Monday Update: Leadership transition, area-wide meetings, and more

August 31, 2020

Message from Debra Sellers, on behalf of the Office of the Vice President

On May 4, 2020, I sent out my first Monday message as I assumed leadership of daily operations of ISU Extension and Outreach for Vice President Lawrence. As we entered the summer together, we couldn’t have envisioned exactly how we would live our mission to build a strong Iowa by engaging all Iowans in research, education, and extension experiences to address current and emerging real-life challenges in the midst of a pandemic. But live our mission we did. Two priorities – 1) ensuring the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, participants, and communities, and 2) facilitating the individual success of our faculty and staff – guided decision-making across the summer months. To date, we successfully achieved our three objectives:

  1. Reopening offices and in-person education in keeping with state and university guidance and with health and safety as the primary concern,
  2. Preparing ISU Extension and Outreach to assist Iowa in recovering from the pandemic, and
  3. Realizing the implementation of Structured for Success.

The Open for Iowa Committee has worked tirelessly to provide all of us with guidance and resources to respond appropriately to the pandemic within local contexts. Two different committees wrestled with the notion of recovery, providing six recovery initiative areas and creating an engaging and practical format for upcoming area-wide meetings. Across the state, each and every one of you has embraced a new way of working. Our organization’s collective efforts have led to many, many other successes and accomplishments that have deeply and positively impacted Iowans.

As I transition back to my role as Associate Dean in the College of Human Sciences and Director of Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, I want to thank you for the assistance you provided to me as I interacted and problem-solved with you and for the dedication and enthusiasm you exhibited every day this summer. Now, on to fall and discovering more new ways to build a strong Iowa!

Register for area-wide meetings

The following message is from Vice President Lawrence.

I will be returning to ISU Extension and Outreach September 8 and I want to thank all of you for continuing to make me proud with your ongoing work to educate and engage Iowans. I particularly want to thank Dr. Debra Sellers for providing leadership for the past four months while I focused on fall planning issues for campus.

I want you to join me in at least one of the six virtual area-wide meetings that will be held September 15, 16, 21, 25, 28, and 30. The focus of these meetings is planning the role of ISU Extension and Outreach in helping Iowa recover from the pandemic, recession, drought, and derecho. 2020 is an unusual year, so business as usual is not going to cut it. The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force has identified six initiatives where Iowans have a need and we have expertise to help:

  • Reviving the Iowa economy, including the farm economy
  • Supporting Iowans in improving financial security
  • Engaging Iowans in improving food supply, safety, and access
  • Expanding educational opportunities for youth
  • Engaging Iowans in addressing mental health
  • Supporting efforts to increase access to quality child care

Together we will discuss the initiatives. Then participants will move into Zoom breakout rooms to work through a program planning exercise. I strongly encourage you to participate. You will better understand the challenges facing our state and how you can help. It is part of the process by which we can tell stakeholders how ISU Extension and Outreach helped Iowa through multiple challenges in 2020. In addition, our response will help define how Iowa recovers and what Iowans tell their legislators five years from now about our role.

This extraordinary year requires an extraordinary response. While we each have individual and team talents, capacity, and expertise to address Iowa’s needs in normal times, the coming months and years may require us to step out of our programming routine and comfort zone and think differently about how we fulfill our commitment to the state.

Iowa State update

During a virtual town hall this morning, President Wintersteen and senior leaders discussed the university’s COVID-19 response. Today’s message from President Wintersteen includes the link to the town hall recording, as well as an update on the university’s COVID-19 test results and additional actions Iowa State is taking to prioritize health and safety and mitigate the spread of infection.

Open for Iowa update

The Open for Iowa Committee has updated the website with the following information:

More notes

  • Registration opens today for the Office Professionals Conference scheduled for Tuesday, October 20 at the Scheman Building in Ames. “Defining Our Success. We Adapt. We Grow. We Innovate.” is this year’s theme, with keynote speaker Lyndsey Fennelly, former Iowa State women’s basketball All-American and married to ISU women’s assistant basketball coach, Billy Fennelly. This year’s conference will follow the COVID-19 Guidance for Gatherings at Iowa State University. If the conference needs to change because of COVID-19 related issues, all registrants will be notified.
  • Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has developed the COVID-19 Child Care Considerations publication series to help families sort through decisions during these trying times. All three publications are available for free download from the Extension Store.

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