County Success Stories.


Success Stories

ISU Extension and Outreach serves Iowa's 99-county campus.  These celebrations shared from our counties demonstrate the impact that our staff, educators, and educational opportunities are having as we continue to serve all Iowans.

The Appanoose County Extension Council strives to serve all Iowans as part of our mission. An example of serving all Iowans in Appanoose County includes providing free enrollment to 4-H members. 19% of Appanoose County families are below poverty level and 47% are not in labor force. With the rising costs of food, fuel, and extras, being able to provide 4-H at no cost to families is a priority of the council. In addition, youth and adult programs are offered at no or very little cost to participants. This allows Appanoose County Extension to serve all Iowans in Appanoose County.

In Spring of 2023, Boone County Extension partnered with Story County Extension to hold a Annie’s Project, a Women in Ag program. Twenty-one women were registered and participated in the program. Not only was this program informational and full of resources to share, but it also empowered women to succeed in a male-dominated environment.

The Cass County Extension Council, continuously asks the question, “How can we reach more audiences?” This is a question that all of Extension asks as a part of our mission and to expand our outreach. Realizing that building partnerships starts with building relationships, Cass County Extension staff utilized the partnership with Cass County Public Health to make connections with a growing Micronesian community in Cass County. Being a new Iowan can be a challenge and listening to the voice of the Micronesian community will help us understand what needs exist within that community and how ISU Extension and Outreach can provide evidence and research-based education to meet those needs. One recognition is that new Iowan’s may not have an understanding of how the infrastructure of their community functions, such as the postal system, the school system, the educational system, the transportation system, and the community’s governmental system. That might a good place to start the relationship and to build the partnership that lasts a life time.

This past year Jen Gaydo, Cherokee County Extension Office Assistant/Agriculture and Natural Resources Coordinator led several educational programming opportunities for women. One such program was the Women Managing Horses program with 8 participants. Survey results after the program found that:

• 100% of the participants felt the Insurance session useful

• 75% of the participants rated the Financial and Health sessions very familiar

As a result of the success of the Women Managing Horses program, Cherokee County Extension partnered with Ida County Extension to hold a Women Managing Farmland program with 17 individuals. She worked with Gary Wright, ISU Extension Farm Management Specialist to host a Women Managing Finances program with 11 attendees.

In addition, throughout the winter, Cherokee County Extension offers the winter Master Gardener series which is attended by several women each year.


Dubuque County offers a Free Seed program, In 2022, 625 participants learned how to grow potatoes. County, or online. Each participant received 2-3 lbs. of seed potatoes, packaged by Master Gardener volunteers.

Sixteen participants, enrolled in the Volunteer Immigrant Appointment Transportation Services (VIATS) were Guatemalan and received their program newsletter in Spanish. Because most enrollees were in small apartments, they painted large, plastic tubs with flowers and put them on their balconies. Overall, they harvested 270 pounds of potatoes. Catherine Caitlin, VIATS Volunteer stated, “This growing effort has had a massive impact on our Guatemalan community. What started out as a small effort resulted in having enough to pack extra boxes for others.”


Of the 112 participants who answered the program survey:

· 87% of those that have grown potatoes before learned something new.

· 97% grew a harvestable crop.

· 98% would recommend this program to a friend.


Dubuque County Master Gardeners

Dubuque Food Policy Council

Dubuque Salvation Army

Cascade Public Library

Dubuque County Library

Carnegie Stout Public Library

James Kennedy Public Library

This past year the Ida County Extension Office partnered with Cherokee County Extension to hold a Women Managing Farmland program with 17 individuals. In the past we have also offered to provide a quiet location for a hearing impaired youth during 4-H exhibit judging. 

The Hispanic community is somewhat centralized in Iowa County and is vital to providing a labor force to the Bayer location in Williamsburg. The staff at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Iowa County have been working towards reaching and including this group of people in their programs. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and the offices being closed, during the summers the Program Coordinator partnered with the local elementary schools to host a program called Migrant School. The Extension staff would host activities for multiple weeks including STEM activities. Everyone in attendance was also offered various program information, such as 4-H enrollments, Food & Nutrition calendars, Finance and Agricultural Brochures, and Family Wellness and Serve Safe Food Handling literature all in Spanish. Now that the office is open again, they are experimenting with a new program to reach this group. The office had a staff member who had completed training for the Salir Adelante program this fall and was working with a group of individuals from within the community and school systems to make this program available in Iowa County. The Salir Adelante program is helping aid assistance between high school students and their parents for conversations about the student’s future and financial goals. Due to staff changes, they are looking for a new staff member to take on this challenge, but all staff are excited about the new opportunity to reach the Hispanic population in Iowa County again.

This past year Monroe County Extension and Outreach office held a Grant Writing 101 workshop. This is a three-hour beginner-level program intended for representatives of nonprofit organizations, local governments and schools to learn hands-on-training in seeking and writing successful grant applications. Participants learn how to manage the challenges of seeking and using grant funding, project planning, identifying potential funders, parts of a grant application and tips for success. 97% of the participants were already in the process of applying for grant funds for their organization. Monroe County participants said this program was beneficial for their organizations as all attendees were from nonprofit and local ag related organizations that greatly depend on grants as a source of funding.

The Plymouth County Extension office is located adjacent to the host site for the WIC clinic held monthly in Le Mars. The WIC program serves those with nutritional risk who are pregnant, breast-feeding or non-breastfeeding postpartum and infants and children up to age five. Extension resources that aid in the program’s mission are available from our office including Spend Smart Eat Smart recipes and resources for healthy, low-cost meals.  

In June of 2023, West Pottawattamie moved from their leased office space on the east end of town further west to what is known as the Hundred Block of Broadway in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Prior to our move, the office wen through some renovation as we knew immediately that we needed to add a ramp to make our offices and conference area accessible. We also needed to remodel some bathrooms to make them accessible. This new learning for our office staff included reviewing building codes and inspections that we were never responsible for as renters. As our move took place and we became familiar with our new digs, we felt confident that we had met our desire and our responsibility to be accessible. 

Then, our staff walked through the process of the Civil Rights Audit and discovered that while we had passed the inspection by the city, we weren’t compliant with the accessibility guidelines and requirements of our federal partner, the USDA. So, we went back to work on the accessibility checklist to ensure that we had the international signage needed on our bathrooms to denote accessibility. We also, upgraded our parking spaces to make that universal signage more obvious to anyone wanting to access our services with greater ease. In the Spring of 2024, we will repaint the signage on the concreate to make that more obvious to our able-bodied clients as well as our customers that have mobility challenges.

In the end, the perspective of wearing another person’s shoes, in this case, their wheels, helped us to build our perspective of accessibility for all Iowans.

Adair County is a small rural county where Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has a strong connection with youth and with agriculture. Our Youth and 4-H development priority, supported by our Extension Council, builds partnerships with organizations to reach a youth audience beyond the typical 4-H Club structure. Like all Youth and 4-H Development work across our state, we work to support and include neuro-diverse participants through the accommodation process. Sometimes that work identifies barriers that were once unnoticed and not addressed.

In this situation, the Extension Council partnered with a local not for profit entity known as Stock Show Buddies to provide an event for neurodiverse youth and adults to exhibit livestock at the county fair. This experience paired 4-H Club members that had livestock projects with our exceptional guests to provide a memorable and rewarding experience in the show ring.  To support our 4-H Club members in this experience, the Adair Extension Council provided an educational and leadership opportunity to the 4-H Club Members that developed their understanding, confidence, and communication skills in working with neurodiverse members of our society, specifically in the show ring at the County Fair. 

As a result, the Show Stock Buddies event was very successful and enjoyed greatly by our guests and the 4-H Club members/mentors. The show being planned for next year will follow the same pattern for support as younger 4-H members seek to take on new learning and leadership experiences in Adair County.