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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dean's Column (March 2015)

Dear Extension retirees,

I am looking forward to seeing many of you this summer during our retiree luncheons!

To make it more convenient, we have added a third lunch (in southern Minnesota). In addition to the Twin Cities event on July 29, I will also be hosting a lunch in southern Minnesota on June 17 and in central/northwest Minnesota on Aug. 3.

I always enjoy hearing about your latest travels, adventures and projects, and it is a pleasure to share the latest Extension news with you as well.

Please join us for one of the luncheons:

Southern Minnesota Luncheon, Wednesday, June 17, 12-2 p.m., Owatonna Holiday Inn, 2365 43rd St. NW, Owatonna

Twin Cities Luncheon, Wednesday, July 29, 12-2 p.m., Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham St., Roseville

Central/NW Minnesota Luncheon, Monday, Aug. 3, 12-2 p.m., Best Western The Falls Inn/Bigwood Event Center, 925 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls

Please RSVP to Wan Tansatit, Extension development office, at (612) 624-7971 or with your name and the luncheon location you will be attending.

I look forward to seeing you!

Bev Durgan

Extension at the Capitol

On Feb. 3-4, more than 60 Extension stakeholders and staff participated in the University's annual Legislative Action Day. Members of Extension's statewide advisory committees, representatives from county Extension committees, 4-H youth ambassadors and Extension staff learned more about the University's biennial request and then met with their legislators to express their support for Extension and the University.

On Feb. 17, Extension joined the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), in presenting to the House Ag Finance Committee. The hearing provided an opportunity to speak with legislators on how Extension, CFANS and CVM serve Minnesota and the agriculture community.

4-H Celebration of Agriculture

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation hosted the second annual 4-H Celebration of Agriculture on Feb. 21 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. It was a great celebration of our statewide friends and supporters, and a chance to demonstrate the impact of Minnesota 4-H. Teams from the 4-H Science of Agriculture initiative shared their ongoing research projects with attendees, showing how 4-H provides hands-on learning opportunities for Minnesota's next generation of agricultural leaders. Watch for a story about 4-H Science of Agriculture in the Spring-Summer issue of Source magazine! You can also visit Extension's Facebook post to see photos taken at the event. Sponsors included Jennie-O, Compart Family Farms, Minnesota Pork Board, Minnesota Farmers Union, and AgStar.

New leadership for Extension Center for Community Vitality

On Feb. 1, Kent Olson began his new leadership role as interim associate dean for the Extension Center for Community Vitality. Kent has been an Extension economist since 1985, working in applied research, on-campus teaching and Extension education. He served as an Extension program leader from 2004 to 2011.

After receiving his bachelor's, master's and doctorate from Iowa State University, Kent was an Extension economist at University of California, Davis before coming to Minnesota. His research has emphasized farm level management issues such as production efficiency, the interaction between farming and the environment, decision-making, and the impact of government policies. He published two books on farm management and numerous publications. He has worked in Sweden, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ethiopia, India, Poland and Italy.

Development news

The first project funded by the new Mary J. Page Community-University Partnership Endowment Fund is underway. Through this fund, Amanda Sames, a Ph.D. student at the U's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences, is undertaking a community research project on developing markets for Minnesota-grown hazelnuts. Sames is supporting the Fairmont-based Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation during the University's spring semester.

The Page Fund, named in honor of former University of Minnesota Regent and Renville County Commissioner Mary Page (1934-2013), supports University of Minnesota graduate and advanced undergraduate students working on community identified and requested research projects. Funding for students is administered through the University's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. Grants are advised by Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP), which Mary Page helped found. Extension's RSDP facilitates community-university projects in the areas of sustainable agriculture and local food, natural resources, tourism and resilient communities, and clean energy.

Updated Extension fact sheet available

An updated Extension fact sheet is now available on the intranet and public website. The 2015 edition features updated information about Extension's reach, impact and funding. It is an excellent resource for acquainting new audiences with Extension's work and mission.

Epsilon Sigma Phi

Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) is our Extension professional organization focused on connecting Extension staff and retirees to build networks, continuity and support for Extension. With over 150 retirees and 40 annual members in Minnesota, please consider joining ESP. In addition to reconnecting with Extension and colleagues, there are a number of other benefits, including access to ESP scholarship and grants and opportunities to mentor new Extension staff.

Our ESP goals for 2014-2015 are to increase the number of members, enhance the engagement of membership, increase scholarship opportunities for members, as well as recognize the high quality work of our membership through state and national awards. You can play a major role in helping achieve all of these goals. Become a life member for the one-time fee of $250. The yearly membership is $70 and an associate membership (Extension staff employed less than 3 years) is $30. Please contact me with any questions you might have when joining ESP, (507) 389-6721 or

Kelly Kunkel

ESP-Pi Chapter President

Awards and Accomplishment (March 2015)

Bill Hutchison, Extension specialist and head of the Department of Entomology, has assumed the role of director for the University of Minnesota Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. This IPM program is a long-standing USDA-NIFA program, which a few years ago transitioned from an allocated line item in Extension's budget to a competitive grant program. In addition to managing the grant, Bill will supervise personnel hired from this grant.

Gov. Mark Dayton declared January Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education and Outreach Month. Extension's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) makes the healthy choice the easy choice for Minnesotans with limited financial resources.

Andy Robinson, Extension potato agronomist, was recognized as the National Potato Council's Spudman Emerging Leader of 2015 on Jan. 9. The award recognizes exceptional leadership and contributions to the potato-growing community. Robinson has a shared position with Extension at the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University.

Eli Sagor, program manager and Extension specialist, sustainable forests education, was selected as a recipient of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. This award is given in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements in doctoral research. His dissertation is "Personal networks and private forestry: Exploring Extension's role in landowner education."

In Memoriam (March 2015)

Robert "Bob" L. Gee, 88, passed away Oct. 28 in Moorhead, where he had served as Clay County Extension agent; he is remembered for his many contributions to dairy farming, 4-H and community service.

June C. McAuliffe, one of the founders of Minnesota 4-H Expressive Arts programs, including Art-in-the Park Community summer programs, State Arts-In, and Holiday Arts-In, passed away on Dec. 2 at age 86. She is remembered for her 4-H work in Minnesota, South Dakota and at the national level in Washington D.C.

Evelyn (Quesenberry) McDonald, age 92, passed away on Dec. 10. She began her Extension career in 1949 in Maryland and concluded her work 33 years later in Minnesota where she was Extension program director in home economics and family living.

Curtis J. Overdahl of Ft. Wayne, passed away on Dec. 4, age 97. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota and doctorate at Purdue University. He was a faculty member in the University's department of soil science for 34 years.

Daniel Panshin After receiving a Ph.D. in oceanography in 1971, he worked as an oceanographer doing research and Extension work. Later in his career, he served on the Marine and Fisheries Congressional Committee and as an administrator at the University of Minnesota. He was 76 when he passed away on Nov. 17.

New Retirees (March 2015)

Welcome new retirees:

Diana Goemann, executive office & administrative specialist, retired on Nov. 5. For the past 10 years, she supported Extension's 4-H and health and nutrition programs with writing and preparing newsletters, brochures and program flyers.

Jill May, retired on Oct. 29 as an Extension educator in health and nutrition. She created educational and training materials for statewide health and nutrition through needs assessments, piloting and testing materials, and spearheading the use of technology to advance the mission of health and nutrition education.

David Moen, Extension Master Gardener program manager, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, retired on Jan. 23 after 25 years of contributions to building community, youth programming, and volunteer management training. He approached his work through the lens of "growing plants and growing people."

Pauline Nickel, Southwest Research and Outreach Center Station Head and Extension Outreach Coordinator, after more than 40 years of service, retired on Dec. 31. Her distinguished contributions included administrative, programmatic and fundraising to vitalize rural communities and improve production agriculture in southwest Minnesota.

Katherine Waters, Extension program leader, food systems, Extension Center for Family Development, retired on Dec. 19. Her many collaborations across disciplines and colleges fostered advocacy and improvements in emergency planning and risk communications, healthy foods and food protection as well as veterinary and public health concerns.

Media Moments (March 2015)

A key component of Minnesota's agricultural strength is the farm bill, but first farmers have to understand it. Star Tribune reporter Tom Meersman took a look at the ways Extension helps meet educational needs of farmers in his article, Farmers back in the classroom to figure out farm bill options.

Extension climatologist Mark Seeley contributed to a big-picture study of 23 signs of climate change in Minnesota on Minnesota Public Radio.

You can also look forward to spring with an article in the Star Tribune by reporter and Master Gardener Mary Jane Smetanka. The gardening story shares how Master Gardeners help gardeners determine what seed varieties work best in Minnesota landscapes.

Want more Extension news headlines? Visit In The News on Extension's website!

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