February 2012 -- From Cathann Kress
In late January I had the honor of meeting, one last time, with our Citizens Advisory Council (CAC). These Iowans have brought a valuable perspective to ISU Extension and Outreach. Extension has had a citizens advisory council, in some form or another, since 1944. The current council members, and those who came before them, have provided sage counsel, advice, and reflection on extension programs for many ISU Extension administrators.
Having one general council has made sense for a very long time. But as we move forward on the outcomes from our leadership summit, we see the need for more targeted citizen input. So we are setting up citizens advisory groups at the program level.
With this approach, we can offer people the opportunity to have an impact “where the rubber meets the road,” so to speak. They can be involved in an area that aligns with their interests and expertise, and provide direct input to ISU Extension and Outreach work with Iowa families, 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, community and economic development, and business and industry.
In addition, we will plan to hold periodic regional “town hall” meetings to engage stakeholders across the state in providing broader feedback to our efforts overall.
We have been fortunate to receive good advice in the past, and we look forward to Iowans’ good advice in the future. Thank you to the CAC members for their service.
Thanks to www.buyiowaonline.com, it’s much easier for Iowa small business owners to enter the online market. The fully automated e-commerce website was developed through a partnership with ISU Extension and Outreach and nonprofits working for rural economic sustainability. Piloted for three years in southwest Iowa, it’s available now statewide.
“By giving Iowa entrepreneurs an Internet presence at a low cost, with easy ordering, payment and shipping in place, we see enormous potential and impact, especially for start-up businesses in rural parts of the state. The partnership with Extension and Outreach has made it possible, and we are eager to add more options for consumers to buy great Iowa-made products,” said Randy Baxter, president of the Progressive Rural Iowa Development Enterprise (P.R.I.D.E.).
Hagie Manufacturing, in Clarion, focuses on innovation in the agricultural machinery manufacturing industry. So it made perfect sense for the company to partner with the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), part of ISU Extension and Outreach. CIRAS has provided training in business growth and business continuity planning and linked the company to design simulation opportunities with the Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State.
“CIRAS has been an invaluable partner of Hagie Manufacturing,” said Alan Hagie, president and CEO. “Their professional staff members provide a wealth of technical support services and tools to assist with our growth strategies.”
Iowa families throughout the state are getting together — virtually — once a month through June for an Eco Family Conference from ISU Extension and Outreach. It’s an opportunity for families to improve the environment, reduce their carbon footprint and create community close to home. The online conference is part of a new extension initiative to help Iowans make conscious decisions about the environment. On the first Thursday of each month, a 90-minute webinar features a different speaker addressing a different environmental topic.
“We want to help Iowans think about environmental issues and practical action steps they can take in their own home and neighborhood,” said Kristi Cooper, one of the conference organizers.
Each year, hundreds of youth ages 6 to 17 come to the Iowa 4-H Center for day and overnight camps, leadership development and extreme adventure getaways, and camps for the whole family. They get to try new things, take healthy risks and make friends, while being supervised by caring adults who also grow — from making a difference in a child’s life.
“Being on the camp staff is by far the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Rob Larson. “Seeing the kids develop and knowing you had something to do with that provides an extra bit of energy when you need it most.”
The Iowa Land Value Survey, conducted annually by Iowa State University since 1941, provides information on general land value trends, geographical land price relationships and factors influencing the Iowa land market. It’s the only statewide survey that collects information on land values in every county. ISU Extension Economist Mike Duffy reported the average Iowa farmland value for 2011 was estimated to be $6,708 per acre, an all-time record.
The survey is an “extensive, informative and accurate report” on farmland trends and values, said Loyd Brown, Hertz Farm Management Inc. president. “The survey is very valuable — to landowners, farm operators, lawyers, bankers, professional farm managers, real estate professionals, farm appraisals and the general public.”