Every spring, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach faculty and staff are honored for exceptional work in areas ranging from service and volunteerism to excellence in research-based education, and 2020 was no exception.
However, this year Vice President for Extension and Outreach John Lawrence also recognized extension professionals who excelled at finding innovative ways to continue educating, informing, and serving Iowans during the global pandemic through a series of COVID-19 Exceptional Effort awards.
ISU Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development (CED) program faculty and staff earned five awards for their efforts, two of which were COVID-19 Exceptional Effort awards.
Biswa Das, associate professor of community and regional planning; Liesl Eathington, research scientist in economics; Nora Ladjahasan, assistant scientist for the Institute for Design Research and Outreach (IDRO); and community development specialists Eric Christianson, Jane Nolan Goeken, and Scott Timm earned the Outstanding Practice in Community Engagement Award.
They were recognized for their work with the Northeast Iowa Business Network, conducting a multi-county study to better understand workforce housing needs, commuting patterns and housing preferences. Several of the communities have made progress on community development projects as a result of this team’s work.
The Data Science for the Public Good Young Scholars Program team led by Christopher J. Seeger, professor of landscape architecture and extension landscape architect, earned the ISU Extension and Outreach Excellence in Research-Based Programming Award.
This team was honored for its work engaging students, community leaders, and extension professionals in real-world projects that benefitted communities while increasing data awareness, literacy, and technical capacity. In addition, they adapted their efforts to the pandemic, as students worked virtually with Iowa clients to identify and prioritize data related to economic mobility, alcohol-prevention efforts, substance use and systems-of-care infrastructure, and extension community helpline services.
Other team members include Cass Dorius, associate professor of human development and family studies; Shawn Dorius, associate professor of sociology; Heike Hofmann, professor of statistics; Adisak Sukul, associate teaching professor of computer science; and Todd Abraham, assistant director of data and analytics.
CED’s communications and marketing team of program specialists Amanda Eggers, Susan Erickson, and Sandra Oberbroeckling were recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Advancement. They work to put CED and ISU Extension and Outreach’s best face forward. In recent years they have successfully redesigned the CED webpage, newsletter templates, and brochures and created a robust and purposeful social media presence. Shortly after the pandemic hit Iowa, the team converted the CED newsletter from quarterly to monthly and developed an online version. In addition, they have ensured materials are accessible to all Iowans.
Sara Shonrock, local government specialist, and Eggers earned an award for Excellence in Remote Instruction for their quick work in converting the 2020 Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy from an in-person event to interactive virtual training with 301 participants. As a result of their 2020 experience, they are now offering this training both in person in July and quarterly by distance learning. More information about the Institute and Academy is available on the Office of State and Local Government Programs webpage (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/communities/oslgp/mpi-mpa).
The CED local government and housing team earned the award for Excellence in Innovative Program Delivery. This team converted the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) program from a complex, three-part, face-to-face series into an interactive, virtual workshop experience. RHRA is a tool that helps communities assess their housing needs and guides them in a decision-making process to address those needs. Team members include CED specialists Abbie Gaffey, Omar Padilla, Timm, and Christianson; Shonrock; Julie Robison, IDRO program manager; and Jon Wolseth, CED program associate director. More about the program is available on the CED website (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/communities/rural-housing-readiness-as...).
ISU Extension and Outreach’s Advancement unit produced videos in which recipients of COVID-19 Exceptional Effort awards describe how they adapted their programs during the pandemic and how their efforts can be replicated by others. The video about the Excellence in Remote Learning Award is available online at https://vimeo.com/527874091, and the Innovative Program Delivery Award video can be found at https://vimeo.com/527881066.