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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!
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