AMES, Iowa – Thirty years ago this week the first issue of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Horticulture and Home Pest Newsletter arrived in mailboxes across the state.
The newsletter billed itself as a new effort of Cooperative Extension Service that would provide “timely updates on a weekly basis to the professional horticulturist from now through the end of the growing season” and would contain “short summaries about horticulture plant care and current pest conditions and management.”
Thirty years after that first issue was released, the Horticulture and Home Pest Newsletter is still providing timely information to horticulturists, even if it is being done in a different format.
“There has been a great commitment from the extension specialists involved,” said Donald Lewis, professor and extension entomologist with Iowa State, and a contributor to the first issue of the newsletter. “Newsletters like this are an essential part of extension communication. Through newsletters, pamphlets and answering questions we continually communicate with the public. This is what we know to do, it's what we do well and so we keep doing it.”
Hort and Home History
While the newsletter has been produced in its current form for 30 years, its actual beginnings date back even further. Extension Entomology printed and mailed a newsletter beginning in 1948 that was expanded and rebranded in 1973 as the Insect, Weed, Plant Disease Newsletter.
Fourteen years later the newsletter that had included both agronomic and horticultural crop information split into two separate publications. The Crops, Soils and Pests Newsletter (known today as Integrated Crop Management News) began publishing in 1987. The other side of the split created the Horticulture and Home Pest Newsletter, with its first issue being released on April 8, 1987.
The newsletter’s next big move came in 2005 when an electronic version began to accompany the printed newsletter. A short time later it became a strictly electronic newsletter. All issues of the newsletter dating back to 1991 can be found on the newly redesigned Horticulture and Home Pest News website.
The delivery method may have changed, but the same commitment to inform the pubic remains.
“The same type of useful information is going into the newsletter today as went in 30 years ago,” Lewis said. “The newsletter is written by a variety of extension specialists and includes a combination of short updates and longer pamphlet-like articles that provide everything readers need to know about a single topic in one place. Articles of different lengths always served the same purpose – to provide people the horticultural and entomological information they need to make better decisions in their profession or in their personal gardens and landscapes.”
Hort and Home News Today
Three decades after it was first released, the Horticulture and Home Pest Newsletter is seeing a growing audience, moving quickly outside the 2,105 subscribers it currently holds.
“People all over the world are finding our information,” Lewis said. “Having an archive of the newsletter online can be a great thing, our reach is much farther than it used to be when we were sending a few hundred paper copies to county extension offices, farmers and growers around Iowa.”
And as the newsletter turns the big 3-0 it will continue to inform and educate all who come across its information.
“This newsletter, or something similar to it, will continue into the future because extension specialists want to extend,” Lewis said. “We have education and excitement to share. It will be exciting to see how we do it going into the future.”
PHOTO: The first issue of the Horticulture and Home Pest Newsletter was released on April 8, 1987.