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Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (July 2018)

Sharon Rezac Andersen has been active with the American Association of University Women in Green Valley, Arizona and was recently elected co-president. Her work touches many issues: funding kindergarten-higher education locally, statewide and nationally; working with legislatures to continue Title IX funds; and congressional action on gun safety issues and safe schools. Sharon retired in 2005 as the executive program director, Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Central Region.

Don Breneman is a member of the state 4-H photography/video filmmaking project development committee. He was an audio-visual producer in the Extension communications unit and retired in 2004.

Joe Conlin, a resident in Columbus, Wisc. since his retirement in 2009, continues to serve on the local school board and received the Local Philanthropist Award of 2017 for his work. Joe was a dairy specialist in animal sciences.

Colleen Gengler, Extension educator in family development, served in Cottonwood, Nobles and Murray counties and the regional office in Worthington. She is enjoying her term as co-chair of Friends of the Slayton Public Library. She stays connected with youth by coordinating the “Pizza Garden” as a Master Gardener, meeting weekly with third through sixth-graders at a community garden.

Arnold Heikkila retired in 1988 from his position in community resource development, Center for Community Vitality. He reports, “I didn't retire, I changed vocations to a volunteer and board member.” He keeps busy traveling to see family and serving BBQ chicken (New York Style) for groups.

Valerie Prax has been a Master Gardener in Kanabec County and her main project is heading up the Gardening Is Science Program with third and fifth-graders in Mora. Valerie teaches a plant science curriculum, helping fifth graders start seeds and plant their gardens. She is also active in the East Central Pork Producers, serves as a 4-H volunteer, lay speaker and lay leader in her church. She retired in 2009 after 34 years as an educator in environmental education and youth development.

Juanita Reed-Boniface, former Extension educator in 4-H youth development, considers herself a community activist. Recent additions to her list include service on Lake George Improvement District Board of Directors and St. Francis Area Schools Senior Advisory Committee. Juanita is a partner in Boeckenhauer Cattle, her family cow/calf beef business, and manages the 80-acre Century Farm in northeast Nebraska. She and her husband Dick were awarded the Distinguished Service to Agriculture award by the Minnesota Farm Bureau in November 2017.

Larry Zilliox retired in 2002 as an educator in horticulture, Douglas County. Larry has been busy volunteering. His most recent adventures include tutoring fourth and fifth grade boys on Cook Islands, part of the Global Volunteers Program based in St. Paul; and participating in the local chapter of “Let’s Go Fishing,” taking seniors and veterans on boating/fishing trips on area lakes. He is gearing up for biking in the upcoming Caramel Roll ride—fresh caramel rolls at each rest stop!

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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