AMES, Iowa -- In March, the three county councils in Iowa State University Extension’s Region 13 came together, “rolling up their sleeves and saying, 'OK, what do we want this to look like?'” according to director Craig Hertel. It was just another step in Dallas, Polk and Warren counties’ continuing effort to cross county lines and operate as a region, he said.
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Hertel 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. Hertel 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.
The Dallas and Warren County Extension Councils came together early on, each contributing funds for a joint staff position – but it’s not a half-and-half proposition, Hertel explained.
Warren County needed a half-time county 4-H youth coordinator. In addition, both Warren and Dallas counties needed a grants project manager who had expertise in early childhood development and families services; the counties have about $500,000 in grants between the two of them. Both counties also need help with occasional special projects.
“It’s not a 50-50 split so far as time, so far as money, but those two councils came together and said, ‘let’s figure out how to do this,’" Hertel said. They figured out how to fund the position, how to jointly hire an employee and how to work together.
Each of the three county councils has organized committees, including marketing, finance and personnel/programming. While each council has its own committees, Hertel said, “we’ve commonly formed those (committees), so that when we want to get together, we’re talking that same language.”
He added, “I’m seeing the councils saying ‘we need to keep pushing this forward; we want to keep working together.’”
To learn more about ISU Extension programs, contact Hertel at 515-391-0940 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the ISU Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu.
Natasha Forsythe, Extension Communications and External Relations, 515-494-9225, email@example.com