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ISU Extension names 19

By Staff | Jun 26, 2009

Iowa State University Extension named Tuesday 19 of its 20 new regional directors, which is the result of an overhaul of how Extension services will be delivered to Iowans. The new positions will be in effect on Aug. 1.

Within the Farm News coverage area, the new directors will be:

  • Cheryl Heronemus: Region 1 for the counties of Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux, O’Brien and Clay.
  • Gary Hall: Region 3 for the counties of Worth, Mitchell, Cerro Gordo, Floyd and Franklin.
  • Sherry McGill: Region 5 for the counties of Plymouth, Woodbury, and Monona.
  • Jerry Chizek: Region 6, which includes the counties of Calhoun, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Pocahontas, Ida and Sac.
  • Jim Patton: Region 7 for the counties of Webster, Humboldt, Hamilton and Wright.
  • Rich Wrage: Region 8 for the counties of Boone, Story, Marshall and Hardin.
  • Terry Torneten: Region 12, for the counties of Crawford, Carroll, Greene, Shelby, Audubon and Guthrie.
  • Craig Hertel: Region 13, for the counties of Boone, Polk and Warren.

One of the 20 regional positions has not been filled, which is Region 2 encompassing the counties of Emmet, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Winnebago and Hancock.

Patton said Fort Dodge will be the regional office for the four-county entity. The central office locations for other regions have not been announced officially.

Last May, ISU extension announced a major overhaul of Extension’s organization in an effort to save $4 million, as a result of a slumping state economy. By consolidating the number of directorships from nearly 100 to 20, the organization will save $2 million annually, Patton said. The rest will come from early retirements, attrition and possible more staff cuts, possibly at the campus level, he added.

In the reorganization, each existing county office will stay open and each will be directed by its nine-person county council. These exist by state law. All offices will continue to set tax levies within the restrictions of Iowa code.

“I think we have a pretty good draw,” Patton said of Region 7’s member counties. “We already share 20 programs annually. Now we’ll just be able to get to know each other better.”

Patton, who interviewed for the new position on June 15, will now oversee four budgets, four office staffs, work with four county councils and four county fairs.

The upside to the reorganization, Patton said, is that Webster County’s annual contribution to ISU for services rendered will be reduced from around $50,000 to less than $10,000. “So we’re going to have more discretionary funds for programming,” he noted.

Jack Payne, Iowa State University’s vice president of Extension and Outreach, said annual contribution from all offices totalled $4 million. ISU will now get around $500,000. “I’m returning $3.5 million of it,” Payne said.

Webster County gets some additional benefits by being selected as the regional office, Patton noted. These include a monthly rent from ISU for providing office space. That figure has not been confirmed by ISU, but Webster County is seeking $700 per month. In addition, the county will receive about $7,000 in various administrative services from ISU each year. In exchange, Webster County must provide the space and furnishings, as well as eight to 10 hours for clerical work as needed for ISU.

He said his current office manager, Audra Fisher, will be assigned to those extra clerical hours. Because Fisher has the most seniority as an office manager among the four in the new region, she’ll also be in a position to help set policy, Patton said.

Webster County gets some additional benefits by being selected as the regional office, Patton said. These include a monthly rent from ISU for the space, plus about $7,000 in various administrative services from ISU. In exchange, Webster County must provide the space and furnishings, as well as eight to 10 hours for clerical work as needed for ISU.

Two areas he said hed have the regions four councils to consider is creating a program for developing new leaders for their communities, and how to serve the area’s growing Latino population.

Patton said that he still has a concern about how the public will adjust to these changes. “Everyone in Extension sees themselves as educators. But (the 20 new regional directors) will now be administrators.” On his conference table was a small branch with maple leaves with what appeared to be rust spots that someone left for him to research.

“I won’t have time for things like this anymore,” Patton said. “Last spring I met with 70 farmers about farmland leases. We’ll still do the programs on leasing, but we won’t be able to do the one-on-ones anymore.

“It’ll be an adjustment for the public. We all know how to do education, we’ll just learn to do it differently.”

Region 6’s director Chizek said the changes were necessary. “If anyone is taking this personally, they shouldn’t,” he said. “It’s just a reflection of the economy. We aren’t the only ones going through this.”

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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