Monday Update for Extension and Outreach

May 4, 2020

Message from Debra Sellers, on behalf of the Office of the Vice President, to staff, faculty, and councils

“Did you know” has been the central theme of these weekly messages from Vice President Lawrence. Now that I am standing in for him, even for just a few months, it occurred to me there is likely much you don’t know about me. I thought you might be a bit curious. Therefore, did you know?

  • July will mark my seventh anniversary with ISU Extension and Outreach. Previously, I was at Kansas State University and Oregon State University-Cascades.
  • I am a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. My area is gerontology, the study of aging and older people.
  • I worked as a human services professional for more than 15 years in a variety of clinical and community settings prior to becoming a professor. The hardest job I ever had was as a certified nursing assistant on the night shift in a nursing home.
  • I have raised four puppies for a service dog organization. My husband and I are waiting to see if our current puppy, Lucas, will make the cut!
  • I grew up outside of Detroit and yet also lived on 80 acres down a mile of gravel road in Kansas. Here in Ames, we are somewhere in between.

I’m sure we all could come up with a list of fun facts about ourselves to share with each other. I’m sure we would also find at least one common thread: a strong dedication to the ISU Extension and Outreach mission. I will keep our mission in front of me as I look forward to implementing Vice President Lawrence’s vision over the next few months, including ensuring the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, participants, and communities within the context of COVID-19 and the implementation of Structured for Success. I know our mission will guide you, too. And when Vice President Lawrence comes back, we can collectively let him know that we have been continuing to work together to build a strong Iowa.

One change you will see, though, is in the structure and content of this Monday message. I will not use Vice President Lawrence’s “did you know” theme. Instead, I’ll use these messages mainly as a weekly update for you. They will still come to your inbox every Monday, and you’ll still find monthly staffing change notices, program updates, and the like. In addition, I will not send COVID-19 messages on Wednesdays and Fridays. When there is information to share about COVID-19 and the potential for returning to work and programming, you will find it in the Monday message, or if is time sensitive or urgent, I’ll send that out immediately. I hope these will be positive changes as we navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19 through the summer. If I can do anything to ensure better communication with all of you, or if you have other ideas you would like me to consider, please email me at or make a comment via the virtual suggestion box. I am optimistic about the opportunities ahead of us and am committed to serving you in the months ahead.

University award recipients announced

Congratulations to the following extension professionals who will be honored during the university's annual awards ceremony in September:

  • Morrill Professor — Greg Tylka, professor of plant pathology and microbiology.
  • Regents Award for Staff Excellence — Laura Iles, director, Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic.
  • Departmental Leadership — Jeff Iles, chair and professor of horticulture.
  • Professional and Scientific Excellence Award — Richard Jauron, program specialist in horticulture.
  • Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award — Erika Lundy, beef field specialist.
  • Distinguished Service in Extension and Outreach — Erin Hodgson, associate professor of entomology.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice — Catheryn Hockaday, program coordinator, Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14.
  • Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice — Adam Janke, assistant professor of natural resource ecology and management.
  • Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice — Erika Lundy, beef field specialist.
  • R.K. Bliss Extension Award — Matthew Wenger, program coordinator, extension meat science.

More notes

  • The final North Central Cooperative Extension Association online speed meeting is May 6 at 12 noon Central time and will cover rural community development. For more information and to pre-register visit the NCCEA speed meeting series webpage.
  • Our next Second Monday Live is 10 a.m., May 11 at and will feature Community and Economic Development efforts. Diane Van Wyngarden will share programs and resources for tourism businesses and creative ways to help your businesses and community right now. Himar Hernandez will present on the business team COVID-19 response efforts. CED and Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development started cooperating a year ago to address business needs in Iowa. This partnership is growing now with the recent addition of the Iowa Small Business Development Centers. Together this team is providing immediate assistance to companies through technical assistance and educational podcasts. It is also providing medium and long-term planning and education to Iowa’s businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • The following individuals will serve on the Iowa Extension Council Association executive director search committee: Gene Mohling, region 15 director, chair; Donovan Olson, region 3 director; Lori Mannel, Greene County director; and from the IECA Board of Directors, Charles Ertzinger (region 13), Connie Casson (region 14), and Joy Prothero (region 17). The IECA executive director is an important role in coordinating the 100 extension councils and aiding communication between councils and ISU Extension and Outreach administration. It is a 60% FTE position. Bob Dodds is serving as interim IECA executive director until a hire is made.
  • The Iowa 4-H family met their goal of donating 10,000 face masks — in only nine days. Iowa 4-H has now set a new goal of 25,000 masks and is also encouraging others to donate surgical caps and mask connectors to those in need. Learn more.
  • In her May 1 message, President Wintersteen took a moment to celebrate and shared a few of the many outstanding achievements of students, faculty, and staff this spring 2020 semester.

Debra M. Sellers
Associate Dean, College of Human Sciences
Director, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach