STEM Lit to Go!

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 21, 2017

The WOW Center in the Extension 4-H Building looked like a warehouse and assembly line a few weeks ago, as our 4-H staff were putting together the pieces for another research-based curriculum, one kit per county. About 2,000 pie tins, 10,000 brown paper bags and 1,200 foam pool noodles cut in half lengthwise, along with stacks of children’s books, cans of Play-Doh and many more interesting items, were being squeezed into 100 plastic tubs. 4-H and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach call it “STEM-Lit to Go!” The program supports the development of STEM and literacy skills for K-3 youth. Did you know?

  • This program integrates inquiry-based STEM activities and carefully selected children’s literature. Through roller coasters, inventions and other engaging topics, children explore key STEM concepts such as the engineering design process and conducting investigations.
  • In each lesson, youth try a hands-on STEM experience and then read, write, speak and listen about that experience.
  • The curriculum draws from resources published by the National Science Teachers Association and the International Literacy Association. It also supports the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core English Language Arts Standards.

ISU Extension and Outreach state and county staff piloted “STEM-Lit to Go!” at 11 sites across the state during the summer of 2017. During YouthFest in late October, staff from all 100 county offices picked up a copy of the curriculum and a tub of supplies. Now they’ll start training their Clover Kids leaders to facilitate “STEM-Lit to Go!” for Iowa 4-H Clover Kids groups, day camps and afterschool programs, and through partnerships with local school districts.

A couple more notes

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Take time to enjoy family and friends and truly be thankful for those things you hold dear.

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

True leaders

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 2, 2017

Happy National 4-H Week! This year the focus is on true leaders, grown by 4-H, who give back to move their community forward. Whether or not we were 4-H’ers ourselves, 4-H Week is the time of year that brings out the clover in all of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. We all can be proud that our 4-H Youth Development program continues to focus on the needs and strengths of youth, their families and communities. Today Iowa 4-H is addressing three growing concerns that impact Iowa’s young people. Did you know?

  • In many rural communities, highly skilled, creative, or well-educated people leave for better pay or conditions elsewhere. As rural communities lose younger Iowans, they also lose their skills and expertise, and see their overall populations decline. 4-H is working to reverse this “brain drain,” encouraging Iowa youth to remain in or return to their communities and use their skills to shape Iowa’s future.
  • 4-H is addressing achievement or opportunity gaps faced by youth with low income, youth of color and English language learners – so all Iowa youth can develop their capacity for academic success.
  • 4-H is building skills in Iowa youth to improve their college and career readiness. Youth are college and career ready when they have gained the knowledge and skills they need to enroll and succeed at postsecondary educational institutions or training programs.

Through our 4-H Youth Development programs we empower Iowa’s young people to reach their full potential and prepare them to be successful, contributing members of society. Sounds like we’re growing true leaders. (Want the numbers for your county? Download 4-H Data for Decision Makers.)

Congratulations to Award Recipients

Congratulations to the following extension professionals honored during Iowa State’s annual awards ceremony Sept. 25:

  • Donna Donald, field operations specialist, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach – Award for Distinguished Service in Extension
  • Russell Euken, beef and swine field specialist – R.K. Bliss Extension Award
  • Bailey Hanson, systems analyst, Community and Economic Development – Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice
  • Elizabeth Juchems, extension program specialist, agricultural and biosystems engineering – Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award
  • Tom Baas, professor of animal science – Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Jay Harmon, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and interim director for Agriculture and Natural Resources – Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Hongwei Xin, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, assistant dean for research, Iowa Egg Council Endowed Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, professor of animal science – International Service Award

A few more notes

  • National Manufacturing Day is Oct. 6. ISU Extension and Outreach is cooperating with CIRAS and a number of organizations to highlight manufacturing across Iowa on Friday and throughout the month. For example, Keokuk County is partnering with Axmear Fabricating in Thornburg to host tours of the facility. They have invited Indian Hills Career Academy’s machine and welding classes as well as the county’s FFA chapters.
  • If you happen to be in Ames Oct. 10, stop by the Brunnier Art Museum in the Scheman Building from 7-8:30 p.m. to celebrate Rose Frantzen and the 39 portraits included in the Faces of Iowa State exhibition. University Museums Director Lynette Pohlman will make brief remarks at 7:30. Light refreshments will be served.
  • I encourage our office professionals to register for the 2017 Office Professionals Conference. The registration deadline is close of business on Monday, Oct. 16. The conference is a great opportunity for professional development and networking with colleagues from across the state. If you have questions about the conference, contact Director of Professional Development Carol Heaverlo,

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

County events, offices and councils

John Lawrence’s Monday Message from April 24, 2017

One of the perks of this job I’ve noticed so far is an open invitation to county events. In the past week I attended Mahaska County’s 100th anniversary celebration dinner, Polk County’s 100th anniversary open house and Worth County’s open house at their new office. The hamburgers were great (Thanks, Mahaska County Cattlemen!), the rain didn’t put a damper on Polk’s party and Worth gave me my first official ribbon cutting (without the ribbon). I always enjoy meeting with our partners, staff and council members. At Annual Conference I asked you to invite me out, and I thank you for taking me up on it. Linda Brinkmeyer makes sure everything fits on my dance card, so keep those invitations coming.

Over my 25 years with ISU Extension and Outreach I have visited many of the county offices for meetings and discussions with producers. My wife and I also visited each office over a three year period and have a picture with our motorcycle in front of each ISU Extension and Outreach XXXXXXX County sign.

Never forget that our county extension councils enable us to do great things. Did you know?

  • Iowa has had elected county extension councils since the 1955 County Agricultural Extension Law.
  • The Iowa Extension Council Association helps our councils have a greater impact and voice for issues being addressed by local and state government.
  • The Extension Council Training Academy offers individual and group training to increase council members’ knowledge and effectiveness.
  • Through the Engaged Scholarship Funding Program, county extension councils are investing in new research with Iowa State. For example, the Calhoun County Extension Council is partnering on a project to test how a virtual singing group intervention could be replicated across the state to help Iowans with Parkinson’s disease.

This year Bob Dodds and Cathann Kress started videotaping “Conversations with Council Members.” Bob and I plan to continue these quarterly updates for council members on new products, announcements and upcoming events. With the continuing partnership of our county extension councils, together we can achieve what we all want: a strong Iowa.

Congratulations to our Extension and Outreach colleagues on receiving University Awards.

  • Donna Donald, Human Sciences: ISU Award for Distinguished Service in Extension
  • Russ Euken, ANR: ISU R.K. Bliss Extension Award
  • Bailey Hanson, CED: ISU Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice

Be sure to congratulate them on their recognition and contribution to what makes our organization great.

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

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