The farm bill and farm stress

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 2, 2019

Since mid-November our farm management specialists and local USDA Farm Service Agency representatives have been holding public meetings to provide an overview of the 2018 Farm Bill. Farmers, landowners and ag professionals have been gathering in extension offices, community centers and other venues, as they do most years when there’s a new farm bill, to learn about decision points and program rules and regulations that pertain to each part of the state. But that’s not all they’re learning about this year.

Did you know? In general, farmers are entering this farm bill with more financial stress and less operating capital than in 2014, when commodity prices were still high. The financial stress has the potential to impact not only the future of the farm, but also the health of the operator. That’s why at each farm bill meeting, a human sciences specialist in family life is presenting “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other.” This 40-minute, scenario-based, suicide prevention training reviews the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, as well as protective factors and a strategy for how to intervene.

Our farm bill meetings – more than 60 altogether – will continue through January. We will continue to educate Iowans about Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage to help them deal with the farm bill that affects their livelihood. But we’ll also continue to promote healthy strategies to help each other recognize and cope with the stress that impacts daily life.

ICM Conference

The Integrated Crop Management Conference is another way we help farmers and the ag industry prepare for 2020 and beyond. Nearly 900 attendees will gather for the Dec. 4-5 conference in Ames. Now in its 31st year, the annual event is a great opportunity for farmers, industry, ag retailers, agronomists and educators to network with each other, interact with university specialists, and learn about the latest in crop research and technology. ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the conference.

More notes

  • The public seminar by Jay Harmon, candidate for Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach and ISU Extension Program Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources, is Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. in 0013 Curtiss Hall and via Zoom, at https://zoom.us/j/415857802. Learn about his strategy for leading our ANR program. The seminar will be recorded and available for viewing beginning Dec. 4. The question and answer session will not be recorded.
  • Our Growing Together volunteers harvested and donated approximately 115,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables throughout the 2019 growing season. That’s nearly 345,000 servings of fresh produce to fight hunger in Iowa. Learn more about this and other programs in the December Program Update from the leadership team.
  • A committee has begun developing a new Memorandum of Understanding between Extension Districts and Iowa State that incorporates the Structured for Success plan for our future. The MOU will be ready for councils to review and begin signing in early spring 2020. (It must be signed by June 1, 2020.) The MOU will cover three years, July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023. We expect there will be one overarching MOU and three separate operating agreements depending on which model a council selects.
  • Congratulations to Van Buren County, the first county to submit its 2019 stakeholder report. The reports are due Jan. 1 and will be available from the County Services website. You can use your county stakeholder report throughout the year to build awareness of programs, demonstrate impact and outcomes, and show return on investment. Thank you to everyone who contributes to these reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in your county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.

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

Alternative agriculture in Iowa

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 11, 2019

People who think Iowa agriculture is all about commodity corn and soybeans might be surprised that organic producers and experts from across the country will be getting together Nov. 24-25 for the annual Iowa Organic Conference. Iowa State partners with the University of Iowa in this joint effort, which is the largest university-sponsored organic conference in the country. Organic production is one part of our broader educational efforts for alternative agriculture in Iowa. Did you know?

  • Kathleen Delate is ISU Extension and Outreach’s point person for the conference and leads research to improve organic farming systems. Current Organic Agriculture Program projects include examining crop rotations, organic no-till, varietal response, and integrated crop-livestock systems to improve soil quality and economic returns.
  • Ajay Nair leads the Sustainable Vegetable Production Lab, which focuses on developing strategies that enhance crop production, soil health and profitability in commercial vegetable cropping systems. The lab conducts experiments on cover crops, conservation tillage, cultivar trials, integrated pest management, soil fertility, weed management, and high tunnel vegetable crop production.
  • Farm, Food and Enterprise Development efforts 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. Craig Chase leads the program team that provides technical assistance and resources for farmers, food systems advocates and business owners.

These programs and additional alternative agriculture efforts aim to help producers, processers, marketers, business owners and others become more diversified, profitable and environmentally responsible.

Internal Communications: Connecting with the Leadership Team

One of the recommendations from the Internal Communications Task Force was to implement listening sessions or virtual “office hours” with the leadership team. This recommendation relates to developing two-way, field to campus feedback for improved relationships and effectiveness. We held five virtual listening sessions in October about Structured for Success. We are evaluating the technical platforms for virtual office hours in the future. A separate step that we will begin in January is a brief monthly digital update from the leadership team about program and professional development opportunities. Watch for details in the coming weeks.

One more note: Please review the November 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

Challenging youth through AgOvation

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 28, 2019

There’s nothing quite like a “Shark Tank” experience to test innovation. Like the popular TV program, AgOvation provides an opportunity for innovators to present their work to industry professionals. However, in this 4-H version, youth pitch their science-based solutions for local agricultural problems. Did you know?

  • AgOvation is a new, research-based competition for youth in grades 7-12. They work in teams of two to five members to identify an ag-based issue in their community and develop a project to address it.
  • Youth work with a team coach and mentor from the agricultural field that most closely relates to their project. They also are encouraged to connect with representatives from Iowa State and the agribusiness community.
  • Topics youth are addressing this year include technology for timed feeding of individual swine and easier snow removal on the farm. The teams have been developing prototypes and designs.
  • Youth participated in regional events in September. Teams from Cherokee, Dallas, Linn, and Sac counties will be participating in the final competition, Nov. 16 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory. There they will present their solutions to industry professionals and receive feedback. The top three teams will receive scholarships for post-secondary education. Support for the program this year has been provided by Cargill and Channel Seed.

Iowa 4-H already is planning for next year’s competition, because AgOvation helps develop our future workforce of agricultural scientists, engineers and technologists. County youth coordinators and other staff are encouraged to help recruit participants, adult mentors and supporters. The more counties and teams that get involved, the greater the learning opportunity and program impact. For more information, contact Maya Hayslett, crop sciences youth education specialist, hayslett@iastate.edu.

In other 4-H news, the numbers are in for the 2018-2019 4-H program year. Here are a few highlights.

  • More than 160,000 youth participated in 4-H last year, an 18.7 percent increase from 2017-2018. This includes youth who were enrolled in Clover Kids (for K-3 youth) or as 4-H members (grades 4-12), as well as youth who participated in either six or more hours of 4-H programming, and those who participated in six or fewer hours of programming.
  • The number of enrolled youth was slightly lower than the previous year. However, over 28,000 additional youth participated in six or fewer hours of programming, compared with the previous year. Our 4-H program continues to focus on moving these youth to longer-term involvement.
  • Community club membership is down, but after-school club enrollment is growing.
  • 4-H also has seen an increase in the number of youth participating in school enrichment programs for more than 6 hours: 38,370 youth, which is 781 more than in 2017-2018. This may be our best area for recruitment and growth, reaching families who might have other barriers to participation in community clubs, such as transportation.

More notes

  • Congratulations to David Brown, ISU Extension and Outreach colleagues, and partners in seven north central states working on Farm and Ranch Wellness: The Next Steps. The regional project has received a $480,000 grant from USDA NIFA as part of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. It is one of four regional projects funded by the FRSAN program, which was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. For more information, contact David at dnbrown@iastate.edu.
  • Learn about the Iowa Agricultural Extension Association during a Zoom informational meeting at 9 a.m., Oct. 30, or noon, Oct. 31. You’ll get a quick, general overview of IAEA and answers to questions you may have about the organization. The Zoom URL is https://iastate.zoom.us/j/2720995534; to join the meeting from a dial-in phone line, call +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833, with meeting ID 272 099 5534. If you are unable to join LIVE, you can watch a recorded version afterward. You also are invited to attend the fall meeting Nov. 14 at the Boone County Extension Office. For more information, contact Alan Ladd, aladd@iastate.edu.

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

National awards for Human Sciences

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 22, 2019

Congratulations to Kim Greder and the ISU Extension and Outreach work teams who provide the “Juntos Para Una Mejor Educación” and “Abriendo Caminos” programs in Iowa. They will receive the 2019 National Extension Diversity Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism and will be presented Nov. 10 during APLU’s 132nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Did you know? Kim is a professor in human development and family studies and a family life extension state specialist. She was a principal investigator for the grants supporting both programs and brought extension staff together with their community partners for planning and implementation. She’s quick to note that collaboration of extension staff, faculty, students and community partners was key to both programs’ success. Read the news release to learn more about the program and everyone involved in this award-winning work to meet the needs of Latino families in Iowa.

We also congratulate several human sciences specialists and faculty who recently were recognized by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

  • Distinguished Service Award: Vera Stokes, nutrition and wellness.
  • Continued Excellence Award: Brenda Schmitt, family finance.
  • Greenwood Frysinger Award (professional growth opportunity): Sara Sprouse, nutrition and wellness.
  • Excellence in Multi State Collaboration Award (national first place winner): Shannon Coleman, assistant professor and food safety state specialist, co-lead of seven-state team.
  • Communications Award, Internet Education Technology (national third place winner, regional first place winner): Lori Hayungs, Mackenzie Johnson, Mackenzie DeJong and Barb Dunn Swanson, family life.
  • Barbara Wollan and Brenda Schmitt, family finance, presented “Finances of Caregiving: Workshop Series for Families” at the NEAFCS national meeting.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Cindy Brunholtz, Monroe County, AmeriCorps.
  • Andrea Irlbeck, Carroll County youth coordinator.
  • Kelly Phillips, Lucas County youth coordinator.
  • Deborah Coates, manager information technology II, Extension IT.
  • Michael White, field specialist III, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Janet Martin, field specialist III, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Sara Gillum, Wayne County youth coordinator.
  • Addi Knapp, Wapello County, AmeriCorps/4-H.
  • Haley Mostaert, Cedar County 4-H program coordinator.
  • Lucy Hough, West Pottawattamie County Ready Set Know program coordinator.
  • Kristen Bieret, Shelby County office assistant.
  • Andy Kraber, Marion County director.
  • Alesha Roll, Woodbury County INN grant director/4-H program assistant.
  • Misty Sanderson, Buena Vista County office assistant.
  • Samuel Genson, Clinton County director.
  • Sarah Debour, Cerro Gordo County director/ANR coordinator.
  • Kendall Fate, Johnson County after school mentoring coordinator.

More notes

  • Agriculture continues to be the deadliest industry in the United States and when harvest is behind schedule, the potential for danger increases. Professor and extension safety specialist Chuck Schwab and our Safe Farm program help make Iowa farms a safer place to work and live, not only during harvest, but all year long. Check the website for research, training materials, publications and other resources you can use to expand farm safety knowledge and awareness.
  • The Natural Resources Team is launching a new internal newsletter for extension educators in all program areas. Natural Resources News will help you learn about and promote resources and programs about soil, water, wildlife, and forest conservation and education. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, sign up at this link. For more information, contact Adam Janke (ajanke@iastate.edu) or Jamie Benning (benning@iastate.edu).
  • Internal applicants are invited for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences position of Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach and ISU Extension Program Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources. The announcement has been posted to Iowa State’s jobs for internal applicants site.
  • Dr. Lindsey Shirley, associate director of extension service and associate provost for university outreach and engagement at Oregon State University, is guest speaker for a Human Sciences Extension and Outreach special First Thursday Webinar, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. Join the presentation in person at 2622 Lagomarcino or by Zoom when Shirley speaks of innovative strategies for land grant universities that lead to new connections, partnerships, and career advancement.

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

Addressing rural mental health and the farm economy

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 7, 2019

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

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

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