Monday Update: Thank you, happy holidays, and happy New Year

December 21, 2020

Christmas is upon us, the new year is within sight, and this is my last Monday Update of 2020. It’s ironic that a date often associated with perfect vision has gone by in a blur or at least a fog of uncertainty. However, it is the challenging times that allow strong individuals and strong organizations to rise to the top.

This is also a time of the year that we reflect and say thank you to people who have helped us along the way. My thank you list is long and please do not take offense if I forget someone.

Let me start with Dr. Sellers for taking the reins of ISU Extension and Outreach from May through August while I was working on ISU fall COVID planning. I told her that there were a lot of things that kept me awake at night through the summer, but ISU Extension and Outreach was not one of them. Dr. Sellers, the leadership team, and all of you kept moving forward. So, not only was the ship afloat, but it was moving on by the time I returned.

I also owe a big thank you to the Open for Iowa committee. From my campus experience I knew firsthand the challenge of staying current and understanding the evolving guidance from federal and state health departments and elected officials. I also was confident that, rather than trying to apply campus rules across the state, ISU Extension and Outreach could best determine how to implement the guidance across 100 county offices, four program units, and events like fairs, field days, and adult education. Open for Iowa did and continues to do important work for the benefit of all of us.

A big thank you also goes to the COVID Recovery Operations Committee that initially identified the six initiatives and to the I-Teams across campus and counties that are turning ideas into action. To date, we and the rest of society have been reacting to the virus and related restrictions. The I-Teams working across program units are focused on the future and how we help Iowans recover from the disruptions of 2020 and move forward.

This year we also made changes in how we are organized and operate. And for that, I want to thank all of you who have formed new regions and new relationships. We will continue to improve our communication and work to improve how we serve Iowans. Developing action plans to address crosscutting initiatives is a change in how we do programming. Thank you for embracing the initiatives; recovery is a marathon and not a sprint, and action plans will evolve as we proceed.

I started my comments by saying that difficult times allow strong individuals and organizations to rise to the top. ISU Extension and Outreach, thanks to each of you, has risen to the challenge and will continue to provide education, information, and leadership for our stakeholders and communities as Iowa emerges from the pandemic. I thank all of you who have kept ISU Extension and Outreach open for Iowans. Some have been to the office every day to be there for their community. Others have found new ways to educate and serve Iowans – be it curbside, over the phone, virtually, or at a safe distance. You have adjusted to cancelled meetings, changing formats, and evolving restrictions. Through it all you have shown that you are dedicated, passionate extension professionals who care deeply about the people we serve. Thank you.

January and February can be challenging months under normal conditions and COVID fatigue will make this time even more challenging. While Iowa’s COVID numbers are better than a month ago and there is a vaccine on the horizon, we must remain vigilant. As much as we would like to have a roadmap through this pandemic, it doesn’t exist. Luckily, we have a compass to help us head in the right direction. Keep it pointed toward a Strong Iowa.

Happy holidays and happy New Year. I hope you will be able to step away from the job for a moment, enjoy friends and family safely, and relax and recharge. Let’s hope 2021 will be less eventful.


John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach

P.S. A few notes …