Monday Update: The verdict, Rising Stars, and other topics

April 26, 2021

On April 21, President Wintersteen; Senior Vice Presidents Wickert, Younger, and Cain; and Vice President Stewart issued a statement on the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial. I share their hope that what happens next will lead to peace and healing and a better understanding of the challenges that remain. Please know that all of us in ISU Extension and Outreach will support our Black and Brown colleagues, partners, and communities who are hurting. The university and ISU Extension and Outreach are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. I encourage continuing dialogue throughout our organization, and I welcome your comments or concerns. I will listen. You can email me directly at or send comments to the virtual suggestion box.

The Rising Stars return

After cancelling the 2020 program because of the pandemic, we are pleased that Rising Star Interns will be working in ISU Extension and Outreach this year. Did you know? It’s a cooperative effort between university academic units and extension at both the campus and county levels. Since 2014, 60 students have completed the internship. In mid-May eight more will begin applying their academic knowledge to locally identified needs with supervision and support from extension professionals and community members.

  • In Sioux, O’Brien, Lyon, and Osceola counties, Alex McDougall (education, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) will shadow extension staff to learn about extension careers and assist summer educators with STEM camps, Power of Produce clubs, farmers market activities, and youth enrichment at county fairs. Region 1 Director Cheryl Heronemus will supervise.
  • Cerro Gordo, Franklin, and Worth counties together have hired three interns. Belinda Heckman (global resources systems and pre-dietetics, CALS), Katherine Cornwell (graphic design, College of Design), and William Howell (architecture, College of Design). They will work on an initiative to expand local foods in north central Iowa. Region 4 Director Donovan Olson will supervise.
  • Woodbury, Plymouth, and Monona counties hired Autumn Weaver (animal science, CALS), who will be supervised by Region 6 Director Molly Hewitt. Benton and Linn counties hired Maelyn Thome (food science, College of Human Sciences) and Tatum Kahler (animal science, CALS), who will be supervised by Region 11 Director RaeAnn Gordon. In both regions the interns will work alongside county staff and field specialists to understand extension’s role in building a strong Iowa. They will have opportunities to teach youth, partner with volunteers, and assist in ongoing initiatives.
  • Louisa, Henry, Lee, and Des Moines counties hired Catie Messer (education, CALS), who will focus on projects for COVID-19 recovery initiatives for youth, food security, and child care. She also will assist with summer youth programming, farmers market Power of Produce efforts, and extension marketing. Region 27 Director Janet Smith will supervise.

Following their experience, the interns will be invited to become members of the Rising Star Galaxy Club, which helps them stay connected to ISU Extension and Outreach and provides links to job opportunities. Past interns often volunteer to assist with recruitment and orientation of new applicants.

Congratulations to CYtation Award recipients

Several extension professionals were among those who were recognized during the virtual 2020 Professional and Scientific Council CYtation Awards Ceremony:

  • Lina Rodiguez-Salamanca, plant pathology diagnostician and extension program specialist, 2020 Cytation Award
  • Susan DeBlieck, state Master Gardener coordinator, Outstanding New P&S Council Member CYtation Award
  • 4-H Show Iowa Team (Mitchell Hoyer, Bonnie Dalager, Shelly Ramus, and Tillie Good), P&S Council Team CYtation Award
  • Cyclones Care Campaign Development Team (including Lauren Carter and Jed Findlay, Advancement), P&S Council Team CYtation Award

Signup available for ISU COVID-19 vaccination clinic

ISU Extension and Outreach employees now are eligible to schedule an appointment at Iowa State for a COVID-19 vaccine. As you’ve heard from Cyclone Health, appointments will be available April 27-29. Future clinic dates will be scheduled based on vaccine availability, and updates will be posted on the university’s COVID-19 vaccination website. When you register online for a time slot, you will be asked to enter your email address; be sure to use your email address. If you choose to be vaccinated and need to schedule your vaccination during the work day, please communicate with your supervisor. I also encourage you to check local vaccine availability, as many counties are reporting they have more supply than demand in recent days.

More notes

  • On April 19, President Wintersteen shared a message about expectations for employees to return to their campus offices. Stay tuned for more information.
  • The latest issue of The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, a refereed e-journal, is focused on health and well-being of rural families with low incomes. The articles are based on findings from Rural Families Speak about Health, a multi-state, USDA Hatch Act funded research project, and apply to extension’s work in rural communities. The articles are based on data from families of different race and ethnicities across rural America, including interviews with Latina mothers in Iowa. Kimberly Greder, professor and family life state specialist, leads the team that has been interviewing Iowa families for the research project over several years – including extension staff Janet Smith, Rosa Gonzalez, and Kim Brantner (recently retired). For more information about the project, contact Kimberly at
  • We completed the last of three COVID-19 Vaccination Information Sessions on Saturday, April 24, presented for audiences who speak Spanish. While these webinars are concluded, the information and answers that emerged from the lively Q&A sessions live on. All three recordings (two in English and one in Spanish) are available at Additional language translations may be available at a later date.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach