Addressing rural mental health and the farm economy

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 7, 2019

Rural mental health and the farm economy are often intertwined in an agricultural state like Iowa, particularly when farmers are experiencing another year with tight margins and decreasing value of total farm assets and net farm worth. During our 2018 listening sessions, we identified both as critical statewide issues impacting the ability of Iowa communities to thrive over the next five years. We also examined what ISU Extension and Outreach could do to appropriately address how these issues intersect. We knew it was important to positively impact farm families with research-based information and education. Did you know?

  • Since May 1, David Brown has been serving as ISU Extension and Outreach’s behavioral health state specialist. He provides subject matter support and leadership to programs dealing with farm stress, stress management, mental health literacy, disasters and other behavioral health related issues.
  • We are expanding Mental Health First Aid. This evidence-based, 8-hour course can help you learn what to do, what to say, and how to offer support and resources to help Iowans who may be experiencing a mental health related problem or crisis. We will continue to provide the training to our staff (and the next scheduled workshop is Nov. 7), but we also are exploring how to offer the training for university, community and agribusiness organizations.
  • In collaboration with our farm management specialists, our family life team will provide scenario-based suicide prevention training at more than 50 Farm Bill meetings in November, December and January. “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other” reviews risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs of suicide, as well as a strategy for how to intervene.
  • Iowa Concern continues to provide confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge.

Iowa farm families are facing challenges and we are committed to this work long-term.

More notes

  • Please review the October program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • We have read and considered all the questions and comments we have received regarding Structured for Success. The common themes FAQ has been updated to reflect questions and comments submitted during the virtual listening sessions, the area-wide meetings and other face-to-face sessions, and via the virtual suggestion box.
  • It’s National 4-H Week. Iowa 4-H Youth Development reaches nearly 100,000 youth each year, preparing them to be successful, contributing members of society – and that deserves celebrating!

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

Valuing Iowa forests

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 30, 2019

Billy Beck is looking forward to seeing you out in the woods. He’s our new extension forestry specialist and wants to help all Iowans understand the value and potential of our forests. Woodlands provide wildlife habitat and can be a sustainable source of income for a farm enterprise, but that’s not all they do. Did you know?

  • Whether he’s educating landowners in his extension role or teaching ISU students as an assistant professor, Billy combines the hydrology and water quality benefits of trees with the overall benefits of a healthy forest. His research shows that trees play an important role in water quality, whether they’re along streams and rivers acting as riparian buffers, in separate woodlands or in urban locations.
  • He will be out meeting Iowans at six forestry field days in October. These statewide events will cover water quality, wildlife and the aesthetic value of trees, as well as how to manage a forest for profit. Participants will learn about forest establishment, tree protection and invasive species control, herbicide use, forest products, portable sawmills, timber marketing and the legal aspects of forestry.

Extension forestry programs provide Iowans with knowledge and resources to see the value and discover the potential of their trees, woodlands and forests. Learn more from the ISU Extension and Outreach Natural Resource Stewardship website.

More notes

  • Congratulations to the extension professionals honored during the university’s annual awards ceremony.
  • The National Association of County Agricultural Agents will hold their Annual Meeting/Professional Improvement Conference in Des Moines Aug. 13-17, 2023. This will be the first time that Iowa will host the event. For more information contact Kapil Aurora, pbtiger@iastate.edu.
  • All ISU professional and scientific employees will have a new job title structure in place when UHR’s classification and compensation review is completed. The goal is to improve Iowa State’s ability to attract and retain P&S employees. Learn more from a recent Inside Iowa State article, the Classification and Compensation website or Chris Johnsen, johnsen@iastate.edu, a P&S Council extension representative who is part of the advisory team. Chris also can submit anonymous questions or comments to UHR on your behalf.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach’s 5th annual United Way fundraiser picnic is Friday, Oct. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Extension 4-H Building’s patio. All are welcome. The event includes a $5 walking taco lunch, silent auction, and games with prizes. United Way pledge envelopes can be returned at the picnic as well.

FYI: Goodbye … and welcome

With our Improved Service Delivery human resources staff on board and as we adjust to HR processes in Workday, we are bringing back our monthly list of people who have left or joined ISU Extension and Outreach. Over the past three months, we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Laura Johnson, Woodbury County, 4-H youth worker and nutrition educator.
  • Nancy Eichmann, Polk County, Master Gardener coordinator.
  • Kelli Steinlage, Howard County, youth coordinator.
  • Meghan Gray, Montgomery County, youth coordinator.
  • Julie Mayhew, Floyd County, food and nutrition program assistant.
  • Jaclyn Tweeten, Chickasaw County, youth coordinator.
  • Heather Miller, Scott County, families program assistant.
  • Angela Strohman, Palo Alto County, program educator.
  • Sophia Coker-Gunnink, Wapello County, Food Corps service member.
  • Pamela Jacobsen, Shelby County, office coordinator.
  • Sean Murphy, Wayne County, youth coordinator.
  • Leann Baumhover, Buena Vista County, office assistant.
  • Melanie McMann, Adams County, office assistant/youth coordinator.
  • Ashley Sherrets, Buchanan County, horticulture program coordinator.
  • Taylor Trudell, Jefferson County, youth coordinator.
  • Mackenzie Wagner, Lyon County, program coordinator/office assistant.
  • Debra Swanson, Page County, youth coordinator.
  • Katharine Beason, Bremer County, program coordinator.
  • Aracely Martinez, Muscatine County, program coordinator.
  • Grant Theesfeld, Sac County, Clover Kids program coordinator.
  • Robin Hoffman, Johnson County, 4-H/BBBS mentoring grant coordinator.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Diane Rinner, Washington County, youth outreach educator.
  • Tina Gress, Crawford County, program coordinator.
  • Samantha Jamison, Louisa County, program coordinator.
  • Susan Strock, Polk County, office assistant.
  • Wendy Richter, Cass County, P2S project coordinator.
  • Dawn Henderson, Lyon County, program coordinator.
  • Sonya Peck, Lee County, bookkeeper.
  • Dee Dino, Page County, office assistant.
  • Amanda Crow, Clinton County, youth coordinator.
  • Abby Sorensen, Mills County, extension director.
  • Sidney Riemenschneider, Emmett County, youth coordinator.
  • Maddie Mardesen, Dallas County, extension educator.
  • Syerra Niday, Wayne County, office assistant.
  • Kathleen Owens, Polk County, office assistant.
  • Tanner Messerli, Story County, program coordinator.
  • Chris Shepard, Wapello County, Food Corps service member.
  • Jennifer Zamora, Muscatine County, Latino outreach coordinator.
  • Eleni Parsons, Chickasaw County, youth coordinator.
  • Clint Mercer, Jefferson County, youth outreach educator.
  • Sara Nelson, STEM program specialist, 4-H.
  • Danielle Day, field specialist II, Human Sciences.
  • Molly Hewitt, regional director, County Services.
  • Mae McCarty, field specialist II, Human Sciences.
  • Deb Nistler, state program leader, 4-H.
  • Sara Mohr, field specialist III, 4-H.
  • Sarah Larkin, customer relations specialist I, Extension Store.
  • Mica Redenius, administrative specialist III, Office of Vice President for Extension and Outreach.

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

Assessing housing readiness

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 16, 2019

During our 2018 listening sessions, housing was identified as one of the top five issues affecting Iowa communities’ ability to thrive. We weren’t surprised. For years, our Community and Economic Development program staff have conducted housing needs assessments in Iowa communities, often in the wake of natural disasters, such as the 2008 flooding in eastern Iowa and the 2011 tornado in Mapleton. The Rural Housing Readiness Assessment is a new example of the research and best practices gained from CED work. Iowans can use this data-gathering tool on their own to assess their community’s housing situation and make informed decisions. Did you know?

  • CED specialist Jon Wolseth and ISU grad student Caleb Knutson had been identifying best practices for improving housing access and quality for immigrants and refugees in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties. They gathered existing housing needs assessments and plans for communities (other than Des Moines) in the three counties.
  • Caleb developed a rubric for evaluating the documents. CED specialists Abbie Gaffey and Eric Christianson helped Jon identify the information to include in the new assessment tool and where to find it.
  • In evaluating the documents, Jon determined that the information they were discovering was applicable to any population facing housing issues. This spring he shared the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment at the Iowa Rural Development Summit and the Southeast Iowa Housing Conference.

All Iowans benefit when rural communities can address their local housing concerns. To learn more about the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment, contact Jon Wolseth at 515-509-0558 or jwolseth@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • Please review the September program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • Registration is open for the 2019 Office Professionals Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Iowa State University Memorial Union. (An optional pre-conference opportunity is Monday, Oct. 7.) All office professionals are encouraged to attend and connect with resources and peers from across the state. For detailed information and to register, please visit the conference website.
  • Need volunteers? Call on Cyclones! Please fill out this form if you would like the ISU Alumni Association to help you reach Iowa State alumni and friends with volunteer opportunities in your county.
  • Structured for Success virtual meetings begin Sept. 18. For all dates, times and the Adobe Connect link, go to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff). A new FAQ addresses common themes from questions and comments we have received so far. An archive of all FAQs also is available.

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

Helping custodial grandparents and grandchildren

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 3, 2019

In Iowa approximately 13,000 grandparents have custody of their grandchildren and are responsible for their care, without the birth parents being present. These children – more than 20,000 throughout the state – likely were exposed to adversity early on and may exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties at home and at school. Their grandparents may experience depression and anxiety from the stress of child care and may face health challenges due to aging. Despite their needs and challenges, both groups are underserved, with little access to social and technical resources. That’s why Human Sciences recently was awarded a Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant to improve the lives of custodial grandparents and grandchildren here in Iowa. Did you know?

  • Jel Lee, an extension state specialist and assistant professor in human development and family studies, is principal investigator for the five-year, $640,000-grant focused in Story and Woodbury counties. Her team includes Amie Zarling and Jiyoung Choi from the College of Human Sciences, and Brenda Allen, Eugenia Hartsook, Malisa Rader, Molly Hewitt and Lori Hayungs, all with ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • They’ll be using an evidence-based program that is based on the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model to improve positive developmental and mental health outcomes for custodial grandparents and their middle school-age, custodial grandchildren.
  • The program has online and in-person components to promote emotional regulation, self-efficacy, decision-making skills, prosocial attitudes and behavior change necessary for fulfilling and contributing lives. The team also will incorporate various types of 4-H activities.

Next round of area-wide meetings

With three down and two to go in our first round of area-wide meetings, we have set dates for the next quarter’s meetings. Mark your calendar and save the date for an area-wide meeting near you:

  • Southwest: Nov. 26, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic.
  • Southeast: Dec. 2, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Cambridge Building, Fairfield.
  • Northwest: Dec. 5, Aurelia Community Center, Aurelia.
  • Northeast: Dec. 6, location to be determined.
  • Central: Dec. 11, Polk County Extension Office, Altoona.

One more note: Three sets of Structured for Success FAQs are available. FAQ #1 was developed by the Structured for Success Committee in anticipation of potential questions. FAQ #2 provides answers to questions that were submitted during the Aug. 20 webinar. FAQ #3 addresses questions submitted via the virtual suggestion box. Extension staff and faculty can access the FAQs via MyExtension; councils should go to this County Services page. Continue to review the proposal and keep asking questions; we will provide answers as promptly as possible.

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

Discovering rocket science

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 26, 2019

Like many people, this summer I’ve been fascinated by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing. I remember watching it on a black and white TV with tin foil on the rabbit ears to improve the reception. The anniversary brings out our inner rocket scientist – whether we remember the Apollo program or, for younger Iowans, are learning about it for the first time. Our 4-H aerospace project area is helping young people discover that rocket science is not only interesting, it’s also fun and offers a future career. Did you know?

  • In July, some of our county offices offered youth the opportunity to participate in the Global Rocket Launch challenge, an effort by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to break a world record for launching rockets on one day. To keep the momentum going, 4-H STEM specialist Sara Nelson authored a Global Rocket Launch facilitator guide. The activities in the guide can be used throughout the year to encourage youth to learn about rockets and NASA.
  • The STEM-Lit to Go! Iowa Clover Kids curriculum Includes a “Blast Off!” lesson. Youth learn about astronauts Peggy Whitson and Clayton Anderson and participate in space-themed activities.
  • The FLEx mobile learning platform will be adding activities related to aerospace discovery as well. FLEx Space is designed to engage youth around the Apollo anniversary, the 60th Anniversary of NASA, and a variety of historical, current, and future earth and space concepts. FLEx Space was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

In 4-H aerospace, youth build skills by working the way scientists and engineers do – in teams. They get to solve problems and make decisions using science process skills, and they learn how science relates to the real world and people’s lives. Here’s to the next generation of Iowa rocket scientists!

More notes

  • Please review the Structured for Success draft proposal and other materials. (Staff may access the materials from MyExtension. Councils have access from County Services.) Discuss the proposal with your colleagues and provide your feedback by Oct. 11. You may send feedback initially via our virtual suggestion box. Additional ways to provide feedback will become available over the next several weeks. Thank you for your assistance in determining an organizational structure that will help us effectively educate and serve Iowans.
  • Our area-wide meetings begin this week: southwest on Aug. 28, and northeast and central on Aug. 29. We’ll learn about rural resiliency and discuss extension’s role in helping communities thrive. We’ll also talk about Structured for Success and emerging issues, get program updates and have time for networking.
  • David Hora, Washington County 4-H member and an innovator for Continuum Ag, received the $5,000 Best of Show award at the Iowa State University entrepreneurial pitch-offs at the Iowa State Fair. In addition, two pitches sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach were among the seven finalists receiving $2,500 awards. The Civil Teen Discourse 4-H group of Owynn McNutt, Charlize DeArmond and Nicholas Stocks received the $2,500 Youth Entrepreneur Award. Lynn Bolin, with the New Day Dairy pitch, received the $2,500 Community Entrepreneur Award. Congratulations to these honorees and thank you to all who participated in this event.

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

Building a culture of conservation

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 19, 2019

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

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

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

Structured for Success: Link for Aug. 20 Webinar

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

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

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

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

What works in rural development … and why

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 12, 2019

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

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

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

Register to attend an area-wide meeting

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

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

Preserve the Taste of Summer

John Lawrence’s message from July 29, 2019

Many Iowans might not remember a time when preserving summer’s bounty of fruits and vegetables meant using an open kettle on top of the stove – and that’s a good thing. Thanks to USDA and modern research, today we know that the old, open kettle method is unsafe, because undesirable microorganisms can still grow after food is heated that way. Our nutrition and wellness specialists in Human Sciences teach Iowans the safe way to Preserve the Taste of Summer, our comprehensive food preservation program. Did you know?

  • The program began in 2011 as eight online lessons followed by four optional, hands-on workshops. Over the years, feedback indicated that clients viewed the online lessons as barriers to participation. So, our food preservation workgroup dropped the online component and revised the four workshops to include a comprehensive discussion of safe food preservation practices followed by a hands-on practicum.
  • The workshops provide the most current USDA-approved food preservation recommendations for making salsa, jam, pickles and pickled products, as well as instruction in dehydrating, freezing and pressure canning.
  • This spring the workgroup completed the first workshop for youth, jam making. Two more youth workshops, salsa making and pressure canning, are being developed.
  • Sarah Francis, nutrition and wellness extension state specialist, says that in a 2018 survey, 88% of workshop participants reported being very satisfied with the relevance of the information they received, and 94% were very satisfied with the overall quality of the workshops. All stated the information was understandable.

Preserve the Taste of Summer’s impact has spread beyond Iowa. Washington State University Extension and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Extension have been using it as their food preservation program since 2013. Sarah also shared the impact in a Journal of Extension article. For more information, contact Sarah at slfranci@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • Our Rising Stars are completing their internships with their final presentations Thursday, Aug. 1 from 10-11:30 a.m. We are working to make a livestream available. Check the Rising Stars Facebook page on Aug. 1 for a link to the livestream to learn about their projects focused on community access to nutritious food, as well as community economic development.
  • Our Goodbye and Welcome list is on temporary hiatus as our Improved Service Delivery human resources staff come on board and HR processes move to Workday. We are working on a new way to compile our monthly list of people who have left or joined ISU Extension and Outreach. We will resume the monthly list soon, and we thank you for your patience.

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

It’s time to SWITCH

John Lawrence’s message from July 22, 2019

Once again, it’s that time of year when Iowa schools can SWITCH — for School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health. 4-H Youth Development is recruiting schools to join this evidence-based program that helps school leaders plan, implement and sustain effective wellness programs and education environments. Registration is open for the 2019-2020 school year. Did you know?

  • The 12-week program is designed to help youth switch what they do, view and chew for a healthy lifestyle, both in school and at home. That means getting kids to participate in 60 minutes of physical activity, spend less than two hours watching a screen (on any electronic device), and eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • The materials are designed for fourth through eighth grade students and are available to all Iowa schools.
  • Schools that enroll in SWITCH and complete all program steps are eligible for a $500 mini grant. The mini grants are intended to help school leaders put wellness ideas into action in their buildings.

SWITCH is designed to help schools meet USDA guidelines for school wellness and build capacity to sustain wellness programming over time. The SWITCH experience has grown in Iowa from eight schools participating in 2016-2017 to 39 schools participating during the 2018-2019 school year. To learn how schools can enroll in SWITCH, contact Ann Torbert, 4-H program specialist, atorbert@iastate.edu.

FYI: In Iowa it’s always time for 4-H clubs. Our three-year club survey confirms that the longer youth participate in 4-H clubs, the more knowledge they gain. For more information, contact Marybeth Foster, 4-H organizational accountability manager, mbfoster@iastate.edu.

One more note: The Iowa State University Rural Development Symposium: Research, Practice and Success will be held Aug. 15, at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. Register now and plan to attend. During the symposium you’ll learn what works in rural development and, perhaps more important, you’ll learn why it works. For more information, contact Gary Taylor, gtaylor@iastate.edu.

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

Master Business Bootcamp

John Lawrence’s message from July 15, 2019

Since 2015 the Master Business Bootcamp has helped more than 250 small businesses in the Des Moines area to survive and thrive. Now our Community and Economic Development unit is partnering to expand this coaching and mentorship program across the state. Did you know?

  • Kameron Middlebrooks has cofacilitated the program and coached business owners for two years, first as part of the Financial Empowerment Center at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, where the program originated. He has continued working with the bootcamp since joining ISU Extension and Outreach in 2018 as our minority business coordinator.
  • To qualify for the program, participants must show that they have been operating their business for at least six consecutive months and have established clients who currently use their products or services. The free program targets minority populations with low-to-moderate income; however, it is open to any small business owners.
  • Master Business Bootcamp reinforces essential skills necessary to own, manage, grow and operate small businesses. Kameron coaches bootcamp participants as they develop their own business profile, including their vision, mission, objectives, slogan, values and a thorough description of their products and services.

When we build Iowans’ capacity to develop successful businesses, our communities are more likely to prosper and thrive, leading to a strong Iowa. To learn more about Master Business Bootcamp or other services for small-business development, contact Kameron at 515-231-5055 or kameronm@iastate.edu.

Internal Communications: County visit notification

The Internal Communications Task Force Report acknowledges that too often campus folks, as well as field staff, don’t tell county staff when they will be visiting or working in the county. Two of the recommendations request we develop a method or system to provide advance notice. It seems to me that the recommendations boil down to this: Show respect and professional courtesy to one another.

  • Campus faculty and staff – When you are planning to be out in the state somewhere representing ISU Extension and Outreach in any way, please inform that county extension office and the regional director.
  • Regional and county staff – When you are planning to present at an event, ISU sponsored or not, or are initiating a partnership, please inform the extension office of the county you will be visiting, as well as the regional director.
  • County staff – If you receive a message from campus or regional staff alerting you that they will be in your county, please acknowledge it. Offer to assist them or invite them to stop by the office for a cup of coffee.
  • In any case, visitors, send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why; and locals, acknowledge you received it. This simple action will go a long way in improving communication within our organization.

Over time, we may discover that we need a more complex or automated system. However, sending an email to let our colleagues know when we’ll be visiting their county is a best practice that we all can implement right now. Thank you.

More notes

  • Our 12 Rising Star interns had their mid-point check-in at the end of June and they reported on a wide range of activities. Here’s a sample of their efforts: helping develop the Ag Bite by the Barn for Adults at the Clay County Fair (Region 1); analyzing and developing four strategic plan options for a day care facility in Sheffield (Region 3); running the Power of Produce clubs for approximately 120 youth (Region 5); and conducting a “new foods” program for kids and food demonstrations at area farmers markets (Region 20). To keep up with everything our Rising Stars are doing, subscribe to their blog and engage with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Global Rocket Launch Day celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with activities to help youth learn about rockets and NASA. Our 4-H program will be using these activities throughout the year to engage youth in the 4-H aerospace project area. For more information, contact Sara Nelson, state STEM lead, sdnelson@iastate.edu.

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

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