Monday Update: Our wellbeing

November 9, 2020

Our extension family has faced the challenges of 2020 together. However, each of us has been affected differently, with varying impacts to our personal wellbeing. This week extension staff and faculty will be receiving a survey link from me. This anonymous, confidential survey will help us get a better sense of the stressors impacting extension professionals throughout the state. Your safety and health, including your personal wellbeing, is a top priority. The information we gather from the survey will help us take care of each other.

During today’s Second Monday Live, some members of our human sciences team shared resources to help us improve physical, social, emotional, and financial aspects of wellbeing. (In case you missed it, the archived webinar will be available next week.) Please be aware that many extension resources are available to you, including Spend Smart Eat Smart, Finding Answers Now, Iowa Concern, Money Tip$ Blog, and one-on-one conversations with financial educators.

The university’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, Employee & Family Resources, has a webinar series to help staff navigate these stressful times. ISU-paid (benefit-eligible) staff, as well as county staff enrolled in EAP through the Iowa Extension Council Association, can access these webinars.

ISU Wellbeing and Student Counseling Services are providing access to Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). These easy-to-use, interactive programs address mental health challenges and life stressors. The collection includes videos, practice tools, logs, and assessments to help people track their progress. Mindfulness resources to support wellbeing also are available. Anyone with an ISU email address can access TAO for free. The resource is confidential and no one at Iowa State will see who has registered or what programs they have completed.

Let’s continue to be open for Iowa

As the temperatures drop and Iowans head indoors for the next several months, please continue to follow the guidelines from our Open for Iowa committee – so ISU Extension and Outreach can continue to be open for Iowa.

  • If/when you are delivering in-person programming or events, be careful, be prepared, and don’t let your guard down.
  • A council can make a policy that is more (but not less) strict than Open for Iowa guidelines, particularly if the county is a COVID-19 hot spot. Depending on local conditions, a council may decide to close the county office and have staff work remotely. In any case, be prepared to serve Iowans with extra caution. Review what worked (and what didn’t work) last spring and adjust accordingly.
  • If you are considering a holiday party, remember guidelines regarding serving food and follow all the guidance for in-person gatherings.
  • If you have an issue that Open for Iowa should deal with, contact a committee member.
  • Check the Open for Iowa website for updates from the committee. Check MyExtension for new materials to help you communicate with the public, including table tents (“wear face coverings/keep safe distance” and “sanitize surfaces”) and handwashing decals.
  • Show consideration and respect for others, whether they’re working remotely or across the room or down the hall or just need time away. We’re all in this together.

Brenda Allen named professional development manager

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Brenda Allen as our new manager of ISU Extension and Outreach Professional Development. She begins the position November 23. With her leadership, our Professional Development team will continue to ensure that extension professionals and council members receive relevant, research-based training for years to come as we build a strong Iowa. Brenda has been part of ISU Extension and Outreach since 1999, most recently as Iowa 4-H staff and volunteer development manager. A news release announcing Brenda’s appointment will be published on the ISU Extension and Outreach website.

More notes

  • Goodbye … and welcome, October 2020: Please review this list of individuals who left ISU Extension and Outreach in the past month, as well as those who have joined our organization.
  • The winter area-wide meetings will be held virtually from 9:00 a.m. to noon on the following dates: Northwest, Nov. 30; Southwest, Dec. 1; Northeast, Dec. 2; Southeast, Dec. 3; South central, Dec. 4; North central, Dec. 10.
  • Mark your calendar: Upcoming university holidays include November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. As it has in previous years, Iowa State is planning for a partial closing December 24 through January 3 to promote time off for employees and reduce energy costs.
  • Save the date: Our 2021 ISU Extension and Outreach Annual Conference is set for March 9. Details about the virtual conference will be available in late January.

Finally, please join me in congratulating our newly elected and re-elected extension council members. We value the commitment of all our council members to providing extension education, and we thank all of you for supporting extension professionals during this challenging time. Together we will build a strong Iowa.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach