Master Business Bootcamp

John Lawrence’s message from July 15, 2019

Since 2015 the Master Business Bootcamp has helped more than 250 small businesses in the Des Moines area to survive and thrive. Now our Community and Economic Development unit is partnering to expand this coaching and mentorship program across the state. Did you know?

  • Kameron Middlebrooks has cofacilitated the program and coached business owners for two years, first as part of the Financial Empowerment Center at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, where the program originated. He has continued working with the bootcamp since joining ISU Extension and Outreach in 2018 as our minority business coordinator.
  • To qualify for the program, participants must show that they have been operating their business for at least six consecutive months and have established clients who currently use their products or services. The free program targets minority populations with low-to-moderate income; however, it is open to any small business owners.
  • Master Business Bootcamp reinforces essential skills necessary to own, manage, grow and operate small businesses. Kameron coaches bootcamp participants as they develop their own business profile, including their vision, mission, objectives, slogan, values and a thorough description of their products and services.

When we build Iowans’ capacity to develop successful businesses, our communities are more likely to prosper and thrive, leading to a strong Iowa. To learn more about Master Business Bootcamp or other services for small-business development, contact Kameron at 515-231-5055 or kameronm@iastate.edu.

Internal Communications: County visit notification

The Internal Communications Task Force Report acknowledges that too often campus folks, as well as field staff, don’t tell county staff when they will be visiting or working in the county. Two of the recommendations request we develop a method or system to provide advance notice. It seems to me that the recommendations boil down to this: Show respect and professional courtesy to one another.

  • Campus faculty and staff – When you are planning to be out in the state somewhere representing ISU Extension and Outreach in any way, please inform that county extension office and the regional director.
  • Regional and county staff – When you are planning to present at an event, ISU sponsored or not, or are initiating a partnership, please inform the extension office of the county you will be visiting, as well as the regional director.
  • County staff – If you receive a message from campus or regional staff alerting you that they will be in your county, please acknowledge it. Offer to assist them or invite them to stop by the office for a cup of coffee.
  • In any case, visitors, send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why; and locals, acknowledge you received it. This simple action will go a long way in improving communication within our organization.

Over time, we may discover that we need a more complex or automated system. However, sending an email to let our colleagues know when we’ll be visiting their county is a best practice that we all can implement right now. Thank you.

More notes

  • Our 12 Rising Star interns had their mid-point check-in at the end of June and they reported on a wide range of activities. Here’s a sample of their efforts: helping develop the Ag Bite by the Barn for Adults at the Clay County Fair (Region 1); analyzing and developing four strategic plan options for a day care facility in Sheffield (Region 3); running the Power of Produce clubs for approximately 120 youth (Region 5); and conducting a “new foods” program for kids and food demonstrations at area farmers markets (Region 20). To keep up with everything our Rising Stars are doing, subscribe to their blog and engage with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Global Rocket Launch Day celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with activities to help youth learn about rockets and NASA. Our 4-H program will be using these activities throughout the year to engage youth in the 4-H aerospace project area. For more information, contact Sara Nelson, state STEM lead, sdnelson@iastate.edu.

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

A galaxy for extension’s future

John Lawrence’s message from April 8, 2019

With enough Rising Stars, you can build a galaxy – and a bright future for ISU Extension and Outreach. That’s the plan behind our Rising Star Galaxy Club, our continuing relationship with our former Rising Star Interns as they move on from our internship program. If they’d like to begin an extension career, the Galaxy Club connects them to job openings in the counties, on campus and in other states. If an extension career isn’t their path, the Galaxy Club is a way to stay connected and become an advocate for ISU Extension and Outreach. Either way, we hope these young people will remain engaged with our land-grant mission. Did you know?

  • Our Rising Star Internship program began in 2014. Frankie Torbor served during the first year. He says the experience “lived up to the expectation listed in the job description,” providing professional responsibility with both scheduled tasks and self-directed work so he could tailor the internship to his interests. Frankie’s experience is currently featured on the Rising Star Galaxy Club webpage.
  • Evan Fritz also was in the first group of interns. He went on to serve as a member of the Winnebago County Extension Council, gaining experience that helped prepare him for the next phase of his career.
  • Some former Rising Stars have joined ISU Extension and Outreach. Mackenzie DeJong is a human sciences program coordinator in northwest Iowa. Cassie Odland is a family life and nutrition educator in Polk County. Breanna Miller is a program assistant with our Community Food Systems program. In addition, Emily Bormann is a 4-H youth program assistant with Nebraska Extension.

These are only a few of our many Rising Star success stories. And by the time you read this message, we either will have or be close to having all 12 interns hired for this summer. Orientation for our 2019 Rising Star Interns is April 12-13. In mid to late May they will begin their work in Regions 1, 3, 5 and 20, continuing until August. During their internships, our Rising Stars raise awareness of local foods and healthy living as they assist communities, schools, farmers markets and economic development entities across the state. Through the Galaxy Club, we want to help them continue their relationship with ISU Extension and Outreach for the rest of their lives.

More notes

  • Happy ISU Extension and Outreach Week, April 8-13. It’s a good time to thank the many volunteers, community leaders, organizations, agencies and other partners who support our work. It’s also Forever True Week, April 8-12, celebrating the impact that Iowa State’s generous alumni and friends have made on the university.
  • We just turned in our federal report to USDA NIFA on April 1. Thank you for all your good work. Every data point you provide is used in at least one report and often several, as well as staff success stories, research journal articles and grant applications. Reporting helps us tell our story to make sure our stakeholders, partners, funders and all Iowans will continue to support our work for a strong Iowa.
  • Read the April program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.
  • Mental Health First Aid training can help you learn what to do, what to say, and how to offer support and resources to help Iowans who may be experiencing a mental health related problem or crisis. This evidence-based, 8-hour course will be offered April 25, May 23, Sept. 26 and Nov. 7. You can register through the Professional Development website.
  • “Building Awareness: The Military Community and ISU Extension and Outreach” is May 8 at Iowa State. Register for the symposium, which is open to anyone interested, including the military community at Iowa State, local Veterans groups, agencies and individuals who support the military community, county Veterans service officers, and extension faculty, specialists and county staff.

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

These stars are rising

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 20, 2018

ISU Extension and Outreach has cultivated another fine crop of Rising Star Interns. Twelve Iowa State University students served northwest and southeast Iowa from mid-May through early August. As they lived and worked in local communities, they experienced what their future could hold as extension professionals. They determined needs in their communities and then designed and implemented projects to meet those needs. Many times, their projects were team efforts and multi-disciplinary. Rising Stars have the opportunity to take skills learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world. Few internships offer this much opportunity and freedom. Did you know?

  • ISU Extension and Outreach sponsors the program in partnership with the Colleges of Design, Human Sciences, and Agriculture and Life Sciences, and with county extension councils.
  • Forty-eight students have participated in the program since 2014. All students accepted into the program have completed the internship.
  • Regional directors supervise the interns, with mentoring assistance from program specialists and county staff. In 2014, the program started in two regions (10 counties). This year, four regions provided the program, serving 19 counties.
  • Over the years, interns have raised the awareness of local foods and healthy living as they have assisted communities, schools, underserved audiences, producers, farmers markets, and community and economic development entities.

Thanks to the Rising Star Internship Program, Iowa State students have a greater understanding of the land-grant mission and our extension program areas. They’re also gaining an understanding of rural Iowa’s strengths and challenges. The internship may have a role in ISU Extension and Outreach’s succession plan, as well. Since 2014, two Rising Star alumni have accepted positions with county extension districts, and one ran and was elected as a county extension council member. If you are interested in the 2018 interns’ experience, read their blog or check their Facebook page. If you are interested in having Rising Star Interns work in your county in 2019, contact your regional director.

More notes

  • Congratulations to the extension professionals who will be participating in the inaugural year of Cardinal Women, a professional leadership development program at Iowa State: Jeannette Mukayisire, Human Sciences; Christine Knight-Gipe, Extension Finance; and Hanna Bates, Iowa Water Center.
  • My next round of visits begins next week, with sessions in Region 5, Aug. 27; Region 6, Aug. 28; and Region 12, Aug. 29. I hope to visit all 20 regions by mid-October.

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

Marketing Hometown America

John Lawrence’s message from April 30, 2018

Sometimes a close look in the mirror can be good for the soul: not so close that you over analyze every pore, but close enough that you acknowledge the negative while also recognizing the positive that was there all along. That’s how you end up with a new perspective. It’s true for people and it’s also true for communities. Some have lost population and businesses, but if they take a closer look, they can recognize the qualities they have to attract new people and jobs. Our Community and Economic Development unit is offering a new program to help our rural small towns gain this new perspective. Did you know?

  • CED is offering “Marketing Hometown America,” a program to help communities home in on what people are looking for when they choose a place to live and do business.
  • Communities in two counties are participating in the first round: Mapleton in Monona County and Mondamin, Modale and Pisgah in Harrison County.
  • Our CED specialists train local facilitators to lead study circles in these communities. For four weeks, small groups within each community study community connections and develop ideas for marketing and action plans. Mapleton’s 18 participants finished their study circles April 24. Harrison County’s 30 participants represent the school district, a 4-H group, an ag leaders group and a local business group. They have one more week of study circles.
  • After the study circles are completed, our CED specialists bring all the participants from the groups together for an action planning forum. The groups present their ideas, and our specialists help them write their marketing plan and form groups to implement their goals.
  • By discussing community issues in a relaxed, civil and welcoming space, participants are building social capital as they plan for their shared future.

Cooperative Extension services in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota already have had success with the program. CED is working in partnership with the other universities to track impacts in expanded leadership, amenity improvements, increased networking, expanded civic awareness, marketing actions, and increasing adult and youth engagement in these communities.

One more thing: This summer 12 Rising Star interns from three colleges (three from Human Sciences, three from Design and six from Agriculture and Life Sciences) will be serving in four regions. This is the first year Region 2 is participating and these interns will focus on community and economic development. The interns in regions 1, 5 and 20 will focus on local foods and youth outreach. The interns participated in orientation April 21, learning about payroll requirements, advancement, social media and other topics they’ll need to know about as temporary extension employees. In mid May they’ll each begin their 480 hours collaborating as regional teams to make an impact in Iowa communities. We wish them all an educational and satisfying experience.

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

What regional directors do

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 6, 2017

In ISU Extension and Outreach, our 20 regional directors work to strengthen the partnership between Iowa State University and county extension districts, resulting in improved institutional outreach and higher quality of life for all Iowans. This statement from the website sounds good, but to understand what regional directors do, consider some examples. Did you know?

  • Regional directors help county extension council members serve effectively. They educate and consult with councils so they are better able to meet the legal, financial and programmatic needs of their extension district.
  • They advise councils and county staff members throughout the complex task of preparing a county budget.
  • Regional directors represent the ISU Vice President of Extension and Outreach in the field and raise the awareness of research and resources available from Iowa State University with extension councils, county staff members and local stakeholders.
  • Regional directors encourage county extension councils to collaborate and implement new initiatives such as the Rising Star Internship program and the Engaged Scholarship program.
  • They also facilitate annual county needs assessments, working in partnership with extension specialists across our four program areas.

Our regional directors have a variety of previous work experience – including K-12 education, social work, city administration and the U.S. Air Force. They also vary by degree – including ag economics, communications, horticulture, and family and consumer sciences. However, they all are deeply committed to taking our university to the people and communicating the needs of Iowans to Iowa State – to help shape research and program priorities.

Sharing Iowa’s history

Last week in Albia, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg helped commemorate the 160th anniversary of the State Historical Society of Iowa and the 50th anniversary of the Iowa Arts Council. The governor and lieutenant governor issued a proclamation, and the governor also added a sticker to the map on the Iowa History 101 mobile museum to recognize the visit to Monroe County, part of the museum’s 99 county tour. We’re glad to be a partner in this effort to bring our state’s history to Iowans.

One more thing: Last week I congratulated the football, cross country and volleyball teams on their success. Iowa State has one more national recognition to celebrate. The Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band has been recognized as one of the nation’s top marching bands. The band has won the 2017-2019 Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The award was announced last December, but the band was honored at the 2017 Homecoming football game. The Drumline from the band performed at the Office Professionals Conference and Youthfest, and they know how to liven up a room. Congratulations to these dedicated students.

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

Strong partnerships for prevention

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 30, 2017

Each partnership is stronger than the one before: That is the model for the work Human Sciences Extension and Outreach does with the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State. This successful working relationship began in the 1990s, with interventions designed to address youth substance abuse and other problem behaviors. As they’ve increased competencies in families and youth, their work has led to a robust research base and international acclaim. Did you know?

  • Human sciences specialists, county staff and community members have led the internationally renowned “Iowa Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14” since the early 1990s. SFP 10-14 is evidence-based, which means we have the research to prove it gets results.
  • Experience with earlier projects led to PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience). These partnerships make it easier to deliver scientifically tested interventions and promote youth competence. Several human sciences specialists spend about 20 percent of their time as prevention coordinators in PROSPER counties.
  • Mackenzie Johnson, a human sciences specialist in family life, is working with PROSPER staff to update the “Family Matters” curriculum, which will be used with two PROSPER projects. She will help the team remain true to the core components of the evidence of the curriculum while updating it to be engaging and usable for today’s parents.
  • Specialists Sara Sprouse, Joyce Lash, Mackenzie Johnson and Lori Hayungs recently were trained in the “Universal Prevention Curriculum.” The goal of the series is to ensure effective delivery of prevention interventions. PROSPER offered this opportunity to our staff in appreciation for the partnership Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has with PPSI.

It is more effective to prevent substance abuse and other problem behaviors before they begin, than to try to stop them after they start. It’s not rocket science; it’s prevention science – and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is a key partner in sustaining these efforts.

A few more notes

  • Iowa State University has a new president, with a close extension connection. Wendy Wintersteen began her career as a field agronomist in east central Iowa, served as an integrated pest management extension associate and worked her way up with leadership positions in ISU Extension and Outreach, as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. We look forward to working with ISU President-Select Wintersteen. (Her official start date is Nov. 20. See the news release and her first message to the Iowa State community.)
  • The application deadline for the 2018 Rising Star Internship program is Nov. 1. For a reminder of why we support this program, watch this video: some of our 2017 Rising Star Interns share their stories.
  • Congratulations to Iowa State’s Women’s and Men’s Cross Country Teams winning the Big XII championship, Women’s Volleyball knocking off #11 Kansas and the Football victory over the second top 5 team in a month. All in Homecoming week!

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

20 years of IECA

John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 9, 2017

We’ve been celebrating a lot of county 100-year anniversaries this year, and next year we’ll be celebrating even more. However, there’s another important occasion coming up in 2018: The Iowa Extension Council Association will be 20 years old. The association was incorporated in January 1998. Did you know?

  • IECA provides a way for our county extension councils to have a greater impact and voice on local and state issues. The association monitors legislative action and alerts IECA members to proposed legislation that might affect ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • IECA communicates directly with ISU Extension and Outreach leadership. The board members and executive director make sure we hear concerns, opinions and suggestions from councils throughout the state. They also keep county council members and staff up-to-date on ISU Extension and Outreach plans, policies and initiatives.
  • IECA helps facilitate extension council training, including webinars, extension council orientation and the 2018 Extension Council Conference. IECA members also meet to discuss best practices, common issues and solutions to common problems. This knowledge sharing helps councils adopt necessary changes more quickly.
  • Each spring IECA hosts a legislative day and 4-H public leadership experience at the Iowa Capitol. Council members serve as mentors for selected 4-H’ers, who have the opportunity to meet with legislators and learn about the legislative process.

I met with the IECA Board of Directors in late September. We from campus provided updates on 4-H, a survey of county leaders and progress on a couple of MOUs. The board asked thought-provoking questions and we had a good discussion. Thanks to the IECA structure, we can easily share information and gather feedback. Effective partnerships require communication and trust, and the IECA/ISU Extension and Outreach connection is key to the shared success of both counties and campus.

A couple more notes

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

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