Wendong Zhang came to Ames, Iowa ready to carry on two of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s longest traditions. The Iowa Land Value Survey has been conducted since 1941 and the companion Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference is the longest running conference at Iowa State, both are now under the extension economist’s care.
What is the best part of working for ISU Extension and Outreach?
Chinese universities don’t have extension, so I didn’t quite know what extension looked like when I got here. I was worried extension would eat up my research time which affects your ability to publish, but in extension you have a great counterbalance where you have a really engaged audience. They want to hear your message and are engaged in the conversation.
How does having an international education help you do your job?
By studying in a different country and different culture I can now see myself talking to international students and helping them make the transition to Iowa State.
Name one fun thing about yourself that not many people know.
I have a daughter who is two and a half and we are expecting another one in March. My daughter has way more books at home than I do and now I end up watching a lot of cartoons.
What do you do in your free time?
I like reading and catching up on US talk shows. One of the things as an international, although the elections could be really nasty, for me I view this as a great opportunity to learn English. The candidates go to different locations to deliver a similar message. So you can see how English is used differently.
With your time at extension, what is one thing you would like to accomplish in this position?
The history of the position I am in means we have tons of data. I want to collect that information and deliver it in a user friendly fashion. One of the ways to do this is through the Iowa Land Value Portal. It provides information on the content of the Iowa Land Value Survey but also collects the information from 1950 through 2016 and allows you to compare it interactively for a particular county and to compare districts to the rest of the state.
How do you create a #StrongIowa?
The strength of ISU Extension and Outreach is that we provide research-based, objective information that isn’t biased by commercial and political interests. Those who are involved in the industry make a strong Iowa, and we in extension will try to point out where the headwinds are and try to inform them what the possible strategies are to deal with market downturns. We are providing valuable information to help them make informed decisions.
Resources from Wendong:
- The Iowa Land Value Survey was released in December.
- The Iowa Land Value Portal provides more information on farmland value.
- The next Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference will be May 17, 2017.