Responding to Structured for Success

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 9, 2019

For three weeks now, the Structured for Success proposal has been top of mind for many of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. During our first three area-wide meetings, we’ve had good discussions about proposed Models 1 and 2. We’ll be discussing the proposal at the remaining area-wide meetings as well, on Sept. 10 and 20.

In addition, many extension staff and council members have been using our new virtual suggestion box to share their perspectives on the proposed models. I am reading every comment submitted. Some people have offered ideas for alternative models. Some are asking questions, and Andrea Nelson and I are providing answers in FAQ documents. Others have been expressing their worries or concerns, which may not have an “answer.”

A few individuals were upset by the way the proposal was announced, and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. We announced the proposal during a webinar because it seemed to be a good way to provide the information to everyone at the same time.

Some people have been voicing concerns about the role of regional directors in the proposed models and how they will be assigned to the new regions. Others wonder whether staff who will be transitioning to a different role – in a region or in a county – will have the necessary skills for the new role. They’re anxious about degree requirements for the career path from one role to another. Some people are worried about what the proposal means for their council and their county budget. Others are concerned about where the final regional borders will be drawn and how the new regions will affect existing partnerships across county lines.

The first three FAQ documents address questions the Structured for Success Committee had anticipated, as well as the questions we received during the webinar and in the first few days afterward. As we compare those FAQs with the comments continuing to come in via the virtual suggestion box, we are seeing some common themes in the questions that are being asked and some common confusion about what the committee envisioned for the proposal. We are putting together a new FAQ to address these themes and, we hope, lessen the confusion. It will be added to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff) by the end of this week.

I will be holding virtual listening sessions by Adobe Connect at the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m.

Please remember that the Structured for Success Committee reviewed information collected during the 2018 Listening Sessions, gained from the Internal Communications Task Force Report, and gathered from our counties and from other states in the north central region. After completing this review, the committee determined that to be successful, ISU Extension and Outreach’s organizational structure must enable us to:

  • effectively educate and serve Iowans with resources from Iowa State;
  • increase focus on engagement, programming, and partnership development;
  • recruit and retain talented, professional, and passionate staff;
  • reduce the burden on councils related to human resources, finance, and program selection; and
  • improve communication and accountability within our system.

These are the goals for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. You may continue to provide feedback until Oct. 11 through the virtual suggestion box or by phone or email to any member of the Structured for Success committee. Then we’ll review the feedback and revise the proposal as needed. Our target date for sharing the final version is Oct. 21.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Structured for Success proposal and thank you for all you do for ISU Extension and Outreach.

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

Helping custodial grandparents and grandchildren

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 3, 2019

In Iowa approximately 13,000 grandparents have custody of their grandchildren and are responsible for their care, without the birth parents being present. These children – more than 20,000 throughout the state – likely were exposed to adversity early on and may exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties at home and at school. Their grandparents may experience depression and anxiety from the stress of child care and may face health challenges due to aging. Despite their needs and challenges, both groups are underserved, with little access to social and technical resources. That’s why Human Sciences recently was awarded a Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant to improve the lives of custodial grandparents and grandchildren here in Iowa. Did you know?

  • Jel Lee, an extension state specialist and assistant professor in human development and family studies, is principal investigator for the five-year, $640,000-grant focused in Story and Woodbury counties. Her team includes Amie Zarling and Jiyoung Choi from the College of Human Sciences, and Brenda Allen, Eugenia Hartsook, Malisa Rader, Molly Hewitt and Lori Hayungs, all with ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • They’ll be using an evidence-based program that is based on the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model to improve positive developmental and mental health outcomes for custodial grandparents and their middle school-age, custodial grandchildren.
  • The program has online and in-person components to promote emotional regulation, self-efficacy, decision-making skills, prosocial attitudes and behavior change necessary for fulfilling and contributing lives. The team also will incorporate various types of 4-H activities.

Next round of area-wide meetings

With three down and two to go in our first round of area-wide meetings, we have set dates for the next quarter’s meetings. Mark your calendar and save the date for an area-wide meeting near you:

  • Southwest: Nov. 26, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic.
  • Southeast: Dec. 2, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Cambridge Building, Fairfield.
  • Northwest: Dec. 5, Aurelia Community Center, Aurelia.
  • Northeast: Dec. 6, location to be determined.
  • Central: Dec. 11, Polk County Extension Office, Altoona.

One more note: Three sets of Structured for Success FAQs are available. FAQ #1 was developed by the Structured for Success Committee in anticipation of potential questions. FAQ #2 provides answers to questions that were submitted during the Aug. 20 webinar. FAQ #3 addresses questions submitted via the virtual suggestion box. Extension staff and faculty can access the FAQs via MyExtension; councils should go to this County Services page. Continue to review the proposal and keep asking questions; we will provide answers as promptly as possible.

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

Discovering rocket science

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 26, 2019

Like many people, this summer I’ve been fascinated by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing. I remember watching it on a black and white TV with tin foil on the rabbit ears to improve the reception. The anniversary brings out our inner rocket scientist – whether we remember the Apollo program or, for younger Iowans, are learning about it for the first time. Our 4-H aerospace project area is helping young people discover that rocket science is not only interesting, it’s also fun and offers a future career. Did you know?

  • In July, some of our county offices offered youth the opportunity to participate in the Global Rocket Launch challenge, an effort by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to break a world record for launching rockets on one day. To keep the momentum going, 4-H STEM specialist Sara Nelson authored a Global Rocket Launch facilitator guide. The activities in the guide can be used throughout the year to encourage youth to learn about rockets and NASA.
  • The STEM-Lit to Go! Iowa Clover Kids curriculum Includes a “Blast Off!” lesson. Youth learn about astronauts Peggy Whitson and Clayton Anderson and participate in space-themed activities.
  • The FLEx mobile learning platform will be adding activities related to aerospace discovery as well. FLEx Space is designed to engage youth around the Apollo anniversary, the 60th Anniversary of NASA, and a variety of historical, current, and future earth and space concepts. FLEx Space was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

In 4-H aerospace, youth build skills by working the way scientists and engineers do – in teams. They get to solve problems and make decisions using science process skills, and they learn how science relates to the real world and people’s lives. Here’s to the next generation of Iowa rocket scientists!

More notes

  • Please review the Structured for Success draft proposal and other materials. (Staff may access the materials from MyExtension. Councils have access from County Services.) Discuss the proposal with your colleagues and provide your feedback by Oct. 11. You may send feedback initially via our virtual suggestion box. Additional ways to provide feedback will become available over the next several weeks. Thank you for your assistance in determining an organizational structure that will help us effectively educate and serve Iowans.
  • Our area-wide meetings begin this week: southwest on Aug. 28, and northeast and central on Aug. 29. We’ll learn about rural resiliency and discuss extension’s role in helping communities thrive. We’ll also talk about Structured for Success and emerging issues, get program updates and have time for networking.
  • David Hora, Washington County 4-H member and an innovator for Continuum Ag, received the $5,000 Best of Show award at the Iowa State University entrepreneurial pitch-offs at the Iowa State Fair. In addition, two pitches sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach were among the seven finalists receiving $2,500 awards. The Civil Teen Discourse 4-H group of Owynn McNutt, Charlize DeArmond and Nicholas Stocks received the $2,500 Youth Entrepreneur Award. Lynn Bolin, with the New Day Dairy pitch, received the $2,500 Community Entrepreneur Award. Congratulations to these honorees and thank you to all who participated in this event.

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

Building a culture of conservation

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 19, 2019

It started as a simple idea: helping farmers talk to other farmers about protecting Iowa’s soil and water. Fifteen years later, Iowa Learning Farms has built a strong foundation for a culture of conservation. Their multidisciplinary approach to increase adoption of conservation practices has led to greater natural resource protection throughout our state. Did you know?

  • Farmers, researchers and ILF team members work together to identify and implement best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable.
  • Program director Jacqueline Comito says ILF now has 88 farmers located in 51 Iowa counties. Field days have grown from five to 32 annually (with more than 265 field days over 15 years) and have engaged more than 13,621 attendees. In addition, cover crops were planted on more than 880,000 acres in 2018.
  • ILF partners include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, ISU Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319) and GROWMARK Inc.
  • ILF also reaches out to all Iowans through community outreach, the Conservation Stations and an online and social media presence. The Conservation Stations have been in all 99 counties at least once, for 1,286 events reaching 185,535 people.

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Aug. 21 at noon about how the program has evolved over the past 15 years and what new goals and challenges the future holds. (If you can’t watch it live, you can watch the archive on the ILF website for watching at any time.) You also can learn more from ILF’s 15-year report, “Building a Culture of Conservation – 2004-2019.

Structured for Success: Link for Aug. 20 Webinar

On Aug. 20 at 3 p.m. the Structured for Success Committee will present a draft proposal and models for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. The URL for the live webinar will be https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo.

Please plan to participate. The committee is sharing this proposed plan to start a discussion and requests your feedback. During the webinar if time allows, the committee will take questions at the end of the presentation. After the webinar, we will send the link to the white paper and executive summary that describe the committee’s process and findings. Answers to frequently asked questions also will be available. The webinar will be archived for later viewing, and this link will be available on Aug. 21.

There will be multiple ways to provide feedback over the next several weeks. Thank you for your assistance in determining an organizational structure that will help us effectively educate and serve Iowans.

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

Taking research on the road

John Lawrence’s message from June 10, 2019

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has been making sure the “Adventure Comes to You” for a few years now. These annual travelling road shows of Iowa State research have helped Iowans examine the facts about processed foods and health, learn how mindful eating and behavior contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and explore youth literacy. This year’s adventure, “The Latest in Literacy” in partnership with the School of Education, will take place June 17 in Muscatine. Did you know?

  • Participants will learn about strategies that teachers, parents and communities can use to help children develop language and learning skills to be ready for kindergarten. They’ll also learn how supporting positive behavior can help struggling readers and writers.
  • Other topics include using immersive learning games to foster teamwork and critical thinking, supporting early literacy through active STEM learning, and evaluating pictures, themes and representations of students with disabilities.
  • The workshop is designed for teachers, early childhood educators, school administrators, home visitors, librarians, volunteers who run after-school programs, parents and guardians, and anyone else interested in supporting literacy.

“Adventure Comes to You” is another way ISU Extension and Outreach contributes to workforce development. We share Iowa State faculty expertise and current research to support literacy education, and we take time to learn about the needs and questions of local communities.

Structured for Success

In the summary from the May 22 Structured for Success committee meeting, I mentioned that we would announce a draft of alternative plans in early June to begin gathering feedback from councils and staff. As we continue to refine the plans, it is clear that we are “not ready for prime time.” We would rather not release premature drafts, so we are adjusting our schedule.

Later this summer (after fair season), we will announce draft proposals and provide an opportunity for local discussion and multiple methods of gathering feedback. I also am moving the completion date for the committee to release the revised or final alternative models from September to a later date this fall. This discussion is too important to rush.

State Fair Pitch Competition 2019 – Extension and Outreach Call for Proposals

It’s time to propose your “pitch” to be part of Iowa State’s 2019 Iowa State Fair exhibit on entrepreneurship and innovation. Extension and Outreach “pitches” featuring civic innovation or youth development efforts will be featured at the fair on Aug. 11-12. Anyone in ISU Extension and Outreach may submit a proposal now for this opportunity to showcase an innovative or entrepreneurial project with a live, 10-minute pitch at State Fair. If your proposal is selected for pitching, you will be awarded $500 for your project, and be in the running for more prize money.

Review the Call for Proposals on MyExtension; if you have questions, contact Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, koesterb@iastate.edu. Then submit a brief proposal to your unit leader or send your proposal directly to Billie. Don’t delay – the winning proposals will be selected on or before June 21. Help represent the innovative spirit of ISU Extension and Outreach to potentially thousands of fair-goers.

Dodds announces retirement

Assistant Vice President for County Services Bob Dodds announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019. He had alerted me earlier of his plans, something about a retired wife and grandkids in Texas, but he wanted to postpone the announcement. I want to thank Bob for his service to ISU Extension and Outreach as the County Extension Education Director for Lee County, Regional Director for Region 20 and most recently as Assistant Vice President. His focus is always on how ISU Extension and Outreach can best educate and serve Iowans and he did that by helping colleagues be successful. Much of Bob’s work was on the less glamorous but necessary tasks such as improving liability insurance coverage for counties; educating council members to better understand financial statements; onboarding newly elected council members or changing the date the councils must publish their year-end statements in local newspapers. However, he also provided navigation through difficult issues and was a steady hand on the wheel as our organization moves forward. He will be missed.

There will be a reception for Bob June 27, 2:30-4 p.m. in Beardshear Hall. I will be naming an interim AVP for County Services in the near future.

Goodbye … and welcome

In May we said goodbye to the following individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach:

  • Anita Jeltema, Sioux County office assistant.
  • Lindsey Tague, Clinton County executive financial assistant.
  • Juan Ramirez, Dallas County youth and families education coordinator.
  • Morgan Matthews, Emmet County youth coordinator.
  • Kim Martley, Wayne County office assistant.
  • Jennifer Anderson, administrative specialist I, 4-H Youth Development.

We welcome the following new staff:

  • Meghan Gray, Montgomery County youth coordinator.
  • Denise Wolf, Adams County office assistant.
  • Lori Mitchell, Montgomery County program coordinator.
  • Cynthia Adamson, Greene County office assistant.
  • Chyan Metzger, Kossuth County youth coordinator.
  • Summer Beery, Sioux County K-3 program coordinator.
  • Michaela Ostendorf, Story County media and ANR program coordinator.
  • Aubrey Houska, Clay County youth coordinator.
  • Katherine Stewart, O’Brien County K-12 program coordinator.
  • Anne Tedore, extension program specialist II, 4-H Youth Development.

One more note: Read the June program update from the leadership team for current examples of what is happening across our programs.

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

Integrated Crop Management … times 30

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 26, 2018

2018 has been a challenging year for Iowa crop production, given difficult growing conditions, tight margins and uncertainty on trade issues. That is all the more reason for farm operators to make informed, research-based decisions to increase the likelihood for success. It’s no surprise that 900 farmers, agribusiness professionals, industry representatives and educators are coming to Ames Nov. 28-29 for the Integrated Crop Management Conference. It’s the 30th annual meeting of inquiring ag minds to network and learn about research findings and technology from across the Midwest. Did you know?

  • This year guest speakers will discuss in-field variability and effects on yield, digital technology in U.S. crop production, nitrogen needs and recommendations, tar spot in corn, and crop rotation and environmental stresses limiting corn and soybean yields.
  • The 2018 program also will include weather and crop market outlooks, selling cover crop seed, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, insect resistance to Bt crops, soybean gall midge, and weed and crop disease management updates.
  • New this year is the Women in Ag Breakfast, offering women attending the conference an opportunity to network, discuss common goals and challenges, and explore potential mentoring or programming ideas.
  • Last year attendees reported they had direct impact on 1.8 million acres of corn and soybeans, and estimated a profit increase of $5-10 per acre because of knowledge they gained from the conference.

ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the ICM conference, and every year bring together a diverse range of topics, a slate of expert presenters, and results of the latest university research to help Iowa agriculture thrive, no matter the challenges.

More notes

  • Our Women in Ag program’s conference, “The Conversations of Leadership,” is already in progress and continues tomorrow. Speakers and panelists are covering a variety of leadership topics from conflict resolution to farm transition decisions, career conversations and organizational leadership. All sessions are designed to build skills that enhance women’s leadership on and off the farm.
  • I will be visiting with campus-based extension staff and faculty today and again on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Both sessions are 3-4:30 p.m. in 3228 Memorial Union. Like my visits to all 20 regions, the primary purpose of these visits is to listen and learn, and gather input to inform our needs assessment and help us carry out our strategic plan.
  • The 2019 Annual Conference planning team needs your help. Please send your selfie to Rachel Tendall, rtendall@iastate.edu, by noon, Dec. 3. She’ll be compiling all the photos she receives into an ISU Extension and Outreach team portrait that will be revealed when the conference registration opens. Close-up photos are preferred, and feel free to show your personality.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Dec. 4 and 5 in the Humboldt County office in Humboldt. Registration is open.
  • For an update on the Internal Communications Task Force Nov. 16 meeting, read the executive summary on Cybox.
  • The Structured for Success committee met Nov. 19. Check the website for a video report and related documents from the meeting.

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

WOW: Our building, councils, awards and EIE grants

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 5, 2018

It’s always a good idea to remember your anniversary. So I want to make sure you’re all aware that Nov. 8 is the 15th anniversary of the Extension 4-H Building, home of the WOW Center. Did you know?

  • WOW stands for “Why Opportunity Works.” The WOW Center was designed as an interactive area to interest youth in STEM and other fields in higher education.
  • In the WOW Center you’ll find two additions to Iowa State’s Art on Campus program: terrazzo floors by artists Carolyn Braaksma and Brad Kaspari, and a bronze casting of Christian Petersen’s “4-H Calf.” (Depending on the day, you also might find a “STEM Lit to Go!” or other 4-H materials assembly line or a meeting, workshop or other activity taking place.)
  • ISU Extension and Outreach broke ground for the building on June 27, 2002. 4-H youth, ISU and extension administrators, and representatives from the Iowa 4-H Foundation and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation participated.
  • The building was completely funded by $4.7 million in private contributions from individuals, businesses and organizations. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation provided $1 million to help build the new facility. Pioneer Hi-Bred International also contributed to the project.
  • When the building was dedicated Nov. 8, 2003, it was heralded as a gateway to Iowa State University and a welcoming place for Iowa youth and their families.

Also remember to thank our extension council members, who “wow” us with their support for ISU Extension and Outreach every day. They bring their understanding of local issues to important decisions about extension educational opportunities. They must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars as they bring significant programs to their county to help people solve critical issues affecting their lives.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Iowa voters in every county have the opportunity to elect five members to their county council. Depending on the county, candidates on this year’s ballot include Iowans who are running for the first time as well as incumbents seeking another term. Beginning in December, we’ll be providing orientation training for these new and returning council members.

Here are two more “wows” to acknowledge the great work you all do.

  • It’s time to submit nominations for ISU Extension and Outreach Awards. Check the awards website for the list of awards, eligibility and criteria, and nomination forms. The awards nomination deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. The deadline is earlier this year because our annual conference is Feb. 28, earlier than in previous years. The awards will be presented during annual conference. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible, as are volunteers and extension councils.
  • Apply now for Excellence in Extension grants to improve and enrich the quality of ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs. All ISU Extension and Outreach employees (campus, field and county) are eligible. Up to $17,000 will be awarded in 2019 for professional development and continuing education, program innovation and program improvement. Individual grant information and application instructions are online. The grants submissions deadline is noon, Jan. 4, 2019. If you have questions about the grants or application, contact Alison Boelman, aboelman@iastate.edu.

More notes

  • The Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, and ISU Extension and Outreach will award three $80,000 grants ($40,000 per year for two years) to eligible ISU Extension and Outreach county offices to participate in “PROSPERing Step-by-Step, State-by-State” (P2S). The primary goal of the P2S project is to address opioid misuse in rural counties through the delivery of programs that are evidence-based or reviewed and endorsed by the National Extension Opioid Crisis Response Workgroup. The funding is provided for an educator’s time on the project and to implement required activities. Nov. 30 is the deadline for completing a P2S Readiness/Capacity Assessment form, an initial step in the county grant selection process. For more information about this opportunity check the website, http://helpingkidsprosper.org/p2s.
  • Check the November program update from the leadership team.
  • Structured for Success – Please provide the committee your input through Structured for Success Survey 1 on two important questions: 1) What are the essential functions for ISU Extension and Outreach to successfully educate and serve Iowans and 2) What questions would you ask of other states to better understand how their extension system is organized. You may also leave other feedback for the committee through this anonymous survey. If you have an extension colleague in another state and would like to help us collect information on how that state is organized, please let me know.
  • The next “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” workshops are Nov. 13 and 14 at the Mills County office in Malvern. Registration is open.
  • Please do not have clients send soil samples to the Soil and Plant Analysis Lab in Agronomy. The lab is closed and no longer is processing samples. Discussions are underway about modernizing and reopening the lab, but if and when it happens will be well into the future. Check with your field agronomist or horticulture specialists for the name and addresses of private labs that will process soil samples.

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

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