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Showing posts from March, 2021

Dean's column (March 2021)

Dear colleagues, This month marks one year since Extension faculty and staff began working remotely. We have seen overwhelming change in a short time, and I am very proud of how Extension pivoted so quickly to offer its educational programming online or in distanced formats. As COVID-19 vaccinations become more widely available, restrictions on public gatherings are relaxed and the end of the University of Minnesota’s order to work remotely approaches, many people are asking if typical Extension summer events will be held this year. Unfortunately, we do not yet know the answer to that question. Decisions will be guided by state and University public health rules, which are continually evolving. Most Extension programs are planning for some in-person or hybrid events this summer, as we expect a gradual lifting of restrictions, but plans will have to be flexible. Please watch for further announcements in the coming weeks about our summer retiree luncheons; I hope that we will be able to

New local websites are live

Extension’s new county web pages are now live with more robust content about Extension’s work in each county. The pages are integrated with the main Extension website, giving local work more visibility to the public. Editors in each county and the central web team are fine-tuning and enhancing the content on the pages, as well as the processes for posting and editing news and events. This project was several years in the making and involved more than 80 editors who very quickly learned new technology and processes. Thank you to the county and regional support staff and educators who worked on the project for their cooperation and flexibility in reaching this goal. Becky Beyers, Communications director Amy Baker, Extension Learning Technologies director

ESP-Pi chapter update

I am enjoying working with everyone as the president of Epsilon Sigma Pi chapter. Thank you all for your support and service.   Thank you for being a part of our state organization. Your membership enriches our chapter and benefits all of us. There are many things on the horizon from our national organization, including website updates, scholarship, service and professional development opportunities. March Connection Newsletter now online Feedback on new website is encouraged 2021 National Conference will open with a Forrest Gump connection , Savannah, Georgia, Oct. 26-29. I hope you have a wonderful start to your spring and that you see brighter days ahead. Robin Trott ESP-Pi president

Find your fit in Family Development webinars

On March 18, 1-2 p.m., a webinar in the Finding Balance series will address financial exploitation of older adults. More webinars in this series will be added later this spring. The Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate video helps family members understand and address common decision making obstacles when passing on personal possessions. This free 38-minute YouTube video is filled with practical suggestions, proven strategies, and real-life stories.

Arena to be named for chancellor emeritus Chuck Casey

The equine arena in the University Teaching and Outreach Center on the University of Minnesota Crookston Campus will be named the Charles H. Casey Equine Arena . Chuck is known to many retirees because he was the dean of Extension for six and a half years, ending in 2005 when he was appointed as chancellor of the University of Minnesota Crookston and Bev Durgan was appointed as Extension dean. Chuck has also served as a University of Minnesota regent.

Spring issue of Source magazine coming soon

Visit Source magazine or watch your mailbox in April to read stories about Master Gardeners and memory care, 4-H Afternoon Adventures, mental health and nutrition education, agriculture, and a Q and A with Extension’s new climate scientist, Heidi Roop. Contact Catherine Dehdashti with feedback on Source magazine and monthly Source e-newsletter stories.

Driven Campaign update

With 3 months left to go in the Driven campaign , Extension has raised 95 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. All gifts made before June 30, both current and estate gifts, 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.

Welcome new retirees (March 2021)

On Jan. 21, Dean Bev Durgan acknowledged that recent retirements happened without the usual fanfare. “Over the last few months, many of our colleagues have moved on to a new chapter in their lives by accepting the University’s Retirement Incentive Option. Please join me in congratulating them and acknowledging their significant contributions to Extension, our communities and to our state,” the dean wrote.   One retirement of historical importance in Extension is Lisa Behnken , the first woman to serve as “ag agent” (the former title for educators) in Minnesota, who retired after 40 years. Dean Malvick, program leader, wrote that Lisa began in Becker County. She moved to Olmsted County and then in 2004 to become a regional educator based in Rochester. Among her best memories are working with others to show possible solutions to pest problems through field trials and demonstrations. Lisa participated in and taught at Field School since its inception, conducted numerous private pesticide

In Memorium (March 2021)

John Ankeny , age 97, of St. James passed away on Feb. 8 in St. James. Just after graduating from the University, he started work as a County Extension Agent in Watonwan County, where spent his entire professional career. After retirement, he worked for the Watonwan Farm Service company as a professional consultant for 10 years. In 2009, he was inducted into the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Hall of Fame. He was also very active in the NACAA at the state and national level. He and his wife Lois loved to travel and over the years went to 47 meetings for county agents around the country. V. Joseph McAulliffe , age 93, passed away Jan. 18. He was a Minnesota associate state 4-H leader. Joe had a long and distinguished career in 4-H, starting as president of his 4-H club in Ulster County, New York, and continuing his service for 35 years at the county, state, national and international levels. He was selected as a National 4-H Fellow in 1954 to spend a year in

Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (March 2021)

For this issue, we asked Extension retirees how they are caring for their own wellness and the wellness of close ones this winter.   Gene Bromenshenkel , former county Extension director in St. Louis County, Community Vitality, shared words of wisdom to avoid crowds and stay close to home, although that has sadly meant not going to church in person for a year now. Gene still helps with the local food shelf. Jeanne Markell , former associate dean and director, says she has, “Updated some things around the house; worked on my memoirs; organized lots of online chats and meetings; sewed about 500 masks; baked lots of sourdough products.” She also participates in one book club with friends and another with her 10-year-old granddaughter. Jeanne recommends the University of Minnesota Community Health Education program. “Folks with a chronic health issue are matched up with student teams (med school/nursing/pharmacy) to share insights as a consumer of healthcare services.” Kent Olson , retir

Media Moment (March 2021)

Olivia Nienaber, 18, active in the 4-H Outdoor Wilderness Leadership and Service program (OWLS), is “the youngest of six winners in the Star Tribune's annual Beautiful Gardens contest, selected from more than 380 reader nominations.”   Star Tribune reporter Rohan Preston writes, “A butterfly whisperer, Nienaber is a home-schooled 18-year-old who turned a 4-H project on the effects of climate change into a calling to help pollinators, the creatures responsible for much of our food and flowers and, thus, life on the planet. Over the past year, she has planted more than 400 flowers, shrubs and trees in 16 gardens on her family's 10-acre homestead, attracting a riot of birds, bees and butterflies. Those efforts have brought her recognition and support in her community.” Visit the Star Tribune to read Scandia teen gardener and environmentalist is the butterfly whisperer .

Awards and accomplishments (March 2021)

Tom Peters , Extension sugarbeet agronomist and weed control specialist at North Dakota State University and the U of M, was awarded the 2021 Sugarbeet Distinguished Service Award by the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota. The award is presented for excellence in research for the improvement of sugarbeet production; effective educational programs for sugarbeet growers; and service to the local, regional or national sugarbeet industry. Congratulations to the following AFNR employees who were honored by Extension professional associations and other professional associations: Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors Program Team, Outstanding Team: Alison Holland, Dan Larkin, Patrick Mulcahy, Amy Rager and Megan Weber National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award: Jodi DeJong-Hughes Achievement Award: Abby Schuft “Something greater podcast,” audio recording: Emily Krekelbe