April 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • Iowa 4-H members participated in virtual interviews for the annual State 4-H Recognition Day on March 27. State 4-H Recognition is the process in which senior 4-H members in grades 9-12 can apply to be selected for special statewide opportunities including awards, trips such as National 4-H Conference, State 4-H Council, Iowa 4-H Reporters Program, and Iowa 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors. The 2021 award winners are listed by county on the Iowa 4-H website
  • Every other Wednesday State 4-H Council Members offer an inside look at Iowa 4-H through the Iowa 4-H CloverCast, sharing personal insights and stories, as well as talking with professionals and experts. Council members host the guests, share 4-H opportunities, and edit and transcribe the audio for each podcast. This podcast is made possible by a partnership with the Iowa 4-H Foundation and ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development.
  • In partnership with the Iowa Education Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, State 4-H Council members worked together to prepare and sew nine tactile blankets for Iowa youth who are blind or visually impaired. The tactile blankets can be used by infants, young children, and older children who are blind or visually impaired, to help engage them in their cognitive development. Council members were encouraged to take this service project idea back to their own counties and 4-H clubs to help spread awareness and to encourage their fellow 4-H members to participate.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The optimum planting window for Iowa corn has been April 11 to May 18, with a shorter window in the northern part of the state compared to the south. And the risk for a heavy frost (temperature below 28 F) remains above the 50th percentile until about mid-April. This Integrated Crop Management blog post provides more information on planting date considerations.
  • Madeline Schultz, program manager for the farm management team’s women in ag program was recently awarded a $300,000 grant focused on “Enhancing Conservation, Access, and Generational Transition of Iowa Farmland through Women Landowners.” The first part of the project will consist of collecting more data and analytics about women farm ownership. From there, the team will assemble area meetings of women landowners and stakeholders, to discuss and gather concerns. Finally, the team will hold online and face-to-face workshops to deliver information and resources that improve women’s knowledge of land ownership.
  • For 25 years, Ag Decision Maker has provided a decision-oriented agricultural business website designed for farmers, lenders, farm managers, agriculture instructors, and others. Ag Decision Maker is coordinated, written, and distributed by the farm management team within ANR. Since 1996, there has also been a monthly newsletter distributed to provide timely analysis and insight into many of the issues facing modern agriculture. Join us in celebrating 25 great years with such a useful resource to Iowans and beyond.

Community and Economic Development

  • In April Community and Economic Development continues to collaborate with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund, conducting virtual Rural Housing Readiness Assessment workshops for Glenwood, Malvern, and Pacific Junction. CED is collaborating with Ohio State University to offer RHRA for Noble County, Ohio.
  • CED continues its work to enhance community leadership structures and broaden community engagement through leadership training. During April CED specialists are facilitating Leading Communities: A Place-based Leadership Program for Osceola, Howard, and Wayne counties. The program is designed to promote community engagement and increase capacity among community members for addressing common issues and problems. CED specialists will facilitate Developing Dynamic Leaders in Webster County. This program focuses on leadership skills at the individual level.
  • Navigating Difference cultural competency training enables participants to create a safe and welcoming environment for all learners with activities that respect and support individual learning styles. In April, CED specialists will conduct Navigating Difference with Region 6 Public Health and Centro Latino.

Human Sciences

  • The Science of Parenting team (Lori Korthals, Barbara Dunn Swanson, Mackenzie DeJong, and Mackenzie Johnson) received first place for a single program in the Epsilon Sigma Phi Elevate Extension Talk. Their winning video is posted on the National ESP YouTube Channel.
  • The Van Buren County Extension Council will reimburse 10 businesses who send their staff to ServSafe classes before the end of the fiscal year. Two participants received scholarships for the March 16 class. The council is offering scholarships to other Human Sciences Extension and Outreach educational offerings as well. The council is taking this action as part of their “Reviving the Iowa Economy” priority recovery initiative.
  • During federal FY 2020, the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app had 2,468 new users and the website had 128,685 total users. Sixty-three percent of users were age 44 or younger; 69% were female. Most users accessed the website in English, but 2,362 used the live translation feature. This is 2.5 times the number who used this feature in 2019: 549 accessed it in Spanish, 304 in Portuguese, and 232 in Chinese. A September 2020 user survey showed that 52% of users access the website or app weekly or daily. Users reported that recipes, meal planning resources, and fresh produce preparation information were the most helpful types of content. Users also reported these top 3 behavior changes they made: cooking healthy recipes (most frequent response), eating more fruits and vegetables, and trying new foods.

March 2021 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Samantha Hendricks, Monroe County office assistant
  • Francesca Reyes, Winneshiek County office manager
  • Logan Doty, Fremont County youth coordinator
  • Kameron Middlebrooks, education extension specialist II, Community and Economic Development
  • Abigail Stanek, education extension specialist II, 4-H Youth Development

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Valerie Jaehrling, Adair County youth coordinator
  • Janell Heater, Louisa County office assistant
  • Kylie South, Guthrie County office coordinator
  • Jada Goddard, Chickasaw County director
  • Jesse Garcia, Muscatine County Latino outreach coordinator
  • Ryan Rawson Van Wyk, education extension specialist I, Human Sciences
  • Kurt Goldsmith, business administrator II, 4-H Youth Development
  • Tyler Weig, partnerships and engagement manager, 4-H Youth Development

March 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Specialists in family finance continue to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. During the 2019 filing season they trained 56 volunteers who served 1,243 Iowa families including older adults, people with low to moderate income, or people who have a disability. These families claimed $1,031,472 in Earned Income Tax Credit on returns filed. More than 2,000 volunteer hours were spent in training, studying, and testing; tax preparation; scheduling and site coordination; program promotion including developing and distributing marketing and mailings; and commute time.
  • Specialists in family life have begun presenting Healthy Relationship and Marital Education Training virtually. Evaluations from a February class speak to the effectiveness of the training: 95% of participants understand how cultivating individual wellness and health supports the health of the couple relationship; 90% of participants understand how couples can foster a sense of couple identity; 100% of participants reported as a result of the course they are confident helping individuals and couples to support healthy living choices and become better connected to support systems.
  • Healthy food access specialists promoted and facilitated the distribution of USDA Farm to Family boxes to families in nine rural counties. More than 5,300 boxes that included meat, dairy, and fresh produce were distributed. The specialists also established a coalition working toward improving healthy food access in the Council Bluffs area. They coached food pantries through a Nutrition Environment Food Pantry Assessment Tool process and helped them develop action plans to make healthy choices easier for pantry clients.

4-H Youth Development

  • Iowa 4-H Youth Development has launched Gardening to Give, a hands-on educational gardening program designed for all ages and abilities. Registered participants receive educational resources monthly during this eight-month, immersive learning experience. In 2020, the program’s first year, Gardening to Give reached over 1,000 individuals across Iowa and the United States.
  • Forty-five youth from seven schools are gathering virtually for the SWITCH Youth Ambassador Summit. They are learning how they can be advocates for school wellness and serve as peer influencers to their classmates as they set goals to switch what they do, view, and chew.
  • The six 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors unanimously decided to address food insecurity this year and will be further exploring policy, systems, and environmental change approaches they can advocate for at the individual, regional, state, and federal levels. During their next retreat in late March they will prepare a presentation to propose to the National 4-H Council “Dolphin Tank” competition. Top selections will be invited to semifinal round in April and top winners will be awarded $1,000 to put their project idea into action.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Following a year that included both drought and a derecho, Iowa’s crop producers may face some unique challenges in 2021 related to weed management. The 2021 Herbicide Guide for Iowa Corn and Soybean Production, published by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, offers some timely information and guidance. The guide is updated every year, but this year’s version gives special attention to the issue of volunteer corn, which could be more severe in 2021 following the germination of storm-damaged corn from last year’s derecho.
  • This year’s Master Gardener training will be offered 100% online in the fall and participants have through July 1 to apply. Seventeen educational modules will be offered on topics including houseplants, pollinators, vegetables, and perennial flowers. Each course module includes a book chapter, lecture video, online discussion board, and a quiz. Participants can work through the book chapters and online materials at their own pace, on their own time. They will connect in online discussion forums to share ideas about how they plan to volunteer and what they are learning.
  • Morel and oyster mushroom workshops will be offered online (March 20 and April 3). To legally sell morel and oyster mushrooms in Iowa, sellers must complete a certification workshop that covers identifying morels and oyster, as well as distinguishing between true and false morels. Participants only need to participate in one of the sessions to be certified. ISU Extension and Outreach has provided morel mushroom certification training for many years; oyster mushrooms were added to the training in 2020.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2021 Community Visioning Program has begun community transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops. These workshops are part of the assessment process giving local decision makers a framework within which to make informed choices. In March virtual workshops will be conducted in Wheatland, Toledo, Conrad, Shenandoah, Malvern, Tama, Emmetsburg, and Princeton.
  • The 2021 Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials was facilitated virtually for a statewide audience in early March; the virtual workshop will be facilitated for the City of Marion on March 29. The session introduces the basic principles of land use planning and development management to elected officials, planning and zoning officials, and board of adjustment members without formal training in the subjects.
  • CED is facilitating the Business Model Canvas strategic management tool in Spanish for Latina entrepreneurs and small business owners for COMUN at MERGE in Iowa City. CED also will be facilitating the training in partnership with Albia Area Chamber of Commerce and ISU Extension and Outreach Monroe County for entrepreneurs and small business owners from Monroe, Appanoose, and Wayne counties.
  • CED is offering Grant Writing 101 for representatives of nonprofit organizations, local governments, and schools. CED specialists will be conducting Grant Writing 101 in person for Sutherland and virtually for Webster County and DPS counties.

February 2021 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Valerie Horner, Chickasaw County director
  • Michele Sieren, Keokuk County youth outreach coordinator
  • Craig Leager, regional director, County Services
  • Ross Wilburn, diversity and inclusion advisor, Vice President for Extension and Outreach
  • Sally Folger, accounts receivable specialist I, Conference Planning and Management
  • Jay Staker, program specialist III, 4-H Youth Development (retirement)
  • Kristine Schaefer, Pesticide Safety Education Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources (retirement)

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Kayla Siefkas, Clark County youth coordinator
  • Carol Heffron, Appanoose County, PABS nutrition educator
  • Kelly Walker, Iowa County administrative assistant
  • Jessica Ellison, Lee County program assistant
  • Annie Fisher, Adams County office assistant
  • Carly Herum, Lyon County office assistant
  • Jenna Steffen, Chickasaw County youth outreach coordinator
  • Leslie Kallsen, Sioux County K-12 educator
  • Andy Miller, Washington County director
  • Jill Brimeyer, communications manager, Advancement
  • Celine Beggs, program specialist I, 4-H Youth Development

February 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • A new, blended version of the Municipal Professionals Institute is launching in 2021, consisting of winter (February) and fall virtual sessions and a summer, in-person workshop in Ames. The virtual sessions will be held in a live and interactive format. Courses will not be recorded, and participants will be required to be online and interacting as a part of the certification process.
  • In cooperation with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund, CED specialists will be conducting virtual Rural Housing Readiness Assessment workshops in February for Mapleton, Keokuk, Harrison County, and Estherville, and with Ohio State University for Noble County, Ohio.
  • The township clerk and township trustees are the locally elected officials who are responsible for seeing that services are delivered effectively and economically. Yet many trustees and clerks assume their jobs with little or no training and experience. CED’s Office of State and Local Government Programs offers township trustee and clerk training upon request. CED specialists will be conducting the training virtually for a statewide audience on February 23 and 25.

Human Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources

Growing Together Iowa mini-grants have been awarded to 32 projects for 2021. The Growing Together Iowa 2020 data collection has been completed and analysis is underway. Here are some highlights:

  • Despite the pandemic, drought, and derecho, Growing Together Iowa projects donated more than 81,328 pounds of fruits and vegetables to Iowa’s food pantries this growing season. This equates to 243,984 servings.
  • 69,386 Iowans visited pantries where Growing Together Iowa produce was available.
  • 239 Master Gardener volunteers contributed to Growing Together Iowa this growing season.
  • 430 community volunteers who are not Master Gardeners contributed to Growing Together Iowa projects.
  • 1,016 people with low income engaged in food gardening education through Growing Together Iowa this year.

More Human Sciences

  • A new manager at a casino requested general food safety training for all food and beverage staff. Human Sciences offered two ServSafe Food Handlers courses and reached 50 casino employees. The staff applied concepts learned and made changes to reduce the risk of foodborne illness for casino guests. Six weeks after the class, managers reported practices including increased incidence of staff taking food temperatures, increased cleaning and sanitizing of thermometers after use, and increased handwashing.
  • In January, approximately 30 county partners and all human sciences specialists in family life participated in training for new Science of Parenting workshops. The workshops are a response to the Structured for Success initiative and feature team delivery. Specialists in family life deliver the first session, Understanding Research and Reality, a foundational class. County partners teach a second session, Positive Discipline. While this is the preferred format, either workshop can be delivered on its own. They also may be delivered virtually. The plan is to add additional workshops for county partners to deliver in the months ahead.

More Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • While many specialty crop growers saw increased demand in 2020, they also faced significant changes to their marketing plans and customer base. To help growers prepare for the year ahead, the Small Farm Sustainability program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering a Specialty Crops Risk Management Webinar Series that runs through March 10. The goal is to help growers mitigate risk, so they can prevent loss and prepare for changes in the marketplace.
  • Pork producers can learn more about building ventilation from the inside out through a series of workshops in mid-March. The Iowa Pork Industry Center is joining ISU Extension and Outreach in offering Managing Your Unseen Employee: The Ventilation System at five different Iowa locations at no cost. The daylong program provides a two-pronged approach to understanding issues and consequences of decisions by combining classroom instruction with hands-on trials and application of knowledge gained in a real-world setting.

4-H Youth Development

  • STEM Sparks is a new program designed to “spark” youth interest in STEM while also showcasing STEM professions for youth in grades 4-12. Each STEM Sparks lesson includes a hands-on STEM activity that uses the experiential learning model, a short overview of STEM content, a defined STEM vocabulary, and an introduction to a STEM profession. These STEM Sparks lessons will be low cost and delivered in a small kit that contains a one-page lesson guide and any needed materials for individual youth or small teams of youth. This program is being designed by the Iowa 4-H STEM Team and is scheduled to be released in April.
  • State 4-H Council is planning the 2021 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, “Quest to be your best,” taking place June 29-July 1 in Ames at the ISU campus. This event will take place face to face and follow COVID regulations with limited participant numbers and will not include overnights. We hope to maintain some of the key components and goals of the traditional youth conference through our alternative plan, such as networking with youth from across the state, experiencing a college campus, and ensuring leadership and service-learning components are a part of the event. State 4-H Council members are in the planning process and registration will open in March.
  • SWITCH Resource Kits were mailed out to 37 SWITCH schools in early January. SWITCH Facebook LIVE events are reaching families in a virtual setting once per month. 4-H staff and campus partners have developed several new resources that are available on the SWITCH website for schools and 4-H staff to access virtually.

January 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Registration is still open for CropsTV and subscribers can interact live with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists through February 4 to gain crop production information and Certified Crop Adviser continuing education. Content also is available for viewing on demand. More than 800 subscribers from Iowa and 14 other states have already stacked up over 5,500 episode views.
  • Extension dairy experts will present a Virtual Dairy Day February 9. Producers and industry partners will have a chance to hear about current and relevant information to help them make sound management decisions.
  • The Pesticide Safety Education Program will host statewide online 2020-2021 Private pesticide applicator Continuing Instruction Courses, beginning January 20. PSEP will offer additional virtual P-CIC programs in February, March, and April.
  • An interactive online-only course will be offered on January 20 and 21 leading to Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance designation as a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule. The course is being offered jointly by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative program and the American Feed Industry Association.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2021 Community Visioning Program kicks off virtually in January with Program Overview and Communications Strategies virtual workshops for Calamus, Wheatland, Emmetsburg, Shenandoah, Malvern, Tama, Toledo, and Princeton.
  • In cooperation with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund, CED specialists will be conducting Rural Housing Readiness Assessment educational workshops for Keokuk, with Ohio State University for Noble County, Ohio, and for Nevada. CED specialists will teach RHRA workshops #1 and #2 for Estherville.
  • CED provides goal setting, strategic planning, and action planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop plans to accomplish those priorities. In January CED specialists will conduct strategic planning for the American Poultry Association, National 4-H Equity Design Team, and Salud! in Storm Lake. CED specialists will facilitate goal setting for the National Extension Tourism Board.
  • CED staff will be conducting virtual Navigating Difference modules 2 and 3 for Cedar Valley Catholic Schools in Waterloo and Centro Latino in Council Bluffs.

Human Sciences

  • ISU SNAP-Ed helped Table to Table, a nonprofit food rescue in Iowa City, fund increased service during the growing season to increase access to fruits and vegetables in food pantries in Southeast Iowa. During this past growing season, Table to Table collaborated with six farms, 11 gardeners, and 40 businesses to collect 512,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
  • Human sciences specialists facilitated an online offering of Preschoolers and Pennies: Read, Talk, Learn, and Play. Thirty-one childcare providers from 16 Iowa counties attended the two-hour workshop. Each completed an action plan that included writing a goal using what they learned.
  • COVID-19 amplifies the challenges of caregiving. Our Powerful Tools for Caregivers master trainers developed a plan for online, virtual class leader trainings. From May through September 2020, 58 individuals were trained to become certified class leaders.
  • Nutrition and wellness state specialists and a graduate student in food science and human nutrition have a new Journal of Extension article on assessing and responding to COVID-19 pandemic nutrition and wellness impacts on Iowans.

4-H Youth Development

  • ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium will be sponsoring 10 StoryWalk pilots. One will occur this winter, while the rest will take place in the spring. The StoryWalk team is working with extension offices in Pocahontas, Marshall, O’Brien, Guthrie, Cass, Jasper, Allamakee, Monroe, and Mahaska counties.
  • The State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa is virtual this year. SSTFI is open to any student (grades 6-12) residing in or attending school (public, private, parochial, and home school) in Iowa. At this time there is no qualifier fair (local, conference, district, or regional) required for participation in the March event. To learn more, please visit the Iowa 4-H SSTFI webpage.
  • The 4th annual Healthy Living Club Challenge has begun. Clubs and staff teams are invited to focus on their different dimensions of well-being to learn, grow, and explore ways to practice a variety of healthy habits. Wellness officers from participating clubs meet monthly to learn about the upcoming month’s club activities so they can coordinate it locally.
  • The National 4-H Healthy Living Summit will be held virtually February 12-15. While the 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors will miss the Washington, D.C., experience, they are excited to invite their peers from across the state to join in the virtual experience. Teens from across the state are encouraged to participate.

December 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • State Council members have continued their CloverCast podcast channel that they started this past summer. The first episode introduced the hosts and aired November 4. Episodes will be released the first and third Wednesday of each month. This podcast is in partnership with the Iowa 4-H Foundation and will highlight a variety of 4-H topics throughout the next year.
  • Members of Collegiate 4-H at Iowa State University worked together to create short, accessible training videos for each club officer role. They also teamed up to create a parliamentary demonstration video. These videos are being piloted by eight counties throughout the fall and winter. The videos surround the training and descriptions from 4-H’s current “So You’re Club President …” series.
  • SWITCH is wrapping up the training phase in preparation for program implementation in January. Seventy-three people, including school and 4-H staff from across Iowa, tuned in for the virtual SWITCH Conference on October 22. Nine PE Warm-up videos have been filmed and will be available for SWITCH schools to use as brain breaks or warm-ups for PE class. Teachers can share these videos in their classroom face-to-face or virtually. The first video, Pedometer Challenge, is available to view on the SWITCH YouTube channel. Four SWITCH website help sessions were held through the end of October and beginning of December. School and 4-H staff attended these sessions to review the process of uploaded classes and students into the SWITCH website, as well as how to print Welcome Letters for parents.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • ISU Extension and Outreach, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will offer manure training and certification workshops in January and February 2021. Confinement site manure applicators and anyone interested in learning about manure issues are invited to attend Confinement Site Manure Applicator Workshops scheduled in January and February. Dry Manure Applicator Certification Workshops for dry/solid manure operators are scheduled at six different dates and locations in February.
  • A virtual Boots in the Barn for Dairy Women, a three-part series for women involved in a dairy operation or industry and will be held as a webinar series on January 22, 29 and February 5, 2021 via Zoom.
  • The Water Rocks! program is delivering virtual, interactive science-based lessons to individual classrooms in Iowa schools. Water Rocks! Live Streaming debuted in November and incorporates live presentations, music, guest experts, and online scavenger hunts facilitated through shared Google docs.

Community and Economic Development

  • CED specialists facilitated the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment with Central City in December. It guides communities in considering options that ensure existing and potential residents can find safe, secure, and quality housing that meets their needs and fits within their budgets. The assessment checklists aid in the creation of local housing policy that is appropriate for community needs and desires.
  • CED provides goal setting, strategic planning, and action planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop plans to accomplish those priorities. In December CED specialists conducted strategic planning for National 4-H Equity and Iowa 4-H.

Human Sciences

  • As the pandemic continued, human sciences specialists offered Environment Rating Scale Trainings virtually through Zoom and Canvas. This allowed Human Sciences to continue to meet the need for these trainings and open them to providers statewide, making the trainings more accessible. Throughout the spring and fall classes were offered virtually on the following scales: infant/toddler (14 classes), early childhood (8), school-age care (1), and family child care (2). There have been roughly 295 participants in these series through October.
  • Iowans struggled to find food at the grocery store during the pandemic and began starting or expanding vegetable gardens. Human Sciences responded by providing free, online food preservation classes. Seven basic food preservation sessions were held with 339 participants from 80 Iowa counties, 20 other states, and Canada. Due to participant feedback and in keeping with pandemic restrictions, additional sessions were offered on seasonal apple and tomato preservation, reaching 111 participants from 50 Iowa counties and 6 other states. Overall, 450 participants attended a preservation class and 75% of the participants indicated they were very likely to preserve food after taking a class.
  • The following data represent both SNAP-Ed and EFNEP-funded direct education work that includes both “Buy, Eat, Live Healthy” and “Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook.” There were 1,096 total participants. This is seven more participants than FY 2019 and the second year in a row of increased participation. In addition: 94% were female, with the majority being age 21-49; 52% self-identified as part of an underserved racial or ethnic group; 58% had income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level; more than 72% received public assistance; 91% improved their diet quality; 82% increased their physical activity; 74% improved food safety practices; 38% reported increased food security; and 84% reported improved food resource management. The behavior change measured is similar regardless of teaching mode (face-to-face or virtual).

November 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • As of October 15, the EFNEP and SNAP-Ed teams had delivered 1,028 virtual lessons during the pandemic.
  • According to Buzzsprout, the Science of Parenting has had more than 10,000 podcast downloads.
  • The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 was held virtually in Polk County with five families.
  • Recent in-person education programs included Actions Speak Louder Than Words childcare training for 13 childcare providers in Howard County, a full day Nature Explore workshop in Marquette for15 early childhood professionals and outdoor educators, and the Powerful Tools for Caregivers series for seven individuals in Vinton.

4-H Youth Development

  • The first Iowa 4-H Robotics monthly challenge is available on the Extension Store. These challenges are designed to advance robotics, coding, and computer science skills for youth in grades 4-12. In addition, career education is highlighted.
  • Iowa 4-H Healthy Living is a recipient of the National 4-H Healthy Habits Grant via the Walmart Foundation. 4-H has been awarded $57,200 toward nutrition education, food access/security initiatives with youth audiences across Iowa for the 2020-2021 program year. An additional $7,500 was awarded to implement the Soccer for Success program in partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. This program utilizes volunteers to serve as coach mentors to youth to help build character through learning basic soccer skills and nutrition education.
  • The National Wildlife Habitat Education Program is a hands-on environmental education program. WHEP also provides youth participants an opportunity to test their wildlife knowledge in a friendly competition, as each state supporting WHEP conducts an annual contest where teams of three to four similarly aged individuals gather. The winning senior (14-19 years of age) WHEP team from each state earns the right to attend the annual National WHEP Contest, typically held the last full week of July. The national contest moves to a different state each year and Iowa hopes to host this event in 2022. Iowa 4-H WHEP is seeking individuals with interest in becoming volunteer coaches.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held virtually this year on Monday, Nov. 23, in keeping with COVID-19 regulations. A half-day of presentations and interactions with industry experts will take the place of the normal meeting.
  • The fourth annual ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference features speakers ready to share leadership knowledge and skills that participants can apply to succeed in farm or agribusiness careers. This year’s virtual conference is Nov. 30, 1-3:30 p.m., and Dec. 1, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • The annual Pro Ag Outlook and Management meetings will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19 concerns. With a virtual format, participants will be able to hear from five ISU Extension and Outreach economists. There will be one speaker each day from 1-2 p.m. on Dec. 7–11.
  • Iowans can expect next year to be bright and colorful – at least according to the images found within the 2021 Garden Calendar produced by ISU Extension and Outreach. With a theme of Iowa Natives, the new calendar features 12 months of native plants, including bloodroot, bluebells, prairie smoke, bur oak, witch hazel, winterberry, and others.

Community and Economic Development

  • Iowa’s Living Roadways will hold its annual celebration November 12. Because of COVID-19, the event will be held virtually for the first time, and CED specialists will be producing the event. During the event, the 2020 visioning communities will have the opportunity to present and discuss the design projects proposed through the process.
  • CED provides goal setting, strategic planning, and action planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop plans to accomplish those priorities. In November CED specialists will facilitate action planning for extension regions 18, 25 and 26, and ISU Extension and Outreach Polk County. CED specialists also will deliver action plan reports to the Ottumwa Parks Foundation Board and the Mount Pleasant Community Childcare Board, and conduct strategic planning for the Des Moines Partnership, Linn County Child Abuse Prevention Coalition, Iowa 4-H state and county staff, and National 4-H Equity Strategic Planning. In addition, CED specialists will facilitate goal setting in Cedar Falls.
  • The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It is a simplified, visual, open source tool, which is user-friendly, hands-on, and a step-by-step guide for future direction. CED specialists will present the Business Model Canvas in English and Spanish at the Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit on November 21.

September 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Morgan Bjerke, Allamakee County youth coordinator
  • Alisha Davidson, Lee County 0ffice assistant
  • Tanner Messerli, Story County program coordinator
  • Lori Padget, Jefferson County office assistant
  • Yenibeth Lopez-Ortiz, extension program assistant I, Human Sciences
  • Karisa Leinen, P&S temporary employee, 4-H Youth Development
  • Nancy Brannaman, P&S temporary employee, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Mark Barron, program coordinator II, Human Sciences
  • Richard Jauron, extension horticulturist, Agriculture and Natural Resources (retirement)

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Marcelina Ceniceros, Johnson County BBBS community-based mentoring specialist
  • Erika Kirchhoff, West Pottawattamie County program assistant
  • Kelly Waters, Henry County marketing program coordinator
  • Katie Sorrell, extension program specialist III, Human Sciences
  • Abby Boysen, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development
  • Courtney Chapman, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development

October 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The Rural Housing Readiness Assessment helps communities self-assess their housing needs and guides them in the decision-making process when addressing those needs. In October CED specialists will be conducting RHRA workshop #3 with Creston and workshop #1 with Keokuk. The program is virtual and funded by the Empower Rural Iowa grant through IEDA and the Office of the Governor. By invitation of Ohio State University Extension, CED specialists will be delivering RHRA workshop #1 virtually in Noble County, Ohio, also in October.
  • CED specialists will perform and facilitate a process evaluation for Leading Communities: A Place-Based Leadership Program taking place in New Hampton (ISU Extension and Outreach Chickasaw County) in October.
  • CED specialists will be working with Salud! Multicultural Health Coalition of Storm Lake to craft a new vision and mission statement. The October workshops are virtual and supported by ISU Extension and Outreach Buena Vista County.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences collaborated with Mt. Pleasant Corrections and FDIC to offer the Money Smart curriculum online at the corrections facility. Prior to the pandemic, Human Sciences had offered face-to-face classes at the facility.
  • The Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 has completed four face-to -face trainings in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Safety measures were put into place to keep people safe and healthy. No illnesses had been reported at the two-week check-in with the training sites.
  • In collaboration with COVID Recovery Iowa, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering “I Worry All the Time: Resources for Life in a Pandemic”. The virtual program was held on four dates during August and September.
  • From mid-June through mid-September, the nutrition and wellness team of educators have safely provided 71 ServSafe® in-person classes with 544 people in attendance. This effort supported Iowa’s restaurants and food establishments as they attempted to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the summer.

4-H Youth Development

  • 4-H Youth Development has launched a new Iowa 4-H STEM webpage to share information about programs happening around the state. 4-H STEM programs work to engage youth through hands-on experiences that connect to their lives and respond to their interests. 4-H programs use hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math to teach problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, and inspire kids to explore STEM professions.
  • The 4-H virtual learning team surveyed counties to determine the usefulness of the On the Go publications series created this summer. There have been over 2,800 downloads from the Extension Store. Forty-four county staff members responded that they used these publications to create an estimated total of over 28,000 to-go lessons distributed to Iowa youth.
  • The Collegiate 4-H Club at Iowa State University hosted a successful, in-person welcome event for new members to kick off the new school year, with 26 college students in attendance. The event was held outside the state 4-H office with social distancing guidelines followed. The club will host their main meetings virtually this semester and continue inviting guest speakers to present virtually.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • A new series of videos on performing visual soil health assessments is now available on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Agriculture and Natural Resources YouTube channel. The videos explain the basics of how to perform visual assessments and demonstrate some simple, on-farm methods that can be used for assessing compaction, water infiltration, aggregation, temperature, biology, and decomposition in soils.
  • It is the end of an era for the popular Hortline telephone service at ISU Extension and Outreach. Richard Jauron, the most recognizable voice behind the Iowa State University consumer horticulture effort, has retired after more than 36 years of dedicated service. Resources can be found on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Horticulture and Home Pest News website. An extensive amount of horticulture information is available, all searchable by resource, topic or keyword.

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