Extension signs of summer

John Lawrence’s message from June 3, 2019

For some people, the end of the K-12 school year and turning the calendar to June are the true signs that summer is finally here. But in ISU Extension and Outreach, we have our own signs of summer: field days, summer camps, college students working in county offices, and fairs. Did you know?

  • Many field days and workshops are already scheduled 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. Iowa Learning Farms also hosts a variety of field days. Most events are free and open to the public.
  • Young entrepreneurs will be camping in Woodbury County, and crime spy scientists will be at work in Van Buren County. Chickasaw County youth will experience outdoor survival camping, but youth in Guthrie County will be wandering the watershed. On any summer day, any number of ISU Extension and Outreach summer camps are engaging young Iowans across the state. To learn more about the camps near you, check the county websites for details.
  • Last year, 164 college students (from Iowa State as well as other colleges and universities) served as summer assistants in our county offices, and additional students served as extension assistants on campus. This year’s count isn’t completed yet, but I’ll wager that a similar number of students will be serving ISU Extension and Outreach in summer 2019. These student assistants play a vital extension role as they help with 4-H programs, county fairs, farmers markets, and other educational programs and events. We appreciate their hard work and we are glad to mentor them along their career path.
  • Fair season is just around the corner. The earliest county fairs are Butler and Worth beginning June 19 and the latest one is Clay, finishing Sept. 15. The third week of July is the peak of fair season, with 40 county fairs sharing July 20. They would not be as successful without the partnership of county fair boards, extension councils and FFA chapters. Fairs are an important celebration of our rural heritage, a culmination of a lot of work for 4-H and FFA youth, and a lot of fun. Enjoy!

These extension signs of summer help us engage Iowans with university research and resources as we work to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

  • Presentation recordings and feedback surveys are available from the 4-H Youth Development program leader interviews. If you want to provide feedback on any or all of the candidates, complete the appropriate surveys by close of business, June 4.
  • Our final three counties will celebrate their 100-year anniversaries this summer: Jefferson County, June 13; Page County, July 23; and Dallas County, Aug. 10. Since 2012, these 100-year anniversaries have brought Iowans together to celebrate our 99 county campus and land-grant mission. We all can be proud of our heritage as we look toward our shared future, working together with the people of our state to build a strong Iowa.

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

Fairs, festivals, events and a plan

John Lawrence’s message from July 9, 2018

They really know how to make pancakes in Johnson County. I had a few samples Sunday morning during Johnson County’s 100-year anniversary event. Today I’m in the office for a teleconference and a one-on-one meeting. On Tuesday I’m back on the road for centennials in Winneshiek and Delaware counties. My July includes 17 county centennials, at last count, and I hope to visit a few additional fairs along the way. (I also want to thank my leadership team colleagues who are covering other centennials that I can’t get to.) Luckily, I have an online schedule and excellent staff to help me keep track of where I’m supposed to be at any given time.

However, it takes a lot more than luck to carry out all these county extension centennials, as well as county fairs, festivals and community events across the state. “We’ve always done it this way” had to start somewhere. Call it art or call it science, managing fairs, festivals and events can be a huge task for local organizers. Fortunately, ISU Extension and Outreach has a resource that can help. Did you know?

  • You can share our “Event Management Training Toolkit for Managers of Rural Iowa Fairs, Festivals, and Events” with your clients. The 15-page toolkit is available for free download from the Extension Store. It provides resources for solving some of the more challenging aspects of managing events, such as crises and controversies, security, cross-promotional activities, media relations and regulations.
  • Eric Olson and Lakshman Rajagopal, from Iowa State’s Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management, created the toolkit supported by the Heddelson Junior Faculty Grant. This fund was established to ensure that new human sciences faculty are exposed to and incorporated into ISU Extension and Outreach projects in Iowa counties.
  • The toolkit is based on results from a survey of 212 Iowa managers examining the challenges in planning and managing events. Read about the research behind the toolkit in the Journal of Extension.

Festivals, fairs and events have a great economic impact in Iowa communities. In addition, when people work together to carry out these events, they are developing their community identity and increasing social capital, which helps to build a strong Iowa.

More notes

  • Make sure to review the July program update from the leadership team.
  • Our Disaster Recovery website includes information on dealing with flooding, as well as severe weather, fire and drought.
  • The Internal Communications Task Force met again July 2 and the executive summary from the meeting is posted on Cybox.

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

All in a day’s work

John Lawrence’s message from Dec. 4, 2017

An “unplanned” electrical outage left the Extension 4-H Building and a few other places on the north side of campus in the dark for a few hours one morning last week. Yet our extension folks persevered, until their computer batteries started getting low on juice and the WIFI went down as well. Then they packed up and headed for other parts of campus or home that had electricity and internet access and got back to business. Because dealing with changes in technology, of any kind, is all part of a day’s work for extension personnel.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that the university soon will roll out a new application to help protect our data. Keeping our data safe is all in a day’s work for our tech people. Did you know?

  • This new application, called Okta, will provide “single sign-on,” which means you will log in once to access all your work-related web applications – Office 365, Cybox, Qualtrics, Access Plus, etc.
  • Okta provides multi-factor authentication. This is stronger protection than your password alone. To log in to Okta, you will type in your Net-ID and password. You also will verify your identity using a second method, such as an application on your cell phone or a code sent via text message.
  • Multi-factor authentication relies on something you know (your password) and something you have (application, text message code, etc.). If your credentials (your Net-ID and password) were to be stolen, the thieves still would not have access to your data, because they would not have your phone or the text-message code.
  • The university plans to implement Okta early in 2018. Extension IT will keep us posted as we get closer to the implementation date.

We also have a responsibility to keep our data safe, and a best practice is to change our NET-ID passwords every six months. (I just changed mine on my computer and phone.) Follow the instructions from Extension IT or call the Computer Support Hotline at 515-294-1725. For regular IT updates, visit the Extension IT website and subscribe to Tech News.

A couple more notes

  • The Partnership Agreement (formerly known as the MOU) template/checklist to facilitate discussions among ISU Extension and Outreach, fair boards, and school boards locally is nearing completion. A brief video from the three state partners, the editable template and supporting materials soon will be available online. Check my update on Monday, Dec. 11, for details.
  • About that power outage – Facilities Planning and Management blamed it on a failed cable. The Extension 4-H Building was back online by noon.

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

Everybody’s job

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 25, 2017

Say what you’ll do, do what you say and prove it with numbers. That’s a basic premise of quality management, and it is top of mind as we strive to maintain and improve the quality of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It’s everybody’s job, in every part of our organization, to create and share the value and impact of our work. So we’re taking action to get better at sharing our story. Did you know?

  • Our updated ISU Extension and Outreach strategic plan will be ready sometime this fall.
  • A steering committee is working on developing one reporting system for our entire organization.
  • We’re developing resources for public value training.

Learn more in this video message about our strategic plan, our reporting system and our public value.

still image from John Lawrence video

County Stakeholder Reports

Each fall we ask county offices to create county stakeholder reports highlighting programs with significant local impact. These reports are a good way to help citizens, stakeholders and decision makers understand how we connect the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources. Our goal is to have all the 2017 reports completed by Jan. 1, 2018, before the start of the next legislative session. In the meantime, you can review the 2016 county stakeholder reports online.

Need Input on County Fair MOU template

A couple of weeks ago I shared that a committee representing ISU Extension and Outreach, county fairs and FFA is drafting a template/checklist to help local leaders develop their own county fair MOU. We’re sharing one video message with the three groups at the same time about the process underway and we’re asking everyone for input on what the template/checklist should include. If you have input for the committee, please contact one of these ISU Extension and Outreach representatives before Nov. 1:

  • Bryan Whaley, Region 2 Director, bwhaley@iastate.edu, 515-341-6967
  • Joe Sellers, Beef Field Specialist, sellers@iastate.edu, 641-774-2016
  • Nancy Adrian, Washington County Extension Director, nadrian@iastate.edu, 319-653-4811
  • Mandy Maher, Fremont County Program Coordinator, mmaher@iastate.edu, 712-374-2351
  • Annette Brown, 4-H Youth Program Specialist, annbrown@iastate.edu, 515-432-3882
  • Bob Dodds, Assistant VP, County Services, redodds@iastate.edu, 515-294-0013
  • John Lawrence, Interim VP for Extension and Outreach, jdlaw@iastate.edu, 515-294-6675

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

More than butts in the chairs

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 12, 2017

Two sure signs of fall: the leaves start turning … and the manure starts churning. For many in Iowa agriculture, manure hauling waits until harvest is completed. However, for custom applicators the work often starts as soon as an individual field is harvested. There is a lot of manure to apply and a relatively short time to apply it – between harvest and frozen ground. (Liquid manure typically is injected beneath the soil surface.) Our Dan Andersen, @DrManure, estimates that approximately 17 percent of Iowa’s cropland receives manure; that’s about 3.8 million acres. (Dan is an agricultural engineering extension specialist and assistant professor at Iowa State.)

R.K. Bliss noted that Bulletin Extension Agronomy No. 1, published in 1907, addressed the value of manure, how to prevent losses, and economical preservation and application. Today, 110 years later, we still educate on those topics, plus worker safety and water quality. (Watch “Utilizing Manure Value.”) The cornerstone of Iowa manure education is the Manure Applicator Certification program approved by the Iowa Legislature in 1998, directed by Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and developed and delivered by ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know?

  • Each year we train approximately 550 Iowa commercial businesses and their 2,000+ employees. An additional 30 businesses and 120 employees from surrounding states are trained to operate in Iowa.
  • We educate approximately 2,800 confinement site applicators, farmers who apply manure from their facilities.
  • Many applicators attend one of 60+ scheduled meetings across the state and others watch the presentation on a DVD at their county extension offices. Thanks to our county staff for making the training available and convenient.

However, the MAC program is more than regulations and economics, and it is more than butts in the chairs. Improper manure handling can have deadly consequences, and the MAC program helps farmers learn how to protect themselves, their employees, their livestock and the environment. For example, a Plymouth County farmer was working with her husband to agitate a pit, and when she saw pigs behaving strangely, she knew how to respond. She immediately ran out of the building and lowered the curtains to bring in fresh air. Some of the pigs did not survive, yet Sue is alive because she knew the signs of pit gas poisoning – something she learned from ag engineering specialist Kris Kohl during an ISU Extension and Outreach training session. Watch the video to hear Kris tell the story.

County Fair Memorandum of Understanding

County fairs require many people working together to be successful. With turnover on fair boards, within FFA programs, and in our county offices, good communication and documentation are essential. So last spring Bob Dodds and I started talking with the Association of Iowa Fairs and Iowa FFA to improve and formalize the agreements among our three organizations at the local level. A committee with members from all three organizations is developing a template (or you could call it a checklist) to facilitate local discussions. Watch this video for an overview of our process. We’d appreciate your input over the next few weeks. The committee will meet again by mid-November to consider the feedback and complete the template/checklist by early December. Counties then can use it to review their existing MOU or draft a new one.

A couple more notes:

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.