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August 16, 2010

August 16 message

Good Afternoon, I hope you are all having a good week. Summer is winding down. Schools start classes next week in many of our counties. My wife, who is teacher, starts back in her classroom tomorrow. My son goes back to college (actually Cross Country Training camp) this weekend; (a miracle considering his accident last fall); and State fair begins next week.

Summer Extension programming is busy, sometimes even bordering on hectic and
chaotic. Summer camps, County Fairs, Extension Committee and Commissioner Budget
meetings, preparation for state fair, Consumer questions, all contribute to the hectic, yet
productive summer.

All of the hard work that goes into this programming can put stress on our office staff and our active volunteers. As I mentioned in last week's message, good communication is very important.

Over the weekend I was reminded of the old TV series Get Smart, which, for those of you too young to know about this series, was a spy spoof about two opposing factions: the forces of evil, represented by Kaos; and for forces of good, which were championed by Control. Whenever Kaos had the upper hand, the agents of Control retreated to the Cone of Silence to strategize.

So why do I mention a TV series that aired even longer ago than I have been employed by Extension? Well, it occurs to me that this could be a metaphor for how our office teams come together to support good programming. Regular and frequent staff conferences are important. Honest conversation is essential to address real issues that can get in the way of our work. I would suggest that these conversations include the work that we are doing, how we can do our work best and the difference made because of our work.

This week Renville and Swift Counties have their Fairs. Most Counties will be in budget discussions over the next couple of weeks, and I have been in active discussion with those counties that have budget questions.

Have a good week,


August 9, 2010

August 9 Message

Good Afternoon, I hope you are ready for another warm week. These are the days we will remember next January. A few things to share this week:

County Fairs: Over half of the County Fairs in the region have been completed. Chippewa, Lyon and Big Stone finished up over the weekend; Kandiyohi fair is this week; Renville and Swift are next week and Lac qui Parle is in September. The extra effort that goes in to making the fairs a quality showcase for Extension Educational youth programming is greatly appreciated. County Fairs require good communication between the team of 4H Program Coordinators, Support Staff and Volunteers. Thanks for your efforts.

Farmfest / Farm Family Recognition: The University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition program was held last Thursday at Farmfest. Visit the Farm Family website, for information about this year's event, including the script read for each family. Photos from the program will be posted on the website soon.

Transition to Google Applications:
As you know, the University of Minnesota has signed an agreement with Google to provide email and calendar services to all faculty, staff and students. As a result of this agreement, University OIT is expected to discontinue support for all current University email clients and UMCal sometime around the end of 2010 (actual date has not yet been confirmed). In response, Extension IT has developed plans for a phased Extension-wide transition to Google Apps in summer-fall 2010. The Extension transition will occur in two phases: Phase I will include Regional support staff in August and September (after the bulk of state and county fair efforts have subsided); and Phase II will include all remaining Extension faculty and staff and will occur in October and November (after Program Conference). If you have questions about this transition and how this will affect your County based staff, contact the Regional Office IT Support contacts, (Mary Jo and Karla in the Marshall Regional Office or Janel in the Hutchinson Regional Office.

Regional Director Transitions. Kay Stanek, Campus Regional Director in the Morris Region has retired. With her departure, Extension leadership has formulated a leadership / management plan that is fiscally responsible and provides strong support for quality Extension programming at the regional and county level. Key components of the plan include the following:

• Effective August 16th the following leadership/management plan will take effect for the Morris region.
o Lee Johnston, Director of Operations for the WCROC will assume "RD" office management responsibility (excluding support staff supervision)
o Brian McNeill, Extension Educator/ 4-H will assume "day to day" support staff supervision for the 3.2 FTE's of support.
o Lee Raeth will provide back up support to Brian and serve as Lee Johnston's link for RD/Administrative messaging.
o Bob Byrnes will add Swift and Big Stone Counties to his RD responsibility.
o Sarah Chur will add Pope and Stevens Counties to her RD responsibility.
o Nancy Frosaker Johnson will add Douglas, Grant and Traverse Counties to her RD responsibility.

Welcome to Barb Mass from Big Stone and Casey Olson from Swift counties to this blog. I try to update this blog weekly, typically on Fridays. I encourage input on this blog, so feel free to use the comment feature on this blog site.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns. Have a great week