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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
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