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Monday, November 6, 2017

Dean's Column (Nov. 2017)

Dear Extension Retirees,

It was a pleasure to see so many of you this summer during our annual retiree luncheons.

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 2017 award winners on our website (

Campus-based faculty
: Krishona Martinson, Extension equine specialist and livestock program leader

Field-based faculty: Amy Rager, Extension educator, fish, wildlife and conservation education

Diversity: Ryan Allen, associate professor, leadership and civic engagement, Extension Center for Community Vitality

Outstanding leadership: Dorothy McCargo Freeman, associate dean, Extension Center for Youth Development

Team: Deep Winter Greenhouse team, Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

Friend of Extension: Frank Jewell, St. Louis County commissioner
Bev Durgan


Source magazine fall issue available and ready for sharing

Here are some of the highlights Source Fall 2017 edition:
  • Gardening with class features schoolyard gardens that plant seeds for better health and active learning. Even if you’ve read it before, visit online for a heartening video that has just been added.
  • Take five steps for a stronger Minnesota helps you make your community an attractive place to live, where people can find work and quality of life.
  • 4-H alumni: Where are they now? features 4-H alumni who brought lessons from 4-H into their communities and careers.
Please share the Source stories with your friends, family, community members and anyone you think would be interested in this work.

Transition for Minnesota 4-H Foundation

On Jan. 31, 2018, the Minnesota 4-H Foundation will dissolve and all 4-H fund development activities will be coordinated by Extension’s development office and the University of Minnesota Foundation. This change is designed to maximize fundraising potential for 4-H throughout the state, benefiting more youth in every Minnesota county and tribal nation.

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation board of trustees has considered this opportunity for many months, and voted unanimously in June 2017 to continue to move forward with dissolution.

Our staff and Foundation board, along with leadership from the Center for Youth Development, Extension and the University are working to make sure this is as seamless a transition as possible.
  • Donor intent in all contributions and bequests, past and future, will be honored.
  • Endowment holders will still receive annual reports showing the financial standing of their investments with the University of Minnesota Foundation.
  • Gifts made payable to the Minnesota 4-H Foundation will continue to be accepted.
  • Our development team will remain unchanged and continue working out of 9 Coffey Hall on the St. Paul campus and will be your key contacts for giving questions.
The Minnesota 4-H Foundation was founded in 1980 to generate private funding for 4-H. In the subsequent years, many dollars were raised and funds were stewarded with great integrity. We’re confident that merging with the University of Minnesota Foundation will significantly expand funding opportunities for 4-H into the future.

Please direct questions about the transition to Jane Johnson, Extension Development and Minnesota 4-H Foundation, phone 612-626-3717 or email

Events (Nov. 2017)

Minnesota 4-H Celebration of Agriculture, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, Hilton Bloomington, 3900 American Blvd W. Social hour 6 p.m., dinner and program at 7 p.m.
Mark your calendar to share in a night when 4-H alumni, parents, volunteers and staff celebrate 4-H’s involvement in growing true leaders through 4-H agriculture programs. Tickets are $100 each; proceeds go to support 4-H agriculture programs. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Contact the Extension development office, 612-624-7971.

For snowbirds: University of Minnesota Alumni Association MinneCollege will be taking place In Naples, Fla., on Jan. 20 at the Hilton Naples; and Scottsdale, Ariz., at Marriott McDowell Mountains on Feb. 10.
Registration for both events starts at 12:30 p.m. with a program at 1 p.m. A program of cutting-edge topics featuring University faculty speakers is planned for both locations. More information will be posted soon on the UMAA website.

Awards and Accomplishments (Nov. 2017)

Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors program was featured in the story Guardians of the Waterways. The volunteer program was recently launched by Extension and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Read the story in University of Minnesota Foundation’s Legacy magazine, Summer 2017 and on Extension Highlights.

Jeff Coulter, Extension agronomist, St. Paul campus, received the Editor’s Citation for Excellence by the editorial board of Crop Science. These awards recognize the outstanding professional commitment and dedication of volunteer reviewers and editors who, through their insights and comments, have helped maintain the high standard and quality of papers published in the journal.

The Center for Farm Financial Management (CFFM) was awarded the 2017 Distinguished Extension Program Group Award by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. Team members include Robert Craven, Dale Nordquist, Kevin Klair, Wynn Richardson, Rann Loppnow, Curtis Mahnken, Ed Usset, Jeff Reisdorfer, Dave Nordquist, Jane Sandstrom and Laurie Dickinson.

Abby Neu, Extension educator, livestock and poultry, Extension Regional Office Willmar, received first place in the Extension and teaching graduate student competition at the 25th Symposium of the Equine Science Society.

Epsilon Sigma Phi-Pi Chapter

Marcia Woeste, ESP-Pi chapter awards committee chair, is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s awards. The awards were presented at a celebration and social during Program Conference. Congratulations to the following:
  • Early Career Service – Robin Trott
  • Mid-Career Service – Heidi Haugen
  • Distinguished Service – Marcia Woeste
  • Administrative Leadership – Tim Arlt
  • Distinguished Team – Rebecca Hagen Jokela, Lori Hendrickson
  • Visionary Leadership – Holli Arp
  • Retiree Service – Kent Gustafson
  • Meritorious Support Services – Sharon Leopold
  • 25-Year Tenure of Service – Sara Croymans, Kathy Brandt

Welcome new retirees (Nov. 2017)

Fritz Breitenbach, associate Extension professor, entomology department and integrated pest management specialist, retired Sept. 30. Fritz’s 36-year career and proactive approach to solving problems of new invasive species and herbicide resistance benefited many farmers, crop consultants and the Minnesota agriculture industry.

Patricia Combs retired Oct. 10 after 28 years of dedicated service as a finance professional in the Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Patti, with her knowledge and understanding of University policies, procedures and operating systems across the institution, provided valuable skills to the Extension finance team.

David Fluegel served as executive director of the Extension Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships since 2012. During his career, he built relationships throughout the region and worked to see that the projects reflected the people and places of the region. He retired Aug. 5.

Karl Foord, Extension educator, Extension Regional Office Farmington, retired Oct. 18 with more than 22 years of service, leadership and program development in horticultural education. Karl was a collaborator on the University’s gardening calendar and taught fruit and vegetable farmers on the economics of marketing and analyzing farmers market participant needs.

Gary Hachfeld, Extension educator in the Extension Regional Office Mankato, retired Sept. 30 with more than 46 years of leadership and program development in farm management education and farm transition planning. His innovation in developing evaluation methodologies to measure economic impacts of programming was nationally recognized.

In Memoriam (Nov. 2017)

Christine M. Moen, Roseville, passed away Oct. 5. She served as the Extension fiscal officer for more than 36 years. As an ardent believer in the value of education, she created a scholarship foundation and actively supported that cause until her death.

Irene D. Peterson
received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota and enjoyed a career with many Extension positions: Extension agent in Stearns and Douglas counties, and later served on the Senior Citizen Pilot Project with the Governor’s Council. In 1970, she became supervisor for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program. In 1971, Irene received the National Distinguished Award for her commitment and service to the elderly. She passed away July 27, age 86.

Margaret Eleanor Rosendahl, age 97, passed away June 15. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota, she became the first Extension home demonstration agent in Marshall County in 1947. In 1988, after more than 50 years of involvement with 4-H, she was honored with their Alumni Achievement award.

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (Nov. 2017)

Melvin J. Baughman, Extension forester who retired in 2011, planned a “fabulous retirement,” according to a story on, a blog about retirement and volunteerism. Blogger Mary Anne Casey writes that Mel created “the most deliberate retirement plan of any retiree I’ve interviewed” and yet remained flexible when some of his plans didn’t work out the way he’d planned.

Sandra Becker, prior to her retirement in 2005, was a communications specialist, Extension operations and support on the St. Paul campus. Her recent activities include serving as a board member and volunteer coordinator at Minnesota Bach Ensemble; volunteer at “Walkin’ in Circles” horse shelter (New Mexico); and choir member at House of Hope Church in St. Paul.

Kim Boyce, former Extension educator in the Extension Center for Community Vitality and regional director for Hennepin and Ramsey counties, retired in 2015. He now teaches leadership a few days a week and facilitates meetings for public and nonprofit organizations. Kim is part of the planning for the alumni gathering to celebrate the 130th year of the University of Minnesota YMCA (where he worked from 1981-1989).

Dale Blyth’s
retirement includes part-time work as an independent consultant to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning’s “Measuring SEL” initiative where he co-produces a weekly blog. He just completed service as panel manager for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s five-year review of national youth development and 4-H portfolio. Dale is the former associate dean of Extension Center for Youth Development.

Jim Kemp, former Hennepin County Extension director and MN 4-H Foundation assistant director, retired in 1989. His efforts and gifts to the Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador program is featured in Source Fall 2017 edition.

Maxine Norman McNeece’s recent work includes the Menahga City Council and Thriving Communities Initiative, a leadership training program through the Initiative Foundation Leadership, Little Falls; part of a groundbreaking ceremony for a $4.9 million expansion to the Green Pine Acres Nursing Home/Assisted Living complex in Menahga. She is a former regional Extension educator, Center for Community Vitality, Regional Office Brainerd.

Janie O’Connor, former home economist in Brown and Itasca counties, recently received Scandia’s “Good Neighbor Award.” She also is leading the effort to develop Scandia into a cyclist destination (Cycling Scandia). During the summer months, she is a vendor at Scandia Farmers Market, educating shoppers and selling monarch butterfly items.

Chuck Schwartau, just retired as regional director for the southeast region and is using his extra time as secretary of the Goodhue County Fair and will soon work with the Goodhue County Historical Society. In November, he will be going to Saskatoon, Canada, to present two agriculture labor management sessions to the Saskatchewan Pork Producers' Association.

Faye Sleeper retired this year from her work in the Water Resources Center, but a feature story on their website shows how her time there was part of a longer journey. She continues this journey in retirement. The story tells of her plans for “European travels and exploring neglected treasures closer to home” and also indicates that we should not be surprised to see her out on the water in her kayak.

Eric Vogel, an Extension educator in educational technology for Center for Youth Development, working in Houston, Kandiyohi, St. Cloud and Willmar until retiring in 2015, volunteers at the Winona Area Food Shelf. Currently, he is a field researcher for Vital Research conducting quality-of-life interviews at long-term care facilities. He also makes regular appearances in his garden, duck blind and tree stand.

Media Moment (Nov. 2017)

KARE-11 highlighted the Dodge County Pumas 4-H Club, which is comprised mainly of Hispanic youth. They were at the fair for the second year as part of Extension’s work to "springboard" youth into the 4-H experience.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 Dean's Distinguished Faculty Awards

2017 Faculty award recipients    

Dean Durgan with Dr. Krishona Martinson
Campus Faculty 
Dr. Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist and Program Leader

Krishona Martinson built the internationally recognized and highly successful Equine Extension program. The program provides relevant information to horse owners and professionals while embracing a spirit of entrepreneurialism. She is a leader in using technology to provide information on management and care of horses and also maintains a successful research program securing over $1.2 million in grant dollars for collaborative research between agronomy and equine science. Krishona boldly embraces the Extension mission by pushing herself and her team to use innovative technology to share timely and researched-based information.

Field Faculty
Amy Rager, Extension Educator, Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education

Amy Rager, statewide director of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program (MMNP), has been instrumental in leading the program to sustainability and strength. Over 2,000 volunteers are serving in nearly every Minnesota county and a growing number of reservations. These stewards have contributed over 300,000 service hours to deliver citizen science, research-based management and
education. Amy has steered the volunteer-driven MMNP program to financial viability, including the establishment of an endowment fund to provide participant scholarships, special speakers and events. She is recognized for her critical role in launching the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors program and is a national leader in developing high quality systems and resources to improve the volunteer experience.

Outstanding leadership
Dr. Dorothy McCargo Freeman, Associate Dean, Extension Center for Youth Development

Dorothy McCargo Freeman has demonstrated profound leadership throughout her career. When she served as president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, she led Extension to expand its reach to the most vulnerable populations. Dorothy is a servant leader who focuses on making Extension a stellar example in youth development. Under her leadership, Minnesota 4-H established systems for risk management to steward its human and financial resources in a manner that is beyond reproach. Minnesota is an example for other state 4-H programs. Dorothy’s lifetime of dedicated leadership is gratefully recognized with this award.

Deep Winter Greenhouse Team, Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

The Deep Winter Greenhouse project exemplifies Extension’s mission and values of responding to a community need, discovering research-based solutions and sharing the findings through outreach and education. This project is a unique component of Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and is driven by partnerships and collaborations from the rural regions it serves. The work builds on community innovation and provides a strategy to make fresh greens available to Minnesotans through the winter. With the goal of creating profitability for small and medium sized farm operations and increased access to healthy food in rural communities, this team is making a difference within our land-grant mission and the lives of rural Minnesotans.

Team members: Dr. Kathy Draeger; Dr. John Erwin; David Fluegel; Carol Ford; Dan Handeen; Linda Kingery; Erin Meier; Dr. Carl Rosen; Greg Schweser; Alexis Troschinetz; Okey Ukaga; Dr. Sue Wika; Molly Zins

Diversity & inclusion
Dr. Ryan Allen

Ryan Allen’s research and scholarship focuses on the effects of economic shifts, social and civic structures on immigrants and people of color. His ability to build trust in diverse communities is opening up a needed and public dialogue in communities about race and poverty. Ryan provides an expert voice and resources for improving Minnesota’s diversity and inclusion responses. His commissioned report, “Immigrants and Minnesota’s Workforce” addresses the challenges linked to the slowing growth of the state’s population and labor force. Ryan’s contributions and collaborations are making a difference for all Minnesotans.

Friend of Extension
Friend of Extension Frank Jewell, County Commissioner, St. Louis County

 Frank Jewell, County Commissioner in St. Louis County since 2011, current Chair of the Board and a member of the AMC Extension Committee, is a highly engaged learner and an Extension advocate. Commissioner Jewell participated in Extension’s U-Lead program and secured funding for an urban 4-H Program Coordinator in Duluth. He has also worked with the county administration and the county board to lay the groundwork for filling positions when the current county employed educators retire. We extend our warmest thanks for his many contributions to the partnership between St. Louis County

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dean's Column (June 26, 2017)

Dear Extension retirees,

Please consider joining me at a summer Extension retiree luncheon to reconnect with old friends, share news and learn about what’s happening in Extension. There are two summer luncheons coming up. I hope you can make it to one of them!

Northwest Minnesota: Tuesday, July 11, noon-2 p.m., The Fireside, 1462 East Shore Drive, Detroit Lakes; RSVP by July 4. Special guest speaker will be Linda Kingery, executive director, Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.

Twin Cities: Thursday, July 27, noon-2 p.m., Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham St., Roseville; RSVP by July 20. Special guest speaker will be Mary Hockenberry Meyer, professor and Extension horticulturist. Her focus will be 10 Plants That Changed Minnesota.

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

Bev Durgan

4-H Golf Classic a success in its 19th year

4-H'ers on golf cart
4-H friends and alumni, along with their families and business associates, gathered at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville for a fun afternoon of golf on June 19. Participants supported Minnesota 4-H youth programs with their registration fees and by talking with 4-H members about projects that are making an impact on their lives. Even Goldy Gopher was available for photos during the event! I want to thank UnitedHealthcare, our presenting sponsor, as well as the other sponsors, golfers, volunteers and 4-H’ers that made this a successful event. While we are still sorting through funds received and outstanding expenses, we anticipate the event this year will net almost $47,000. Thanks to everyone who gives of their time and other resources to support Extension research and education that creates a stronger Minnesota.
Jane Johnson
Director of Development

May kicked off schoolyard garden planting

Several students at Crossroads School and Vocational Center in St. Francis took science class outside on May 24 to plant their garden during the week Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed as Schoolyard Gardens Planting Week. More than 150 Minnesota schoolyard gardens have been developed in recent years to allow for hands-on outdoor learning experiences that align with Minnesota PreK-12 academic standards. Extension Master Gardener volunteers serve as the local connection in the community and work with partners who make schoolyard gardens possible. Read more in Extension Highlights.

Shaping Somali youth and family success

Three smiling girls
Educators working with immigrants and refugees in other states are paying attention to Minnesota, which has the highest number of refugees per capita in the United States. Minnesota is also the home of the nation's largest Somali-American community. Read the story in Extension Highlights to learn how the work done by 4-H and health and nutrition educators is being shared with professionals across the country.

Awards and Accomplishments (June 2017)

Extension Dean's Distinguished Awards: The following were recognized at the 2017 Extension Staff Conference on May 18 on the St. Paul campus:
  • Nutrition Educator Award: Donna Anderson, SNAP-Ed educator, Hubbard and Becker counties
  • Field Staff Award: Judy Leibfried, executive administrative specialist, Marshall Regional Office
  • Campus-based Staff Award: Maggie Frazier, communications specialist, Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  • Program Staff Award: Jose Lamas, community program assistant, Nobles County

Kathy Draeger, statewide director of Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, is one of seven collegiate winners of the President's Community-Engaged Scholar Award, the highest award the University of Minnesota bestows for scholarship conducted in partnership with external communities. She’s featured in this video.

Brad Heins,
Extension dairy specialist, received the Outstanding Graduate Faculty/Staff Award in May from the University of Minnesota Department of Animal Science.

Catherine "Catie" Rasmussen, Extension educator, graces the cover of River Valley Woman magazine's April 2017 issue. Read the story in River Valley Woman magazine to learn about Rasmussen's path from a childhood and teaching career in New Ulm to Extension leadership and civic engagement work in southern Minnesota and the world.

Eli Sagor received this year’s Richard C. Newman Community Impact award. This award from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences recognizes outstanding contributions, commitment and passion for outreach and making powerful community impact and long-term sustainable difference in people’s lives.

Welcome new retirees (June 2017)

Faye Sleeper, associate director, Water Resources Center and program leader of the Extension Water Resources Team, retired April 10. Her leadership roles also included serving as a representative to the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the North Central Regional Water Network.

Deb Zak, Northwest Regional Director, is retiring after 40 years with Extension in the Crookston Regional Office and the Pennington County office. A retirement party will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19, in the Bede Ballroom at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.

In Memoriam (June 2017)

Malcolm “Mac” Barlass, Stillwater, passed away on April 9, age 81. His passion for learning, teaching and giving began with early involvement in 4-H and continued as an Extension county agent first in Illinois and then Minnesota.

Warren Y. Gore, active in 4-H clubs for many years, also taught communication in the Rhetoric Department on the St. Paul campus. He passed away Jan. 17 in St. Paul, age 93. He was honored by the University of Minnesota College of Agriculture in 1992 with the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

Robert Morrison, faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine for 31 years and a member of Extension’s livestock team, was killed in an auto accident in the Czech Republic on May 2. He was an international leader in the swine industry both in the United States as well as in China.

Roy L. Thompson’s professional career was devoted to agriculture in numerous areas of the world. He served as an agronomist with Rockefeller Foundation in Colombia, Extension, and was the assistant director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. He died in Roseville on Feb. 25 at age 89.

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (June 2017)

Shirley Anderson Porisch, former regional Extension educator, family resource management, Marshall and Lyon counties. Since her retirement in 2011, she has been assisting older adults in making insurance decisions for Medicare Part D and now started volunteering as an adult basic education ESL tutor. Shirley also works part-time as a financial counselor at Project Turnabout in Granite Falls in the gambling addiction program.

Joe Conlin, dairy specialist, animal sciences, retired in 2009 and resides in Columbus, Wis. He serves on the Columbus School Board as treasurer and is a founding member and past president of Columbus Area Endowment Board. The board makes monetary grants for worthy community causes. Joe also keeps busy renovating home and outbuildings on his family farm and raising apples for local markets.

John Cunningham, 2004 retiree in farm management and county Extension director. John is a board member of Minnesota Viewers Association and has served as an accredited ditch viewer for the past 10 years. In this role he has covered ditches in Big Stone, Stearns, Stevens, Redwood, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Wright, Sherburne, Benton, Mille Lacs and the North Fork of the Crow River Watershed, as well as the Upper Minnesota Watershed District.

Kent Gustafson, Extension professor in the Tourism Center, volunteers weekly at the Roseville Area Food shelf, serves as a ‘reading buddy’ for second and third-grade students and is on the scholarship committee of the Golden K Kiwanis Club. Since his retirement in 2011, he has been a meeting facilitation consultant for a variety of public and private non-profit organizations. Retirement has allowed him to enjoy more international travel with recent trips to Peru and Spain as well as the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament.

Karen Lilley, a 2011 retiree and former Extension web manager in communications, serves on the U.S. board of directors, communications chair, for the Blue House Orphanage in Uganda. She was in East Africa in March. Along with four other Peace Corps volunteers, she organized an educational camp for the Blue House girls in the nearby rural community of Kazo. Karen also brought new outfits for the girls, made by U of M Apparel Design students, a partnership started by Extension retiree Sherri Gahring in 2012, and continued by Lucy Dunne.

Barbara Peterson, with a 30-year Extension career in nutrition education in Todd and Morrison counties, retired in 2003 and continues to enjoy judging at county fairs and teaching church groups about food safety for funeral dinners and coffee fellowship.

Dave Schwartz, since his retirement as a crops Extension educator 13 years ago, has been involved with the seed business. During the past five years, Dave started his own seed dealership with Gold Country Seed and sells corn and soybean seed to growers in Meeker and neighboring counties. Dave notes that it has been a good fit with his background: “Allowing me to do ‘county agent’ work with my customers, staying actively involved in agriculture and providing lots of exercise walking fields during the summer.”

Toni Smith has been appointed to the board of directors for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Toni was the director of Extension field operations outreach and liaison to the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) until she retired in 2011. She has worked the past five years as education director at AMC, and now reduced her time to consulting about three days a month, giving her more time for family, friends and travel.

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

Media Moment (June 2017)

Bill Svensgaard, Extension educator in 4-H and youth development until he retired in 2002, has been involved in many community art projects over the years. Now working in collaboration with Minneapolis Police Department, he helps inmates make Super Bowl artwork. Watch his story, aired June 6, 2017 on WCCO TV.

See Extension at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair!

If you go to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," visit with Extension colleagues, volunteers and participants. There will be 4-H’ers in the 4-H building and barns, Master Gardeners in the Ag-Hort building and Extension faculty and educators on the DNR stage. Master Gardeners will share their schoolyard garden experiences at the U of M building on Aug. 30. Watch Extension’s Facebook page for detailed information to come out in early August. You can also check the 4-H State Fair website for information about shows and other scheduled 4-H events.

Send us your news

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dean's Column (March 2017)

Dear Extension retirees,

Nearly every week, I’m reminded of how fortunate Extension is to have such a vital and active network of retired employees. You are strong advocates, partners and volunteers as well as generous donors and supporters of Extension research and education.

This summer, I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at our annual luncheons; they will take place on Tuesday, July 11 at the Fireside Restaurant in Detroit Lakes and on Thursday, July 27 at the Midland Hills Country Club here in St. Paul. Both luncheons are from noon to 2 p.m.

I also hope to see many of you at this year’s edition of Minnesota Sparks, a collaboration between Extension and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association that highlights the latest in U of M research and outreach. The first 2017 event will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30 at the Minnwest Technology Campus in Willmar. More Sparks events are planned for next fall and the spring of 2018, so please watch for updates.

Extension makes a difference to Minnesota and the world largely because of the dedication of our faculty and staff. I appreciate your continuing dedication to our work even after you’ve left Extension.
Bev Durgan

Extension at the Capitol

(back row) Jacquie Lonning (state program director); Anna Brekke (CAC); Rachel Meany (Mower County 4-H); Laura Wyatt, (CAC); Dorothy McCargo Freeman (associate dean); (front row) Alexis Hanson (Lake County 4-H); Meghan Beckendorf (Renville County 4-H); Roodo Abdikadir (Hennepin County 4-H) and Elizabeth Bergem (Ottertail County 4-H)
Seventy key stakeholders from across Minnesota came together Jan. 25 to learn about advocacy and legislative visits on Extension Legislative Action Day. The morning began with President Kaler’s legislative briefing breakfast, followed by updates from Dean Bev Durgan and J. D. Burton, special assistant to President Kaler, and a panel discussion.

In the afternoon, those who went to the Capitol to meet with their state legislators included members from Citizens Advisory Committee, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Public Issues Leadership Development and County Extension Committees, as well as regional directors and 4-H youth ambassadors.

On Feb. 23, Extension joined the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in presenting to the House Agriculture Finance Committee. The hearing provided an opportunity to speak with legislators on how Extension, CFANS and CVM serve Minnesota and the agriculture community.

Celebration of 4-H

4-H friends and alumni, including several Extension retirees, attended the annual Minnesota 4-H Celebration on Feb. 18 in Brooklyn Center. The event celebrates the special and lasting impact of 4-H. Attendees enjoyed music by a 4-H Arts-In performer, Minnesota-grown food and conversations with 4-H youth. The keynote speaker was Sheryl Doering Meshke, co-president and CEO for Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), a 4-H alum from Blue Earth County. They also heard from Logan Johnson, A Traverse County 4-H alum and recipient of the 2015 David E. Pace and Valerie Halverson Pace Leadership Scholarship. (Logan, David and Valerie are pictured with Dorothy McCargo Freeman, Extension associate dean for youth development.)

Logan, David and Valerie and Dorothy McCargo FreemanDavid Pace began working in Extension 4-H youth development in 1970 and retired in 2002 as associate professor emeritus. If you are interested in making a gift in support of 4-H scholarships or other Extension programs, please contact Jane Johnson at 612-626-3717 or

Sarah Butler helps inmates find financial freedom

Sarah Butler, Dakota County financial empowerment Extension educator, was recently awarded a $1,000 grant to continue teaching Dakota County Jail inmates how to achieve financial stability as they re-enter society. Sarah was recognized in a Driven to Discover story last year for this work. “I love helping people discover within themselves the power to change their financial situations and to meet their goals, and this grant means I can keep doing just that,” she says. Read the story on the Family Development blog.

RSDP publishes Fresh Produce Toolkit

The Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) have published a new Fresh Produce Toolkit. This suite of resources provides information to help small grocery settings handle fresh produce and incorporate locally grown foods. Toolkits were mailed to rural grocers around the state and are available for download on RSDP's rural grocery resource page.

Gordon and Lillian Shafer 4-H Endowment for Youth Leadership and Service

As a tangible expression of their commitment toward ensuring youth in northwest Minnesota have access and opportunity to develop and practice authentic leadership and service beyond self, the Gordon and Lillian Shafer 4-H Endowment for Youth Leadership and Service has been established through a gift from Gordy and Lill. Their family, friends and colleagues have also contributed to the fund. This fund will support innovative programs and approaches designed to engage and prepare youth to lead, serve and make positive change in their communities.

Discover stories on new Extension Highlights website

As an Extension retiree, you know so much more happens in Extension than ever gets told. We want to do better! That’s why we are excited to introduce the new Extension Highlights website, where you will find stories you can share about Extension programs, participants and impacts around the state. Extension research and education take place in all 87 counties of Minnesota, and we hope to eventually have stories from every county. We are launching the site with nearly 100 stories, categorized by topic and region. Thanks for being a part of Extension’s story during your time working here and in your retirement. We invite you to share these stories in your social networks.

Source magazine spring issue available and ready for sharing

Source magazine arrived in mailboxes and on email in mid-February. The Spring 2017 issue shares stories about Extension volunteers, participants and community partners. Here’s a glimpse at what’s inside:

Awards and Accomplishments (March 2017)

Congratulations to the following Extension faculty and staff receiving awards in the past six months:

Rob Holcomb received the 2016 College of Continuing Education (CCE) Distinguished Educator Award. Rob’s contributions to CCE over the past five years included serving as faculty director, content specialist and instructor for the income tax short course. Rob was also involved in developing the online version of the course, which has gained national visibility.

Krishona Martinson, equine Extension specialist, was awarded the merit award at the 2017 American Forage and Grassland Council conference in Roanoke, Va. This award is presented to individuals who have made superior contributions in some phase of forage and grassland agriculture, and who have earned recognition among their colleagues for work and productivity in research, teaching, Extension, production or industrial development.

The Master Naturalist team received the Carol Mortenson Award for Team Achievement for their significant work protecting Minnesota’s natural resources from invasive species. This award is presented annually by the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council to recognize contributions to the prevention, management and increased awareness of invasive species in Minnesota.

Randy Nelson, Extension educator, is a member of the Environmental Landscape Plant Evaluation Team that received the annual Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Superior Service Team Award. These awards are the highest honor conferred by AgriLife Extension to its faculty and staff, including Extension teams and partners.

Troy Salzer, local educator in Carlton County, was honored recently as Extension Educator of the Year at the Minnesota Farm Bureau 98th annual meeting. This award is given to an Extension educator who gives his or her time to promote agriculture.

Gary Wyatt and Diomy Zamora, Extension forestry educators, are part of a collaborative group whose work on living snow fences was selected as the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) 2017 Research Partnership Award. This award recognizes teams that have drawn on the strengths of their diverse research partnerships to result in positive impacts on transportation.

Welcome new retirees (March 2017)

Carolyn Dingfelder, Extension 4-H program coordinator for 14 years in Winona County, retired Nov. 10. She served youth and families with her dedication to quality learning environments. She led efforts to form a State 4-H Lama Committee, develop curriculum and resources, and deliver programs to underrepresented audiences.

Douglas Malchow, Extension educator, water resource management and policy, began his Extension career in 1999 as a leadership and civic engagement educator. Doug’s focus moved to natural resources and environment and he served as the outreach coordinator for the southeast Minnesota wastewater initiative until he retired in December.

Catherine J. Nelson retired on Dec. 9 after 35 years as dedicated Steele County support staff.

Betty Wistrom’s 28-year career as a SNAP-Ed educator in Lake and St. Louis counties, was built on collaborative teamwork and sharing her knowledge of food and feeding families in practical and inexpensive ways. She retired on Jan. 5.

In Memoriam (March 2017)

Lowell D. Hanson passed away on Dec. 3, age 89. With a doctorate in soil sciences from the University of Minnesota, he entered a 30-year career as a professor and Extension agent, pioneering techniques for precision farming, highlighting environmental concerns and working to reduce herbicide dependence.

James B. Stordahl, Extension educator, agriculture production systems in Clearwater and Polk Counties, passed away on March 7, age 61. Jim’s 21-year career produced numerous programs covering dairy, beef, horticulture, small farms/local foods and crops.

Retirees in retirement: Sharing Your Story (March 2017)

This issue highlights Mel Baughman, Ann Bosch, Arthur Frame, Marilyn Grantham, Richard Krueger, Jim Lewis, Phyllis Onstad, Bob Sopoci, Patricia Stumme, Bill Svendsgaard, Kent Thiesse

Mel Baughman serves on the Sawyer County Search and Rescue Team. He helps build and maintain the North Country National Scenic Trail through Wisconsin and occasionally consults with communities or businesses regarding recreational trail design. He was recently featured in the "meet your neighbor" column in the Sawyer County Record Newspaper, which provided a synopsis of his life, reasons for moving to Hayward, his interests and volunteer activities. Mel served as an Extension forestry program leader on the St. Paul campus.

Ann Bosch, former Extension educator and county Extension leader, Kandiyohi County, provides volunteer office support for the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker counties and assists with special needs clients at the Willmar Area Food Shelf.

Arthur Frame, retired Extension educator, crops, soils and horticulture, Nobles County, is busy as a volunteer at Manna Food Shelf, a board member and treasurer of Nobles County Historical Society, and a tax preparer for AARP Tax-Aide Program, Jan.-April. However, his most important job: “trying to keep my golf handicap from getting too high.”

Marilyn Grantham, Extension program leader, agriculture and community vitality, volunteers as a K-3 Literacy Tutor with Minnesota Reading Corps. In her third year of service, she is currently serving at Prodeo Academy in Columbia Heights, a charter school with a mission of closing the achievement gap for children. Since her grandchildren are in Germany, she enjoys being with her "surrogate" grandkids.

Richard Krueger, who served as an Extension leader in program evaluation, St. Paul campus, is now working with graduate students and faculty on evaluation and using stories in research. He and his wife teach focus group interviewing courses at the University of Minnesota and around the country. His first book on the topic has gone through five editions, the most recent in 2015. He has been writing other books, chapters and journal articles on evaluation and research methods. For relaxation, he still enjoys tinkering with motorcycles and scooters in the garage.

Jim Lewis, former executive director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation, worked in Mille Lacs, Washington County, and on the St. Paul campus, has been a volunteer for the North American Board of the Institute for the Healing of Memories, providing a safe environment for sharing and healing from trauma. Jim also works part-time as the executive director of the Nurses Peer Support Network, a Minnesota organization providing a network and education to support nurses recovering from substance use disorder.

Phyllis Onstad, who served the southeast district as an Extension family resource management educator, is now working as a full-time contractor for the Department of Defense. She uses her Extension expertise and Accredited Financial Counselor certification to educate and counsel Air and Army National Guard service members and their families in all matters of personal finance. She covers Fort McCoy, Camp William, and Volk Field areas in southwest Wisconsin.

Bob Sopoci served as Cook County Extension director, Community Vitality. He received awards from the Department of Natural Resources for his 30 years of volunteer service as a firearm and snowmobile safety instructor. Bob continues to own and operate Gunflint Gardens Tree and Shrub Nursery and is involved in reforestation of 60 acres of property overlooking Lake Superior. He frequently submits photos and short articles to the local Cook County News Herald, featuring animals and plants unique to Cook County. Several years ago he competed in a curling bonspiel and beat the USA silver medal winners in the Olympics, making the front page of the local paper.

Patricia Stumme, former Extension educator and professor, family financial management and nutrition education in the Mankato Regional Office, completed two years as a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor. She reads with a second grade class, and also works at the DoveTail Woods tree farm to help prevent emerald ash borer infestations. Another highlight since retirement: “Drove to the Arctic Circle in second camping trip to Alaska—Aaahhh wilderness!”

Bill Svendsgaard, who retired in 2002 from Extension in Hennepin County, was one of 50 people honored by AARP Minnesota on Oct. 13. The award cited his work using art experiences as a way for participants to better themselves. Bill uses the 4-H pledge as a platform for teaching life skills through the arts with prisoners. He has used it in the prisons at Shakopee, Oak Park Heights, Lino Lakes and now using it with students at South St. Paul Senior High, Building Bridges for Latino Families, the Garage Teen Center (a Somali after-school program in Burnsville) as well as with teens in the Minnesota Association of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Branch-Out youth program.

Kent Thiesse is a 2017 recipient of the “All-State School Board Honors Award.” Kent has served on the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School Board for 27 years, including 10 years as its chairman. The award also recognized Kent’s work as a 4-H leader who founded the state 4-H Livestock Knowledge Bowl and his service as coordinator of the annual Farmfest educational forum.

Media Moment (March 2017)

Extension health and nutrition education continues to receive recognition. Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed January as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Month. EatRightTV, the YouTube channel of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recently featured Andrew Doherty, an Extension SNAP-Ed educator, in this inspiring video.

Learn about new changes and projects in SNAP-Ed in the Family Matters blog.
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