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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dean's Column (July 2015)

Dear Extension retirees,

In June, 12 teams of 4-H youth from nine counties spent three days on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus for the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. The new program is part of an effort to excite youth about studying agriculture and pursuing agriculture-related careers by fostering learning opportunities and rewarding youth with college scholarships.

The young people worked with mentors and experts to tackle tough issues, including food waste, topsoil conservation and water quality. The top three teams were awarded college scholarships for the research they presented on biofuels (Le Sueur County), insects as food sources (Washington County) and loss of feed in livestock feeders (Meeker County). Judges and sponsors for the challenge included leaders in Minnesota agriculture and agribusiness. You can read more about the teams that won scholarships on Extension’s news website.

The experience culminated with a two-day event that included a judging event, showcase fair, awards celebration, campus tours, and career networking and workshops. Extension plans to grow this program and reach more youth in the coming years, with help from supporters who can make a gift through the Minnesota 4-H Foundation. Gifts also provide scholarships to many other deserving 4-H youth (see the 2015 scholarship winners list).

To watch videos about some of the participating teams and learn more, visit the 4-H Science of Agriculture website.

Bev Durgan

Connect at a summer Extension retiree luncheon (2015)

I enjoyed seeing several of you at the retiree luncheon held on June 17 in Owatonna. It’s always great to learn what you are doing and share the news of Extension. There are two more summer luncheons coming up. I hope the rest of you can make it to one of them!

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.

Bev Durgan

See Extension at the Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 27-Sept. 7

If you go to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," be sure to see Extension colleagues, volunteers and participants.

4-H building & barns
See the 4-H State Fair website, or use the free "4-H at the Minnesota State Fair" app for event schedules, Arts-In performance times, results, announcements and maps. Find the 2015 version by visiting the 4-H State Fair website in mid-August.
  • More than 6,000 4-H exhibits and performing arts shows feature the knowledge and skills 4-H'ers have acquired throughout the year. About 2,200 "blue ribbon" kids exhibit livestock in the animal barns.
  • Exciting scientific activities to try in the 4-H building include drones used in agriculture and Rube Goldberg machines. Watch "Chef for a Day" cooking presentations, offered twice daily.
  • Livestock highlights include a 4-H beef exhibit in the Warner Coliseum on Friday, Aug. 28, and the Purple Ribbon auction in the Ag Star arena on Saturday, Aug. 29.
Agriculture-Horticulture building
  • Master Gardener volunteers will answer gardening questions each day, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Watch gardening presentations throughout the day on The Dirt Stage.
  • The Honey Bees program team, including Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will show off a "bee beard" on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.
Eco Experience building
  • Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator, will present "Natural foods and decoratives from the woods or backyard" on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the Food Stage.
DNR building
  • Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator, will present "Woody invasive species: ID and control" on the DNR stage on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m.
  • Jeff Hahn, Extension entomologist, will discuss "Insect Pests of Gardens and Yards" on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m.
  • Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will discuss "Honey bees, beekeeping and research" on the DNR stage on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 3 p.m.
  • Master Naturalists will be available each day in the wildlife wing to answer questions about wildlife in Minnesota.
Minnesota Public Radio
  • Mark Seeley, Extension climatologist, will appear on MPR's Daily Circuit. MPR broadcasts from the corner of Judson and Nelson. Date and time to be announced.
  • Julie Weisenhorn, Extension horticulturist, and Sam Bauer, Extension turfgrass educator, will be on "Smart Gardens" with host Denny Long on Saturday, Aug. 29. Mary Meyer, Extension horticulturist, and Erik Watkins, turfgrass researcher, will be on the show on Saturday, Sept. 5. Times to be announced.
For a complete schedule, map of University events that will be taking place at the fair (and a new app coming soon!), see U at the State Fair in mid-August.

Leading the way in financial recovery after disaster

Natural disasters wreak havoc on families, and are increasing in frequency. It takes time for survivors to recover emotionally and financially. That's why educators from the Center for Family Development partnered with North Dakota University Extension Service to develop a series of videos entitled "Financial Recovery After Disaster" for disaster professionals and volunteers. Adapted from the disaster recovery toolkit, the videos outline issues that survivors need to address immediately after a disaster occurs. These issues include understanding and finding help for the financial implications, choosing from disaster assistance options, and more. The videos were made possible through a Smith-Lever Special Needs Program grant (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture). Watch the videos or find out more about this project at

New website launched for families

The Extension Center for Family Development has launched a new section of their website. Live Healthy, Live Well is a collection of tools and resources developed by Extension professionals that help Minnesota families make smarter choices about their bodies, homes, children, and futures. From dealing with stress, to eating smarter or developing a health care directive, Live Healthy, Live Well provides quality information in one easy-to-navigate place. Visit the new website at

Source magazine

The Spring-Summer issue of Source magazine is live on the Extension website. This issue of Source showcases creative partnerships and ways of engaging with donors to make an even bigger difference for Minnesota and beyond.
  • Teaching in the garden highlights positive outcomes of Extension's Master Gardener volunteer program that extend well beyond the growing season.
  • Red River Valley Connections tells the story of a top agricultural region and the collaboration with North Dakota State University Extension that keeps the region healthy.
  • 4-H and the Science of Agriculture Challenge shows how Extension is leading the first program of its kind in the country to ignite excitement about agriculture, increase agricultural science literacy and expand the pipeline of youth pursuing agriculture-related careers.
Additional stories introduce the 4-H Alumni & Friends community, share news about Extension's work with aquatic invasive species, explain the value of farm bill education and provide an update on nutrition programming.

How to be phish-proof

A recent cybersecurity “phishing” incident may have exposed the personal information of current and former Federal employees. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has been sending email notifications to those potentially impacted. Email notices will be sent from about services being provided at no cost to individuals impacted by the incident, including credit report access, credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and recovery services. Additional information is available at

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Here are four steps to protect yourself:
  1. Check the grammar. A lot of phishing emails are written to try to sound professional and official, but make sloppy grammatical mistakes.
  2. Check the sender. Modern phishing emails are often from someone you know (because that person responded to a phishing email with their ID and password). But would you expect the person to email you about the subject of the email?
  3. Don’t be fooled by the official look. Scammers can cut and paste copyright statements, logos, etc.
  4. Hover over the link. The phishing email may provide a link to reset your password, etc. If you hover your mouse (don't click!) over any link in your email, you should see (usually at the bottom of the window) where the link is going to take you.

Celebrate Food and Ag Day

The 3rd annual Celebrate Ag and Food Day will take place at the U of M Gopher Football game vs. Kent State on Sept. 19. Kickoff is at 11 am. Discounted tickets are available for the game with the promo code AFD2015 on the Gopher Athletics website.

4-H Foundation leadership change

Cara Miller, executive director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation since May 2004, has resigned her position. She has accepted a position as president of the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area and has relocated to Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa. Her last day was June 23.

Jane Johnson, Extension’s chief development officer, is serving as interim executive director for the 4-H Foundation, as well as continuing her work on major gifts for Extension. Jane started with Extension in Sept. 2012 as development director. With 29 years of experience in fund development and leadership in nonprofit management, she has worked for organizations such as the Library Foundation of Hennepin County, The University of Minnesota Foundation and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Two new endowment funds honor Extension retirees

Extension is raising funds for two endowments through the 4-H Foundation in honor of two longtime Extension retirees and their work with 4-H.

The John “Jack” Morris Livestock Judging Fund
Jack’s career with Extension began in 1965 in Pope County, working as an agricultural educator. Jack’s responsibilities included everything from crop and livestock production to horticulture. In addition, Jack loved working with the youth in 4-H livestock judging teams. He worked with over 500 youth in Pope County and 400 at the state level. Five of the judging teams he coached went on to national contests, and two of the five teams placed first in the nation.

The purpose of the new John “Jack” Morris 4-H Livestock Judging Fund is to provide small grants to improve quality and availability of judging programs in counties. New and innovative ways will be looked at to recruit volunteers, increase participation and bring positive attention to 4-H livestock judging.

The Harlan Rosendahl Poultry Endowment Fund
Harlan provided leadership in regional 4-H youth development programs--with Anoka and Douglas Counties in Minnesota, the Extension Regional Office in St. Cloud, and in North Dakota Extension. During his 30+ years with Extension, Harlan came to greatly appreciate the poultry program, the youth and adult volunteers.

The purpose of the Harlan Rosendahl Poultry Endowment is to further the poultry interests for the state of Minnesota through 4-H programs and activities. This fund will support youth participating in state and national poultry contests and provide training and other activities for poultry programs and projects.

For more information or to make a gift to these funds, contact Jane Johnson, Interim Executive Director, Minnesota 4-H Foundation and Development Director, Extension, or 612-626-3717.

Welcome New Retirees (July 2015)

Mary Blickenderfer, Regional educator in Grand Rapids, began her Extension career in 1998 in shoreland and aquatic vegetation sustainability. More recently, she led research on the ecological function and integrity of terrestrial and aquatic systems. She retired on June 30.

Dale Blyth, Extension professor, Director/Associate Dean of the Extension Center for Youth Development, Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Leadership Development, retired on June 10 after 17 years of contributions and leading efforts to bridge research, practice, programs, policy and public understanding for youth development.

Jeffrey Gunderson, Extension educator in fisheries and aquaculture, and Director of the Minnesota Sea Grant College Program in Duluth since 2009, retired on April 1 after a 36-year career.

Diana Martenson wore many hats for Extension during her 32 years of service--county agent/director in Traverse County, interim youth development state program leader, program conference chair and organization and program development specialist on the St. Paul campus. She retired May 1.

Julie Miedtke, Extension educator in Itasca County, retired on June 30 after a 14-year career in natural resource management and utilization. She was known for her leadership in Firewise efforts, cooperative invasive species management, ash management and creating a Minnesota Women’s Woodland Owners Network.

Terrance Nennich, Regional Extension educator in Crookston, focused on commercial horticulture and was a leading resource for many specialty crops. His work with high tunnels contributed to extending the growing season and expanding local food initiatives. He retired on April 30 after 30 years of service.

Claudia Parliament, Extension economist, agribusiness and community resources, completed a 30 year career on June 30. She was instrumental in building the Minnesota Council on Economic Education, fostering economic education and bringing financial literacy to national and international students.

Thomas Stinson, Extension economist and Minnesota’s state economist, had a long career of scholarship and service before he retired on June 30. His careful analysis and understanding of macroeconomics has served five governors over 26 years.

Steven Taff, associate professor, Extension and applied economics, retired on June 30; the focus of his 30-year career was land economics, agricultural and environmental policy, which included development of the Minnesota Land Economics online database.

Eric Vogel, Regional Extension educator, youth development, in Willmar, retired on June 30. He provided leadership to 4-H youth development programs, led youth worker training, and utilized distance learning technology in educational design and delivery.

David Werner, Extension chief financial officer, retired on June 12. During his 35-year career, he served in many other positions, including 4-H agent, cluster livestock educator, district director and director of field operations.

In Memoriam (July 2015)

Oscar Uel Blank passed away on Nov. 29 at age 93 in Columbia, MO. He served with agricultural Extension in Minnesota, Michigan and Missouri. After he retired from Minnesota in 1983 he moved to Columbia and founded and presided over “Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity.”

Jerold Tessmer, 64, passed away on April 13. His 27-year Extension career as an agricultural educator included programming for agriculture and environmental issues, assisting farmers with financial management, producing a weekly news column and radio program, advising a statewide farm information line and developing a farm safety day camp for students.

Harlan Rosendahl passed away on June 16. His career spanned more than three decades as an Extension educator in North Dakota and Minnesota, largely in Douglas, Anoka, Sherburne, Stearns, Benton, Wright and Meeker counties. Harlan also dedicated more than 30 years in service to the Minnesota State Fair 4-H Poultry Show Committee and 4-H foreign exchange programs. He was 61.

Volunteering opportunities

The University of Minnesota Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC), started by University retirees in 1987, acts as a referral service for organizations seeking volunteers and for volunteers seeking meaningful and rewarding experiences. Some of the possibilities include community work (greeter assistant at Red Cross Blood Centers); in schools (tutor K-12, remedial or enhanced learning) or at the University (ushers at concerts, greeters at Eastcliff). For more information, go to or call 612-625-8016; the office is located in McNamara Center, Suite 250.

Have you ever thought of using your unique skills in a more global setting? Peace Corps is looking for volunteers. A recruiter for Peace Corps is interested in talking to a group of retirees or setting up an informational video conference. Contact Gwen at to express interest.

Epsilon Sigma Phi

Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) offers scholarship and training opportunities, and is a great way to connect with retirees and current Extension staff across all disciplines. Please consider becoming a life member of ESP. If you already are a member, please share your talents on the board. The Minnesota ESP website is being updated. Until it is ready to share, visit the National ESP website. An ESP representative will be ready to provide more information at the luncheons hosted by Dean Bev Durgan this summer. Kelly Kunkel, the current Minnesota chapter president says, “I have certainly gained more from this experience than I have contributed. I am proud to be an Extension educator and to have a ‘home’ where I can connect with my extended Extension family.”

Media Moments (July 2015)

The 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge captivated the attention of reporters and their readers. Stories were produced by KSTP, Minnesota Farm Guide, West Central Tribune (about the winning team), and more media outlets. You can always find the latest Extension headlines at In the News.

Send Us Your News (July 2015)

Do you have news or a story you'd like to share with fellow Extension retirees? Are you a part of a group of Extension retirees from a specific program that meets regularly and would like to invite new retirees to join? Share the news! Send submissions to Gwen Gmeinder at
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