AMES, Iowa – Throughout the state, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county offices are beginning to reopen to the public. Some offices already are fully open to the public, some are open by appointment only and others are preparing to reopen. Iowans should contact their county office for information about local reopening plans.
Health and safety first
“As county extension councils and local staff plan for reopening their offices to the public, they first and foremost are making plans to protect staff, volunteers, participants and communities. The health and safety of Iowans is our greatest concern,” said John D. Lawrence, vice president for extension and outreach.
To help county offices plan for reopening to the public, ISU Extension and Outreach has been reviewing and adapting guidance from Gov. Reynolds, Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Using this guidance, each county extension office is determining how to best meet local needs and circumstances while planning for social/physical distancing, how many people can gather, personal health monitoring and other infection control strategies,” Lawrence said.
Open for business
Although county and campus offices have been closed to the public over the past few months due to COVID-19 precautions, ISU Extension and Outreach has remained open for business. Extension specialists and county staff have been conducting group education and activities virtually, when possible, using video or teleconferencing. One-on-one meetings have been conducted by phone, by video conference, or if meeting in-person has been essential, with appropriate distancing and precautions.
ISU Extension and Outreach continues to develop and engage in alternate ways of bringing research-based education to all Iowans. For example:
- ISU Extension and Outreach throughout the state continues to be available by phone, text, email, and website to answer questions and provide information and education. Check your county extension office webpage for local news and contact information.
- ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development has developed a wide variety of youth-led learning resources that are available for at-home learning. These resources are being continually updated and available to the public.
- Resources are available to help families and communities dealing with the disruptions of COVID-19 cope with concerns about stress and relationships, personal finance, and nutrition and wellness.
- Many extension specialists are hosting virtual field days, providing webinars or supplementing their regular webinar series. For example, additional webinars from Iowa Learning Farms offer timely education on issues related to water, soil, livestock, wildlife and other topics.
- Some extension programs are offering educational podcasts, which can be accessed from the ISU Extension and Outreach Social Media Directory.
- ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development is providing resources to assist communities, businesses, local governments and nonprofits.
- ISU Extension and Outreach’s family finance program specialists are providing one-on-one financial conversations with Iowans. These financial educators are available to talk about options for revising a budget, prioritizing bills, paying down debt and connecting Iowans with community resources to stretch reduced incomes.
- The Iowa Concern Hotline is available 24/7 for free, confidential support from trained staff. Email and live chat are also available.
- AnswerLine is available for consumers with home and family questions.
- Continue to check the ISU Extension and Outreach website for news about upcoming opportunities and educational offerings from extension specialists.
- ISU Extension and Outreach also has been compiling research-based resources related to facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the COVID-19 webpage often for updates.
Contact your county office
For information on county office reopening or specific events, please contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office. If the office is closed, leave a message and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible.
“For over 100 years, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has been serving Iowans,” Lawrence said. “As our state recovers from COVID-19, we’ll continue to deliver research-based information and education to help Iowans care for their families, manage stress, and support their communities, businesses and farms. We’re here for Iowans now – and for the next 100 years.”