Innovation, sustainability and cyber security

John Lawrence’s Monday Message from May 15, 2017

Using what works from past experience – something sustainable – to create something innovative. That was the topic of our 2017 Annual Conference and the challenge we put forth in our follow-up request for proposals. I am pleased to announce the recipients of our four $2,500 innovation and sustainability grants.

  • Jennifer Best, Scott County; Full-Service Community Schools Initiative – Davenport. Extension and Outreach will work with Madison Elementary and community leaders to educate families about a new preschool site, enroll neighborhood 4-year-olds in the program and support the families. Their goal is to ensure a best start to the children’s academic career.
  • Danielle Day, Dubuque County; Dubuque Farm to Institution Local Foods Project. This program will help build relationships between local farmers wanting to increase their scale of wholesale production and institutions looking for ways to increase their procurement of locally grown foods.
  • Leah Feltz, Hamilton County; Engaging the Latino Community. Hamilton County 4-H plans to grow sustainable relationships with strong informal leaders and beneficial programs within the Latino community. They also plan to add interpreters to their 4-H Clover Kids programming to grow a sense of belonging within their services.
  • Jed Findlay and Willy Klein, Advancement; Portable Educational Display for the Land Grant Legacy Project. Advancement will create a portable interactive media display containing stories, profiles and facts about Iowa’s land grant legacy to connect more Iowans to Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach. The goal is to offer an experience that strengthens a sense of community as it helps people from different cultural groups, backgrounds and interests begin to fashion a local culture that expresses their unity in being Iowan.

Another way we innovate is through technology. Before I started this interim vice president position, I signed off on “ANR by the Numbers,” a mini annual report for Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach. In 2016 we reported on our increasing engagement online – including 7.7 million webpage views, nearly 6 million unique visitors to our websites and more than 4 million downloads (webinars, podcasts and presentations). On May 1 enrollment opened for another ANR offering – an online review course to help Iowans prepare for the Certified Crop Adviser examination. The course includes presentations on crop, pest, nutrient, and soil and water management – all linked directly to CCA performance objectives. Participants can access the material on their schedule. CCAs work with farmers on nearly every acre every year, so the impact of this education is significant.

Online engagement is a big deal for all our program areas, units and departments in ISU Extension and Outreach. It also can be a huge vulnerability, as we increasingly do our work on our portable and hackable laptops, tablets and smartphones. We need to keep cyber security top of mind.

Have you changed your Net ID password lately? If you have, you are in the minority. Extension Information Technology says only 27 percent of ISU Extension and Outreach staff and faculty passwords are less than 1 year old. Did you know?

  • 49 percent of ISU Extension and Outreach staff and faculty passwords are 1 to 5 years old.
  • 11 percent are 5 to 10 years old.
  • 13 percent are more than 10 years old.

Passwords are not like our vehicles where age and miles are a point of pride. If you’re using an old password, it’s time for a change. If you’re using something easy, like cyclone1 or your dog’s name or 12345, it’s time for a change, too. I changed mine while I was writing this update. Now it is your turn.

Longer, complex passwords or passphrases are more secure than shorter, simple passwords. Good, strong passwords protect your personal information as well as the business, research and educational information of the university. Extension IT recommends changing your Net-ID password every six months (I put the reminder on my calendar.) and has suggestions for selecting a password that’s harder to hack. Follow the instructions  or call the Computer Support Hotline at 515-294-1725 if you need help. You’re going to be hearing more on this topic from University IT and Extension IT.

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

From our 2016 Annual Report

John Lawrence’s Monday Message from April 10, 2017

In my first few days as acting vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach, I have found myself thinking of Garrison Keillor’s opening line to his monologue: “Well it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.” While it may have been quiet for the regulars working under the green dome, to a newbie it sure seemed hectic. I moved into 2150 Beardshear on Saturday, April 1, and haven’t seen much of the office since. I am finishing a few things in my ANR position and sorting emails in the appropriate direction, all while getting up to speed about my new role on the ISU Extension and Outreach team.

Some of the things I’ve learned are from the 2016 Annual Report for ISU Extension and Outreach. Did you know?

  • More than 1 million people directly benefit from our programs each year. That’s one in three Iowans.
  • About 100,000 4-H youth are building skills for college and career readiness. That’s nearly 20 percent of all Iowa K-12 youth.
  • We support online courses for 50,000 users. They’d nearly fill Jack Trice Stadium – if, of course, they were here rather than online.
  • More than 16,000 volunteers partner with us – more than a sell-out crowd at Hilton Coliseum.
  • We reach more than 4 million with our digital presence. That’s four times the number of direct contacts.

We didn’t achieve these big wins on our own. Our 900 locally elected extension council members are right there with us, working for a strong Iowa. Their partnership is essential to our 99 county campus.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind this week:

  • Performance reviews for 2016 must be completed by April 15, 2017.
  • Proposals are due April 17 for innovation and sustainability projects. We’ll be awarding four grants of $2,500 each. Download the RFP from the See You There blog.
  • The Iowa History 101 Mobile Museum will be coming to a county near you sometime in the next three years. Watch our video about the museum’s stop at annual conference, and learn how we’ll be working with the State Historical Society of Iowa on this project.

Well, one week down, not that I’m counting. I’m in this for as long of a haul as necessary. Early reports indicate I haven’t dropped the ball so far, and that’s thanks to all of you. Because in ISU Extension and Outreach, we all keep each other at the top of our game.

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

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