After spending Tuesday afternoon gettin up close and personal removing the pesky Colorado Potato Beetles, we were back at the Beloit Gardens bright and early on Wednesday morning. This cool summer morning was spent harvesting varieties of lettuce that had reached the end of its first production cycle. After weighing almost 8 pounds of lettuce, we washed and dried using filtered rainwater and the bright sun. Though the weight may not sound like much, we brought 3 full boxes of lettuce to Food at First in Ames where it will be used to create nutritious meals to be served to those in need at no charge.
Story County Fairgrounds
Wednesday afternoon was spent building ideas for assisting the Story County Fairgrounds with expansion and advertisement. This consisted of the team looking into and reaching out to local venues for the fairgrounds to work with during private rentals while also beginning construction on a handout to provide information about the buildings available for private events.
After a slow Thursday, our Friday morning was busy out in the field with Cultivating Hope Farms. This meeting was spent brainstorming ideas for gaining funding and increasing the outreach of Cultivating Hope as a club. With a few ideas to be discussed with venues for possible future events, we left the farms that morning with a strong sense of accomplishment.
Ames Farmers Market
The Rising Star interns kicked off a warm June morning out in the sun at the ISU Extension tent during the Ames Farmers Market. Children coming to the market with their parents got to enjoy the process of planting beanstalks and flowers that they could take home and transfer into their own planters or gardens. During these activities we spoke to the parents and provided them with information about gardening help and 4-H clubs. We spoke to many amazing people who all left with smiles on their faces. The kids were excited with their new plants and the parents grateful their children had not gotten covered in dirt.
Grace and I (Julia) started off our Tuesday by putting up signage at the community garden in Denison. The signs displayed information about the community garden, food safety in donation gardens, steps to wash your hands, and what to do with excess produce.
Tour of Denison
On Wednesday, we were able to get out of the office to tour Denison! Our first stop was the county fairgrounds, where we saw Earl Marshall the bull. Afterward, we visited Crawford County Memorial Hospital to discuss a future project and viewed their outdoor patio that has a stunning view of Denison. Our tour concluded at Yellowstone Park, where people can camp, hike, and swim in a lake.
Art in the Park
We ended our week at Art in the Park in Harlan. While we were there, we worked at the Wellness Alliance’s booth. Some members of the Wellness Alliance, Grace, and I handed out watermelon on a stick and talked about the new Imagination Playground. The kids, parents, and even grandparents loved the watermelon on a stick!
This week, we adapted lessons and activities for a DayHab session on eating healthy snacks. We worked hard to bring this session to life with 10 friends from the Village Northwest community. The participants learned a lot and had a great time making snacks, especially when they got to use our bicycle blender to make a strawberry banana smoothie. We also made peanut butter “Energy Bites.”
On Wednesday, we traveled to Sioux City for the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team professional development training. We got to know ISU Extension and Outreach employees from all over Northwest Iowa.
We had the opportunity to meet with Fred Hall and Leah TenNapel about what it means to be an ISU Extension and Outreach Specialist so that someday we might choose to live this dream. Fred Hall, the Dairy Specialist, provided a demonstration that has ingrained in our minds how quickly a cow regurgitates its cud.
We ended the week with advice on the Hull Museum Exhibit from a team of design specialists. Our next steps for the exhibit project are research, in-depth brainstorming, and mock-up design. We have exciting ideas in the works.
Region 4 has been full of the arts this week. On Tuesday we received a tour of the Worth County Fairgrounds from Dennis Johnson, who showed us all the different art pieces of the grounds that truly make it a unique area compared to some others. They even had exercise stations installed, so that while people walk the trail that circles the fairgrounds, they can stop and get some other elements of exercise in.
Thursday we had the privilege of getting early access to the Art Farm, which is just north of Northwood. We met with Steve Hanson and his father Merle, and they gave us a run down of the farm. We got to see all the murals they currently have, and explained the plans they have in place for more pieces. They also showed and explained to us the future projects they have construction wise, like building a bar/grill area that’s going to have a pizza oven for people to utilize.
Friday morning we got to attend the Fresh on Fridays event at the Central Gardens in Clear Lake. They have a bunch of kid activities to get kids engaged with gardening activities. Some girls were set up selling succulents and herbs, while there was another couple that made strawberry rhubarb smoothies for people to try. They also sell bouquets of fresh flowers grown in the gardens, and the proceeds go back to the gardens. There is also a social aspect, as there was many senior individuals that gathered to walk the gardens, or even sit and chat over coffee. We were able to actually sit and chat with these members of the community and tell them all about our experiences at the art farm, as many of them had no idea that it was even up there.
This summer, Region 11 interns will be working in Linn and Benton Counties. Lila will focus on the Linn County project, creating a design for a new grandstand and Keira will be working in Benton County carrying out new ideas for the local gardens and how they can positively impact the Benton community.
This Week the Region 11 interns have been working to gather information about our projects by talking to professionals in the field. We have toured the Linn County Fair Grounds, local food pantries, and Benton County’s Old School Produce. We have learned about the history and how we can help prepare for the future in each place.
We started off this week by meeting our office coworkers, getting use to our office spaces, and learning about the “The Six Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni. This is a process that Linn County staff are using to understand how work gets done and how their team can work together to utilize their strengths (Geniuses). We took the Working Genius Assessment test to see what areas of work we excel in and what frustrates us. We learned that we have very different working geniuses, and that it is a good thing because these differences allow us to collaborate and think of our projects from different perspectives, fully solving them in all areas.
We had a lot of fun this week meeting our master gardeners and groundskeepers, and learning from the professionals in our projects. We even met the new interns who made a lot of noise while we were trying to work, they say that it’s okay since they work for cheep!
Hands-on Garden Experience
In Benton County Keira and Lila went to the Old School Produce Company in Benton, where they learned about the history of the old school and how it became the non-profit garden it is today. They toured the Vinton and Belle Plaine food pantries and took notes on the nutrition provided by the pantry. Right now, they are thinking about what can be done to reduce nutrition insecurity. Keira and some other garden volunteers revamped some of the beds from the 3rd on 3rd community garden in Vinton for an education garden. This week we chose beds from the garden and worked with young volunteers to do some extensive weeding on the vacant beds and the perennial strawberry beds, which now have a lot more room to grow. This week Keira is contacting local summer programs to organize Day Camps about gardening and nutrition.
Fairground Tour and Research
The project in Linn County is to assist the fair board in designing a new grandstand for their grounds. Lila will take the lead on this project to create some concept sketches and imagery to present to the fair board and to the public. To start off this project, we began with a tour of the Linn County Fairgrounds to get a better idea of what the new design should entail. Lila and Keira also toured the Overlook Pavilion at Pinicon Ridge Park in Central City, Iowa to study potential president buildings. Lila has been busy this past week conversing with fair staff, meeting with local architects, and creating preliminary models and sketches to gather information about the project!
This summer, we will be working in both Crawford and Shelby Counties. We had a busy but successful first week! We started meeting with the office staff from Crawford and Shelby County Extension Offices on Monday and Tuesday. We spent Tuesday up in Denison at the Crawford County office. In Denison, we learned about the basics of produce and how to properly preserve food. We ended our week on Friday by going over to the Shelby County Fairgrounds to help the masters gardeners with their junior gardeners’ event. Kids could come and plant their own container garden of tomatoes and peppers.
This week started with the rescue of 500 chicks from the post office, which we helped deliver to 4H participants. We then had the opportunity to visit the Day Hab groups in Orange City and Lyon County. We presented a “Getting to Know You” PowerPoint presentation to the Orange City Day Hab group. This was a fun and interactive way to get to know everyone in the group. We also had the opportunity to check out the Hull Museum in Hull City and learn more about the history of Extension and Outreach in Iowa and where it all started.
To start the week strong, our team traveled around town to gather information regarding the cost breakdown of a square-foot garden for one of our three projects. Our research was insightful, and we discovered that creating a square-foot garden can be affordable and accessible.
Like last week, our team had the opportunity to support the Beloit Donation Garden again. We weeded, hilled potatoes, planted marigolds, and mulched strawberries. A few things we learned throughout our garden experience are: hilling potatoes prevents them from turning green. This green color is because the potatoes react with light and produce chlorophyll. The chemical reaction that occurs is not good for human ingestion. After learning this information, we made sure to cover them well! As we were hilling them, we had to watch out for pests hiding on the leaves of the potato plants. Some of these we had to squish with our fingers, but to prevent them in the future, we created a patch of marigolds. Marigolds keep away pesky fritters and attract those helpful pollinators. Being able to connect with the other community members and learn more about gardening through them was a highlight of our Tuesday.
Cultivating Hope Farms
On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to visit Cultivation Hope Farms, which is right outside of the City of Ames. Cultivating Hope Farms is an organization that supports the growth of individuals with autism and other abilities by developing life skills and knowledge using animals and agriculture. The event the Rising Stars helped run involved flower and bird recognition. We hid feathers and flowers in hay bales and around the farm…some even ended up hidden in the turkeys. Once all the hidden items were collected, we asked our guests some questions about the color of the feathers, and then they painted with various sensory items. Along with the new friends we made through the activity, we were introduced to many of the fan-favorite animals on the farm. One is a black cat named Draco, and another is a newly born Calf named Deb!
This week we had the opportunity to visit the Beloit Donation garden. Our team got down and dirty helping out the regular volunteers with transplants and mulching. The garden consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables each with different species. The main master gardeners, Kent and Susan, focus on optimizing yield from the garden through planting varieties. On the outskirts of the fenced garden is a fruit orchard with a variety of trees. It was amazing to see what a successful donation garden looks like. Susan and Kent clearly put a lot of effort to get food on the tables of people experiencing food insecurity. Although they are doing a great job, the garden does still have its problems. Right now, Beloit Garden relies on Bethesda Lutheran Church for their water source and their land is borrowed rather than owned. As we look into helping the Beloit Garden and potentially building another in Story County, we are taking into consideration the very real struggles faced by Susan and Kent. We hope to alleviate some of their stressors.
Our Region 17 team took a trip to Nevada to tour the Story County fairgrounds. We were able to see the buildings where 4H shows their livestock as well as some of the playing fields. Our little road trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the Historic Downtown of Nevada! Our team stopped in a few shops and explored all the various activities downtown had to offer. It was a successful trip overall.
We ended our first week at the Ames Farmers Market on Main Street. While we were there, we celebrated mental health month with a stress ball making activity for the kiddos. The stress balls were made using balloons, Iowa State colors of course, and sand. The kids loved being able to play in the sand, and luckily for us it kept their parents around long enough for us to give them some information about our 4-H clubs! The Market was very successful. By the end of the day, we had hardly anything to carry back to the office because we shared so much information. It was amazing to see how excited kids and parents were to get engaged in some summer activities!
The last few weeks have been crazy but filled with many many fun days. Here are some highlights since our last time chatting…
Visiting Omaha with Region 1:
We explored the Hope Gardens, and saw the amazing work that the Master Gardeners and others put into the garden. The extensive plots and pollinator garden included every plant and flower that you could imagine.
With the Region 1 interns!
Hope Garden signage with an abundance of beautiful growth
Cooper Farm Greenhouse tour
News talk with the KMEG Station:
We had the honor of tagging along with Woodbury’s Horticulture expert, Katelyn Brinkerhoff, and speak about Siouxlands Bike N’ Bite this past week. This great event, taking place on July 14th, is a great way to explore the hidden flavors of Siouxland while biking. Check out the interview below!
The past 2 weeks have been filled with tons of camps including: Mad Science Camp (level 1 and 2), Clover Kids Camp, and Kids in the Kitchen! We had the honor of helping out with all of these great camps, and also lead food demos for the kids.
experimenting with different bubble solutions and tools to make the biggest bubble!
elephant toothpaste experiment
It’s been quite the time so far this summer. Talk soon and thanks for checking in!