Knowledge teams for greater impact

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 16, 2017

Many people often think of Iowa as rural, and agriculture with its related processing and manufacturing is the economic foundation for much of the state. However, our citizens live in communities, large and small, highly structured and unincorporated, and operate differently than a family or farm when it comes to governance, finance, enforcement and a vision for the future. Across Iowa, some communities are prospering while others are struggling, but all are dealing with the challenge of change.

Our ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development faculty and staff work to identify critical issues facing communities in our state and determine how best to address them for greater impact. Their combined efforts have resulted in a new team approach to community and economic development efforts. Did you know?

  • CED now focuses on five critical issues: housing, demographics, local economies, built environment, and civic engagement and leadership capacity.
  • CED faculty and staff are organized into six knowledge teams based on their expertise: art and design applications; civic engagement and leadership; data and technology; local economies; local governments and nonprofits; and promoting equity, inclusion and respect in communities.
  • CED knowledge teams include both campus and field-based specialists across the state. They are all responsible for statewide programming. However, each person serves as a point of contact for regional and county directors to help them link to CED people and programs.

CED teams address client-identified needs and opportunities, and foster creative and robust local decision-making. The goal is to build capacity in Iowans – so they can sustain their communities and make them better places to live, work and play.

County website update

Our current web content management software, Drupal 6, is no longer being updated, making it unsecure and unreliable. That is why Extension Information Technology is beginning to develop a new framework for county websites in Drupal 8. EIT will be building the new framework to improve accessibility, responsiveness and brand management, and to make adding content easier. Content editors and county offices can share feedback with the transition team by responding to surveys between October and December. Information about the surveys and links to complete them will arrive in your email soon. As the project moves forward, the transition team will provide status reports on MyExtension (login with your Net-ID and password to view). If you have questions about the project, contact

A couple more notes

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

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