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Iowa State University Extension

July 2014 -- From Cathann Kress

Cathann Kress and state 4-H council

I recently met some energetic young Iowans – the 2014-2015 4-H State Council. Given their enthusiasm for learning, leadership and community service, I believe our state and 4-H Youth Development are in good hands. I’m confident they will be sharing their insights with John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, our new 4-H Youth Development program leader. We look forward to welcoming John-Paul, and under his leadership, the ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development program will build on what we already do well, and seek to become more welcoming and inclusive of all youth in our state.

As I begin my fourth year as vice president for Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University, it’s an exciting time across our programs. Recently, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, under the leadership of Deb Sellers, announced plans for a contemporary management and programming model to move us into the future. (Watch the announcement and view the slides.) In Agriculture and Natural Resources, John Lawrence has announced that we are moving from the more traditional model of dedicated corn specialists and soybean specialists to a new team of integrated cropping systems specialists who will focus on how corn and soybean production interacts with soil, weather, cover crops, crop rotation and management practices and support farmers’ use of data-driven technologies in precision agriculture. Despite being awash in data, we are hearing community, business, and other leaders expressing frustration with an apparent “data gap” that leaves them struggling to find the information they need for effective decision-making. Tim Borich is leading Community and Economic Development efforts to develop tools to evaluate Iowa’s communities, counties and regions on a range of key indicators. They will focus on teaching Extension and Outreach staff, local economic developers and community leaders how to use indicator information to understand their current state and to develop local consensus on approaches to move forward.

With all these efforts, we are widening our reach in the scope of Iowa’s changing demographics, addressing more complex issues, using technology more effectively, and building stronger teams within Extension and Outreach. I find our work of creating access to the educational resources of Iowa State to be incredibly meaningful. I am regularly delighted by the dedication, creativity and talent of the people I get to work with, from 4-H’ers to volunteers and extension council members, and all our faculty and staff throughout the state.

-- Cathann

Oltmans connects Iowa State, Keokuk Chamber for economic development

Shelley Oltmans

Shelley Oltmans is the new Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. She’s also an ISU Extension and Outreach community development specialist covering Lee County. Since beginning this shared position in May, Oltmans has been coordinating with local businesses and governmental bodies to improve community prosperity, standard of living and quality of life through planning and development.

Community and Economic Development Extension and Outreach collaborates with local economic development groups to staff similar shared positions in other parts of the state.


Extension organic ag specialist uses sabbatical to benefit farmers

3 people in field

“My clients in Extension and Outreach are organic farmers and farmers interested in transitioning to organic,” said organic agriculture specialist Kathleen Delate. “Knowing what’s coming up in organic regulations, especially for those who want to sell in Europe, will help them meet this market.”

That’s why she went on sabbatical in Italy. Delate worked in a lab dedicated to organic agriculture production, provided advice on roller/crimpers to Italian researchers and compared greenhouse gas emissions in organic and conventional farming systems.


Human Sciences Extension and Outreach program builds family strengths

participants in Strengthening Families Program 10-14

Parents learn to be better parents, kids learn to resist peer pressure and together they learn to better communicate as a family through the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 from Human Sciences Extension and Outreach.

The nationally-recognized parent skills-building curriculum is designed to prevent teen substance abuse and other behavior problems, strengthen parenting skills and build family strengths. Watch the video.


Chaisson-Cárdenas to lead 4-H Youth Development

John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas

On July 21 John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas begins his new position as 4-H Youth Development program leader for ISU Extension and Outreach. He has more than 15 years of experience leading programs and organizations in the anti-poverty, child welfare and public education arenas.

“My entire career has involved working with young people – from inner-city Chicago to small rural communities in Iowa and Washington state. I look forward to creating opportunities for more Iowa youth to develop life skills, make friends and have fun through 4-H,” he said.