AMES, Iowa – As Iowans celebrate National Ag Day March 23, they can be assured that Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is doing what it can to serve and support the state’s agricultural industry.
The past year brought new and unprecedented challenges, and Agriculture and Natural Resources extension specialists responded through creativity and innovation to make sure farmers had the information they needed.
Field days and educational events were held online, new programs were planned to address the derecho and COVID-19, and Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) partnered with Human Sciences extension to increase mental health outreach.
It was a year of teamwork and dedication, building on this year’s National Ag Day theme of Food Brings Everyone to the Table.
“Our mission in ANR Extension is to constantly work with agriculture to feed our nation and our world through sustainable, environmentally friendly and safe means that promotes food security,” said Jay Harmon, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director for agriculture and natural resources with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “In this COVID-impacted world, we pivoted to continue serving our stakeholders, educating them on the latest developments and research findings, and continue to find new ways to meet those needs.”
Harmon said that agriculture is everyone’s bread and butter and ISU Extension and Outreach is committed to those in this industry. Here is a look at the highlights from ANR extension in 2020:
- ANR websites received 11,215,694 webpage views from 7,621,442 unique visitors. Specialists provided information to 438,040 followers on social media and via 43,000 podcast episode downloads.
- Specialists made 959 digital presentations and online courses, reaching 55,790 live participants and an additional 70,581 participants viewed virtual program archives.
- 239 Master Gardener volunteers worked with 430 individuals on local Growing Together projects. 81,328 pounds of produce (245,000 servings) were donated with a reach of 69,386 individuals at 103 donation sites.
- The Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program provided technical assistance to Iowa small businesses, helping their clients receive more than $9.8 million in loan funding, while retaining or creating at least 158 jobs.
- 203 swine building managers attended a workshop series and 182 planned to implement a maintenance checklist or improve existing checklists as a result of the program.
- 86 farmland leasing programs were held reaching 1,444 individuals that influence 1.1 million acres of rented land in the state, representing $242 million in economic value impacted by the program.
- The Beef Team hosted a four-part webinar series to improve overall reproductive success. More than 520 participants from 28 Iowa counties, 12 states and 2 countries joined live or viewed session archives.
National Ag Day is supported by the Agriculture Council of America and a team of leaders dedicated to increasing public awareness of agriculture’s role in society. To learn more about the day and how you can get involved, visit the National Ag Day website.
Original photo: National Ag Day graphic.