Iowa State University Extension and Outreach anticipates emerging issues and trends. We ask questions and provide education so Iowans can thrive and succeed. Last year that meant about 1.8 million people benefited from our programs —including one in five Iowa school-age youth. We’re people advancing people.
Donna Donald is an ISU Extension family life program specialist working with Powerful Tools for Caregivers. Through this program, ISU Extension and Outreach educates caregivers so they can take better care of themselves and provide better care to their loved ones. Donna says:
ISU Extension and Outreach has worked with the aging population off and on over the years, but the emerging issue … is working with the caregiver population. So we have chosen to embrace the Powerful Tools for Caregivers national program. It’s intended to help people develop skills and tools so they can thrive in their role as a caregiver and not just survive. We want them to be able to have a good life, a happy life; and that, in turn, will make them a much better caregiver.
We now have over 80 people trained to deliver the program. It’s in over a third of the counties and we are growing very rapidly. The people that we are training to deliver the program are volunteers in the community, some of them are professionals, many of them have or are currently living the life of a caregiver, and they certainly all have a passion for what this means for families.
Deann Hebert teaches family and consumer sciences at Des Moines East High School. She and her students participate in ISU Extension and Outreach’s “Stitch This!” 4-H Design Challenge at the Iowa State Fair. Deann says:
East High School is a really big, urban high school. We have lots of different kinds of students here. We have students that are involved in athletics, students that are involved in drama, and we also have students that really love the arts. They love to sew and they love to create things.
When I heard about the Stitch This contest, I knew that I had a group of students that would really like to do this kind of thing and would really excel in it. I think it’s wonderful that 4-H and Extension is able to anticipate what students and 4-H’ers need.
There are lots of students that want to be a part of something. It’s just an extra thing that can get them started and be successful. Almost always, if kids are successful in one thing, that leads to something else where they will be successful. When they’re successful in my sewing classes, then they participate in 4-H, and then they participate in the Stitch This contest and have some success there, that helps them be more confident, be more willing to think about going to college, be more willing to think about the career options that are out there for them. It’s kind of like a stair-step thing that students go through, and it starts here.
The thing that I like best about it is that Extension and 4-H was very forward thinking. This is something that is very current, very trendy; the kids love it. And that’s where 4-H and Extension need to be — at what’s going on right now in our world, for our students, and for our 4-H’ers.
Scott Timm is an ISU Extension community economic development specialist working with the city of Fairfield on sustainability issues. A recent project involved high school students weatherizing older homes in the community. Scott says:
A lot of the homes that we’re doing, people have chronic, really serious health issues — it’s a really significant impact that these kids can have. … You’re helping people to save serious money; you’re helping people to feel more comfortable.
Fairfield is anticipating a lot of issues in energy in the future. In Fairfield we take a top-down and bottom-up approach. The top-down: we’re working on policy, on expanding our energy portfolio; we’re looking at how we can create and work on our own energy needs. But then there’s also action that needs to be happening on the ground. That’s the bottom-up work that we’re doing.
We’re essentially helping people prepare, helping people with short-term and long-term remedies to be able to live within their means and deal with an increase of 10 to 15 percent in their energy costs. That’s what my work is about … helping with the big picture stuff; but it’s also about teaching skills and working with residents and homeowners on things that they can do to lead more sustainable lives.