Building value and building trust

John Lawrence’s message from April 6, 2020

When we implement Structured for Success July 1, it will be a new beginning. To continue the preparation, Andrea Nelson met with our county and regional directors in late March. The event was called Building Value and Building Trust. A committee of county and regional directors has been meeting and discussing that topic since last fall. I want to thank RaeAnn Gordan, Adriane Carlson, Carter Oliver, Rich Wrage, Cindy Gannon, Sherry Ford, Donovan Olson and Katharinna Bain for working with Andrea for all of us and for our system.

My wife often accuses me of selective hearing, but I heard three important messages in Andrea’s opening comments about building value and trust. Did you know?

  • First, County Services is a large unit, with 900 council members, 484 county staff, 19 regional directors and two accountants. It accounts for 40% of the nearly 1,200 faculty and staff who are part of ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • Second, the success of the County Services unit and, for that matter, our entire organization, depends on the success of all our people.
  • And, third, we have to stop creating silos. Whether part of County Services or the rest of our organization who create content and support operations, we are all on the same team.

Each of us plays a different position, but we all wear the same jersey: ISU Extension and Outreach. Let’s pull together as a team to make our transition successful. Look upon this new beginning as a chance to refresh existing relationships with teammates and look for new ways to grow as individuals and as an organization. (And if your “jersey” is a bit worn, you can order new extension apparel from http://www.ISUExtApparel.com. You also can access the site through My Extension. The new site is not part of the Extension Store.)

I am extremely proud of our team. We have a legacy of service to Iowans, not just during a crisis, but every day. We provide research-based information, we are embedded in the communities and we are here for the long haul. We will help Iowans solve today’s problems and prepare for a thriving future.

Defining our success

How we define success varies across the span of our careers and as our accomplishments accumulate. In this video from Annual Conference some of our colleagues share their perspectives on success and how it is defined.

More notes

  • A recording of Our Virtual Annual Conference and several of the resources are available from MyExtension.
  • President Wintersteen’s April 3 COVID-19 update discusses planning for reduced campus operations and impact on frontline staff.
  • The Rising Star Internship program for summer 2020 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will announce plans for the summer 2021 program this fall.
  • Please review the April program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • Our next Second Monday Live is 10 a.m., April 13 at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/. David Brown, behavioral health state specialist, will discuss managing stress and mental health – because working remotely can be stressful. The isolation, lack of work/home boundaries, and simple anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can impact our wellness. This short program will review tips and tools to manage stress and help improve our wellbeing in a remote working environment.
  • The archive of the April 1 county benefits webinar is available: https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/pc8iszgj6i71/.
  • The county website transition committee has announced the first three counties to transition to the new website platform. You’ll understand why they won the contest when you watch the videos from Shelby County (first), Dallas County (second) and Linn County (third). We’d like to thank all the counties who entered the contest, and we look forward to seeing all the new county websites.

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

Parenting science rooted in reality

John Lawrence’s message from March 9, 2020

Do you have parenting questions? Science of Parenting has answers based on research and real-life experience. Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has been sharing the Science of Parenting for several years, but starting March 12, they’re adding a new podcast to their collection of resources for helping parents make informed decisions for their families. Did you know?

  • Human sciences specialists Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, parenting educators who are parents themselves, talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide parenting decisions. Mackenzie DeJong produces the podcast and Barbara Dunn Swanson provides research and writing.
  • The first season of the weekly podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms and releases on Thursdays, March 12 to May 28. Once per month, the podcast hosts will appear on Facebook Live (noon to 12:45 p.m.); viewers can submit questions in advance to Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent or by email to parenting@iastate.edu.
  • The Science of Parenting website, scienceofparenting.org, also will be relaunching with a new design. Blog posts and resource links provide additional parenting information.

The Science of Parenting continues to address today’s hot topics in parenting and provides research-based information that fits your family.

Annual Conference update

Join us at Annual Conference on Wednesday, April 1, as we look at how our personal success as extension professionals keeps us on track for building a #StrongIowa, where all Iowans benefit. Check out the agenda and register today. Early bird registration ($75) ends March 16 at 5 p.m. Then registration increases to $85.

  • The festivities begin on Tuesday, March 31 with our Awards Ceremony and Reception. Join us from 4-6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center to honor our colleagues’ accomplishments and length of service.
  • Our conference day starts April 1 with registration at 8 a.m. at the Scheman Building. We’ll hear from two highly recommended speakers and choose from 11 breakout sessions on a variety of professional development topics.
  • Several high-quality prizes will be raffled off at the end of the day, including two Fitbits, two Fire HD tablets, one set of Apple AirPods, and an iPad. And yes, you must be present to win.
  • After the conference, those interested may attend one of two optional sessions: 1) ISU Benefits as a County Employee and 2) Ready to Retire from ISU? Five Things to Know First (for ISU-paid employees). Registration for these sessions is not required.
  • Annual Conference is open to everyone in ISU Extension and Outreach. Councils, please consider closing your office or having someone fill in for the day so that all ISU Extension and Outreach staff members can attend.

More notes

  • 2020 Census update: The fact sheet “2020 Census: You Count” now is available in both English and Spanish. See the Indicators website for these materials and many other Census-related resources.
  • Applications will be accepted from March 9 until May 15 for the summer 2020 Vice President for Extension and Outreach Tuition Assistance Program. County-paid and ISU-paid extension employees may apply for the program, whether taking credit courses from Iowa State, a community college, a private institution or other accredited public institution.
  • The Iowa Extension Council Association conference, Focus for Success, is March 28 in Ames. Council members and extension professionals are invited, and the early bird registration deadline is March 18. Staff who would like to share their programs and showcase services at the conference’s idea fair should register their displays by March 15.

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

Stories we can share

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 4, 2019

The university doesn’t close very often, but it did last week due to bone-chilling cold. But extension professionals carry on. Campus folks relocated from their university offices to their kitchen tables or wherever their home offices might be. As the deep freeze spread throughout the state, staff and councils made their best decisions, based on local conditions, about whether to close offices or reschedule events. I thank you all for putting safety ahead of everything else under these extreme weather conditions.

I’d also like to thank our county staff and councils for preparing and sharing their 2018 county stakeholder reports. Not only are these reports useful to share with Iowans in each county, they also are a great way for us all to share program ideas across regions and throughout the state. Did you know?

  • With identity theft on the rise, in 2018, Lyon County educated more than 35 local residents on ways to protect themselves and their families.
  • Allamakee County’s Women in Ag Tour reached women who owned or worked in a farm business or agribusiness, as well as women who owned or worked in non-ag businesses. Participants appreciated the opportunity to network with other women, and gain a broader understanding of the diversity of agriculture in the county.
  • Since the 1970s, Fremont County 4-H members have participated in Citizenship Washington Focus. This year, 21 high school students and four adult volunteers spent a week in the nation’s capital, immersed in government, history and civic engagement.
  • Lee County Intern Connect engaged 20 interns in local networking and building relationships. Extension and Outreach partnered with Lee County Economic Development Group, Fort Madison Partners and Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce to create a positive experience and recruit interns back to the area after they graduate.
  • Stakeholder reports from the four corners of Iowa and throughout the state are available on the County Services website.

During the listening sessions last summer and fall, I often heard from staff and councils that we need to better tell our ISU Extension and Outreach story. These stakeholder reports are an important step to do just that. A stakeholder report is not an end product; it’s the beginning of the extension stories we can share. We share our stories with stakeholders because they have a stake in our impact and outcomes. We share our stories with the public to build their awareness of the education and information we can provide. We share our stories with taxpayers and the elected officials who allocate precious public resources so they understand their return on investment in ISU Extension and Outreach. We strive to serve all Iowans. A key to our success is making sure people know how we are working to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

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

Listening, learning and moving forward together

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 22, 2019

When Iowans talk, we listen. Some 1,200 people participated in my vice presidential listening sessions across the state last summer and fall, and they had a lot to say. During 62 meetings we captured their comments on flip charts and in electronic notes. Since then, Carol Heaverlo, director of Professional Development, objectively categorized and summarized the collected data statewide, as well as by location and participant group. We now have a summary ready to share. Did you know?

  • Workforce challenges, child care, housing, mental health and the farm economy were issues that arose at nearly every location. When stakeholders, staff and councils voted, these issues emerged as the most critical statewide issues impacting the ability of Iowa communities to thrive over the next five years.
  • In addition, three themes surfaced in both staff and council discussions: organizational structure, communication within our system and developing local leadership in Iowa communities.
  • All groups agreed that ISU Extension and Outreach should play to our strengths, partner where appropriate and avoid issues that we do not have the expertise or resources to address.

I encourage you to read the summary of the listening sessions. Then, plan to attend our 2018 annual conference on Feb. 28, where we’ll reflect on what we’ve learned and begin Moving Forward. Together. Take a few minutes to check out the agenda and register.

Annual conference is the one time of the year that we bring our extension family together. This year let’s be sure to fill Benton Auditorium (and later, the Sukup End Zone) as we learn from the listening sessions, discuss innovative programs, celebrate the achievements of our colleagues, and take time to network and socialize.

We’ll also be talking about the listening sessions summary at the Iowa Extension Council Association Conference on March 30. Council members, county staff, regional directors and others who work with council members are invited to attend.

Goodbye … and welcome
In December, we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Hannah Wilson, Wayne County youth coordinator.
  • Debra Pospisil, secretary III, Finance.
  • Robert Mortensen, program coordinator II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Leanne Chapman-Thill, Marion County director.
  • Cody Emery, Bremer County youth coordinator.
  • Jeanene Blickenderfer, Davis County office assistant.
  • Jean Wilson, Linn County Master Gardener coordinator.
  • Hailey Burgher, Davis County office assistant.
  • Megan Van Houten, Guthrie County office assistant.
  • Breanna Miller, program assistant I, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Patrick Hatting, field specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Adriane Carlson, Region 9 director, County Services.

One more note: From now through December 2020, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach will be ending support for the Family Storyteller program and transitioning to Raising School Ready Readers. This new curriculum is based in modern-day research with a variety of families, and is published and kept up-to-date by Scholastic Inc. Human Sciences explained the reasons for the curriculum transition in the Jan. 18 Community Chat newsletter and in a letter to the Iowa Extension Council Association. You can learn more about the program transition during a 2 p.m. webinar and Q&A session Jan. 28 at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/r320zrw59q4s/. For more information, contact Connie Beecher, cbeecher@iastate.edu, or Deb Sellers, dsellers@iastate.edu.

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

A new council year

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 7, 2018

This month our 100 county extension councils are organizing for a new year of providing access to ISU Extension and Outreach education and resources through our 99 county campus. When they get together for their first meeting, they will make motions and take actions to ensure they have fulfilled the requirements of Iowa’s extension law. Did you know?

  • Councils will adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, elect officers, appoint standing committees, adopt new personnel and fiscal policies, and set fiscal procedures.
  • They also will accept their county’s list of approved volunteers, and establish meeting dates and times in accordance with Iowa’s Open Meeting Law.
  • After they complete their organizational work, they’ll continue with regular council business, approving monthly financial transactions, and beginning work on the 2020 fiscal budget for the district.
  • They also will review and update the calendar of educational programs.

Five hundred Iowans were elected to their county extension councils in 2018. They, along with 400 returning council members, bring their understanding of local issues to important decisions about extension educational opportunities in their counties. We wish them well as they organize and establish important working relationships to operate effectively throughout the year.

Moving Forward. Together.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach annual conference is Feb. 28. We’ll start the day in Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building, reflecting on what we heard during listening sessions with 62 different audiences over the past year. I know, that adds up to a lot of conversations for reflection. Remember, these sessions were just the first step in our overall needs assessment process. Coming together Feb. 28 is an opportunity to share and discuss what we heard and learned, and continue to keep everyone involved in the process. Later in the day, we’ll recognize our length of service and award recipients, before heading to the Sukup End Zone at Jack Trice Stadium for a reception, a message from Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, and dinner followed by a keynote address from President Wendy Wintersteen. Take a few minutes to check out the agenda and register.

More notes

  • ISU P&S and Merit staff will receive a survey Jan. 9 about their interest in applying for a position in the Improved Service Delivery (ISD) model. Those on campus who have HR or Finance responsibilities should be familiar with ISD, the Job Showcase and the interest survey. (Those of you off campus may not be aware of ISD.) Those working in HR and Finance are encouraged to complete the survey. If you are not currently working in HR or Finance, but have some skills or education in those areas and would like to be considered for one of these positions on campus in the new ISD model, you are welcome and encouraged to complete the survey. If you have questions about ISD or the survey, please let me know.
  • Changes in IRS mileage reimbursement rates took effect Jan. 1. The default rate now is 29 cents/mile for ISU travelers who use a personal vehicle when a vehicle is available from Transportation Services. The 2019 full IRS rate is increasing to 58 cents/mile, which applies to travelers who are permanently based off-campus, and also to certain travel situations. For more information, contact John Flickinger, Extension Finance Office, jeflick@iastate.edu.
  • Office Clean Up Day is Jan. 10. It’s important to take time to create a safe and efficient office environment – from public spaces to individual desks and computer files.

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

Integrated Crop Management … times 30

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 26, 2018

2018 has been a challenging year for Iowa crop production, given difficult growing conditions, tight margins and uncertainty on trade issues. That is all the more reason for farm operators to make informed, research-based decisions to increase the likelihood for success. It’s no surprise that 900 farmers, agribusiness professionals, industry representatives and educators are coming to Ames Nov. 28-29 for the Integrated Crop Management Conference. It’s the 30th annual meeting of inquiring ag minds to network and learn about research findings and technology from across the Midwest. Did you know?

  • This year guest speakers will discuss in-field variability and effects on yield, digital technology in U.S. crop production, nitrogen needs and recommendations, tar spot in corn, and crop rotation and environmental stresses limiting corn and soybean yields.
  • The 2018 program also will include weather and crop market outlooks, selling cover crop seed, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, insect resistance to Bt crops, soybean gall midge, and weed and crop disease management updates.
  • New this year is the Women in Ag Breakfast, offering women attending the conference an opportunity to network, discuss common goals and challenges, and explore potential mentoring or programming ideas.
  • Last year attendees reported they had direct impact on 1.8 million acres of corn and soybeans, and estimated a profit increase of $5-10 per acre because of knowledge they gained from the conference.

ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the ICM conference, and every year bring together a diverse range of topics, a slate of expert presenters, and results of the latest university research to help Iowa agriculture thrive, no matter the challenges.

More notes

  • Our Women in Ag program’s conference, “The Conversations of Leadership,” is already in progress and continues tomorrow. Speakers and panelists are covering a variety of leadership topics from conflict resolution to farm transition decisions, career conversations and organizational leadership. All sessions are designed to build skills that enhance women’s leadership on and off the farm.
  • I will be visiting with campus-based extension staff and faculty today and again on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Both sessions are 3-4:30 p.m. in 3228 Memorial Union. Like my visits to all 20 regions, the primary purpose of these visits is to listen and learn, and gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan.
  • The 2019 Annual Conference planning team needs your help. Please send your selfie to Rachel Tendall, rtendall@iastate.edu, by noon, Dec. 3. She’ll be compiling all the photos she receives into an ISU Extension and Outreach team portrait that will be revealed when the conference registration opens. Close-up photos are preferred, and feel free to show your personality.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Dec. 4 and 5 in the Humboldt County office in Humboldt. Registration is open.
  • For an update on the Internal Communications Task Force Nov. 16 meeting, read the executive summary on Cybox.
  • The Structured for Success committee met Nov. 19. Check the website for a video report and related documents from the meeting.

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

Design thinking for place-based issues

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 22, 2018

What do Audubon, Bedford, Coggon, Durant, Mount Pleasant, Royal, Sumner, Treynor, Van Meter and Walcott have in common? They all will participate in the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program over the next year. This is one of the ways our Community and Economic Development unit harnesses the power of design thinking to address place-based issues facing Iowa communities. Did you know?

  • The Iowa Department of Transportation sponsors the program in partnership with ISU Landscape Architecture Extension and Trees Forever.
  • To be considered for the program, communities must have a population of fewer than 10,000 residents, existing transportation-related issues, and a committee of volunteers willing to dedicate time and talent to the visioning process.
  • More than 230 communities have participated in Community Visioning since Iowa’s Living Roadways was created in 1996.

Each community will form a local steering committee representing a cross-section of local demographics, including youth. Beginning in November, these committees will work with extension specialists and other technical experts and participate in facilitated meetings, on-site assessments, technical design assistance, and public workshops – about 100 hours-worth over the next year. Each committee’s work will result in a transportation enhancement plan reflecting the community’s identity and values.

More notes

  • Our 2019 ISU Extension and Outreach Annual Conference is set for Feb. 28. Please save the date. Details will be available in the coming months.
  • You can still register for the next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents workshop, Oct. 30 in the Extension 4-H Building on campus in Ames.
  • More than 80 office professionals from throughout the state will be on campus Oct. 23-24 for the Office Professionals Conference. Office professionals are valued members of our extension family, and we’re pleased to provide this opportunity for professional development.
  • You can still share your ideas with our Internal Communications Task Force. Two new Community Conversations are being added: Nov. 5 in Ames and Nov. 9 in Garner. (To participate, register online at http://bit.ly/ictf11409.) You can send comments to ictfcomments@iastate.edu until Oct. 29. Some task force members still have dates available for individual discussions. Anyone in our system may anonymously complete an electronic survey, which is open through Oct. 29. For an update on the task force’s Oct. 18 meeting, read the executive summary on Cybox.
  • The Structured for Success committee held meeting #2 on Thursday, Oct. 18. The agenda, summary notes and video are on the County Services website. Structured for Success now has a menu button on the navigation bar to make it easier to find.
  • Congratulations to Jennifer Bentley, Himar Hernandez and Courtney Long. They will represent ISU Extension and Outreach in the 2019 National Extension Leadership Development program. NELD participants are selected because of their proven track record of programmatic or administrative success.

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

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