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Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (Nov. 2021)

The retiree story survey will be back for the next issue, but you can send your updates at any time to Jane Johnson or Catherine Dehdashti. In this issue, we present recent features about and updates from five Extension retirees.

We reached out to Sandra Becker after hearing her name come up in the memories of retirees who worked with her on videos that brought the crops team much success. Sandra was hired to lead the Office of Special Programs in 1982 and retired as the head of Extension’s video team. Sandra is currently splitting her time between Albuquerque, N.M., and Bayfield, Wis., and she has become a fan of water exercise/aerobics. In Albuquerque, she volunteers at Cloud Dancers, an organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons to people with disabilities. In Bayfield, she is a docent at the Bayfield Heritage Center. Sandra is also the president of the board of the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, a group of Minnesota Orchestra musicians that perform baroque music at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. Last year, she taught a technical writing class for the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota. Sandra says, “I am not going to teach this year because I am becoming a grandma for the first time in March.”

Julie Medbery was featured by the University of Minnesota Retirees Association, in this Q and A interview. Check it out to see a 1959 photo of Julie with her horse, Polly, which she bought by selling her 4-H calf. Julie retired as staff assistant to the dean, managing the statewide citizens advisory committee, producing the weekly employee newsletter, starting a student intern program and always being a welcoming colleague and friend to new employees.

Mary Hockenberry Meyer worked with the University Libraries Digital Conservancy to preserve a 1996 satellite video that took a year to film in multiple locations: Using Native Plants. A year-long collaboration of University of Minnesota Extension and University of Wisconsin Extension resulted in these videos presenting the “why” and “how” of native plants. Callers had questions answered live and received packets with plant lists and recommendations for growing native plants in the Eastern deciduous woodland, prairie, wetland or lakeshore areas, and in traditional garden settings. This is one of the first programs to discuss how to use native plants in home landscapes, a topic Mary studied throughout her career. She continues managing the grass collection at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and writing about the Arboretum's historic plant collections. You can hear her on WCCO's 8 a.m. Saturday morning Smart Gardens radio show.

Bill Svendsgaard, you may recall, was named as a member of the 4-H Hall of Fame in 2020, but due to the pandemic, he was officially inducted in October of this year. Bill retired in 2002 after a 26-year career with Extension 4-H Youth Development, where he is known for creative arts and work with youth from marginalized communities. “The Minnesota delegation was thrilled to honor Bill along with the other laureates. Bill was recognized for his talent as a Minnesota 4-H educator, artist and historian,” wrote Jennifer Skuza on Twitter. You can read more in the Montevideo-American News, and in the Extension article published last year.

Marcia Woeste was featured in a Dairyland Peach news story about her lifelong connection to 4-H, county fairs and Extension. (Her parents met at a county fair, so this connection was her fate!) Marcia continues to go to county fairs and to find new ways to participate at fairs through her own project entries and by being involved with her children and grandchildren at the Todd County Fair. Although she retired last December after a 43-year career, Extension is still in need of her skills. She recently re-joined Extension’s Center for Youth Development as a club charter coordinator.

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