Extension News

Extension Helps Iowans Assess Resources, Capture Opportunities

biodiesel plant


This article is from the Annual Report edition of the Extension Connection newsletter, December 2006.


Kim Hicks of Corydon has enhanced her farm management skills. Joe Greig of Estherville believes Iowa has a new competitive advantage to feed cattle. What do they have in common? Both use resources from Iowa State University Extension.


It takes an agile organization to work with both the underserved and those who can benefit from new and emerging industries. ISU Extension does that, getting research-based information from Iowa State out to Iowans so they can assess their resources and capture opportunities.


Kim Hicks could keep two trucks going and run a combine, but until last winter, she didn’t know how to contribute more to the farm operation she shares with her husband. Since taking the Annie’s Project training through ISU Extension, Hicks feels she now has the resources to contribute ideas about many aspects of farming.


“Annie’s Project made me eager to learn more. We touched on so many topics and now I know where to go to find more information locally and on the many Iowa State Web sites,” Hicks said. Her classmates were a diverse lot in age and occupation. Some were not engaged in farming; some were involved in livestock operations, while others, like her, were in grain operations. About one-third of the Iowa women who have completed the program are single. After the program, they often comment that they didn’t know other women had the same problems they had.


Annie’s Project is dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in agriculture. The six sessions, each three hours long, focus on problem solving, record keeping and decision-making skills.


Joe Greig of Estherville feeds up to 3,000 head of cattle. He uses byproducts (also called co-products) from ethanol plants to reduce feed costs and improve the profitability of his livestock operation. Greig has become part of Iowa’s emerging bioeconomy.


The bioeconomy is an economy in which the basic building blocks for industry and the raw materials for energy are derived from plant or crop-based, and therefore renewable, sources.


Research on ration formulas and economic analyses from ISU Extension’s Iowa Beef Center gives Greig’s operation a competitive advantage. Distillers grains (a byproduct of the grain fermentation process from ethanol plants) are rapidly increasing in local availability.


“Extension and Iowa State have been leaders in doing research, in showing how co-products fit into cattle feeding, researching ration analysis and applying economic principles to show Iowa cattle feeders how to be more profitable. It’s a real team effort of researchers and extension staff. I do believe Iowa now has a competitive advantage in cattle feeding, and we should expand our operations. I plan to expand mine, ” Greig said.


Iowa State research and outreach contributes to economic development, bringing more jobs and business expansions to Iowa, as well as increasing the financial wealth and quality of life for Iowans.



Contacts :

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu