AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University Extension’s programs for families and youth have been like two houses built side by side, according to Nancy Franz, the new associate dean for ISU Extension and Outreach for Families and 4-H Youth.
“We’ve been good neighbors for many years, and both houses are in good shape,” Franz said. “But in today’s market, having one house makes more sense. Together, we can build a better house.”
One of Franz’ tasks is to develop the blueprint for blending extension educational programs that strengthen families with 4-H youth development efforts that build leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills in youth.
An important first step was formally welcoming ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development into the College of Human Sciences, where ISU Extension to Families programs are based. Having an academic home on campus provides the youth program with increased access to research, program evaluation and outcome assessment – opening channels to better document both the quality of 4-H programs and the impact 4-H activities have on youth and communities, Franz said.
“Having 4-H be part of the college connects 4-H staff and volunteers more directly to Iowa State’s research base. Iowa State students, faculty and staff are potential collaborators who can help develop the educational resources that are key to 4-H hands-on learning experiences,” Franz said.
A team of families and youth extension specialists are documenting current successful partnerships and best practices for families and 4-H joint work, Franz said. “Coming together is a natural progression. We get to see what works.”
“We’re excited to have Nancy as part of ISU Extension’s 4-H youth development team,” added Chuck Morris, who directs day-to-day operations for the 4-H program. “Her enthusiasm and expertise in positive youth development and the close connection to the College of Human Sciences are strengthening our educational programs for Iowa children and teens.”
ISU Extension provides scientific programs that have been proven to make a difference in people’s lives, Franz said. Extension education is evidence-based, backed by quantitative research, and evidence-informed, adhering to tested principles. That research base always will be the foundation of ISU Extension’s families and 4-H house, she said.
Extension creates opportunities to help people learn about topics ranging from healthy food choices and sound financial management to building science, engineering and technology skills in youth. However, ISU Extension also helps people learn how to learn, Franz said — how to reflect on assumptions, ask questions and participate in their own learning.
With strong programs that serve families and youth, ISU Extension education transforms people’s lives, Franz said.
Nancy Franz, Associate Dean, Extension and Outreach for Families and 4-H Youth, 515-294-8876, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, 515-294-0775,