October 2010 -- From Jerry Miller
Maybe you’ve heard the old saying – if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. It’s not a very effective way to travel. So this month Iowa State University Extension staff and county council members will be taking some time at our annual conference to look at the “big picture” and start planning the map for Extension’s future.
The next few months are critical for the future of ISU Extension as we develop a strategic plan and hire the next vice president for extension and outreach. As President Geoffroy said during his fall convocation address, we have to face budget realities and adjust to decreased state funding. However, he also said we have “to focus on being a truly outstanding university, even though we have fewer resources to work with.” We have to focus on excellence and on having high impact in everything we do.
Extension’s ability to take the university’s resources to people throughout our state is as vital as ever to Iowa’s progress. As we work on Extension’s road map, we will continue to plan, develop and deliver timely and relevant research-based programs that help Iowans meet their ever-changing needs.
The “Smart investing @ your library®” program is under way in 25 rural libraries throughout Iowa. It promotes investor education resources and programming and is a collaboration of the State Library of Iowa, the Ames Public Library and Iowa State University Extension.
The libraries are hosting courses that combine face-to-face and online learning taught by ISU Extension family resource management program specialists. The information is tailored to first-time investors, those preparing for retirement and retirees. The courses encourage participants to learn more and then take action.
For some Iowans, 4-H is the reason for the career path they chose or the skills they gained. For others, it’s all about the lifelong friendships formed while camping at the Iowa 4-H Center, planting a community garden, or learning how to make everything from clothes to snacks to robots. The Iowa 4-H Foundation is gathering these stories through the “My 4-H. My Commitment.” campaign.
Anyone who cashed checks from VeraSun within 90 days of the company’s bankruptcy filing in 2008 were asked in late August 2010 that they return 80 percent of the payments they’d received. The legal issues were complex and had to be dealt with quickly: farmers had to respond to the company’s law firms by Sept. 30.
So in mid-September ISU Extension brought legal experts to Fort Dodge and Charles City to offer farmers straightforward advice about the steps they needed to take. Extension also videotaped the Charles City session for online viewing.
Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation continues to monitor the situation and provide updates when available.
Each geographic region in Iowa has unique planning needs that must be addressed to ensure regional vitality and sustainable growth. Students in ISU Extension specialist Monica Haddad’s “Regional and State Planning” course worked with three Iowa Councils of Governments (COGs) on authentic planning projects specific to their regions. It gave the students a taste of professional regional planning and allowed them to make actual contributions to planning issues.
When Wright County Egg Company, in Galt, Iowa, issued an egg recall in August, consumers were concerned. As the recall expanded with more egg brands potentially being contaminated with salmonella, Iowa consumers worried whether any eggs were safe to eat.
To ease those fears, ISU Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences made available research-based egg and food safety resources on one convenient website. Extension’s Answer Line answered consumer questions. In addition, Catherine Strohbehn, an ISU Extension specialist in hotel, restaurant, and institution management, prepared a consumer fact sheet explaining which eggs were affected, the dangers of salmonella, and safe egg selection, storage, handling and cooking. Extension Veterinarian Darrell Trampel and Hongwei Xin, director of Iowa State’s Egg Industry Center, fielded media calls. As a result, consumers in Iowa, as well as beyond the state’s borders, quickly received the information they needed.