Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Week Two in Region 27!

Greetings from Region 27! It’s been another busy, fun (and unfortunately rainy) week. On Monday I went to Henry County Extension where I worked on a marketing and recruitment plan for 4-H members in Region 27. On Tuesday I went to Lee County Extension where I met with Breana Houtz, the County Youth Coordinator to discuss the marketing and recruitment plan I am working on. We talked about what recruitment in Lee County looks like and what she would like to see in the future. On Wednesday, I went to Des Moines County where I met with Mary Steffener, the County Youth Coordinator, to discuss the marketing and recruitment plan as well. Mary was able to give me some great insight about recruitment in Des Moines County and her goals looking ahead. On Thursday, I went to the Louisa County Extension where I met with Samantha Jamison, Program Director for 4-H, Youth Enrichment & Ag Education, to discuss the marketing and recruitment plan. Samantha had some wonderful insight into recruitment in Louisa County and had some effective ideas for what she would want out of a marketing and recruitment campaign. 

Just one of the various produce vendors at the farmers’ market. They eagerly agreed to participate in PoP Club!
Class participants walking over the bridge to check out the cave!

Thursday evening, the rain held off long enough for me to meet with Morgan Hoenig, Local Foods Coordinator, at the Jefferson Street Farmer’s Market in Burlington. We walked around and spoke with produce vendors about the upcoming PoP Club. PoP Club stands for Power of Produce Club. This is a club that takes palace at local farmers’ markets to encourage kids age 4-12 to eat healthy and try fruits and vegetables that they may have never had before. At PoP Club, the kids participate in some fun activities and learn more about fruits and vegetables. They then receive a $2 token that they can use at participating vendors to get produce. PoP Club starts June 10th for ten weeks at Jefferson Street Farmers’ Market. Morgan and I have some fun activities already planned. I look forward to interacting with the youth in the county and encouraging them to make healthy eating choices! 

After the farmers’ market, I went to Starr’s Cave Nature Center where we had the Iowa Master Conservationist Program’s weekly class. This program offers hands-on interaction with the diversity of Iowa’s natural resources. It highlights the wildlife and plant communities in Henry and Des Moines counties and provides accurate education and information on various conservation issues. The goal is to provide these individuals with the resources they need to make informed, intelligent decisions for leading and educating others on the sustainability of Iowa’s natural resources and ultimately in becoming better stewards of those resources. This is a seven-week program that has in-person demonstrations and discussions led by local professionals with online, self-paced lessons from Iowa State University experts as well. 

Participants were taken on a tour of the park where they could look at the famous Starr’s Cave, see the winding creek (it is pretty full right now!) and learn about the history of the park. Fun fact: Starr’s Cave was actually a farm originally! The class was also able to crack open some Geodes and look at fossils. It was a fun night and a great way to finish off the week! I can’t wait for next week!


Let the Fun Begin!

Region 11 Week 2

This week was both busy and exciting as we continued planning for our many youth nutrition programs to take place throughout the summer. We were able to start branching out and getting involved in the communities of Linn and Benton counties.  

On Monday, we had the chance to meet with Marion Chamber Director of Member Service to finalize details about the Power of Produce (PoP) Club that we will start implementing into the Uptown Marion Market in a few weeks. We have already planned a few activities to get kids excited about nutrition. At the market, PoP Club members will have the opportunity to plant their own seed, use a blender bike to make salsa, and make fruit & vegetable art. The first Uptown Marion Market will be held Saturday, June 12th at the corner of 8th Avenue and 12th Street in Marion, IA. We hope you can make it!

On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to help out with the first-grade field trip to Rodgers Park. We held a breakout session to help teach the students about watersheds, the water cycle, and water conservation. We used a model of a watershed to explain how clean water can become contaminated when pesticides and fertilizer are not used correctly, when factories do not dispose of their waste correctly, or when floodwaters help aide in water contamination. We also utilized an apple to represent the amount of water we can consume compared to the total amount of water on Earth.

First graders learning about watersheds and runoff

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to meet with Iowa State University Vice President for Extension & Outreach, John Lawrence. We shared information about the projects we will be completing this summer. He wished us luck and is highly anticipating learning more at our final presentation. 

We are so excited to finally start implementing all of our planning and preparation into our programs and communities. Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend and see you next week!

– Tatum and Maelyn  

Sunflowers and Sunburns | Week 2 in Region 1

We have had beautiful weather here up in Northwest Iowa this week. So, what else is better than getting outdoors and spending some time in the garden?!

Growing in the Garden

Growing in the Garden is a camp open for Lyon County youth who have completed grades 1st-3rd and is led by Laura Beyenhof, the Lyon County K-12 Coordinator. The camp takes care of a garden that focuses on a theme and participates in activities centered around that theme. This year, they are having a Zoo Garden! Everything is centered around zoo animals, such as green zebra tomatoes, ZOO-cchini, and straw-BEAR-ries, to name a few. I developed a love for gardening last summer when I was a horticulture intern for the ISU Extension and Outreach of the SOLO counties, so it was exciting to be back in the gardens again. I helped the kids plant their own white petunia in a pot they can take home and take care of when they are not at camp. This was a fun project to complete with the kids because I enjoyed watching them get excited about taking care of their own plant. However, I feel like I had to say, “We don’t put dirt in each other’s hair” way too many times. I’m excited to hear the kids’ stories about their petunias when they return to garden camp in two weeks. When that was completed, I assisted Laura in planting the donation garden. To get a break from the heat, the kids got to have a snack consisting of animal crackers and a juice box while playing a zoo animal game in the shade.

More Introductions

To take a break from the gardens, I had the opportunity to attend 2 County Extension Council meetings. I attended the Sioux County Extension Council meeting on Monday night and the O’Brien County Extension Council meeting on Wednesday night. It was great to meet the wonderful Extension Council members from the counties, and they appreciated meeting me. Both Councils are very excited about my projects for this summer, especially my Fair Storywalk.

Ready, Set, GROW! Garden Club

The next day, I was back in the garden to help the Lyon County Garden Club and Jill Postma, the Lyon County CYC, plant their gardens as well. This club is open to all 4-Hers from 4th grade to 12th grade. Each 4-Her is given their own plot that they get to take care of throughout the rest of the year, as well as a section they take care of as a club. Each of the 4-Hers chose the plants that can be seen in their plots, so there are no two plots that are the same! Some of the 4-Hers picks include sweet corn, sunflowers, peppers, broccoli, and carrots. It was a lot of fun helping the 4-Hers plant their plots and teach them how to decide where to place their plants in their plots. The 4-Hers learned that we place tall plants, such as corn and sunflowers, on the north and east sides of their plots to prevent them from shadowing shorter plants. They also learned that members of the Nightshade family, such as tomatoes and peppers, cannot be planted near members of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi. These two families do not get along and will stunt each other’s growth, which can lead to the death of the plant. It was challenging to arrange each of the 4-Her’s plants in their plot since they each had a combination of tall and short plants and Brassica and Nightshade plants. Hopefully, each of the 4-Her’s plots will be successful this year, and they will have a bountiful harvest!

As a pale redhead, you would think that I would have learned by now to apply sunscreen, right? Well, you would be correct. Although I applied sunscreen before and throughout the gardening sessions, I still have turned the shade of a cherry tomato. But, it was worth it to see the proud faces of all the kids after their gardens were planted and to have the opportunity to spend time with them over the past week.

Anyway, have a great Memorial Day Weekend and don’t forget to apply your sunscreen!

– Alex

Week One in Region 27

Greetings! I am Catie Messer, and I am the Rising Star Intern for Region 27. I am a senior at Iowa State University majoring in Agriculture Education, Communications option. I am from Mediapolis, Iowa, Des Moines County, and I grew up in Region 27, so I am familiar with my surroundings! I enjoy baking, showing cattle, quilting, spending time outdoors hunting, fishing, kayaking, camping, and spending time with my family (but my favorites are my nieces and nephews)! I’m looking forward to working on Soccer For Success, PoP Club, and any program where I get to work with kids this summer. Last summer, I was supposed to be a Rising Star Intern. Unfortunately, it was unable to happen due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. So instead, I worked on building up my quilting business and was even able to babysit one of my nieces! I am VERY excited that we can have this internship program happen this year and finally be a Rising Star! 

Week One in Review

Despite a week full of rain, I had a great first week in Region 27! Week one was busy planning many projects related to COVID-19 recovery and touring the area. Monday and Tuesday, I traveled to Henry County Extension Office in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, to start planning projects and make plans for the summer. One project I started on was StoryWalk (more on that later), and I met the other Rising Star Interns via zoom! On Wednesday, I traveled to Lee County Extension Office in Donnellson, Iowa, to get to know the area, meet the staff, and plan projects in this county. I collaborated with the intern for Lee County, and I can’t wait to work on projects with her! We were able to have some fun watching some chicks in the office that were hatching! On Thursday, I went to the Louisa County Extension Office in Wapello, Iowa. I was able to meet the staff, and I met with Abby Boysen, the Youth Program Specialist for Region 27 to get started on the marketing and recruitment campaign for recruiting new 4-H members and on Soccer For Success. On Friday, I finished out the week by going to the Des Moines County Extension Office in West Burlington, Iowa. It was great to see the Extension staff that I grew up around in 4-H and to see a different side of Extension because it is not just 4-H! I met with Morgan Hoenig, the Local Foods Coordinator of Des Moines and Henry Counties to discuss and plan PoP Club, Insect Zoo, and other projects within Des Moines County. My grandma even stopped by the office to say hello! I can’t wait to see what week 2 brings!

Exciting 1st Week | Region 4

Week 1 Summary

The first week in Region 4 was filled with new beginnings. Our team (Will, Kaylee, and Belinda) met each other in person for the first time! We were excited to spend 2 days of the first week traveling with our Regional Director, Donovon Olson, to various county offices and locations to learn about our summer projects. During these visits we met County Directors and Staff that explained more culture and community influences that will be important considerations throughout our internship. Additionally, we enjoyed listening to a presentation from Healthy Harvest about local food systems – and we reaped the benefits of the smoothie bike (round of applause for Will!). Dr. Ajay Nair gave a gardening presentation at the Worth county fair grounds where we were able to learn alongside elementary students. Finally, we were acquainted with many logistics of working with Iowa State Extension and Outreach through various trainings and many questions being asked!

Summer Project Introductions and Progress

Lincoln Intermediate Greenhouse

Mason city, IA

We will be working with Lincoln Intermediate staff and community to integrate the use of their recently built greenhouse into their classroom curriculum, particularly math and science. Throughout the summer we will: initiate the use of the hydroponics system, develop lesson plans, and create a sustainable growth & maintenance plan for the greenhouse.

Farmers’ Market Marketing & Expansion

Hampton, IA

The Hampton Farmers’ Market currently has a Facebook page that has very little interaction from the community. This summer we will be building a branded identity as well as a plan to easily maintain their current social media page and their new Instagram. We will also be creating a volunteer or internship position (still undetermined) to keep the pages running in the future.

Community Gardens & Space Renovation

Hampton, Ia

The town of Hampton IA is interested in developing an empty plot of land located just West of 1st Street NW. This plot of land will be turned into usable green space. Over the course of this summer, we are working to develop a design that not only is economically feasible, but also a design that will be accepted and well utilized by the community of Hampton at large.

Activities and Accomplishments

Our team will be working together on each project to accomplish the objectives and goals. Together we have developed weekly tasks, schedules, and internal deadlines to meet the desired outcomes.
  • Established goals and objectives to guide the implementation project process throughout the summer.
  • Researched ways to integrate the greenhouse into 5th and 6th grade math and science curriculum through hands on lab activities.
  • Developed a comprehensive survey to distribute to teachers and administrative tasks at Lincoln Intermediate.
  • Met influential people in the planning process and listened to their visions and desires for the space.
  • Researched the current activity and impressions on their Facebook page.
  • Discussed ideas for a logo and an internship position using the goals of the organization.
  • Researched what other farmers’ market pages are doing to find success.
  • Took photographs at the Hampton Farmers’ Market to get started and inform logo designs.
  • Created a series of logo options and other graphics with color variations to be looked over by the council.
  • Created templates to start the pages’ branded identity and make posting easier in the future.
  • This week, concepts and potential layouts were explored, and will be presented to residents of Hampton Iowa in the following week (5/24).
  • Ideas regarding how to draw people into this space were also discussed, for example should the design cater toward individual use or larger gathering purposes.
  •  In order to properly collect data to narrow the design down to a final, a survey will be conducted with predominant members of the Hampton IA community. (5/24)
  • Through the data collected from this anonymous survey, a final design will be determined with the goal of efficiently providing additional park space to the business district located within this community. 
Belinda and Will observing the outside view of the 30' x 55' greenhouse at Lincoln Intermediate
Belinda and Will observing the outside view of the 30′ x 55′ greenhouse at Lincoln Intermediate
An Image of some peppers from the Hampton Farmers' Market that will soon be posted to their Facebook page.
An Image of some peppers from the Hampton Farmers’ Market that will soon be posted to their Facebook page.
Visualization of potential purposes/designs that can be applied to the empty lot in order to transform the site into useable green space.
Visualization of potential purposes/designs that can be applied to the empty lot in order to transform the site into useable green space.

Meet the Region 4 Interns

Portrait of Belinda Heckman, Rising Star Intern for ISU Extension and Outreach.
Belinda Heckman

I’m a senior studying Global Resource Systems and Dietetics from West Liberty, Iowa. I’m excited to learn more about extension this summer because I am interested in using community nutrition and local foods to address food insecurity issues in my future career.

portrait of Kaylee Cornwell, Rising Star Intern for ISU Extension and Outreach.
Kaylee Cornwell

I just finished my sophomore year in Graphic Design. This year I’ve learned so much about designing and communicating and I’m excited and ready to apply those skills in the real world through the Rising Star Internship!

Portrait of Will Howell, Rising Star Intern for ISU Extension and Outreach.
Will Howell

I am a fourth year Architecture student, from Lake Forest IL. I am excited to apply the skills I have acquired over my academic career to creating solutions reflected within the community. I will take every chance to gain real world experience with regards to community outreach, in order to apply those skills toward my professional career.

Meet Region 11 Rising Stars!

Week 1

Week one is complete, but we are just getting started! Tatum and Maelyn, Rising Star Interns from Region 11 in Linn and Benton Counties, began May 17th. Within our first week, we have been busy planning many fun projects related to Covid-19 recovery and nutrition. In Benton County, we are working with summer lunch programs and daycares, providing hands on activities for children to learn more about healthy choices, and promoting three community gardens. In Linn County, we are planning events including Power of Produce at local farmer’s markets, teaching kids about nutrition, and helping solve food insecurity. Take a look at the “Watch Me Grow- Growing Experience” Take and Make kits we made for local youth to grow their own plant. We are looking forward to an exciting summer ahead!


Tatum Kahler

  • Hometown: Elgin, IA
  • Major: Agricultural & Life Sciences Education
  • Hobbies: Riding Rangers, Spending time with nieces and nephews, Kayaking
  • Fun Fact: I have been to 48 states!

Maelyn Thome

  • Hometown: Waterloo, IA
  • Major: Food Science
  • Hobbies: Singing, Kayaking, and Eating ice cream
  • Fun Fact: I do archery in my free time

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Rising-Star-Take-and-Make-Kits-1024x768.jpg
(L-R) Maelyn Thome, Tatum Kahler

Meet our Region 1 Rising Star Intern!

Alex McDougall photo

Hello! I am Alex McDougall and I am the Rising Star Intern for Region 1! I am a Junior at Iowa State University and I am majoring in Agriculture Education, Teacher Certification Option, with a Biology teaching endorsement and Agronomy minor. I am from Melvin, IA, which is in Osceola County. I enjoy baking, showing dogs, sewing, and playing guitar. I love plants and gardening, and I can’t wait to work on PoP club this year (more about that later). Last summer, I was a Horticulture Intern for Region 1, and I am so excited to be back as a Rising Star!

A Week in Review

This has been a very eventful first week for me! I spent my first two days in the Sioux County Extension Office in Orange City, IA, to start planning my summer and get started on projects. Tuesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to plant zinnias in the Sanborn Donation Garden in O’Brien County. It was great to reunite with Jan, who I had the opportunity to work with last summer. Then on Wednesday, I was in the Lyon County Extension Office in Rock Rapids, IA. I was supposed to help plant the Rock Rapids Donation and Youth Gardens that day, but unfortunately, we were unable to due to the rain. On Thursday, I was in the Osceola County Extension Office in Sibley, IA. In the morning, I went to the Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary School with Ashley Peters, the Osceola County CYC, to do an activity with the 4th graders. We talked about foods that contain dairy and sugar, some of which were very surprising to the kids (did you know that canned ham contains sugar?). After this discussion, the kids had the opportunity to make homemade ice cream using an ice cream maker ball.

Then on Friday, I was back in the Sioux County Extension Office. In the morning, John Lawrence, Vice President of ISU Extension and Outreach, stopped by to visit to hear about everything that is occurring in Sioux County Extension and Outreach. That afternoon, I traveled back to Rock Rapids, IA to start planting the Donation Garden and flower patch.

My Projects

  • Extension Council Videos
    • These videos will feature an Extension Council member from each of the county councils. The videos will explain what the Extension Council is, what they do, and the roles of their members. The videos will be used to recruit new Extension Council members and in Extension Council Member training/orientation.
  • Extension Program Specialist Videos
    • These videos will feature an Extension Program Specialists in Region 1. The video will be about the Specialists and their work. These videos will be posted on social media.
  • PoP Club
    • PoP Club stands for Power of Produce Club. This is a club that is present at local farmers’ markets to encourage kids aged 4-12 to eat healthy and try new fruits and vegetables. At PoP Club, kids participate in activities and then they receive a $2 token that they can use at participating vendors to get produce. PoP club starts June 5th at the Orange City Farmers’ Market, June 7th at the Sheldon Farmers’ Market, and June 7th at the Rock Rapids Farmers’ Market. I am creating and planning activities for each week, and currently have the first 3 weeks planned.
  • Storywalk at Fair
    • Storywalks are a way for families to read while spending time outdoors. I am a designing a Storywalk that will be at all the fairs and will be a guide for families to walk through the barns and see the animals.
  • Camp Activity at Fair
    • I am currently planning out an activity that I will do with kids at fair. I am targeting my activity towards K-4th graders, but it is open to the public. This activity will be an educational activity that excites youth about agriculture.