Extension and Outreach Recognizes National Ag Day

Celebration of agriculture continues through March 26

March 22, 2022, 9:59 am | Jay Harmon, Jamie Benning

AMES, Iowa – In celebration of National Ag Day, March 22, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is continuing to help farmers and the industry in a time of rapid change and new challenges.

The post-COVID agriculture industry looks very different than the industry in 2020 – with record high commodity prices, record high input costs, record farmland prices, issues with supply chains and vulnerability in the world marketplace.

Beef cattle on pasture.With a theme of “Agriculture: Growing A Climate for Tomorrow,” Iowans can be assured that ISU Extension and Outreach is doing what it can to ensure the state’s agriculture is resilient today and into the future.

“I’ve always considered agriculture a very noble field,” said Jay Harmon, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of agriculture and natural resources extension at Iowa State. “Feeding our planet in a way that best protects and sustains our natural resources is increasingly complex and requires a system approach that includes many areas of expertise. Extension helps facilitate this expertise and is committed to helping agriculture in navigating these decisions through educational programs and applied research to make a difference into the future.”

ISU Extension and Outreach is also helping the state explore new energy sources, including natural gas and ethanol made from corn stover, and other ways of being environmentally and ecologically conscientious. Carbon webinars and publications have been developed in the past year, and extension is directly involved with efforts to improve understanding of climate change issues including adaptation and mitigation options for agricultural systems. 

National Ag Day is a project of the Agriculture Council of America, an organization uniquely composed of leaders in the agriculture, food and fiber communities dedicated to increasing the public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in society. The National Ag Day program was started in 1973, and today includes a weeklong celebration that is part of National Agriculture Week, March 20-26, 2022.

Here is a snapshot of the many ways ISU Extension and Outreach has served Iowans in the past year.

Farm to School and Early Care Program. More than 250,000 children and youth at 1,110 schools and early care sites participated in Iowa farm to school and early care initiatives. A total of 434 school districts and early care sites procured local food for meal programs. Despite COVID-19 challenges, 61 school districts in 35 counties still participated in Iowa Local Food Day, serving 51,500 meals featuring local foods.

Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Webinar Series. A survey of 1,426 Iowa Learning Farms webinar attendees indicated that 97% learned about new initiatives, resources and/or tools as a result of participating in weekly webinars in 2020. Just over 60% of the people surveyed attended between three and 10 Iowa Learning Farms webinars in 2020, and 141 Certified Crop Adviser continuing education units were awarded to 72 attendees.

Master Conservationist Program. More than 160 participants reported an increase in knowledge of prairie, forest and aquatic ecosystems, knowledge of conservation practices and confidence in their ability to communicate natural resources knowledge and practices to others. Participants reported an intent to impact 755 acres of home yards and farmland.

Women in Ag Programs. The Women in Ag Programs held 11 multi-part sessions with 118 participants. The COVID-19 pandemic limited class sizes to allow for social distancing and each program added a virtual connection to allow participants to join the program virtually in its entirety or join for sessions they could not attend in-person for a multitude of reasons.

Additional highlights:

  • Unique website visitors: More than 6.8 million.
  • Publications printed and downloaded: 1.027 million.
  • Contacts at in-person and virtual events: 124,806.
  • Social media engagements: More than 4.7 million.
  • Individual, in-person, phone and email contacts: 25,314.

Shareable photo: Beef cattle on pasture.

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