AMES, Iowa – The counties in Iowa State University Extension’s Region 9 are reaping benefits from working regionally, according to director Allen Ricks. The region includes Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Grundy and Tama counties.
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Each elected county extension council in the region hired a county-funded educator to provide leadership within the county. He meets with this leadership group monthly, Ricks said. In addition, he meets regularly with the extension council chairs.
“As the county educators have met together, we’ve talked about disaster planning, recognizing that in 2008 and 2009 our region had its share of pretty significant disasters — flooding and then the tornado in Butler County, and then last year hail storms. So we have made a pledge amongst the educators that we will be a mutual aid society. If a disaster strikes in any one of our counties, the others will come to assistance. I see that as another sign of strength and success as we’re working together in Region 9.”
The region also is pursing a grant dealing with food security issues and has hired an agriculture education student from Iowa State to serve as a regional 4-H intern and assist with all six county fairs this summer.
“I think the opportunities will continue to evolve over time,” Ricks said. “My approach has not been one of trying to present my own agenda, but to let the agenda grow from the conversations that occur with the leadership of the counties. I believe that’s the effective way.”
Ricks 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. Ricks 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.
To learn more about ISU Extension programs, contact Ricks at 319-234-6811 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the ISU Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu/.