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Staff Relationships with Special Interest Organizations

Cooperative relationships may already exist or may develop between  Iowa State University Extension and other special interest organizations whose purpose is to promote a specific issue or aspect of life and strengthen community and public understanding of it. These relationships can contribute to the objectives and goals of both groups. The special interest groups are often involved in organizational development; support for local and federal legislation; promotion of ideas, concepts and products; education; and leadership development.

USDA regulations that address this issue are based upon the principle that services of the government shall be made available to all people on an equal and impartial basis and the belief that cooperative extension can operate as a public agency in the best interests of all the people and without cause for any serious charge of discrimination in services rendered only when it is not closely associated with any specialized organization. The Iowa Extension Service supports this concept.

It is general policy of the Iowa Extension Service to allow relationships with special interest organizations. However, they should be approached with care and an awareness of the potential for Conflict of Interest or other impropriety, either real or perceived.

The relationship between Iowa Extension Service staff and these organizations should center primarily on how county staff can assist the organizations through educational programs. County staff should also strive to be the link with Iowa State University and its many educational and research resources.

With regard to relationships with special interest organizations, Iowa Extension Service staff shall not:

    1. Accept the use of free office space or contributions for salary or traveling expense.
    2. Advocate that any particular organization is better adapted for carrying out the work of the USDA and the Iowa Extension Service than any individual citizen, groups of citizens or organizations.
    3. Advocate that the responsibilities of any federal agency should carry out its responsibilities through any particular organization.
    4. Advocate that the responsibilities of any state or local agency should carry out its responsibilities through any particular organization.
    5. Directly or indirectly solicit membership in any organization.

Implementation Procedures:

There are no specific implementation procedures. If questions arise, contact your supervisor. County staff are encouraged to ask questions before they become involved with special interest groups.