AMES, Iowa — Extension professionals from across the nation are gathering in Des Moines May 2–5 for the 2011 National Urban Extension Conference. The conference, hosted by Iowa State University Extension, addresses the needs of urban communities and the challenges facing land-grant institutions as their outreach efforts expand to include urban, multicultural communities, as well as the traditional rural clients.
The need for urban extension is particularly significant in Iowa. The 2010 census data show that the metropolitan population in Iowa has increased by more than 10 percent. Meanwhile, the rural population has declined.
“In Iowa, the shift to urbanization continues,” said Tim Borich, ISU Extension community and economic development program director. “The population is becoming more and more concentrated to about a dozen counties.
“While our history and traditions remain in rural Iowa, we need to address the shift within our extension programming,” he said.
The theme of the conference is “The New Extension Commons: Connecting People and Programs.” Session topics range from local food systems, green infrastructure and housing needs, to programming through social media and using volunteered geographic information (VGI) to map communities.
Featured speakers include: Donna M. Beegle, president of Communication AcrossBarriers; Juana Bordas, president of Mestiza Leadership International; Dorothy McCargo Freeman, University of Minnesota state 4-H program leader and assistant director for 4-H youth development; Maureen H. McDonough, Michigan State University Extension specialist and professor of forestry; James D. Oliver, University of Illinois associate chancellor and assistant dean/regional director; Chad Ripberger, Rutgers Cooperative Extension county 4-H agent and County Extension department head; and Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of the ISU College of Design.