It’s time to SWITCH

John Lawrence’s message from July 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master Business Bootcamp

John Lawrence’s message from July 15, 2019

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

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

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

Internal Communications: County visit notification

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

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

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

More notes

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

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

40 years of Master Gardeners

John Lawrence’s message from July 8, 2019

Any gardener can seek education for self-improvement, and many do. However, Extension Master Gardener volunteers seek and use research-based horticulture and gardening knowledge and practices to benefit others. They also take on projects that promote healthy communities. Iowa Master Gardener volunteers have been building a strong Iowa for 40 years. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach piloted the Master Gardener program in Scott County in 1979, using a program that had originated in Washington State. Today, there are Master Gardeners in more than 80 Iowa counties.
  • Master Gardeners receive specialized training in garden best practices from ISU Extension and Outreach. In return they contribute their time (20 hours per gardener per year) doing garden-related volunteer outreach in their communities.
  • Once again, our Master Gardeners are partnering with our Human Sciences staff to fight hunger in Iowa. Thanks to USDA SNAP-Education funding, 22 mini grants were awarded to Master Gardeners in 2019 for food pantry donation gardens. Last year, over 90,000 pounds of fresh produce were donated.
  • At the International Master Gardener Conference last month, the Linn County Master Gardeners were recognized for their ongoing pollinator project. They built partnerships to increase pollinator habitat by 2,000 acres.
  • State coordinator Susan DeBlieck says nearly 2,000 Master Gardeners were active across Iowa in 2018, compiling 113,392 volunteer hours. That averages out to nearly 60 hours worked per volunteer. Those volunteer hours are valued at $2.7 million spent improving Iowa.

Over the past 40 years, more than 14,300 Iowans have participated in the Master Gardener training to volunteer in their communities. Iowans who would like to join this impactful group can apply online to attend Master Gardener training, starting around the state in August.

One more note: Take a moment to review the July program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

A special thank you: Today is Linda Brinkmeyer’s last day as my administrative assistant. She is retiring to start the next adventure in her life. I want to personally thank her for helping me get grounded in this job and for being an important part of the leadership team. She kept the plates spinning as we worked on several priorities to move our organization forward. She will be missed. Thank you, Linda!

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

July 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program is in the design stage; steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts. Design review meetings will be held in Durant, Van Meter and Hinton. The public presentation of design concepts will take place in Royal.
  • The 44th Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy is July 15–26 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This is a targeted training for more than 200 city clerks, finance officers and other city staff to further professionalism, knowledge and efficiency in Iowa cities. All training in this venue qualifies for certification within the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association.
  • In July CED specialists Lisa Bates and Brian Perry will be in Osage (Mitchell County) facilitating sessions 3, 4, and 5 of Leading Communities. Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will be delivering Leading Communities in Norway (Benton County). Leading Communities is made possible in part by a vice president for extension and outreach initiative.
  • During July Diane Van Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions at several locations: the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, Jasper County; Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines; Matchstick Marvels, Gladbrook; Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce; Tyden Farm No. 6, near Dougherty; and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Stockman House, the River City Society for Historic Preservation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Historic Park Inn and the MacNider Art Museum, all in Mason City.

Human Sciences

  • Christine Hradek, coordinator for SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, presented to the Cyclone Scholars and George Washington Carver summer interns on June 12. She shared the landscape of healthy food access for Iowans with low income and how Growing Together Iowa aims to improve access to fruits and vegetables.
  • Cindy Thompson, human sciences specialist in family life, co-led her fourth Powerful Tools for Caregivers series, along with a staff member from the Northeast Iowa Area on Aging. Six participants completed the series and one care receiver attended. When asked about their biggest accomplishments during the series, one participant stated, “When my [relative] says he doesn’t want to live, I now say ‘I’m sad you feel that way. That must be hard.’” Another said, “I’m letting go of the guilt a little.” All indicated they would recommend participation in the series to a friend.
  • Nicole Leidal, family nutrition program assistant, and Mary Wilkins, youth outreach coordinator, have been working as a team to provide “wrap around” education for individuals within the Buy Eat Live Healthy classes. As Nicole teaches the nutrition lesson to the parents, Mary provides education to their children, and together they share the other opportunities ISU Extension and Outreach in Story County has for families. The goal is to lessen the burden on the family needing childcare, provide quality adult and child education, and increase awareness of the office. Due to the quality team work of the staff, ISU Extension and Outreach has gained lifelong extension users in Story County.

4-H Youth Development

  • Mahaska County 4-H offered their first Ricochet Leadership Club in 2019. Eleven students in sixth and seventh grade at Oskaloosa Middle School participated in the hybrid Ricochet program partnership between ISU Extension and Outreach in Mahaska County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahaska County, Oskaloosa Middle School, William Penn University, and United Way of Mahaska County. Five William Penn University students served as site-based mentors and helped process Ricochet activities and plan a service project. This program made an impact in the lives of the participants by providing them with a better sense of civic engagement, leadership, communication and teamwork. The group took part in collaborative decision-making processes to figure out the focus for their service project. They voted to fight hunger in the community. The project also provided an opportunity for participants to enhance communication skills. They had to “pitch” the service project to Oskaloosa School District staff. Mentors provided guidance and rehearsal time.
  • Invent STEM is a new Iowa 4-H program focused on wind energy and innovative solutions to real world problems. The program will be available this fall and is sponsored by Alliant Energy. An Iowa State Fair kick-off for Invent STEM will occur on Aug. 11. Youth will be tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine.
  • Healthy living programs at Oakridge reached more than 60 youth this spring. The Des Moines housing complex has a large African refugee population. Intern Tre Goode worked with the high school students over four months – identifying issues in their community, discussing college and career, and planning a community cookout as a way to unite their community and engage youth in 4-H activities. Youth program specialist Lisa Green and 4-H volunteer Gerald Joseph took the middle school youth through a 16-week entrepreneurship program. Youth taught others what they had learned by showcasing their business concepts at the cookout. Goode also worked with a new 4-H volunteer, introducing 4-H to fifth graders in the community by exploring the four priority areas in a weekly after school program. Youth in the Oakridge Community are excited about 4-H and many have asked staff if they could take part next year. A new 4-H volunteer plans to continue programming with the elementary students next year.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Gardeners will have the opportunity to learn about growing cut flowers, sweet corn and tomatoes in the home garden during this year’s Demonstration Garden Field Days, hosted by ISU Extension and Outreach and the ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Seven field days will be held across the state, focusing on three main themes: home-grown bouquets; augmented sweet corn; and a showcase of different types of tomatoes.
  • A series of six agritourism checklists were designed by ISU Extension and Outreach agritourism experts to help ensure farmers and landowners who open their property to the public follow safety best practices. The checklists cover bio-security, emergency preparedness, food safety, pesticide safety, play area safety and negligence mitigation. The checklists are not to be considered a certification, but they can help producers understand their strengths and weaknesses. The checklists are available through the ISU Extension Store (FFED 0025 A-F).
  • Field days and workshops are continuing to be scheduled for this summer at ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Topics include crops and soils, cover crops, nitrogen and water, Forecast and Assessment of Cropping sysTemS (FACTS) and demonstration gardens. Most events are free and open to the public.

Review and renew with our strategic plan

John Lawrence’s message from July 1, 2019

As we ring in the new state fiscal year, it’s a good time to review our ISU Extension and Outreach Strategic Plan and renew our commitment to reaching our goals. Take some time to reread the plan, consider how your own role aligns with the goals and strategies, and share your thoughts with your colleagues. Having a strategic plan doesn’t mean much if it’s only a link on a website or a downloaded and forgotten PDF. Each of us needs to act, if we’re going to achieve our goals. I hope you know:

  • The first goal in our strategic plan is to engage all Iowans with access to research-based education and information. When Iowans are engaged with us, they are fully involved in our vision and mission as we work together to solve today’s problems and prepare for a thriving future.
  • The second goal is to build capacity for council members, faculty, staff and volunteers. We need to keep developing and honing our skills and abilities, so we can continue to address Iowans’ changing needs.
  • The third goal is to enhance our efforts in programming, operations and staffing to reach diverse and underrepresented populations. We want our faculty, staff, students and everyone we serve to know they are welcomed, supported and valued. We are dedicated to serving all Iowans.

Our strategic plan aligns with Iowa State’s strategic plan and sets the framework for what we do. It also gives us something to report against. ISU Extension and Outreach is a dynamic organization of dedicated people who love the work they do. Together we can build a strong Iowa.

Improved Service Delivery

Our Human Resources transition to Improved Service Delivery begins today. The first few days will be new for everyone, so please be patient, professional and polite. We will get through this transition and we will build new working relationships with the members of the Pine Team assigned to ISU Extension and Outreach.

Field specialists and county staff may be asking how this impacts them. Probably very little, but if you ever called Kaela Black or Jessica Stolee with HR questions, you will have a new contact. Although she isn’t our daily contact, we still have a connection to Jessica, who now is senior HR partner for the Pine team, serving ISU Extension and Outreach as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. However, we say good-bye to Kaela, who now is the HR partner serving the College of Human Sciences and Office of the Vice President for Research.

You now may begin working with our new HR contacts:

  • Brad Kerr, HR partner (bkerr@iastate.edu, 515-294-1482), is here to work with and help ISU’s leaders succeed.
  • Malissa Tritsch, HR coordinator, (tritschm@iastate.edu, 515-294-3283) is the first point of contact and local HR representative for supervisors or employees.
  • Betsy Happe, recruitment specialist (betsykh@iastate.edu, 515-294-8646), is here to streamline the staff hiring process and get us the right talent for staff and post doc positions.
  • Recruitment specialist Jamie Wilson will begin July 12.

Review this ISD-HR document to learn more about the responsibilities of each of these new HR roles. If you have questions or comments about human resources service delivery, send them to hr_delivery@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • On June 27 I sent all extension staff a message about Workday (Subject: Workday and ISD Extension Need to Know). Your head probably is still spinning from all the details, announcements and attachments. But do keep the information where you can easily find it and refer to it often as you get used to the new system. Watch for a Workday email in your inbox on July 2. It will provide the link and sign-in instructions.
  • Congratulations to our eAccessibility team, who received the Team Excellence Award from the National Extension Technology Community at the 2019 NETC conference last week. The award honors outstanding effort, encourages workplace creativity and innovation, and celebrates the achievements of extension information technology professionals. The award confirms what we already know: Our eAccessibility Team is a national leader in bringing extension resources into compliance with digital accessibility rules, regulations and best practices.
  • I hope that you take time during the Fourth of July holiday to relax with family and friends and to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Be careful around any fireworks you may be lighting or watching and have a happy Fourth of July.

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

Exploring a universe of possibilities

John Lawrence’s message from June 24, 2019

If you’re going to explore “A Universe of Possibilities,” you’d better be wearing comfortable shoes. This advice is included in the orientation materials for the 2019 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference at Iowa State this week and proves the State 4-H Council members know what they’re doing. The council is comprised of teen 4-H members from throughout Iowa who planned and organized every aspect of this conference, working in cooperation with our 4-H Youth Development staff. Did you know?

  • About 600 youth delegates are expected to participate in the conference. They’ll hear from keynote speakers, attend workshops and participate in service learning opportunities such as a culture fair, a mock caucus and service work at Reiman Gardens. They also will experience life at Iowa State’s 1,900-acre campus from morning light to lights out for most of three days – thus the need for comfortable shoes. (The orientation materials note that blisters are the biggest health problem delegates tend to have.)
  • With more than 30 workshops to choose from, delegates can try something new that may help them decide on their future education and careers. For example, they might work with virtual and augmented reality or do CSI with crops. They might study entrepreneurship and innovation or food science and technology. They might practice mindfulness or serve on the Camera Corps. They even might consider a career with ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • Also, 85 of these youth will be participating in Animal Science Roundup, with hands-on learning from top scientists in the youth’s choice of seven projects: beef, dairy, swine, sheep, horse, poultry or meat goat.

Research shows that youth who participate in the 4-H conference increase their leadership, citizenship, communication and learning skills whether they are new to 4-H or longer-term members. What these young Iowans learn during the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference will help them take on whatever challenges the future will bring. We hope their explorations are blister free.

More notes

  • The roll-out and feedback plan from Structured for Success will be announced after the Iowa State Fair with discussion and feedback due in October. You can review the June 17 summary notes and video from the committee.
  • There will be a retirement reception for Bob Dodds June 27, 2:30-4 p.m. in 3150 Beardshear Hall. Please join us to wish Bob well in his next adventure.

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

Introducing MyData

John Lawrence’s message from June 17, 2019

Back in March I told you that we were getting closer to having one shared reporting system for our entire organization. Now I am pleased to introduce MyData, the centralized system that will expand our ability to collect and report numbers and narratives about program outcomes, partnerships and client relationships. Did you know?

  • Five counties (Carroll, Franklin, Monroe, Muscatine and Polk) and some campus staff currently are piloting MyData. For the next six to 12 months, they’ll be using the system; providing feedback on best practices for managing, sharing and accessing data; and suggesting improvements. They’ll also help to identify the reports, dashboards and other features that extension professionals are likely to request. In addition, they’ll become a cohort of users who can help develop and deliver training for the rest of us.
  • After the pilot has been completed and any necessary adjustments have been made, MyData will be rolled out in phases. The schedule and the training will be tailored to the specific needs, uses and work cycles of each extension unit.
  • If all goes as planned, MyData will be tested, tried and rolled out to the entire ISU Extension and Outreach system sometime in 2021.

The goal for MyData is to meet as many county and program reporting needs as possible. ISU Extension and Outreach units have unique needs for collecting and reporting data, which requires feedback from many to make MyData work for all of us. In the coming months you’ll be hearing more about MyData from the steering committee and your unit leaders. Because MyData is really our data, please engage in these discussions and provide feedback. Let’s work together to create the best system possible. You also can check MyExtension to follow MyData’s progress.

Internal Communications: Update

During our leadership team retreat on May 31, we started prioritizing and in some cases bundling the recommendations from the Internal Communications Task Force. As a result, on June 21 I will be meeting with staff from Extension Information Technology and Advancement for a preliminary discussion about a centralized, internal communications platform for extension staff and faculty. While I think of MyExtension as a file cabinet that stores tools, content and assets, I see this platform as a newspaper. This platform could include information from leadership, and other internal communications from the program areas, support units and counties. Other items like a virtual suggestion box, calendar of events, or my Vice President for Extension and Outreach schedule also could be included. This is an initial meeting to discuss what this platform might include and understand what sort of resources – technical or otherwise – might be needed.

These technological tools will help us better communicate virtually and stay informed. The in-person, area-wide meetings that will begin in August will help us put faces and names with the digital messages and build better relationships within our organization.

Interims from and in Advancement

Effective July 3, Jacy Johnson, director of ISU Extension and Outreach Advancement, will serve as interim executive director of ISU Strategic Relations and Communications, a new unit that will replace University Relations. The new unit is part of President Wintersteen’s efforts to re-envision the university’s approach to communicating and marketing to deal with budgetary challenges, and seek greater efficiency and continuous improvement. (You might say she is applying ISU Extension and Outreach’s model of Advancement to the rest of the university.) While Jacy is serving President Wintersteen, Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, will serve as Advancement’s interim director.

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

Taking research on the road

John Lawrence’s message from June 10, 2019

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has been making sure the “Adventure Comes to You” for a few years now. These annual travelling road shows of Iowa State research have helped Iowans examine the facts about processed foods and health, learn how mindful eating and behavior contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and explore youth literacy. This year’s adventure, “The Latest in Literacy” in partnership with the School of Education, will take place June 17 in Muscatine. Did you know?

  • Participants will learn about strategies that teachers, parents and communities can use to help children develop language and learning skills to be ready for kindergarten. They’ll also learn how supporting positive behavior can help struggling readers and writers.
  • Other topics include using immersive learning games to foster teamwork and critical thinking, supporting early literacy through active STEM learning, and evaluating pictures, themes and representations of students with disabilities.
  • The workshop is designed for teachers, early childhood educators, school administrators, home visitors, librarians, volunteers who run after-school programs, parents and guardians, and anyone else interested in supporting literacy.

“Adventure Comes to You” is another way ISU Extension and Outreach contributes to workforce development. We share Iowa State faculty expertise and current research to support literacy education, and we take time to learn about the needs and questions of local communities.

Structured for Success

In the summary from the May 22 Structured for Success committee meeting, I mentioned that we would announce a draft of alternative plans in early June to begin gathering feedback from councils and staff. As we continue to refine the plans, it is clear that we are “not ready for prime time.” We would rather not release premature drafts, so we are adjusting our schedule.

Later this summer (after fair season), we will announce draft proposals and provide an opportunity for local discussion and multiple methods of gathering feedback. I also am moving the completion date for the committee to release the revised or final alternative models from September to a later date this fall. This discussion is too important to rush.

State Fair Pitch Competition 2019 – Extension and Outreach Call for Proposals

It’s time to propose your “pitch” to be part of Iowa State’s 2019 Iowa State Fair exhibit on entrepreneurship and innovation. Extension and Outreach “pitches” featuring civic innovation or youth development efforts will be featured at the fair on Aug. 11-12. Anyone in ISU Extension and Outreach may submit a proposal now for this opportunity to showcase an innovative or entrepreneurial project with a live, 10-minute pitch at State Fair. If your proposal is selected for pitching, you will be awarded $500 for your project, and be in the running for more prize money.

Review the Call for Proposals on MyExtension; if you have questions, contact Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, koesterb@iastate.edu. Then submit a brief proposal to your unit leader or send your proposal directly to Billie. Don’t delay – the winning proposals will be selected on or before June 21. Help represent the innovative spirit of ISU Extension and Outreach to potentially thousands of fair-goers.

Dodds announces retirement

Assistant Vice President for County Services Bob Dodds announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019. He had alerted me earlier of his plans, something about a retired wife and grandkids in Texas, but he wanted to postpone the announcement. I want to thank Bob for his service to ISU Extension and Outreach as the County Extension Education Director for Lee County, Regional Director for Region 20 and most recently as Assistant Vice President. His focus is always on how ISU Extension and Outreach can best educate and serve Iowans and he did that by helping colleagues be successful. Much of Bob’s work was on the less glamorous but necessary tasks such as improving liability insurance coverage for counties; educating council members to better understand financial statements; onboarding newly elected council members or changing the date the councils must publish their year-end statements in local newspapers. However, he also provided navigation through difficult issues and was a steady hand on the wheel as our organization moves forward. He will be missed.

There will be a reception for Bob June 27, 2:30-4 p.m. in Beardshear Hall. I will be naming an interim AVP for County Services in the near future.

Goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Anita Jeltema, Sioux County office assistant.
  • Lindsey Tague, Clinton County executive financial assistant.
  • Juan Ramirez, Dallas County youth and families education coordinator.
  • Morgan Matthews, Emmet County youth coordinator.
  • Kim Martley, Wayne County office assistant.
  • Jennifer Anderson, administrative specialist I, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Meghan Gray, Montgomery County youth coordinator.
  • Denise Wolf, Adams County office assistant.
  • Lori Mitchell, Montgomery County program coordinator.
  • Cynthia Adamson, Greene County office assistant.
  • Chyan Metzger, Kossuth County youth coordinator.
  • Summer Beery, Sioux County K-3 program coordinator.
  • Michaela Ostendorf, Story County media and ANR program coordinator.
  • Aubrey Houska, Clay County youth coordinator.
  • Katherine Stewart, O’Brien County K-12 program coordinator.
  • Anne Tedore, extension program specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

One more note: Read the June program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

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

June 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2019 Cash Rental Rates for Iowa Survey showed a 1.4% drop in cash rental rates for Iowa farmland, falling to $219 per acre from $222 an acre last year. This drop in rental rates won’t offset a much larger drop in corn and soybean prices, which have fallen 50% and 45%, respectively. Cash rental rates are down about 19% since their all-time high of $270 an acre in 2013, a decline that is in line with a 16.7% drop in land values over that same period. The full Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2019 Survey is available through the ISU Extension Store.
  • The 2019 Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award was given to Master Gardeners in Buchanan County, recognizing their work revitalizing the grounds surrounding the county’s Prairie Pioneer Schoolhouse. Working with the Jesup School District and area businesses, Master Gardeners planted new flowerbeds, revitalized old flowerbeds, seeded prairie wildflowers and added pollinator-friendly plants.

Community and Economic Development

  • Community and Economic Development is now offering data literacy workshops to help Iowans learn the skills needed to understand, visualize, interpret and practice with data relevant to communities, organizations and counties. The data literacy workshops can include a wide variety of topics, reviews of the data included in the Data for Decision Makers profiles, or an in-depth look at selected measures, indicators and trends. The workshops also can provide participants with knowledge and skills to discuss data, and bridge to applications and decision making with the data. During June Sandra Burke will be conducting health data literacy workshops in Cherokee, Cedar Rapids and Boone.
  • In an effort to support independently-owned grocery stores in the rural Heartland, the CED program partnered with the Kansas State University Center for Engagement and Community Development and the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships to develop the proposal “Food Access and Independent Grocers: Strengthening Food Securities in Underserved Communities.” The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development funded the proposal with a planning grant of $22,012. The goal of the proposal is to compile existing resources that support independently owned groceries as sites of food security, social centers and economic opportunity from the three land-grant university partners; review the resources; and identify gaps where development of additional resources is needed. From there, the partner institutions will develop a joint curriculum for working with independently owned grocers that could be shared throughout the Heartland. On June 26–28 Lisa Bates and John Wolseth will be hosting colleagues from KSU and UME as part of this project.
  • The 2019 Community Visioning Program begins transitioning from the assessment process to goal setting and design workshops. Goal-setting meetings are being conducted in Bedford, Coggon and Graettinger. Communities holding design workshops include Van Meter, Bedford, Coggon, Walcott and Sumner. The public is invited to attend and provide input on preliminary transportation enhancement plans.
  • During June Leading Communities sessions will take place in Mitchell and Benton counties. The program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • Through a partnership with Hawkeye Community College, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach offered the How to Manage Your Money program to students who were English language learners. The community college also requested education about tax filing; eight students visited a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in Chickasaw County in spring 2018 and indicated an interest in learning more. Extension and Outreach partnered with a local nonprofit, and classes to train volunteers took place in fall 2018. In January 2019, five students (four Congolese and one Burmese ) and one individual from the nonprofit were certified as VITA program volunteers. Currently the site provides services in English, French and Burmese; Bosnian- and Spanish-speaking volunteers will be needed in the future. The Hawkeye Community College ELL program includes 805 students who represent 47 countries. During the 2019 tax season, 47 returns were completed; the majority of individuals assisted were part of the immigrant population. It is anticipated that the number of volunteers and returns completed will increase next year. The IRS visited the site and provided a positive review of the VITA Program.
  • Lori Hayungs, human sciences specialist in family life, and Sue Boettcher, human sciences program coordinator in Dickinson County, have worked together to provide outreach to people with Parkinson’s disease. As a result, Sue has connected with local partners and a Parkinson’s group is launching in June. Sue is reaching out to similar groups around the state to inquire how they conduct their groups, and also has been in contact with Elizabeth L. Stegemöller, in the Department of Kinesiology, whose research includes how music therapy can benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

4-H Youth Development

  • Ninety-seven youth have been selected to attend the 2019 Animal Science Roundup as part of the State 4-H Conference June 25-27. This year marks the most species groups yet, including beef, dairy cattle, horse, meat goat (new), poultry, sheep and swine. Animal science faculty and staff are partners in this hands-on, science-based event.
  • In partnership with Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group and National 4-H Council, Iowa 4-H once again was selected for a grant to implement the 4-H Ag Commodity Carnival. Currently, 11 fairs (including the Iowa State Fair) are scheduled to host the hands-on activity with a targeted reach of more than 8,000 youth.
  • More than 50 Native Bee Challenge events are scheduled in 27 counties across the state this year. So far 4-H has completed 18 of these events, reaching more than 727 youth. Events are being facilitated by trained teen leaders, staff and volunteers. 4-H trained seven additional teen leaders at the 4-H Connect Retreat in April.
  • Nearly 170 youth and adult chaperones took part in the 2019 4-H Connect Retreat held at both Iowa State University and Clover Woods Camping Center. Many county, field and state 4-H staff collaborated to make this a successful educational event for youth from across Iowa. This year’s retreat included New Volunteer Training for the adult chaperones, a more extensive chaperone orientation and Clover Woods tour, a partnership with the Experience Iowa State organization, and the integration of the 4-H Youth Leadership Planning Team. Initial feedback from the event has indicated that the youth learned more about themselves, their interests and made new friends, while the chaperones felt more a part of the planning process and involved in steps moving forward to engage long-term with the Iowa 4-H Program.

Extension signs of summer

John Lawrence’s message from June 3, 2019

For some people, the end of the K-12 school year and turning the calendar to June are the true signs that summer is finally here. But in ISU Extension and Outreach, we have our own signs of summer: field days, summer camps, college students working in county offices, and fairs. Did you know?

  • Many field days and workshops are already scheduled at ISU Research and Demonstration Farms. Topics include crops and soils, cover crops, nitrogen and water, Forecast and Assessment of Cropping sysTemS (FACTS) and demonstration gardens. Iowa Learning Farms also hosts a variety of field days. Most events are free and open to the public.
  • Young entrepreneurs will be camping in Woodbury County, and crime spy scientists will be at work in Van Buren County. Chickasaw County youth will experience outdoor survival camping, but youth in Guthrie County will be wandering the watershed. On any summer day, any number of ISU Extension and Outreach summer camps are engaging young Iowans across the state. To learn more about the camps near you, check the county websites for details.
  • Last year, 164 college students (from Iowa State as well as other colleges and universities) served as summer assistants in our county offices, and additional students served as extension assistants on campus. This year’s count isn’t completed yet, but I’ll wager that a similar number of students will be serving ISU Extension and Outreach in summer 2019. These student assistants play a vital extension role as they help with 4-H programs, county fairs, farmers markets, and other educational programs and events. We appreciate their hard work and we are glad to mentor them along their career path.
  • Fair season is just around the corner. The earliest county fairs are Butler and Worth beginning June 19 and the latest one is Clay, finishing Sept. 15. The third week of July is the peak of fair season, with 40 county fairs sharing July 20. They would not be as successful without the partnership of county fair boards, extension councils and FFA chapters. Fairs are an important celebration of our rural heritage, a culmination of a lot of work for 4-H and FFA youth, and a lot of fun. Enjoy!

These extension signs of summer help us engage Iowans with university research and resources as we work to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

  • Presentation recordings and feedback surveys are available from the 4-H Youth Development program leader interviews. If you want to provide feedback on any or all of the candidates, complete the appropriate surveys by close of business, June 4.
  • Our final three counties will celebrate their 100-year anniversaries this summer: Jefferson County, June 13; Page County, July 23; and Dallas County, Aug. 10. Since 2012, these 100-year anniversaries have brought Iowans together to celebrate our 99 county campus and land-grant mission. We all can be proud of our heritage as we look toward our shared future, working together with the people of our state to build a strong Iowa.

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

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