A summer for the record books

July 10, 2020

Judging by the calendar, the summer of 2020 is only half over. Is it just me – or does it seem like we’ve already lived through the longest summer on record? Are COVID months like dog years?

We are amid a very different county fair season. The fair is more than a few days in the summer. 4-H youth have worked several months preparing to showcase their projects and share what they have learned. Volunteers and parents have coached and supported the growth of the exhibitors and are sincerely invested in their success. While 2020 is truly unique, fair traditions are generational and the added precautions you are taking this year may challenge those traditions.  

We support the tough decisions that Iowa’s county fair boards have made. Throughout the state our staff and council members are working with their county fair partners to implement a variety of 4-H county fair experiences that are appropriate for local conditions. But it hasn’t been easy. Many of you have had to deal with disappointed youth and upset parents and partners. Maybe you’ve had to console frustrated people who don’t understand the difference between the fair board and the extension office. At the same time, you are finding the best way to reopen offices to the public and reboot in-person education as the pandemic continues.

I ask you to remember that for over 100 years, ISU Extension and Outreach has been serving Iowans. As our state recovers from COVID-19, we’ll continue to deliver education and information based in research to help Iowans care for their families, manage stress, and support their communities, businesses, and farms. We’re here for Iowans now – and for the next 100 years. This is a message of hope, of promise for the future. We will get through the summer of 2020 and a county fair season like no other. 4-H youth aren’t the only ones who will have something to write in their record books this year!

To our staff: Thank you for your dedication and hard work during a challenging and ever-changing situation. To our councils: Thank you for your commitment to providing extension education and your ongoing support for staff. You all have done, and you all continue to do, incredible work to build a strong Iowa.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach