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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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 county offices as possible!

I look forward to the opportunity to thank our county partners for their continued support of Extension. Thanks to the hard work of our regional directors, for 2016, counties contracted for 119 full time equivalents (FTE) of University of Minnesota Extension program staff through their Memorandums of Agreement (MOA). The majority, 94 FTE, are 4-H program coordinator positions, with another 23 local agriculture educator and natural resources positions, and two family development positions.

I hope to see many of you during these travels as well as during our annual summer Retiree Luncheons.

Bev Durgan

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 to meet an expressed need. These efforts not only have an impact overseas, the educators also integrate the experience into their programs offered throughout Minnesota.

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 strategies—that supports and fosters shared action toward healthy food access for all. Her project will develop and execute a plan for local, regional and issue-based networks across the state to connect, learn and share ideas to effectively carry out food charter strategies.

Extension specialist John Loegering received the Jim McDonough Award from the Wildlife Society. This award recognizes a certified wildlife biologist who is a member ofThe Wildlife Society and has made a significant contribution to the wildlife profession, especially at local levels. John’s Extension work is a significant reason for the recognition.

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 away on Dec. 22. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s of science and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota. In 1958, he became an Extension poultry specialist and received numerous industry awards and recognitions, serving in this field until his retirement in 1984. He was a WWII veteran and was buried with military honors.

Hallie Lee Clonts, served in Watonwan County from 1956-1972, as a county home agent conducting workshops for homemakers and teaching nutrition and sewing. She also taught adult and youth leadership programs. She was 92 and passed away on May 1, 2008 in Steelville, Mo. Thank you to retiree John Ankeny for providing the obituary notice.

William Hueg, former Professor, Vice President for Agriculture, and Dean of the University’s Institute of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics, passed away Feb. 18, age 92. He began his Minnesota Extension career as a specialist in agronomy in 1957. He received the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture in 2009.

Marvin Stanley Jensen, agricultural Extension agent, died on Feb. 4 at his home in Kensington at age 75. He received his bachelor’s of science and master’s in agricultural education from the University of Minnesota. He also farmed and advised farmers for the Farm Service Agency.

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story

This issue highlights Don Breneman, Sharon Knutson, Barb Liukkonen and Maxine Norman.

Don Breneman, former audio visual producer in the Extension Communications unit, writes: “Still doing lots of photography—some for the University and mostly for myself. I co-authored the book, Voyageur Skies with Mark Seeley, which won the Northeast Minnesota book awards in 2011.”

Sharon Knutson, former Extension educator in family development in Norman County, reports: “Life is good after retirement. I am able to travel and see the sites of the world, and my major volunteer responsibility is managing our local food shelf in Ada.”

Barb Liukkonen, who worked in water resources, commented: “I'm living the dream as a volunteer—no paid work right now, so I never have to worry about measurable outcomes or deliverables. If I think the work is valuable, then I can choose to do it. Currently I'm learning a lot as the new co-president of our Lake County Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault crisis center.”

Maxine Norman, retired leadership and civil engagement educator in the Brainerd region, serves on multiple committees, including: Sounds of Spirit Lake, bringing free public concerts to her community; World's Best Task Force, addressing curriculum and technology at a public school; Greenwood Connections, a nursing home and assisted living center; as well as planning missions for her church. She says, “I try to stay out of the newspaper, although I've been known to pen a letter to the editor on occasion.” She also completed a spiral-bound book for her 50-year class reunion that was a hit with former classmates.

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 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

Send Us Your News (March 2016)

Do you have news or a story you'd like to share with fellow Extension retirees? Send submissions to Gwen Gmeinder at
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