Vice President Cathann Kress

Cathann Kress

Cathann Kress
Vice President
Extension and Outreach
2150 Beardshear
Ames, IA 50011
Phone: 515-294-5390
Twitter: @cathannkress

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“Why does ISU Extension and Outreach exist? We want a strong Iowa. Our role is to be everywhere for Iowans. We serve as a 99-county campus, connecting the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources. We provide education and partnerships designed to solve today’s problems and prepare for the future. When we start with why – a strong Iowa – our purpose is clear. See you there.” -- Cathann Kress


The Vice President for Extension and Outreach provides leadership for the statewide unit of the university responsible for delivering on the land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service for the public good. The Vice President works across the university to provide outreach programs that share information and technology to educate and innovate, and provides advice and counsel to the Provost and the President on Extension and Outreach issues. The Vice President is the Director of Cooperative Extension for Iowa State University.


  • Address Iowa’s changing demographics.
  • Adapt to increasingly complex problems.
  • Broaden Extension and Outreach’s role.
  • Invest in professional development.
  • Use technology more effectively.

Recent Activities

  • Through multiple programs, Extension and Outreach addresses four signature issues: Food and the Environment, Health and Well-being, Economic Development, and K-12 Youth Outreach.
  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Program Catalog organizes programs by our signature issues. Elected county extension councils use this guide to determine educational programs to address local needs. We also continue to respond to emerging issues and concerns.
  • Our Beginning Farmer Center works with farmers who want to transition their farm business to the next generation and to new people who want to find their place in agriculture.
  • Rising Star Interns are addressing the issue of local foods in Iowa. This program is another way we are collaborating with ISU colleges to prepare Iowa State students for the workforce.
  • Technology is expanding our ability to serve Iowans. More Iowans are using ISU Extension and Outreach online educational materials and courses, with nearly 250,000 digital downloads and more than 2.5 million Web visitors last year.
  • Iowa State University serves as the North Central STEM Hub for the Governor’s STEM initiative, promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education and economic development across Iowa. Extension and Outreach throughout the state supports the strategic goals of this hub and provides an important capacity advantage.
  • New strategic initiatives include integrating Latino youth, family, community, and business development programming; a state-of-the-art STEM learning center on the Iowa State campus for K-12 youth, ISU students, ISU faculty/staff, and the public; and incorporating art as a means of broader community development for youth and adults.
  • Our Young Iowans Speak forum was the first of 13 state events across the country to learn how extension services can meet the needs of citizens. They shared their views and visions of the future and Iowa State’s role in that future.
  • Our Partnership Perspectives meetings around the state brought together small groups of key partners and community leaders. We appreciate their ideas on future opportunities to collaborate and further mutual goals.
  • In a Civil Rights Compliance Review in 2013, USDA declared ISU Extension and Outreach to be in compliance with U.S. Civil Rights laws and USDA’s Civil Rights rules and regulations. We’re implementing USDA's recommendations to increase the level of diversity and inclusion in both our Extension and Outreach workforce and program participation.


  • Ph.D. in Education – University of Iowa; Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 1990
  • M.A. in Education, Counselor Education/College Student Development – University of Iowa, 1986
  • B.S. in Social Work – Iowa State University; Psychology and Sociology emphases, Highest Scholarship Undergraduate in Curriculum, 1983

Professional Experience

  • Tenured Professor, Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, School of Education, 2011-present
  • Military Community and Family Policy, U.S. Department of Defense, Senior Policy Analyst, 2008-2011; received DoD Secretary’s Certificate of Commendation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), National Director Youth Development Programs, 2002-2008; received USDA Secretary Honors Award
  • Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension Assistant Director and State Program Leader, 4-H Youth Development, 2000-2002
  • Iowa State University Extension, Youth Development Specialist and Youth and Family Violence Specialist, 1994-2000

Selected Leadership Roles

  • Board on Agricultural Assembly, Association of Public Land Grant Universities, Cooperative Extension Section, North Central Representative, 2011-present
  • Guest Editor, Reclaiming Children and Youth: Celebrating Youth Development, Volume 23, Issue 3, Fall 2014
  • 4-H National Leadership Committee Member, 2014-present
  • National 4-H Council Trustee, 2013-present
  • Iowa 4-H Foundation Trustee, 2011-present

Professional Interests

  • Youth Development
  • Community Development
  • Non-formal Educational Systems