Numbers … and impact

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 22, 2018

There comes a time each year when whoever is at the helm for ISU Extension and Outreach must sign off on the organization’s annual report. Perry Holden’s first extension annual report covered fiscal year 1906-1907, when corn trains stopped at 670 towns and extension professionals gave 1,085 talks and lectures to more than 127,000 people. In that first year, Holden gave 172 lectures, conducted 77 corn judging contests and spent another 28 days in short course work. In home economics, Mary Rausch gave 90 lectures, conducted 41 demonstrations and judged 17 contests. She also led short courses at Iowa State and in Red Oak, Mount Pleasant, Lenox, Spencer and Dows. (Yes, I’ve been reading my R.K. Bliss extension history book again.)

In keeping with tradition, we have numbers in our 2017 annual report as well: More than 1 million people directly benefit from our educational programs every year, and we reach more than 4 million through our digital presence. However, more important than the numbers is the impact. Did you know?

  • We help parents raise healthy kids. For every $1 invested in Buy Eat Live Healthy nutrition education, $2.48 is saved in future health care costs. This free program helps parents learn how to provide nutritious food, leading to healthy children and strong families.
  • Our Iowa Government Finance Initiative provides Iowa’s 945 cities with customized socioeconomic and fiscal information, offering a clear perspective about their financial health and performance.
  • More than 12,000 youth tried virtual reality, 3D prototyping, circuit bending and other emerging design technologies through FLEx, Forward Learning Experience. Practicing 21st century design thinking prepares young people for future careers.
  • We help farmers connect through peer networks to increase the success of Iowa farm operations, improve the equity and management responsibilities of beginning farmers, and help farm businesses pass to a new generation.

You’ll find more examples of our impact in our annual report: read the webpage or download the pdf. I imagine Perry Holden was proud of all he accomplished that first year, and probably grumbled about reporting his numbers to administrators. Some things never change. However, I know that all of us on the leadership team are incredibly proud of the work you all do, which contributes to ISU Extension and Outreach’s impact statewide. Thank you for your service.

One more thing: Speaking of that great work you all do, nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are due at noon, Feb. 9. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms.

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

From our 2016 Annual Report

John Lawrence’s Monday Message from April 10, 2017

In my first few days as acting vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach, I have found myself thinking of Garrison Keillor’s opening line to his monologue: “Well it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.” While it may have been quiet for the regulars working under the green dome, to a newbie it sure seemed hectic. I moved into 2150 Beardshear on Saturday, April 1, and haven’t seen much of the office since. I am finishing a few things in my ANR position and sorting emails in the appropriate direction, all while getting up to speed about my new role on the ISU Extension and Outreach team.

Some of the things I’ve learned are from the 2016 Annual Report for ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know?

  • More than 1 million people directly benefit from our programs each year. That’s one in three Iowans.
  • About 100,000 4-H youth are building skills for college and career readiness. That’s nearly 20 percent of all Iowa K-12 youth.
  • We support online courses for 50,000 users. They’d nearly fill Jack Trice Stadium – if, of course, they were here rather than online.
  • More than 16,000 volunteers partner with us – more than a sell-out crowd at Hilton Coliseum.
  • We reach more than 4 million with our digital presence. That’s four times the number of direct contacts.

We didn’t achieve these big wins on our own. Our 900 locally elected extension council members are right there with us, working for a strong Iowa. Their partnership is essential to our 99 county campus.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind this week:

  • Performance reviews for 2016 must be completed by April 15, 2017.
  • Proposals are due April 17 for innovation and sustainability projects. We’ll be awarding four grants of $2,500 each. Download the RFP from the See You There blog.
  • The Iowa History 101 Mobile Museum will be coming to a county near you sometime in the next three years. Watch our video about the museum’s stop at annual conference, and learn how we’ll be working with the State Historical Society of Iowa on this project.

Well, one week down, not that I’m counting. I’m in this for as long of a haul as necessary. Early reports indicate I haven’t dropped the ball so far, and that’s thanks to all of you. Because in ISU Extension and Outreach, we all keep each other at the top of our game.

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

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