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

Responding to Structured for Success

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 9, 2019

For three weeks now, the Structured for Success proposal has been top of mind for many of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. During our first three area-wide meetings, we’ve had good discussions about proposed Models 1 and 2. We’ll be discussing the proposal at the remaining area-wide meetings as well, on Sept. 10 and 20.

In addition, many extension staff and council members have been using our new virtual suggestion box to share their perspectives on the proposed models. I am reading every comment submitted. Some people have offered ideas for alternative models. Some are asking questions, and Andrea Nelson and I are providing answers in FAQ documents. Others have been expressing their worries or concerns, which may not have an “answer.”

A few individuals were upset by the way the proposal was announced, and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. We announced the proposal during a webinar because it seemed to be a good way to provide the information to everyone at the same time.

Some people have been voicing concerns about the role of regional directors in the proposed models and how they will be assigned to the new regions. Others wonder whether staff who will be transitioning to a different role – in a region or in a county – will have the necessary skills for the new role. They’re anxious about degree requirements for the career path from one role to another. Some people are worried about what the proposal means for their council and their county budget. Others are concerned about where the final regional borders will be drawn and how the new regions will affect existing partnerships across county lines.

The first three FAQ documents address questions the Structured for Success Committee had anticipated, as well as the questions we received during the webinar and in the first few days afterward. As we compare those FAQs with the comments continuing to come in via the virtual suggestion box, we are seeing some common themes in the questions that are being asked and some common confusion about what the committee envisioned for the proposal. We are putting together a new FAQ to address these themes and, we hope, lessen the confusion. It will be added to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff) by the end of this week.

I will be holding virtual listening sessions by Adobe Connect at the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m.

Please remember that the Structured for Success Committee reviewed information collected during the 2018 Listening Sessions, gained from the Internal Communications Task Force Report, and gathered from our counties and from other states in the north central region. After completing this review, the committee determined that to be successful, ISU Extension and Outreach’s organizational structure must enable us to:

  • effectively educate and serve Iowans with resources from Iowa State;
  • increase focus on engagement, programming, and partnership development;
  • recruit and retain talented, professional, and passionate staff;
  • reduce the burden on councils related to human resources, finance, and program selection; and
  • improve communication and accountability within our system.

These are the goals for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. You may continue to provide feedback until Oct. 11 through the virtual suggestion box or by phone or email to any member of the Structured for Success committee. Then we’ll review the feedback and revise the proposal as needed. Our target date for sharing the final version is Oct. 21.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Structured for Success proposal and thank you for all you do for ISU Extension and Outreach.

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

September 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • The 4-H project area hot sheets have been redesigned, updated, made digitally accessible and posted to the Extension Store. The new design kept many of the previous features and now includes sections on goal setting, record keeping and entrepreneurship. Each publication also features college and career connections.
  • Twenty-three middle and high school youth from across the state took part in the first InventSTEM Iowa State Fair Challenge sponsored by Alliant Energy. John Larsen, chairman and CEO of Alliant Energy, and other Alliant Energy team members were on hand to mentor youth and present awards. The event began with a mini circuit lesson; then youth were tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine using only the tub of materials provided. There were two overall winners of the challenge. One team created a fanny pack with attached fan and cell phone holder. The second created a neck travel pillow with attached fan and side snack holders. Nate Weber and Rachel Shannon supported this event.
  • Clubs who participated in the Healthy Living Club Challenge were recognized at the Iowa State Fair. Sixteen clubs tied for first place, earning 2,850 miles, the maximum possible. This means they completed each of the three challenges every month (water, fruit/vegetable and physical activity) in addition to each monthly bonus challenge featuring a new area of well-being (social, personal, emotional, financial, environmental and community).

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farm field days have been taking place throughout the summer and will continue into September. Seventeen field days were scheduled in 2019. Additional information on field days can be found through the Iowa State Research and Demonstration Farms website.
  • Eleven Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training meetings have been scheduled by ISU Extension and Outreach, providing information and training for those interested in fruit and vegetable production, as well as those interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Training sessions will be held across the state, beginning Nov. 6 in Harlan and running until March 2020. More information can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach Safe Produce website.

Community and Economic Development

  • In July, AARP awarded the Iowa League of Cities a Community Challenge Grant, a program designed to make communities livable for people of all ages. The project is being conducted in partnership with the CED program. As a part of the grant, the League will develop and host a day-long workshop Sept. 18 focused on leveraging local government data. The workshop will incorporate the themes of city finance, housing and transportation, including information related to older adults and the overall community. The day also will include an immersive problem-solving session, designed to bring together city officials and data experts to explore and solve a local issue: mobility in Marshalltown. In addition, the grant will fund a “smart cities” demonstration project in Marshalltown, using the roadmap and input gained in the workshop session. CED faculty and staff participating in the workshop include Erin Mullenix, Chris Seeger, Biswa Das and Abbie Gaffey.
  • Several CED faculty and staff will be attending the Iowa League of Cities Conference, Sept. 25-27 in Dubuque. Eric Christianson will present on nuisance abatement. Erin Mullenix will co-present a session on preparing for AV-ready Iowa. Sara Shonrock will present on housing programs and incentives. Other CED faculty and staff who will attend include Gary Taylor, Scott Timm and Aimee Viniard-Weideman.
  • Diane Van Wyngarden will lead the Best of the Upper Mississippi River Road Scholar tour Sept. 8–14 and again Sept. 22–28. Through these travel courses, participants from 15 states (first tour) and 13 states (second tour) will learn about community histories, local economies, innovative local projects and community challenges. Communities along the first tour include McGregor, Dubuque, Calmar, Spillville and Dyersville. The second tour will feature Marquette, the Quad Cities, Scott County and Decorah.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach had four pitches in “The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION.” Malisa Rader pitched Little Free Libraries, a statewide contest engaging extension staff, volunteers and 4-H clubs to be creative in “investing” in their community with a Little Free Library and making books readily available. Christine Hradek pitched Growing Together Iowa, which aims to offer additional development opportunities such as Navigating Difference for Master Gardener volunteers working on healthy food access initiatives across the state. Lori Hayungs pitched Welcome Kits for life changes: Welcome to Iowa, Welcome to Parenting, Welcome to Retirement and Welcome to Your New Health Journey. Connie Beecher and Sara Nelson pitched Checkout Iowa Backpacks. A team of education faculty and students created engaging activity kits that include quality books that families can check out from the library.
  • Food Preservation 101 was held in the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 15. This program was co-taught by Holly Van Heel and Kelsey Salow, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness. They estimate 40 people attended from various counties across Iowa, and many participants personally thanked them for the abundance of information and resources.
  • The World Food Prize events include a day called the Hunger Summit in which professionals and lay people come together to learn about current issues related to food security domestically and internationally. The day always includes a Hunger Luncheon where an organization fighting hunger (such as Meals from the Heartland or Meals on Wheels) is featured. This year the Hunger Luncheon will feature a meal prepared from “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” recipes to highlight resources for healthy eating on a budget. The Healthiest State Initiative recommended that “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” be featured at the luncheon. The summit is Oct. 14.

Helping custodial grandparents and grandchildren

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 3, 2019

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

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

Next round of area-wide meetings

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

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

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

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

Discovering rocket science

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 26, 2019

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

Building a culture of conservation

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 19, 2019

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

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

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

Structured for Success: Link for Aug. 20 Webinar

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

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

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

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

What works in rural development … and why

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 12, 2019

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

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

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

Register to attend an area-wide meeting

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

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

August 2019 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Jill Weber, human sciences specialist in nutrition and wellness, has a successful community partnership in West Union (Fayette County). Public Health and Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital worked jointly to create a mobile community teaching kitchen. Funding from 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count helped to provide eight participant stations and one instructor station stocked with tools and equipment. Jill pilot tested classes from the Healthy and Homemade series and provided feedback on the mobile kitchen as the classes progressed. She worked with Master Gardeners on a May herb class and then it was on to jam and salsa workshops for youth and Food Preservation 101 during the county fair. In the fall, she will use the mobile teaching kitchen for a Stay Independent series in Oelwein. The community partners recognize Jill’s teaching abilities in delivering high quality programs, and she appreciates the opportunity to deliver programs in Fayette County using the new teaching kitchen.
  • Suzanne Bartholomae and the family finance team have created a successful partnership with the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS). Including funding, the partnership involves regional delivery of the Creating a Secure Retirement program to IPERS members. During FY20, the team will deliver the program 20 times, including 12 times at the IPERS headquarters in Des Moines by a combination of human sciences specialists in family finance, with Joyce Lash and Barb Wollan co-leading. The summer and autumn regional pilots have been set for Sioux City, Mason City, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa and Council Bluffs. In the next few months, focus groups will be conducted with IPERS members who attended the program in the past year. Late this year and/or early next year focus groups will be held to explore program opportunities with younger IPERS members.
  • Small Talk: Big Future is featured on the APLU Board on Human Sciences website. This program helps parents from many backgrounds to consistently provide enriching language interactions to their children, thus creating habits that may benefit their children for many years to come.

4-H Youth Development

  • Sara Nelson has been hired as the new 4-H STEM program specialist for the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. She will oversee STEM product development and STEM literacy outreach to enhance access to educational learning opportunities for all K-12 youth.
  • In 4-H, parents, extension staff and volunteers communicate and work together to meet each child’s specific needs. Two Washington County youth show what is possible with good communication and understanding prior to the county fair. See the video and news release to learn about Sophie’s and Blake’s stories.
  • 2019 looks to be a record-breaking year for Iowa State Fair 4-H Livestock entries. This year, 8,750 entries have been pre-entered by over 2,300 Iowa 4-H exhibitors. Growth is expected in the individual livestock areas of dairy and meat goat, dog and swine. Pre-entered dairy and meat goat entries have increased by nearly 40 each, dog entries are up 10 and swine numbers are 235 entries higher than previous years.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2018 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll shows Iowa farmers are seeing a steady shift in who is responsible for what happens on the land they farm. The poll showed an increase in farmers who agreed that conservation practices are their responsibility on land they rent as opposed to the land’s owner, although renters were hesitant to invest their own money on structural conservation practices in land they rent. The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll also examined perceptions of quality life and farm financial well-being, awareness of and participation in watershed management activities, and the use of precision agriculture practices.
  • A tool developed at Iowa State University to help farmers make decisions, including decisions about nitrogen applications, has expanded to cover Illinois and Indiana. The FACTS project was launched in 2015 in Iowa to provide yield and soil nitrogen predictions at a field scale. Weather data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, soil information from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and management information from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service and local experts all feed into a single program that quickly analyzes the information to offer meaningful agronomic information.
  • A preventive controls for animal food standardized course to serve employees and managers of facilities that are processing any type of animal food will be held in Ames, Aug. 13-15. The course is offered by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and will help facilities comply with new, good manufacturing practices and implement a written animal food safety plan.

Community and Economic Development

  • Steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts and design teams are presenting final concepts to the public in this stage of the 2019 Community Visioning Program. During August, public presentations will be held in Audubon, Coggon, Durant, Walcott and Van Meter. On Aug. 28, the design team will present the feasibility report to the Durant steering committee.
  • Diane Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions throughout August for the following organizations: the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Davenport, and the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Bettendorf. Diane, along with Himar Hernández, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides, received a Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant to develop the curriculum.
  • Susan Erickson and Lisa Bates will be attending the 2019 Iowa Downtown Conference in Dubuque and providing an ISU Extension and Outreach CED presence as an exhibitor. The Downtown Conference is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

Pitching Iowa State at State Fair

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 5, 2019

Can you make your pitch for Iowa State entrepreneurship and innovation in five minutes or less? Twenty-plus extension staff, clients, 4-H members and Rising Star Interns are betting they can, as they look forward to influencing fair visitors and winning prize money at the Iowa State Fair. They, along with other ISU students, alumni and partners, will be demonstrating the return on investment that our university delivers to Iowans and our state. Did you know?

  • Iowa State “pitchers” will be pitching their projects at the Iowa State exhibit in the Varied Industries building throughout the fair. ISU Extension and Outreach will be pitching on Aug. 11-12. Our folks will be battling head to head, with two individuals or teams facing off each hour. They simply will make their pitch; no PowerPoint presentations allowed – though sharing a prototype, drawing, handout or product will be accepted.
  • After our pairs of people make their pitches, fair visitors will vote. They will be given soybeans (one fairgoer, one soybean, one vote) that they can place in the jar of their preferred pitcher. Stop by and support your colleagues by listening to their pitches and casting your vote.
  • The winner from each pitch pairing throughout the fair will compete in the semi-finals Aug. 16-17. The semis will bring more head-to-head pitching, this time to invited judges who will grade participants based on their project’s content and business viability. Finalists will be chosen, and they will pitch to a panel of judges, who will determine category winners and “best of show.” President Wintersteen and Provost Wickert will present the awards Aug. 18 at 1 p.m.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach pitching crew represents 4-H, Human Sciences, Community and Economic Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. Whether or not they receive an award, their projects are great examples of civic innovation and youth development efforts that build a strong Iowa.

Internal Communications: VP website and suggestion box

Several of the Internal Communications Task Force’s recommendations were related to developing methods for two-way, field-to-campus feedback to improve our relationships and effectiveness. As a result, we’re implementing a new website for providing information and a new means for sharing ideas:

  • The Office of the Vice President website is live, at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/vp/. (You can bookmark the VP homepage for future reference; or, from the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage go to the About Us tab and click on “Office of the Vice President.”) On this new website you’ll find links to special initiatives, area-wide meeting information, my weekly “Did You Know” messages, other updates from my office, our strategic plan and other information about our organization.
  • One prominent feature on the page is our Share with Us virtual suggestion box. We value your thoughts and ideas and encourage you to share your questions, comments and concerns at any time. About every two weeks, I will review these comments with the leadership team and provide responses. Occasionally we will ask for input on specific proposals and upcoming decisions. Your feedback always will be anonymous and confidential.

We are still working through options to update MyExtension to better serve our staff and facilitate sharing information internally.

One more note: Our ISU Extension and Outreach buckets will be back at the Iowa State Fair this year with a “to do” bucket list for fair visitors. Our red, five-gallon buckets, as well as bucket-themed photo frames, will be placed at extension venues around the fairgrounds, including Grandfather’s Barn and the 4-H Exhibits Building.

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

Preserve the Taste of Summer

John Lawrence’s message from July 29, 2019

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

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