November 2010 -- From Jerry Miller
Last week citizens throughout Iowa were elected to their county extension councils. These nine-member elected councils are the local governing bodies for ISU Extension programs. Council members hire county extension staff, manage the county extension budget and help determine ISU Extension educational programming based on the needs of county residents.
We offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to those council members who are completing their terms. We also extend our continuing best wishes to returning members and a warm welcome to the newly elected members who will begin their council terms in January. We look forward to working with our partners.
ISU Extension and partners have received a $300,000 grant to educate the public about floodplains, flood risks and basic floodplain management principles, as part of Iowa’s flood mitigation efforts.
“This grant will help city and county officials understand their roles in the floodplain and watershed management process, as well as help the public understand the risks associated with development in floodplains,” said Gary Taylor, ISU Extension planning and development specialist.
When Iowa voters approved an amendment to the constitution to create the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, ISU Extension Sociologist J. Gordon Arbuckle wasn’t surprised at the outcome of the vote. The 2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll data indicated that a significant proportion of farmers support increased investments in conservation.
Arbuckle said the research also shows that in general, Iowa’s farmers view investment in conservation as an important contributor to rural development and beneficial to both farmers and rural areas as a whole. The 2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll summary report and a topical report on conservation funding and Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy amendment are available to download.
More than 100 people are in the midst of Current Issues in Nutrition, a two-part online conference from ISU Extension. They’re examining the social and economic perspectives of local food, sustainable food and traditional food systems. The conference began with archived presentations that registered participants could view online beginning Oct. 18. It concludes with a live webcast question and answer session Nov.18.
ISU Extension Nutrition Specialist Sarah Francis said the conference is of particular interest to registered dietitians, nutritionists, family consumer science educators, certified dietary managers, community supported agriculture (CSAs) operators and members and vocational agriculture educators.
In 2009, pockets of the state had crops pounded by hail, flooded by heavy rains, extremely wet at harvest or left standing through winter. While some producers harvested record yields, others dealt with decreased yields and adverse quality issues that extended into 2010.
As each weather event threatened to bend and break the spirit of Iowa producers and agribusinesses, ISU Extension was there – making university research available to producers forced to make tough crop management decisions and educating agri-businesses before they made grain purchasing decisions. Read the complete impact statement.
“At 15 years old, I have experienced only a fraction of what the world has to offer. I am only a high school student. However, I already have learned some important life lessons through my participation in Iowa 4-H,” says Mackenzie Felt, of the Dallas County Aggies 4-H Club.
“Membership in 4-H allows young people to develop the skills and confidence that will guide them through life and help mold them into active members of their communities,” Felt says. Read her story.
Citizens in Dubuque, Lucas and Palo Alto counties voted to increase the maximum tax levy rate that may be used to fund local county extension programs. The extension referendum was on the ballot Nov. 2 in five of 100 county districts (Pottawattamie County is divided into two districts). Ninety-four county extension districts already had passed the measure in previous general elections.
“We sincerely appreciate the support we received from county residents who worked to pass the referendum,” said Mark Settle, Communications and External Relations director for Iowa State University Extension. “County campaign committees staffed by local volunteers informed citizens about the issue.”
In counties that pass the referendum, locally elected extension councils have additional tax monies available to maintain and expand county extension programs. Individual county extension councils may choose to expand programs for youth, families, agriculture, business and industry or communities.
“I am encouraged that citizens in three more counties have passed the referendum, said Gerald Miller, interim vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach. “The elected extension councils in these counties now will have more resources to provide ISU Extension programs that improve quality of life for Iowa families, communities and business.”
The increase in the maximum tax levy rate is based on each county’s population. In counties that approved the referendum, the annual property taxes could increase an average of less than 10 cents per $1,000 of valuation. The increase may be even less because counties are not required to budget the legal maximums. Each year, the locally elected county extension council sets the budget to fit the needs of the county.
In counties in which the referendum failed, the law requires that the levy and maximum revenue limits for extension be frozen at 1985 funding levels. Districts that didn’t participate in the referendum or voted down the referendum may request that it be placed on the election ballot in 2012.
The referendum failed in Warren and West Pottawattamie counties.