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Extension > Extension Retiree Newsletter > November 2015

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dean's Column (Nov. 2015)

Dear Extension Retirees,

It was a pleasure to see so many of you this summer during our annual retiree luncheons. I am always inspired by how engaged Extension retirees are in their “retirement.” Volunteering, traveling, babysitting, gardening …you do make it hard for the rest of us to return to the office!

In October, I did one of my favorite duties as dean, honoring our employees and friends with the distinguished dean’s awards at the annual program conference. It is an honor to recognize the work, dedication and impact of our colleagues and friends.

Please join me in congratulating the award winners! You can learn more about the 2015 award winners on our website.

Steve Olson
, executive director of four poultry-related groups: Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council, Chicken and Egg Council of Minnesota and the Midwest Poultry Federation.

Dr. Stephen Kells
, Extension entomologist

Bruce Schwartau
, Extension educator, Community Vitality

David Werner
, chief financial officer

Children, Youth and Families At Risk (CYFAR) Team
, Abdimalik Mohamed, Mohamed Farah, Grace Gbolo, Krista Gustafson, Barbara Kapala, Dau Mohamed, Jessica Russo, Jennifer Skuza, Tim Sheldon, Anthony Walker and Hui-Hui Wang.

Farm Bill Education Team
, David Bau, Betty Berning, Bob Craven, Gary Hachfeld, Eliza Herman, Rob Holcomb, Kevin Klair, Curtis Mahnken, Dale Nordquist, Kent Olson, Jim Paulson, Jim Salfer and Allison Sandve.

Bev Durgan

2015 Extension retiree luncheons with the Dean

Extension is very fortunate to have you, our vital and active network of retirees who continue to be strong advocates, partners and volunteers. During the summer of 2015, Dean Bev Durgan hosted luncheons and was joined by 109 staff and retirees in three locations: Owatonna, Roseville and Fergus Falls. These luncheons are a great opportunity for our retirees to gather with old colleagues, share stories and learn about current initiatives in Extension.
Extension retirees at a luncheon

Extension retirees at a luncheon

Extension retirees at a luncheon

Jane Johnson
Development Director

Professional development grants available to retirees

Grants to help retirees pursuing projects related to their scholarship have been announced by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of the Provost and University of Minnesota Retirees Association. The deadline for proposal submission is December 15, 2015. All faculty members, professional and administrative, and civil service retirees from the Twin Cities and coordinate campuses of the University are eligible to apply for the grants (up to $5,000). The guidelines for applying were sent to UMRA members via e-mail and are available at 2015-rfgp.pdf. For more information, visit the U of M Retiree Association website.

Extension leadership changes

Holli Arp has been appointed program leader for leadership and civic engagement (LCE) in the Extension Center for Community Vitality. Within Extension, she has been regional director since 2004; county Extension director, 2002-2003; and Extension educator, 2000-2001. She began her program leader duties on Sept. 15 and her office will be in the Worthington Regional Office.

Jill Eck joined Extension as the regional director for the Extension Regional Office in Andover. Jill has over 15 years of experience in post-secondary educational administration and supervision. Most recently, she served as director of student support with the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Kia Harries began her appointment as Extension regional director in the southwest on October 19. Kia has 24 years of professional experience with Extension, most recently as regional Extension educator, 4-H youth development. Before that position, Kia worked as an Extension educator in Jackson and Martin counties.

Mary Jo Katras began her appointment as the new Family Development resiliency program leader on July 27. She has been a statewide family resiliency Extension educator and associate professor since 2012. She lectures in the University of Minnesota Department of Family Social Science, teaching family policy, family economics and personal finance.

Dr. Ingrid Schneider stepped down from her position as director of the University of Minnesota Tourism Center effective October 30, to work full-time in her faculty teaching and research position in the University’s Department of Forest Resources. Under her leadership, the programs and research of the Tourism Center have served the industry and communities well.

Cynthia Messer, tourism specialist with the Tourism Center, has agreed to serve as interim director of the Tourism Center. Cynthia has led the Center’s programming in customer service and community tourism development for more than 22 years

Minnesota 4-H Foundation update

In June, Cara Miller left her position as executive director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation and Jane Johnson, Extension’s chief development officer, agreed to serve as interim executive director for the 4-H Foundation, as well as continuing her work on major gifts for Extension.

During this interim time, the Minnesota 4-H Foundation Board and Extension leadership are reviewing and assessing the needs of the Foundation and Extension. There have been many changes since we last hired an executive director in 2003. Specifically:
  • Extension has created a development office and is actively growing our Extension-wide philanthropic work.
  • The University of Minnesota Foundation has shifted focus from annual giving to major gifts, and they are asking colleges to do the same.
  • The Minnesota 4-H Foundation executive director and staff are University of Minnesota Extension employees, and funded to a large extent by Extension.
  • The University is preparing for a major fundraising campaign. Extension and 4-H will be actively involved in the campaign.

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation board has identified a subcommittee that is looking at several important questions:
  • How can we be most efficient?
  • How do we grow our major gifts?
  • How do we ensure that the 4-H and Extension development efforts are coordinated?
  • How can we better align the Minnesota 4-H Foundation with the University of Minnesota Foundation resources?
I will be working closely with the board and subcommittee over the coming months to ensure that the generous gifts of our donors have the greatest positive impact on our programs, education and research. If you would like to share your ideas, please feel free to contact me or Jane Johnson.

Bev Durgan

Give to the Max Day

Give to the Max Day, Minnesota's annual giving extravaganza, is November 12. By using the University’s site, know that 100% of your gift will go to support the program of your choice. There are no administrative fees!

If you have questions about Give to the Max, or about giving any time throughout the year, contact Jane Johnson, Extension development director and interim executive director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation.

To learn more about how gifts to Extension research and education can make a difference in Minnesota, visit the Donate to Extension website.

The 2016 Garden Calendars are now available

The 2016 Minnesota Gardening Calendar is now available! View the calendar cover and details at the. The retail price is $14.99.

The calendar highlights research-based information on how to keep soil healthy, grow vegetables in all Minnesota hardiness zones and compost all year to feed your garden. A kitchen compost bucket sticker is included to remind you about what goes in, and what stays out.

Ordering options:
  1. Online at
  2. By phone: 612-625-3276
  3. Fax a purchase order to 612-624-6999

Source magazine winter issue coming soon

Watch your mail in early December for Source magazine. The upcoming issue will be packed full of stories highlighting current Extension research. As always, Source will be available online and sent directly to your email inbox so you can help share the stories!

Awards and Accomplishments (Nov. 2015)

William J. Angell, professor and Extension specialist, housing, has been elected 2016 vice-president of Cancer Survivors Against Radon (CanSAR).

Andrew Doherty, SNAP-Ed educator, was recently recognized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as an Everyday Hunger Hero.

Sara Langworthy, Extension educator in family development, recently released a new book by Redleaf Press, Bridging the Relationship Gap: Connecting with Children Facing Adversity.

Krishona Martinson, equine Extension specialist, was elected to the board of directors of the Equine Science Society (ESS). Krishona will serve a six-year term.

Carl Rosen was selected as a 2015 American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Fellow Award recipient.

Kate Walker, Extension specialist in youth development, co-authored a book Dilemmas in Youth Work and Youth Development Practice.

Welcome new retirees (Nov. 2015)

Kim Boyce’s 26-year career with Extension included a range of leadership responsibilities— regional director in the central region and educator in Ramsey and Hennepin counties, co-chair of the Center for Community Vitality and professor in leadership and civic engagement. Kim retired on Aug. 26.

Trudy Dunham, Extension research fellow and project evaluator for 4-H youth development programs, retired on Aug. 31 after a 23-year career. Her pioneering work in embracing technology, youth development online collaboration and database development contributed to building strong programs with evaluation components.

Maggie Fuller, Crow Wing County Extension support staff, retired July 9. As a team member she provided support to 4-H, nutrition, water resources and horticulture programs. She also created processes and streamlined office methods.

Thomas Halbach, Extension educator and professor in the department of soil, water and climate, completed his 28-year career on June 30. His research and contributions focused on the beneficial use of waste materials in agriculture, forestry and horticulture.

Betsy Leverty retired Aug. 7 after serving as the finance professional for the Center for Family Development since 2006. She was a key resource for budget oversight, contract management and problem solving on accounting matters affecting the center.

Howard Person, Extension educator, agriculture, food and natural resources in Pennington, Polk and Marshall counties, will conclude his 37-year career in November. His impact and leadership included programs in crops and livestock, farm business management, youth development and Master Gardeners.

Elizabeth Pukenis, finance professional, Extension finance & planning, retired Oct. 2. She managed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) grants process, providing many fiscal improvements.

Barbara Radke, Extension educator, leadership and civic engagement, retired Sept. 30 after an 18-year Extension career. She led the development of a research-informed civic engagement model focusing on water quality through civic engagement with state and local agencies and citizens.

In Memoriam (Nov. 2015)

Marian Larson, who joined 4-H as a Marshall County farm girl and grew to become a statewide leader of the organization, passed away on Sept. 1, age 95. Her 35-year Extension career encompassed service as a 4-H agent in Red Lake County, home agent in McLeod County and youth development appointments in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Retirees in retirement - sharing your story

Colleen Gengler, former family relations educator, writes: “I have become an author! My sisters and I have written a book of family stories and farm memories called ‘Under Minnesota Skies.’ There are some parts about me discovering Extension and 4-H.” She reports that she has used many of her Extension skills in writing this book and is now looking at publishing options.

Roger Wilkowske, former south central Minnesota water quality educator, is serving on the board of the Community Cathedral Cafe in Faribault, which serves 140 low-income/food-insufficient people. He delivers Hot Meals on Wheels twice weekly, and helps an immigrant family from Sudan navigate assistance programs and the citizenship process. He also coordinates a church effort with 10 teams who keep in touch with 800 families. “I just want to use the talents the Good Lord has given me to ‘improve the quality of life’ for people around us like I did in Extension and like current Extension staff continue to do,” he says.

Mel Baughman, forester and former forestry program leader, volunteers for the National Park Service by building and maintaining portions of the North Country Trail in Wisconsin and assisting with public educational events about the Namakagon River. He also periodically teaches classes on trail design and consults in that field, serves on his county's search and rescue team, and recently volunteered with the International Paralympics Nordic Skiing World Championship. “I'm still engaged in adventure and international travel and give lectures on my trips,” he says.

Rod Hamer, former director of field operations, supports the the American Red Cross as a volunteer.

If you have news or a story to share with fellow Extension retirees, please share the news by completing this Google Form or send an email to Gwen Gmeinder at We hope to hear from many of you. Don’t be shy—tell us about your activities and successes!

Media Moment (Nov. 2015)

Glyndon Farms family boosts 4-H STEM with memorial fund

WDAY-6 (ABC) reporter Kevin Wallevand interviewed 4-H youth and family members/owners of Glyndon Farms Company. The story is told in this inspiring video news clip.

The family established the Donald W. Grant Fund in memory of their family member who had a passion for science. Their purpose is to support more 4-H programming in Clay County with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects such as aquatic robotics.

To make a gift, contact Jane Johnson, executive director of development, or donate online.
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