AMES, Iowa – Jerry Chizek had been director of Iowa State University Extension’s Region 6 only nine days last August when three counties in his region — Ida, Sac and Calhoun — experienced severe hail damage. Four days later, ISU Extension staff organized two meetings for affected crop producers. They covered topics such as how long to wait to harvest hail-damaged crops as silage and what value producers could expect if they waited to harvest as grain.
Chizek said at the time, “It shows that Extension still has the flexibility to address immediate needs when Mother Nature wields her power. Extension is alive and well and able to address those immediate needs.”
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He stands by those words nine months later, he said. “Extension still has the opportunity to come in and do that immediate program, to fill a need.”
Extension’s Region 6 covers Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Ida, Pocahontas and Sac counties. Chizek is one of 20 regional extension education directors. The positions were created a year ago as part of ISU Extension’s restructuring plan to facilitate an issue-based approach to delivering ISU Extension programming and resources. Chizek works directly with county extension council members to meet their legal obligations as an elected body. Together they are identifying new ways to work across county borders, provide educational programming that addresses significant issues and evaluate the results of multi-county and regional efforts.
In addition to meeting immediate needs, the elected county extension councils in Region 6 are exploring what long-term issues they can address together, Chizek said. Representatives from each council meet quarterly. They come together for dinner to talk about issues, programming needs, staffing and whatever else comes up — to build relationships and trust among the six councils. Chizek said together they’re asking the question, “Rather than doing county-based programs, what can we do as a region?”
To learn more about ISU Extension programs, contact Chizek at 712-662-7131 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the ISU Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu/.