4-H, office professionals and ISUCEP

John Lawrence’s message from June 26, 2017

Iowa State is interviewing candidates for the Associate Provost of Academic Programs. Think of it as the leader of undergraduate curriculum and success. Much of the discussion with the candidates is about how to embed soft skills development into the undergraduate experience. Although our Cyclones are strong in their disciplines and well-versed in technology, they may be weak in communication skills. They may choose to text – even if the recipient is across the hall – or struggle to make eye contact, carry on a conversation or talk on the phone. If only these students had been in 4-H!

This week nearly 800 teenagers will converge on campus for the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. They’ll be here for three days of speakers, dancing, workshops, community service learning and a banquet. Yes, they’ll be having fun, but they’ll be learning too, likely far more than they realize. Did you know?

  • Brenda Allen’s research with youth who participated in the 2014 conference showed that the conference enhances current 4-H’ers’ skills and experiences as they become involved beyond the local club or county. Youth increased their leadership, citizenship, communication and learning skills whether they were new to 4-H or an advanced member.
  • The conference also serves as an entry point into 4-H for youth who haven’t been involved in our programs.
  • In addition, Brenda’s research showed that the conference provides an unbiased educational opportunity for all of Iowa’s youth regardless of gender, residence or membership in 4-H.

These results didn’t happen by accident. Our 4-H Youth Development staff and the teens on the Iowa 4-H State Council are very intentional when planning the conference each year. As Iowa 4-H focuses on reversing the brain drain, improving college and career readiness, and closing the educational achievement and opportunity gap, the Iowa 4-H Conference is an effective way to address the learning needs of Iowa’s young people.

About Professional Development

In addition to professional skills in our youth program, we also address the learning needs of our own faculty, staff and councils. We have invested in our Professional Development unit, which is listening to needs and offering learning opportunities across the state and online. For example, the ISU Extension and Outreach Office Professionals Conference is scheduled for Oct. 26, 2017, on campus in Ames. We are pleased to offer this professional development opportunity for office professionals in all areas of ISU Extension and Outreach. We encourage county extension councils and their staff to support their office professionals’ participation in the conference.

In other professional development news, the Iowa State University Council of Extension Professionals board voted to dissolve the association. They made the decision because of changes in ISU Extension and Outreach that have occurred in the years since ISUCEP was established, including the creation of our Professional Development unit; modifications in staffing patterns within our organization; and regional and multi-region meetings that include professional development, social activities and informal networking. We thank the board and all those who have supported ISUCEP efforts to foster professional development among ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff.

One more thing: Lyn Brodersen Cochran has been named the next president of Scott Community College in the Quad Cities. Lyn has served as assistant vice president for organizational development with ISU Extension and Outreach since 2013 and helped launch our Professional Development unit. Her last day with Iowa State will be July 7. She will begin her new position Aug. 1. Congratulations, Lyn!

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

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