Arndorfer new Region 9 Extension Education Director
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 04/25/2012 9:36 PM
WATERLOO, Iowa —Bill Arndorfer sees his experience as perfect training for his new job as Region 9 Extension education director with Extension. His region includes Black Hawk, Grundy, Butler, Bremer, Buchanan and Tama counties.
Arndorfer, 55, was born in Britt but grew up on a farm near Willmar, Minn. He went to a country school through sixth grade and then graduated from Willmar High School. He attended Willmar Community College and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural education. He taught for a year at Wells-Easton in southern Minnesota.
"That year of teaching was invaluable, but I decided it was time to get out of school, and I went to work in seed sales," Arndorfer said.
He started in northeast Minnesota and then transferred to Marshalltown. When DeKalb and Pfizer merged, he became a regional agronomist for the eastern half of Iowa and southeast Minnesota.
He changed careers by taking a job as a substance abuse prevention educator with Pathways Behavioral Services. He worked with businesses, schools, churches, parents and children.
He decided to return to his agricultural roots in 2001 as Grundy County Extension director.
"All these things were interrelated," Arndorfer said. "It's all working with people."
When Extension restructured in 2009 and county director positions were eliminated, Arndorfer took a position as a crops field specialist working on grain quality surveys. When that work ended, he was hired as a Extension coordinator in Butler and Grundy counties. He became regional director earlier this year.
He helps county Extension councils fulfill their obligations as an elected body, assists with the election process and helps guide counties in program planning.
"We have a lot of diversity in this region with rural and urban areas," he said. "Diversity is a strength."
The 4-H program is strong.
"With the county staff and field specialists, there are a lot of efforts going into that," Arndorfer said. "One in five youth in Iowa have participated in 4-H and youth programs."
The Master Gardener Program is a good signature program.
"You teach one who teaches another and you get that broader reach," he said.
Pesticide applicator programs, both private and commercial, serve many clients. The Center for Industrial Research and Service helps business and industry.
Interest in community gardens is building and there are beginning gardening programs offered in several counties in the region.
"We're involved in local food efforts," he said. "We have a lot of family programs. Field specialist Jill Weber works with nutrition programs and Brenda Schmidt, another field specialist, is working with finances."
Key is that all Extension and Outreach programs are research-based.
"The whole idea is to bring research-based information to the people so that they can make better decisions," Arndorfer said.
Arndorfer and his wife, Pam, have two children Isaiah, 12, and Kaylissa, 10, and they live in Waterloo.