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 (, Ann Staudt ( or Jamie Benning (

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

The education we offer

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 11, 2019

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach recently released Healthy and Homemade, the first full priority program developed through their Educational Offerings Life Cycle Process. The Healthy and Homemade series focuses on strategies to help Iowans use their time, dollars and skills wisely to save money and prepare nutritious, safe foods. It’s a complete educational package with marketing and evaluation materials, and it will be reviewed every two years. Human Sciences is using this new process to ensure all their educational offerings are research-based or evidence-based, up to date and appropriate for Iowans. Did you know?

  • Educational offerings refer to programs, consultations and resources — the menu of educational opportunities that Human Sciences Extension and Outreach provides to Iowans.
  • The life cycle process is a systematic approach to how and when Human Sciences Extension and Outreach creates, adopts, adapts and reviews subject matter to produce educational offerings.
  • All Human Sciences Extension and Outreach faculty and staff are expected to follow the process when creating, adopting or adapting new educational curricula and materials. Existing educational offerings are worked into the two-year review cycle.

Reviewing an educational offering won’t take long if the science has not changed. However, as Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Director Deb Sellers has noted, “If we are teaching something that is out of date, then we have a responsibility to change that content in our offerings.”

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Natalie Oberbeck, Clinton County youth coordinator.
  • Elwynn Taylor, professor, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Dee Weiss, clerk III, Extension Information Technology.
  • Daniel Burden, program coordinator II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Jessie Soderstrum, Story County youth coordinator.
  • Courtney Chapman, Appanoose County youth coordinator.
  • Emily Yockey, Woodbury County youth nutrition educator.
  • Lisa Chensvold, Madison County office assistant/bookkeeper.
  • Alexis Seuntjens, Pochahontas County program coordinator.
  • Sean Murphy, Wayne County program coordinator.
  • Susan Roos-Rickels, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences.
  • Amanda Ruckdaschel, program assistant II, Conference Planning and Management.
  • Beth Bunkers, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

One more note: There still are opportunities to participate in “Creating Accessible Documents” workshops, to learn about new processes when working in Microsoft Office: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher and Outlook. Workshops will be held in Ames during February and March, in LeMars in April, and in Independence in April and May.

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

Beyond our silos

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 14, 2019

Silos are useful for preserving and protecting. You can keep things safe in a literal silo, whether you’re dealing with forage or ballistic missiles. In ISU Extension and Outreach, it’s our metaphorical silos that cause us problems. We get so focused on our own programs and the projects we are working on, that we might not share information beyond our silo walls, or we might not pay attention to what’s going on in the rest of our organization. But there’s a remedy for this condition. Did you know?

  • Each month our extension leadership team prepares a program update. It offers a glimpse of what’s going on in our program areas. You can read the January update on my blog.
  • The leadership team has been providing these monthly updates for about a year and a half now. (If you haven’t been reading them and want to catch up, check the program updates category on my blog.)

During my visits across the state, both staff and councils said they wanted better collaboration across counties, regions and programs; and more effective sharing of ideas, successes and resources. Reading the monthly program update is a quick way to stay informed about what is going on throughout ISU Extension and Outreach, and get beyond our silos. On a related note, the Jan. 10 issue of Inside Iowa State includes a summary article about the regional listening sessions. It may help the campus community get beyond their research and teaching silos to learn about extension!

From Epsilon Sigma Phi: How to Reach Millennials
The Epsilon Sigma Phi national membership, recruitment and retention committee has been discussing how to reach younger colleagues and invite them to join ESP. Our own Sandra McKinnon is a national committee member and shared her research on Millennials’ communication preferences in the recent ESP Connection newsletter. Here are some excerpts from her newsletter article:

Millennials, born in the 1980s and 1990s, are currently 19-38 years old. Millennials are the majority of the workforce, but not the entirety. (Gen X-ers, born between 1965-1980, and Baby Boomers, born between 1946-1964, are in the workforce as well.) Millennials tend to have an aversion to the phone. They find calls disruptive and intrusive. It is best to schedule a call with them; then avoid small talk. For immediate topics, 72 percent prefer texts. There is no universal type of app to use (SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Millennials will do email. It allows them time to think and reply. Many look at emails at night and weekends. If you write an email:

Be short and to the point, not long and complicated.

Be friendly, not stuffy or too professional; avoid “core competencies” kind of wording.

Be clear about what action they need to take. Consider the message as a how-to or a recipe.

Make the message fun, engaging and absorbing.

Use visuals – video, infographics, photos.

Let me take this opportunity to put in a plug for ESP, the professional society of extension workers. It’s the source of the Extension Professional’s Creed that we recite and live every day. Iowa State has a chapter of this national organization that several of our colleagues and I belong to. If you are an extension professional, I encourage you to join us. To learn more about the Iowa chapter of ESP, visit

More notes

  • The Structured for Success committee met Dec. 17. Check the website for a video report and related documents from the meeting.
  • The Internal Communications Task Force met twice in December and once in January. For an update, read the executive summary on Cybox.
  • County Services and 4-H are jointly hosting three webinars this winter on transitioning 4-H club finances to county extension offices. All three webinars intend to cover the same topics, but Q&A will be live and we encourage questions. All staff with 4-H, and bookkeeping and administrative staff are invited to attend. Webinars will be held Jan. 31 at 9 a.m., Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. and March 26 at 1 p.m. via Adobe Connect, Sessions also will be recorded.
  • In December, 42 county staff members began serving as website ambassadors in a new pilot program. Website ambassadors will train new content editors in their region, become a first line of support for other content editors, have direct communication with Extension Information Technology and other campus partners, and relay necessary information to others in their regions. The list of ambassadors and more information about the program is available in MyExtension.

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

Still growing together

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 10, 2018

If all Iowans are going to eat healthfully, they need access to healthy food. That’s why our Growing Together Iowa project combines the efforts of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Human Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources programs for a common goal – feeding people. For the third year in a row, SNAP-Ed nutrition education and Master Gardeners partnered with local food pantries to reduce food insecurity in Iowa. The ISU research farm gardens and the county Master Gardener mini grant projects grew fresh produce for donation. Did you know?

  • Growing Together Iowa donated more than 90,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to Iowa’s food pantries this growing season. This equals 270,000 servings.
  • 95,721 Iowans visited pantries where Growing Together Iowa produce was donated.
  • 339 Master Gardener volunteers contributed to Growing Together Iowa this growing season.
  • 1,477 people with low income engaged in food gardening education through Growing Together Iowa this year.
  • 100 percent of counties with mini grants agree that the project increased their community’s capacity to work on issues of healthy food access.

This good work will continue. Virginia, Illinois and Michigan are in their first year of replicating the Growing Together project. Wisconsin, Nebraska and Indiana are in their second year. Here in Iowa we’re looking forward to Year 4, and applications for Growing Together Mini Grants are due on Jan. 11, 2019.

More notes

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

Leadership based on place

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 3, 2018

Iowans care about the places where they live and work, whether small towns, big cities or somewhere in between. Our state’s communities are diverse and have varying needs. That’s why our Community and Economic Development program offers “Leading Communities: A Place-Based Leadership Program.” ISU Extension and Outreach and University of Wisconsin-Extension developed the program based on cutting-edge community leadership research. Our CED specialists are rolling it out across Iowa to revive community engagement and participation. Did you know?

  • Our specialists teach a specific curriculum, but clients organize the program at the local level – bringing together a steering committee, identifying participants and handling local logistics.
  • The program typically takes place over six months, with one three-hour training session each month. Educational materials are learner-centered and structured to create a collaborative learning environment.
  • Participants learn about the importance of community leadership. They build skills and core competencies so they can address local issues and opportunities.
  • Some places opt to include a community project or a local networking opportunity during the process. In these cases, an approved ISU educator delivers the program and works with a local partner to offer the additional components.

Leading Communities helps Iowans develop social relationships, social capital, shared understandings and collaborative efforts. Iowa State research has shown that these community characteristics are critical for economic development and quality of life in our state. CED specialists are currently delivering the program in Henry and Lee counties. They’ve also taught it in Buena Vista and Kossuth counties. To learn more, contact Deborah Tootle,, or Brian Perry,

More notes

  • Congratulations to Julie Weeks, who has been named the Ames Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year. Julie serves as president and CEO of Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau and ISU Extension and Outreach Conference Planning and Management. Julie and her team build relationships and provide quality service as they promote Ames and Iowa State as “the destination” for group tours, conferences, meetings and events. Their efforts result in many thousands of people visiting Ames and Iowa State each year.
  • I will be visiting with campus-based extension staff and faculty on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 3-4:30 p.m. in 3228 Memorial Union. The purpose is to listen and learn, and gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshop is Dec. 10 on campus. Registration is open.
  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Awards nomination deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible, as are volunteers and extension councils. The awards will be presented during annual conference.
  • The Excellence in Extension grants submissions deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible. Individual grant information and application instructions are online. If you have questions about the grants or application, contact Alison Boelman,
  • Interactive training sessions for extension council members will be hosted at several sites across Iowa beginning Dec. 8, with additional dates in December and January. All dates and locations feature the same training. All newly elected council members, current council members and county extension staff are invited to attend. Registration is open.

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

Integrated Crop Management … times 30

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 26, 2018

2018 has been a challenging year for Iowa crop production, given difficult growing conditions, tight margins and uncertainty on trade issues. That is all the more reason for farm operators to make informed, research-based decisions to increase the likelihood for success. It’s no surprise that 900 farmers, agribusiness professionals, industry representatives and educators are coming to Ames Nov. 28-29 for the Integrated Crop Management Conference. It’s the 30th annual meeting of inquiring ag minds to network and learn about research findings and technology from across the Midwest. Did you know?

  • This year guest speakers will discuss in-field variability and effects on yield, digital technology in U.S. crop production, nitrogen needs and recommendations, tar spot in corn, and crop rotation and environmental stresses limiting corn and soybean yields.
  • The 2018 program also will include weather and crop market outlooks, selling cover crop seed, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, insect resistance to Bt crops, soybean gall midge, and weed and crop disease management updates.
  • New this year is the Women in Ag Breakfast, offering women attending the conference an opportunity to network, discuss common goals and challenges, and explore potential mentoring or programming ideas.
  • Last year attendees reported they had direct impact on 1.8 million acres of corn and soybeans, and estimated a profit increase of $5-10 per acre because of knowledge they gained from the conference.

ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the ICM conference, and every year bring together a diverse range of topics, a slate of expert presenters, and results of the latest university research to help Iowa agriculture thrive, no matter the challenges.

More notes

  • Our Women in Ag program’s conference, “The Conversations of Leadership,” is already in progress and continues tomorrow. Speakers and panelists are covering a variety of leadership topics from conflict resolution to farm transition decisions, career conversations and organizational leadership. All sessions are designed to build skills that enhance women’s leadership on and off the farm.
  • I will be visiting with campus-based extension staff and faculty today and again on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Both sessions are 3-4:30 p.m. in 3228 Memorial Union. Like my visits to all 20 regions, the primary purpose of these visits is to listen and learn, and gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan.
  • The 2019 Annual Conference planning team needs your help. Please send your selfie to Rachel Tendall,, by noon, Dec. 3. She’ll be compiling all the photos she receives into an ISU Extension and Outreach team portrait that will be revealed when the conference registration opens. Close-up photos are preferred, and feel free to show your personality.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Dec. 4 and 5 in the Humboldt County office in Humboldt. Registration is open.
  • For an update on the Internal Communications Task Force Nov. 16 meeting, read the executive summary on Cybox.
  • The Structured for Success committee met Nov. 19. Check the website for a video report and related documents from the meeting.

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

Turkey feathers … and other thoughts

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 19, 2018

Some people see turkey feathers and imagine Thanksgiving dinner. However, Abby Steen sees turkey feathers and imagines art. The Iowa State student and former Plymouth County 4-H’er decided to try this new medium, and her efforts netted her a blue ribbon and Outstanding Junior Award at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. Her three art pieces feature turkeys, pheasants and an elk painted on turkey feathers, and are now on display in my office in Beardshear Hall. Did you know?

  • Abby had been inspired by the painted turkey feathers of artist Chancy Walters, whom she met at the Iowa Deer Classic. She got his permission and encouragement to try her hand at his type of painting.
  • Once you see the fine detail of her turkey feather painting, you won’t be at all surprised that she’s majoring in biological/pre-medical illustration here at Iowa State.
  • As a Grant Clever Clover, Abby completed many static projects and also showed chickens, goats and Holstein calves. 4-H offered her many opportunities to try something new – such as this turkey feather project – and that’s important to her. She says she always wants to keep pushing herself to try new things and to take what she learns and use it in other work.

Abby is only one example of the many young Iowans who are empowered to reach their full potential through our 4-H Youth Development program. Next time you’re on campus, be sure to stop by 2150 Beardshear to see Abby’s turkey feather art. You may be inspired to try something new.

More notes

  • Review the new State of Iowa 4-H Data for Decision Makers for updates on 4-H related trends. The report covers 2017-2018.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshop is Nov. 29 in the Extension 4-H Building on campus in Ames. Registration is open.
  • Whether or not turkey is on your menu this Thursday, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

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

Small changes for financial security

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 12, 2018

Small change can mean a lot more than nickels and dimes. In terms of financial security, making even a small change can have a big impact over time. That’s the point of “Small Change: Building Financial Security.” Human Sciences extension faculty and specialists in family finance teach this new game-based, personal financial management course for educators and other school personnel, and city and county employees. Did you know?

  • The blended course includes one in-person class followed by self-paced online learning. Participants choose from lessons covering finance fundamentals, insurance, investing and retirement planning. The course uses game-based learning principles so people can tailor their learning to their own interests and needs.
  • Participants who complete the course can improve personal knowledge and skills. Educators also can prepare themselves to teach financial literacy, a key component of the Iowa Core 21st Century Skills and Social Studies for grades K-12. The course connects them with vetted curricula, resources and school-based programs for elementary, middle and high school levels.
  • Human Sciences is offering the course with a two-year grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. Key partners include the State Library of Iowa, Iowa State Education Association and Iowa Public Employee Retirement System.

Cynthia Needles Fletcher, professor and extension resource management specialist, leads the project. In the grant’s first year, her team conducted focus group interviews and developed the curriculum. They piloted the course this summer with a group of teachers, and this fall and winter are offering it throughout the state.

Goodbye … and welcome

In October, we said goodbye to the following individuals:

  • Katie Diemer, Bremer County youth coordinator
  • Marisol Virgen-Axtell, Buena Vista County food and nutrition program assistant
  • Holly Frerk, Pocahontas County program coordinator
  • Kyle McClure, Davis County office assistant
  • Loralye Wibben, Lyon County office assistant
  • Stephanie Knox, Davis County program and NEST coordinator
  • Raquel Juarez, extension program assistant II, Human Sciences
  • Maria Regalado, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences
  • Cynthia Kendall, program coordinator III, Community and Economic Development

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Theresa Goode, Monroe County Family Matters coach/coordinator
  • Tammy James, Union County CACFP program coordinator
  • Linda Severson, Winnebago County office assistant
  • Ronda Morrett, Lucas County youth outreach educator
  • Mari Melvin, Davis County program coordinator
  • Lynn Bruess, Chickasaw County office assistant
  • Katlyn Fell, Winnebago County youth coordinator
  • Brenda Streeter, Clarke County program coordinator
  • Katie Goodell, Dickinson County ag program coordinator and office assistant
  • Rebecca Heckert, Story County office assistant
  • Billie Koester, communications manager I, Advancement
  • Bobbi Minard, program coordinator I, 4-H Youth Development
  • Doug Gass, extension program specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources

More notes

  • On Nov. 6, Kossuth County voters passed the Extension Referendum, making Kossuth the 100th Iowa extension district to do so. Passing the measure will increase resources available to the local council for extension work in the county.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshop is Nov. 16 in the Extension 4-H Building on campus in Ames. Registration is open.
  • Please consider making a gift to Excellence in Extension. Your contributions help to improve and enrich the quality of ISU Extension and Outreach education as you support your extension colleagues. For more information, contact Alison Boelman,
  • The deadline to complete Structured for Success Survey 1 is noon, Nov. 19. Your responses will be confidential and your identity will be anonymous. The Structured for Success Committee will use the aggregated survey results to better address the committee’s primary objectives.

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

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