May 2011 -- From Jerry Miller
More than 300 extension professionals from 36 states made their way to Des Moines in early May for the National Urban Extension Conference. It’s no surprise that the conference attracted a sizable audience, because extension has the potential to become a much greater force in urban areas throughout the United States. Presentation materials from the conference sessions will be linked from the conference website as they become available.
Extension programming for urban clients requires continuity and consistency, as it does for our rural clients. Iowa State takes this challenge very seriously, as we find more and more ways to become part of the urban fabric while continuing our efforts in Iowa’s rural landscape. In any case, one thing will not waver: our continuing commitment to the land-grant mission.
When Hawarden City Administrator Gary Tucker wanted to “get everyone on the same page” about the town’s future in spring 2010, he called ISU Extension. Over the next several months, Community and Economic Development Specialist Alan Vandehaar worked with Tucker and other local leaders, bringing together the community’s diverse population to discuss community needs, identify priority projects and develop action plans. As a result, seven working groups are tackling the key issues.
A CIRAS presentation about government contracting started Rose Ann Burgmeier and her Bettendorf company, Digital Pathways, on the road to the Rock Island Arsenal. “I wanted to capture a piece of that business and add the government as one of my strategic customers,” Burgmeier said. CIRAS, the ISU Extension Center for Industrial Research and Service, helped her get that business through the Procurement Technical Assistance Program.
The Food Channel named food preservation the top food trend for 2011. However, Northwest Iowa’s new Master Food Volunteers aren’t concerned so much with trends as with helping people learn how to preserve food safely. Whether driven by economics, food recalls or simply the desire to “do it themselves,” 20 new Iowa State University Extension volunteers are trained, certified and ready to share their knowledge about safe and efficient methods of home food preservation in ISU Extension’s Region 6, covering Cherokee, Buena Vista, Pocahontas, Calhoun, Sac and Ida counties.
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), mentoring already is an established part of the ISU Extension 4-H youth development program in Johnson County. However, through a new $61,000 grant, Johnson County 4-H will develop workshops and community club programs specifically for the child/adult BBBS matches. The new initiative is funded through the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
ISU Extension is one of four state cooperative extension services that will develop and run the People’s Garden School Pilot Program. The $1 million pilot program is authorized under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. It will serve an estimated 2,800 students in Washington, New York, Iowa and Arkansas.
The pilot explores the impact of school gardens on learning and on changing student consumption patterns so they make healthier food choices. Twenty Iowa schools and many community partners such as 4-H clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs and other after-school youth groups will participate.