Tuesday Update for Extension and Outreach

May 26, 2020

Message from Debra Sellers, on behalf of the Office of the Vice President, to staff, faculty and councils

Today President Wintersteen shared a recording of a virtual meeting held with 200 administrative officers to discuss increasing campus operations this summer in preparation for the fall semester. As activity gradually increases on campus, we all share in the responsibility to create a safe and healthy environment. You can read President Wintersteen’s full message.

As our state continues to gradually reopen and our university plans for phased reopening this summer, the cancellation of ISU Extension and Outreach in-person events and activities ends on May 31. Our Open for Iowa Committee notes that the May 31 date is not a mandate to begin in-person programming. Rather it is an invitation to consider in-person programming while still observing state limits on numbers of people in gatherings, adhering to public health guidance, etc. Virtual education should continue when possible. The committee recommends taking a slow approach, practicing protocols, and having a plan in place prior to resuming in-person education.

The following update is from the Open for Iowa Committee.

  • The university is planning for a phased reopening, but our county offices are further “down the road” to being prepared for reopening to the public than many campus offices. However, the university has valuable guidance that we can adapt to the unique needs of county offices.
  • The Open for Iowa Committee will use Iowa State’s “Guide for Returning to the Workplace” as our foundational document. We will review the recommendations and determine what applies for ISU Extension and Outreach. Over the coming weeks, we will share the appropriate guidance with you. (The guide, supervisor expectations, and a workspace plan are available from Iowa State’s Summer Planning website.)
  • We have created a public Open for Iowa website so that council members may easily access the committee’s guidance.
  • Advancement has created signage and other resources for reopening offices, including a contact tracing form, for county use. The materials are posted on MyExtension now and are linked from the Open for Iowa site as well.
  • We will send a survey to office points of contact to gather information about their needs. Initially we are focusing on supplies, such as face coverings, cleaning supplies, and signage.

Thoughts on county fairs

For many Iowans, including extension professionals, the county fair is a highlight of the summer. Iowa’s county fairs are annual institutions that we plan for and look forward to all year long. But when a tiny virus causes a global pandemic, institutions and plans often must change. See the Association of Iowa Fairs website for the official list of county fairs that have been postponed. If your county’s fair has been postponed until 2021, if you are dealing with disappointed youth and upset parents and partners, if you are hearing from frustrated people who don’t understand the difference between the fair board and the extension office, please know that the leadership team and I, and your colleagues throughout the state, support you. We are all in this together.

Extension professionals always find a way to engage Iowans in addressing challenges. Whether in times of crisis or calm, we carry out our mission and live our core values to build a strong Iowa. For a county-fair-related example of extension can-do spirit, see this video from JD Waybill, Linn County youth coordinator.

Internal communications

This spring we have continued to address themes and recommendations presented by our Internal Communications Task Force. As we implement Structured for Success, County Services is providing orientation and training to all regional directors to standardize expectations for the position and increase consistency across the state. In addition, program and service units are realigning their teams geographically with the new regions. These steps begin to address the ICTF theme to reevaluate roles and clarify individual responsibilities for accountability, and the recommendation to develop consistent teams across units.

More notes

  • The guidance for housing program specialists and curriculum review process (as mentioned in the MOU) have been updated and posted on the County Services website.
  • Our June 8 Second Monday Live will be a special, one-hour edition to talk about reopening ISU Extension and Outreach offices. Also, Andrea Nelson, assistant vice president for county services, will talk about Structured for Success implementation. Mark your calendar and plan to participate at 10 a.m. via Connect, https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/isueo/.
  • Join Advancement's social media specialist, Leah Feltz, to learn simple practices that will create a stronger Facebook experience for your followers in this 25-minute training, Increasing Engagement on Facebook.
  • Red face coverings will soon be available for purchase on the Extension Store. The initial order includes 1,000 face coverings and will be available in early June. The face coverings are for staff use and not intended as promotional items.

Debra M. Sellers
Associate Dean, College of Human Sciences
Director, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach