Celebrating Extension Week
MASON CITY – This week has been declared Extension Week and kicking off the week was an open house held at the Cerro Gordo Extension office in Mason City on Monday.
By donating a nonperishable food item to the Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank, a person was entitled to a noon meal at the Cerro Gordo County Extension office.
Regional Extension Education Director Gary Hall officiated at the outdoor grill while inside the Extension staff had plates and places ready for everyone.
Attendees could view many of the Extension service’s programs on display
As director, Hall oversees the service’s activities of the five counties of Cerro Gordo, Worth, Franklin, Mitchell and Floyd.
Hall has been in Mason City since April 2008, moving there from Colorado Springs, Colo, where he served as the county Extension director. Hall is a native of Elmwood, Neb.
Hall said one of the purposes of the open house was to say thank you to the partners of the Extension service since a major restructuring of the service in April, 2010.
As part of the restructuring, Hall went from being in charge of Cerro Gordo County to gain the additional four counties he has today.
In many counties across the state, the county directors who had their full time positions eliminated, took early retirement and were hired back at the local level by their county councils at a part time rate.
Those former directors that are now funded at the county level are responsive to their Extension council and counties that have a strong livestock base or an active 4-H program can continue to serve those needs.
Hall said the open house was to let everyone know the Extension service was still providing programs and that resources were still available, which are wide in their scope.
Services counted off by Hall were the 4-H program, agriculture and natural resources, horticulture, leadership training, family management and education in financial matters.
Service to business
One of the people at Monday’s noon meal was Bill Cody, a loan officer at NSB Bank in Mason City for six years and serves on the Cerro Gordo County Extension council.
Cody said he will send his bank’s customers to the Extension office where they can receive help with planning their personal finances and budgeting.
The extension service aids bank customers with their taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
It is has been in use for “two to three years,” Hall said, and is funded by a grant through the Internal Revenue Service.
Cody said these programs make his bank’s customers better clients.
Carol Follmuth and Linda Anderegg attended the noon meal. They had cooperated with the Extension service in a recently held ag fair in Mason City.
Working with Alicia Wulf, the 4-H county youth coordinator, 300 first- and second-graders from surrounding schools were told of the importance of agriculture.
They received information on proper food and nutrition from two county council members.
Anderegg said she also serves on the women around ag committee titled Women, Land and Legacy that has been in effect for five years. They are sponsoring a workshop for women on marketing corn and soybeans and the price outlook for 2011 on Saturday at the Country Inn and Suites at the Top of Iowa Welcome Center and Diamond Jo Casino site west of Northwood.
Rick Pleggenkuhle, the Cerro Gordo County agriculture and horticulture program coordinator, told of the Extension service’s Ag Decision Maker, a popular resource on the Internet with information and spreadsheets available for crop and livestock producers.
Its use is not limited to Iowa, but is used all across the country.
The Extension service is not just about food and agriculture, director Hall said. There have recently been meetings on estate planning and the county office has become a resource for area pest exterminators in identifying bugs that have become a problem.
Since the 2010 restructuring, Hall said, “We can’t do what we used to do because we don’t have the staff anymore.
“Counties are identifying their high priority needs because every county is different.”
Hall said the Extension service is a source of unbiased information.
“We provide the facts,” he said. “We are the consumer reports of things and the information is available to everyone.”
Contact Clayton Rye at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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