March 2012 -- From Cathann Kress
When I became Vice President for Extension and Outreach last summer, I said I wanted to learn more, firsthand, about what ISU Extension and Outreach and Iowans are doing. Since then as I’ve participated in events and activities throughout the state, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my on-the-ground education.
Case in point: In February I travelled to Waterloo where I participated in the Rotary’s Rural Urban Day, met with Hawkeye Community College President Linda Allen and learned about a middle school STEM project at George Washington Carver Academy. I also visited with the Black Hawk County Extension Council and extension staff who serve the county and region.
Black Hawk County is one of our extension districts that is celebrating 100 years of extension work in 2012. Others will meet this milestone this year as well — just more proof that we’re here for the long haul.
ISU Extension and Outreach can anticipate trends, build relationships and catalyze opportunities because we have been and continue to be part of the ongoing life of Iowa’s communities. We’re committed to healthy people, healthy environments and healthy economies for Iowa’s future.
With a three-year grant from the Economic Development Administration, the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) launched the Sustainable Economies Program last winter to help five regional trade centers (RTCs) and their businesses identify and target opportunities for sustainable growth. The program provides RTCs in rural Iowa with an in-depth economic assessment of the financial, social and environmental “triple bottom line” of the region.
The Carroll RTC is in the final step of the program, engaging community members to implement changes that will lead to sustainable growth. CIRAS provides technical assistance and serves as a mentor, helping the stakeholders develop an action plan for the region as a whole. The team also is working with Lee County and starting work in Wapello County using a similar process.
The Iowa Association of County Extension Councils (IACEC) is planning its annual Legislative Day Wednesday, March 21. Extension council members and supporters will meet with their legislators and discuss issues that impact county extension councils throughout the state.
“Last year about 1.8 million people benefited from ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs. We want to make our legislators aware of Extension and Outreach’s commitment to helping Iowans,” said IACEC President Terry Maloy. “Our goal is to have at least three council members and extension supporters from each of our member counties participating in Legislative Day.”
Farm women are learning how to plan a successful farm transition through a course offered this month by ISU Extension and Outreach and Farm Credit Services of America. Part of Annie’s Project, the course is being piloted in Ames, Carroll and Shenandoah.
“Managing for Today and Tomorrow will empower women to take ownership of the future of their farms and ranches, particularly as it deals with the human resource and legal aspects of transitioning,” said Madeline Schultz, ISU Extension value added agriculture program coordinator.
The Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce and Office of Economic Development is partnering with ISU Extension and Outreach to develop a vision for Maquoketa’s future. During the two-year project Iowa State will bring experts in economic analysis, community development, design, leadership and tourism development to work with Maquoketa citizens, civic leaders and business owners.
“We want to come out of this project with a plan of action that leads to a bright future for the Maquoketa community,” said chamber director and project leader Stacy Driscoll.
When caregivers take better care of themselves, they can provide better care to their loved ones. That’s the philosophy behind Powerful Tools for Caregivers, a series of classes provided by ISU Extension and Outreach.
Family caregivers learn how to reduce stress, improve their caregiving confidence and establish balance in their lives. They also learn to communicate their needs, make tough decisions about their loved ones’ care and locate resources that will help them in their everyday caregiving role.
Extension and Outreach schedules classes for caregivers in local communities throughout the year and offers training and certification sessions for class leaders twice a year. An April training session is in Urbandale.
This year teachers, parents and mentors helped students establish 295 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams across Iowa, many of them 4-H teams. They competed in nine regional competitions, demonstrating their robot building skills. Eleven 4-H teams were among the 72 that competed for top honors during the Iowa FLL State Championship at Iowa State in January.
“Robots are a really engaging platform for students to practice using the engineering design process and to develop their creativity, teamwork and thinking skills,” said Holly Bignall, with ISU Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET). “Encouraging youth to develop these skills and enthusiasm for the field of engineering helps prepare them to become tomorrow’s leaders.”