Staying for the Long Haul

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Iowa State University Extension and Outreach stays for the long haul. We’re there when needs arise — and about 17,000 volunteers work with us, increasing our staying power. We partner and provide resources, research, and education to assist Iowans.We’re people advancing people.

Greg Walston is Benton County program director for ISU Extension and Outreach. When severe weather two days before the county fair resulted in extensive property and crop damage, ISU Extension and Outreach took action, dealing with immediate clean-up, as well as bringing together farmers to discuss the crop and livestock situation and emergency programs available. ISU Extension and Outreach has remained involved in cleaning up storm damage, solving grain storage issues, and dealing with issues as they arise. Greg says:

July 11 was the crucial date in Benton County. It started about 4:30, 5 o’clock that morning. … It was what they call a “wind event” — high winds in excess of 110, possibly 135 miles per hour, sustained for more than 20 minutes — and blew a lot of the corn down; extensive tree damage to a lot of the towns.

We were starting to get calls of “do we need help” and “what do we need help with on the fairgrounds.” One of the biggest parts of damage from the storm was the loss of steel and some of the structural things on the hog barn … (we had to) try and make it at least safe enough for the fair to occur. But now the decision comes in: How do we make something that’s damaged better than what it was prior to the storm?

We’re here for the long haul. We’re here to make sure that people know if they need information, they need a way of finding out how can we make things better, or how can we improve what we have, that’s what Iowa State University Extension is about — getting out and talking to people, and getting them the information that they need, so that they can make an informed decision on dealing with catastrophes.

To Benton County, Extension means we’re here when the event happened. We’ll be here six months from when the event happened … today … tomorrow … five years from now … 10 years from now. We are part of the community. That’s what Extension is all about.

Joel DeJong is an ISU Extension field agronomist working with farmers in northwest Iowa, including Dana Sleezer, who farms near Aurelia. They’re concerned about soil conservation and T-value, the maximum average annual soil loss that will permit current production levels to be maintained economically and indefinitely. Iowa’s T-value is 5 tons per acre per year, which Joel describes as about the width of a dime. Joel says:

In conservation, it starts with relationships, helping people understand that this is not a short-term business; this is a long-term business. If you want it to continue into multiple generations, we have to preserve this wonderful resource we’ve got. And the only way to do that is through our conservation efforts to make sure we’re not taking out more than what we’re putting in.

So instead of broadcasting and doing tillage on manure, (Dana) wanted to experiment with situations where he was actually strip-tilling the manure, putting those nutrients right below where that corn plant’s going to grow.

The long-term is based on relationships, and it takes a relationship to work with producers, to become an important part of their decision-making process. And so, Extension has to have that long-term commitment. Just a one-time information source isn’t going to cut it. They have to have information sources that they, number one, trust; number two, know that when they get that information it is actually going to come true. And that’s the research-based side that helps. And that’s what Extension’s real role is, being able to take that research-based information, being able to sort from all the other information that’s out there, and put it in a format that farmers can believe, trust, and understand — so they can put it into place in their operation.

Cindy Kendall is an ISU Extension specialist for state and local government training programs. ISU Extension and Outreach has been providing continuing education and professional development to Iowa’s municipal clerks, secretaries, treasurers, recorders, and other local officials since 1975. Cindy says:

The clerks and finance officers in Iowa receive the training primarily in an institute and an academy, which we sponsor here in Ames every year. This program has been a benefit for citizens in Iowa for a very long time. It brings in people who may not necessarily be trained in this particular area, but it helps them to regain an education as well as leadership skills, that allow them to be active participants in the communities.

It has given us the opportunity to hone those skills for the long haul. It has given us the ability to do long-range planning in our communities, and make those communities places where we, and the next generation, are going to want to stay and live, in vital and vibrant communities.

Debra Hartman, Sheffield city clerk, has participated in the training. Debra says:

Training from Iowa State Extension is important and essential to all the city clerks, city managers, finance officers in the state of Iowa, because without them, all the new legislative issues that come up would not be available, and we don’t have any other venue to find out these issues. That is why Iowa State Extension continuing education is extremely important to all cities in the state of Iowa.

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Benton County Wind Event

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Conservation with Strip-Tillage

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Municipal Professionals

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