John Lawrence’s message from April 2, 2018
Nothing brings people together quite like working shoulder to shoulder in hairnets and packaging 20,000 meals in an hour. Our Meals from the Heartland service project at Annual Conference was a specific example of networking with a purpose to fight food insecurity. But it also serves as a metaphor for all our work in ISU Extension and Outreach. No matter what we do, we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
A year ago I told you our organization was in a strong position for what was ahead of us. As I said at Annual Conference last week, that’s still true now, even though we are facing another difficult budget year. We are talented people working together – campus and county; faculty, staff and councils. I am confident we will find ways to address any issues that we may face. Did you know?
- President Wintersteen is working with leaders from across campus to develop a plan to implement the midyear reversion for the FY18 budget. We will soon know what the final dollar impact will be for Extension and Outreach. The Leadership Team has planned for it and will be able to cover it centrally.
- We don’t yet know the FY19 budget status and potential for salary increases. We are well positioned, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be adjustments of some kind. Stay tuned.
- I truly believe that ISU Extension and Outreach is an investment to nurture. I hope you all believe it, too. But it isn’t enough to believe it; we must show it. Continue to do the important work, but also measure and report the impact. Report the return on investment of public funds. ROI is a major theme from President Wintersteen. She understands ISU Extension and Outreach and knows we have an important role in delivering that ROI.
I am honored and humbled to serve as Vice President for Extension and Outreach. This is an opportunity to give back to Iowa State, ISU Extension and Outreach, and all of you who have helped make me successful. Over the past year I have learned a lot more about our organization, our programs and our people. Thanks to you and our land-grant heritage, we do amazing things for Iowans. The more I learn, the prouder I am of our organization. We have established a great track record over more than 100 years of extension work in Iowa, and we get to shape what our future will be.
I believe our future starts with a solid foundation on which to build – a foundation anchored in the land-grant mission of accessibility and research-based information, and made of respect and trust earned by generations of our extension predecessors who educated, informed and served Iowans. They have turned over to us this structure we call home. It is now our turn to build on the next story of ISU Extension and Outreach. So let’s get started – by listening to each other, our partners and stakeholders.
- I have asked Chad Higgins to lead a comprehensive needs assessment this year and the planning process is underway.
- As part of this process, I will be holding listening sessions around the state to hear from staff, partners and stakeholders. Watch for more details about the dates and locations.
- We are also listening internally. Sometimes we have trouble communicating within our complex family. The challenge cuts across all our programs, but is more apparent in 4-H where state and county programming are most closely tied. I have already appointed a task force, chaired by Deb Sellers and Ross Wilburn, to learn about our internal communication or lack thereof. They will gather information from across the system, assess what they learn and share recommendations with the Leadership Team. Please contribute to this process when asked.
- Finally, I would like to hear from you. I plan to attend many of the 51 centennials this year, county fairs and your events. I will get to as many as I can when invited. Also, my office, phone and email are easy to find, so don’t hesitate to reach out and bend my ear.
- As I mentioned during my interview, I think the 2009 reorganization broke our system. We are nine years into the reorganization and I believe that we have learned some things that we can improve upon. I will start a discussion for options to repair our system. I will work with the Iowa Extension Council Association and our staff to begin the discussion and work toward solutions in an open and transparent process.
I look forward to building a strong Iowa together. Please continue the great work that you do every day. Continue to go the extra mile to help Iowans help themselves. Continue to make us all proud to be Iowa State University Extension and Outreach!
A couple more notes
- Here’s something else we can be proud of. Instead of a speaking fee, our Annual Conference keynote speaker Michelle Book asked for a donation to the Food Bank of Iowa. Extension and Outreach donated $5,000. Every $1 provides four meals to Iowa children, families and older adults in need, which means we contributed 20,000 more meals to fight hunger in Iowa.
- Take another look at our extension job shadowing video. It’s a good reminder that when we take the time to get to know each other, we gain insights and an appreciation for the variety of work we do. We can find new ways to work together for greater impact as we engage Iowans.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach