April 2007 -- From Jack Payne
More than 95 percent of the reports are in from Extension’s community discussions on the bioeconomy held in late March and early April. Our staff did a great job getting in-depth, thoughtful responses from citizens and community leaders in every county. They didn’t just talk about ethanol plants. Livestock and natural resources are some of the top issues. We’re now analyzing their responses to get a handle on their hopes and concerns.
This local input will help Extension and the university craft a bioeconomy agenda to help Iowa move forward in this key area of economic development. As one participant put it, “It’s Extension’s job to present data that people can use to form good decisions and opinions. And they need to keep the people in this room talking.”
Let’s continue the conversation — add your comments to my blog. If you weren’t able to participate in a discussion, you can download the educational webcast (Iowa's Bioeconomy: Exploring Opportunities and Challenge) from the sessions.
Iowa can lead the way in biorenewable energy while ensuring the sustainability of the state’s land and economy. That was the message during Community Futures 2007: The Small Town in the Bioeconomy. Participants at the April 10 conference heard from Iowa State and Extension officials, as well as Gov. Chet Culver. Work groups delved into economic development, transportation and infrastructure, tax and finance, land use, landscape and environmental issues. Watch video streams from the conference online.
Start with chambers of commerce, professional planners, nonprofit organizations and other local leaders. Add a need for community and economic development. Stir in an online clearinghouse of programs and services from ISU Extension and other sources. Mix with convenient access to training, technicians and assistance that address community needs. Result: Extension’s Program Builder, a new Web site that connects Iowans with community and economic development resources throughout the state.
The site became available this spring, said Susan Erickson, ISU Extension program coordinator. Community leaders can use Program Builder to construct personalized service agreements with economic development service providers. Resources include services for leadership, landscape revitalization, community visualizing, downtown restoration, parks, transportation, local government, geographic information systems, nonprofit agencies and management.
“Program Builder offers convenient access to the wealth of assistance that’s available to Iowa communities, planners, decision-makers and developers,” Erickson said. “It gives people the ability to find the best type of assistance for their particular situation. Iowa’s communities offer a great quality of life, and we want to work to make life even better in Iowa.”
Nate Johansen loves working with a big-event crowd. A nine-year 4-H’er with a background in livestock production, he assisted with 4-H livestock shows at the Iowa State Fair. On the Iowa 4-H Youth Council, he helped plan the annual Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. Now the ISU senior and VEISHEA co-chair says his 4-H leadership experience has been invaluable in planning the logistics and activities of this major Iowa State University event.
Nine hundred elected county officials and ISU Extension: it’s not a partnership made in heaven, but rather by committed citizens, extension staff and hard work every three years. The partnership agreement between county extension councils and ISU Extension sets the stage for developing educational programs that meet local needs and outlines funding arrangements. A new committee will review the current agreement and recommend adjustments for the next one beginning in FY2009.
Members representing the Iowa Association of County Extension Councils (IACEC) are Pat Griffin, Greene County; Kathy Deibert, Marshall County; Jayne Lupkes, Worth County; Kathy Meyer, Butler County; Tom Ullrich, Woodbury County; Sue Boettcher, Dickinson County; Russell Collingwood, Iowa County; Tori Grantz, Clinton County; Alan Umbenhower, Lucas County; Gary Smith, Mills County.
Committee members include ISU Extension county education directors Dale Miller, Marion County; Al Ricks, Black Hawk; Rhonda Christensen, Buena Vista; Janet Smith, Henry; and Alan Ladd, Southwest Area ISU Extension education director. Mary Holz-Clause, interim associate vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach, will facilitate the committee along with Laurie Gustafson, director of budget and finance.
“Our objective is to maintain high quality staff and make high quality ISU Extension programs available to address the unique needs of each county,” Holz-Clause said. “I am excited to work with the committee to craft a partnership that addresses all of our issues and provides an environment for continuing excellence in ISU Extension programs.”
ISU Extension county councils are nine-member locally elected councils and lead ISU Extension educational programming in their counties. These local citizens want to ensure that the latest Iowa State University research is available for solving the relevant issues faced by local families, youth, communities, businesses and agriculture. These elected citizen leaders identify local needs and set educational strategies that promote and strengthen their communities.