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Retiree Updates (Nov. 2019)

Welcome new retirees

Daniel L. Erkkila, professor and Extension regional director, retired Oct. 11. During Dan’s 31-year career, he was a tourism specialist and a regional director at the North Central Research and Outreach Center and Extension’s regional office in Grand Rapids.

Jeffrey L. Gunsolus retired Oct. 31 with a 33-year career as an Extension agronomist, weed scientist and leader of the crops team. Jeff developed a progressive, long-term and effective statewide program aimed at helping Minnesota farmers implement effective weed management systems.

Shahram Missaghi retired June 19 after 12 years as an Extension educator in water resource management and policy. His career included development of and contributions to many successful programs to improve stormwater, mitigate harmful algal blooms and help Minnesotans adapt to climate change.

In memoriam

James R. Hoffbeck, 88, of Mora, passed away Aug. 17. Jim began his Extension career as a county agent. He later worked as a staff development specialist until his retirement as a professor emeritus in 1984.

Elmo L. Skare, an Extension county agent in agronomy and soil science, served in Fergus Falls and later in Red Lake and Beltrami counties until he retired in 1986. Over his career, he judged 4-H projects at county fairs across Minnesota. He passed away in Bemidji on Sept. 30, age 88.

Retirees in retirement - sharing your story

William Angell, a professor emeritus and Extension housing specialist who retired in 2018, recently received two awards: the Radon Hero Award from the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors and the Harley-Fiseene Award from the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists. Bill also was elected chair of the board of Cancer Survivors Against Radon, a nonprofit supporting lung cancer survivors.

Sandra Becker, prior to retiring in 2005, was a professor and Extension communications specialist on the St. Paul campus. Sandra has been appointed president of the board of the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, and docent of the Heritage Center in Bayfield, Wis.

Kim Boyce continues to volunteer year-round with the Loppet Foundation at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis and assists with cross-country ski races, mountain bike races and maintaining trails for both sports. He and his wife recently returned from a third trip to Alaska. Kim occasionally teaches leadership topics and facilitates meetings for natural resource organizations and county departments. Kim retired in 2015 as Extension’s regional director for Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

John Cunningham, a county Extension director and county educator in farm management, served Redwood County (1968-1974) and Big Stone County (1974-2003). He continues as a board member of Minnesota Viewers Association, where he is an accredited ditch viewer. His goal: “I try hard not to appear in the news, I read a lot of books and I try every day to help those around me be all they can be.”

Arthur Frame retired in 2001 as a Nobles County Extension educator in crops, soils and horticulture. He is the president of the Nobles County Historical Society. He continues to volunteer for AARP's income tax assistance program for seniors and notes that he “finds pleasure in gardening, golf, fishing and reading during bad weather.”

JoAnn Hardy, an Extension human resource manager who retired in 2011, tutors in a local inner-city school for the Reading Partners Program, an AmeriCorps effort. The focus is to increase literacy for kindergarten to fifth-graders.

Tom Hovde was an Extension educator, county director and regional director until he retired in 2004. Tom received the “50-Year Award” in recognition of service to the Minnesota State Fair, where he completed his 52nd year judging 4-H; he also completed his 53rd year judging 4-H projects at county fairs across the state. Tom was recognized as Freeborn County Fair Person of the Year in 2017 for his years of dedicated service. In 2019, he was inducted into the Freeborn County Agricultural Hall of Fame in appreciation for his long-term commitment to agriculture.

Sharon Knutson, an Extension educator in family development, Norman County, retired in 2000, and she recommends taking a cruise on the Five Great Lakes. “It's a wonderful experience,” she says.

DeeAnn Leines, an Extension educator in health and nutrition, Crookston Regional Office, retired in 2014. She has been serving on several local boards: Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Inter-County Nursing Service, Lutheran Social Service, and Violence Intervention Project for the area shelter. Her true passion has always been working with children and she has found meaningful experiences as a substitute teacher at the local high school.

Chuck Schwartau, an Extension educator in livestock systems and dairy management for many years, retired as regional director for the southeast region in 2017. He was recently elected to the Board of Trustees for the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Education Foundation, which manages a $1 million portfolio for providing scholarships to Extension educators around the country.

Toni Smith retired in 2011 from her position as Extension field operations outreach director and liaison to the Association of Minnesota Counties. She continues to serve on the board of directors for the National Eagle Center (NEC) in Wabasha. In 2018, the Center received $8.1 million in state bonding funds, and with a robust fundraising campaign underway, major investments in the NEC and riverfront are approaching. Toni notes that the efforts are exciting and challenging, as decisions will have implications for developments in Wabasha and the state. She encourages everyone to visit the NEC.

Irene Ott, a former program leader in family development, who served in Martin and McLeod counties, as well as at Michigan State University, retired in 1986. Irene continues to volunteer at Johanna Shores in Arden Hills. One recent project was making supplies (diapers, baby caps, etc.) for young pregnant mothers in developing countries. This project is part of Global Health Initiatives sponsored by the Lutheran Church.

Bill Svendsgaard, an Extension educator who retired in 2002, was recently elected vice-president of Minnesota National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. With this responsibility, he serves as their state membership chair and he will represent NARFE at 28 health fairs around Minnesota, informing attendees on NARFE's role in protecting their benefits for health, retirement and social security.

Epsilon Sigma Phi-Pi Chapter

Marcia Woeste, ESP-Pi chapter awards committee chair, is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s awards. The awards were presented at a celebration and social on Sept. 23 during Program Conference.
Congratulations to the following:
  • Distinguished Service: Kathy Brandt
  • Distinguished Team: Cottage Food: Keep It Safe! Keep It Legal! Kathy Brandt and Suzanne Driessen
  • Mid Career: Robin Trott
  • Administrative Leadership: Gwen Gmeinder
  • Retiree Service: Roselyn Biermaier
  • Visionary Leadership: Angela Gupta
  • Friend of Extension: Monika Chandler, MN Department of Agriculture
  • Pi Chapter Meritorious Support Services: Kim Taveirne, Administrative Specialist, Douglas County
  • 25-Year Tenure of Service: MaryAnn Hennen; Karyn Santl

Sara Croymans, ESP Pi Chapter President, encourages ESP Life members to get involved by joining a committee:
  • Awards and Recognition Committee - Marcia Woeste, Chair
  • Fund Raising Committee - Becky Hagen Jokela, Chair
  • Global Relations Committee - Anita Harris Hering, Chair
  • History and Archives Committee - Jody Horntvedt, Chair
  • Legislative Committee - Gwen Gmeinder, Chair
  • Membership Committee - Chair TBD, with active members Kathy Brandt, Becky Harrington, Jane Johnson, and Karyn Santl
  • Professional Improvement Committee - Lisa Hinz, Chair
  • Retiree/Life Member Committee - Gwen Gmeinder, chair
  • Scholarship Committee - Christy Kallevig and Nathan Winter, Co-chairs

Please contact Robin Trott, ESP Pi Chapter Vice President, for more information.

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