John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 21, 2020
When the skies are gloomy and the snow is blowing, or any other time you need something to brighten your day, read a 2019 county stakeholder report or two – or go on a binge and read a bunch of them. You will learn a lot about the good work our extension colleagues are doing throughout the state. For example, did you know?
- Residents of Mondamin, in Harrison County, have been participating in Marketing Hometown America. They are exploring their community’s potential to attract families looking for a place to live. Town aesthetics was one topic they wanted to pursue. Community art specialist Jennifer Drinkwater provided examples of how art has changed buildings in communities throughout Iowa. The group also continues to work with our community and economic development specialists and Southwest Iowa Planning Council on housing.
- Hancock County reached 1,016 youth with 57 workshops from October 2018 through August 2019. Some workshops introduce a possible career path, while others provide opportunities to learn a new technique in a project area and complete a static exhibit for the fair. Many workshops provide opportunities for youth to enhance their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
- Once a month at the Dubuque County office, local food producers from the area get together to network, share ideas and learn about each other’s farm businesses. Each month a different producer shares information about their business, how they got started, and how they market their product. This insight has given producers a real-world look at other farm businesses in the area, fostered connections among farmers producing a variety of local foods, and led to new marketing and business ideas.
- The Wayne County Extension District sponsors the county’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which provides free tax preparation for individuals with low incomes. In 2019, seven volunteers assisted 200 clients. Federal refunds totaled $290,717, including over $111,000 in Earned Income Credit. The state refunds reached $50,313, including approximately $16,000 of Iowa Earned Income Credit. Two thirds of the returns were for families and one third of the clients were 60 years of age or older.
Thank you to everyone who contributes to county stakeholder reports. Sharing our extension stories helps people know how we are working in each county and throughout the state to build a strong Iowa.
Goodbye … and welcome
In December, we said goodbye to Felicia Marable-Williams, extension program specialist II, Human Sciences/EFNEP, who left ISU Extension and Outreach. We welcome the following new staff:
- Kimberly Axne, Humboldt County office manager.
- Amy Benge, Dickinson County office assistant.
- You can review the Jan. 13 Second Monday Live archived webinar. The session focused on the Human Sciences Overview and Program Catalog, the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment and the 2020 Census. The next Second Monday Live is Feb. 10, 10 a.m., at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/.
- Three counties have committed to becoming single-county regions under Model 2 of Structured for Success. On Jan. 14, vacancy announcements were posted for Dallas, Polk and Story County regional directors. The application deadline is Jan. 22.
- Epsilon Sigma Phi Friend of Extension award nominations are due by midnight Feb. 3. For more information contact Vera Stokes, ESP awards committee chair, email@example.com.
- Feb. 4 is the application deadline for Excellence in Extension grants. For more information, contact Alison DePenning, Professional Development program coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach
Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team
Community and Economic Development
- The Shop Healthy Iowa program continues at two Latino grocery stores in Sioux City. Jill Sokness is the local coordinator, partnering with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Jill trains store owners on such things as reading nutrition labels, best placement of fresh produce and store layout changes to encourage the purchase of healthy items. The stores will receive Shop Healthy marketing materials and new produce displays, and Jill will help store owners create “Healthy Zones” within the stores where customers will more easily be able to find healthy options. ISU Extension and Outreach’s local “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” team will provide food demonstrations at each store. The goal is to increase the consumption of healthy foods by community members and sales for the locally owned businesses.
- Lisa Bates and Jon Wolseth will conduct research and informational interviews with Chamber of Commerce executives in Tama and Denison to assess needs of their organizations to address retail environments and conditions in their communities.
- Becky Luers is facilitating Ricochet leadership workshops for middle school students in Des Moines County’s summer school program. Ricochet uses adventure and experience to bring about learning. The students are gaining skills that will prepare them for leadership roles, while they have fun and get involved in a real project in their community.
- Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is increasing service to families who are immigrants or refugees, and is hiring staff who bring their own personal immigration experiences to their work. New staff members with “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” include Grisel Chavez, an educator in Marshall County, who speaks Spanish and English. She is originally from Mexico. Suzanne Tanner, a new educator in Scott County, speaks German, French and English. She immigrated to the U.S. in 2008. Her skills in French will be valuable as we engage more families from Africa.
- Staff members are learning an updated “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy.” curriculum reflecting feedback from educators, updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans and improved physical activity education. With this updated curriculum comes a change in policy that will allow educators to serve income eligible families with children up to age 18. Previously eligibility was restricted to those with children age 10 and under.
- Guidance and discipline continues to be the most popular search topic on the Science of Parenting blog, which includes blog posts, podcasts and webinars. So the SoP work team developed a “Stop, Breathe, Talk” campaign to market and promote the site. A magnetic clip and message cards are being used with “parenting through divorce” participants in northwest Iowa, giving them a chance to think about discipline differently.
4-H Youth Development
- Iowa 4-H has completed the C6 BioFarm iPad Game and supporting curriculum in partnership with CenUSA BioEnergy. Players manage a farm and make decisions through a triple-bottom line perspective — economic, environmental and social. The curriculum is standards-based for STEM and agriculture and was developed in consultation with Iowa State faculty and staff. More than 3,000 youth already have been reached, and evaluation data show a gain in understanding in the carbon-based economy and the role agriculture can play in switching from old carbon (fossil fuels) to new carbon (bio-based). The project was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant from NIFA.
- Iowa 4-H, in partnership with the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, prepares curricula and kits for use by 4-H county programs. For example, Iowa youth may participate in Iowa 4-H Solar Eclipse Day Camp Aug. 21 throughout the state. 4-H will use the solar eclipse phenomenon to reach youth with STEM, since many schools will not yet be in session.
- Story County 4-H Team Neutrino competed at the North Star FIRST Robotics Competition in Minneapolis in April. After 80 qualification matches, the team was ranked second, and finished in elimination matches as semifinalists, but received an even bigger reward — the Chairman’s Award, which qualified them for the World Championships in St. Louis.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Nearly 500 people participated in the sixth annual Iowa Swine Day June 29. A cross section of Iowa and Midwest pork producers, feed company representatives, genetics suppliers, equipment companies, pharmaceutical companies and others participate each year. This year’s topics included the future of the pork industry, science of meat production, commodity trends and food security. Iowa Swine Day is planned and hosted by the Iowa Pork Industry Center with support from ISU Extension and Outreach, ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, ISU Department of Animal Science and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
- The 72nd annual Ag Credit School, jointly organized by ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Bankers Association, concluded on June 16. A two-week program conducted over two years, the school hones the professional skills of agricultural lenders and credit managers in Iowa and surrounding states. ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialists and campus staff teach the curriculum, which combines agricultural case studies, reviews of agricultural production and financial decisions, and computer simulations of farm-level marketing and finance. More than 100 professionals attended this year.
- The third Iowa Watershed Academy training event was May 9-10 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory. On day one, 25 watershed coordinators developed messages to effectively communicate with farmers, the media and stakeholders to increase public engagement with watershed projects. On day two, 25 commodity group field representatives, NRCS field staff, consultants and engineers joined the discussion to focus on scaling up edge-of-field practice implementation. Classroom sessions included drainage water management, wetlands, bioreactors and funding sources. Hands-on field training was conducted on saturated buffer siting, field data collection, construction and checkout. Participants noted that being in the field was helpful in understanding the process to determine where an edge-of-field practice should be placed.
- The Iowa Corn Promotion Board elections in Crop Reporting Districts 1, 3, 6 and 9 will be held in ISU Extension and Outreach county offices. Producers in 48 counties will have the opportunity to vote on Tuesday, July 18, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- A draft of the county office safety assessment has been completed and submitted to LMC (insurance carrier) and the County Services risk management committee for review. Safety assessments will take place in all 100 county offices and will be part of the accreditation program.
- Rising Star interns are working in five extension regions this summer. The internship program is a partnership with the colleges of Design, Human Sciences and CALS; the office of the Vice President for Extension and Outreach; and 22 county extension districts. The interns are exploring local foods and projects to promote main street development in small rural communities.