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Iowa State University Extension

July 2011 -- From Cathann Kress

Hello. I’m Cathann Kress. I am honored to serve as vice president for extension and outreach at Iowa State University. It’s been a pleasure getting reacquainted with Iowa State, where I began my education and my extension career.

It’s invigorating to be back home in Iowa and working with Iowans once again. Neither floods, tornadoes nor summer heat waves can deter Iowans’ can-do spirit. Iowans come together to get things done — and that is key to our land-grant mission. Iowans and ISU Extension put the university’s research to work in the counties, throughout the state and beyond. We’re committed to our people, our environments and our shared future.

I’m looking forward to learning more about what ISU Extension and Iowans are doing together. So I’ll be participating in field days and other events in the next few weeks -- and watching Iowa’s land-grant mission in action. See you there.


Extension supports volunteers in Mapleton

Mapleton, Iowa

In April, 60 percent of Mapleton was damaged by an EF-3 tornado. But thanks to the work of countless volunteers, “you don’t see that devastation anymore. You see a rebuilding or rebirth of this community,” said Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt. ISU Extension held a celebration to honor those volunteers and is offering them continuing support, including building their listening skills and their networks for information and referral. Watch a video from the celebration.

Farmland leasing workshops set for July and August


Landowners, tenants and other agribusiness professionals interested in farmland ownership, management and leasing agreements should plan to attend one of ISU Extension’s farmland leasing workshops in July and August.

Extension research indicates that the average age of Iowa farmland owners continues to rise, and children and surviving spouses of farmers are less likely to continue operating the farm by themselves. These factors are contributing to the increase in farmland leasing, said Melissa O’Rourke, ISU Extension farm and agribusiness management specialist. Increases in land values and cash rents have heightened interest in farm leasing arrangements.

Leadership development empowers communities

leadership succession workshop

Leadership succession is a critical issue for nonprofit boards across Iowa, particularly in rural areas. ISU Extension is working with local citizens and communities to strengthen the networks and connections that help them thrive.

ISU Extension recently offered leadership succession workshops in Region 7 to help local leaders explore the process. Consultant Kim Anderson-Heller helped participants think about the needs of their boards, how to find new members and qualities they should have. “Success without a successor is failure. You always need to be thinking about who is going to fill your shoes,” she said.

Cass County research project helps families learn about and use local foods

child with local foods

Cass County community leaders and extension researchers at Iowa State University and Cornell University teamed up to create a research project that focuses on increasing the consumption of locally grown foods. The project has been under way for more than a year, and researchers plan on increasing hands-on activities for Cass County families with school-age children.

In focus group interviews, families said they want to know where their food comes from, noted ISU Extension specialist Kim Greder. Families also said they were interested in growing food with their children and want information on how to easily prepare and preserve local foods.