June 2007 -- From Jack Payne
It’s the end of our fiscal year and everyone’s been busy with program evaluations, strategic plans and FY07-08 budgets. Before rushing headlong into the next year’s activities, I always find it helpful to reflect upon where our resources (both human and dollar) had the most impact. I asked our Extension program and area directors, “What was your most important contribution or accomplishment for the people of Iowa this past year?”
I thought that you might be interested in their perspectives on FY06–07, so I’m providing you with some excerpts from their responses. (See the article “The year in review: Comments from our directors” at the end of this newsletter.)
If you have something that you would like to add or would like to weigh in on these impacts, or anything else for that matter, please visit my blog, the Extension Switchboard.
The American dream of homeownership is an exciting experience, but it may be difficult or a downright nightmare, particularly for people with poor credit records. That’s why ISU Extension is offering a new online course for homebuyers. A Place of Your Own will help Iowans -- regardless of income level -- decide if now is a good time to buy a home.
According to Mary Yearns, ISU Extension housing specialist and course author, “A Place of Your Own lets you focus on finding a home that fits your needs and your budget. It will help you prepare for the home-buying process and shop for a mortgage that works for you.”
The online course is launching in June, National Homeownership Month. It will be available anytime, from any computer with Internet access; cost is $45. Participants who complete all the online lessons may take a certification exam. A passing grade earns a homebuyer’s certificate that can be taken to a local lender.
“Many home loan programs, such as those through USDA Rural Development, require completion of a home buyer class to qualify for a loan,” Yearns explained.
CY joined Cerro Gordo 4-H’ers for the North Iowa Band Fest parade May 26 in Mason City. It’s one of the many activities on the busy Iowa State mascot’s summer schedule. CY is booked for a number of county parades, fairs and other activities as well as some ISU Extension Sesquicentennial service projects.
“CY can’t make it to every ISU Extension event but hopes you’ll check the ISU Extension calendar and our service project Web site for fun summer activities,” said Elaine Edwards, ISU Extension communications manager. “To celebrate Iowa State’s sesquicentennial, counties are creating gardens, planting trees, building playgrounds, setting up historical displays, hanging barn quilts and much more. There are plenty of opportunities for service to Iowa communities.”
It’s true that the competition is keen in the Iowa Youth Hunter Education Challenge -- in archery, muzzleloading rifle, shotgun, small-bore rifle, wildlife identification, orienteering, hunter safety trail and a written exam. However, “it’s more of a learning exercise instead of a competitive event,” said Jim Pease, ISU Extension wildlife specialist and director of the challenge. And it is the learning that keeps kids -- and adult volunteers -- coming back, year after year.
Youth who are age 12 to 18 and have passed a hunter education course can participate in this annual challenge sponsored by ISU Extension and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and run by 40 to 50 volunteers. For each of the past 15 years, 80 to 100 Iowa youth have gathered at the Iowa 4-H Center for a weekend in June to participate in the event. The youth bring with them a desire to learn about the outdoors and share that knowledge with others.
They’re drawn to the real-life situations they encounter in the challenge. For example, the shooting events, all outdoors, simulate various hunting situations. The hunter safety trail event helps youth learn how to deal with public/private property situations like crossing a fence, finding a poacher and meeting a landlord to ask permission to hunt.
“Kids come back, often times, for many, many years,” Pease said. And after they’ve aged out of the program, “they come back as volunteers and coaches. They mentor other young hunters.”
To learn more about the Iowa Youth Hunter Education Challenge, contact Pease at email@example.com. Also visit the ISU Extension Wildlife Web site.
If you like to garden or want to develop a pleasing landscape, ISU Extension has something -- actually, many things -- for you. And they’re only a phone call, a workshop or a Web site away.
• Get ISU Extension gardening publications from Extension’s Online Store. Some are free to download and others can be purchased online.
• Call Hortline, (515) 294-3108, with your lawn, garden, houseplant and landscape questions.
• Visit Yard and Garden Online for how-to tips, gardening guidelines and useful links.
• Watch Gardening in the Zone video podcasts.
• Check the latest issue (and archives) of Horticulture and Home Pest News.
• Learn about educational and volunteer opportunities through Extension Master Gardeners.
• Contact your ISU Extension county office for information about local garden tours, plant sales, workshops and other opportunities.
The really big scissors cut the bright red ribbon and it was official: ISU Extension in Carroll County was home -- in a new office at 1205 West Highway 30 in the Crouse Crossings building. Extension celebrated the grand opening June 1, with the ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. Extension education director Dennis Molitor says moving the office near the crossroads of Highways 71 and 30 symbolizes ISU Extension being at the crossroads of expanding educational programs.
While developing a five-year strategic plan, the Carroll County Extension Council invited county residents to complete a survey and participate in a visioning meeting to identify priorities. The needs identified included economic development, business productivity, building families and youth opportunities.
“Responding to the needs identified will provide opportunities to develop new partnerships and expand our client base,” Molitor said.
About 950 Iowa teens will earn their “license to succeed” at the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference June 26-28.
“You don’t even have to be in 4-H to attend,” said Jon Kempf, an 18-year-old 4-H’er from Guthrie County and conference co-chair. “If you’ve completed eighth grade, you can come. Conference can be three of the most incredible days of your life. Where else can you attend great workshops, awesome dances, hear inspiring speakers, do some community service…. You will not be bored.”
The annual event gives Iowa teens a glimpse of life at Iowa State. It’s for teens, by teens -- planned by the Iowa 4-H Youth Council, a group of 40 high school juniors and seniors.
Kempf has his own license to succeed well in hand, and he credits 4-H: “4-H is the perfect organization to help kids grow up to be a positive impact and become our society’s future leaders. With 4-H, kids learn great characteristics such as leadership, citizenship and communications skills.”
What was your most important contribution or accomplishment for the people of Iowa this past year? Extension program and area directors’ answers to this question range from economic development to training Iowa’s workforce, building leadership skills in youth to increasing distance education programs, improving the lives of Iowans living in poverty to assisting manufacturers and agricultural producers.
Timothy Borich, program director, Communities and Economic Development, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Sioux City and Perry are financing and constructing outreach facilities to expand our operations for community and economic development programming. More than 1,600 local poll officials were trained in conjunction with local county auditors and the Office of the Secretary of State prior to the 2006 election. Economic development programming helped to produce more than 300 jobs.”
Chuck Morris, program director, 4-H Youth Development, email@example.com
“ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development reached one in four K-12 youth (125,944) with a research-based educational experience. These experiences focused on leadership, citizenship, communication, personal life management and subject matter knowledge.”
Eldon Uhlenhopp, interim associate vice president, Continuing and Distance Education (CDE), firstname.lastname@example.org
“More than 5,100 Iowans in 93 counties enrolled in Iowa State distance education courses. Enrollments in Web-based distance education courses increased by 24 percent during FY07. We saw an increase of 25 percent in traditional courses converted to Web content."
JaneAnn Stout, program director, Families, email@example.com
“Some 1,400 citizens in 23 communities are creating community action plans to reduce poverty. More than 2,500 families learned to make informed choices about low-cost, nutritious foods and better manage family finances. More than 5,500 families participated in drug abuse prevention programs. More than 1,800 child care programs received education and technical assistance.”
Gerald Miller, program director, Agriculture and Natural Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org
“ISU Extension directly influenced more than 150,000 Iowans in their decision making process that resulted in increased profitability; enhanced air, soil, and water quality; and new economic development opportunities including those in bio-fuels and use of byproducts.”
Ronald Cox, director, Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), email@example.com
“CIRAS provides research, education and technical assistance to Iowa manufacturers. Last year, manufacturers in Iowa reported that CIRAS and its partners helped generate over $100 million of impact within their companies and helped create or retain 1,000 jobs.”
Lois Hunt, area director, Southeast Iowa, firstname.lastname@example.org
“The ISU Extension Food Safety Training Programming ensures a workforce trained to provide safe food from the pasture to the plate. At one training site, 80 percent of the workforce is Spanish speaking, and all have passed the ISU Extension Pre and Post Training Course. The success of the program has led to expansion into other companies.”
Mary Schrandt-Prouty, area director, Northeast Iowa, email@example.com
“ISU Extension has trained and certified over 200 restaurant workers in the ServSafe Food Safety program. In addition, SafeFood workshops are held for volunteer and nonprofit organizations providing food at community events. The Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition was formed, under ISU Extension’s leadership. It supports the development and marketing of locally grown agriculture products.”
Sherry Teachout Glenn, area director, Central Iowa, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Adult volunteers coached nearly 100 youth in Story and Polk counties on selecting high school courses related to specific careers and college/university entrance requirements. They then visited DMACC and Iowa State University to experience campus and meet with recruiters. These students will be contacted over the next three years for potential DMACC/ISU admissions.”
Alan Ladd, area director, Southwest Iowa, email@example.com
“We are educating and providing orientation for our elected volunteers to be Extension Council members in each county. Internally, we are implementing a new accounting software program that will provide greater oversight and security of public funds for Extension Councils across the state.”
Donald Nitchie, area director, Northwest Iowa, firstname.lastname@example.org
“ISU Extension in Carroll County was a key player in establishing the Regional Entrepreneurs Association (REA). Organized in 2005, REA was designed to introduce an entrepreneurial culture in rural communities. In 2006-07 the program has grown to more than 90 participants from several communities. Ten participating business owners expanded their businesses.”