March 26, 2024: Message from Jason

Dear colleagues,

Spring is attempting to arrive in Iowa, and I have been noticing that unique March feeling of winter weariness and springtime excitement in myself and others. Extension, too, is launching into a new season. We have identified a vision and direction, even planted some seeds, but it keeps snowing, and we can’t quite get outside to do all that we want to do, yet.

Many of you are talking about and writing proposals for Catalyst grants. I am inspired by the ideas I’ve heard and look forward to seeing what is submitted by the April 15 deadline! Even more exciting, I’ve heard many examples of Catalyst inspired conversations that are already leading to actions without waiting for Catalyst funding.

At annual conference, when we engaged in discussions about our internal commitments to support our growth and change, employee turnover and work-life balance emerged as a hot topic across the 65 groups. We need to dig deeper to identify what we can do as a system to make ISU Extension and Outreach a place where people can grow and thrive. This spring, we are holding discussions with our county extension council partners, departments, and extension unit leaders, and this summer we will engage across the organization to better define and address this complex issue.

In April, more than 50 program leaders, unit managers, and regional directors will come together to review ideas for extension program priority initiatives. By June we will name 3-5 initiatives that ISU Extension and Outreach will focus on to address emerging issues by collaborating across extension and university disciplines and departments and making investments from ISU Extension and Outreach and our partners to grow our impact in these areas.

I look forward to seeing, sowing, and supporting what we are nurturing and growing together.

Jason Henderson
Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Extension Store upgrades to Salesforce

The Extension Store is upgrading its database, front-end shopping experience, and back-end system for managing products, orders, and fulfillment. Over the next six months, the store’s digital infrastructure will move to a suite of Salesforce products: Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud, CRM, and Order Management. Implementation has begun and for each product will include transitioning, testing, and review. Initial support for search engine optimization (SEO) will also be provided in the Commerce Cloud transition.

Benefits of the upgrade include:

  • Business continuity in the event of staff changes or other potential disruptions.
  • A modern shopping experience backed by evolving software to ensure that common shopping, login, checkout, and navigation experiences for ecommerce remain part of the Extension Store website moving forward.
  • A higher SEO rank, which will allow the store to attract more website traffic, increase sales and downloads, and make a greater impact in the education of Iowans and other clients.
  • An improved search experience that uses natural language processing to interpret queries and return relevant results that account for synonyms, alternative spellings, abbreviations, typos, and more. This “smart” search tool will make it easier to locate information.

If you have questions or ideas on how these tools could benefit your operations, please send us your comments. If you would be interested in reviewing the new storefront before official launch, please submit your name and email address. The Extension Store will be assembling a team to provide feedback at the appropriate time during implementation. Thank you.

Chris Johnsen
Extension Store Manager of eCommerce and Distribution

For your information

  • Real impact: Planning for Planting and Farm Profitability. Each planting season is different and so are the decisions for optimizing planting technology. Farmers and ag industry professionals who participate in Planter University consider their time well spent and anticipate greater planting efficiency and farm profitability. As one participant noted, “This class made every person more money.” Read the full story, watch the video, and learn about the real impact of ISU Extension and Outreach. Related resources to help you share our impact are available from MyExtension.
  • Save the date: May 15 is Natural Resources Professional Development Day. Extension faculty and staff from across the state who are interested in learning about natural resources are welcome to attend. The event will be held at White Rock Conservancy near Coon Rapids. Registration information will be available soon. For more information, contact Adam Janke, ajanke@iastate.edu, or Kay Stefanik, kcstefan@iastate.edu.
  • Images from 2024 Annual Conference are available on SmugMug.

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