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Iowa State University Extension

October 2007 -- From Jack Payne

Cartoon from New Yorker Collection, from

There is an old saw about planning that goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” I have re-phrased it for the 21st century, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there, or if you need to alter your course?”

In the good old days (10 years ago) strategic plans looked far into the future. Strategies meant long-term thinking. They didn’t loom over your head on a daily basis, and most employees never saw them. They assumed leadership was headed in the right direction. In reality, many strategic plans ended up in the black hole of good intentions after months of planning. Today’s strategic planners must adjust their thinking because “long-term” plans are no longer relevant. Indeed, the sound, strategic direction developed last year may now be headed for a cliff. 

The strategic planning process for ISU Extension was especially arduous because we were looking for not only “where and how to get there,” but also for the answers to the other questions as well. We endeavored to build in accountability, so we would know when we had accomplished our objectives or if we needed to take a detour or change direction. The end product is a plan that will help guide us and help us to stay in sync with our publics. 

To that end, for those of you who would like to see an abbreviated road map of Extension’s strategic plan, please see the online summary. And if you are interested in an overview of what we were up to in 2007, please see our Extension 2007 report.

As always, your comments are welcome.



Summit demonstrates Iowans’ fight against hunger

Susan Klein and Jack Payne at Iowa Hunger Summit

Who donates 15.2 million pounds of food, contributes $6.24 million to hunger programs and volunteers 65,000 hours to fight hunger at home and abroad? Iowans, that’s who. Their efforts were celebrated at the first Iowa Hunger Summit Oct. 16, part of World Food Prize festivities. ISU Extension was one of the partnering groups sponsoring the event. In the weeks leading to the summit, ISU Extension county and field staff encouraged Iowans throughout the state to share their stories of fighting hunger via their local organizations or the summit’s Web site.

Leaders from across Iowa participated in the summit, representing community organizations, business and industry, state and local government, social agencies, churches and religious communities, schools and universities, and other groups that lead or participate in projects to confront hunger. Jack Payne, vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach, and Susan Klein, ISU Extension nutrition and health field specialist, represented ISU Extension at the event.

“Extension educates Iowans about food and nutrition, as well as food insecurity and hunger facing Iowa families. So it was very fitting that Extension help sponsor the Hunger Summit,” Klein said. “As community leaders, Extension staff know the importance of providing help for all people including those facing hunger. Between 2003 and 2006 the use of local food pantries and community kitchens in Iowa increased 36 percent. This issue is not going to be solved easily.”

For more information, contact Klein,

Do you have enough food? Researchers ask Latino immigrants

Kimberly Greder

Having enough food to eat is a problem facing 421,000 Iowans, not just people in the rest of the world, says Kimberly Greder, ISU Extension family life state specialist. These Iowans are food insecure — meaning they have difficulty getting nutritious, safe food in socially acceptable ways. One group, in particular, that is feeling the pinch is recent Latino immigrants. Greder is in the third year of a research project examining issues related to food insecurity and housing of 31 recent Latino immigrants in Buena Vista and Tama counties.

Respondents were predominantly Mexican mothers who had immigrated to the United States within the last 15 years, had children age 12 or younger, had incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, spoke primarily Spanish and had not completed the equivalent of high school.

“Through in-depth interviewing of these mothers over time, and learning about the communities they live in and came from, we can develop a better understanding of how well Latino immigrant families are faring in Iowa, as well as the challenges they continue to face,” Greder said. “Of the families involved in this study, nearly half were food insecure.”

Also on the research team were ISU Extension education directors Rhonda Christensen and Franklin Albertsen; Steve Garasky, Chris Cook and Liz Ortiz from ISU Human Development and Family Studies; and two local Latino women who were hired and trained to conduct the interviews. For more information about this study and other food insecurity and hunger research, visit the Iowa Food Security, Insecurity and Hunger Web site.

Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit celebrates 75 years

75 years of Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

A director, some reference books, a few grad students and a pile of rubber boots in the basement of Iowa State’s Insectary: In 1932 these humble beginnings launched the Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. In 2007 the unit is celebrating the 75th anniversary of what has become a national, innovative and effective system for developing information to scientifically manage the nation’s fish and wildlife.

“This idea of partnering with federal agencies and placing staff in the land grant universities started in Iowa. Today our mission remains the same — training fish and wildlife professionals and doing research,” said David Otis, leader of the Iowa unit. Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units now are established at land grant universities in 40 states.

Along with assistant leaders Rolf Koford and Clay Pierce, Otis provides administrative support and guidance for cooperative research and education programs related to fisheries and wildlife biology and management, and to natural resource conservation. In addition, the unit provides technical assistance to its cooperators and the public through lectures, workshops, conferences and publications. The unit is housed by and administratively associated with Iowa State’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management (NREM) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Tax school is ‘perennial’ favorite from Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation

Roger McEowen

Perennials aren’t always in the garden: Iowa State’s Farm Income Tax School has been a hardy fall and winter favorite for 34 years. The 2007 version of this popular continuing education opportunity, which starts in November, is one of the services available from Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. According to director Roger McEowen, the center is a primary source of professional education and training for agricultural producers and professionals as well as agribusiness personnel.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, created the center in 2006, McEowen said. “Creating the center and hiring a staff attorney and program administrator have been of tremendous help in further developing educational programming in ag law and taxation for professionals and agricultural producers. There continues to be a large need for ISU Extension outreach in all areas of agricultural law and taxation, and the center’s Web site helps us to get key information out quickly to many people. Currently, we’re working on a number of ISU Extension publications on such matters as fence and township trustee law, farm leases, wind energy agreements, noxious weed eradication and farm taxation.”

The center’s Web site includes relevant federal and state legal opinions, as well as updates on critical legislative developments.

Why they leave, why they come, why they stay: Study looks at moving in nonmetro Iowa


People are moving from and to rural Iowa for work, family, community and housing reasons, according to a study by the Community Vitality Center (CVC) at Iowa State University. The New Movers Study examines the experiences of 737 households who moved to or from 19 nonmetropolitan counties from 2003 to 2005. The survey was designed to help community leaders understand why people move in rural areas and to identify strategies for attracting and retaining population. CVC senior researcher Sandra Burke says, “This study allows us to compare people who have moved into Iowa with those who have moved out.”

Burke said, “While work-related reasons were the most important factors cited for relocating by those moving into or out of the selected counties, those who moved within the same county said housing was the most important reason for making their recent move.”

Family factors included children, parents, siblings, friends, relationships and health status. Community factors included services, amenities, weather and lifestyle, Burke said.

The CVC is publishing the findings in a series of reports that will focus on the details of work, family and community reasons for moving. Visit the CVC Web site for all the reports as they become available, as well as the survey questionnaire. ISU Extension is the CVC’s administrative host and fiscal agent.

The biggest change in agriculture since the plow: Conference continues the bioeconomy conversation

Jill Euken

The bioeconomy has been called “the biggest change in agriculture since the plow.” That’s what Iowans said last spring when ISU Extension began community conversations around the state about the bioeconomy. The conversation will continue at the 2007 Biobased Industry Outlook Conference Nov. 5-6 in Ames. According to Jill Euken, ISU Extension industrial specialist, the conference will address several issues raised during the spring conversations, including: environment/natural resource impacts of biofuel production; employment tradeoffs and realities; energy conservation and efficiencies in biofuel production systems; transportation and storage systems for biomass; quality of life issues; and food, feed and fuel tradeoffs.

Culver proclaims 4-H Week; 4-H’ers respond with community service

4-H'ers participate in community service

When Gov. Chet Culver says get involved in community service, Iowa 4-H’ers pay attention. Culver proclaimed Oct. 7-13 National 4-H Week in Iowa, urging Iowans to get together with friends, family and colleagues “to engage in projects benefiting their community.” And 4-H’ers responded — with service such as cleaning and repairing the Iowa 4-H Center in rural Boone County and planting trees in Johnson County. They also hosted science and technology workshops, classroom talks, barn quilt tours and special events throughout the state.

4-H’ers don’t need much of an excuse to serve their communities. Statewide, 4-H youth and adult volunteers can compile as many as 100,000 hours of community service each year, according to statistics from ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development.