Monday Update: Community Conversations Begin

May 1 not only brings May flowers and mysterious baskets of candy (if you’re lucky). This evening, it brings our first of five evening Community Conversation sessions held across the state with community members representing key organizations and industries.

Tonight, we’ll be in Cass County, with other sessions scheduled for May 4 in Black Hawk County, May 17 in Dallas/Polk County, May 18 in Buena Vista County, and May 22 in Muscatine County.

These gatherings will provide me with an opportunity to learn from those we serve and partner with about the challenges and opportunities they see throughout the state. Our regional directors invited participants from each county, representing a variety of industries and organizations: business/agribusiness, nonprofits, county/city government, education, health care, fair boards, the faith community, and more. I’m eager to learn what’s on their minds and collect more information for the strategic plan we’ll be building.

And today, the Hellos and Handshakes tour also continues. We start the day in Carroll County before traveling to Mills County in the afternoon (after these sessions, nine down, seven to go). So if you spot me this week, it will likely be in a county office or behind a windshield. I’ve greatly enjoyed connecting with you, hearing your perspectives, and talking about the future of ISU Extension and Outreach.

As I mentioned in a previous message, I’m going to continue working my way through the questions you submitted as part of our Annual Conference Q&A session in March. Today’s is: How can we as extension professionals help you better understand our work?

If you have been at a few of the Hellos and Handshakes, you have probably heard me say, “I feel like I am learning a new language” or “Purdue and Iowa State have wrestled with the same questions but come up with different answers at times.” Just like any new employee, I am learning a new organizational culture. So, please share your culture, share your traditions, and your ways of doing things – those that you enjoy and those you would like to see improved upon. It’s a way for me to learn. In addition, think about the “why.” Why is the primary question going through my head – why did they use that acronym? Why was that choice decided upon? Lastly, I ask for a little patience in decision-making from me. I have some habits and rapid thought processes from a decade in a different extension system with a different structure and a different culture. All of this makes me check and ask questions. There’s no hidden agenda – I’m just trying to learn more about you, the organizational structure, and the culture. I’ll speed up as I learn.

All the best, 

Jason Henderson
Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Conference, award opportunities in urban extension

From Cayla Taylor, Senior Program Development Manager, Iowa 4-H Youth Development

Extension staff and faculty who serve urban areas have an opportunity to take part in regional National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL) conference in Madison, Wisconsin, and nominate themselves, a colleague, or a team for a leadership award.

  • Registration is open for the NUEL North-Central Regional Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, June 7-9. For more info or to register, visit the event website
  • Nominations are being accepted for the 2023 NUEL North Central Region Leadership Award, which recognizes extension leaders who have made exceptional contributions to urban programming. Extension professionals or teams with at least three years of extension service or program impact are eligible. To participate, submit 1) A nomination letter, 2) Brief bio highlighting relevant accomplishments, and 3) A one-page summary highlighting impact, community engagement, sustainability, and demonstrated leadership in urban programming. Nominations are due by May 5 to

Natural resources professional development in Dubuque

From Catherine DeLong, Water Quality Program Manager

Natural Resources Professional Development Day is May 25. Registration is free and open until May 15. Extension staff from all program areas are welcome and encouraged to attend the educational program at the EB Lyons Interpretative Center at the Mines of Spain State Park in Dubuque. Participants will spend some time outdoors and learn more about water, wildlife, and forest conservation in Iowa. The morning will include a geological tour of Mines of Spain and discussion of natural resources programming. The afternoon includes two tour options to the New Melleray Abbey forest or the Bee Branch urban flood mitigation project.

For your information

  • All 100 County Agricultural Extension District Memorandums of Understanding with Iowa State University have been signed. Our MOU defines the expectation of our partnership in co-delivering and co-administering ISU Extension and Outreach. The new MOU will take effect July 1, 2023, and run through June 30, 2026.