One hundred county extension districts provide local access to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programs in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. (Pottawattamie County has two districts.) The 900 members of the 100 elected county extension councils work in partnership with local citizens, Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to carry the land-grant mission beyond the campus in Ames to all parts of the state.
Extension council members are elected officials and are responsible for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. They manage the county extension budget, hire county staff and help select educational programming from ISU Extension and Outreach. The Warren County Extension Council is one example of this grass roots governing body of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System.
Regional Extension Director Craig Hertel and members of the Warren County Extension Council talk about the work of extension councils in Iowa.
Craig Hertel: “Local extension councils is democracy at its finest. Extension councils are those local representatives that are ultimately accountable to their local constituency in their county. And so they benefit by not only having the local needs, and the local desires, the local requirements in mind, but they also have the wisdom of working together with other extension councils for the broader good.”
Charles Ertzinger: “What I’d like people to know about extension in Warren County is that we provide the resources directly from Iowa State University … and we bring the latest research directly to them.”
Steven Heaberlin: “Extension and Outreach benefits the people in Warren County in many ways, a lot more than they realize.”
Amy Tlach: “Extension is the grain of the wood, if you will. It’s important. It’s essential. It’s something that’s important to every person no matter what their age, no matter what their involvement; there’s a program that they can benefit from. One of the biggest things I think is important is for us to do as extension council members is to continue to educate people about what extension can do for them.”
Andrew Lent: “Well my main interest was the connection of county extension to Iowa State University, since I am an Iowa State alumni. But also, I know, from my previous experience being in the city of Vinton, the impact that county extension has on the community, working with the kids, to get them interested in agriculture, plus also the educational benefits that extension gives to businesses and other people in the community.”
Craig Hertel: “Recently Warren County passed the referendum – that’s a referendum to allow for increased funding. Ninety-seven other counties had already passed that referendum, and that allows Warren County to increase the taxation from 1985 levels of $90,000 that it has been frozen at, to now, coming this next fiscal year, the potential up to $265,000.”
Steven Heaberlin: “Now that we’ve got the referendum passed, Warren County has a great opportunity to expand our programs and provide even more services to the people.”
Craig Hertel: “Warren County now has the opportunity to move forward. … Warren County can look at those possibilities and that dreaming about what they want in the future, what they would love to have this extension operation, this extension office, this extension district known for in the future.”
Amy Tlach: “I think it's important that if you get the ask to run for extension council in the future, think about it, and say yes, because all it can do is benefit you and your county.”