It is hard to believe that, as of August 1st, the current structure of Iowa State University (ISU) Extension has been in place. We are located in what is called "Region 6," which includes the six counties of Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Ida, Pocahontas, and Sac Counties.
I believe that county office staff members have done a great job in accepting and moving into expanded responsibilities and roles. A year ago, many were unsure of all that was going to be expected from them in our six counties. Many accepted duties they may have observed someone else doing in the past, and now have taken leadership for that activity or project.
Since we are half done with the six county fairs in Region 6, as of this writing, I think 4-H volunteers have really stepped up to assist in making the county fairs run smoothly. The 4-H program runs on volunteers and the work of the fair superintendents, 4-H Youth Committee members, Extension Council members, supporters, and others has helped to make the local county fairs events something to remember.
Occasionally, a client may still ask about an office closing. This has not happened and all 100 county Extension offices (Pottawattamie County is split into two offices) have remained open. The only way a county office will close in the future will be based on a decision by the nine-member locally- elected Extension Council. Extension Councils are public bodies in each county that provide assistance and a means for ISU Extension to fulfill its mission in that county. The Council's relationship with ISU Extension is one of mutual support and cooperation and is described in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities.
It is the councils' responsibility to estimate the amount of money they need from county taxation, which is an annual levy amount of the assessed valuation of the county's taxable property within the limits set by state law. These funds are used to maintain high quality staff and availability of high quality Extension programs to address the unique needs of each county. These programs provide citizens with access to ISU research and curriculum through a variety of modern delivery methods.
Local Extension Councils operate independently from one another, but are encouraged to share programming and resources to have a greater impact for their citizens and clients. This need to establish dialogue and a relationship of cooperation among counties will continue to be emphasized and supported. The days of doing similar programs in each county will be replaced by doing a program 2-3 times in our six-county region.
This past year's changes in ISU Extension will continue to evolve. Staff members, volunteers, Extension partners, and the elected Extension Council members will work through role changes just as they have since the start of ISU Extension in 1903. The mission of ISU Extension remains the same. "ISU Extension builds partnerships and provides research-based learning opportunities to improve quality of life in Iowa."
I look forward to the future success of Iowa State University Extension.