Week 5 in Region 13

Mobile Drive-Thru Food Pantry

The Rising Star Interns kicked off their week by volunteering at the Mobile Drive-Thru Food Pantry. When we first got there, we helped the other volunteers divide the food into three stations so people could drive up, and then the volunteers put the food in their cars. Each car could only get two households, which included one box of non-perishable, one box of produce, a loaf of bread, and frozen chicken. Over 100 people braved the heat to come to the food drive, and we ran out of food in an hour!

Community Health Wellness Walk

On Wednesday, Grace and I spent part of our afternoon walking a half a mile loop around Pioneer Park. We were so happy with the turnout, even though it was hot and humid. At the end of the walk, we handed out water bottles and mingled with the other walkers. 

Container Garden Workshop

On Thursday, we traveled up to Denison to prepare for the Container Garden Workshop. The workshop was at the Crawford County Memorial Hospital, and it was open to educate kids aged five and up on how to properly care for a plant and the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet. 

Throughout the morning, we prepared for the workshop by printing materials and making signs. Finally, we were ready to set up the tents and tables and started the workshop in the afternoon. The kiddos were split into three groups, and they went to three different stations, where they learned about fruits and vegetables and how to take care of the tomato; then they planted two tomatoes and ended with a game called What Vegetable Am I? Then we took a snack break, where they had a juice box and ate grapes and cheese. Afterward, we split the kids into groups again to start the MyPlate Relay. The kiddos had to sort foods into a bucket that separated them from fruits and vegetables. By the end of the workshop, everyone was so exhausted, but the kiddos loved learning about fruits and vegetables, planting tomatoes, and playing games!

Week 5 in Region 1

On Monday, we got the finalized design for the Hull museum display on the history of ISU Extension and Outreach. You can see the sneak peak below. We hope to share names of the Hull farmers who had the Extension idea at Hull’s 150th celebration, so we have been researching them in old newspapers.

We have been preparing for the Quiz-a-thons at the county fairs. This will be a new event at the fairs where kids go to stations to learn about livestock with hands-on activities. At the end, they will be tested with quiz technology using a presentation and clickers. We met with Dave Stender, a pork specialist, to learn how to use this technology, and then we tested it out with the quiz questions that McCale put together.

On Tuesday, we went to Osceola County for A Clean You Day Hab, and on Thursday we did A Clean You Day Hab with Village Northwest from Obrien County. The groups learned about personal hygiene. One activity was putting different colors of glitter on our hands, shaking as many hands as we could in 30 seconds, and then looking at how many colors were on our hands at the end. This showed our Day Hab friends how quickly germs can spread. We have also been preparing for future DayHabs: My Financial Wellbeing, Budget Boss, and Move Your Body.

We have been eating well around Northwest Iowa. On Monday, we got free ice cream at the Dairy Dandy in Sheldon. On Thursday, we went to Getting’s Garden to pick strawberries.

In case you need life advice, here is a quote from this week. Fred Hall, the Dairy Specialist, was sharing stories with us about weird food experiences. McCale shared that he has eaten a wolf spider. 

Frances: “Weren’t you scared it was going to bite your mouth?” 

McCale: “No, I bit it first.”

Moral of the story: Your problems can’t bite you if you bite them first.

Week 5 in Region 11

This week in Region 11 was filled with many outreach opportunities in Benton County! The Benton County Fair extension and outreach booth was very successful. We had fun activities with community youth like Name That Produce and Ask the Expert. Everyone really enjoyed the game and we even got some adults to play the game! We also answered questions from the public about ISU Extension and Outreach, Old School Produce, and what we do. 

We also worked with the REM Day Hab group where we did some upper-body stretching and Progressive Muscle Relaxation, followed by a veggie-tasting party! There were no veggies that the group disliked but all of the tomatoes and carrots we brought got eaten by the end of the lesson. We always have a great time with the group and can’t wait till next time!

We had a great week and we are so excited to help out and gather information next week at the Linn County Fair! We also are excited for more of the projects/events we have been working on that have yet to come!

Week 4 in Region 4

Region 4 has been living on the farm this week! Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent working on various projects out at the art farm in Northwood. This ranged from some simple weeding, to watering a 100 trees from the back of a pickup. Our garden beds did need some work. So after some prep work, we were able to get our elevated flower bed planted. I don’t think we could’ve gotten anymore flowers in our cars if we tried!

On Wednesday we met with leaders from the Central Gardens to discuss more about how we could be of assistance to them. They are looking for help creating more diverse signage, like some fun facts or recipe cards that people can view while they wander the gardens. They are also hoping for some signs that instruct people how to interact with the plants at their sensory garden. Most people don’t know that some of the plants in this garden have different feels than what’s typical for a plant. For example, they have a straw plant where the leaves feel like a plastic straw!

Friday we were back at Fresh on Fridays, and back to painting rocks for the art farm. The kids are big fans of this activity, as they really enjoy the concept of being an artist. We even had some kids from last week come and talk to us about how they can’t wait to go to the art farm! Our rock collection is starting to fill out finally, so we’re going to start working on plans for our rock garden next week hopefully, weather permitting.

Week 4 in Region 1: Part 2

While McCale and Adithi were hard at work in Region 1, I (Frances) took a trip to the Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference in Waukee. The conference was directed by the Farm and Food Enterprise Development team at ISU Extension and Outreach.

Thursday was full of presentations and meeting people involved in the food system. There was a lot to learn about the work that is being done to improve food systems in Iowa. At one breakout session, presenters discussed how to make systematic change by approaching legislators with real stories from real people. At another session, I learned how English classes in Des Moines turned into an international community that gardens together. To the right is a poster about Molokhia, a crop that Sudanese cook with often, but it is expensive and difficult to find in Des Moines. Sudanese gardeners taking English classes now grow Molokhia to cook at home!

Friday was field trip day. First, we went to Moore Elementary in Des Moines. At Moore, we learned the ways kids are taught where food comes from and how gardening is integrated into curriculum. We participated in lessons designed for children, including planting flowers and a trellis-making competition. 

Flowers at Dogpatch Urban Gardens

Our next stop was Dogpatch Urban Gardens. This is 2 and 1/4 acres of land in Des Moines that plants vegetables and flowers, which they sell at the DSM farmers market. They have a small food pantry and a shop with local foods, and they host dinners.

Our last stop of Friday was Grade A Gardens in Earlham. This is a new family farm that has vegetables, an orchard, and chickens. They use practices that improve the soil, and their main market is Des Moines.

Onions at Grade A Gardens
Grade A Gardens tour

Saturday was another day full of meeting people, presenters, and breakout sessions. On Saturday, we learned how schools and early childcare providers are integrating local food into their meals and curriculums.

Everyday, we ate delicious food sourced from places in Iowa.

Week 3 in Region 4

This week has been a busy one in Cerro Gordo and Worth County! Between the Worth County Fair and numerous meetings regarding the Lincoln Intermediate Greenhouse Project, the Rising Star interns had a lot on our plates. In Cerro Gordo County, the Rising Stars met with several Lincoln Intermediate school board members, including the principal, activity director, and science teachers. During this meeting, we were able to assess how the Greenhouse had been utilized in the year prior and discuss how it could more effectively be integrated into the lives of students. The feedback we received from the Lincoln Intermediate staff allowed us to create an action plan that will guide our efforts for the project moving forward. In addition to this meeting, we also attended a Regional Internship Networking event in Clear Lake. This event aimed at connecting the interns working in the Mason City area and highlighted a guest speaker who spoke about the importance of positivity in the workplace. The Rising Star interns also appeared at the Chamber of Commerce Coffee Chat, where we were introduced to various city officials and other important personnel from Cerro Gordo County.

The Worth County Fair kicked off this past Thursday! The Rising Star Interns were responsible for organizing and working a display booth that promoted Art Farm Iowa. We presented informational pieces that described the organization and its mission to the community as well as a rock painting activity for kids to engage in. The finished rocks will go on to be incorporated into a rock garden display at the Art Farm! We had a lot of fun getting to know the community and telling people about this hidden gem in North Iowa. In addition to the Worth County Fair, we also brought elements of our display to the Fresh on Fridays event in Clear Lake. This event engages a large portion of the community and is a great networking opportunity for both of our projects. Here, we were able to talk to members of the Clear Lake community About Art Farm Iowa and collect more painted rocks for the garden. We even got to help out the Central Gardens directors by ranging a chicken for the kids to pet! All in all, we put another successful week in the books and look forward to doing it all over again next week.

Week 4 in Region 13

This week we spent a lot of time preparing and planning for our upcoming events. Even though Julia was out of town for a few days this week, we made great progress on our projects. 

Community Gardens in Denison and Harlan

One of our projects this summer is working with the community gardens in both Denison and Harlan and how we can improve them. Early in the week, we assembled brochure holders that will go down in both gardens. The brochure holders contain resources about gardening that are free for patrons to take. We created plot number signs for the gardens in Harlan; we’ll put those in the ground next week once we’re back in Harlan. 

Shelby County Wellness Alliance

On Wednesday, we went to the Shelby County Wellness Alliance monthly meeting. We met with the committee members and discussed any news and updates they had. At the meeting, we also discussed our weekly Community Health Wellness Walk. 

Community Health Wellness Walk

This week we had our second Community Health Wellness Walk. We had a great turnout, and it was a great day for walking. We handed out cold water to everyone who participated at the end of the walk. 

CCMH Container Garden Workshop

Our Container Garden Workshop with the Crawford County Memorial Hospital is next Thursday. So much time was devoted to finalizing our activities and the materials we needed. On Friday morning, we picked up the buckets, and then once we got to the office, we cleaned them off so they would be ready to be dropped off at the hospital. We then dropped the buckets off at the hospital, where maintenance will drill holes at the bottom to allow for drainage. We’ve continued to water the tomatoes so they’re all set for next Thursday.

Week 5 in Region 17

Cultivating Hope 4-H Meeting 

To kick off the start of our week, the Story County Rising Stars helped at the Cultivating Hope 4-H meeting! Their meetings happen once a month, and this one involved preparing for the fair. We filled out adapted static sheets for their photography exhibit and the art piece they created. Some of the 4-Hers had other projects they were entering as well! 

Chamber of Commerce Event

To gain interest and excitement about an upcoming event with Cultivating Hope 4-H, we attended a gathering put on by the Ames Chamber of Commerce. We mingled, enjoyed free food, and informed the other attendees of our projects and events we have coming up. We made many new connections and friends in the process!! We even created business cards for one of our clubs…so official! It was nerve-racking for many of us at first, but we quickly chatted with representatives of many organizations.

Flyer Posting and Event Planning

We took a trip around the communities in Story County to hand out flyers for an event we are helping host for Cultivating Hope 4-H. We are looking to get more awareness for the community and support for this non-generational, non-traditional 4-H club! We even got our first donation for the event!! Along with that, we did some event planning. Our week was pretty successful!

Week 4 In Region 1

This week was filled with exciting encounters and opportunities for growth! We kicked off the week with a meeting to discuss the design for the display we want to have at the Hull Museum, we reflected on our progress. We later had the privilege of meeting with Dave Stender, a Swine specialist and Beth Doran, A beef specialist, who have both shared their valuable expertise on who they are and what they do.

We did our last session of “a healthy you” at Sibley for Dayhab and had our first session of “A clean you” for the Village northwest group this week. We also were able to lend a helping hand to Lucy Sanchez and Jade Bakker at the “next step vet science” event at Sioux County. We had kids come in and explore the career of a veterinarian or a vet tech, diving into a variety of concepts such as animal care, health and behavior.

As the week progressed, We found ourselves planning for the upcoming Skillaton event, we collaborated with Kiley Biedenfeld and designed a flier and registration form. To take a little break from the week we headed to Literary Dairy and got ourselves some ice cream. We then had a little stroll around the block exploring our surroundings!

Week 4 in Region 11

This week, lots of work has been getting done with Keira’s project focusing on nutrition insecurity and gardening/nutrition education. Although Lila is on vacation this week, we are very excited for the Grandstand project at the Linn County Fairgrounds and gathering data in-person by volunteering at the upcoming Linn County Fair.

Outreach in Benton

In Benton this week, Keira started off with a food Sampling of Cowboy Caviar from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website in the Vinton Food Pantry. This was very successful because many samples got taken and eaten and so did packages of beans! This was a super easy recipe that got many people excited about Cowboy Caviar. 

Next, Keira helped out at Summer Science Discovery Camp in Atkins and Van Horne. We mainly talked about seeds, what they need to grow, and how “Even the tallest of trees grow into the tallest of seeds!” -Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler. Seeds are great for education because we connected them to nutrition, food insecurity, and how they grow just like us! 

Keira had a great time this week, and now we’re very excited about the upcoming Benton County Fair, where we plan to advertise some upcoming events at Old School Produce!