Monday Update: Take care of yourself

May 3, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the mental health I-team has put together a kit of promotional materials on MyExtension. However, as you focus on Iowa’s recovery, don’t lose sight of your own recovery. As you share Iowa Concern, COVID Recovery Iowa, and other resources with your clients, remember to take care of yourself, too. David Brown is our behavioral health specialist. He shares the following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help all of us build resilience.

  • Recognize the signs of stress you or others may be experiencing, such as sadness, anxiety, loneliness, irritability, increasing substance use, or routinely having trouble sleeping.
  • Spend time outdoors, being either physically active or just relaxing.
  • Connect with others through phone calls, texts, mailing letters, or video chats.
  • Take breaks from watching news, including social media.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  • Take breaks from work to stretch, exercise, or check in with supportive colleagues, family members, or friends.
  • Do things you enjoy during non-work hours.

The mental health I-team has prepared a Mental Health Awareness Month calendar with daily suggestions to help us with self-care, stress management, wellness, and more. When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to be here for Iowans, now and always.

Follow up to Friday’s announcement

On Friday I sent a message that I was relaxing COVID-19 restrictions. My decision was based on a combination of factors listed in the first paragraph and not any one factor.  I did not mean to imply that my decision to remove the mask mandate was following CDC guidance.

From the virtual suggestion box

In August 2019 we set up our virtual suggestion box as an anonymous and confidential way for extension professionals and council members to share comments and concerns at any time. (This was a recommendation from our Internal Communications Task Force.) I read all the comments that are submitted. In some cases, no action is needed. Sometimes there are a lot of comments on a particular topic – like when we were going through our Structured for Success process and I shared the common themes and FAQs with staff and councils. Occasionally someone may have a comment related to a specific program area or unit, and in those cases I forward it to the appropriate person and discuss it with them. When comments relate to issues affecting our organization, I often address them in my weekly email update.

A recent comment was a response to my April 19 message regarding participants voluntarily self-reporting ethnicity, race, and gender. An individual suggested that if participants are not required to provide this information, then the Extension Events Calendar needs an option to indicate they declined to disclose the information. We will not be updating the events calendar for this purpose because we are moving to our MyData central database for reporting. MyData allows you to indicate that a client did not voluntarily self-report ethnicity, race, or gender information. Keli Tallman, program development and evaluation manager, says most of our organizational reporters already have completed their MyData rollout training. By October 2021, all extension staff with reporting duties will be using MyData for internal and external reporting.

Extension professionals receive university awards

Congratulations to the following extension professionals who will be recognized this fall for winning university annual awards.

  • Distinguished Service in Extension and Outreach and also awarded title of University Professor: Daniel Loy, professor of animal science and director of the Iowa Beef Center
  • R.K. Bliss Extension Award: Barbara Woods, human sciences special projects manager
  • Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice: J. Gordon Arbuckle, professor of sociology; Matthew Wenger, program specialist, animal science
  • Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice: Eric Christianson, community and economic development specialist; Yuko Sato, assistant professor veterinary diagnostic production animal medicine
  • Regents Award for Staff Excellence: Beth Doran, beef program specialist
  • Interdisciplinary Team Research Award (new category): Data Science for the Public Good (including Christopher Seeger, professor of landscape architecture)

More notes

  • Our next Second Monday Live is 10 a.m., May 10 on WebEx at I will provide an extension update regarding COVID-19 and summer 2021 activities.
  • Please join me in thanking the Open for Iowa committee for their service. Their work over the past year has allowed ISU Extension and Outreach to reopen our offices and return to in-person education in keeping with state and university guidance for health and safety. The Open for Iowa website will be updated on May 10 to reflect current guidance and relaxed restrictions after the spring semester. The site will continue to be a resource for our organization.
  • New translations of our COVID-19 Vaccine Info Sessions are now available. We are offering French and Arabic translations in addition to the original English and Spanish to maximize the impact of these sessions and reach more Iowans. These recordings can be found on YouTube or at Staff can find additional resources for social sharing on MyExtension.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach