A new council year

John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 7, 2018

This month our 100 county extension councils are organizing for a new year of providing access to ISU Extension and Outreach education and resources through our 99 county campus. When they get together for their first meeting, they will make motions and take actions to ensure they have fulfilled the requirements of Iowa’s extension law. Did you know?

  • Councils will adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, elect officers, appoint standing committees, adopt new personnel and fiscal policies, and set fiscal procedures.
  • They also will accept their county’s list of approved volunteers, and establish meeting dates and times in accordance with Iowa’s Open Meeting Law.
  • After they complete their organizational work, they’ll continue with regular council business, approving monthly financial transactions, and beginning work on the 2020 fiscal budget for the district.
  • They also will review and update the calendar of educational programs.

Five hundred Iowans were elected to their county extension councils in 2018. They, along with 400 returning council members, bring their understanding of local issues to important decisions about extension educational opportunities in their counties. We wish them well as they organize and establish important working relationships to operate effectively throughout the year.

Moving Forward. Together.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach annual conference is Feb. 28. We’ll start the day in Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building, reflecting on what we heard during listening sessions with 62 different audiences over the past year. I know, that adds up to a lot of conversations for reflection. Remember, these sessions were just the first step in our overall needs assessment process. Coming together Feb. 28 is an opportunity to share and discuss what we heard and learned, and continue to keep everyone involved in the process. Later in the day, we’ll recognize our length of service and award recipients, before heading to the Sukup End Zone at Jack Trice Stadium for a reception, a message from Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, and dinner followed by a keynote address from President Wendy Wintersteen. Take a few minutes to check out the agenda and register.

More notes

  • ISU P&S and Merit staff will receive a survey Jan. 9 about their interest in applying for a position in the Improved Service Delivery (ISD) model. Those on campus who have HR or Finance responsibilities should be familiar with ISD, the Job Showcase and the interest survey. (Those of you off campus may not be aware of ISD.) Those working in HR and Finance are encouraged to complete the survey. If you are not currently working in HR or Finance, but have some skills or education in those areas and would like to be considered for one of these positions on campus in the new ISD model, you are welcome and encouraged to complete the survey. If you have questions about ISD or the survey, please let me know.
  • Changes in IRS mileage reimbursement rates took effect Jan. 1. The default rate now is 29 cents/mile for ISU travelers who use a personal vehicle when a vehicle is available from Transportation Services. The 2019 full IRS rate is increasing to 58 cents/mile, which applies to travelers who are permanently based off-campus, and also to certain travel situations. For more information, contact John Flickinger, Extension Finance Office, jeflick@iastate.edu.
  • Office Clean Up Day is Jan. 10. It’s important to take time to create a safe and efficient office environment – from public spaces to individual desks and computer files.

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

WOW: Our building, councils, awards and EIE grants

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 5, 2018

It’s always a good idea to remember your anniversary. So I want to make sure you’re all aware that Nov. 8 is the 15th anniversary of the Extension 4-H Building, home of the WOW Center. Did you know?

  • WOW stands for “Why Opportunity Works.” The WOW Center was designed as an interactive area to interest youth in STEM and other fields in higher education.
  • In the WOW Center you’ll find two additions to Iowa State’s Art on Campus program: terrazzo floors by artists Carolyn Braaksma and Brad Kaspari, and a bronze casting of Christian Petersen’s “4-H Calf.” (Depending on the day, you also might find a “STEM Lit to Go!” or other 4-H materials assembly line or a meeting, workshop or other activity taking place.)
  • ISU Extension and Outreach broke ground for the building on June 27, 2002. 4-H youth, ISU and extension administrators, and representatives from the Iowa 4-H Foundation and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation participated.
  • The building was completely funded by $4.7 million in private contributions from individuals, businesses and organizations. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation provided $1 million to help build the new facility. Pioneer Hi-Bred International also contributed to the project.
  • When the building was dedicated Nov. 8, 2003, it was heralded as a gateway to Iowa State University and a welcoming place for Iowa youth and their families.

Also remember to thank our extension council members, who “wow” us with their support for ISU Extension and Outreach every day. They bring their understanding of local issues to important decisions about extension educational opportunities. They must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars as they bring significant programs to their county to help people solve critical issues affecting their lives.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Iowa voters in every county have the opportunity to elect five members to their county council. Depending on the county, candidates on this year’s ballot include Iowans who are running for the first time as well as incumbents seeking another term. Beginning in December, we’ll be providing orientation training for these new and returning council members.

Here are two more “wows” to acknowledge the great work you all do.

  • It’s time to submit nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms. The awards nomination deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. The deadline is earlier this year because our annual conference is Feb. 28, earlier than in previous years. The awards will be presented during annual conference. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible, as are volunteers and extension councils.
  • Apply now for Excellence in Extension grants to improve and enrich the quality of ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible. Up to $17,000 will be awarded in 2019 for professional development and continuing education, program innovation and program improvement. Individual grant information and application instructions are online. The grants submissions deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. If you have questions about the grants or application, contact Alison Boelman, aboelman@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • The Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, and ISU Extension and Outreach will award three $80,000 grants ($40,000 per year for two years) to eligible ISU Extension and Outreach county offices to participate in “PROSPERing Step-by-Step, State-by-State” (P2S). The primary goal of the P2S project is to address opioid misuse in rural counties through the delivery of programs that are evidence-based or reviewed and endorsed by the National Extension Opioid Crisis Response Workgroup. The funding is provided for an educator’s time on the project and to implement required activities. Nov. 30 is the deadline for completing a P2S Readiness/Capacity Assessment form, an initial step in the county grant selection process. For more information about this opportunity check the website, http://helpingkidsprosper.org/p2s.
  • Check the November program update from the leadership team.
  • Structured for Success – Please provide the committee your input through Structured for Success Survey 1 on two important questions: 1) What are the essential functions for ISU Extension and Outreach to successfully educate and serve Iowans and 2) What questions would you ask of other states to better understand how their extension system is organized. You may also leave other feedback for the committee through this anonymous survey. If you have an extension colleague in another state and would like to help us collect information on how that state is organized, please let me know.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Nov. 13 and 14 at the Mills County office in Malvern. Registration is open.
  • Please do not have clients send soil samples to the Soil and Plant Analysis Lab in Agronomy. The lab is closed and no longer is processing samples. Discussions are underway about modernizing and reopening the lab, but if and when it happens will be well into the future. Check with your field agronomist or horticulture specialists for the name and addresses of private labs that will process soil samples.

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

And the nominees are …

John Lawrence’s message from May 15, 2018

In ISU Extension and Outreach, we believe in people and their right to make their own decisions, and we believe that education is the key to helping people help themselves. Some of us believe these things because we are extension professionals; however, our county extension council members are believers too. 2018 is an extension council election year, so we are looking for a few more people in every county who are willing to commit to these beliefs.

Each county extension district will elect five council members in November, and each person will serve a four-year term. If a council has appointed someone to complete the unexpired term of a council member, then that position also will be up for election this year. Did you know?

  • As required by Iowa law, each council will be appointing a nominating committee. These folks will be seeking candidates who have the talent, skills and energy to help determine how ISU Extension and Outreach can make a difference in their county.
  • Potential candidates should reflect their county’s population. They shouldn’t all be from the same town, and they should have diverse backgrounds and interests. That way they’ll be better able to connect Iowa State resources with everyone in the county, including under-represented groups and organizations.
  • Whenever possible, committees should nominate enough candidates to ensure that voters have a choice, which this year means nominating five or more candidates.

All of us can help these county nominating committees find good candidates. Think about people you know and work with in your communities. What could they bring to the table as county extension council members? Show them this new video, direct them to this webpage with more information and encourage them to contact their county extension office.

More notes

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

County budget time

John Lawrence’s message from Feb. 5, 2018

Rumor has it that knowledgeable groundhogs saw their shadows on Friday. So that must mean there are six more weeks until county budgets are due. Each year at about this time all 100 of our county agricultural extension districts are working to complete their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. They have to meet requirements for salaries, travel, rent, office supplies, programming and other educational services. Did you know?

  • Counties begin preparing their budgets in the fall as early as October, but more often in November or December. Initial budgets are prepared using our universal extension accounting system, Microsoft GP.
  • Eventually, detailed budgets are rolled into summary form and must be entered into the Iowa Department of Management’s web-based system, typically in December. The IDOM site provides transparency so the public can easily view their county’s budget plan and tax request.
  • At their January organizational meeting, each county extension council approves the new fiscal year’s budget, directs publishing in the newspaper and sets the date for a public hearing, usually in February or early March.
  • When approved, the budget is marked approved in the IDOM website and filed with the county auditor by March 15.

But the work’s not over yet. At the same time they’re finishing the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, councils also are reviewing the current year’s budget and actual expenditures. If it looks like their expenditures will be higher than originally budgeted, they have to amend the budget, which has to be completed before May 31. Then they have to publish their annual report in the summer and begin an audit in the fall, and before you know it, it’s time to start working on the next year’s budget. We’re lucky to have 900 dedicated county extension council members making sure the county budget process runs smoothly throughout the state, all year long.

Save the date: Our ISU Extension and Outreach annual conference is March 26 in Ames and registration will open this week. I am really excited about this year’s conference as it focuses on two things that speak to us as extension professionals: service to others and networking with a purpose. We will hear from Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa, and get hands-on service with Meals from the Heartland. You will also have ample time to network with colleagues and learn about the different roles ISU Extension and Outreach plays in feeding people.

The theme of annual conference is WE > ME. For those who have forgotten junior high math, it means “we are greater than me.” As ISU Extension and Outreach, we are stronger, smarter and better together. We are a system of professionals with different training and skills, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, you are connected to colleagues who do. We provide a comprehensive approach to finding solutions to both challenges and opportunities for a strong Iowa. I look forward to seeing you March 26.

One final reminder: Nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards are due at noon, Feb. 9.

— 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. Check out our quest on our Facebook page. We are the Fallen Clovers Chapter. (Disclaimer: This is a private Facebook page, not an official ISU Extension and Outreach page.)

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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