John Lawrence’s message from April 6, 2020
When we implement Structured for Success July 1, it will be a new beginning. To continue the preparation, Andrea Nelson met with our county and regional directors in late March. The event was called Building Value and Building Trust. A committee of county and regional directors has been meeting and discussing that topic since last fall. I want to thank RaeAnn Gordan, Adriane Carlson, Carter Oliver, Rich Wrage, Cindy Gannon, Sherry Ford, Donovan Olson and Katharinna Bain for working with Andrea for all of us and for our system.
My wife often accuses me of selective hearing, but I heard three important messages in Andrea’s opening comments about building value and trust. Did you know?
- First, County Services is a large unit, with 900 council members, 484 county staff, 19 regional directors and two accountants. It accounts for 40% of the nearly 1,200 faculty and staff who are part of ISU Extension and Outreach.
- Second, the success of the County Services unit and, for that matter, our entire organization, depends on the success of all our people.
- And, third, we have to stop creating silos. Whether part of County Services or the rest of our organization who create content and support operations, we are all on the same team.
Each of us plays a different position, but we all wear the same jersey: ISU Extension and Outreach. Let’s pull together as a team to make our transition successful. Look upon this new beginning as a chance to refresh existing relationships with teammates and look for new ways to grow as individuals and as an organization. (And if your “jersey” is a bit worn, you can order new extension apparel from http://www.ISUExtApparel.com. You also can access the site through My Extension. The new site is not part of the Extension Store.)
I am extremely proud of our team. We have a legacy of service to Iowans, not just during a crisis, but every day. We provide research-based information, we are embedded in the communities and we are here for the long haul. We will help Iowans solve today’s problems and prepare for a thriving future.
Defining our success
How we define success varies across the span of our careers and as our accomplishments accumulate. In this video from Annual Conference some of our colleagues share their perspectives on success and how it is defined.
- A recording of Our Virtual Annual Conference and several of the resources are available from MyExtension.
- President Wintersteen’s April 3 COVID-19 update discusses planning for reduced campus operations and impact on frontline staff.
- The Rising Star Internship program for summer 2020 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will announce plans for the summer 2021 program this fall.
- Please review the April program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
- Our next Second Monday Live is 10 a.m., April 13 at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/. David Brown, behavioral health state specialist, will discuss managing stress and mental health – because working remotely can be stressful. The isolation, lack of work/home boundaries, and simple anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can impact our wellness. This short program will review tips and tools to manage stress and help improve our wellbeing in a remote working environment.
- The archive of the April 1 county benefits webinar is available: https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/pc8iszgj6i71/.
- The county website transition committee has announced the first three counties to transition to the new website platform. You’ll understand why they won the contest when you watch the videos from Shelby County (first), Dallas County (second) and Linn County (third). We’d like to thank all the counties who entered the contest, and we look forward to seeing all the new county websites.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach
John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 17, 2020
In ISU Extension and Outreach, it’s everybody’s job to create and share the value and impact of our work. This job will get easier and more accurate as we roll out MyData. This centralized system soon will become the way we collect and report information about our programs, educational contacts, partnerships, client relationships and outcomes. Did you know?
- In September 2017 a steering committee began developing one reporting system for our organization. After considering many options, the committee decided the best approach was to create our own system with Salesforce.
- In April 2019 MyData was ready for pilot testing. Folks in Carroll, Franklin, Monroe, Muscatine and Polk counties and on campus have been not only “kicking the tires” of MyData, but also trying to crash it. They are helping us build a stronger system, so if you have the opportunity, thank them for their efforts. The pilot ends in June.
- From October 2020 through September 2021, we’ll do online and face-to-face training and rollout to our organization. Program directors will set the timelines for their staff and faculty to participate, and Andrea Nelson, assistant vice president for county services, will set the timelines for counties. (Timelines will be staggered to accommodate various annual schedules for professional development.) Please continue using your current reporting system until you are added to the rollout.
- Then in October 2021 all staff and faculty with programmatic evaluation and reporting responsibility will use MyData for reporting inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts.
- MyData will be our official reporting system for internal and external reports. Beginning with annual performance reviews in spring 2022, if it isn’t in MyData, it didn’t happen.
Stay informed about MyData so you will be ready for training and rollout to your program area, county or unit. (You can review my comments about MyData from the Feb. 10 Second Monday Live archive.) We collect, handle and report data to tell our story, so our data must be accurate to tell our story well. We must be accountable – to the university, the statehouse, our federal partners and our clients and stakeholders in every county.
In other news, county offices have until March 18 to enter a contest to be the first county to transition to the new Drupal 8 county website platform. The winner will be announced at Annual Conference, April 1. With this upgrade, our websites will help us better serve our clients. Did you know?
- The new county websites will be accessible from the ground up. They will be tested prior to going live to ensure they meet all accessibility standards.
- A new search feature allows for both county site only and extension-wide searches. (You can try out this feature on the Extension IT site.)
- Due to the implementation of MyData, there will not be a new extension calendar at this time. However, a new staff directory will feed staff profiles into websites, meaning each staff member will have only one profile to maintain.
We’ll have more updates on the county website transition in the coming weeks.
- Goodbye … and welcome, January 2020: Please review this list of individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach in the past month, as well as those who have joined our organization.
- The Feb 10 Second Monday Live archive is available. The session covered the Master Conservationist program and MyData.
- IECA and 4-H Legislative Day is Feb. 19 in Des Moines. Extension council members and senior 4-H members will meet with legislators and hear from the governor, tour the World Food Prize building, network and participate in educational activities.
- Join Cyndi Wiley, Iowa State’s digital accessibility coordinator, for The Art of Creating Effective Alt Text, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. Connect online. The recording from the January webinar is available on MyExtension.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach
John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 16, 2017
Many people often think of Iowa as rural, and agriculture with its related processing and manufacturing is the economic foundation for much of the state. However, our citizens live in communities, large and small, highly structured and unincorporated, and operate differently than a family or farm when it comes to governance, finance, enforcement and a vision for the future. Across Iowa, some communities are prospering while others are struggling, but all are dealing with the challenge of change.
Our ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development faculty and staff work to identify critical issues facing communities in our state and determine how best to address them for greater impact. Their combined efforts have resulted in a new team approach to community and economic development efforts. Did you know?
- CED now focuses on five critical issues: housing, demographics, local economies, built environment, and civic engagement and leadership capacity.
- CED faculty and staff are organized into six knowledge teams based on their expertise: art and design applications; civic engagement and leadership; data and technology; local economies; local governments and nonprofits; and promoting equity, inclusion and respect in communities.
- CED knowledge teams include both campus and field-based specialists across the state. They are all responsible for statewide programming. However, each person serves as a point of contact for regional and county directors to help them link to CED people and programs.
CED teams address client-identified needs and opportunities, and foster creative and robust local decision-making. The goal is to build capacity in Iowans – so they can sustain their communities and make them better places to live, work and play.
County website update
Our current web content management software, Drupal 6, is no longer being updated, making it unsecure and unreliable. That is why Extension Information Technology is beginning to develop a new framework for county websites in Drupal 8. EIT will be building the new framework to improve accessibility, responsiveness and brand management, and to make adding content easier. Content editors and county offices can share feedback with the transition team by responding to surveys between October and December. Information about the surveys and links to complete them will arrive in your email soon. As the project moves forward, the transition team will provide status reports on MyExtension (login with your Net-ID and password to view). If you have questions about the project, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple more notes
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Interim Vice President for Extension and Outreach