ISU focuses on families, FCS college

Anna Conover

Using this year’s university theme, Iowa State is taking a positive step to make a difference in Iowa’s families. “Families are critical today,” said Carol Meeks, dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “There are so many stresses in families today and pressures start very early on.” The all-university theme is “Strengthening Families to Become The Best,” and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences is the sponsor. The theme was chosen to showcase the opening of the new Palmer Building, and it will landmark the end of the fund-raising drive for the ISU Foundation. “We’re having a major building dedication on Oct. 7 for the child development center,” said Murray Blackwelder, vice president for External Affairs. “We’ve also been working on culminating the end of fund raising. The Palmer family will be at the dedication. It was natural to have a family theme around that dedication.” The theme activities kicked off at the Iowa State Fair and will continue throughout the year. On Sept. 2, the college is sponsoring a tailgate party to celebrate Iowa families. Taste of Iowa and Iowa Commodity Classic are preparing a variety of Iowa food products to sample at the 11:30 a.m. tailgate. Although not all of the programs have been scheduled, the year will include guest lectures, a Habitat for Humanity project and an attempt to break a world record. “We’re talking about making a giant Rice Krispies bar at Veishea,” Meeks said. “It’s an ISU grad’s creation, and we know how big it would have to be to break the world record. We’d have to involve the engineering department to break it.” This is the first year theme activities have encompassed more than just the college upon which the theme is based, Meeks said. Last year’s theme was “Advancing Technology to Become the Best,” based on the College of Engineering. The Office of Financial Aid is planning a program to educate parents about paying for college, and the admissions department will be at the community events. “People are taking the theme and asking, `How can I relate it to my area?'” Meeks said. “It’s really nice, and there has been so much more response to the theme than anyone expected.” Besides becoming visible at the Iowa State Fair, FCS and ISU Extension are actively getting involved in the community. Seven families have been chosen to showcase effective community partnerships that strengthen families and communities. University officials and extension services will travel to various locations to implement the programs. “The families who were chosen are ongoing supporters of ISU,” said JaneAnn Stout, director of ISU Extension for families. Linda and Mark Chmelar were selected to be the host family for the first theme showcase, which will be held in Dubuque on Sept. 28. Extension Services has helped families purchase 79 houses in the area. “It’s a public-private partnership goal to reclaim abandoned and derelict houses in downtown Dubuque,” said Stout, associate dean of FCS. “We restore the houses and make it affordable for families.”