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Showing posts from 2016

Dean's Column (Nov. 2016)

Dear Extension Retirees,

In our last newsletter, I told you about my effort to bring awareness to how Extension reaches all corners of Minnesota by visiting all 15 of our regional offices and as many counties as possible this year.

As we near the end of 2016, I’m proud to report that I did visit every regional office, and as of early November, have been to 81 of our 87 counties. There’s still time, and I’ll reach my goal!

These trips have been fun because of the opportunity they gave me to visit with Extension employees – past and present – and our donors and partners. In some cases I was able to attend local events, and to conduct media interviews. Most of all, I enjoyed learning more about our programs and seeing the pride all of us take in the excellent work we do for our stakeholders.

I’ve also been pleased to attend all five of the University’s new SPARKS programs so far. The programs offer an opportunity for people in Greater Minnesota to hear from University faculty about curre…

Order the 2017 Minnesota Gardening calendar for a favorite gardener

The Minnesota Gardening calendar, produced by the University of Minnesota Extension and
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, features seasonal photos and monthly gardening tips. The 2017 edition offers special features, including water saving strategies for home lawns (with a step-by-step guide for irrigation systems) and a vegetable garden planting guide. Buy them for yourself and as gifts for favorite fellow gardeners in time for the holidays and the upcoming gardening year! Proceeds from the sale of the calendar support statewide horticulture outreach education. To order the calendar from the University of Minnesota Bookstore, visit Receive a 10% discount by entering MG10 in the coupon code.

Attention snowbirds!

Do you travel to Florida or Arizona in the winter? Extension is very fortunate again this year to have speakers selected as part of the annual MinneCollege program organized by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. These events feature University faculty and experts speaking on topics of current interest and conclude with a reception.
John Erwin, professor and Extension horticulturist, will present at the Florida MinneCollege, Feb. 4, 2017, Naples Hilton, Naples, FL. Registration noon, program, 1 p.m.Karen Oberhauser, professor and Extension specialist - Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, will be the keynote speaker; and Ben Winchester, Extension fellow, will be presenting at the Arizona MinneCollege, Feb. 25, 2017 at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains, Scottsdale AZ. Registration noon, program, 1 p.m.
If you would like more information, please contact the Extension Development Office at 612-626-3717 or

Gift helps 4-H’ers make their own state fair memories

David and Linda Werner say 4-H shaped their lives. When they were considering how to give back, they decided to focus on scholarships and other support for 4-H’ers who otherwise would not be able to participate in the Minnesota State Fair after earning a trip. David is an Extension retiree who remains involved with Extension through part-time work in finance. The Werners’ gift was used for the first time this year at the fair. Read more about the gift.

Family Development hosts visitors from Guatemala, Tunisia

Extension’s Global Initiatives programming has become very active over the past two years. For example, the Extension Center for Family Development hosted a delegation of officials from Guatemala who wanted to learn how to improve school food programs. Extension’s Director of Global Initiatives John Vreyens, and Family Development’s Director of Programs, Trish Olson, collaborated in an application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellows program. While agriculture is typically the focus of these fellowships, the delegation from Guatemala wanted to learn about nutrition standards, procurement, food safety and storage, school meal implementation and operations, monitoring and compliance, and innovative practices. During the two-week visit, the delegation spent time with Minnesota’s departments of education, health and agriculture, along with visits to schools offering unique school food programs, commercial food distributors, and a fo…

Creating community across generations

Five generations of Minnesotans are now living and working together in communities and challenging each other to work across differences. “Community members of all ages can work well together, especially if they know the mindsets, expectations, and work styles of each generation,” says leadership and civic engagement educator Lisa Hinz. “All too often, the differences between generations, rather than the areas of opportunity, shape how people work together.” Creating community across generations is a feature story on Extension’s leadership education during a time of great societal change. Another recent story addressing change is Turning over the keys to rural businesses.

Awards and Accomplishments

Dean’s Distinguished Awards

Extension faculty and educators from across the state met in Duluth, Oct. 3-5, for the annual program conference. One of the highlights was the dinner and presentation of the Dean’s distinguished awards, where the following were honored for their hard work and dedication. You can learn more about the 2016 distinguished award winners on our website.

Friend of Extension
Doug Peterson, President, Minnesota Farmers Union

Campus-based Faculty
Robert Koch, Extension entomologist

Field-based Faculty
David Nicolai, Extension educator

Outstanding Leadership
Tamie Bremseth, Director of Youth Development Operations

Diversity and Inclusion
Partnering for School Success Team:

Extension—Silvia Alvarez de Davila, Antonio Alba Meraz, Emily Becher, Patrick Jirik, Jeanne Laqua, Mary Marczak, Kathleen Olson, Patricia Olson, Karen Shirer and Maria Villarraga.

Triton Public Schools (Dodge Center, Claremont, West Concord)—Gabriela Burk, Luke Lutterman and Nancy Stucky.

Faribault Middle …

Welcome new retirees (Nov. 2016)

Sharon M. Danes’ 30-year career with the University was highlighted by her numerous publications and programs on major topics including family resiliency, retirement planning, family firms and financial literacy. She was a professor in Department of Family Social Science and an Extension specialist for the Center for Family Development. She retired on July 1.

James Deidrick, Extension Center for Youth Development, retired on Sept. 8 after a long career spanning appointments as a county Extension and 4-H educator to a leadership development educator and a national appointment when he began the Operation Military Kids Program.

Fay McLain, an Extension program coordinator with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for nearly 28 years, retired June 30. Fay embodied the work of the program and created on-going relationships with staff, participants and agencies.

Robbie Radaich, Itasca County 4-H program coordinator, retired Aug. 1 after a 22-year career. Her first contributions we…

In memoriam

Muriel Brink, an Extension nutritionist for many years in Minnesota, also had appointments at Michigan State University, University of Illinois and Cornell University, passed away in Eagan, Oct. 9, age 76. Muriel was integral in establishing the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and working with family serving agencies to improve nutrition levels for needy families.

Lawrence “Lerry” G. Peichel received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the University and worked for over 30 years as the Brown County Extension agent. Lerry resided in Sleepy Eye and passed away Feb. 12 at age 94.

Timothy L. Wagar, age 65, passed away in Rochester on July 24. Tim’s career included work as a soil scientist for the United National Agency for International Development, where he spent a year in Saudi Arabia developing an irrigation system. He was an Extension educator and associate professor of crops and soil, retiring after 20 years at the University.

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (Nov. 2016)

This issue highlights Dale Blyth, Neil Broadwater, and (Dorothy) Jean Castle

Dale Blyth, former Associate Dean, Center for Youth Development, is enjoying volunteer work on issues making a difference in youth's lives: member, National Afterschool Association Board of Directors; co-chair, Journal of Youth Development's publications committee; chair, University YMCA Community Board; member, Greater Twin Cities United Way Education and Jobs Committee; member, Saint Paul Sprockets leadership group; member, Strategic Leadership Group Ignite Afterschool; member, Propel SEL (social emotional learning) Initiative's Advisory Council. Additional highlights: St. Paul’s Mayor Coleman named his retirement day "Dale Blyth Day;" moderated a keynote panel on Bridging Research and Practice at the National Afterschool Association meetings in Washington, and attended the White House Conference on Opportunity Youth.

Neil Broadwater, who served as a regional educator with Extension’s da…

Professional development grants for retirees available

The Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research, and the U Retirees Association have announced grants (up to $5,000) to help U retirees pursue projects related to their scholarly and/or creative interests. Faculty, P&A, and civil service retirees from the Twin Cities and system campuses are eligible to apply, including those retiring by July 1, 2017. The application deadline is Dec. 16.

Media Moment (Nov 2016)

Deb Zak named “2016 Outstanding Community Builder” by Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund 

Deb Zak, Extension regional director in Crookston, has been honored for her work in northwest Minnesota. Outstanding Community Builder Awards are presented to women who have demonstrated leadership in improving the quality of life for those around them, making northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work, and raise families. The Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund develops resources and serves as a catalyst for improving the quality of life for women and girls.

Deb’s many accomplishments include launching the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program, and co-directing the White Earth Academy of Math and Science, a White Earth Nation and University of Minnesota partnership since 1998. She has been a regional director since 1997 and was an Extension educator in Pennington County before that.

Deb is a lifelong northwest Minnesota resident. Her recent recognition was featured in the Crookst…

Dean's Column (June 2016)

Dear Colleagues,

This year, we are bringing greater awareness to the many ways Extension reaches all corners of Minnesota. To do this, I am in the process of visiting all 15 of our regional offices and as many counties as possible!

During these trips, I am meeting with Extension employees in the regional offices, visiting with donors and partners, attending local program events and conducting some media interviews along the way. It is always so inspiring to see our work, meet with our staff and partners, and find more ways to highlight Extension’s education, research and impact.

In addition, Extension has been participating in the University’s new SPARKS program, which offers an opportunity for people in Greater Minnesota to hear from three University faculty who each give a 20-minute presentation. The Spring SPARKS events were held in Red Wing in March, Brainerd in April and Mountain Iron in June. Extension faculty Mark Seeley, Brian Horgan and Laura Kalambokidis all received positiv…

Connect at a summer Extension retiree luncheon

It’s always great to learn what you are doing and share the news of Extension. There are three summer luncheons coming up. I hope you can make it to one of them!Northwest Minnesota: Friday, July 22, 12-2 p.m., Fair Hills Resort (optional cruise on Pelican Lake after lunch), 24270 Co Hwy 20, Detroit Lakes; RSVP by July 15.Twin Cities: Wednesday, July 27, 12-2 p.m., Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham St., Roseville; RSVP by July 20.Southern Minnesota: Wednesday, Aug. 10, 12-2 p.m., The Kahler Grand Hotel, 20 SW Second Avenue, Rochester; RSVP by Aug. 3. Please RSVP to Wan Tansatit, Extension development office, at (612) 624-7971 or with your name and the luncheon location you will attend.

Jane Johnson Director of Development

New grant award of $1 million to multidisciplinary team

The Extension Center for Family Development received nearly $1 million in new grant funding from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to improve the health of children. The Latino Fathers Promoting Healthy Youth Behaviors project aims to prevent obesity among Latino adolescents by engaging families, especially fathers or other male caregivers in the household. The multidisciplinary team working on this project includes faculty from several departments at the University; Extension educators from health and nutrition, family relations, and family resource management; SNAP-Ed educators; and Latino community leaders. See the full story

Stay current by reading Source magazine, Summer 2016 issue

The Summer 2016 issue of Source magazine is live on the Extension website, as well as in your mailbox. Reading Source helps keep you to up to date with what’s happening in Extension, and it’s also a great way to find stories to share with your own network. Source highlights Extension research and education that creates a stronger Minnesota.

Summer 2016 stories:

Small grains, big benefits features wheat research conducted on working farms with the collaboration of Minnesota farmersStories on cover crops and tomato diseases in high tunnels highlight more Extension research conducted in collaboration with growersNew Extension faculty are driven to discover introduces Extension’s newest specialists who have joint faculty appointments in University collegesWidening the focus on water explores Extension's integrated, multifaceted role in discovering solutions and guiding decisions about water resourcesMaking the healthy choice the easy choice tells the story of Extension's expanded …

More Extension impacts

Extension makes a difference in many more ways than can fit into Source magazine. Here are a few more recent highlights:
There are fewer neglected horses in Minnesota, a trend experts attribute to an improved economy, education and other preventive measures. Krishona Martinson, Extension equine expert and livestock program leader, explains Extension’s role in this success in Education and prevention help boost horse welfare, which was also featured in the Star Tribune. The activities of the Master Gardeners benefit schools, community gardens, youth programs, environmental education programs and farmers markets, to name a few. Learn more in the 2015 Master Gardener Annual Report.More than 2,800 participants from Minnesota and beyond have graduated from Extension's leadership and civic engagement programs. On the Leadership makes a difference website, several of these program alumni tell how their Extension education helped them contribute in their communities. Read Choosing how to l…

Awards and Accomplishments (June 2016)

Ryan Cox, Extension meat science specialist and an associate professor, received the Outstanding Faculty Award from Block and Bridle, a club for students interested in animal agriculture. He received the award for his research on meat quality, work with the meat lab, and involvement with FFA meat judging contests.

Brian Horgan,
Extension turfgrass horticulturalist, was honored at the 2015-2016 CFANS College Awards as part of the May 4 CFANS Spring College Assembly. Brian received the Distinguished Extension/Outreach Award for his work in turfgrass and his contributions to the Department of Horticultural Science.

Gary Johnson,
Extension urban and community forester, received the Frederick Law Olmsted Award as part of the 2016 National Arbor Day Awards. He received this award for improving tree care and planting practices across Minnesota in both small towns and cities for the last 25 years. View a video about award.

David Kjome,
Extension specialist, will be one of five National Dairy S…

Welcome new retirees (June 2016)

Sherry P. Boyce, Extension educator, Center for Youth Development, retired on May 19 after 35 years of service. Her understanding of the theory and practice of positive youth development, along with teaching, program planning and evaluation led to successes in supporting employees, volunteers, youth development professionals and partners in St. Louis County.

Debra Drange,
Extension finance and planning, has worked in many roles for the University over the past 41 years. Her contributions as a contract and voucher specialist for Extension have been exceptional and she will hard to replace. Debra will retire on June 30.

Larry Jacobson’s
career as an Extension engineer in bioproducts and biosystems engineering spanned 41 years. His innovative research led to development of Extension programs in animal housing systems, ventilation and environmental control, energy conservation, and effective manure and odor management. He retired on May 20.

Connie Vaplon, Wabasha County Extension support…

In Memoriam (June 2016)

Beth R. Jarvis was a project coordinator for Extension where she trained Master Gardeners, retiring in 2008. She also was a long time graphic designer of the Finnish American Cultural Association newsletter. She lived in Crystal and passed away on June 16 at age 64.

Floyd Wesley Jorgensen, age 89, of Bemidji, died April 4. Floyd worked as an agricultural Extension agent on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. He is remembered for his devotion to the Red Lake Nation and teaching his love of nature to others.

Mercedes L. Kirk, of Dayton, was 95 and passed away June 16. She was a dedicated Extension nutrition educator for Hennepin County.

Russell Krech,
a long time Houston County Extension agent in Caledonia, died June 15 at age 91. Russ was a strong educator in the southeast area as well as a great supporter of the 4-H program.

Robert Leary passed away April 14 in Le Center, at age 84. After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, he received a bachelor of science degree from the Univer…

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (June 2016)

This issue highlights Sharon Rezac Andersen, Cindy Bigger, Juanita Reed-Boniface, Jayne Hager Dee, Glenice Johnson, Barbara Piehl, and Ann Walter

Sharon Rezac Andersen, former executive director, Central Region, Sustainable Development Partnership, has taught seven semesters through the University of Arizona Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) adult learning courses plus attended many classes. Sharon remarked, “I have begun to know at this age what I don't know. With teaching and taking classes, one has an opportunity to meet people from a variety of cultures, professions and locations.”

Cindy Bigger, retired regional educator in community vitality, Fergus Falls region, volunteers at the Alexandria Housing and Rehabilitation Authority and currently is serving a third term as commissioner. She also chairs the Citizens Advisory Committee for Pioneer Public Television. She still finds time to do a bit of 4-H county fair judging. Cindy is also busy with Bigger Associates, a cons…

Epsilon Sigma Phi collects Extension stories

Extension professionals have some of the greatest stories! The ESP History and Archives Committee has been sorting files, searching for photos and discussing ways to preserve stories. They would love to capture (in writing) a few memories from the past to share with others (via ESP newsletters) and hope that you can help them out. Follow this link to an online form where you can share a story.

Not sure what to share? You might describe the work you did, the office(s) you worked in, what or how you taught people. Or, maybe you have a funny story about something that happened in your work or a memorable moment shared with a co-worker or participant. We look forward to collecting your stories to add to our archive and preserve them along with other memorabilia in our files. Thank you for taking the time to share.

NOTE: If you have more than one story to share, you can go to the site as many times as you'd like. If you have photos you'd like to share, send them to Jody Horntvedt vi…

Media Moment (June 2016)

Minnesota 4-H has been prominently featured in news media recently, with Associated Press coverage of the second annual 4-H Science of Agriculture competition being carried by dozens of news organizations nationwide, including the Washington Post. Following the June 19 competition on the St. Paul campus, stories appeared in the Star Tribune and on KARE-11. Visit the program website to watch several videos that tell the story of these innovative young people and their work with coaches and mentors from Minnesota’s community of agricultural leaders.

4-H True Leaders Campaign

National 4-H Council has recently embarked on a multi-year marketing campaign, raising awareness of how effective 4-H is in developing leaders. Because of Dean Bev Durgan’s strong commitment to 4-H in Minnesota, our state has earned the opportunity to be a target market for this exciting True Leaders campaign. Over the next three years, 4-H will be highlighted in Minnesota media including TV, radio and print. More and more people across our state are going to see just how impactful 4-H is in the lives of our youth. This is an exciting time.

In 4-H, girls and boys develop critical life skills like creativity, problem solving, persistence, collaboration and leadership. They build deep and long-lasting friendships while exploring topics of their choosing and having a lot of fun. And down the road, when we need passionate and compassionate leaders to innovate new ways of living in and sharing our world, today’s 4-H youth will be there. Because of 4-H, they will be ready to lead the way i…

Dean's Column (March 2016)

Dear Extension Retirees,

Extension is the University in every county, and this year we want to bring even greater awareness to the many ways Extension’s impact reaches all corners of Minnesota. From Kittson to Houston, Rock to Cook, Traverse to Chisago, Roseau to Faribault—and all 79 counties in between, we connect with communities, partners and the University to address issues that matter most.

I am looking forward to spending more time in Greater Minnesota in 2016—to see our work, meet with our partners and find more ways to highlight Extension’s education, research and impact.

To kick off this effort, I traveled to Mankato at the end of January and to Willmar and St. Cloud in mid-February. During these trips, I visited with Extension employees in the regional offices, met with donors and partners, attended local program events, and conducted some media interviews along the way. I plan to keep up the travels throughout the year, visiting all of our regional offices and as many count…

2016 Retiree Luncheons with Dean Bev Durgan

Join us for these annual events. You’ll get together with colleagues, share what is happening in your lives, and get an update on the latest Extension news and initiatives! A postcard with full details will be mailed in April.

Northwest Minnesota: Friday, July 22, 12-2 p.m., Fair Hills Resort, Detroit Lakes (optional cruise on Pelican Lake following lunch, weather permitting)
Twin Cities: Wednesday, July 27, 12-2 p.m., Midland Hills Country Club, Roseville
Southern Minnesota: Date and details pending

New Extension Regional Office in St. Cloud

The Extension Regional Office, St. Cloud moved to a new location on Jan. 4. The new facility features 16 private offices, two drop-in offices, a demonstration/training kitchen, a classroom that seats 25 and a conference room that seats 12. The new address is 3601 18th Street S., St. Cloud, Minn.

Global Initiatives create local impact

John Vreyens has been the director of Extension’s global initiatives for the past two years. Under his leadership, Extension has developed a model for professional development training that adapts Extension programs to fit global arenas. Recently, educators with the Minnesota Agricultural Rural Leadership program and “At Your Service” training worked with Moroccans to adapt materials and facilitate training appropriate for Morocco. You can read more about recent global efforts in Source magazine.

Participation in international experiences is not new to Extension. As far back as 1949, Extension was involved in the Minnesota Agricultural Student Training program. Twenty years ago, family development educators explored family policies across five European countries. International programs continue in Kenya and a youth development, and parenting program is being developed in Guatemala.

Global initiatives offer the skills and knowledge of Extension educators to build the capacity overseas …

Children’s Mental Health eReview

The Center for Family Development's Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) published an issue of the Children's Mental Health eReview, "Children in common: Ensuring the emotional well-being of children when parenting apart." Authors and editors across Extension centers, University departments and community organizations collaborated to define co-parenting and describe how parents can support their children when parenting apart. They also explored the practice of co-parent education as it affects both divorcing and separated never-married parents. Read this issue. For more information, please contact Cari Michaels.

Health and Nutrition programs meet community needs

University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition staff are working in two Southwest Minnesota communities to ensure that a promising program, I Can Prevent Diabetes ICANPD, is adapted for the food and lifestyle of Somali populations.

In Northeastern Minnesota, staff members of Extension Health and Nutrition and Healthy Northland are collaborating to assess the food environment in communities, stores, worksites and congregate housing sites as a first step toward creating healthy food environments in the region.

Awards and Accomplishments (March 2016)

Congratulations to Nathan Winter, Extension educator for 10 years in McLeod and Meeker counties, on receiving the Extension Educator of the Year award given by Minnesota Farm Bureau. This award recognizes the important role of Extension educators in helping farmers stay up to date on new technology and in training future agricultural leaders.

Congratulations to Catie Rasmussen, Extension educator in the Center for Community Vitality. Association of Minnesota Counties recognized Catie’s program, Connecting Nicollet County Leadership Program, for outstanding county achievement at their 2015 annual meeting in December. This award recognizes valuable innovations and improvements in county government. Read more about the award.

Congratulations to Stephanie Heim, associate program director in the Center for Family Development. Stephanie was accepted into eXtension's i-Three Corp. She will work on the Minnesota Food Charter Network—a statewide network, rooted in Minnesota food charter st…

Retiree Updates (March 2016)

Welcome New Retirees

Debra Botzek-Linn, Extension educator, food science, retired on Nov. 30. As a member of the Extension Food Safety Team, she helped identify current challenges and provided leadership in addressing educational requirements. Her 29 year career provided food safety education to food handlers and the public through scholarship, teaching, publications, educational programs, technology/internet and the media.

Debra Madison, Extension Information Technology, provided numerous technical contributions to Extension’s educational mission. For the past 36 years, she supported major initiatives and was instrumental in the success of understanding and adaptation of information technology in the workplace. She retired on Jan. 8.

Kristi A. Stedman, executive office and administrative specialist, Extension Regional Office, Cloquet, retires on March 31 after 11 years of support to Extension office operations and 4-H youth development programs.

In Memoriam

Robert Berg, age 98, passed awa…

Media Moments (March 2016)

The Minnesota Daily was there when Extension’s 4-H Science of Agriculture team hosted 125 youth at the “4-H Explore Ag Career Day” on the University’s St. Paul campus in February. The day included a welcome speech by Bev Durgan, a panel discussion with agriculture professionals, activities to explore ag careers and financial resources, campus tours, a session with current University students to learn about life on campus, and a college fair. Read the Minnesota Daily story, U debuts agricultural career day.

Another recent story explains plans for SNAP-Ed programming to help create a community garden in Nobles County, highlighted by the Worthington Daily Globe.

Extension is featured regularly in news media coverage, which is available at our In the News page. A weekly recap of news highlights is available by subscribing here.

IRA Charitable Rollover permanently extended

Congress has permanently extended this popular tax-advantaged giving opportunity. The law allows individuals who are age 70 1/2 or older to make gifts of up to $100,000 directly from their IRA account to one or more qualified charities, without paying federal income tax on the withdrawal. The U of M Foundation Planned Giving office has two form letters to assist donors with the process of making a qualified charitable distribution from their IRA to the University. For more information, contact Jane Johnson in the Extension Development office, 612-626-3717 or