether taking credit courses from Iowa State, a community college, a private institution or other accredited public institution. Check the Professional Development website for eligibility and participation requirements, and other information.

Internal Communications: Update

During our leadership team retreat on May 31, we will focus on prioritizing the recommendations from the Internal Communications Task Force. I counted 25 recommendations in the executive summary. We need to set priorities so we can begin taking action.

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

A wonder league for Iowa’s future

John Lawrence’s message from May 14, 2019

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

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

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

Goodbye … and welcome

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

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

We welcome the following new staff:

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

Award recipients

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

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

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

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

Community Council develops leaders

John Lawrence’s message from May 6, 2019

If it’s 10 a.m. on the first Friday of the month, then Human Sciences Extension and Outreach faculty and staff from across the state are gathering virtually for their Community Council meeting. During the first hour, the council members, who represent field staff, hotline staff and campus, discuss complex issues that affect everyone in Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. After they listen to the council’s conversation, other Human Sciences folks add their voices – asking questions, sharing perspectives and suggesting issues for future agendas. Did you know?

  • The Community Council has been contributing to shared decision-making in Human Sciences ever since it was founded in February 2014. Meetings include honest dialogue, which enhances communication and offers opportunities for self-determined results.
  • During these open meetings, everyone is welcome to listen in during the first hour and contribute during the last 30 minutes. However, sometimes these rules are suspended and the entire meeting is a joint discussion.
  • The council has helped revise Human Science’s staff supervisory model; developed guiding principles for revenue generation and resource stewardship; compiled a 70, 20, 10 guide for allocating time and resources; and wrote a process for developing, implementing and evaluating educational offerings.

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach empowers people and grows lives. Community Council applies these same ideals through leadership development of extension faculty and staff.

More notes

  • Please review the plans for our area-wide, all-staff quarterly meetings. As I mentioned during Annual Conference, we are dividing the state into five areas for quarterly meeting purposes only. This is not a reorganization, and it is not another administrative layer. The goals for these meetings are to improve internal communication, enhance interdisciplinary and multi-county programming, strengthen relationships with colleagues, and more closely align vision and mission throughout our organization.
  • We are finalizing the Vice President for Extension and Outreach Tuition Assistance Program requirements, guidelines, and application and reimbursement forms. I will let you know when the materials will be available.
  • Read the May program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

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

Joining forces for farm, food and enterprise development

John Lawrence’s message from April 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Learn about the opioid issue in Iowa

John Lawrence’s message from April 1, 2019

Iowa doesn’t have an opioid crisis – at least not yet. However, opioid misuse is an emerging drug issue that state agencies and local communities will need to manage, and that we all need to learn more about. Extension rural sociologist David J. Peters, undergraduate research assistant Peter A. Miller and criminology professor Andrew Hochstetler have explained research on this issue in a new publication, Understanding the Opioid Crisis in Rural and Urban Iowa (SOC 3088). Did you know?

  • The report provides background information on the current status and trends related to opioid-use deaths in Iowa. It also compares rural and urban counties, and describes the socioeconomic conditions of places that have high and low opioid-use death rates.
  • Four factors appear to be driving opioid addiction and overdoses in rural Iowa: poverty and low employment rates, work in injury-prone jobs, lack of adequate law enforcement, and few civic and social organizations to deal with the drug problem.
  • Although urban areas have economic and law enforcement advantages that rural areas do not have, these advantages don’t seem to stop opioid abuse, the researchers say. We need more research to understand the mechanisms driving addiction and death in Iowa’s urban communities.

Peters, Miller and Hochstetler’s publication also compares death rates from prescription vs. synthetic opioids and heroin use, as well as how Iowa’s opioid-use death rates compare to surrounding states and the U.S. Their work is part of the Rural Opioids Project, a collaboration of Iowa State, Syracuse University and University of Iowa.

Project STOMP

ISU Extension and Outreach staff from all program areas are invited to learn about Project STOMP – Steps Toward Opioid Misuse Prevention. The PROSPER Rx Team is kicking off this new initiative with free regional workshops; the first one is today in Orange City and four more will be offered throughout the state in April, May and June. This is an opportunity to get free educational materials, as well as ongoing support for planning and implementing community-based, substance-misuse prevention strategies for your county. You can be part of prevention partnerships that benefit youth, families and communities. For more information, contact Kathy Clancy, kclancy@iastate.edu.

Dealing with flooding
I had the opportunity to tour the flooded regions of Fremont, Mills and West Pottawattamie counties on Friday with Senator Grassley, USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey and Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig. I grew up in these counties, and while my family was not impacted, I know people who were. The damage to communities, homes, farmsteads, stored grain, land, and road and levy infrastructure is sobering. It will take months and in some cases years to recover, and the sad truth is that some will not recover from this disaster.

Our extension colleagues in the region are having an impact during the evacuation and recovery. They stepped up to assist where needed, and other agencies and partners turned to ISU Extension and Outreach because we have been there before and we are a trusted resource. Thank your colleagues when you see them and ask how you can help. Like the rest of us, they will continue to have regularly scheduled programming at the same time they assist those recovering from the floods.

We continue to update our resources for dealing with flooding on our Disaster Recovery website. These resources always are available on the ISU Extension and Outreach website (from the “Learn More About …” tab). As you help Iowans deal with flooding issues this spring, please take care of yourselves, too.

One more note: You can find the 2018 Listening Sessions Summary at the top of the resource list on my Did You Know Blog. (You’ll also find an archive of all my weekly messages.) Here’s another quick way to get to the summary. Go to the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage and type “listening sessions summary” in the search box.

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

Launching youth with 4-H Connect

John Lawrence’s message from March 26, 2019

Annually over the past few years, 4-H Youth Development has been offering two culturally based youth leadership accelerators, Maize and Ujima. However, in the 4-H spirit of making the best better, this year the two accelerators are being combined into one: the 4-H Connect Retreat. The new event, April 26-28 on the Iowa State campus and at the Clover Woods Camping Center, connects youth to 4-H while celebrating Latino, Native American, Asian, African, and Asian/African-American cultures. Many of the keynote speakers, youth leaders and educational programs reflect one or more of these cultures. Did you know?

  • Previously Maize was offered in the spring and Ujima in the fall. However, the fall accelerator timing was hard to arrange, as it competed with the start of the K-12 school year as well as the kickoff for 4-H club recruitment. Having a combined multicultural accelerator in the spring alleviates that issue. (And previous participants helped select the new name.)
  • 4-H Connect is offered at no cost to any young person (grades 8-11) enrolled in 4-H. The participating youth often are enrolling to become 4-H members as they register for the retreat.
  • During the retreat, youth will learn about healthy living, civic engagement and leadership, communication and the arts, and STEM. They also will explore campus life through visits to the ISU colleges, residence halls and dining halls. But perhaps most important, youth get to experience what it means to be a 4-H member and belong to this unique youth organization.

The 4-H Connect Retreat is a launching pad for youth who haven’t been reached by 4-H to begin engaging with their local programs. It also introduces 4-H volunteers and staff to culturally based leadership development best practices. After the youth return home from the statewide retreat, the goal is to help sustain them locally through a 4-H club or learning community, or other long-term experience.

More notes

  • The Internal Communications Task Force had its final meeting on March 14. For an update, read the summary on Cybox. The task force submitted its report to the leadership team during Annual Conference. An executive summary of the 215-page report is being developed and will be available online in the near future.
  • The Iowa Extension Council Association Annual Conference will be March 30. Nearly 100 council and staff members have registered to attend.
  • We continue to update our resources for dealing with flooding on our Disaster Recovery website. These resources always are available on the ISU Extension and Outreach website (from the “Learn More About …” tab). As you help Iowans deal with flooding issues this spring, please take care of yourselves, too.

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

Natural resources stewardship for all

John Lawrence’s message from March 18, 2019

In ISU Extension and Outreach, we have a program area focused on Agriculture and Natural Resources. However, taking care of our natural resources is not reserved for ANR alone; this work belongs to all of us. That’s why we all are invited to Natural Resources Stewardship Professional Development Day on Wednesday, May 1, at the ISU Alumni Center in Ames. This training and networking event will bring together extension professionals from across Iowa and a variety of program areas and disciplines to talk and learn about natural resource issues, educational needs and programming opportunities. Did you know?

  • This event is a chance to immerse yourself in natural resource conservation, including water quality, forest stewardship, outdoor recreation, reducing waste and healthy eating, and monarch butterfly conservation.
  • The program will feature speakers from Iowa State, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and local water quality experts.
  • During hands-on field trips you can explore agriculture water quality and research at Bear Creek, forest and wildlife management at Ledges State Park, or water quality and urban conservation at the new City of Ames Water Treatment Plant and Summerbrook Park in Ankeny.
  • Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and the Renewable Resources Extension Act are covering all facility, meal and materials costs for this professional development opportunity. Be sure to pre-register before midnight, April 26. If you have questions, please contact one of the organizers: Adam Janke (ajanke@iastate.edu), Ann Staudt (astaudt@iastate.edu) or Jamie Benning (benning@iastate.edu).

To preview some of the programs and topic areas on display at this event, see these examples of ISU Extension and Outreach programming on natural resources issues: Iowa Learning Farms; Monarchs on the Move; Master Conservationist Program; Nature Explore – Connecting Kids with Nature; and Water Rocks!

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Kayla Emery, Clayton County K-12 outreach coordinator.
  • Robbyn Duchow, Johnson County program manager, Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  • John Sjolinder, Cerro Gordo County executive director.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Brenda Fuller, Buchanan County office assistant.
  • Alisha Davidson, Lee County office assistant.
  • Devan Cress, Jones County youth coordinator.
  • Mandi De La Cruz, Buena Vista County program assistant.
  • Peggy Schilling, Clayton County K-12 outreach coordinator.
  • Diane Wisniewski, program coordinator II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • James Wisniewski, program coordinator II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Sean Nelson, program coordinator III, Vice President for Extension and Outreach/Office of Equal Opportunity.
  • Judith Dittmar, extension program specialist III, Human Sciences.

More notes

  • Applications now are being accepted for our 4-H state program leader position. Please see the job announcement and encourage people to apply. We’re seeking a new leader for 4-H to continue building on the growth and success of our youth development program. We are strengthening our clubs, curriculum and volunteers, and actively recruiting new participants. We are committed to being inclusive and welcoming, and to fulfilling the national 4-H goal of having members, volunteers and staff who reflect Iowa’s population. 4-H connects with almost 1 in 5 Iowa K-12 students. (Want the numbers for your county? Download 4-H Data for Decision Makers.)
  • Whether we’re dealing with flooding, drought or other severe weather, remember that disaster recovery resources are always available on the ISU Extension and Outreach website (from the “Learn More About …” tab). As you help Iowans deal with flooding issues this spring, please take care of yourselves, too.
  • During our recent trip to Washington, D.C., our CARET delegates shared this 2019 report with Iowa’s congressional delegation to advocate on behalf of Iowa State’s land-grant programs.
  • We need judges for the State Science and Technology Fair, March 28-29 in Ames. You can help make this event a great experience for the 700 young research students who are expected to participate.

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

A match made in Iowa

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 18, 2019

Twenty-five years ago, a beautiful relationship took root in this state, thanks to dedicated ISU Extension and Outreach personnel and the Iowa Legislature. It began through a series of discussions concerning how to encourage new farmers. They concluded that all Iowans would benefit from a statewide center focused on the needs and issues facing beginning farmers. They also decided it should help match beginning farmers with established farmers who want to transition their farm businesses to the next generation. That’s how the Beginning Farmer Center was established at Iowa State. The law creating the Center is set out in Chapter 266 of the Code of Iowa. Did you know?

  • Our Beginning Farmer Center in conjunction with our Agriculture and Natural Resources specialists provide programs and services to develop farmers’ skills and knowledge in financial management and planning, legal issues, tax laws, technical production and management, leadership, sustainable agriculture, human health and the environment.
  • The Center also collaborates extensively with other interested groups and agencies to promote the transition of Iowa’s farms.
  • Dave Baker joined the Center 13 years ago as a farm transition specialist and became director in 2018. On average, he conducts two family farm consultations per week, either at his office in Urbandale or around the state, and is working on 20 to 25 matches at any one time. Over 25 years, the Center has averaged eight matches per year.
  • Sometimes the work involves helping families make difficult decisions. In this #StrongIowa video, Dave tells the story of helping a family carry on after the death of a loved one in the midst of their farm’s transition.

The Beginning Farmer Center strengthens rural communities by counseling young, aspiring farmers and encouraging landowners and retirement-age farmers to consider transitioning their farms to the next generation. I’d call this a perfect match made in Iowa.

4-H program leader search begins

We have contracted with a professional search firm to assist in our national search to fill our 4-H program leader position. The committee members will meet for the first time Feb. 25 to receive their charge, prepare the position description and begin the process.

The committee will conduct the search and recommend candidates to bring to campus for interviews. The members represent program areas, program specialists, counties and partners. This small committee will do the heavy lifting, but all of us have a responsibility to provide input. Please share with them your suggestions for attributes you believe make a strong 4-H program leader and names of potential candidates who should be encouraged to apply. As we go through the search process, there also will be formal opportunities to provide input and to meet with candidates who will come to campus for interviews.

4-H/Youth Development Program Leader Search Committee:

  • Debra Sellers (committee chair), Human Sciences associate dean and director.
  • Curt Lang, Iowa 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees president.
  • Nichol Kleespies, Buena Vista County youth education coordinator.
  • Terry Maloy, Iowa Extension Council Association executive director.
  • Maya Hayslett, ANR program specialist working in youth development.
  • Norma Dorado-Robles, 4-H Youth Development field specialist.
  • Earl McAlexander, 4-H Youth Development field specialist.
  • Shelly Smith, Black Hawk County director.
  • Rosa Gonzalez, Human Sciences field specialist, Central Iowa.
  • Bonnie Dalager, 4-H Youth Development program specialist.
  • Jeffrey Macomber, Region 16 director.
  • Kris Kilibarda, Iowa Department of Education.

More notes

  • Please join me in congratulating Kameron Middlebrooks, who will be receiving a “Hidden Figure” award as part of the Wells Fargo Annual Black History Month Celebration Day on the Hill. The free, public event is Feb. 25, 1:30-3 p.m. at the Iowa State Capitol Building. Kameron is being recognized as a new, up-and-coming leader who is making a major impact in the community. He is a program coordinator in Community and Economic Development focusing on African and African-American small business and nonprofit development. He also is president of the Des Moines NAACP Branch.
  • Due to weather and road conditions, the Iowa Extension Council Association cancelled its 2019 IECA and 4-H Legislative Day, which had been set for Feb. 13. The Association is not planning to reschedule the event this year, but does plan to hold another legislative day in 2020.
  • ISU Day at the Capital is March 6. We’ll hope there’s no snowstorm then.

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

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