December 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources

Master Gardener volunteers with ISU Extension and Outreach continue to improve the lives and communities of Iowa, using more than $50,000 awarded this year in Growing Together Iowa Mini-Grants and growing approximately 115,000 pounds of produce to be donated to local food pantries. Twenty-two counties in Iowa received the grants, which are funded by federal SNAP-Education and are focused on increasing food security and promoting healthy food access.

  • The produce that was harvested equals nearly 345,000 servings of fruits and vegetables. This is the largest donation to date, which is particularly impressive given the weather challenges this growing season.
  • 100,579 Iowans visited pantries where Growing Together Iowa produce was donated.
  • 277 Master Gardener volunteers contributed to Growing Together Iowa this growing season.
  • 662 community volunteers who are not Master Gardeners contributed to Growing Together Iowa projects.
  • 1,012 people with low income engaged in food gardening education through Growing Together Iowa this year.
  • 100% of counties with mini grants agree that the project built their community’s capacity to work on issues of healthy food access.

More from Human Sciences

On Nov. 2, Sara Sprouse and Kelsey Salow, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness, hosted a booth at the Iowa Nurses Association – Southeast Region’s Health Fair in Iowa City. Sara Sprouse also delivered a “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” presentation to 28 attendees during the health fair, which included resources to be used personally or in the clinical work setting. Several individuals downloaded the “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” app that day. The specialists used their iPads in navigating one-on-one when questions were asked at the booth. They also promoted Words on Wellness and more than 30% of attendees signed up for the monthly newsletter.

Most attendees were faculty and students from the University of Iowa, Mount Mercy University and Kirkwood Community College. Known counties represented were Benton, Linn, Johnson and Clinton. A faculty member indicated that the “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” resources now will be used during a practicum she teaches, where students work with recently incarcerated individuals on meal planning and other nutrition topics.

More from Agriculture and Natural Resources

ISU Extension and Outreach and Iowa State University’s Research and Demonstration Farms partnered once again this year to host field days across the state this summer. Over 15,000 people attended the field days, where they had an opportunity to hear from ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and specialists regarding topics tailored to the current conditions and issues facing farmers in their areas.

4-H Youth Development

  • Eighty-three middle school students from 14 schools in 8 counties participated in Youth Voice in Action, a regional youth summit hosted by Regions 4 and 9 in northeast Iowa this fall. This summit provided youth the opportunity to gain skills in communication and leadership so that they feel empowered to take action and use their voices to create positive change in their communities. Professionals in the areas of STEM, healthy living, leadership and civic engagement, and communication and the arts presented breakout sessions where youth learned about their importance within communities as well as possible careers and education. Youth learned about their leadership style through an interactive workshop and created an action plan with their school team with the guidance of their team’s adult mentor. The summit wrapped up with a large group service project in which youth decorated 450 kindness rocks to place around their communities.
  • Members of the newly formed Drake University Collegiate 4-H club met up with some members of the ISU Collegiate 4-H club at Clover Woods in late October to learn about their clubs. Both clubs are examples of student-run organizations on a college campus and both clubs focus on service projects and leadership development. This Collegiate 4-H meet up consisted of networking, creative idea sharing and a service project.
  • Plans are underway to strengthen Iowa 4-H’s partnership with Iowa Public Television. This collaboration will focus on how we can come together to support STEM education in ways that utilize IPTV’s STEM resources.

Community and Economic Development

  • CED provides goal setting and strategic planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities, and develop action plans to accomplish those priorities. In December, Aimee Viniard-Weideman will facilitate strategic planning for the Keokuk Economic Development Corporation, and she and Scott Timm will facilitate strategic planning for Oneota Co-op in Decorah. Viniard-Weideman and Eric Christianson will facilitate goal setting the Cedar Falls City Council.
  • The Municipal Leadership Academy provides elected municipal officials with a curriculum to assist them in effectively meeting the requirements of their office. The program offers a comprehensive overview of Iowa municipal government and is presented by the Iowa League of Cities and CED’s Office of State and Local Government Programs. During December Sara Shonrock will be conducting MLA training in Griswold, Algona and Van Meter.
  • During December CED specialists Lynn Adams and Jon Wolseth will be presenting the CED place-based leadership program, Leading Communities, in Cass County (Atlantic). CED specialist Jane Goeken will be in Orange City to speak to Sioux, O’Brien, Lyon and Osceola county extension council members about the program. CED specialists Aimee Viniard-Weideman and Himar Hernández will be teaching Leading Communities in Mount Pleasant, and CED specialists Jane Goeken and Jill Sokness will facilitate the program in Sac City. Himar Hernández and Shelley Oltmans will teach the program in Centerville. Scott Timm will teach the program in Cresco and with Aimee Viniard-Weideman in Protivin.

Alternative agriculture in Iowa

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 11, 2019

People who think Iowa agriculture is all about commodity corn and soybeans might be surprised that organic producers and experts from across the country will be getting together Nov. 24-25 for the annual Iowa Organic Conference. Iowa State partners with the University of Iowa in this joint effort, which is the largest university-sponsored organic conference in the country. Organic production is one part of our broader educational efforts for alternative agriculture in Iowa. Did you know?

  • Kathleen Delate is ISU Extension and Outreach’s point person for the conference and leads research to improve organic farming systems. Current Organic Agriculture Program projects include examining crop rotations, organic no-till, varietal response, and integrated crop-livestock systems to improve soil quality and economic returns.
  • Ajay Nair leads the Sustainable Vegetable Production Lab, which focuses on developing strategies that enhance crop production, soil health and profitability in commercial vegetable cropping systems. The lab conducts experiments on cover crops, conservation tillage, cultivar trials, integrated pest management, soil fertility, weed management, and high tunnel vegetable crop production.
  • Farm, Food and Enterprise Development efforts include small farm profitability, agritourism, community food systems planning and development, farm to school and farm to early childhood education, and business feasibility and financing. Craig Chase leads the program team that provides technical assistance and resources for farmers, food systems advocates and business owners.

These programs and additional alternative agriculture efforts aim to help producers, processers, marketers, business owners and others become more diversified, profitable and environmentally responsible.

Internal Communications: Connecting with the Leadership Team

One of the recommendations from the Internal Communications Task Force was to implement listening sessions or virtual “office hours” with the leadership team. This recommendation relates to developing two-way, field to campus feedback for improved relationships and effectiveness. We held five virtual listening sessions in October about Structured for Success. We are evaluating the technical platforms for virtual office hours in the future. A separate step that we will begin in January is a brief monthly digital update from the leadership team about program and professional development opportunities. Watch for details in the coming weeks.

One more note: Please review the November 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

November 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • Iowa’s Living Roadways 23rd annual celebration is Nov. 7. Extension CED is the administering unit for the ILR Community Visioning Program. During the event, the 2019 visioning communities will showcase the design projects proposed through the process. In addition, representatives from the 2020 visioning communities will be in attendance to kick off the 2020 program.
  • CED is a sponsor of the Western Iowa Advantage Housing Summit to be held in Carroll on Nov. 13. CED specialist Abbie Gaffey will be speaking; coordinating all the speakers; preparing the agenda, program, marketing materials and press releases; and running all the committee meetings. Jon Wolseth will present the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment. CED staff Julie Robison, Sara Shonrock and Gary Taylor also will be attending the summit.
  • CED provides goal setting and strategic planning services to help local governments and nonprofits address critical issues, identify priorities and develop action plans to accomplish those priorities. In November CED specialists are facilitating strategic planning for the Keokuk Economic Development Corporation and for 4-H in Ames, and goal setting for the Cedar Falls City Council.
  • In November, CED specialists Lynn Adams and Jon Wolseth will be presenting the place-based leadership program, Leading Communities, in Cass County (Atlantic). Brian Perry will be meeting with the Chickasaw County Leading Communities planning team. Aimee Viniard-Weideman and Himar Hernández will be teaching Leading Communities in Mount Pleasant. CED specialists also will be teaching the program in Howard County (Lime Springs) and Sac City.

Human Sciences

  • Dawn Dunnegan, family life, and Mary Weinand, family finance, delivered various educational offerings at Halcyon House. The wellness director has shared the successes with other WesleyLife colleagues and informed the board of directors that the partnership is one of their most successful. Information about the Powerful Tools for Caregivers series was then shared with community wellness/lifestyle directors during a regularly scheduled meeting. As a result, this educational offering will be offered in partnership with eight communities across the state in 2020.
  • Jill Weber, nutrition and wellness, and Fayette County office manager Deb Kahler and youth coordinator Michele Kelly partnered with Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Community Health to launch the Gundersen Palmer Community Teaching Kitchen in January 2019. An exciting opportunity was the ability to engage people across the geographic area. Educational offerings included Healthy and Homemade, Make Ahead Meals, Growing Herbs, Cooking with Herbs, Preservation 101, Stay Independent, All about Apples, and others. Anticipated reach in the first year alone is more than 400 individuals.
  • ¡Salir Adelante! Caminos a Nuestro Futuro (Pathways for our Future) is a six-session series designed to affirm the strengths of Latinx youth and families to pave the way to post-secondary success. The curriculum assists youth and their families in gaining information and access to resources, developing skills and exploring strategies to create paths for successful futures. The curriculum is currently in the pilot stage at three locations: two in Polk County and one in Muscatine. Feedback from the pilots will inform changes to the draft curriculum with the goal of rolling out the curriculum next fall. The team working on this series includes Kim Greder, Judy Levings, Maria Alcivar, Brenda Allen, Rosa Gonzales, Michelle Schott, Katie Bruna, Norma Dorado-Robles and Aracely Martinez.

4-H Youth Development

  • The 2019 Iowa State Fair 4-H livestock shows set records. More than 4,200 animals were exhibited, with 1,900 4-H exhibitors. Multiple show records were broken in the following species: dairy goats – 37 exhibitors, 115 head (previously, 30 exhibitors, 72 head); meat goats – 146 exhibitors, 288 head (previously, 129 exhibitors, 264 head); and swine – 440 exhibitors, 1,151 head (previously, 422 exhibitors, 1,101 head).
  • Youth across the state have been participating in 4-H National Youth Science Day. Emily Damro shared this example from Black Hawk County. Five 4-H members and two potential future members participated in the NYSD Game Changers Workshop at the Black Hawk County Extension Office Oct. 1. The youth experienced “Hack Your Harvest” and “Pitch Your Passion,” working on challenges of writing efficient programming code for agriculture, as well as developing animation for something they were passionate about. The NYSD kit that was used for this program opportunity was one of 35 donated by the Donaldson Foundation. The remaining 34 kits were distributed through county 4-H staff efforts to Waterloo Schools, La Porte City Elementary, Hudson Elementary, Dunkerton Elementary, four Boys and Girls Club of the Cedar Valley locations, and several home school connections.
  • Sixty-eight schools have enrolled in SWITCH! School core team staff and extension partners gathered for a conference Oct. 30-31 in Ames to learn how to implement SWITCH and take new skills to improve wellness in their districts. Youth are also invited and will be trained to be 4-H SWITCH Ambassadors.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The Integrated Crop Management Conference will be held Dec. 4-5 in Ames, helping farmers prepare for 2020 and beyond by providing information on reducing risk and managing returns. The conference will feature 39 workshops, along with additional presentations. Registration can be completed online, and pre-registration is required.
  • The 2020 Garden Calendar is available through the ISU Extension Store. Developed by Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist, the calendar showcases the beauty of butterflies as they float almost musically through the air. The calendar also provides space to record the progress of a garden, along with monthly tips that provide timely information for fruits and vegetables, lawn care, trees, shrubs and much more.
  • Farmers and landowners who want to increase pollinator habitat while also improving water quality should consider the benefits of saturated riparian buffers enhanced with native wildflowers. Establishing pollinator habitat within riparian zones, where the agricultural value is lower and where the conservation and wildlife benefits are likely high, can be a win-win. “Establishing and Managing Pollinator Habitat on Saturated Riparian Buffers” is now available through the ISU Extension Store. The publication also outlines anticipated costs for establishing pollinator habitat over a buffer.

Addressing rural mental health and the farm economy

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 7, 2019

Rural mental health and the farm economy are often intertwined in an agricultural state like Iowa, particularly when farmers are experiencing another year with tight margins and decreasing value of total farm assets and net farm worth. During our 2018 listening sessions, we identified both as critical statewide issues impacting the ability of Iowa communities to thrive over the next five years. We also examined what ISU Extension and Outreach could do to appropriately address how these issues intersect. We knew it was important to positively impact farm families with research-based information and education. Did you know?

  • Since May 1, David Brown has been serving as ISU Extension and Outreach’s behavioral health state specialist. He provides subject matter support and leadership to programs dealing with farm stress, stress management, mental health literacy, disasters and other behavioral health related issues.
  • We are expanding Mental Health First Aid. This evidence-based, 8-hour course can help you learn what to do, what to say, and how to offer support and resources to help Iowans who may be experiencing a mental health related problem or crisis. We will continue to provide the training to our staff (and the next scheduled workshop is Nov. 7), but we also are exploring how to offer the training for university, community and agribusiness organizations.
  • In collaboration with our farm management specialists, our family life team will provide scenario-based suicide prevention training at more than 50 Farm Bill meetings in November, December and January. “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other” reviews risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs of suicide, as well as a strategy for how to intervene.
  • Iowa Concern continues to provide confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge.

Iowa farm families are facing challenges and we are committed to this work long-term.

More notes

  • Please review the October program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • We have read and considered all the questions and comments we have received regarding Structured for Success. The common themes FAQ has been updated to reflect questions and comments submitted during the virtual listening sessions, the area-wide meetings and other face-to-face sessions, and via the virtual suggestion box.
  • It’s National 4-H Week. Iowa 4-H Youth Development reaches nearly 100,000 youth each year, preparing them to be successful, contributing members of society – and that deserves celebrating!

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

October 2019 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2018 Iowa Farm Costs and Returns analysis shows that despite a slight increase in net farm income, farmers saw another year of tight margins and a decrease in total farm assets and net farm worth. The average accrual net farm income increased by 6% in 2018, while the average value of total farm assets declined 6% and farm net worth fell by 7%. The full report is available in the September issue of Ag Decision Maker.
  • Ever wonder about ANR’s impact on social media? Social media continues to be an influential platform for the agricultural industry as a whole; and that trend continues to hold true here in Iowa. Many Iowans are looking for a fast, easy way to collect and share information with the agriculture and natural resources community and ANR specialists and teams have joined the conversation. Here’s how many people are following the 114 ANR accounts collectively: Twitter – 58,450; Facebook – 18,957; Instagram – 3,685; Youtube/Vimeo – 3,689; Pinterest – 114; and Overall total – 84,812 followers.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2018 Community Visioning Program is transitioning to the implementation planning stage during which design teams are presenting feasibility reports and steering committees are meeting to plan project implementation. In October, design teams are presenting feasibility reports to Durant, Coggon and Sumner, and implementation planning meetings will be conducted in Sumner and Coggon.
  • The Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshop is a three-hour session designed to introduce 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. During October CED specialist Eric Christianson will be conducting workshops in Waterloo, Iowa City and Storm Lake.
  • During October CED staff will be facilitating Navigating Difference cultural competency training in Cedar Rapids and Mount Pleasant.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is transitioning to Raising School Ready Readers for early literacy efforts. It is a contemporary educational offering based in modern-day research with a variety of families. Literacy development starts at home with parents and caregivers serving as a child’s first teacher. Raising School Ready Readers offers parents fun ways to engage their 3- to 6-year-old children in literacy play. It is a five-week series of 90-minute workshops grounded in the Engaging Families in Children’s Literacy Development Workshop Series created by Scholastic. Sessions focus on developing six core literacy areas that give children a head start on school readiness. Facilitator training for educators was held in June and September. Some participants had facilitated the previous Family Storyteller program, but others were newly engaged in literacy work. Several series have been completed with others in the planning stages.
  • Four human sciences staff members received university awards at the ceremony in September: Malisa Rader, human sciences specialist in family life, Regents Award for Staff Excellence; Barbara Woods, special projects manager, Award for Inclusive Excellence; Mackenzie Johnson, human sciences specialist in family life, Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award; and Kim Brantner, human sciences specialist in family life, Award for Distinguished Service in Extension and Outreach.
  • David Brown and Anthony Santiago presented at the Annual National Association for Rural Mental Health Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico in August. Their presentations included “Responding to Behavioral and Mental Needs among Rural Iowans and Farming Communities” and “Cohesive Promotion and Implementation of Healthy Relationship Education in Rural Iowa to Promote Overall Health and Wellness.” This presentation provided an overview of the Healthy Relationship Education Training program and featured work completed by Mackenzie Johnson, human sciences specialist in family life, and Brenda Schmitt, human sciences specialist in family finance.

4-H Youth Development

  • Iowa hosted the Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition at the Field Extension Education Lab, in Boone, Iowa. This year’s competition featured nine youth teams representing Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kentucky. The competition is designed to educate students through hands-on interaction in crop fields, through scouting for plant injury and identifying pest and situational problems, culminating in designing their own effective solutions and management strategies. When surveyed, students responded that the competition was fun, and they enjoyed engaging with friendly staff. Team coaches reported that the competition helped students learn concepts of IPM, teamwork skills, and communication skills, and prepare for a future career in agriculture.
  • This year 4-H State Council members can sign up to serve on the Finance, Youth Voice, or Service and Outreach committee. Through these committees, the council members will get to share their voice, come up with county and statewide service projects, or learn about the financial process of the 4-H’ers for 4-H Campaign and budgeting for Youth Conference and other initiatives. State Council members will also continue to serve on one of six Youth Conference committees. At their October retreat they will begin planning for this annual event.
  • 4-H youth who participated in regional chili cook-off competitions this summer were invited to participate in ICS Chili Inc.’s World Championships event Sept. 7-8 in Ankeny. Several youth participated and Clara Damman from Story County 4-H placed 5th in the homestyle division. Iowa 4-H was also able to showcase our program and highlight Healthy Living and making healthy choices count.

September 2019 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • The 4-H project area hot sheets have been redesigned, updated, made digitally accessible and posted to the Extension Store. The new design kept many of the previous features and now includes sections on goal setting, record keeping and entrepreneurship. Each publication also features college and career connections.
  • Twenty-three middle and high school youth from across the state took part in the first InventSTEM Iowa State Fair Challenge sponsored by Alliant Energy. John Larsen, chairman and CEO of Alliant Energy, and other Alliant Energy team members were on hand to mentor youth and present awards. The event began with a mini circuit lesson; then youth were tasked with creating a “beat the heat” machine using only the tub of materials provided. There were two overall winners of the challenge. One team created a fanny pack with attached fan and cell phone holder. The second created a neck travel pillow with attached fan and side snack holders. Nate Weber and Rachel Shannon supported this event.
  • Clubs who participated in the Healthy Living Club Challenge were recognized at the Iowa State Fair. Sixteen clubs tied for first place, earning 2,850 miles, the maximum possible. This means they completed each of the three challenges every month (water, fruit/vegetable and physical activity) in addition to each monthly bonus challenge featuring a new area of well-being (social, personal, emotional, financial, environmental and community).

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farm field days have been taking place throughout the summer and will continue into September. Seventeen field days were scheduled in 2019. Additional information on field days can be found through the Iowa State Research and Demonstration Farms website.
  • Eleven Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training meetings have been scheduled by ISU Extension and Outreach, providing information and training for those interested in fruit and vegetable production, as well as those interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Training sessions will be held across the state, beginning Nov. 6 in Harlan and running until March 2020. More information can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach Safe Produce website.

Community and Economic Development

  • In July, AARP awarded the Iowa League of Cities a Community Challenge Grant, a program designed to make communities livable for people of all ages. The project is being conducted in partnership with the CED program. As a part of the grant, the League will develop and host a day-long workshop Sept. 18 focused on leveraging local government data. The workshop will incorporate the themes of city finance, housing and transportation, including information related to older adults and the overall community. The day also will include an immersive problem-solving session, designed to bring together city officials and data experts to explore and solve a local issue: mobility in Marshalltown. In addition, the grant will fund a “smart cities” demonstration project in Marshalltown, using the roadmap and input gained in the workshop session. CED faculty and staff participating in the workshop include Erin Mullenix, Chris Seeger, Biswa Das and Abbie Gaffey.
  • Several CED faculty and staff will be attending the Iowa League of Cities Conference, Sept. 25-27 in Dubuque. Eric Christianson will present on nuisance abatement. Erin Mullenix will co-present a session on preparing for AV-ready Iowa. Sara Shonrock will present on housing programs and incentives. Other CED faculty and staff who will attend include Gary Taylor, Scott Timm and Aimee Viniard-Weideman.
  • Diane Van Wyngarden will lead the Best of the Upper Mississippi River Road Scholar tour Sept. 8–14 and again Sept. 22–28. Through these travel courses, participants from 15 states (first tour) and 13 states (second tour) will learn about community histories, local economies, innovative local projects and community challenges. Communities along the first tour include McGregor, Dubuque, Calmar, Spillville and Dyersville. The second tour will feature Marquette, the Quad Cities, Scott County and Decorah.

Human Sciences

  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach had four pitches in “The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION.” Malisa Rader pitched Little Free Libraries, a statewide contest engaging extension staff, volunteers and 4-H clubs to be creative in “investing” in their community with a Little Free Library and making books readily available. Christine Hradek pitched Growing Together Iowa, which aims to offer additional development opportunities such as Navigating Difference for Master Gardener volunteers working on healthy food access initiatives across the state. Lori Hayungs pitched Welcome Kits for life changes: Welcome to Iowa, Welcome to Parenting, Welcome to Retirement and Welcome to Your New Health Journey. Connie Beecher and Sara Nelson pitched Checkout Iowa Backpacks. A team of education faculty and students created engaging activity kits that include quality books that families can check out from the library.
  • Food Preservation 101 was held in the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 15. This program was co-taught by Holly Van Heel and Kelsey Salow, human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness. They estimate 40 people attended from various counties across Iowa, and many participants personally thanked them for the abundance of information and resources.
  • The World Food Prize events include a day called the Hunger Summit in which professionals and lay people come together to learn about current issues related to food security domestically and internationally. The day always includes a Hunger Luncheon where an organization fighting hunger (such as Meals from the Heartland or Meals on Wheels) is featured. This year the Hunger Luncheon will feature a meal prepared from “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” recipes to highlight resources for healthy eating on a budget. The Healthiest State Initiative recommended that “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” be featured at the luncheon. The summit is Oct. 14.

August 2019 Program Update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • Jill Weber, human sciences specialist in nutrition and wellness, has a successful community partnership in West Union (Fayette County). Public Health and Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital worked jointly to create a mobile community teaching kitchen. Funding from 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count helped to provide eight participant stations and one instructor station stocked with tools and equipment. Jill pilot tested classes from the Healthy and Homemade series and provided feedback on the mobile kitchen as the classes progressed. She worked with Master Gardeners on a May herb class and then it was on to jam and salsa workshops for youth and Food Preservation 101 during the county fair. In the fall, she will use the mobile teaching kitchen for a Stay Independent series in Oelwein. The community partners recognize Jill’s teaching abilities in delivering high quality programs, and she appreciates the opportunity to deliver programs in Fayette County using the new teaching kitchen.
  • Suzanne Bartholomae and the family finance team have created a successful partnership with the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS). Including funding, the partnership involves regional delivery of the Creating a Secure Retirement program to IPERS members. During FY20, the team will deliver the program 20 times, including 12 times at the IPERS headquarters in Des Moines by a combination of human sciences specialists in family finance, with Joyce Lash and Barb Wollan co-leading. The summer and autumn regional pilots have been set for Sioux City, Mason City, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa and Council Bluffs. In the next few months, focus groups will be conducted with IPERS members who attended the program in the past year. Late this year and/or early next year focus groups will be held to explore program opportunities with younger IPERS members.
  • Small Talk: Big Future is featured on the APLU Board on Human Sciences website. This program helps parents from many backgrounds to consistently provide enriching language interactions to their children, thus creating habits that may benefit their children for many years to come.

4-H Youth Development

  • Sara Nelson has been hired as the new 4-H STEM program specialist for the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. She will oversee STEM product development and STEM literacy outreach to enhance access to educational learning opportunities for all K-12 youth.
  • In 4-H, parents, extension staff and volunteers communicate and work together to meet each child’s specific needs. Two Washington County youth show what is possible with good communication and understanding prior to the county fair. See the video and news release to learn about Sophie’s and Blake’s stories.
  • 2019 looks to be a record-breaking year for Iowa State Fair 4-H Livestock entries. This year, 8,750 entries have been pre-entered by over 2,300 Iowa 4-H exhibitors. Growth is expected in the individual livestock areas of dairy and meat goat, dog and swine. Pre-entered dairy and meat goat entries have increased by nearly 40 each, dog entries are up 10 and swine numbers are 235 entries higher than previous years.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2018 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll shows Iowa farmers are seeing a steady shift in who is responsible for what happens on the land they farm. The poll showed an increase in farmers who agreed that conservation practices are their responsibility on land they rent as opposed to the land’s owner, although renters were hesitant to invest their own money on structural conservation practices in land they rent. The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll also examined perceptions of quality life and farm financial well-being, awareness of and participation in watershed management activities, and the use of precision agriculture practices.
  • A tool developed at Iowa State University to help farmers make decisions, including decisions about nitrogen applications, has expanded to cover Illinois and Indiana. The FACTS project was launched in 2015 in Iowa to provide yield and soil nitrogen predictions at a field scale. Weather data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, soil information from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and management information from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service and local experts all feed into a single program that quickly analyzes the information to offer meaningful agronomic information.
  • A preventive controls for animal food standardized course to serve employees and managers of facilities that are processing any type of animal food will be held in Ames, Aug. 13-15. The course is offered by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and will help facilities comply with new, good manufacturing practices and implement a written animal food safety plan.

Community and Economic Development

  • Steering committees are reviewing preliminary community design concepts and design teams are presenting final concepts to the public in this stage of the 2019 Community Visioning Program. During August, public presentations will be held in Audubon, Coggon, Durant, Walcott and Van Meter. On Aug. 28, the design team will present the feasibility report to the Durant steering committee.
  • Diane Wyngarden will be conducting Professional Guide Assessment and Certification sessions throughout August for the following organizations: the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Davenport, and the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau in Bettendorf. Diane, along with Himar Hernández, Jane Goeken, Abigail Gaffey, Steve Adams and Victor Oyervides, received a Herb Howell Creative and Innovative Program Grant to develop the curriculum.
  • Susan Erickson and Lisa Bates will be attending the 2019 Iowa Downtown Conference in Dubuque and providing an ISU Extension and Outreach CED presence as an exhibitor. The Downtown Conference is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

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.

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.

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