A match made in Iowa

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 18, 2019

Twenty-five years ago, a beautiful relationship took root in this state, thanks to dedicated ISU Extension and Outreach personnel and the Iowa Legislature. It began through a series of discussions concerning how to encourage new farmers. They concluded that all Iowans would benefit from a statewide center focused on the needs and issues facing beginning farmers. They also decided it should help match beginning farmers with established farmers who want to transition their farm businesses to the next generation. That’s how the Beginning Farmer Center was established at Iowa State. The law creating the Center is set out in Chapter 266 of the Code of Iowa. Did you know?

  • Our Beginning Farmer Center in conjunction with our Agriculture and Natural Resources specialists provide programs and services to develop farmers’ skills and knowledge in financial management and planning, legal issues, tax laws, technical production and management, leadership, sustainable agriculture, human health and the environment.
  • The Center also collaborates extensively with other interested groups and agencies to promote the transition of Iowa’s farms.
  • Dave Baker joined the Center 13 years ago as a farm transition specialist and became director in 2018. On average, he conducts two family farm consultations per week, either at his office in Urbandale or around the state, and is working on 20 to 25 matches at any one time. Over 25 years, the Center has averaged eight matches per year.
  • Sometimes the work involves helping families make difficult decisions. In this #StrongIowa video, Dave tells the story of helping a family carry on after the death of a loved one in the midst of their farm’s transition.

The Beginning Farmer Center strengthens rural communities by counseling young, aspiring farmers and encouraging landowners and retirement-age farmers to consider transitioning their farms to the next generation. I’d call this a perfect match made in Iowa.

4-H program leader search begins

We have contracted with a professional search firm to assist in our national search to fill our 4-H program leader position. The committee members will meet for the first time Feb. 25 to receive their charge, prepare the position description and begin the process.

The committee will conduct the search and recommend candidates to bring to campus for interviews. The members represent program areas, program specialists, counties and partners. This small committee will do the heavy lifting, but all of us have a responsibility to provide input. Please share with them your suggestions for attributes you believe make a strong 4-H program leader and names of potential candidates who should be encouraged to apply. As we go through the search process, there also will be formal opportunities to provide input and to meet with candidates who will come to campus for interviews.

4-H/Youth Development Program Leader Search Committee:

  • Debra Sellers (committee chair), Human Sciences associate dean and director.
  • Curt Lang, Iowa 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees president.
  • Nichol Kleespies, Buena Vista County youth education coordinator.
  • Terry Maloy, Iowa Extension Council Association executive director.
  • Maya Hayslett, ANR program specialist working in youth development.
  • Norma Dorado-Robles, 4-H Youth Development field specialist.
  • Earl McAlexander, 4-H Youth Development field specialist.
  • Shelly Smith, Black Hawk County director.
  • Rosa Gonzalez, Human Sciences field specialist, Central Iowa.
  • Bonnie Dalager, 4-H Youth Development program specialist.
  • Jeffrey Macomber, Region 16 director.
  • Kris Kilibarda, Iowa Department of Education.

More notes

  • Please join me in congratulating Kameron Middlebrooks, who will be receiving a “Hidden Figure” award as part of the Wells Fargo Annual Black History Month Celebration Day on the Hill. The free, public event is Feb. 25, 1:30-3 p.m. at the Iowa State Capitol Building. Kameron is being recognized as a new, up-and-coming leader who is making a major impact in the community. He is a program coordinator in Community and Economic Development focusing on African and African-American small business and nonprofit development. He also is president of the Des Moines NAACP Branch.
  • Due to weather and road conditions, the Iowa Extension Council Association cancelled its 2019 IECA and 4-H Legislative Day, which had been set for Feb. 13. The Association is not planning to reschedule the event this year, but does plan to hold another legislative day in 2020.
  • ISU Day at the Capital is March 6. We’ll hope there’s no snowstorm then.

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

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