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Dean's column (July 2020)

Dear colleagues,

The word “unprecedented” has been used too often this spring and early summer to describe current events, but there really are few other words for how dramatically Extension has shifted gears since COVID-19 arrived in mid-March.

Within a few days of all faculty and staff being assigned to work remotely and the announcement that all in-person events would be canceled or taken online, Extension employees adapted. In many cases, they did not just adapt, they thrived. For example, a workshop for sheep and goat owners that had been planned as an in-person event for a few dozen people went online and grew to an audience of more than 300 people. Educators created new online tools for buying, cooking and preserving food in isolation, and for managing finances in households where jobs were lost. Other faculty and staff created new podcasts and blogs to keep their audiences informed in the absence of face-to-face contact, and everyone learned how to conduct large meetings and dis…
Recent posts

4-H Hall of Fame welcomes Bill Svendsgaard

Karyn Santl in the Roseau Regional Extension Office and Jennifer Skuza, the Extension associate dean for youth development, successfully nominated Bill Svendsgaard for the national 4-H Hall of Fame. He will be inducted on Oct. 2.

Bill retired from Extension in Hennepin County in 2002. He is known for creative arts and work with youth from marginalized communities. He and his wife, Aljean, have made dozens of gifts to the 4-H program and he leads a group preserving the history of 4-H through the U Archives and Minnesota History Center.

“Congratulations, Bill, on this prestigious honor,” says Jennifer. “You are an artist and a historian. Thank you for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm for Minnesota's youth through our 4-H Youth Development program.”

Visit this story on Extension news and highlights to see a list of past inductees.

Extension passes a milestone in Driven campaign

Extension has reason to celebrate — July 1 kicks off the final year of Extension's $16 million fundraising effort in the Driven University of Minnesota campaign. With one year to go, Extension has raised $13,825,750 (86 percent of our goal).

"Congratulations to everyone who has helped reach this milestone and who make Driven —Extension’s first public fundraising campaign — a success," says Jane Johnson, Extension chief development officer. "Working together, we accomplish more."

To read more, including amounts raised in each priority area, visit the story on Extension news and highlights.

10th anniversary of Andrea Ruesch 4-H Regional Scholarship

In late 2009, Andrea Ruesh, Jackson County’s 4-H educator, passed away at age 37 of a sudden pulmonary embolism. In 2010, her fiancĂ© and parents donated her memorial funds to create an endowed scholarship program for 4-H’ers in nine counties. It continues to receive support from many 4-H friends and alumni.

It is in memory of Andrea’s dedication that scholarships are given to four selected youth annually who will be a high school senior or first year college student and are enrolled in 4-H in Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock or Watonwan counties. Andrea’s family’s belief in positive youth development motivated them to focus the scholarship on demonstrated learning and leadership through hands-on experience and helping others.

To learn more, visit the Andrea Ruesch scholarship webpage. Also, see news of other 2020 4-H scholarships at 2020 Extension and 4-H scholarship awardees.

U of M Twin Cities becomes a Bee Campus

University of Minnesota Twin Cities is now an affiliate of Bee Campus USA, an initiative of the Xerces Society that raises awareness of the importance of pollinators and actions each of us can take to help pollinators.

As an official Bee Campus, Extension and several University colleges have pledged to highlight and expand our actions to promote pollinator conservation. Learn more, and see beautiful photographs, at UMN Twin Cities Bee Campus.

Helping communities understand and work together on event cancellations

It is disappointing when something you look forward to all year is canceled, or even when it is changed to a virtual event if that is not what you wanted. Responses to the difficult cancellations can spill over into social media and create rifts that are not helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lisa Qian, Tourism specialist and Extension educator, and Neil Linscheid, Extension educator, shared ways that organizers and community members can work together in their article Why was our festival canceled? Understanding factors behind the decisions and keeping communities connected. Extension has learned that the article has helped many people understand factors for those decisions and keep communities moving forward for the future.

Awards and accomplishments (July 2020)

Extension’s academic promotion process supports and recognizes educators in their ability to develop and deliver effective research-based educational programs. Congratulations to the Extension faculty who recently completed the process to achieve the following:

Associate Extension professor
Karen BeranekLaura BohenJennifer HawkinsBrenda MillerBetsy Olson MinnaertJoseph RandJoanna TzenisMegan WeberExtension professor
Antonio Alba MerazJan DerdowskiCaroline MichaelsTobias SpanierKrishona Martinson, Extension equine specialist, was recognized with the CFANS Outstanding Extension/Outreach Award during the CFANS assembly. This award celebrates Krishona’s impressive record of developing innovative and effective programs based on her research.

Extension Dean's Distinguished Staff Awards: The 2020 Extension Staff Conference was delivered online this year. On May 7, Bev Durgan honored three staff members for exemplary work in support of Extension’s mission of improving the lives of Minnesotans…