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Showing posts from November, 2020

Dean's column (Nov. 2020)

Dear colleagues, This fall’s annual Program Conference theme was “Embracing Change,” a theme that has echoed across all of Extension since mid-March. I am proud of Extension’s faculty and staff, who have risen to the occasion in many ways over these past few months: Minnesota 4-H hosted 89 local showcases over July and August that engaged more than 6,000 youth, 2,500 volunteers and 1,200 judges. Youth development educators are creating even more new programming that addresses current affairs in meaningful ways. Minnesotans are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by gardening in record numbers. Applications for the Master Gardener volunteer program rose by 160% this year, and new online courses in beginning gardening and food preservation were highly popular. Nutrition educators in southern Minnesota turned their innovative tours of local farmers markets into a series of videos about using fresh produce for English, Karen and Spanish-speaking participants. The Extension website provided

Employee updates (Nov. 2020)

Okechukwu "Okey" Ukaga , formerly the executive director of Extension’s Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, has been appointed assistant dean and director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Extension. In this newly created role, his first priority will be leading the Extension-wide anti-racism task force, which began its work in September. The task force will develop and implement a series of dialogue and listening sessions about the impact of systematic racism in Extension and Minnesota, lead the development of an equity and inclusion strategy and implementation plan for Extension, and work with Extension leadership to ensure that faculty and staff are equipped with the tools, trainings and skills needed to be more anti-racist in Extension programming. Extension’s Racial Equity and Diversity Task Force is comprised of these members: Extension Specialists Carol Cardona, Michael Darger and Craig Hassel; Extension Educators Hibaq Dualeh, Dana Trickey, Jo

Fall issue of Source magazine is printed and online

Visit Source magazine to read stories about 4-H at home, Cooking Matters for dads, tough times for livestock farmers (note the photo of Extension retiree Toni Smith in the sidebar), what it means to be a Bee Campus and more. Contact Catherine Dehdashti with feedback on Source magazine and monthly Source e-newsletter stories.

Driven Campaign update

With 7 months left to go in the Driven campaign , Extension has raised 89 percent of our $16 million goal . Thanks to generous Extension faculty, staff and retirees, we have seen lots of enthusiasm and momentum during our first capital campaign. In addition to your favorite Extension programs, you can also direct your gift to any U of M campus, college or program. Whether you’d like to give to a U of M cause that’s most meaningful to you, or to COVID-19 relief efforts , your support ensures a brighter future for the University, Extension and the communities we serve. All gifts made before June 30, 2021, are included in Driven: The University of Minnesota Campaign . If you would like to make a gift during the campaign or discuss an estate gift, please contact Extension development staff: Jane Johnson at or 612-859-9564, or Brad Starbuck at or 612-500-8896.

Awards and accomplishments (Nov. 2020)

The 2020 annual Extension Program Conference included the recognition of Extension friends and outstanding faculty, educators and teams. On Oct. 6, Dean Bev Durgan virtually presented the Dean’s Distinguished Awards in the following categories: Distinguished Friend of Extension: Mark Goodrich, Minnesota State Fair Distinguished Friend of Extension: Jean Illsley Clarke, author and parenting expert Distinguished Outstanding Leadership: Kathryn Draeger, statewide program director, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships Distinguished Campus-Based Faculty: Daniel J. Larkin, associate professor and Extension specialist, aquatic invasive species; Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology Distinguished Field-Based Faculty: Tobias A. Spanier, Extension educator, Leadership & Civic Engagement, Center for Community Vitality Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion: The Opioid Team Distinguished Team: Jennifer Skuza and the Youth Development Leadership Team

Welcome new retirees (Nov. 2020)

Gwen Gmeinder, editor of Retiree News and government relations associate I will be joining the ranks of Extension retirees on Nov. 30. Working for University of Minnesota Extension has been wonderful beyond words. I admire the mission, leadership and resiliency of Extension over my 20 years with this organization. I have enjoyed the work in government relations, administration and especially with the retirees. I will continue to watch for your updates and wish you all the very best. Julia Gladhill , executive office and administrative specialist, Extension Center for Family Development, retired in August. She had been the face of the Center for Family Development since she began her appointment in 1999. Gary Johnson , professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Forest Resources, retired in August. His 28-year career resulted in building the Urban and Community Forestry program into one of the top-ranked programs of its kind. Leslee Mason , director of Extension human resour

In Memoriam (Nov. 2020)

Terrence Courneya passed away on July 15 at age 87. After a long career with the U.S. Navy, he enrolled at the University of Florida and received his bachelor of science and master’s degree in animal science. Returning to Minnesota, he began his career as an agriculture Extension agent in Washington County; he also served as county Extension director in Pennington County. Jean Hatch obtained her undergraduate degree from Oregon State and her master’s degree in education at Mankato University. She accepted a position with Extension in Martin County teaching nutrition and cooking classes to newly arrived Vietnamese immigrants and working with high school students in 4-H. Jean passed away Sept. 14 at age 99. Daniel Heins , age 69, passed away July 28. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agronomy. While at the University, he was a member of the dairy cattle judging team, and later judged many county fair dairy shows. His career incl

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (Nov. 2020)

For this issue, we asked Extension retirees for their updates during the pandemic and to offer a few words of advice. Don Breneman , Extension photographer, has been teaching a photography class via Zoom. It started as an in-person class for members of his church, but it was converted to Zoom when the pandemic broke out. As a result, his class picked up new students from all over the country. Stephan Carlson , Extension educator in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation, planted 200 pine seedlings at his cabin in Ely. Current words of wisdom are “go with the flow,” which come from a book he is reading, "Be Water, My Friend: the Teachings of Bruce Lee,” written by Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee. Chuck Casey , Extension dean and director emeritus, and his wife Barbara Muesing have adapted to COVID-19 by living a routine that includes walking every week; Chuck clocks at least 10,000 steps a day and Barbara strives for 5 miles a day. They are grateful for the blessings of their many associ

ESP Pi Chapter recognizes members

Each year, ESP Pi Chapter pauses to recognize and celebrate the work of our members. Awards are presented in the areas of service, leadership and teamwork.   The following members and teams were recently recognized at the Oct. 28 Pi Chapter annual meeting: Early Career Service - Sarah Schieck Boelke Distinguished Service - Becky Hagen Jokela International Service - Antonio Alba Meraz 25 years of Service - Kelly Kunkel Pi Chapter Meritorious Support Service - Dawn Horner Diversity Team - Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions - Sara Croymans, Anita Harris Hering, Karen Shirer, Jenny Rea, Vickie LaFollette, Robert Bertsch Distinguished Team - Achieving the Extension Mission Through Volunteers Course - Rebecca Harrington, Kari Robideau, Molly Frendo, Eric Vogel, Rod Buchele, Pat McGlaughlin, Heidi Haugen, Kandi O'Neil, Chris Gleason, Cathy Johnston, Jill Jorgensen, Meg Sage, Dawn VandeVoort, Jennifer Lobley, Steve McKinley, Carrie Olson, Brenda Shafer, Mary Jo Wil

Media Moment (Nov. 2020)

To learn what’s next for Extension and climate change education, read about Heidi Roop in the Star Tribune story Minnesota professor looking to build a climate change hub . Heidi joined the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate as an Extension climate scientist over the summer. She is already conducting applied research related to climate change and developing an Extension program to communicate about our climate in a way that makes information useful for people making decisions in agriculture production, horticulture (including Master Gardeners and home gardeners), forestry and natural resources.