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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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