June 26, 2024: Message from Jason

Dear Colleagues,

I want to take a moment to acknowledge our colleagues and friends across Iowa who are currently dealing with devastating flooding, as well as those who are just beginning to recover from recent tornadoes. It’s already been a very challenging summer.

David Brown, behavioral health state specialist, reminds us that dealing with weather disasters can have a profound effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing, and recommends actions people can take to increase their resilience.

In the coming days and weeks as the flood waters recede, Iowa’s farmers, families, youth, and communities will begin their recovery efforts. Our program units are working to identify the ways they can support these efforts. Earlier this week, I met with the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) and learned how they are preparing to support manufacturers across Iowa who have been impacted by floodwater.

Weather-related disasters cost Iowa more than $3 billion annually, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. This is why we have named climate and weather crisis resilience as one of ISU Extension and Outreach’s three priority program initiatives. We need to help Iowa communities, families, farms, and businesses be more adaptable, and sustainable and resilient to crisis – in prevention, mitigation, and recovery.

Last Monday, during the employee webinar, I announced this priority program initiative, as well as initiatives on food entrepreneurship and regional community economic development. We are forming planning teams this summer and will share more about these initiatives this fall.

During the webinar, I gave a budget update, shared a framework for implementing the Strategic Vision and Direction, and reviewed ISU Extension and Outreach’s strategic investments plan and next steps. The recording of the June 17 employee webinar is now available on MyExtension.

The main messages of the webinar are:

  • ISU Extension and Outreach’s traditional funding model is no longer enough.
  • We have a choice to make – stay the same, relying on limited public funding, which results in reduced positions; or do something different and create new income streams to grow our positions and programs.
  • We have a window of opportunity in the next few years: with some savings to make strategic investments, success in revenue-generation that we can build upon, and support from university leadership.
  • We need to build momentum as catalysts for growth and change in Iowa.

I encourage units and program teams to begin having important discussions around the following questions:

  • What is the impact of the program?
  • What is the full cost of delivering the program?
  • What are the opportunities for growth in programming?
  • Who are the investment partners?
  • What do we need to stop to create the time for growth?

Over the next months, I will be sharing short articles about how we are moving forward with the strategic vision and the types of changes we are making in ISU Extension and Outreach to support this direction. In addition, I will host employee webinars on September 9, October 28, and December 9.

And finally, please join me in recognizing the following Catalyst proposals that will receive funding from the 2025 Catalyst grants:

  • Growing Urban Agriculture in Iowa: A New ISU Extension and Outreach Cross-Disciplinary Project
  • Sustainability in the Swine Industry for the State of Iowa
  • Scaling-Up Mobile Processing: Fruit and Vegetable Processing in Iowa
  • Homegrown Lifestyle
  • Launchpad to Tomorrow: Expanding STEM Access for Youth through Catalyst Mission Ready Space Camps
  • Story County Data Exchange: Using Data to Support Literacy
  • Estate and Succession Planning for the Farm
  • Supporting Iowa's Food Entrepreneurs as they Negotiate Iowa's Cottage Foods and Farmers Markets

We will be meeting with each of the project leads and teams during July to further refine their proposals. We will share more information about the projects and project teams in August.

I look forward to continuing to work with you and our partners to explore the ways we can serve as a catalyst for growth and change in Iowa.

Jason Henderson
Vice President for Extension and Outreach

For your information

  • Save the date for your area meeting. The fall 2024 area meetings are set for the following dates: September 24 – North Central; September 26 – Northwest; September 30 – Southwest; October 2 – Northeast; October 8 – South Central; and October 9 – Southeast. Meeting locations and registration information will be available later this summer.

Office of the Vice President for Extension and Outreach | vpeo@iastate.edu | 515-294-6675