Other duties as assigned

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 23, 2017

About 100 office professionals representing all areas of ISU Extension and Outreach and from throughout the state will be coming to Ames later this week for the Office Professionals Conference. We are pleased to offer them this professional development opportunity.

“Office professional” must be one of the most far-ranging job categories we have in ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know?

  • According to Human Resources Coordinator Kaela Black, job titles within the category include office assistant, office manager, bookkeeper and administrative assistant. You’ll also find secretaries, administrative specialists, account clerks and others.
  • Currently 147 county paid employees work in an office professional role throughout the state. Another 27 employees serve as office professionals on campus.
  • An office professional’s responsibilities may include answering client questions on the phone or face to face and maintaining payroll information and fiscal and other records. On any given day, these staff members may order supplies, organize volunteers, update databases or certify manure or pesticide applicators. Their work even may include occasional heavy lifting – of files, books, stacking chairs, meeting room tables and whatever else might need to be moved. (Then the rest of us expect them to know where everything is!)

And of course, office professionals have “other duties as assigned” as they work together with everyone else in the office to make sure that the people they serve have access to Iowa State’s research and resources. They are often the first contact between the public and ISU Extension and Outreach. We appreciate their skills, their professionalism and their commitment to Iowans. We can’t be a 99 county campus without them.

A couple more notes

  • We also appreciate our first cohort of mentors who took part in continuing professional development last week. While it is everyone’s responsibility to make our organization a rewarding and enjoyable place to work, these mentors will be guiding our new colleagues and helping them launch successful careers. They are committed to ensuring our culture continues in the next generation of ISU Extension and Outreach. Our second cohort of mentors will begin their training in our next Mentor Academy, Nov. 28-29.
  • The Epsilon Sigma Phi Annual Meeting is Oct. 26, 9-11 a.m. via Adobe Connect. ESP focuses on fostering excellence in the Cooperative Extension System and developing extension professionals. Annual ESP members have voting privileges, but all extension staff members are invited to attend and learn more about the organization.

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


True leaders

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 2, 2017

Happy National 4-H Week! This year the focus is on true leaders, grown by 4-H, who give back to move their community forward. Whether or not we were 4-H’ers ourselves, 4-H Week is the time of year that brings out the clover in all of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. We all can be proud that our 4-H Youth Development program continues to focus on the needs and strengths of youth, their families and communities. Today Iowa 4-H is addressing three growing concerns that impact Iowa’s young people. Did you know?

  • In many rural communities, highly skilled, creative, or well-educated people leave for better pay or conditions elsewhere. As rural communities lose younger Iowans, they also lose their skills and expertise, and see their overall populations decline. 4-H is working to reverse this “brain drain,” encouraging Iowa youth to remain in or return to their communities and use their skills to shape Iowa’s future.
  • 4-H is addressing achievement or opportunity gaps faced by youth with low income, youth of color and English language learners – so all Iowa youth can develop their capacity for academic success.
  • 4-H is building skills in Iowa youth to improve their college and career readiness. Youth are college and career ready when they have gained the knowledge and skills they need to enroll and succeed at postsecondary educational institutions or training programs.

Through our 4-H Youth Development programs we empower Iowa’s young people to reach their full potential and prepare them to be successful, contributing members of society. Sounds like we’re growing true leaders. (Want the numbers for your county? Download 4-H Data for Decision Makers.)

Congratulations to Award Recipients

Congratulations to the following extension professionals honored during Iowa State’s annual awards ceremony Sept. 25:

  • Donna Donald, field operations specialist, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach – Award for Distinguished Service in Extension
  • Russell Euken, beef and swine field specialist – R.K. Bliss Extension Award
  • Bailey Hanson, systems analyst, Community and Economic Development – Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice
  • Elizabeth Juchems, extension program specialist, agricultural and biosystems engineering – Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award
  • Tom Baas, professor of animal science – Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Jay Harmon, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and interim director for Agriculture and Natural Resources – Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Hongwei Xin, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, assistant dean for research, Iowa Egg Council Endowed Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, professor of animal science – International Service Award

A few more notes

  • National Manufacturing Day is Oct. 6. ISU Extension and Outreach is cooperating with CIRAS and a number of organizations to highlight manufacturing across Iowa on Friday and throughout the month. For example, Keokuk County is partnering with Axmear Fabricating in Thornburg to host tours of the facility. They have invited Indian Hills Career Academy’s machine and welding classes as well as the county’s FFA chapters.
  • If you happen to be in Ames Oct. 10, stop by the Brunnier Art Museum in the Scheman Building from 7-8:30 p.m. to celebrate Rose Frantzen and the 39 portraits included in the Faces of Iowa State exhibition. University Museums Director Lynette Pohlman will make brief remarks at 7:30. Light refreshments will be served.
  • I encourage our office professionals to register for the 2017 Office Professionals Conference. The registration deadline is close of business on Monday, Oct. 16. The conference is a great opportunity for professional development and networking with colleagues from across the state. If you have questions about the conference, contact Director of Professional Development Carol Heaverlo, heaverlo@iastate.edu.

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

All around the block

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 18, 2017

At about the time I joined ISU Extension and Outreach as a livestock economist in the early 1990s, Home Economics Extension was transitioning to Extension to Families. The staffing pattern was changing from county home economists to families field specialists. This was part of an overall restructuring in our organization to become more flexible, respond to changing needs and better serve Iowans. When you look at our history in ISU Extension and Outreach, this seems to be the bottom line. We don’t rest on our laurels. We look for better ways to do what we do. So a few years ago, Extension to Families became Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, once again looking for a better way to serve Iowans.

In summer 2014, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach implemented a new “block” concept with specialists working as teams to deliver education. Results of their efforts are coming in, and one example is the Regions 1 and 5 block, served by specialists Lori Hayungs (family life), Jan Monahan (family finance) and Renee Sweers (nutrition and wellness), along with Mackenzie DeJong, human sciences coordinator for O’Brien, Lyon, Osceola and Sioux counties. Did you know?

  • The team was involved in nine collaborative community groups and released a quarterly newsletter featuring upcoming program dates and highlighting past programs.
  • Working together, they reached more people. From last year to this year, they hosted 16 more programs, 25 more sessions and reached 750 more participants. On average, they hosted a face-to-face educational session more than once every other day.
  • Annually nearly 1,800 new mothers in all nine counties receive physical copies of the first month of the “Just in Time Parenting” newsletter, in English and Spanish as needed. All school districts within the nine counties receive the September issue of the “Dare to Excel” newsletter.
  • ServSafe courses are taught throughout the year, helping local businesses meet food safety training requirements and keep customers safe. Iowa State dietetics interns spend time in the region learning about the dietitian’s role within ISU Extension and Outreach. Rising Star interns are trained on food safety and receive guidance throughout their internship. In summer 2017, a College of Human Sciences Heddleson intern delivered nutrition programming in Clay County.
  • Through partnerships and capacity building, eight communities took new action to address public issues.

This is but one example of successful Human Sciences Extension and Outreach programs that result from strong partnerships among county staff, volunteers and specialists – all around the block and throughout the state.

Office Professionals Conference

Registration is open for the 2017 Office Professionals Conference at the Iowa State University Memorial Union. This will be a great event tailored to the needs of the front-line professionals who represent ISU Extension and Outreach to the public every day. We start Wednesday, Oct. 25, with a preconference on the nuts and bolts of accounting and financials, and continue Thursday, Oct. 26, with a full day of workshops and roundtable updates about county delivered programs and best practices for effective office operations. I strongly encourage office professionals to attend, and learn and connect with campus resources and peers from across the state. Check the conference website for details about the workshops and roundtable topics and to register. The conference promises to be an informative and valuable training, and we will have some fun as well. I look forward to seeing you in Ames!

One more thing: Congratulations to Ida County, winner of this year’s CyDAY Friday contest. The ISU Trademark Licensing Office selected Ida County because “they showed their Cyclone spirit and we liked the community involvement.” Ida County hosted a tailgate in front of their office in Ida Grove, featuring photos with Cy, games for youth and local firefighters who brought along their red firetruck. A Cy-cone ice cream machine provided cones for all.

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


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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