February 2014 -- From Cathann Kress
I recently recorded a message for our extension faculty, staff and council members as they prepare for our upcoming annual conference. It’s an opportunity for us to take a closer look at where ISU Extension and Outreach is now and where we want to be for the future. Guiding us on that path is our commitment to providing research-based education through meaningful partnerships. The central decision that we have to address is: What is the best way to portion out the available resources, including time, money and organizational efforts, to meet all the demands that compete for them? How do we ensure that we are moving in directions that will position Extension and Outreach to best meet the needs of Iowans today and in the future?
That’s why our county extension councils conducted a statewide survey earlier this winter and program area staff conducted needs assessments with clients, partners and stakeholders. The results identified areas of ISU Extension and Outreach expertise that Iowans felt most needed to be shared across the state.
Our program leadership team has been analyzing the information, but what struck me was recognizing that it’s not enough to ask what is needed to ensure our programming will continue to make a difference for Iowans in the coming years. There are additional steps of understanding the probable causes of those needs, and using our institutional expertise to develop quality programs -- that is, programs that have high probability of leading to improvement of the need. But it all starts with the simple idea that was the catalyst for extension work in the first place -- listening to our constituents. See you there.
The Road Scholar program from Community and Economic Development Extension and Outreach has been named the Top Road Scholar Program in North America by the national program. Since 2007, Diane Van Wyngarden, tourism economic development specialist, has taught 34 courses, which assisted 497 businesses for a direct economic impact of $807,792.
Enrollment is open now for the 2014 courses, which sample the rich culture and interesting lifestyles of unique Iowa communities.
Jamie Benning has been hired as water quality program manager for ISU Extension and Outreach. As an extension agronomist the past 13 years she has led multi-state water quality projects, supported farmer-led watershed initiatives and conducted agronomic research.
“Having Jamie focused on coordinating water quality resources will be a great asset to ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowans we work with on this issue,” said John Lawrence, Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach director. Iowa State University is a partner in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, as well as the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.
Low financial literacy, coupled with stagnant incomes and rising living costs, can erode financial security. That’s why Human Sciences Extension and Outreach is hosting free workshops to help Iowans better understand their health insurance options and obligations under the Affordable Care Act. Extension specialists also are educating moderate and low-income Iowans about tax credits that are available to them if they file a return.
“This is information that’s going to potentially save consumers money, money that could feed back into local economies,” said Suzanne Bartholomae, family financial management specialist and adjunct associate professor.
Amy Powell was recently hired to help develop an online curriculum to teach youth in 4-H about raising livestock. The new Extension and Outreach position will work with Department of Animal Science professors to ensure the information is scientifically sound.
This new position complements the governor’s STEM Initiative to boost youths’ knowledge and skills. The online curriculum also will be available to youth outside of 4-H, such as FFA and others who want to learn about animals and the science involved in their production.