From Ackley to Zwingle

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 8, 2018

If you travel in Iowa for any length of time or distance, you’ll notice that many places offer one-stop-shopping for donuts, pizza and gasoline, and whatever else you may need when you’re on the road. ISU Extension and Outreach applies this convenience store concept to data, but does it one better: all the merchandise is free. I’m talking about the Indicators Portal from our Community and Economic Development program. The portal provides one-stop access to reliable, current data on all things Iowa. Did you know?

  • Originally funded as a Vice President for Extension and Outreach Strategic Initiative in 2013, the Indicators Portal is designed to be useful for local and regional decision-making. This tool makes it easy and convenient for all of us to find, use and visualize information.
  • The portal team recently released City Data for Decision Makers reports for all of Iowa’s 945 cities. From Ackley to Zwingle, the reports show population trends, demographics and socioeconomic indicators such as income, poverty, employment, housing characteristics and health insurance coverage.
  • The Indicators Portal also provides access to Data for Decision Makers reports by county, Iowa Senate district, Iowa House district, and ISU Extension and Outreach region, as well as reports of youth and 4-H program data.

Visit the portal and look around. You’ll likely find what you need and a lot more.

A few more notes

  • Excellence in Extension offers grant opportunities for all ISU Extension and Outreach staff (county, state, faculty, P&S, merit and hourly) to improve and enrich the quality of our programs. The application deadline is Feb. 1.
  • It’s time to acknowledge our Friends of Extension for their efforts on our behalf. Submit award nominations by close of business Feb. 2 to (select “Other recognition, Friends of Extension” from the drop-down menu). Then our Epsilon Sigma Phi/Alpha Mu Chapter awards committee will review the nominations and submit our state winner to national. For more information, contact Jerry Chizek,
  • Nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are due at noon, Feb. 9. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms.

One more thing: I want to take a moment to remember Greg Wallace, who died in an in-home accident in late December. Greg led our social media initiative for ISU Extension and Outreach as part of the Advancement team. Our Facebook, Twitter and other online presence has grown exponentially in recent years and is one of the largest digital footprints of any extension program in the nation. Greg alone wasn’t responsible for all of this growth, but he played a key role in helping guide others and in managing and monitoring the posts and tweets that carried our brand. We all have benefited from his work, and we are richer for having known him. Rest in peace, Greg.

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

Our Rising Stars

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 28, 2017

2017 Rising Star interns

Iowa State students returned to campus last week to begin the fall semester – including 15 who now have a better understanding of ISU Extension and Outreach than they did a few months ago. These students, our 2017 Rising Star Interns, spent their summer learning about local food systems, exploring Iowa communities and considering careers as extension professionals.

I first met the interns in the spring. Over dinner at the Gateway, we talked about the exciting work they planned to do. I also had a chance to meet up with a few of the teams this summer as I was out touring the state. A few weeks ago, they all presented their final projects to the extension leadership team, their college deans and regional directors. Did you know?

  • The Rising Stars in Region 1, Leah Brooke, Ruby Hotchkiss and Madison Lapke, developed “Grow! Know! Whoa!” This program for children covered three aspects of local food: how to grow it, the health benefits and how to prepare it.
  • Region 3 interns Erin McDonald, Josephina Matteson and Rui Xie developed strategic plans for Ackley and Latimer, a master plan for the Worth County fairground, a strategic implementation plan for the historic Winifred Hotel, and a strategic plan for educating and serving local foods producers in the region.
  • The interns in Region 5, Emily Bormann, Madison Hemer and Izzy Worrall, focused on serving people “from ages 6 to 80.” They made connections and built relationships with community members through youth programming, food demonstrations and special events.
  • Region 7 interns Rachel Ulven, Shana Hilgerson and Yuanhao “Rory” Wang evaluated Rising Star media platforms, developed intergenerational activities to promote local foods, and promoted Spanish language inclusion at farmers markets.
  • In Region 20, interns Kaitlin Brake, Breanna Burnett-Larkins and Thomata Doe introduced children to new fruits and vegetables during summer lunch programs and rated the effectiveness of visual merchandising and branding on farmers markets. They also worked to increase awareness of local foods as a whole, as well as the role Eat Fresh Southeast Iowa plays in promoting local growers.

From what I can tell, the interns had a fun and rewarding experience this summer. They all deserve our thanks for a job well done. At least a few of them are thinking seriously about a career in ISU Extension and Outreach. Keep that in mind the next time you’re hiring, and encourage them to apply.

One more thing: County fair season is almost over (hang in there, Guthrie and Clay), and it’s time to report county 4-H data. We need to fulfill our state and federal reporting requirements, as well as make our data available to extension councils and the public through Data for 4-H Decision Makers. And we need your help. State 4-H Leader John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas says fewer than half of our county 4-H programs have entered their data, and half of those have entered only partial data. The Oct. 1 deadline will be here soon, so let’s pick up the pace and get that data entered. It’s important for your county, for 4-H, and for all of ISU Extension and Outreach.

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

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