July 2021 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

Human Sciences

  • With newly trained facilitators, the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 recently was implemented in Louisa County. This represents the first opportunity to implement SFP 10-14 in Iowa with Burmese families. This three-minute video documents the experience of the families meeting at the Carson Chin Baptist Church.
  • Over the last few months, the Science of Parenting team offered six online workshops serving 54 participants. Two of the workshops, Understanding Research and Reality and Positive Discipline, focus on the objective of sharing research-based information that fits each family’s own reality. The first workshop has broad parenting strategies focused on family science theories, while the second workshop addresses how to practice positive discipline and manage a child’s behavior. The six workshops included participants from 12 Iowa counties. In the evaluation, 99% of respondents indicated they recognized that research could inform their parenting.
  • Renee Sweers, Lori Korthals, and Carol Ehlers serve regions 1, 6, and 7 in northwest Iowa. The block team connects regularly with county staff for planning, training, building relationships, etc. Recently the specialists and county staff came together to experience PowerPay. The focus was to experience this Utah State University Extension online money tool, which is featured in Iowa Annie’s Project and Money Smart for Adults. The online training consisted of three, 30-minute mini-sessions offered across three weeks. Comments from the participating county staff indicated the format, content, and scheduling were successful. The block team agreed to repeat this effort in fall 2021 and to look for other content areas to include.

4-H Youth Development

  • Over 200 4-H youth from across Iowa gathered on the Iowa State University campus June 30 for the 2021 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. The typical three-day event was adjusted to one day to accommodate COVID-19 regulations. The conference included educational workshops led by Iowa State faculty and staff, cultural exploration sessions, team building, and college and career exploration. Service learning also is a key component and the State 4-H Council chose to serve foster care youth in Iowa this year. Prior to the conference, council members collected nearly 5,000 donations of travel-sized hygiene products from local businesses and donors from across the state. In partnership with the statewide group Achieving Maximum Potential, conference delegates stuffed 450 care bags with hygiene products and a note of encouragement for youth who enter the foster care system.
  • On Aug. 14 Iowa 4-H Youth Development will be sending fair food into space – all in the name of science. The public is invited to vote on which fair food they’d like to see launched during the Iowa State Fair. The launch, done in partnership with the Make to Innovate Lab at Iowa State, the NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium, and the Stratospheric Ballooning Association, is an opportunity to teach youth about STEM, space, and making scientific predictions for what might happen to the foods when they reach space.
  • The Healthy Living Ambassadors have identified food insecurity as their focus for addressing a crucial health need in Iowa and spent the spring months connecting virtually to learn about statewide initiatives. At their June retreat, they packaged over 1,000 pounds of cereal at the Iowa Food Bank in Des Moines that will be distributed to food pantries across central Iowa, providing 870 meals. They also learned about the Food at First food pantry in Ames and helped complete gardening projects in their donation garden managed by ISU graduate students in sustainable agriculture. In addition, they completed the 4-H $10 Meal Challenge, navigating the challenge of food costs, food allergies, and nutrition guidelines to plan a meal that provides a serving of each of the five food groups for four people. The ambassadors are planning their capstone project, integrating hands-on activities addressing food insecurity for Healthy Living Day in the 4-H Building at the Iowa State Fair on August 14.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • The 2021 Fruit and Vegetable Field Day is July 22 at Iowa State University’s Horticulture Research Station northeast of Ames. The annual event will feature various research and demonstration projects on fruit and vegetable production for commercial growers, extension personnel, nonprofit organizations, and master gardeners. The field day will provide an opportunity to observe results and evaluate projects focusing on organic vegetable production, peppers, winter squash, apples, grapes, pest management in cucurbit crops, three-sisters intercropping, and beneficial insects. A list of other upcoming research and demonstration farm field days is available online.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach is hosting multiple farmland leasing meetings during July and August at various times and locations throughout the state, beginning July 26. The annual meetings address questions that land owners, tenants, or other interested individuals have about leasing farmland. Core components of this year’s program will be land values and cash rent trends, cost of production, methods for determining a fair rental rate, the latest legal updates that impact farm leases and land ownership (such as carbon credit contracts), and communication between tenants or landowners. A list of the county offices hosting meetings is available online.
  • Identification is key to managing weeds, and it’s easy to misidentify certain weeds if we don’t study them closely. The annual weed identification contest at the Iowa State Fair will be held August 13 from 9-11:30 a.m. in front of the John Deere Agriculture Building. Organized by ISU Extension and Outreach, the contest offers fun competition for the whole family with three divisions: future agronomists (youth under age 19), general, and professional. Following the contest, winners will be announced at the 3 p.m. awards ceremony inside the John Deere Agricultural Building.

Community and Economic Development

  • The 2021 Community Visioning Program is entering the design phase of the process, having completed community assessments and goal setting in spring. In July, Wheatland, Shenandoah, Calamus, and Malvern will be conducting design workshops. Additional meetings will be scheduled as the month progresses.
  • The 46th annual Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy will take place July 19-22 and July 28-30, respectively. This is a targeted training for more than 200 city clerks, finance officers, and other city staff to further professionalism, knowledge, and efficiency in Iowa cities. All training in this venue qualifies for certification in the International Institute of Municipal Clerks as well as the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association certification program. MPI and MPA are coordinated by CED and the Iowa League of Cities, and several CED specialists will be teaching courses.
  • The Cedar Falls Racial Equity Task Force was created to provide guidance and recommendations to the City of Cedar Falls to address long-term challenges of racial equity in the city. The task force is working on a report that identifies specific problems and shortfalls and makes formal recommendations for action, including policy and procedure change recommendations, and identification of ongoing efforts and resourcing needed to promote an inclusive and diverse community and to eliminate both real and perceived racial inequity in Cedar Falls. The task force engaged CED for facilitation services, and since June, CED specialists Omar Padilla and Aimee Viniard-Weideman have been facilitating the task force meetings.

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

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