August 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • Fifty Iowa 4-H members have been awarded 2020 state 4-H project area awards following the statewide recognition process, held virtually this year. Each was granted a $100 award from Glen and Mary Jo Mente of Ames and the Iowa 4-H Foundation.
  • Nearly 6,000 livestock entries are pre-entered for this year’s State Fair Special Edition: 4-H Livestock Shows to be held in August. Overall, entries in many species are 80% of 2019 numbers, signaling strong participation.
  • Two virtual STEM opportunities will be held August 16 and 17. The first will highlight InventSTEM sponsored by Alliant Energy. The second will highlight the WISE/FLEx program and the collaboration with Iowa 4-H and NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium.
  • Forty Iowa youth are beginning their new terms as State 4-H Council members. These young leaders will serve as ambassadors for 4-H Youth Development throughout the state and in their counties. State 4-H Council members are responsible for organizing and implementing the annual Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. They also serve at the Iowa State Fair and other Iowa 4-H events, visit counties to encourage other 4-H’ers to get involved with state and national 4-H opportunities, and coordinate, promote, and oversee the 4-H’ers for 4-H fundraising campaign.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • With large portions of Iowa experiencing some form of drought, a series of drought meetings is being planned for both in-person and online participation. ANR is partnering with USDA and IDALS to offer a webinar series that will be held on Thursdays. (It began on July 30.) The series will answer key questions regarding development of drought and impacts on row crops and forages. A series of in-person meetings will be held across the state during the first week of August. Producers will have an opportunity to bring five corn stalk samples for a quick nitrate assessment conducted on site.
  • A new workshop series for winemakers will be held in August, to provide information to producers regarding the cleanliness of their working environment, winery, and cellar, and the proper and practical use of sulfur dioxide as a preservative. The webinars are made possible by the Midwest Grape and Wine Institute at Iowa State.
  • Master Gardener training is held every fall. This fall will be no exception, but the method of delivery will be a bit different. All Master Gardener training classes will be held online, providing the same information in a new virtual format.

Community and Economic Development

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Visioning Program has adapted what had been exclusively in-person meetings to a hybrid format. In August, the steering committees for Mingo and Wellsburg have virtual planning meetings scheduled. In lieu of in-person design workshops, which are open to the public, visioning program staff created installations showing proposed designs to be placed throughout the communities to allow residents to see and comment on projects without attending large gatherings. These “Walk-by Design Workshops” have been installed in several communities. In August, an installation will be in place in Reinbeck.
  • The Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) is a tool that helps communities self-assess their housing needs and guides them in the decision-making process when addressing those needs. It guides communities in considering options that ensure existing and potential residents are able to 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 the needs and desires of a community. CED specialists have developed a way to deliver the program virtually. CED specialists will be conducting RHRA workshop 3 (action planning) for Ida Grove and RHRA workshop 1 (education) for Creston and Manning.
  • Virtual sessions of Leading Communities continue in August with three sessions for Sac County. Sac County is the third of three counties to complete the program virtually.

Human Sciences

  • Since March 2020, David Brown, behavioral health state specialist, and Dawn Dunnegan and Danielle Day, human sciences specialists in family life, offered the Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) program virtually 28 times with 473 participants. Participants learned how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. The program was primarily directed toward the agribusiness community, however, many human service professionals, extension staff, and other professionals also attended. Attendees represented 12 states and Canada.
  • The Nutrition and Wellness team converted the Healthy and Homemade education offering to quickinars (short video lessons) to share via websites and social media. The videos focus on strategies for using one’s time, money, and skills to save money and prepare nutritious and safe foods. The quickinar series reached 264 viewers throughout Iowa as well as 12 other states. In addition, nutrition and wellness specialists developed new technological skills by creating the quickinar videos.
  • A team of family life specialists is offering six series of Telehealth Powerful Tools for Caregivers throughout the upcoming fiscal year. The course helps family/unpaid caregivers learn communication techniques, set goals, and problem solve as well as reduce stress, guilt, and anger. Caregivers of adults with chronic conditions can participate in the six-week series with classes starting in August, October, January, February, and May. An October series is planned for caregivers of children with special health and behavioral needs. Additional face-to-face series may be scheduled.
  • Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other took place at Farm Bill meetings held November 2019-February 2020. Three-month follow-up results show very little change from immediate results. Percentages indicate those participants who either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement (N=379):
    — (84%) I am now able to recognize the risk factors and warning signs that someone is distressed or potentially suicidal.
    — (79%) I am now more willing to engage with someone who is distressed or potentially suicidal.
    — (73%) I am now better able to communicate with someone who is distressed or potentially suicidal and ask the tough question, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
    — (86%) I am now more aware of the resources available should I choose to engage with someone who is distressed or potentially suicidal.

July 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • The Food Preservation 101 work team is providing this educational opportunity online seven times, May through September. Renee Sweers, Holly Van Heel, Jill Weber, and Kelsey Salow are the educators providing the classes, which are offered statewide. An update from the June 18 online Food Preservation 101 indicates 150 participants registered, with 61 in attendance. The participants were from 27 counties and six other states. Ninety-two percent of participants indicated they were likely or very likely to preserve food at home after having taken the class.
  • Nine virtual block team meetings were held in June. Donna Donald facilitated the meetings: the first hour involved conversation with the field specialists; county staff and regional directors were invited to join the second hour. Topics discussed included changes, new service area and team of specialists, 70-20-10 programming guidelines, curriculum review process, use of Conference Planning and Management, late summer/fall programming, online and face-to-face offerings, and Community Chat.
  • Due to the high participation in the April and May “Question. Persuade. Refer.” online classes, five additional sessions were held in June. The 19 earlier sessions saw 421 people register and 341 participate. David Brown, Danielle Day, and Dawn Dunnegan are the delivery team.
  • The EFNEP and SNAP-Ed staff continue to have success teaching virtually: 115 people have participated in a total of 380 online sessions so far. In addition, Christine Hradek’s team hosted three ISU dietetics interns June 1-12 through completely virtual engagement. The interns helped lead a virtual training for staff.

4-H Youth Development

  • The Iowa State Fairgrounds will host a Fair Special Edition: Iowa 4-H and FFA Livestock Show this summer, following the postponement of the 2020 Iowa State Fair. The revised schedule for 4-H livestock shows will be spread out over three weeks and held Thursday through Saturday – Aug. 6-8, 13-15, and 20-22. Information for 4-H families and youth exhibitors can be found on the Iowa State Fair 4-H Livestock page.
  • A special exhibition, 4-H Show Iowa, will provide state level recognition to partially replace the loss of learning opportunities due to the postponement of this year’s Iowa State Fair. Included in these virtual celebrations are 4-H Exhibits, Communication Events, and the Awardrobe Clothing Selection. Counties will be encouraged to select exhibits for this special exhibition in a similar manner to how they normally select exhibits and participants for the Iowa State Fair. Volunteer judges will evaluate all exhibits and events. A public showcase of all entries will be made available using the photos of entries and summary information. The public exhibition will be released during the originally planned Iowa State Fair dates, Aug. 13-23.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Five Beef Quality Assurance training programs will be held in northwest Iowa in July and August for beef producers. Major packers still require Beef Quality Assurance certificates and the five trainings will help meet that need. Specific information about dates, times and locations, as well as information about registration and COVID-19-related precautions is available.
  • Iowa’s commercial horticulture industry contributes $48 million to the state’s economy each year and provides fresh fruits and vegetables to Iowa consumers. Recognizing the value of this segment of agriculture, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds designated June 22-26 as Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week. The governor’s proclamation included the request that local Iowa fruit and vegetable producers receive support and recognition for their achievements by celebrating this week across Iowa. Producers can learn more about specialty crop production by watching the Iowa Vegetable Production and Management videos produced by ISU Extension and Outreach, or by visiting the Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development program.
  • The Iowa Dairy Goat Farm Survey (Fall 2019), compiled by ISU Extension and Outreach dairy specialists Jenn Bentley and Leo Timms, is available on the ISU Extension Store and dives deep into opportunities and challenges faced by the dairy goat industry. The survey examines topics such as milk production and composition, housing and milking facilities, dairy farm management, and planning for the future.

Community and Economic Development

  • The Community Visioning Program resumed in a virtual format in May and has been gradually transitioning to on-site meetings, following the university’s social distancing and safety guidelines. The following communities will be conducting programming objectives meetings in July: Madrid, Mingo, Elkader, Fairfax, and Polk City. Additional meetings will be scheduled as the month progresses.
  • The 45th annual Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy will take place virtually July 20–31. 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 in the International Institute of Municipal Clerks as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association certification program.
  • Goal Setting is the latest CED programming to be offered virtually. The first workshop, COVID-19 Transition and Recovery, was presented June 30 and July 7 for organizations in Palo Alto County. Sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach Palo Alto County, this collaborative and interactive virtual workshop focused on local economic development and the impacts of COVID-19 transition and recovery. This two-session workshop was offered county-wide for local and county government leaders, economic development organizations, and business and nonprofit partners. Participants received a framework to consider past accomplishments, current issues and trends, on-going commitments, and new or emerging priorities and initiatives.

May 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Kristen Bieret, Shelby County office assistant.
  • Nancy Henry, Story County office assistant.
  • Thomas Miller, field specialist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Nancy Paris, administrative specialist II, Extension Administration (retirement).

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Sara Baumgartner, Delaware County K-12 youth education coordinator.
  • Trey Beckman, Linn County nutrition educator.
  • Alexis Bodzioch, Winnebago County youth coordinator.
  • Joclyn Bushman, Buchanan County youth coordinator.
  • Landon Calderwood, West Pottawattamie County youth outreach coordinator.
  • Grace Davidson, Jefferson County youth coordinator.
  • Lydia Dingeman, Marion County education coordinator.
  • Melissa Hall, Wright County program coordinator.
  • Maya Rowe, Cerro Gordo County youth program assistant.
  • Julie Schultz, Union County CACFP coordinator.
  • Kara Vance, Buchanan County program assistant.
  • Amey Kollar, field specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

June 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Visioning Program canceled the focus-group workshops in five communities. In May, program meetings resumed in a virtual format, and program staff are currently working to develop meeting and design workshop protocols that follow ISU’s guidelines for reopening. In June, the following virtual meetings will take place: review of assessment meetings in Mingo, Fairfax, and Polk City; goal setting meetings in Elkader and Wellsburg; and a transportation meeting in Fairfax.
  • CED specialists have developed a way to deliver the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment program virtually, and Abbie Gaffey, Eric Christianson, Omar Padilla, and Jon Wolseth will conduct Workshop 1 for Ida Grove in June.
  • During June CED and FFED specialists will be interviewing food businesses in central and eastern Iowa for the AgMRC research project, Food Processing and Independent Grocers: Assessing Current Supply Chain.

Human Sciences

  • EFNEP and SNAP-Ed staff have partnered with three Iowa food banks to distribute educational information and resources with food boxes. The Food Bank for Siouxland (Northwest Iowa), Food Bank for the Heartland (Southwest Iowa), and Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (Eastern Iowa) have all distributed recipes, “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” resources, and more. (The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website has had 27,000 users – an increase of 9% – since March 15.) DMARC in Des Moines has distributed promotional materials for virtual lessons. Some have also distributed the new Finding Answers Now publication and promotional pieces for the Family Finance consultation opportunities. In addition to these food bank partnerships, some local pantry partnerships are happening as well.
  • Don’t Let Surprises Spoil Your Retirement” is currently available for viewing in Learn@ISU. During this Council Seminar Series Event in May, Barb Wollan, human sciences specialist in family finance, discussed costs employees will experience in retirement related to issues their employer takes care of while they are working, what current low inflation rates may mean, and more.
  • During May, the ISU Well-being team hosted a Well-being Wednesday Conversation. Each week information is shared on staying well and connecting with other ISU employees during these challenging times. Cindy Fletcher and Suzanne Bartholomae, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, presented “Finding Resources to Navigate Your Personal Finances” on May 13.
  • Parenting during COVID-19, a valuable new webinar series designed especially for parents, was available for the ISU community during May. During the May 8 webinar, the Science of Parenting team of Lori Hayungs, Mackenzie Johnson, Mackenzie DeJong, and Barb Dunn Swanson presented the “The Science of Parenting: Balancing Research and Reality.” The team shared how current research on parenting – plus a dose of reality – can help parents find their own parenting success. They also talked about resources available through the Science of Parenting website and using the “Stop. Breathe. Talk.” technique in challenging moments.

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. Gardening to Give is a six-month, immersive learning experience in gardening with educational resources shared weekly with registered participants. Participants received the first weekly lesson on May 15 and will receive a new lesson each Friday for 25 weeks. Current registrations include 97 households with 237 individuals, 49 counties with registrants, and one family from Minnesota. Registrations can continue throughout the entire 25-week program. Fun challenges, volunteer opportunities, and tracking efforts also will be included.
  • The Iowa 4-H At Home Learning webpage has received approximately 13,000 views since it launched in March. The page provides online educational opportunities for youth created by Iowa 4-H professionals.
  • 4-H State Council member registration has moved to 4HOnline beginning with the incoming 2020-21 group. This will help to streamline and simplify the registration process for members and their parent/guardian by eliminating mailing, papers, scanning, storing file folders, etc. The advisory team will host a Zoom onboarding session with the new State Council in June.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Despite another difficult year in agriculture, cash rental rates still posted an increase of about 1.4%, according to the Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2020 Survey. Rates across the state averaged $222 per acre, compared to $219 per acre in 2019. Survey author Alejandro Plastina cautioned that most cash rents for 2020 were determined by September 2019, and that the current challenges of 2020 such as economic losses from coronavirus, delays in the Phase 1 trade deal with China, and decreased demand for biofuels were not included in the survey.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses from large to small, and there are many questions surrounding what business owners and entrepreneurs should do as the state begins to re-open. To help answer some of these questions, a new series of podcasts and webinars called Back to Business Iowa have been created by the Community and Economic Development program and the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program with ISU Extension and Outreach, in partnership with the Iowa Small Business Development Centers.
  • Dairy producers across Iowa have a new way of receiving information, thanks to a podcast launched by dairy specialists with ISU Extension and Outreach. Dairy News and Views began recording in April and features timely topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic and dairy production in general. Podcasts are recorded every two weeks and are available through the Dairy Team website.

April 2020 goodbye … and welcome

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

  • Janet Beranek, Floyd County office assistant.
  • Julie Christensen, Allamakee County office coordinator.
  • Shirley Grimm, Muscatine County office manager.
  • Tammy James, Union County CACFP program coordinator.
  • Krista Regennitter, Muscatine County director.
  • Kristin Olsen, extension program specialist III, Iowa Pork Industry Center.
  • Terry Maloy, program coordinator III, County Services Support (retirement).

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Katrina McCarty, Muscatine County youth coordinator.
  • Brittany Moore, Jackson County youth coordinator.
  • Lauren Nerad, Muscatine County office assistant.
  • Elizabeth Siepker, Winneshiek County K-12 program coordinator.
  • Lauren Carter, graphic designer I, Advancement.
  • Marsha Peterson, budget analyst IV, Human Sciences.
  • Rachel Sweeney, program coordinator I, 4-H Youth Development.
  • Peggy Lockhart, extension program specialist I, Human Sciences.

May 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Two new video series are helping gardeners grow their skills, along with fresh produce. The Sow, Grow, Eat, and Keep series will be produced weekly and packages information about the garden, food preparation or food preservation. The series is a combined effort of ANR and Human Sciences, involving horticulture specialists and nutrition and wellness specialists. The Gardening While Isolated series is shown weekly on the ISU Extension and Outreach Facebook page and is produced by ISU Extension and Outreach horticulture specialists.
  • Safe mushroom foraging workshops are being offered online for anyone interested in learning more about identifying and foraging local mushrooms. The first workshop was May 5; the second will be held in the fall. Participants in this virtual workshop will discuss proper identification traits, foraging safety, distinguishing between edible and non-edible varieties, and best harvesting practices including how to avoid any potential post-harvest contamination.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact agricultural markets and supply chains, ISU Extension and Outreach has resources that can help farmers manage their finances. A full listing of resources can be found through ISU Extension and Outreach, and includes farm financial associates, Ag Decision Maker, and members of the farm management 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. 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 creating a local housing policy that is appropriate for the needs and desires of a community. CED specialists have developed a way to deliver the program virtually, and Abbie Gaffey will conduct Workshop 1 for Ida Grove on May 20. Workshop 1 will be conducted for Keokuk sometime in May as well.
  • Goal setting, strategic planning, and facilitation are more important than ever for nonprofits and local governments. CED has moved this type of programming to a virtual format. Kam Middlebrooks and Himar Hernández will facilitate an online goal-setting session with CoSI (Community in Support of Immigrants) in Grinnell sometime in May.
  • More CED virtual offerings: CED local government specialists created a virtual version of the Introduction to Planning and Zoning for local officials and offered the training in late April and early May. CED specialists will deliver Leading Communities virtually for Mount Pleasant (Henry County) and for Centerville (Appanoose County) in May. CED specialists will present a virtual version of Grant Writing 101 for Madison County on May 21. A session for Linn County and a statewide workshop also are planned.

Human Sciences

  • Iowa Department of Public Health reached out to AnswerLine’s Beth Marrs and asked for suggestions on reaching Latino communities in Iowa to share information regarding COVID-19. In response, Dr. Kim Greder, family life state specialist, asked several extension program specialists to share with IDPH what they know is happening in specific Latino populations. This sharing will help IDPH build a plan to reach these populations.
  • Virtual education has begun for SNAP-Ed and EFNEP educators. So far, 15 lessons have been delivered to date to individuals as well as co-residing groups. Staff are using phone calls and video chat to deliver lessons.
  • The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team has mobilized a response to the concerns COVID-19 has raised for families, including:
    — Two Facebook Live events per week (one individual exercise opportunity on Wednesdays at noon and a family activity every Friday at 10 a.m.).
    — A cooking or food prep video every Monday.
    — Building a library of video content to release over social media in the coming weeks. Videos include simple recipes, kitchen organization/management ideas, cooking with youth, and tours of the website.
    — A revised blog schedule. Bloggers are highlighting skills that are useful during this time through personal blogs about their own meal planning and cooking.

4-H Youth Development

  • The Iowa 4-H At Home Learning webpage offers online educational opportunities for youth created by Iowa 4-H professionals. The webpage has received approximately 8,500 views over the past month.
  • Registration is open for the 2020 Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition on July 30 for youth in grades 7-12. An in-person competition is planned. If state guidelines do not allow in-person meetings by July 30, it will be an interactive distance competition. The planning team is creating a list of strategies for how youth teams can study and engage with materials over the summer while practicing appropriate social distancing.
  • A new online STEAM academy has been created through a partnership between Iowa 4-H and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. Each week a new STEAM challenge for youth in grades 4-12 is released online. These challenges also showcase a tie to NASA work and STEM professions.

April 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • A collection of online educational resources for K-12 youth audiences is available on the 4-H At Home Learning Resources webpage. These engaging educational resources from the local, state and national 4-H program are available for all youth and their families to further explore project area learning virtually. 4-H Youth Development also will provide new educational content online on a focused topic of learning each week to further engage youth. In addition, many county 4-H programs are providing interactive, online learning opportunities for youth.
  • In March, 125 youth participated in State 4-H Recognition Day interviews. The interviews were conducted using video teleconferencing as a result of social distancing recommendations from Iowa State University due to COVID-19. State 4-H Recognition is the process in which 4-H members in grades 9-12 can apply to be selected for special statewide opportunities such as State 4-H Project Awards, State 4-H Council, Shooting Sports Ambassadors and Iowa 4-H Reporters, and to attend National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Conference. 4-H youth complete written applications and participate in interviews with a panel of adult evaluators. The event was made possible with the support of 150 adult volunteers from across Iowa who reviewed and scored 4-H award applications, as well as interviewed the youth participants virtually using one or more new technology platforms.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Linn and Marshall County Master Gardeners received Search for Excellence honors for their commitment to food and nutrition for their local communities. Master Gardener volunteers from both counties worked to educate and empower adults and youth to grow and consume fresh healthy produce in 2019. Learn more about the projects in both counties.
  • The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has waived the deadline for pesticide applicators to meet recertification requirements. The waiver allows Iowa pesticide applicators who were certified as of Dec. 31, 2019, to retain their status through Dec. 31, 2020, and temporarily allows commercial certified pesticide applicators to continue to operate under a current company license without having to immediately submit proof of training or testing. Learn more about the pesticide applicator training requirements.
  • With field days and in-person gatherings currently canceled, Iowa Learning Farms is supplementing its regular monthly webinar series with additional webinars each Wednesday. These additional webinars will allow timely education on issues related to water, soil, wildlife and other conservation topics. ILF webinars can be found here: www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

Community and Economic Development

The CED office closed on March 17 and will remain closed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Community development specialists on campus and in the field are working from home and providing assistance to clients by phone, email and virtually when possible. Meanwhile, CED staff are exploring options to deliver programming virtually.

  • The 2020 Community Visioning Program canceled the transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops in five communities. Visioning program staff will use data collected through a mailed transportation survey to assess transportation in these five communities. ISU program staff and Trees Forever field coordinators will be discussing options for delivering the program remotely in April and May. ISU program staff also will meet virtually with landscape architects contracted to provide services in visioning communities to explore options for providing design services remotely.
  • The Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshops have been canceled and CED local government specialists are exploring options to offer the training virtually.
  • Certified Professional Guide Training workshops that were scheduled in three Iowa locations have been canceled.
  • CED and the Iowa League of Cities will deliver Part III of the Municipal Leadership Academy scheduled for April and May 2020 using a virtual format.

Human Sciences

Human Sciences response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes:

  • Human Sciences is updating the Finding Answers Now webpage to reflect the current situation.
  • Iowa Concern Hotline has increased staffing and trained three human sciences specialists in family life to answer 2-1-1 calls related to COVID-19
  • Iowa has been approved to deliver the 90-minute Powerful Tools for Caregivers program online. Malisa Rader, human sciences specialist in family life, has been asked by the national organization to assist in providing virtual training for class leaders across the nation.
  • Iowa has received approval from program owners to shift the existing Question. Persuade. Refer. program (suicide prevention training) to online delivery.

March 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences + Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Twenty-nine projects involving 30 counties across Iowa will receive Growing Together Mini-Grants through ISU Extension and Outreach’s SNAP-Education. This is the fifth year mini-grant funds have been made available to Master Gardener volunteers, resulting in more than 300,000 pounds of produce being donated in communities across the state. The projects are focused on increasing food security and promoting healthy food access. See the full list of projects awarded.

More Human Sciences

  • During federal fiscal year 2019, Kids in the Kitchen had the following reach and results:
    – Served 1,194 youth in EFNEP-funded counties (Black Hawk, Boone and Polk). This is the highest youth reach since implementation began.
    – 69% of K-2-age children improved knowledge in choosing foods consistent with Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
    – 90% of children in grades 3-5 improved knowledge in choosing foods consistent with Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • David Brown, behavioral health state specialist, provided farm stress related programs recently at the Iowa Farmers Union Annual Conference, the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Winter Meetings, the Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference, and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Conference.
  • Christine Hradek, program manager, and Nicole Leidal, Family Nutrition Program assistant, presented at Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Grand Rounds in January. They highlighted ISU Extension and Outreach nutrition education programs and the opportunities to partner with physicians to support positive patient outcomes when lifestyle changes are indicated.

More Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Team created a new toolkit to help small farmers and specialty crop producers better track their marketing costs. The Market-Based Enterprise Budgets Toolkit contains sample marketing budgets for 10 crops or enterprises and allows producers to enter and track their numbers. Currently vegetable, flower and herb transplants; asparagus; high tunnel mixed greens, greenhouse basil; greenhouse butterhead; high tunnel tomato; green beans; sweet pepper; scallions and carrots are available as downloadable Excel workbooks, which allows producers to enter and track their numbers.
  • ANR specialists are making an impact through social media, which continues to be an influential platform for the agricultural industry as a whole and here in Iowa. Many Iowans are looking for a fast, easy way to collect and share information with others in their industry and community. ANR extension specialists and teams have showed up and people have noticed. Overall, the 121 ANR accounts have 91,932 followers, collectively, on these platforms: Twitter, 63,207; Facebook, 19,481; Instagram, 4,067; YouTube/Vimeo, 4,480; and Pinterest, 697.

4-H Youth Development

  • Current Enrollment in the 2020 4-H Camera Corps is 174 youth representing 68 counties. Iowa 4-H sent eight youth participants to the National 4-H Photography Summit in late February. 4-H youth are invited to participate in the Professional Photographers of Iowa Winter Convention on March 29 in Cedar Rapids. Youth attendees will learn about college and career opportunities in photography as well as participate in workshops on competitions, tradeshows, lighting, action photography and posing for senior and wedding/couple photography.
  • Ten Healthy Living teen ambassadors and five adult chaperones recently returned from the National 4-H Youth Summit on Healthy Living. During the experience, youth leaders engage with other youth and adult partners from across the country, take in the latest information and resources regarding healthy living curriculum and youth led initiatives, and leave with an impactful experience and motivation to lead initiatives back at home to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for local communities. The Iowa youth are developing a project to address the issue of vaping; raising awareness and providing education to help teens and families make healthier decisions.

Community and Economic Development

  • In March the 2020 Community Visioning Program is conducting transportation assets and barriers workshops in Elkader, Lost Nation, Avoca, Bedford and Treynor. Bioregional assessment meetings will take place in Fairfax and Wellsburg.
  • Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshops introduce 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 March workshops will be conducted in Iowa City, Clear Lake, Sioux City, Ankeny and Okoboji.
  • Certified Professional Guide Training was created by CED staff and volunteers who lead guided programs at Iowa’s cities and tourism attractions, including museums, nature areas, agritourism and historic sites. The one-day workshop features methods and techniques for creating and delivering dynamic guided programs, with a focus on adult visitors. The next workshop takes place March 25 at Honey Creek Resort near Moravia.
  • During March Leading Communities programs will take place in Mount Pleasant, Chickasaw County, and Sac County.
  • CED specialist Kameron Middlebrooks will be in Des Moines for Master Business Bootcamp graduation, overseeing the graduation of 18 participants from the spring 2020 cohort in partnership with the Evelyn K. Davis Center and the Financial Empowerment Network. Master Business Bootcamp is a six-week course that reinforces essential skills necessary to own, manage, grow and operate small businesses. The free program targets minority populations with low-to-moderate income; however, it is open to any small-business owners.

February 2020 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2020 Community Visioning Program will be conducting a series of transportation assets and barriers focus-group workshops in February. These workshops are part of the assessment process that the program conducts in client communities to provide local decision makers a framework within which to make informed choices. Transportation assets and barriers workshops will be conducted in Mingo, Mount Pleasant, Wellsburg and Polk City. CED specialists Aimee Viniard-Weideman, Eric Christianson and Scott Timm will assist in facilitating the focus groups. Trees Forever field coordinators will also be presenting bioregional assessments prepared by ISU program staff to steering committees in Avoca, Madrid, Reinbeck and Lost Nation.
  • In February, CED specialists will be facilitating the Business Model Canvas in Ames and Mount Pleasant. Business Model Canvas Is a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.
  • Also in February, CED specialists will be facilitating Leading Communities in Appanoose County, Cresco, and Chickasaw County. This Leading Communities program is made possible in part by a Vice President for Extension and Outreach initiative.

Human Sciences

  • During federal FY 2019, the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app was installed on 6,200 new mobile devices. The website had 148,374 users, an increase of 30,000 users over federal FY 2018. The vast majority of users access the website in English. However, 906 utilized the live translation feature, with 525 accessing it in Portuguese, 128 in French and 253 in Spanish. Fifty-two percent of users now access the site via a mobile device. According to a user survey in September 2019, 49% of users access the site or app weekly or daily. When asked about behavior changes made with the help of Spend Smart. Eat Smart., users reported they cook healthy recipes, eat more fruits and vegetables, and try new foods.
  • During 2019, human sciences specialists in family finance, usually with support from county extension offices, provided direct leadership in 11 counties in recruiting, training and supporting volunteer tax preparers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program of the Internal Revenue Service. In many communities additional local partner organizations also support VITA efforts. Modest funding, provided through the Iowa Center for Economic Success, covers cost of equipment, supplies, training, outreach, coordination, volunteer appreciation and travel reimbursement for volunteers and staff. Extension staff recruit and support additional volunteers and partners who assist with scheduling appointments and tax clinic operation.
    — In the 2018-19 tax season, 37 volunteers prepared 1,163 tax returns for households with low and moderate incomes at 13 sites in the 11 counties.
    — The programs assisted 68 additional households that did not need to file or for some other reason elected not to complete returns.
    — Approximately 265 of these households were eligible for the Earned Income Credit.
    — Tax refunds claimed through extension-supported VITA sites totaled nearly $1.7 million.
    — The VITA program saved the participants about $175,000 in tax preparation fees (estimated at $150 per return).
    — A new site in Waterloo served immigrants in the community and included immigrants as volunteer preparers.

4-H Youth Development

  • 4-H is revising the 12 seasonal Clover Kids lessons that were piloted during the past year and is developing the second set of 12 seasonal agendas. These 24 lessons will make up the next K-3 curriculum, STEAM’n through the Seasons. This innovative K-3 program will include engaging, hands-on experiences that incorporate STEM, literacy and the arts. In addition, 14 Clover Kids teams are kicking off the Wonder League Robotics season. Through a series of story-based missions, the team members develop problem-solving, growth mindset and creativity skills while learning to code the robot duo, Dash and Dot. This year, Wonder League has partnered with the Cartoon Network show, Craig of the Creek, to develop five theme-based missions that take Dash and Dot on adventures through the wilderness. At the end of the season, Iowa 4-H will host a Clover Kids (K-3) Wonder League Robotics expo on the Iowa State campus. The tentative date is Saturday, April 25.
  • In January Maya Hayslett led a team of 10 teens and four other adults at the 2020 4-H National Summit on Agri-science in Washington, D.C. The team participated in a variety of workshops and presentations about agriculture. Hayslett presented a session on the new set of Crops Feed the World lessons. Youth participants also were able to visit Smithsonian Museums and national monuments.
  • 4-H is revising the 10-year-old Ricochet curriculum. Updates include activities, photos, accessibility, the website and more. The team has seven facilitator trainings scheduled for 2020 for staff to either get a refresher in Ricochet facilitation or learn how to use it for the first time. The Ricochet revision process is scheduled to be complete by mid-February.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Jay Harmon was named the director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and associate dean for extension and outreach programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State on Jan. 1. Harmon, a professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension livestock housing specialist, has served as interim since April 2017 and has been a member of Iowa State’s faculty since 1993.
  • The 64th annual Iowa State University Shade Tree Short Course will be held Feb. 25-27 in Ames and will focus on both using and reusing trees with a purpose. General information sessions, workshops covering specific topics and a trade show are all included, with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists joining experts from across the country in providing instruction. Registration is available online. Private pesticide applicator certification is also available during the course.
  • The Iowa State University Master Gardener program winter webcasts in county extension offices around the state begin in February. Topics for the series were chosen based on current issues and Master Gardener volunteer interest and include Iowa weather, bringing kids to the garden, and exploring the Ada Hayden Herbarium. More information is available on the Master Gardener website.

Sharing our Crop Advantage

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 13, 2020

With up-to-date scientific knowledge from Iowa State, Iowa’s crop producers will be prepared to manage potential issues when they arise or even before they arise. That’s the goal that drives our annual Crop Advantage meetings. Every January, Agriculture and Natural Resources extension specialists travel to locations across the state to share updated management options and recommendations on current and future crop production issues. Did you know?

  • The 2020 meetings began Jan. 3 and conclude Jan. 30. Content at each of the 14 sessions is driven by county needs and local production issues.
  • Farmers and crop advisers who participate gain a solid foundation of current, research-based crop production information to help them make smart, informed decisions for their farming operations.
  • Last year more than 2,000 people, representing all 99 Iowa counties and surrounding states, attended Crop Advantage meetings. Eighty-four percent of participants said information they gained would likely save them between $5 and $20 per acre.

This year’s agenda includes the market outlook for 2020, weather and climate trends, grain drying and storage, emerging insect pests such as soybean gall midge, nitrogen management, tar spot and other corn and soybean disease issues, and fertilizer application technology. In addition, Certified Crop Advisers can receive continuing education credits and pesticide applicators can recertify.

More notes

  • Please review the January program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • The 2018-2019 4-H Statewide Data for Decision Makers and 4-H Data for Decision Makers by county reports are available for your use. These resources for 4-H data are helpful for grant opportunities, discussions with partners and county plans of work for local 4-H programs.
  • On Jan. 1, ISU Extension and Outreach entered a three-year memorandum of understanding with the ISU Alumni Association. The goal is to more fully support each other’s programs. We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase alumni engagement with extension programs, councils and county offices.
  • Remember to submit your 2019 stakeholder reports. We are publishing the reports on the County Services website as they are received. You can use your county stakeholder report throughout the year to build awareness of programs, demonstrate impact and outcomes, and show return on investment. Thank you to everyone who contributes to these reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in your county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.
  • Join Cyndi Wiley, Iowa State’s digital accessibility coordinator, for Making Social Media Posts Accessible, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. Connect online. This is the first in a new digital accessibility webinar series. The series will continue February through May on the last Tuesday of the month, 10-11 a.m.
  • Learn about the 2020 Census during a webinar Tuesday, Feb. 11 at noon. Community and Economic Development will share information about how the Census is conducted, what it means for communities and how county offices may be able to assist local officials. Watch for more information in the coming weeks.

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

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