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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 discussions online.

I am proud of Extension’s employees and grateful for their flexibility and creative ideas to keep Extension thriving just when Minnesotans need it most.

As the state and University begin to return to in-person events, Extension also is gradually returning, following University and state guidelines. I expect that the situation will continue to evolve over the coming weeks and months.

Unfortunately, that means there will be no Extension retiree luncheons this summer. I am disappointed about this too, but for safety reasons we had no choice but to cancel. We are considering ways to connect with you virtually and I will be in touch about how that might work. In the meantime, please continue to keep up with Extension through our newsletters, social media and the news media.

As you know, Extension has a strong team in place to address these challenging times, and I am grateful to all of our employees, past and present, for their support. Please let me know if you have ideas or questions about how Extension is responding. Take care and please stay well.

Bev Durgan

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