Region 3 Takes on Ames

This last week was productive and fun for Region 3! We finished our visits to the businesses that donated to allow us to be here by visiting the United Bank and Trust and Central Park Dentistry in Sheffield, IA. We had a meeting for the Top of Iowa Trail group where we shared some of our ideas for final project and got some of their ideas about prioritization and existing trails. Group members drew the routes they ride on existing roads on the large map in the selfie of everyone who attended the meeting.









Later in the week we traveled to the Ames area for our daycare project. Our first stop was Acorns and Oaks, which is an intergenerational care facility in Perry, IA. It was a very interesting facility to tour and we learned a lot from speaking with the daycare director, staff, residents, and children! It was great to see how happy and excited everyone was there. One of the many neat things we were shown was the driving simulator and sensory/dress-up room in their memory care unit. The children and residents alike enjoy the use of these activities together! We can’t wait to bring this information back to Sheffield as an option!










After our visit to Acorns and Oaks we headed to Ames. Lunch at Blaze Pizza was first on our Ames agenda. After lunch we met with the Lab School Director at Iowa State University to ask her about intergenerational care vs. a regular daycare. She was very helpful and answered all of our many questions! The rest of the week we continued to work on putting our projects together and getting ready for our next meeting with the daycare committee.

Week 5 was berry sweet for Region 20

We have conquered another week here in Southeast, Iowa.  Our week started off very busy on Monday with our library program in Danville and a farmer’s market in Fort Madison.  At the library, our goal was to promote local strawberries that we got from the prison farm here in Mount Pleasant. We had everyone try a store-bought versus garden-grown strawberry and then made a fruit salsa with the strawberries and some homemade cinnamon chips to dip. It was a huge hit and we didn’t have any fruit salsa left by the end of the hour! It was kids’ night at the Fort Madison Farmer’s Market so we brought along our pea shoot growing kits. We let the kids try different parts of the pea, gave them a quick run-down on how to grow their own pea shoots, and then let them take home their own kit to grow themselves. It was another huge success seeing that we only had 3 out of 35 kits left! Who knew it could be so much fun to promote local fruits and veggies?! 


We went back to the Christamore Family Treatment Center on Tuesday to see how the kid’s salsa garden was doing that we planted in May and mentioned in our week two blog. After they had some gardening refreshers from Morgan Hoeing, we made a fruit smoothie and hummus using the blender bikes! Most of the kids had never seen a blender bike before, and if you haven’t either, well it’s exactly how you’re imagining it. It’s just a stationary bike with a blender attached, and all you have to do is pedal for the blender to work. We added the ingredients to the smoothie or the humus blender container and let the kids pedal to blend the ingredients together. Most of them loved the strawberry smoothie and some of them had never tried hummus before, so it was a day full of new experiences and tasty foods! 


We went back to Fort Madison on Wednesday to help out at the RSVP Garden. This garden is unique in the sense that all the produce grown is donated to the Fort Madison Food Pantry. It was a rainy morning, but we still got out in the mud to pull some weeds and harvest a few radishes. Tammy, the woman in charge of the garden, gave us a tour of the Fort Madison Food Pantry, which we hope to be volunteering at in the near future. She explained the various programs that they do within the community and how these programs are making a positive impact. Tammy is very passionate about her job and we are looking forward to volunteering with her at the food pantry or in the garden again this summer.  


Thursday morning began with another library program in Mount Pleasant. We discussed the differences between the locally grown strawberries versus the ones you can get in the storeand made the fruit salsa. Again, it was a huge hit and the kids really enjoyed cutting up the ingredients with kids-safe knives. Thursday evening, we got the opportunity to attend the Des Moines County Extension Council Meeting. We were able to introduce ourselves to the Des Moines County Council members and explain the various projects and activities we are doing this summer to promote local foods. It was another fulfilling week here in Southeast, Iowa, and we are going to be very busy next week so make sure you keep up to date on all of our social media pages to follow what we are doing. 

Region 1-Busy, Exciting, & Successful

Busy, exciting, and successful—those are the three words I would use to describe this week! On Saturday we were up and on the road by 6:30 am to head on over to Dickinson County for the 2nd Annual Okoboji Bike-N-Bite but of course, we had to stop and get our coffee kick at Starbucks before we were ready to take on the day. The sun was shining and a total of 285 riders enjoyed biking the trails through the lakes area tasting delicious bites of local foods from the amazing sponsors! Afterward, we set out to pick up the signs along the route and let’s just say we got the full experience of summer Boji traffic. Once we were finally finished, we treated ourselves to some shaved ice from Tropical Sno.

Alyssa and I with our Tropical Sno.

After a very quick turnaround, we were back at it Monday morning working in the Rock Rapids Demonstration Garden putting up fencing and setting up the irrigation system. That night we helped set up for PoP club and had the ladies from the Lyon county office cover for us, (THANKS LADIES!!) so we could make it to the Osceola County Extension Council meeting while Maddie ran the Sheldon PoP Club.

Tuesday afternoon we were at the Spencer YMCA teaching the Kids Club about the butterfly life cycle. We had them identify the differences between a male and female and then arrange life cycle cards in the correct order. At the end, they got to make their own life cycle to take home with them.

Butterfly Life Cycle Activity


Wednesday and Thursday, we spent our time at the Bight Beginning Daycare in Sibley as well as the Orange City Daycare planting our garden beds. The garden theme is a rainbow so each week we are talking about the health benefits of eating each color. This week we focused on the color red which benefits heart health and helps fight off illnesses.

Group selfie at the Sibley Daycare

To finish off the week, we will focus on planning Bite by the Barn, an event that will go on during the Clay County Fair in September that focuses on educating adults who are interested in learning more about basic agriculture.

As you can see, we have been quite busy but very successful. I am excited to continue moving forward with each of our projects, especially getting to know the kids a bit better each week. Be sure to stay tuned to keep up with what we are doing!

Until next time, Natalee

Cookin’ Up Some Camps

The past few weeks have been busy! Sorry that we have not been keeping you all updated.


During Week 2 was the Food Giveaway at Midtown. At this event, we were sampling a spinach fruit smoothie and a summer salad to the people who came to the food pantry. Many people were really surprised that they enjoyed the smoothie. Other people really enjoyed that we had recipes for them to use spinach since many people did not know many recipes with spinach.


Gustavo, Allison, and Claire at the Food Giveaway at the Midtown location during the food pantry

Our Spinach Fruit Smoothie that can be found in the Spend Smart Eat Smart app or website

Our Summer Salad!

Week 3 we had three events going on. First, we had a School Garden 101 Training. During this training, teachers from Sioux City and the surrounding areas come into the office and learn how to have a successful school garden. Then on Friday, we had a Chamber Coffee event in Onawa.  Where we had the opportunity to meet with more staff and community members. We ended the week by having our first PoP ( Power of Produce ) event at the Sioux City Farmers Market. We would say that we had a really good turn out! We had about 75 kids participate! We were sampling asparagus for the student to taste. Adding to that, we also had the students plant a seed so they can start their own garden back home!

Allison, Gustavo, and Claire getting ready for PoP at the Sioux City Farmers Market

Mark Raymond one of the Master Gardeners and Claire

Claire showing the campers how to plant a seed at POP


Gustavo getting interviewed by KITV









We have been planning our summer camps, and we are excited about what we have planned for the students. This week on June 12th is our COOK This! Camp. In this camp, the students will learn basic kitchen knowledge, gain cooking skills, and learn more about healthy eating. Also, the campers will learn how to decorate a cake for the afternoon dessert competition. Later in the month, we will have Grow With Us camp. In this camp, the students will learn basic gardening skills, cooking skills, participate in fitness activities and use their creativity by doing craft projects throughout the day. Stay tuned to learn more about Bike-n-Bike and Kids in the Kitchen!

Week 4 Region 20 Interns- Mooo’ving into June!

Another busy week has come and gone for Region 20 Rising Star Interns. This week was fun filled with many activities and events. Starting Monday, we traveled to Burlington and spent our morning pulling weeds and planting a variety of vegetables at a Master Gardener’s Donation Garden. Once finished at the garden, we went back to the Des Moines County office to prepare for a library program and sampling later in the afternoon. The vegetable we were doing samples for was one many have never tried, pea shoots!! We prepared a lesson, prepped materials, and created “grow your own” kits for the participants to take home. We then headed to the Danville Library for our library program where we had eight participants ranging from 7-85 years old! Everyone who participated had a blast learning about a pea’s life cycle, different types of peas, and how to grow pea shoots. We gave all of the participants frozen peas, snap peas, and pea shoots to try, and all but one loved the pea shoot so we call that a success! Once the tastings were over, all participants were able to take their own “grow your own” kit of pea shoots home so they could have more for themselves. We had a blast at our first library program, and look forward to more programs every Monday in Danville and every Thursday in Mount Pleasant for the month of June.

Tuesday started off with us heading to Hinterland Dairy in Donnellson, Iowa to celebrate dairy month. We will be working on a blog and a few videos to promote some dairy farms within Southeast Iowa since June is dairy month! While touring Hinterland dairy, we were able to see all the adorable calves, cows, barns, and even the new cheesemaking facility that will soon be up and running! They plan to start making cheddar cheese curds and quark, and the public will be able to purchase this fresh, locally made cheese very soon. We are so excited to go back and try! Tuesday afternoon we headed over to Montrose to do a food sampling at the Montrose Farmer’s Market. While at the market, we had so many people come to our booth and taste the roasted asparagus sample we made. Many people enjoyed it and for some, it was their first time trying asparagus. We loved having conversations with the people at the market about local foods and getting people to try new foods!


Wednesday was yet another very busy day. In the morning, we went to another dairy in Southeast Iowa called Hilltop Dairy Inc. where we had a blast touring the barns. While touring, we were able to see the calves again (our favorite part), cows, barns, and got a glimpse of what occurs on their operation. We loved getting to see yet another dairy farm and meeting the local producers. After the tour, we were even invited into their house for a yummy home-cooked meal! Our hearts and bellies were full after leaving Hilltop Dairy. After returning to the office, we started to prepare for the Alive After Five city chamber event that was held at the office. This is an event where city chamber members are able to tour one office per month, get to know a little bit more about what that specific office or organization does, and also be provided a meal. There were over 100 people in attendance at this event and we were able provide asparagus samples as we talked about our work as Rising Star Interns to the many people in attendance. We had a great time getting to know more community members and business owners as we promoted local foods and the Rising Star Internship Program


Thursday morning started off with the library program at the Mount Pleasant library where we were still focusing on pea shoots. Due to the fact school was still in session for the kids in Mount Pleasant, we had a much younger age group participating than we expected. There were seven kids at the program who ranged from ages 2-4. They all tried the different types of peas and were able to take their own “grow your own” kits home with them. The kids all loved getting to decorate their take-home kit and enjoyed trying the peas! The rest of Thursday and Friday we spent our time back in the office and worked on upcoming projects and events. Although this week was jam packed and very busy, we had a blast with everything we accomplished in just five days! Stay tuned to see what we will be up to next week!


  • Grace, Rachel, and Katelin

Region 3 Updates

Can you believe that region 3 interns have been here for four weeks and you haven’t heard from us yet!? We have been busy attending meetings, researching projects, sending surveys, and creating media for both of our economic development projects. We have been working from the Sheffield Library, the Northwood County Extension Office, and the Franklin County Extension Office. One of our projects is to help assess the childcare need and come up with solutions for the town of Sheffield and surrounding areas. For this project we have attended meetings of the Sheffield Betterment Foundation and the childcare subcommittee. We sent out and promoted a survey to assess the need of childcare in Sheffield and the surrounding area. We also were able to tour the existing daycare in Sheffield, called Apple Daycare.
Our other project is to aid in the creation and implementation of a recreational trail in Worth county. For this project we have attended city council meetings and Top of Iowa Trail Committee meetings. We also drove through some of the perspective trail areas in Worth County.
Generous donations from area businesses and extension offices allow us to be here doing the work we are. We were able to tour Sukup and thank them for their donation today. It was very interesting and we learned a lot!
We are looking forward to the next couple weeks full of meetings, visits, and tours!

Another Week Down for Region 1!

In a blink of an eye, week three has already come to end, as we completed another busy week. It has been a whirlwind first few weeks. It is only week three, and I already love being a Rising Star. I never realized how many projects were run by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach before starting the Rising Star Internship. A special shout out to all extension offices and your hard work, it has been amazing so far working alongside you and learning from you.

This week was our first week implementing garden related lessons in Spencer, Orange City, and Sibley. My favorite part was seeing the kid’s faces light up, as their hands shot into the air when they made a connection with the information we were teaching them. I loved hearing all of the kid’s former experiences with gardening. I am looking forward to returning each week to continue to get to know all of the kids and broaden their knowledge of gardening!

Maddie and Natalee working at Rock Rapids Farmers’ Market for PoP club.

Another first was PoP club. We ran a booth at both the Sheldon and Rock Rapids Farmers’ Market on Monday. Both locations had the kids taste test spinach. All the kids tasted the spinach, but lets just say not all of them swallowed it. All the kids were eager to start the activity and receive a $2 token to spend on any fresh fruits or vegetables. The activity for the week was bingo that required the kids to interact with not only other kids but vendors too. 

Maddie and Alyssa helping plant in the Rock Rapids Demonstration Garden.




This week also included lots of gardening (one of my favorite parts) in the Rock Rapids Demonstration Garden and Sanborn’s Donation Garden. It is exciting to return each week to see how the plants are growing and developing. I love gardening, and I am very excited to be able to put my hobby to use by helping the communities around the donation gardens.

To end our week, we will be in Dickinson County on Friday and Saturday to help set up and run Bike-N-Bite. If you haven’t already, check out Dickinson County Facebook page to learn more about Bike-N-Bite and see the promotional videos we personally made for all of participating vendors of Bike-N-Bite. It was great getting to meet and interact with all the vendor’s locations last week. We are looking forward to the actual event!

– Alyssa


Region 20 Week 3 Feels: excited, fulfilled, & ready for what’s next

Week three is complete for Region 20! We hope everyone had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend that carried on those same feelings through this past week. It was another busy (but exciting) week for us! Tuesday was a day filled with preparation for our local foods presentation and activity that we presented on Wednesday and Thursday for the final days of the SWITCH celebration. The fourth and fifth graders loved the activity of the local food which consisted identifying where the fresh produce came from by looking at food labels and then placing stickers of the food items on a giant world map so everyone could see the origin of their foods. After our presentation and activity, we spent the rest of our Wednesday and Thursday helping out where necessary and taking photographs of students’ excitement as they participated in the SWITCH celebration at the Rec Center. There was a total of 84 students on Wednesday and another 120 students on Thursday, which can probably imply how exhausted we were by Thursday evening.

Although we were tired from all the excitement with the kids, our Thursday was not over yet!  Jamming to some tunes, we pumped ourselves up on our drive over to the Jefferson Street Farmer’s Market in Burlington. We were thrilled to present our sample tasting of local French Breakfast radishes and a veggie dip that we prepared at our first farmers market. The tasting was a huge success and everyone seemed to love it! We even had one girl say “I don’t even like vegetables, but this is so good!” Along with the samples we handed out “locavore” stickers, reusable shopping bags, and produce basic sheets from the “Spend Smart. EatSmart” website. We ended up running out of our food samples, so we would definitely call our first farmers market a success! We were able to share information about ISU Extension and Outreach as well as promote local foods as we connected with the farmers market’s visitors. We look forward to these interactions with the Southeast Iowa community as we present more tastings at upcoming farmers markets.

Week 2 for Region 1 Interns

Week two has officially wrapped up for Region 1 interns! This past week has been full of daycare programming and prep work for the upcoming Bike-N-Bite that will take place in Dickinson County. We also stopped by Landsmeer Ridge Retirement Community located in Sioux County to help residents plant flowers on the property.

We also paid a visit to the Orange City Daycare to see where we will be planting the gardens. The staff was lovely and helped us get settled into where the day care program will be completed. We decided on a rainbow theme for the daycare lessons and could not be more excited to share this curriculum with children of both the Orange City Daycare and the Bright Beginnings Daycare in Sibley.

The biggest undertaking of the past week has been the promotional work for Bike-N-Bite. We traveled to Dickinson County Extension and Outreach to gather information on the vendors that will be participating in the 2nd Annual Bike-N-Bite in Okoboji. We got a chance to get to know the businesses that will be participating as well as the individuals who work behind the scenes to make the event happen. One of my favorite stops had to be Lisa’s Bake Shoppe where we were able to take in all the delicious smells while filming, and I didn’t mind the beautiful lake views that accompanied the journey either!

Everyone has been so welcoming at the county offices and really make us feel like we are a part of the extension team. They even let me steal a cup from the office coffee pot every now and then to fuel my caffeine addiction. We would like to thank Fred Hall, the dairy specialist at Sioux County, who took the time to meet with us to discuss his work and how we can apply this knowledge to the Adult Ag Citing Program we will be preparing for in the weeks to come.

We will definitely keep busy this summer, and look forward to all the programs we will continue to design and improve upon. Look next week to see our progress, and thank you for taking the time to read about our journey!


Week Two In The Books for Region 20!

We are finishing up with our second week here in Southeast, Iowa.  We started off our week on Monday prepping for the SWITCH celebration. SWITCH is an evidence-based obesity prevention program designed to help students adopt a healthy lifestyle. It was on Tuesday that the event occurred at the Lincoln Elementary with fourth and fifth graders. Our role in the SWITCH celebration was to do a local foods presentation and to encourage students to think about where their fruits and vegetables are coming from. We even provided a tasting of fruits and vegetables from different places around the world! Shortly after the presentation we went to the Mount Pleasant Rec Center and transitioned our roles to becoming group leaders and photographers for the event. It was a blast for the students, just as it was for us! It was inspirational to see how much fun the kids were having at the SWITCH celebration while they participated in a variety of physical activities. 

On Wednesday morning we got the opportunity to go to the Christamore Family Treatment Center and help the students weed and plant their garden. We assisted with planting a salsa garden which included tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, peppers, cilantro, and nasturtium. Later on, in the summer we will be returning to help them tend to their garden and harvest their produce to make the salsaWe then returned to the office to work on some upcoming events in June that we will be doing so stayed tuned for that!   

Bright and early on Thursday morning we had the opportunity to tour Blueberry Bottom Farm in Brighton, Iowa. While visiting we dove deep into the ins and outs of blueberry farming in our conversations with Kim Andersen, the producer. It was motivational to see the hard work, research, and efforts Andersen has put into the creation of her farm, and how those inputs resulted in the successful operation she has now achieved. We will be doing some promotional work with Blueberry Bottom Farm when blueberry month hits in July, so stay tuned! 

Thursday afternoon we got the opportunity to work and meet with Rachel Sweeney who serves as the registered dietitian for region 20, along with a few other counties. She informed us of everything we need to know for when we are working with food and presenting food demonstrations. A big thanks to Rachel for sharing all her knowledge and guidance with us.


Friday we continued to prep for the following week which includes more SWITCH celebrations, a farmer’s market, and gearing up for our upcoming library program. It was a short and sweet day, but we already had such a fulfilling work week!   

The first two weeks have consisted of a lot of new information and meeting many new friendly faces that we will be working with for the rest of our time here, and we cannot be more excited to continue this journey! A big thanks to everyone who has been very welcoming to us thus far, and to everyone who has been so patient with us as we are learning how to be successful Rising Star Interns.