Bancroft, Iowa, was struggling to stay vibrant and economically strong. Leaders in the community decided to see if they could make a difference in the economic and domestic quality of life in their town by partnering with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Horizons program. Extension Families Finance specialist Jan Burk worked with leaders and volunteers through a series of community meetings to create a collective vision and plan for the small community of 800 people.


Other highlights from Emmet, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Winnebago and Hancock counties:

  • Environmental and Agriculture Awareness
    Over the past seven years, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff in Kossuth, Palo Alto and Emmet counties organized an annual, day-long environmental and agriculture awareness program for more than 400 students. The program benefits local teachers. One teacher commented, “My students (are) being exposed to so many pertinent topics related to Iowa that enhance my Iowa History unit. I would be unable to do this within my classroom.”
  • Earned Income Tax Credit Assistance Benefits Low Income Iowans
    The Earned Income Tax Credit is the federal government’s largest anti-poverty program reducing the tax burden and supplementing wages for low income workers. With great commitment from volunteers and communities, ISU Extension and Outreach increased the amount of returns electronically filed by 44 percent from last year. More than $128,533 worth of Earned Income Tax credits were captured and $34,000 in saved tax preparation fees were returned to the local economy. Members of the deaf and Hispanic communities were among those served. Besides providing free tax preparation and e-filing, VITA volunteers provided information on financial asset-building resources like budgeting workshops, free credit report reviews, the Food Assistance Program, the Rent Reimbursement Program, foreclosure assistance and small business workshops.
  • 4-H County Council Service Project Raises Funds for Cerebral Palsy
    The Palo Alto County 4-H Council started sponsoring Pedal with Pete — a bike ride for cerebral palsy — in 1999 when a 4-H family came to them with the idea for a service project. Having a child with cerebral palsy, the family was interested in helping the county council start this project. Now, 13 years later, the council has donated a total of $9,385.05 to the Pedal with Pete Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to raising money for the prevention and cure of cerebral palsy. More than 300 riders have participated in the event and helped raise awareness of the disease. Each year, the county council holds the event the third Sunday of September, asks businesses to donate money or prizes and encourages bike riders of all ages to get sponsors and come and pedal for a cure.
  • CIRAS Partners with Snap-on (PDF)
    The Algona facility of Snap-on Inc. produces high-end, custom-made rolling tool cabinets for industrial and automotive use. The plant has been located in Algona for 55 years and continues to be one of the largest employers in the region. Since 2007, Iowa State University, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) and Snap-on have partnered for three semesters, providing 21 student resource teams to work on numerous strategic improvement projects. Through the partnership, numerous real-world solutions, detailed implementation plans, and documented savings have resulted. The students used lean tools and resource materials available through Iowa State University to help define complex problems and issues. The effects of the relationship have been valuable and Snap-on Algona looks forward to working with the next group of students.