February 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2020 Community Visioning Program will be conducting a series of transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops in February. These workshops are part of the assessment process that the program conducts in client communities to provide local decision makers a framework within which to make informed choices. Transportation assets and barriers workshops will be conducted in Mingo, Mount Pleasant, Wellsburg and Polk City. CED specialists Aimee Viniard-Weideman, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating the focus groups. Trees Forever field coordinators will also be presenting bioregional assessments prepared by ISU program staff to steering committees in Avoca, Madrid, Reinbeck and Lost Nation.
  • In February, CED specialists will be facilitating the Business Model Canvas in Ames and Mount Pleasant. Business Model Canvas Is a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.
  • Also in February, CED specialists will be facilitating Leading Communities in Appanoose County, Cresco, and Chickasaw County. This Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • During federal FY 2019, the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app was installed on 6,200 new mobile devices. The website had 148,374 users, an increase of 30,000 users over federal FY 2018. The vast majority of users access the website in English. However, 906 utilized the live translation feature, with 525 accessing it in Portuguese, 128 in French and 253 in Spanish. Fifty-two percent of users now access the site via a mobile device. According to a user survey in September 2019, 49% of users access the site or app weekly or daily. When asked about behavior changes made with the help of Spend Smart. Eat Smart., users reported they cook healthy recipes, eat more fruits and vegetables, and try new foods.
  • During 2019, human sciences specialists in family finance, usually with support from county extension offices, provided direct leadership in 11 counties in recruiting, training and supporting volunteer tax preparers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program of the Internal Revenue Service. In many communities additional local partner organizations also support VITA efforts. Modest funding, provided through the Iowa Center for Economic Success, covers cost of equipment, supplies, training, outreach, coordination, volunteer appreciation and travel reimbursement for volunteers and staff. Extension staff recruit and support additional volunteers and partners who assist with scheduling appointments and tax clinic operation.
    — In the 2018-19 tax season, 37 volunteers prepared 1,163 tax returns for households with low and moderate incomes at 13 sites in the 11 counties.
    — The programs assisted 68 additional households that did not need to file or for some other reason elected not to complete returns.
    — Approximately 265 of these households were eligible for the Earned Income Credit.
    — Tax refunds claimed through extension-supported VITA sites totaled nearly $1.7 million.
    — The VITA program saved the participants about $175,000 in tax preparation fees (estimated at $150 per return).
    — A new site in Waterloo served immigrants in the community and included immigrants as volunteer preparers.

4-H Youth Development

  • 4-H is revising the 12 seasonal Clover Kids lessons that were piloted during the past year and is developing the second set of 12 seasonal agendas. These 24 lessons will make up the next K-3 curriculum, STEAM’n through the Seasons. This innovative K-3 program will include engaging, hands-on experiences that incorporate STEM, literacy and the arts. In addition, 14 Clover Kids teams are kicking off the Wonder League Robotics season. Through a series of story-based missions, the team members develop problem-solving, growth mindset and creativity skills while learning to code the robot duo, Dash and Dot. This year, Wonder League has partnered with the Cartoon Network show, Craig of the Creek, to develop five theme-based missions that take Dash and Dot on adventures through the wilderness. At the end of the season, Iowa 4-H will host a Clover Kids (K-3) Wonder League Robotics expo on the Iowa State campus. The tentative date is Saturday, April 25.
  • In January Maya Hayslett led a team of 10 teens and four other adults at the 2020 4-H National Summit on Agri-science in Washington, D.C. The team participated in a variety of workshops and presentations about agriculture. Hayslett presented a session on the new set of Crops Feed the World lessons. Youth participants also were able to visit Smithsonian Museums and national monuments.
  • 4-H is revising the 10-year-old Ricochet curriculum. Updates include activities, photos, accessibility, the website and more. The team has seven facilitator trainings scheduled for 2020 for staff to either get a refresher in Ricochet facilitation or learn how to use it for the first time. The Ricochet revision process is scheduled to be complete by mid-February.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Jay Harmon was named the director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and associate dean for extension and outreach programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State on Jan. 1. Harmon, a professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension livestock housing specialist, has served as interim since April 2017 and has been a member of Iowa State’s faculty since 1993.
  • The 64th annual Iowa State University Shade Tree Short Course will be held Feb. 25-27 in Ames and will focus on both using and reusing trees with a purpose. General information sessions, workshops covering specific topics and a trade show are all included, with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists joining experts from across the country in providing instruction. Registration is available online. Private pesticide applicator certification is also available during the course.
  • The Iowa State University Master Gardener program winter webcasts in county extension offices around the state begin in February. Topics for the series were chosen based on current issues and Master Gardener volunteer interest and include Iowa weather, bringing kids to the garden, and exploring the Ada Hayden Herbarium. More information is available on the Master Gardener website.

Recognizing bias and being kind

Feb. 3, 2020 message from John Lawrence

“We all have bias. It’s important to be aware of our own.” That’s a quote from an individual who participated in Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts. Our human sciences specialists in family life deliver this workshop across the state. They help Iowans to understand the impact of stereotypes and biased statements, identify the most common reasons people sit silently in the face of bias and stereotypes, and develop skills to speak up against stereotypes and respond to difficult situations. Did you know?

  • In 2019 our specialists delivered 34 workshops in communities, agencies and businesses, and to school personnel and foster grandparents.
  • These educational offerings reached 729 adults and 105 youth.
  • Delivering one workshop often led to immediate requests for more workshops.

In their evaluations, participants reported they’d gained a better understanding of stereotypes and biased statements, as well as the common reasons people remain silent. They also felt confident that they could respond. As one participant said, “I have a voice and can share how I am feeling or thinking without hurting or offending someone.”

Join the Acts of Kindness campaign

During February, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is sponsoring an Acts of Kindness campaign. The goal is to spread kindness and boost wellbeing across Iowa. Everyone who’d like to participate is welcome to engage in an act of kindness or two (or more) each week. You can check Human Sciences’ kindness calendar for ideas.

You can share your acts of kindness on social media using #StrongIowa #Kindness. You also can email a short description and picture (if you have one) of your act(s) of kindness to hs_wellbeing@iastate.edu by 5 p.m. Friday each week to be entered in a drawing. Every Monday, Human Sciences will randomly pick one winner (either an individual or group) to win a prize. Every Friday the winner and a few of the acts of kindness performed by our colleagues will be shared in Community Chat. (Go to MyExtension for instructions on how to subscribe.) On Feb. 28 from noon-1 p.m. you can join the Act of Kindness Celebration on Zoom to share and celebrate all the acts of kindness that were completed during the month. You’ll also find out who wins the grand prize – an assortment of homemade/specialty items from our Human Sciences community. For more information contact hs_wellbeing@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • Adam Janke, extension wildlife specialist, will talk about the Master Conservationist program and answer your questions during Second Monday Live at 10 a.m. on Feb. 10. Master Conservationists share an interest in the sustainability of Iowa’s natural resources and in becoming better stewards of those resources. Adam will share results from last year’s evaluations, available resources and how county extension offices can choose to offer the program. In addition, I’ll give a brief update on MyData. Please plan to join the 30-minute Adobe Connect session at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/. The session also will be archived for later viewing.
  • My Jan. 29 message regarding the Structured for Success final map has been archived on the Vice President for Extension and Outreach website.
  • Nominations for ISU 2020 Extension and Outreach Awards are due Feb. 10 at noon. Visit the Awards website for more information.
  • Mike Mauton in Extension IT says that all Windows 7 machines must be upgraded to Windows 10 by end of business on Friday, March 6. That’s when all computers still running Windows 7 will be blocked from the ISU network. Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7, which means these machines are no longer receiving security updates. All Windows 7 machines have been receiving hourly splash screens with instructions on how to upgrade to Windows 10. EIT is providing upgrades to Windows 10 for $25 per computer. Please contact the EIT Hotline at 515-294-1725 or eithotline@iastate.edu if you have any questions regarding upgrading your computer.

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

The 2020 Census matters to us

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 27, 2020

In a few weeks, Iowans will be receiving their invitations to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census. An accurate count of Iowa’s population will provide key demographic information to help us understand who and where our clients are. But did you know? 2020 Census data also will:

  • guide planning and decisions in Iowa communities,
  • determine how many representatives Iowa has in the U.S. Congress, and
  • impact federal funding for many services and programs.

Our state receives nearly $9 billion in federal funds every year. If Iowa’s population is undercounted, our state’s federal funding could be in jeopardy. An undercount of even 0.1% could mean losing $89.6 million from 2020-2030. An undercount of 1% would equal 10 times as much – $896 million.

In the coming months you may get questions about the Census or you may have the opportunity to educate people about it. Learn what you need to know about the 2020 Census during a live webinar Tuesday, Feb. 11, from noon to 1 p.m. at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/census/. Sociologist Sandra Burke will discuss how Census data benefits communities, why it’s important to get an accurate count, and how extension professionals may be able to help. In addition, GIS specialist Bailey Hanson will demonstrate finding Census information on the updated Indicators website. There also will be plenty of time to ask questions.

Let’s do our best to ensure all Iowans are counted in the 2020 Census.

Justice statement update

Beginning Feb. 1, the updated justice statement (also known as the non-discrimination statement) must be included on all departmental publications and county-produced materials offered by ISU Extension and Outreach. This new process is based on USDA guidance and is required by federal regulation. The purpose is to make clear to prospective applicants or participants that the university is committed to equal opportunity employment and equal access to its programs and activities. We are used to putting the statement on printed materials and displaying posters that include the statement. Now, PowerPoint presentations, videos and podcasts must include the statement, as well.

Please review the Justice Statement Usage Guidelines for specific information regarding when to use the long and short versions of the statement. Templates on MyExtension will gradually be updated. In the meantime, please follow the guidelines as you create or reprint materials.

More notes

  • Nominations for ISU 2020 Extension and Outreach Awards are due Feb. 10 at noon. There are categories for faculty and staff (university and county paid), as well as volunteers, councils and support units. Please nominate your colleagues for their work to build a strong Iowa. The awards will be presented at our Awards Ceremony, March 31, 4-6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center.
  • Please join us for budget officer John Flickinger’s retirement celebration, 2-4 p.m., Feb. 6 in the Campanile Room at the Memorial Union. John is retiring on Feb. 7. He joined ISU Extension and Outreach in 1993 and has been with the university since 1987.

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

Good work for our stakeholders

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 21, 2020

When the skies are gloomy and the snow is blowing, or any other time you need something to brighten your day, read a 2019 county stakeholder report or two – or go on a binge and read a bunch of them. You will learn a lot about the good work our extension colleagues are doing throughout the state. For example, did you know?

  • Residents of Mondamin, in Harrison County, have been participating in Marketing Hometown America. They are exploring their community’s potential to attract families looking for a place to live. Town aesthetics was one topic they wanted to pursue. Community art specialist Jennifer Drinkwater provided examples of how art has changed buildings in communities throughout Iowa. The group also continues to work with our community and economic development specialists and Southwest Iowa Planning Council on housing.
  • Hancock County reached 1,016 youth with 57 workshops from October 2018 through August 2019. Some workshops introduce a possible career path, while others provide opportunities to learn a new technique in a project area and complete a static exhibit for the fair. Many workshops provide opportunities for youth to enhance their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
  • Once a month at the Dubuque County office, local food producers from the area get together to network, share ideas and learn about each other’s farm businesses. Each month a different producer shares information about their business, how they got started, and how they market their product. This insight has given producers a real-world look at other farm businesses in the area, fostered connections among farmers producing a variety of local foods, and led to new marketing and business ideas.
  • The Wayne County Extension District sponsors the county’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which provides free tax preparation for individuals with low incomes. In 2019, seven volunteers assisted 200 clients. Federal refunds totaled $290,717, including over $111,000 in Earned Income Credit. The state refunds reached $50,313, including approximately $16,000 of Iowa Earned Income Credit. Two thirds of the returns were for families and one third of the clients were 60 years of age or older.

Thank you to everyone who contributes to county stakeholder reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in each county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.

Goodbye … and welcome

In December, we said goodbye to Felicia Marable-Williams, extension program specialist II, Human Sciences/EFNEP, who left ISU Extension and Outreach. We welcome the following new staff:

  • Kimberly Axne, Humboldt County office manager.
  • Amy Benge, Dickinson County office assistant.

More notes

  • You can review the Jan. 13 Second Monday Live archived webinar. The session focused on the Human Sciences Overview and Program Catalog, the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment and the 2020 Census. The next Second Monday Live is Feb. 10, 10 a.m., at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/.
  • Three counties have committed to becoming single-county regions under Model 2 of Structured for Success. On Jan. 14, vacancy announcements were posted for Dallas, Polk and Story County regional directors. The application deadline is Jan. 22.
  • Epsilon Sigma Phi Friend of Extension award nominations are due by midnight Feb. 3. For more information contact Vera Stokes, ESP awards committee chair, vstokes@iastate.edu.
  • Feb. 4 is the application deadline for Excellence in Extension grants. For more information, contact Alison DePenning, Professional Development program coordinator, depennin@iastate.edu.

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

Sharing our Crop Advantage

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 13, 2020

With up-to-date scientific knowledge from Iowa State, Iowa’s crop producers will be prepared to manage potential issues when they arise or even before they arise. That’s the goal that drives our annual Crop Advantage meetings. Every January, Agriculture and Natural Resources extension specialists travel to locations across the state to share updated management options and recommendations on current and future crop production issues. Did you know?

  • The 2020 meetings began Jan. 3 and conclude Jan. 30. Content at each of the 14 sessions is driven by county needs and local production issues.
  • Farmers and crop advisers who participate gain a solid foundation of current, research-based crop production information to help them make smart, informed decisions for their farming operations.
  • Last year more than 2,000 people, representing all 99 Iowa counties and surrounding states, attended Crop Advantage meetings. Eighty-four percent of participants said information they gained would likely save them between $5 and $20 per acre.

This year’s agenda includes the market outlook for 2020, weather and climate trends, grain drying and storage, emerging insect pests such as soybean gall midge, nitrogen management, tar spot and other corn and soybean disease issues, and fertilizer application technology. In addition, Certified Crop Advisers can receive continuing education credits and pesticide applicators can recertify.

More notes

  • Please review the January program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • The 2018-2019 4-H Statewide Data for Decision Makers and 4-H Data for Decision Makers by county reports are available for your use. These resources for 4-H data are helpful for grant opportunities, discussions with partners and county plans of work for local 4-H programs.
  • On Jan. 1, ISU Extension and Outreach entered a three-year memorandum of understanding with the ISU Alumni Association. The goal is to more fully support each other’s programs. We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase alumni engagement with extension programs, councils and county offices.
  • Remember to submit your 2019 stakeholder reports. We are publishing the reports on the County Services website as they are received. 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.
  • Join Cyndi Wiley, Iowa State’s digital accessibility coordinator, for Making Social Media Posts Accessible, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. Connect online. This is the first in a new digital accessibility webinar series. The series will continue February through May on the last Tuesday of the month, 10-11 a.m.
  • Learn about the 2020 Census during a webinar Tuesday, Feb. 11 at noon. Community and Economic Development will share information about how the Census is conducted, what it means for communities and how county offices may be able to assist local officials. Watch for more information in the coming weeks.

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

January 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources + Community and Economic Development

Participants will learn about food entrepreneurship and inclusive partnerships during the Community Food Systems Annual Event, Jan. 9-10 in West Des Moines. The conference will feature nine breakout sessions on topics related to specialty crop and garden production, business development, farm to school, food systems and USDA programming. Local Food Leader and Business Model Canvas workshops will be held in advance of the conference.

More from Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Farmland values rose for just the second time in the last six years in 2019, climbing 2.3% according to the latest Land Value Survey released on Dec. 11. The statewide value of an acre of farmland is now estimated to be $7,432, with the jump driven by favorable interest rates, strong yields and limited land supply. The full 2019 Land Value Survey can be found on the ISU Extension Store.
  • The annual Returning to the Farm Seminar will be held Jan. 10-11 and Feb. 14-15, providing information to farm families who are beginning to think about farmland succession. Led by a group of ISU Extension and Outreach specialists, Iowa State University professionals and experienced farmers, the seminar is intended to help families make succession plans, learn to communicate better and answer critical questions.

More from Community and Economic Development

  • As the 2020 Community Visioning Program kicks off, Elkader and Wellsburg will be conducting their first meetings in January. Bioregional assessments will take place in Mingo and Polk City. ISU program staff will be conducting transportation surveys and focus groups with high school students in Reinbeck, Mount Pleasant and Elkader. ISU program staff will conduct training on transportation assets and barriers workshops (focus groups) for Trees Forever field coordinators on Jan. 29 in Ames. CED specialists Scott Timm, Abbie Gaffey, and Eric Christianson facilitate focus groups for these workshops.
  • CED specialists Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides created a guidebook for the Business Model Canvas, a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. At its most basic level, it is a canvas divided into nine individual rectangles representing the building blocks of all small businesses and nonprofits: 1. Customer Segments, 2. Value Propositions, 3. Channels, 4. Customer Relationships, 5. Revenue Streams, 6. Key Resources, 7. Key Activities, 8. Key Partnerships, and 9. Cost Structure. Using the Business Model Canvas, an entrepreneur will organize, analyze, adjust and implement premises on a feasible business concept. The nine building blocks will guide a person on the pathway to understanding how the business concept will create value for value in return (money). In January CED specialists will be presenting the Business Model Canvas in West Des Moines at the Community Food Systems Annual Event and in West Liberty.
  • During January, CED specialists will be facilitating Leading Communities in Atlantic, Mount Pleasant, Sac County, Centerville and Elma. This Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a vice president for extension and outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • The following data represent both SNAP-Ed and EFNEP-funded direct education work, which includes both “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” and “Plan, Shop, Save and Cook”:
    — 1,089 total participants. This is 130 more participants than FY 2018.
    — 91% female, with most under the age of 40.
    — 47% self-identify as part of an underserved racial or ethnic group.
    — 63% of participants have income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level, and more than 75% receive public assistance.
    — 94% of participants improved diet quality.
    — 83% increased their physical activity.
    — 78% improved food safety practices.
    — 49% reported increased food security.
    — 80% reported improved food resource management.
  • Cathy Hockaday was accepted into the University of Utah’s Grant Writing Coaching Research Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund. Participants will experience a four to six-month intensive writing and feedback process with skilled coaches via a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. Mack Shelley, chair of the Department of Political Science, will serve as the on-campus scientific advisor for Cathy as she develops an NIH proposal. Cathy will travel to University of Utah in January to begin the mentoring process.
  • Connie Beecher presented at the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association Convention the results of a comparison study of the Small Talk program. She and her team compared a group of parents who regularly attend the library with an equivalent group who completed the Small Talk program. Small Talk is a program that helps parents learn how to create an enriching home language environment for their child and how they can help their child’s brain development. The intervention group outperformed the comparison group (adult words, conversational turns and child vocalizations). Not only did the intervention group have statistically significant growth, but effect sizes range from .55- .85 and there was also a significant increase of parent knowledge of child development.

4-H Youth Development

  • Thirty-four youth from eighteen counties participated in Beef Blast in December. Quotes from the youth participants include: “Sometimes antibiotics are not the best option for treating baby calves.”; “Enjoyed making connections with other beef producers.”; “The nutrient requirements for cows and heifers are different.”; “How to cull in a herd, very helpful.”
  • State 4-H Council members participated in their annual Youth-Adult Partnership training in December. Youth-adult partnership is the practice of youth and adults working together in a democratic way, through shared work, over a sustained period of time-to strengthen their organization and/or community. Council members identified and brought a caring adult with them to learn and participate in programming centered around positive youth-adult partnerships. Topics included barriers and benefits, leadership styles, stress management and well-being, learning to give and receive feedback, and developing an action plan for your school, club, community, etc.
  • In October, schools attended the SWITCH School Wellness Conference in preparation for the 2020 implementation of SWITCH in over 50 schools across the state. School and extension staff learned ways they can integrate more physical activity and opportunities for nutrition throughout the school day and also how to engage with parents. ISU psychology professor Doug Gentile shared his research and best practices for screen time and youth. Six schools brought youth teams who will be ambassadors for SWITCH in their schools. Youth ambassador teams created promotional videos for their school social media pages and determined ideas of how they can help leverage the message for switching what they do, view and chew and influence their peers to jump on board with making simple health behavior changes.

When we serve all Iowans

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 6, 2020

The start of a new year is a good time for reflection, and I’ve been reflecting on something I read in a recent Human Sciences Community Chat newsletter. Special projects manager Barbara Woods offered her reflections on diversity and inclusion:

  • “I find hope in the difference we can make when we serve all Iowans, not just ‘some’ Iowans,” Barbara wrote. “Although it can be uncomfortable as we engage in the diversity and inclusion that surrounds us, I think with sincere and thoughtful engagement we can change our behavior. A quick scan of your programs’ participants should provide you with an answer to who currently shows up and participates in extension programs and who you are not seeing. I’d encourage you to find ways to connect with and include a more diverse group of Iowans for your program opportunities.”
  • She added that “there are various professional training opportunities that support us in our work with diverse audiences. Our co-workers who have built successful relationships with diverse audiences can be a resource to help us learn more and provide a safe space to ask probing questions.”
  • In conclusion she wrote, “I have found that who I include is more about who I am than who they are. This perspective provides me with opportunities to reevaluate my interactions with others to be more inclusive of people and ideas.”

I was particularly struck by Barbara’s last point, and it is a message I hope we all will embrace. The third goal in our strategic plan is to enhance efforts in programming, operations and staffing to reach diverse and underrepresented populations. We have specific strategies for reaching this goal, and this tactics-and-metrics approach is important for our organization. But just as important, for each one of us, is to strive to be more inclusive of people and ideas. That is how we will achieve our vision and accomplish our mission to engage all Iowans, not just some Iowans.

I thank Barbara for allowing me to share some of her thoughts in this message. I also encourage you to read her article in the Dec. 13 Human Sciences Community Chat newsletter. (The Community Chat archive is available via MyExtension, as well as instructions on how to subscribe.)

Second Monday Live

In response to an Internal Communications Task Force theme, we are offering a new, monthly opportunity for our staff and leadership team to interact. Our first Second Monday Live is set for Jan. 13 at 10 a.m. Please join us for this Adobe Connect conversation at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/.

  • Gary Taylor will talk about Community and Economic Development’s Rural Housing Readiness Assessment for communities struggling with where to start when seeking to address challenges to providing safe, affordable housing for their residents. The program engages community members in education, technical assistance and action planning. Gary will explain the program, its cost (including funds available from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to defray the costs) and how communities can apply.
  • Deb Sellers will share the new Human Sciences Overview and Program Catalog, explain how to access them and discuss potential audiences. We’ll seek your input on how you might use these materials in your county.

More notes

  • Congratulations to Jay Harmon, our new program director for Agriculture and Natural Resources and associate dean for extension and outreach programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He was named to the position Jan. 1.
  • Congratulations, Page County! The 100th anniversary of ISU Extension and Outreach in Page County was the Clarinda Herald-Journal’s story of the year for 2019.
  • Nominations for ISU 2020 Extension and Outreach Awards are due Feb. 10 at noon. A new award this year is the Pillar of Extension and Outreach Award, for individuals or teams from extension support units.
  • Mileage reimbursement rates have decreased as of Jan. 1 for ISU-paid employees. The new default rate is 28.75 cents/mile (50% of the full IRS rate) for trips over 100 miles if the traveler uses a personal vehicle when an ISU vehicle is available. The 2020 full IRS rate is decreasing to 57.5 cents/mile, which may be claimed under certain circumstances, as well as by ISU-paid employees permanently based off-campus. For more information contact John Flickinger, jeflick@iastate.edu.
  • Today is Office Cleanup Day, the annual day extension staff statewide devote to cleaning and organizing their offices for safety and efficiency. Office Cleanup Day resources are available from MyExtension.

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

Introducing Second Monday Live

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 23, 2019

Before I begin today’s “did you know,” I’d like to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for all that you do for ISU Extension and Outreach and the people of Iowa. I am extremely proud of our organization and the hardworking staff, faculty and volunteers who make us successful. I am looking forward to some down time, and I hope that you also unplug and enjoy time with friends and family.


One of the themes from the Internal Communications Task Force is to create opportunities for two-way feedback between field and campus to improve relationships and effectiveness. One way we are responding to this theme is with a new opportunity for our staff and our leadership team to interact via a monthly Adobe Connect conversation. We’re calling it Second Monday Live. Did you know?

  • Second Monday Live will take place the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. and run for about 30 minutes.
  • Each month a different member (or members) of the leadership team will briefly share an item of interest and then we will discuss it together. In my “Did You Know” email message the week prior to each session, I’ll send you the link, announce who will be sharing and briefly describe the topic.
  • Four times per year (one per quarter) the Second Monday Live will be an open forum with the leadership team. During these sessions we will discuss relevant topics that you provide.
  • All Second Monday Live sessions will be archived. If you can’t watch a session live, you can watch it later at your convenience.

Our first Second Monday Live is set for Jan. 13. Gary Taylor will talk about Community and Economic Development’s rural housing readiness assessment, and Deb Sellers will talk about a new product from Human Sciences, a print program catalog. Both concepts were mentioned during the 2018 Listening Sessions.

We are adding a Second Monday Live topic category to the Virtual Suggestion Box where you can offer ideas for topics we should discuss. You also can share your ideas directly with members of the leadership team. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing these casual conversations to enhance communication, build trust and foster a sense of community in our organization.

MOU revision process

A committee has been meeting to review and update the Memorandum of Understanding between Extension Districts and ISU Extension and Outreach. The MOU clarifies our partnership and the roles and responsibilities of each partner. The goal is to share the revised MOU with the Iowa Extension Council Association board at their Jan. 11 meeting. Following their approval, the MOU will be sent to extension councils for review and signing by June 1, 2020. The committee members are:

  • Bruce Clark, Black Hawk County Council.
  • Jamie David, Taylor County Council.
  • Jayne Lupkes, Worth County Council.
  • Joy Prothero, Mahaska County Council.
  • Lori Donahoe, Johnson County Council.
  • Terry Maloy, IECA executive director.
  • Paul Gibbins, Polk County executive director.
  • Britney Rosburg, Emmet County program director.
  • Alan Ladd, region 17 director.
  • Gene Mohling, region 15 director.
  • Andrea Nelson, assistant vice president, County Services.
  • Tiffany Magstadt, County Services.
  • Andrea Lutter, Extension Finance.
  • John Lawrence, vice president, ISU Extension and Outreach.

More notes

  • County Services has updated the extension council annual organization materials for 2020. For more information, contact your regional director.
  • On Jan. 1, 2020, the fee for new computer setups/repairs will increase from $100 to $125. As noted in Extension IT’s Dec. 3 Tech News, this is the first fee increase in over 20 years.
  • Save the date: The Office Professionals Conference is set for Oct. 20, 2020, in the Scheman Building on the Iowa State campus.

Have a wonderful holiday season. I will be back in your emailbox with a new “Did You Know” message on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.

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

We are change agents

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 16, 2019

2019 has been a year of change for ISU Extension and Outreach, as we’ve begun addressing our Internal Communications Task Force recommendations, adjusting to Improved Service Delivery and WorkDay, and preparing for Structured for Success (to name a few examples). You’d think we would be used to dealing with change, since extension professionals are change agents. Every day we engage Iowans in solving problems and preparing for a thriving future. We’re good at helping other people address real-life challenges, but we don’t necessarily like dealing with change ourselves.

Despite that paradox, with every action that extension professionals have ever taken for our organization, the goal has always been to better serve Iowans. From the moment our forebears invented extension, they started changing it – with Seed Corn Gospel trains and short courses, farm and home demonstrations, education for youth, and work in communities. They and we evolved how we deliver programming – from trains to cars, radio to internet, newspaper columns to digital blogs, print to Twitter, church basements to in-home online, desktop to smart phones. There’s no need for change agents in a world that stays the same, where people never grow or evolve. But that’s not the world we live in, so our organization continues to adapt to better serve Iowans.

We all can appreciate the legacy of our organization. However, as you engage with Iowans today, you are ensuring our future. Thank you for everything you do as extension change agents. Looking forward to 2020, together we will continue to adapt to change in our organization and support what Iowans value: a strong Iowa.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Katie Goodell, Dickinson County ag program coordinator and office assistant.
  • Steven Hardina, Woodbury County marketing program assistant.
  • Athena Speller, Black Hawk County extension program assistant.
  • Pamela Johnson, Scott County bookkeeper.
  • Jamiee Marvin, Lucas County office assistant.
  • Deanna Colwell, Harrison County youth coordinator.
  • Carol Tierney, program assistant II, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Nancy Radcliffe, Dickinson County office assistant.
  • Kelli Ireland, Clay County office assistant.
  • Alexis Seuntjens, Pocahontas County program coordinator.
  • Karrie King, Woodbury County director.
  • Leah Feltz, communications specialist II, Advancement.
  • Anne Tedore, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

More notes

  • Andrea Lutter has been hired as ISU Extension and Outreach budget officer effective Dec. 16 and will begin transitioning into her new duties immediately. Current budget officer John Flickinger will retire in early February and will be mentoring Andrea as she assumes many of the administrative duties that come with the post. Andrea has worked alongside John for nearly seven years and will bring new ideas to a solid foundation.
  • The Advancement team has secured approval from University Marketing to update our ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development staff apparel to increase visibility of the clover while maintaining the university’s co-branding guidelines. The new look for 4-H staff apparel will feature a larger green clover (compared with the clover on previous apparel) placed above a stacked and centered ISU Extension and Outreach wordmark. All other new staff apparel will use the stacked and centered wordmark (without the clover). The new designs will be available on both red and white apparel from the Extension Store. FYI: It still is acceptable to wear existing extension apparel with the flush-left wordmark, and watch for details from the Extension Store regarding discounted, in-stock items.
  • Beginning in January, Ross Wilburn will be taking a leave of absence to serve in the Iowa House of Representatives. Ross was elected to represent House District 46, which covers northern Ames, central campus and parts of western Ames, in a special election Aug. 6. He will be on leave from ISU Extension and Outreach without pay during the legislative session, roughly January through April. In Ross’ absence, if you need assistance related to diversity concerns, please contact Sean Nelson, seann1@iastate.edu. If you need assistance related to community and economic development issues, please contact Gary Taylor, gtaylor@iastate.edu. We thank Ross for his commitment to public service and look forward to his return to ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • With the Iowa legislative session beginning soon and in advance of the 2020 presidential caucuses and election, keep in mind the university’s guidance on political campaign activities.

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

Our Rising Stars’ impact continues

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 9. 2019

This week County Services begins interviewing students for Rising Star internships and plans to hire 16 interns for 2020. Each summer our Rising Stars live and work in rural Iowa communities, addressing real-life projects based on local needs. When the internship ends, our interns come back to Iowa State, but did you know? Our Rising Stars’ impact continues in rural Iowa.

When Region 3 Director Donovan Olson met with Latimer Development in 2016, the group was interested in revitalizing their downtown, addressing housing needs and attracting new development. Donovan helped them gain access to two ISU resources that were critical for their success. First the group worked with CyBIZ to study community needs and create a strategic plan to commercialize the downtown. The plan was completed and presented to the group in June 2017.

Then the Rising Star interns created a strategic implementation plan to help Latimer Development move forward on opportunities identified by CyBIZ. The Rising Stars simplified the options into two projects. The first was a plan to revitalize the downtown by developing a lot that the group owned. The second project laid out the steps to develop an independent living facility for seniors in the community. The Rising Star interns completed and presented their plan in August 2017.

This fall Donovan heard from Matt Hardy of North Iowa Cooperative, who said the Latimer Development group has made significant progress on the two projects. First, the group is working toward an agreement with Franklin General Hospital to construct a new clinic in downtown Latimer. Second, the group is assembling a list of community members interested in occupying senior housing and is working on acquiring the land to build a new multi-unit senior living facility. Latimer Development credits CyBiz and the Rising Stars with helping them identify a way forward and demonstrate that they were prepared to improve and expand their community.

ISU Extension and Outreach connects communities with resources they need. This Latimer example shows how our interns can have a lasting impact when they engage Iowans in solving today’s problems and preparing for a thriving future.

Internal Communications: County visit notification reminder

Back in July I shared how we would address two Internal Communications Task Force recommendations about informing county staff when you will be visiting or working in the county. I’d like to remind everyone about a simple action that will go a long way in improving communication within our organization. Visitors, send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why, and locals, acknowledge you received the message. For more information, please review my original update.

More notes

  • Registration is open for the 2020 Professional and Scientific Council Professional Development Conference, Feb. 13 at the Scheman Building. Register by Dec. 20 to get the early rate of $100. The regular registration rate will be $120 from Dec. 21 through Jan. 31.
  • Iowa State will reduce services for a partial campus shutdown during the week of Dec. 23-27. During this time campus staff may take vacation, work from home or work in their cold offices. (The university turns down the heat in many of the buildings to reduce energy costs.) Extension units, like other university offices, will have procedures in place to manage incoming messages or handle emergencies. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 30-31, are regular work days and Jan. 1 is a university holiday.
  • The Extension Information Technology office will be closed with minimal staffing during the university partial shutdown through Jan. 1. EIT will monitor networks, servers, and the EIT Hotline (515-294-1725) for critical issues and emergencies but will not be handling routine issues (though you still can send those questions to eit@iastate.edu). The EIT office will reopen on Jan. 2.

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.