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March 27, 2009

March 27 message

Good Afternoon, Welcome to this week’s blog. One of the blogging "rules" is that the blog entries should be on a regular basis and contain important information. I'll try my best on both of these, but if I fail on one of these points, at least I'm regular.

A few items to discuss this week.

The Budget: Earlier this week, Dean Durgan met by UM Connect with the Extension Leadership Council, (which includes the Regional Directors) to provide an update on the current budget situation. As we all know, the State of Minnesota is facing a large budget deficit. The University appropriation represents 4% of the State’s budget, and Extension represents 4% of the University budget. The State budget deficit and the budget decisions may be helped somewhat by the Federal Stimulus aid which will be received by the State. This one time injection of funds will help reduce the budget deficit and ease some budget decisions for the next two year budget cycle. However, there are still longer term budget issues that will be faced. In dealing with this, the Dean is running some budget scenarios with the assumption of a 5 to 8 % budget reduction. The priority in these budget models are programs and employees and working with County, State and Federal partners. If you have budget related questions, or are hearing budget concerns in your county, please contact me.

Flooding: As we all know, the city of Moorhead and areas of the lower Red River Valley are experiencing historic flooding. The people of that area, (including many of our co-workers) are experiencing horrific challenges, and our thoughts and prayers need to be with them. The Moorhead Regional Office is currently closed and the staff is working hard to move material as they prepare for the water to inundate the space this weekend.

Extension Committee Meetings: The second quarter meetings in our region start next week. One or two of the meetings may need to be moved due to schedule conflicts.

One purpose of a blog is for interactive discussion. So I encourage any comments or input that you would care to post on this blog.

Have a good weekend.


March 20, 2009

March 20 blog message

Good Morning: Welcome to the first day of spring. Today is my second blog. As I mentioned last week, my weekly blogs will replace my weekly e-mail messages. The purpose of the weekly messages remains the same. That is to share information of interest and importance with Support Staff in County and Regional Extension offices. The difference in the blog format is that blogs are web based; are more informal, allow comments and input from recipients that can be shared with all readers; and there is a history of previous blog postings that can be easily referenced. THere are also a few differences to traditional e-mail messages that can should be noted. First, (as I am sure you have noticed), there is no spell or grammer check. So bear with my keyboarding challenges. Also, this is a new tool for me, so my first blogs will be a bit rough so cut me a little slack. A few things to share this week.

Blog notifications: If I did this correctly, each of you should have recieved an e-mail notice of this blog entry. In the event that I did not do it correctly, I also sent a seperate e-mail message. In the future, (assuming I have the notification business down), I will not be sending the separate e-mail message.

Extension Committee meetings: As I mentioned last week, the next round of Exxtesnion Committee meetings are will be starting in the next week or so. Please send Mary Jo in the Marshall Regional Office the program updates from your staff as well as the most recent budget report a week prior to the meeting. Also, thank you for sending out the meeting notices to the committee members at least a week prior to the meeting.

Extension Day at the Capitol: On March 25 and 26 over 100 Extesniion supporters will participate in Extension Day at the Capitol. In additon to learning about Extesnion research and Education priorities, they will be able to advocate for the University in meetings with our Legislative leaders.

Flooding in Northwest Minnesota: As you know from news reports, our collegues in the Red River Valley will be dealing with serious flooding issues. One of my responsibilities is to coordiante Minnesota EDEN, (Extension DIsaster Education Network), so a good share of my time and attention will be devoted to the Northwest Emeergency issues. However, I will be available by cell phone, and will keep my calendar current should you have any questions or issues that need my attention.

4H Area visit: I hope to see many of you at the Area visit Tuesday in Rdwood Falls.

University Holiday: The Extension Regional Offices are closed today for the designated floatin Holiday.

Have a good weekend.


March 13, 2009

Friday, March 13 message

Good Afternoon: Today's message comes in a different format. For years, I have been sending a Friday message to Support Staff in County Offices in our region and Regional Support staff in the Marshall and Hutchinson Regional Offices. The purpose of the message is to share information of interest for County and Regional Support staff. I have encouraged the sharing of this information to others in your office as apporpriate.

With this weeks message, I am using the blog format rather than an e-mail message. Why the change? Blogs have the advanatage over e-mail messages in that a "trail" of previous messages in easy to review and the messges can be more interactive with comments easily posted by the readers. Blogs are quite popular, especially with young, tech savy audiences.

Will this be a good replacement for our Friday e-mail messages? Will you feel okay with the process to log into my weekly blogs? Will I be able to figure out the technology and be disciplined enough to use it? Who Knows, but at least it is worth a try. (please remember that I'm new at this).

Anyway, a few things to share this week:

Holiday: Next Friday, March 20 is the designated University Holiday whcih coincides with the last day of spring break for the student campus population. University offices, including the Regional Extension offices will be closed Friday, March 20.

AMC Legislative Conference: One of the items that will be at the AMC Legislative Conference is late April is a Extension Centennial display with a map of Minnesota featuring historical and current programming from each county in the state. We are looking for a two or three sentence statements that willl "pop up" interactively when the person viewing the map clicks on a county. An example of teh statement might be something like "in the past 15 years, 12 Livestock Judging teams have competed in the state 4H judging contest" or for the past 25 years the Master Gardeners in this county have mainitained the road side rest area on highy 101". You get the idea. What I am looking for is any statement that you and your staff may suggest to communicate something that is unique and special about historic and current Extension programming in your county. Please let me know if you have any ideas.

Extension Committee meetings: The next round of meetings begin later this month. Please forward budget updates and program reports to Mary Jo in the Marshall Regional Office for inclusion in the agenda packets.

That's all for this weeks blog. Feel free to post a comment or share information on this blog spot.

Have a good weekend and a great Saint Patrick's day next Tuesday.