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Iowa State University Extension

June 2014 -- From Cathann Kress

Cathann Kress and participants at Odyssey of the Mind

About 15,000 people, including 8,000 elementary school through college-age youth, came to campus for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals last month. It’s the eighth time Ames and Iowa State have hosted this international event that brings together students from different cultures and widely varying economic backgrounds to prove that creativity is universal. I had the opportunity to speak to these innovative problem-solvers during the opening ceremony.

The youth worked in teams throughout the school year solving an Odyssey of the Mind problem. There’s often more than one answer, so students must incorporate a variety of knowledge and interests into their solutions, such as math, history, art, music, science, acrobatics, athletics and robotics. At Iowa State, the teams represented their state and country, and were judged on their creativity and risk-taking.

Most of us likely could benefit from working more creatively and taking a few risks now and then. That’s why we had a conversation this spring with some Iowa Millennials and Gen X’ers  who didn’t necessarily know much about Extension and Outreach. They shared their views about how we can help them, and all Iowans, reach their personal, professional and community goals. We’re also gathering perspectives from our partners, some who know us better than others. Our goal is to improve our continuing focus on feeding people, keeping them healthy, helping their communities to prosper and thrive, and turning the world over to the next generation in better shape than we found it.

-- Cathann

Extension and Outreach, CIRAS partner with Centerville for economic sustainability

Sustainable Economies Program in Centerville

Centerville, Iowa, residents are making an in-depth economic assessment of their financial, social and environmental well-being for long-term success. They’re partnering with the Community and Economic Development program of ISU Extension and Outreach and the Center for Industrial Research and Service. Watch the video about this Sustainable Economies Program.

Food from space? Aquaponics bio-dome imagines future food production


A new display at Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens looks into the future of farming in space. The bio-dome helps visitors imagine challenges for space colonists, as well as future inhabitants on Earth who face limited supplies of water, nutrients and other natural resources that need to be managed in a sustainable manner.

The bio-dome features plants and fish, and showcases research  conducted by ISU Extension and Outreach fisheries specialist Allen Pattillo. Project support includes a grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. 

Human Sciences takes the college to the people

Human Sciences Matters

If the people can’t come to the college, then take the college to the people. That’s the land-grant mission of the College of Human Sciences and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. Those efforts are showcased in the summer issue of Human Sciences Matters magazine.

“We’re broadening our Extension and Outreach activities to encompass all academic areas in the College of Human Sciences, emphasizing youth outreach, health and wellness, economic development, and food and the environment,” said Debra Sellers, an associate dean and director of Human Sciences Extension and Outreach.

Iowa County 4-H team is runner-up in FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation

Robotic Raiders 4-H team

With a game of “Cyclone Survivor,” a team of Iowa County 4-H’ers has been named one of two runners-up in the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award competition.

The Robotic Raiders received $5,000 to further develop their invention. Their project has a provisional patent in place and was among 547 applications from across the world. Not bad for a group of sixth and seventh graders in only their second year as a FIRST LEGO League team.