AMES, Iowa – Jamie Benning is no stranger to statewide issues that affect all Iowans.
For six years she led the water quality program at Iowa State University and for seven years before that, she worked in the agronomy and sociology departments, helping support research and leading watershed and climate extension programs.
On Aug. 10, she was named the new assistant director for Agriculture and Natural Resources with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and will help lead the direction of the largest arm of extension at Iowa State.
For Benning, the new role is simply another way to serve Iowans and deliver the information and answers they need. She was active in Iowa 4-H and received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State – and is ready to carry extension forward.
“I really look forward to spreading the word about our great work within Agriculture and Natural Resources,” she said. “There are so many humble people within extension who I look forward to representing, and I’m excited about exploring new audiences and making sure that we are truly serving all Iowans.”
Benning will replace Chris Mondak, who held the same position and retired in 2018. She will work alongside Jay Harmon, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director for Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach at Iowa State, as they work to represent more than 150 extension employees across the state.
Harmon, who has served as director since 2017, said he looks forward to the teamwork he will have with Benning, and her passion to serve Iowans.
“We plan to divide and conquer and support each other,” he said. “We’re going to use both of our experiences and work together as a team, and look at what we need to do to support each other.”
Benning said she looks forward to the opportunity to work with all of the Agriculture and Natural Resources team, as she continues to advance important issues such as water quality, farm management and profitability, and the education and information that the farm community needs.
The past couple years have been especially trying for Iowa’s farmers, and Benning and Harmon said today’s challenge underscore the need for a strong extension and outreach.
“We’re in uncertain times,” Benning said. “Farmers and decision makers are looking for ways that they can improve their operations and make it through this time. It’s important that our clients and the people of Iowa know that we’re here for them.”
Harmon said the search for assistant director was internal, and he commended the strong pool of talent and passion of the other applicants.
“We had a really strong pool of people who stepped forward and said they would like to be involved and help lead,” Harmon said. “It was really rewarding to have that kind of commitment.”