Pitching Iowa State at State Fair

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 5, 2019

Can you make your pitch for Iowa State entrepreneurship and innovation in five minutes or less? Twenty-plus extension staff, clients, 4-H members and Rising Star Interns are betting they can, as they look forward to influencing fair visitors and winning prize money at the Iowa State Fair. They, along with other ISU students, alumni and partners, will be demonstrating the return on investment that our university delivers to Iowans and our state. Did you know?

  • Iowa State “pitchers” will be pitching their projects at the Iowa State exhibit in the Varied Industries building throughout the fair. ISU Extension and Outreach will be pitching on Aug. 11-12. Our folks will be battling head to head, with two individuals or teams facing off each hour. They simply will make their pitch; no PowerPoint presentations allowed – though sharing a prototype, drawing, handout or product will be accepted.
  • After our pairs of people make their pitches, fair visitors will vote. They will be given soybeans (one fairgoer, one soybean, one vote) that they can place in the jar of their preferred pitcher. Stop by and support your colleagues by listening to their pitches and casting your vote.
  • The winner from each pitch pairing throughout the fair will compete in the semi-finals Aug. 16-17. The semis will bring more head-to-head pitching, this time to invited judges who will grade participants based on their project’s content and business viability. Finalists will be chosen, and they will pitch to a panel of judges, who will determine category winners and “best of show.” President Wintersteen and Provost Wickert will present the awards Aug. 18 at 1 p.m.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach pitching crew represents 4-H, Human Sciences, Community and Economic Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. Whether or not they receive an award, their projects are great examples of civic innovation and youth development efforts that build a strong Iowa.

Internal Communications: VP website and suggestion box

Several of the Internal Communications Task Force’s recommendations were related to developing methods for two-way, field-to-campus feedback to improve our relationships and effectiveness. As a result, we’re implementing a new website for providing information and a new means for sharing ideas:

  • The Office of the Vice President website is live, at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/vp/. (You can bookmark the VP homepage for future reference; or, from the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage go to the About Us tab and click on “Office of the Vice President.”) On this new website you’ll find links to special initiatives, area-wide meeting information, my weekly “Did You Know” messages, other updates from my office, our strategic plan and other information about our organization.
  • One prominent feature on the page is our Share with Us virtual suggestion box. We value your thoughts and ideas and encourage you to share your questions, comments and concerns at any time. About every two weeks, I will review these comments with the leadership team and provide responses. Occasionally we will ask for input on specific proposals and upcoming decisions. Your feedback always will be anonymous and confidential.

We are still working through options to update MyExtension to better serve our staff and facilitate sharing information internally.

One more note: Our ISU Extension and Outreach buckets will be back at the Iowa State Fair this year with a “to do” bucket list for fair visitors. Our red, five-gallon buckets, as well as bucket-themed photo frames, will be placed at extension venues around the fairgrounds, including Grandfather’s Barn and the 4-H Exhibits Building.

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

Taking research on the road

John Lawrence’s message from June 10, 2019

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has been making sure the “Adventure Comes to You” for a few years now. These annual travelling road shows of Iowa State research have helped Iowans examine the facts about processed foods and health, learn how mindful eating and behavior contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and explore youth literacy. This year’s adventure, “The Latest in Literacy” in partnership with the School of Education, will take place June 17 in Muscatine. Did you know?

  • Participants will learn about strategies that teachers, parents and communities can use to help children develop language and learning skills to be ready for kindergarten. They’ll also learn how supporting positive behavior can help struggling readers and writers.
  • Other topics include using immersive learning games to foster teamwork and critical thinking, supporting early literacy through active STEM learning, and evaluating pictures, themes and representations of students with disabilities.
  • The workshop is designed for teachers, early childhood educators, school administrators, home visitors, librarians, volunteers who run after-school programs, parents and guardians, and anyone else interested in supporting literacy.

“Adventure Comes to You” is another way ISU Extension and Outreach contributes to workforce development. We share Iowa State faculty expertise and current research to support literacy education, and we take time to learn about the needs and questions of local communities.

Structured for Success

In the summary from the May 22 Structured for Success committee meeting, I mentioned that we would announce a draft of alternative plans in early June to begin gathering feedback from councils and staff. As we continue to refine the plans, it is clear that we are “not ready for prime time.” We would rather not release premature drafts, so we are adjusting our schedule.

Later this summer (after fair season), we will announce draft proposals and provide an opportunity for local discussion and multiple methods of gathering feedback. I also am moving the completion date for the committee to release the revised or final alternative models from September to a later date this fall. This discussion is too important to rush.

State Fair Pitch Competition 2019 – Extension and Outreach Call for Proposals

It’s time to propose your “pitch” to be part of Iowa State’s 2019 Iowa State Fair exhibit on entrepreneurship and innovation. Extension and Outreach “pitches” featuring civic innovation or youth development efforts will be featured at the fair on Aug. 11-12. Anyone in ISU Extension and Outreach may submit a proposal now for this opportunity to showcase an innovative or entrepreneurial project with a live, 10-minute pitch at State Fair. If your proposal is selected for pitching, you will be awarded $500 for your project, and be in the running for more prize money.

Review the Call for Proposals on MyExtension; if you have questions, contact Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, koesterb@iastate.edu. Then submit a brief proposal to your unit leader or send your proposal directly to Billie. Don’t delay – the winning proposals will be selected on or before June 21. Help represent the innovative spirit of ISU Extension and Outreach to potentially thousands of fair-goers.

Dodds announces retirement

Assistant Vice President for County Services Bob Dodds announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019. He had alerted me earlier of his plans, something about a retired wife and grandkids in Texas, but he wanted to postpone the announcement. I want to thank Bob for his service to ISU Extension and Outreach as the County Extension Education Director for Lee County, Regional Director for Region 20 and most recently as Assistant Vice President. His focus is always on how ISU Extension and Outreach can best educate and serve Iowans and he did that by helping colleagues be successful. Much of Bob’s work was on the less glamorous but necessary tasks such as improving liability insurance coverage for counties; educating council members to better understand financial statements; onboarding newly elected council members or changing the date the councils must publish their year-end statements in local newspapers. However, he also provided navigation through difficult issues and was a steady hand on the wheel as our organization moves forward. He will be missed.

There will be a reception for Bob June 27, 2:30-4 p.m. in Beardshear Hall. I will be naming an interim AVP for County Services in the near future.

Goodbye … and welcome

In May we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Anita Jeltema, Sioux County office assistant.
  • Lindsey Tague, Clinton County executive financial assistant.
  • Juan Ramirez, Dallas County youth and families education coordinator.
  • Morgan Matthews, Emmet County youth coordinator.
  • Kim Martley, Wayne County office assistant.
  • Jennifer Anderson, administrative specialist I, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Meghan Gray, Montgomery County youth coordinator.
  • Denise Wolf, Adams County office assistant.
  • Lori Mitchell, Montgomery County program coordinator.
  • Cynthia Adamson, Greene County office assistant.
  • Chyan Metzger, Kossuth County youth coordinator.
  • Summer Beery, Sioux County K-3 program coordinator.
  • Michaela Ostendorf, Story County media and ANR program coordinator.
  • Aubrey Houska, Clay County youth coordinator.
  • Katherine Stewart, O’Brien County K-12 program coordinator.
  • Anne Tedore, extension program specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

One more note: Read the June program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

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

Useful and easy to find

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 13, 2018

We’re a few days into the 2018 Iowa State Fair and so far I have visited with 4-H alumni and friends, identified weeds (or at least, I tried), cheered as Cy stomped grapes, toured the Master Gardeners’ Discovery Garden, and encouraged extension staff and volunteers working at exhibits throughout the fairgrounds. Before the fair is over, I’ll be taking in a few 4-H livestock shows and the 4-H Hall of Fame. I may even work the grill for the Iowa Pork Producers.

You’ll always find extension professionals at the Iowa State Fair, serving research-based education and information to fairgoers, because something deep fried or on a stick won’t sustain folks long-term. This year you’ll also find strategically placed, red buckets at some ISU Extension and Outreach venues: the grape stomp by Grandfather’s Barn, the 4-H beef and swine barns, and the Master Gardeners’ Discovery Garden. So why did we print our wordmark on buckets? Because they’re useful and they’re easy to find in a crowd, just like extension people in our red shirts. Did you know?

  • The Iowa State Fair provides an opportunity to connect with Iowans who may not be familiar with our research, education and extension experiences.
  • State Fair also provides a way to connect with audiences who currently are underrepresented in our programs.
  • Some fairgoers may be familiar with 4-H, but they may not understand how it relates to Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach. The fair provides an opportunity to build awareness of this important connection.

The Iowa State Fair is an entry point to ISU Extension and Outreach. We offer visitors the opportunity to continue engaging and connecting with us long after the fair is over.

red bucket filled with merchandiseMore about the buckets

On 4-H Day at the fair, 251 fairgoers entered a drawing for one of our red buckets filled with ISU Extension and Outreach merchandise, including tote bags, pens, pencils, a water bottle, a rain gauge and measuring spoons.

FYI: A limited number of empty buckets are available from the Extension Store. For only $13, one of these buckets can be yours – and you can fill it yourself.

One more note: On Aug. 3, Andrea Nelson, Chad Higgins and I hosted a webinar to talk with 4-H staff about the transition in 4-H leadership. (The archive of the webinar is available.) Iowa 4-H simply has had a change in leadership. 4-H has not changed direction. We will continue to strengthen our core of clubs, curriculum and volunteers, and we will continue to actively recruit new participants. We are committed to being inclusive and welcoming, and to fulfilling the national 4-H goal of having members, volunteers and staff who reflect Iowa’s population.

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

September 2017 program update

Updates from the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team

4-H Youth Development

  • During the 2017 Iowa State Fair, 121 Iowa 4-H volunteers from 94 counties were inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, including two volunteers over 100 years of age: Alice Walters of Greene County and Ruth Angus of Ringgold County. All honorees were selected for their service and dedication to 4-H’ers and the 4-H program.
  • More from the Iowa State Fair:
    — Nearly 800 head were exhibited in the 4-H beef show, and 990 head were exhibited the 4-H swine show – both record numbers.
    — More than 100 4-H’ers participated in the Iowa 4-H Awardrobe Clothing Event, showcasing their apparel design and production knowledge, as well as their creativity skills. Some 500 people attended the fashion showcase and closing event.
    — Iowa 4-H held its second annual Global Citizenship Day at the Iowa State Fair. Projects and performances from all over the world were part of the celebration.
  • On Aug. 21 Iowa 4-H, county extension offices, and partner organizations offered more than 75 4-H solar eclipse day camps across Iowa. Nearly 2,000 young Iowans participated.
  • New and potential 4-H volunteers can get information about the Iowa 4-H program from a growing library of volunteer orientation videos online.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Farm management specialists led 89 farmland leasing meetings during July and August across the state, with attendance estimated at 1,800 participants. The program focused on farmland values and leasing outlook for 2018 and improving landlord-tenant communication. Participants also learned about current issues and conservation methods, and being an advocate for the land. Other topics included current survey trends, cost of production, types of lease arrangements and legal aspects of farmland leases. Participants received updated reference materials for leasing negotiations and were directed to other ISU Extension and Outreach resources.
  • Participants in the Iowa Drainage School Aug. 22-24 learned how to design sub-surface drainage, keeping in mind functionality, performance and flexibility. Training topics included unmanned aerial vehicle surveying, laser and GPS leveling, drainage tile size and spacing, soil properties, laws and pipeline safety. Twenty-seven contractors, engineers, farmers and consultants working in teams designed drainage for 24 acres at the Borlaug Learning Center located at the Iowa State University Northeast Research Farm. Survey respondents indicated they would employ the drainage design techniques learned in the school in their installation practices.
  • The Pesticide Safety Education Program recently revised several, category-specific training manuals with input and assistance from university subject matter experts, industry specialists and certified applicators. The revised manuals include the information needed to pass the pesticide applicator certification exam as well as new research. In addition, the Worker Protection Safety train-the-trainer course was developed to be delivered online, increasing access to the material across the globe.
  • The annual Iowa Crop Scouting Competition educates Iowa youth on crop scouting and integrated pest management. Youth teams from around the state are scored on their knowledge of crop-related disciplines — insects, diseases, growth and development, herbicide and spray issues, and weed identification — with a written test and field stations located throughout the Field Extension Education Laboratory, Boone, Iowa. In partnership with sponsor representatives, ISU Extension and Outreach specialists judge the event, taking time to talk with students, answer questions and teach about good pest management practices. Twenty-two junior and senior high students participated in the July 31 event. Watch the highlight video.

Community and Economic Development

  • lSU Extension and Outreach is a sponsor of the third annual Southeast Iowa Nonprofit Summit Sept. 21 in Ottumwa. The summit is designed for board members, staff and volunteers. Topics to be covered include improving organizational culture and attracting and retaining top talent, as well as human resources regulations and board structure and responsibilities.
  • The Office of State and Local Government Programs is participating in the Iowa League of Cities 2017 Annual Conference in Davenport Sept. 27–29. It is the largest training in the state designed specifically for Iowa’s elected and appointed city officials. Local government specialist Mary Beth Sprouse is helping organize the conference, and CED specialists Eric Christianson and Becky Leurs will be presenting workshops.
  • The Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa is a collaboration of service providers, government agencies, religious groups, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that serves central Iowa’s refugee population. Recently, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines gave the Alliance its 2017 Better Together Award, which recognizes nonprofit organizations, civic groups and individuals who are building social capital in the community. The award included $2,500 to be used toward advancing efforts to make Des Moines a more engaged and networked community. Anindita Das works as a refugee specialist and program coordinator for RACI in partnership with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Human Sciences

  • The 2018 Healthy and Homemade Calendar is available via the online store and advance order copies have been delivered. Human Sciences Extension and Outreach sold 279,531 copies of the calendar. The Spanish calendar is sold out online, but the version in English is still available.
  • The Human Sciences Extension and Outreach early childhood team has developed a Mandatory Child Abuse Reporter curriculum. The self-paced, online class will be available to participants 24/7 beginning in October 2017 through the ISU Extension and Outreach Moodle site. Participants completing this training join a dedicated team of more than 20,000 early childhood professionals who serve as “frontline” reporters to protect children from abuse and neglect.
  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach partnerships in Charles City make a difference for Iowa families. For example, When RAGBRAI passed through Charles City this year, Variety wanted to donate bikes to underserved children as part of the celebration. Variety contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters for help in identifying children; Big Brothers Big Sisters called the human sciences educator in Floyd County to inquire if “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” families might enjoy receiving the bikes. Seventeen children from these families received a bicycle and helmet that day. As another example, a local farmer, the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, and Community Revitalization established a community garden in Charles City three years ago. All three years, five or six “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” participants and graduates have worked in the garden. Through the community partnership and grant funds, the $15 plot fee was waived and seed costs were covered for these individuals. In addition, new gardeners worked with experienced gardeners. One of the “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” graduates who participated the first year is now the volunteer garden manager.

State Fair

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 7, 2017

They say nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair. While that’s true, I offer this amendment: Nothing compares to ISU Extension and Outreach at State Fair! There’s our 4-H connection, of course. Who hasn’t been to the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building or the livestock venues during 4-H show time? However, we are all over that fairground. We’re the reason you can stroll through a garden, or stomp grapes or find out what that porkchop-on-a-stick will cost you, calorie-wise. Did you know?

  • State 4-H youth program specialists are expecting nearly 3,600 static exhibits and more than 900 communication entries, which include educational presentations, working exhibits, extemporaneous speaking and Share the Fun performances.
  • Since the mid-1990s, the Polk County Master Gardeners have been the caretakers for the Discovery Garden near the Agriculture Building.
  • In front of the Ag Building by the big pumpkin weigh-in (or inside, if it’s raining), you can find out how well you know your weeds during the Weed ID contest Aug. 11, 9-11:30 a.m.
  • You can visit Grandfather’s Barn Wine Experience for a daily wine stomp, viticulture experts and kids’ activities. You’ll probably find our viticulture specialist Mike White there, and if you show up at 2 p.m. Aug. 11, you can cheer for Cy as he takes on Herky and TC in the Mascot Grape Stomp.
  • You’ll find extension colleagues working at Iowa State’s main exhibit in the Varied Industries Building. “Forever True, Thanks to You” features student clubs and experiences made possible by donor support to Iowa State.
  • ISU Extension and Outreach provides nutritional information for the Iowa State Fair Food Finder App, along with the number of calories associated with the items and the amount of physical activity needed to burn off all that fair food.

I’m looking forward to my time at the fair, and not just for the porkchop-on-a-stick I plan to consume. Aug. 11 is Iowa 4-H Day. I’ll be helping with 4-H alumni and friends registration at the 4-H Foundation tent on the Grand Concourse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., so stop in and say hello. On Aug. 12 President Ben Allen and I will be showing steers in the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. I’ll be there Aug. 17 for Iowa Department of Land Stewardship’s Century and Heritage Farm event. Six of these family farms include land that is part of our Land Grant Legacy and we’ll be recognizing them during the event. I’ll even be serving as a “celebrity chef” (their term, not mine) at the Iowa Pork Producers’ food venue. For updates on my whereabouts through the fair, follow me on Twitter, @JohnLawrenceISU.

A couple more notes

  • Be sure to take a look at the August program update from the leadership team.
  • Besides learning more about all our programs, we also need to learn more about each other. Watch this short video to get to know Clark Colby, our 4-H arts, communication and design program specialist.

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

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