September 2011 -- From Cathann Kress
Although I wasn’t brave enough to try deep-fried butter on a stick, I did grill pork, stomp grapes and show a steer during my trips to the Iowa State Fair. I was proud to see so many examples of the good work of Iowa State University at the fair as I visited with Master Gardeners, 4-H’ers, 4-H hall-of-famers and many others. It was fun to participate in an event that is so truly “Iowan” and attracted more than 1 million fairgoers this year.
My September calendar includes a broader “Midwestern” event — the North Central Region Cooperative Extension Association annual meeting in St. Louis. Topics up for discussion include metropolitan food systems, wellness needs and ag bio-science in the north central states. I look forward to sharing Iowa’s progress on these issues with colleagues in the 12-state region and discussing the potential for some innovative multi-state partnerships.
On Sept. 12 extension staff from Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will address questions raised by receding Missouri River floodwaters about sediment and debris, soil condition, leases and insurance during a webinar that will be held at sites in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension ag engineer and planning committee member, noted the importance of extension services providing information as well as hearing “the concerns and specific issues these folks have on their land. There is science that we can apply to this situation, but there is much that comes from farmer experience.”
Online mapping, global positioning systems (GPS) and smartphones can help communities locate safe walking and biking routes to school and boost kids’ physical activity. That’s the purpose of I-WALK (Iowans Walking Assessment Logistics Kit), which uses high-tech devices to encourage low-tech solutions to escalating childhood obesity rates in Iowa.
In August the 12 pilot communities received results from the year-long study by Iowa State and the Iowa Department of Public Health. Communities will be able to use the data to identify areas that will give them “the most bang for [their] buck,” said Christopher Seeger, ISU Extension specialist and associate professor of landscape architecture, who led the study.
When Noel Rudie, Harvest Innovations director of research, talks about company history and recent successes, he immediately acknowledges the level of service and depth of assistance provided by ISU Extension and Outreach through the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS).
“Using resources from CIRAS has allowed Harvest Innovations to focus on growth,” Rudie said. CIRAS has connected the company to research and food safety and employee training, as well as providing business continuity planning and carbon footprint analysis.
Iowa youth now can quickly find science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources with CYSTEM. Once on this online map, youth can locate STEM programs, mentors and careers near them.
“Many times youth don’t have access to role models and mentors who can help them pursue their interests. This map helps conquer this sense of isolation and connect youth with knowledgeable mentors who are ready and willing to assist,” said Jay Staker, director of ISU Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET), which created CYSTEM.
Last year more than 400 Iowans from Generation X to Baby Boomers, pre-retirement and retirement age increased their knowledge about saving and investing and now are ready to take action to improve their long-term financial security. They participated in Smart investing @ your library, a collaboration of the State Library of Iowa, the Ames Public Library and ISU Extension and Outreach with 25 rural Iowa libraries. The State Library of Iowa has submitted a proposal to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation to extend the program to additional underserved, rural Iowans.
Iowa’s new Local Food and Farm Initiative aims to boost production, processing, distribution, marketing and consumption of Iowa-grown food. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, ISU Extension and Outreach and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are working together in this effort to increase farmer profitability and the number of jobs in local foods.
“This initiative is designed to get more of the food we produce here in Iowa on the table while keeping more of the food dollar on the farm,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said.