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Iowa State University Extension

August 2012 -- From Cathann Kress

Harrison County Extension Centennial

In July we began celebrating county centennials in the first counties that organized for extension work and hired the first extension agents. I had the pleasure of celebrating with the good folks in Harrison County, shown above, as well as Muscatine, Clinton, Scott and Black Hawk counties. I look forward to many more celebrations over the next several years as the rest of our counties reach this milestone. Iowa State University is proud of our 100-year and continuing partnership with the people of Iowa, and we look forward to being part of the ongoing life of communities throughout the state for years to come.

In late August and September we will be hosting five town hall meetings to hear from Iowans about how Iowa State University, in partnership with counties, can best serve our citizens. Terry Maloy, Iowa Association of County Extension Councils executive director, and I will participate in these important conversations with Iowans in Ames, Aug. 27; Atlantic, Sept. 10; Storm Lake, Sept. 17; Oskaloosa, Sept. 18; and Waterloo, Sept. 19.

Through our partnership and commitment we build capacity — from carrying out educational programs at the county level; to our exhibit at the upcoming Farm Progress Show examining how soil, water, plants and people influence the landscape; to dealing with drought issues and concerns across Iowa. We are, and always will be, people advancing people and putting research into action.

-- Cathann

Dealing with the 2012 drought


As Iowans continue to deal with this year’s drought, ISU Extension and Outreach is providing education on drought-related issues via Web pages, webinars hosted in county offices around the state and face-to-face meetings. The Dealing with Drought Web page has resources related to crops, livestock, yards and more. A webinar Aug. 21 will cover grain quality issues and marketing options. Previous drought webinars dealt with horticulture, crops and livestock issues, and are archived online. Answers to frequently asked questions also are available.

“We’re probably going to continue to have issues in many parts of the state,” said John Lawrence, program director for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “ISU Extension and Outreach will continue to address Iowans’ concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Food Finder app helps fair goers make healthier choices

food finder app

Iowa State Fair visitors looking for healthier alternatives to something deep fried on a stick, or who want to track their calories and activity to balance their day, can turn to a new app available for the iPhone and as a mobile website. The Food Finder app was developed by the Des Moines Register and sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, in support of the Healthiest State Initiative.

“We hope the interest in all the state fair foods available will entice fair goers to learn a bit more about the food they choose and how their choices influence the need for physical activity,” said Ruth Litchfield, ISU Extension state nutrition specialist.

New research and development partnership launches in Dubuque

Dubuque river front

A new partnership in Dubuque hopes to strengthen area development efforts, as well as share successful strategies with other communities across Iowa and Wisconsin to support more sustainable economies. The Dubuque Institute for Sustainable Communities and Economic Development is a collaboration of ISU Extension and Outreach, University of Wisconsin-Extension and the City of Dubuque.

Staff will research the area’s successful history of regional development and strategies for addressing new regional challenges, and share the learning and results with other communities. The institute is expected to be established and staffed by this fall, said Tim Borich, program director for Community and Economic Development.

BioPreferred boosts economy, provides new markets

biopreferred label

With assistance from CIRAS, B4 Brands of Lisbon, Iowa, recently earned the BioPreferred label for several of its products, including hand sanitizers, soaps and lotions. CIRAS manages USDA’s BioPreferred labeling program for the entire nation. The USDA Certified Biobased Product label makes it easier for customers to identify biobased products and also is a valuable marketing tool for the product manufacturers and vendors.

Iowa State has collected more information about the existing biobased product industry than any other entity. As a result, ISU has a better understanding of the wide variety of biobased products available and the potential for their use than anyone in the nation.

Many companies offering biobased products are small, developing businesses, so the labeling program can help bring increased visibility to their products’ performance and environmental characteristics. Because these small companies often are located in rural areas, the program also can boost the rural economy and provide new markets for farm commodities. See the story in CIRAS News.

4-H leads to academic and career goals for Taylor

Cayla Taylor

Cayla Westergard Taylor participated in 4-H as a youth and continued involvement at Iowa State as an extension communications intern. Now, she has joined 4-H Youth Development as the newest state staff member of this pre-collegiate outreach program from ISU Extension and Outreach.

“4-H has played a major role in developing my interests, skills and eventual academic and career goals,” Taylor said. “I always could see myself working with Extension and 4-H. I believe in its mission of providing education and outreach to Iowans of all ages.”