Monday Update: Thank you, housing readiness, and more

I want to start this weekly update with a giant thank you to all who attended and made possible a successful Annual Conference last week. The planning committee developed a sound agenda that had a good balance of informational sessions and networking opportunities. The breakouts were informative and well attended. Participants were engaged, learning, and proud to be part of ISU Extension and Outreach. We also got acquainted with Jason Henderson a little better. His focus on service and “why” extension is important makes me excited for the next chapter of ISU Extension and Outreach.

Also, thanks to all who stayed afterward for the send-off, or “John-athon” (think of a 4-H skillathon without the skill). I sincerely appreciated the kind words from folks and the “Just John” signature board. It is an enduring reminder of all that we have accomplished together and the great friends we have become along the way. Thank you!

Did you know? Rural Housing Readiness Assessment

Our Community and Economic Development program is partnering with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to host the second annual Rural Housing Readiness Assessment Conference on April 10 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. Participants will hear from keynote speakers, attend workshops, and have opportunities to network and share ideas for improving housing quality, access, and affordability in their communities. The conference is intended to complement and enhance the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) process.

In related housing news, Decorah, Elkader, Eldora, Fairfield, Shellsburg, and Humboldt are participating in the RHRA process for the 2023-2024 cycle. Each community has received a $10,000 grant from the IEDA and is required to contribute a $5,000 cash match. One-third of the $15,000 funds the cost of ISU Extension and Outreach facilitating the RHRA process, with the remaining two thirds available for implementation in the community after the facilitation process is complete. Fairfield already has begun the engagement portion of the RHRA process, working with CED staff to address immediate needs within the community. The remaining five communities began their RHRA programs with a virtual orientation workshop in February.

Over the last three years, 31 communities have gone through the RHRA process. Of those, 20 communities have closed contracts and 11 communities have received RHRA reports from CED and are in the implementation stage until June 2023, according to CED specialists Mark Reinig and Omar Padilla. Communities have used the funding for a variety of purposes, including design plans, consultant fees for code updates, interns for additional housing research, work on dilapidated homes, and neighborhood clean-up to improve curb appeal.

More notes

  • The “County by the Numbers” documents I mentioned during my remarks at Annual Conference are available on the County Services website, along with other materials you can use to help decision makers understand the value of ISU Extension and Outreach.
  • Please review the March program update for current examples of what is happening across our programs. Topics include a Medication Administration Skills Course, videos of the 2023 Iowa 4-H Legacy Award honorees, the 2022 edition of "Rural Iowa at a Glance, Farm Trends," Business Model Acceleration, and more.
  • Faculty and staff are invited to submit proposals for projects that align with Iowa State's strategic plan. Information sessions will be held on campus March 20, 22, and 23. See the story in Inside Iowa State. The deadline for proposals is April 28.
  • Registration closes on March 24 for Jason Henderson's Hellos and Handshakes sessions. More information (exact locations and other details) will be available by early April.
  • Second Monday Live will be going on hiatus for a while, given Jason’s Hellos and Handshakes tour in April and May.