Monthly Archives: June 2019

Region 3 – Crossing the Halfway Point

We have been hard at work here in Region 3 as we come to the halfway point of our internship.

Last week we met with the Sheffield Betterment Foundation and North Iowa Area Council of Governments (NIACOG). The Sheffield Betterment Foundation was having their monthly meeting. We joined them, showed them the logos and brochure that we made for their committee, and discussed the childcare project. This day we also went to the Rodeo at the Worth County Fair!

Later in the week we traveled to Mason City and had a very informative and productive meeting with Chris Diggins at NIACOG about possible funding and past work on both of our projects. After this meeting we stopped for lunch at a tasty Italian restaurant.

This week, we had a meeting with the daycare committee. We discussed our visits to Acorns and Oaks and Cub Cadets as well as ideas we had about the survey and in-home daycare information.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we traveled to Iowa State University to present about the Rising Star internships to high school 4-Hers attending the State 4-H Youth Conference. We had 5 attendees at both sessions that were involved and interested in the workshop.












Friday of this week we met with the other Rising Star regions over a zoom meeting and enjoyed catching up on what everyone else is doing in their regions.

As we look forward to the coming weeks we plan to start work on our final reports and presentations!

Half way done for Region 1!

It seems like just yesterday, we were arriving to Sheldon, moving into our little apartment, and getting to know one another. Somehow, it is already the halfway point of our internship. Over the past few weeks, I have gained some of the most valuable experiences of my life. I have learned so many new skills and ideas that will be very beneficial in my everyday life and future career. Now, not all of the things I have learned have been “educational”. Over the past few weeks, traveling from county to county, I have developed favorite places to stop. Here is the official top 5 list of the best places to go (more like eat) in the Northwestern part of Iowa from Region 1 interns.

Number 1, Sheldon: If you’re from around Sheldon, you have probably heard of Dairy Dandy. Natalee and I enjoy late night drives for turtle sundaes. We definitely recommend the ice cream from here. Hmm… typing about makes me want to go eat some.

Number 2, Rock Rapids: The best place we have eaten at is by far Slade’s Drive In. They have the best bacon cheeseburger. If you have passed by without eating it, you should be ashamed and make a trip next time you are nearby.

Number 3, Orange City: Now this one is my ultimate favorite. Orange City’s Town Square Coffee House. They have a seasonal hibiscus lemonade that is amazing. Every time we drive by, I tell Maddie and Natalee we should stop for one.

Number 4, Okoboji: We haven’t spent much time in Okoboji, but a few weekends ago after Bike-N-Bite, we stopped by Tropical Sno for snow cones. Tropical Sno melts in your mouth. My favorite flavor is lemon-lime. This weekend, we will be at the Lakes Area Farmers’ Market in Spirit Lake, which means we might even have to stop again.

Number 5, Spencer: Just like Okoboji, we haven’t stopped much while in Spencer. However, we recently ate at Chens Garden, and the sesame chicken and crab rangoons were so good. We only have half of our summer left to explore more of Spencer.

As a Culinary Food Science major, my brain is always on food, but I can promise you we haven’t only been eating. This week has been another busy one. We had PoP club on Monday, Orange City Area Daycare and Spencer’s YMCA garden lessons on Tuesday followed by Bright Beginnings Daycare garden lessons and Sibley Donation Garden on Wednesday. This past week, we educated the kids on flowers and plant parts. Thursday was suppose to be spent in the Sanborn Donation Garden, but we got stormed out! Friday we will continue to plan for our Saturday’s food demonstration at Lakes Area Farmers Market where we will be serving a Summer Bounty Salad. We will also continue planning an educational program for adults called Bite By the Barn for the Clay County Fair.

Continue to follow us weekly on our blog, as we approach the final downhill slide!

– Alyssa

Halfway through the summer!

Wow the work weeks fly by down here in Region 20 and it never feels like work. I have been amazed by how much I enjoy each work week even when I am working eleven-hour days. I am convinced it’s because we are constantly doing a variety of things, cooking, and surrounded by delicious local foods!   

On Monday Rachel, Katelin, and I started the day off bright and early heading to Burlington to prepare for our library program and the Fort Madison farmer’s market. We had to split up this week because of the farmer’s market, so I went to the farmer’s market and Katelin and Rachel went to the library program. Once they got the farmer’s market, they gave me great feedback on how it went. Apparently, it was a crowd pleaser as several kids thought the roasted potatoes tasted like French fries. Rachel and Katelin also mentioned that the kids loved getting to dig up their own potatoes and getting to play potato bowling. At the farmers market I was handing out samples of turnips and kohlrabi with an awesome veggie dip from the spend smart eat smart app. I also handed out some reusable bags and magnets about when food was in season. It was another great night at a farmers market. Another perk about this internship is all the driving around and late nights allow you to try all the delicious local restaurants. We have found that Buffalo 61 in Fort Madison to be one of our favorite supper spots so far.  

 Tuesday our main focus for the day was to get prepared for another farmer’s market that night in Montrose, Iowa. It is right along the Mississippi River and has a railroad track going right behind the market making it an adorable place for a farmer’s market. At this specific farmer’s market, we switched it up a bit and had some relishes all made out of local produce that people could put on their pork tenderloins from the concession stand. It was another great night at the farmer’s market and I even got to take some of the leftover relish home. Free food is a big bonus in mybook.     

Throughout our summer we have been helping out at a few community gardens. One of the main one’s being the Fort Madison Food Pantry Garden. All of the produce grown at this garden goes directly to the food pantry. After we helped harvest some radishes, we got the opportunity to go to the food pantry and help package food. It was such a great experience and I am thankful that we were able to get to tie local food promotion into helping the hungry in the community. After our morning there we got some lunch at the Pitchfork Cafe which is at the Harvestville Farm in Donnellson, Iowa. Harvestville is an adorable farm that is all about selling and promoting local food. They have been a great help to us this summer by providing us local produce to use for samplings.

We wrapped our work week with our final library program in Mount Pleasant and we will be heading to the Jefferson Street Farmer’s Market later tonight.  It’s actually really sad that we are done with our library programs. It was fun to watch the kids learn about new foods and try new fruits and vegetables.  Especially when they enjoy activities like potatoes bowling as much as they do.  At the Jefferson Street Farmer’s Market the focus is all about “going green.” To support, we are doing a giveaway with reusable tumblers, grocery bags, mesh bags, straws, and beeswrap to wrap fresh produce in.  


Thanks for another great week Region 20, 

Grace W.  

Finishing the First Half of the Summer in Region 5

The Rising Stars started out week 5 with a regional council meeting.  This was a great chance for them to hear about updates being made in the area as well as inform the council members about how they have kept busy throughout the internship so far and what is planned to come.






On Tuesday and Wednesday of week 5, Gustavo and Claire were in LeMars assisting with the Mad Science 1 camp.  During this camp they lead the group on Jet pack cars that were powered by balloons and other creative activities that incorporated STEM.  Claire and Gustavo got to use their nutritional background during the snack lesson on grains.

Students experimenting with different bubble solutions


Allison was in Monona county to help with the summer garden at the West Monona Elementary School where she assisted in a lesson about honey and guided the students in weeding and tending to their garden.


All three of the Rising Stars got to help in leading the Grow With Us camp held at the Woodbury county office.  At this camp, students were taught about what plants need to grow and how they get nutrients.  It was an educational day with lots of activities for the students, including homemade bird feeders, marble paintings, and slime. 

The Sioux City farmers market brought in many new PoP Club members.  This weekend the kids, along with many adults, tried kohlrabi for the very first time and learned that they like it!  We also had the kids smelling all different kinds of herbs and trying infused water.

Allison was with our horticulture educator, Katelyn, on Saturday in LeMars handing out samples of strawberry salsa and promoting events coming up in Region 5.

With the start of week 6 and the second half of our time as Rising Stars, we are excited for what’s to come! For those following us in Siouxland, we’ve got our Farm to Fork dinner at Tucker Hill Vineyards in Hinton, Iowa coming up this Thursday, June 27.  Also, Bike N Bite will be on Saturday, July 13.  Bike N Bite is a great way to see all that Sioux City has to offer for local foods and restaurants while enjoying the day on your bike. Make sure to check it out!

Camps Galore in Region 5

This summer has been flying by! Here in Region 5 we have gotten a chance to help out and plan so many interactive camps for the kids.  During our 4th week in Region 5 we spent time in Plymouth county, helping with the Clover kids day camp and the Mad Science Returns camp.  In Woodbury county we had Pop Club at the Moville farmer’s market and Cook This Camp.

At the Clover Kids day camp the students were introduced to a variety of new crafts and activities that gave them a chance to be creative and use their imagination.

The Mad Science Returns camp was for middle school kids that attended the Mad Science 1 camp the previous year.  During this camp, the Rising Stars were in charge of building ‘Wiggle Bots’ and making homemade lava lamps.  We learned so much about different STEM activities with the kids!

At Cook This Camp, the Rising Stars led students in the kitchen.  Students were able to make every meal that day using recipes from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website.  Towards the end of the camp we were able to have some extra fun in a cake decorating competition judged by the Rising Star interns and the AmeriCorps.  The students all loved the friendly competition and of course, being able to eat their cake too.

At the Moville PoP Club, participants got to sample asparagus and plant seeds in egg cartons.  We had about 22 participants which was a great turn out for the size of the farmers market.

Gustavo with a couple returning PoP club members

Region 20 is “blending” their way through another week!

Region 20 has had a jam-packed week yet again! On Monday, Grace, Rachel, and myself (Katelin) started our morning off in the Des Moines County Office. This week Region 20 also had Alyssa, a dietetics intern, tag along with us as part of her dietetic internship rotation. She was great help throughout the week and we will be sad to see her leave. The vegetable kohlrabi was the main focus for this week’s library programs. In preparation for the Danville library program, we planned our lesson and prepped kohlrabi, turnip, and cabbage samples for everyone to try.  In German, “Kohl” stands for cabbage and “rabi” stands for turnip. All three vegetables were handed out both raw and roasted at the program in Danville to try.A coloring contest was also held resulting in the winner receiving a cutting board and kidsafe knife. The program went great and all the participates tried the vegetable samples! Everyone at the library program loved the kohlrabi so much that after the program we had to go pick up more from a farmers market in Fort Madison. All of our samples we give at our library programs come fresh from local farmers in Region 20! 



We started off Tuesday morning at the Burlington Library where we held a sampling for everyone to stop in and try from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. At this sampling we offered kohlrabi, shoot peas, and yellow wax beans. We also gave out fruit and vegetable temporary tattoos and stickers for everyone who tried the vegetables. We had over 70 people stop by and try throughout our time at the Burlington library, so we call that a success! After the Burlington Library we went back to Mount Pleasant to prepare for the Market on Main farmers market. At the Market on Main, we were able to give out samples of smoothies blended on the smoothie bikes! It was fun for the public to taste the fresh smoothies that had just been blended immediately prior on the smoothie bikes by their own pedaling! All the kids who were at the market wanted to blend their own smoothie and taste it afterward. We loved having people make their own smoothie and give the smoothie bike a try! 




 Wednesday morning started with a farm tour at the Jones Family Farm. Located in Danville, this farm has just about every kind of vegetable you can think of! The Jones have many gardens as well as a greenhouse where they grow all of their delicious vegetables. They were so welcoming in allowing us to tour their farm.We then returned to the office created a promotional blog and video about their farm to promote local foods. You can find the video and blog on the Eat Fresh Southeast Iowa Facebook page! Check it out! Wednesday afternoon we were able to use the smoothie bikes again at the Mount Pleasant Market in McMillan Park. Due to the down pouring rain, there were not many people who attended the market but everyone who did, loved the smoothie and watching the bike blend the ingredients. The smoothie bike is definitely a very hot topic in Region 20!  


The Mount Pleasant library program started off our Thursday morning. We used kohlrabi, turnip, and cabbage just like we did in Danville.We had a much younger crowd at this program, but all the kiddos LOVED the kohlrabi and even took some to go! We also had another coloring contest and gave away a kidsafe knife and cutting board. Thursday afternoon we were back in the office to finish some office work heading out to Mogo Organic. Mogo Organic is owned and operated by Morgan Hoenig, who is our program coordinator. Morgan’s vegetables, herbs, and beautiful flowers are growing so well, and we had so much fun getting to see Morgan’s farm and how impactful and important her farm is to her and many others.  


Another busy week for Region 20 has come and gone. Next week will be busy as well with everything we have planned. We are excited for another week. Stay tuned to see what were up to next!  

Reaching the Halfway Point in Region 1!

Wow, being a Rising Star Intern in Region 1 has taught me a lot! I came into this internship expecting all my previous experience working in education and programming to have prepared me. While my prior knowledge of curriculum comes in handy, I find myself learning new topics more than just building off of previous knowledge. I have been able to challenge myself at this internship by exploring subjects I have limited experience in. Never did I think that I would learn to garden or even enjoy it. I am already brainstorming new recipes that I can incorporate into my diet back at Iowa State University with all the new vegetables I have been able to try this summer. At PoP (Power of Produce) Club in Rock Rapids, we taste tested kohlrabi with the kids and many children had never tried it. Just like many of them, I had never tried this vegetable either. I have enjoyed getting to learn new things right alongside the kids all summer!

While I do feel out of my element at times because I have limited knowledge of gardening or planting, I find that it has been beneficial for me to tackle things that I am unfamiliar with. It has taught me to listen better and be comfortable with asking questions. This has allowed me to reflect on areas within my communication skills I can improve on. One thing I have become better at is multi-tasking. While I still understand that my brain prefers to dedicate itself to one thing at a time, I recognize that I won’t always have things set up this way. Having multiple programs to run each week with different lessons to plan has helped me recognize how I need to improve my multi-tasking skills. I have made it a goal for myself to work on this throughout the summer, so that I can work better both as an individual and alongside my team.

As we reach the halfway point of our time working as Rising Star Interns, we look forward to becoming even more involved within the communities we work with. Please keep checking in to see our progress as we move forward this summer!

– Maddie

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