What do you do for ISU Community and Economic Development Extension and Outreach?
I get to work across the state, and nationally, with partners to help design and develop place-based food systems. I coordinate a program called Community Food Systems (CFS). I like to talk about the CFS program as a multi-faceted approach to process, research, and training. CFS offers a multi-year process to facilitate conversations around food systems, determine community vision, conduct a community food systems assessment, and determine priority projects. Following that phase, implementation of projects begins, which typically pulls in a cross-disciplinary team from both Iowa State and the community. Along with the process, we offer a fee for service program to work on specific types of projects.
In addition, we research how the food system impacts, and is impacted by, community. A bi-annual publication will be released this spring with over 40 tactics in food systems from gardening, shared-use kitchens, processing facilities, public markets, to composting projects.
Last, we offer three certification programs:
- Local Food Leader: for individuals seeking more engagement skills in food systems
- Community Food Systems: individuals seeking a process for food systems development to utilize in community
- Mapping 101: mapping development for food businesses or individuals interested in utilizing maps for decision making
What is the best part of your job?
I love working in community and meeting new people. It’s been incredible to travel and have opportunity to get to know so many different people, their expertise and culture, and what makes them interested and passionate about their work.
I have had the opportunity to be a part of an Agriculture Marketing Resource Center (AgMrc) grant this last year that has allowed our program to offer Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems certifications in 10 states, and it’s been an awesome adventure.
Name one fun thing about yourself that not many people know.
Iowa State is in my blood. My dad graduated from here; My grandpa worked for the ISU Dairy and the football grounds crew, and my grandma was a supervisor with the ISU bookstore. I have awesome cyclones gear from back in the 50s.
I also have a great grandfather and uncle that worked for Extension, according to mom, they did work in the corn fields and loved their work.
What do you do in your spare time?
Studying (said with a sigh)… but also I love Netflix binging with my cat Pistacio, hanging out with family and friends, or adventuring around Iowa.
What is one thing you would like to accomplish in this position?
A couple goals- I travel a lot around Iowa for my job, and I have always wanted to make a coffee-table picture book of the countryside on the travels- even if it’s just for me.
Also, I’d love to get to all 50 states (4 more to go) within the year.
How do you create a #StrongIowa?
I try to lift up stories about the great things Iowans are doing in their community around food. Whether that be food access, unique food business strategies, or simply great work to empower their community.
What have you been up to lately (in your job)?
Traveling! I have the opportunity to participate in this year’s cohort for National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) and we were just in Chicago. It was a great experience to meet enthusiastic people across the north-central region working in Extension.
We also just wrapped up our 10th state for our AgMrc grant, so now, will have time to reflect and update our certification materials.