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Each year, outstanding students at the University of Minnesota are honored with awards for their acheivements in academics, leadership and service. This spring, six CFANS students were awarded the prestigious The President's Student Leadership and Service Award to honor their accomplishments, invaluable leadership and service contributions to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the community.

Students who are nominated for this award are required to portray how their engagement experiences have affected their growth and development related to the University's Student Development Outcomes. The Student Development Outcomes outline the critical elements of a student's success. Successful students at the University of Minnesota learn and grow in these seven areas:

1. Responsibility and Accountability
2. Independence and Interdependence
3. Goal Orientation
4. Self Awareness
5. Resilience
6. Appreciation of Differences
7. Tolerance of Ambiguity

Congratulations to the six CFANS students who have been awarded the 2011 President's Student Leadership Award!

Anna Eggen (Sr.) - Agricultural and Food Bus Management
Caitlin Kasper (Sr.) - Agricultural Education
Dan Helvig (Sr.) - Agricultural Education
Hannah Rusch (Sr.) - Environmental Science, Policy and Management
Jason Kaare (Sr.) - Agricultural Education
Jessica Bubert (Sr.) - Applied Plant Science


Lately I have been very busy planning an event for a student group I am involved in called the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). I am currently the vice president and have been involved in the organization for two years. 

PRSSA is a national student-run society existing to develop students into responsible, ethical and professional public relations practitioners by building upon course work and personal experiences. Its mission is to serve members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities.

PRSSA is an extension of the professional organization, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Students that are interested in public relations, communication, journalism, or marketing usually get involved in PRSSA. Members have the opportunity to enhance their education, broaden their networks, and launch their careers. Ultimately it helps bridge the gap between college and a public relations career.

Here are some of the things our chapter does throughout the year:

Professional development - One of the best parts of being a member of PRSSA are the many professional development events and activities throughout the year. The Activities Committee plans company tours around the Twin Cities, networking events with local professionals, leadership retreats with the Minnesota PRSA chapter, guest speakers, resume workshops, and more. This year we went to Chicago for a weekend to tour companies and meet professionals!

Real PR experience - We have our very own firm called 'fusion' that works on public relations projects similar to what you would experience at a job or internship. It has real clients in the Twin Cities, such as Cliche, a clothing boutique in Uptown Minneapolis and Homegrown Lacrosse, a local non-profit organization. The philanthropy committee also has clients, but strictly works with cause-related organizations. 

Writing practice - Writing is a very important part of public relations and communications. The Link is our chapter blog in which members write blog posts about current events, job opportunities, and more. Check it out at http://mnprssa.blogspot.com/. Students also pratice writing for the web and social media within the internal and external communication committees.

Learn more about PRSSA at http://mnprssa.org/ or http://sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/show.php?id=631.

As noted in one of my most recent posts, this Saturday, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences will be hosting "Classes without Quizzes". The keynote speaker for the event will be Marla Spivak. Marla is a world-renowned expert on bees and recent recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.

Here is a brief overview of her address: 

"Promoting the health of bee pollinators is beneficial in our environment. This can begin as an individual or local endeavor; however, one thing is clear, we need to support the health and diversity of bee pollinators. But why? Professor Spivak explains". 

This year's recipients of the Siehl Prize in Agriculture include an innovative farmer who is known worldwide for his conservation practices, a steadfast leader in the agribusiness finance industry, and a longtime voice of agriculture in southwestern Minnesota. Recipients are chosen for three categories: knowledge (teaching, research and outreach), production agriculture, and agribusiness.

Each winner (or "laureate") receives a monetary award of $50,000 and a beautiful granite and glass sculpture. The Siehl Prize is named in honor of philanthropist Eldon Siehl, a successful Minnesota businessman who wanted to educate the general public about where their food came from and to provide recognition for the dedicated people who make it their life's work.

This year's winners are:

Wallace "Wally" Nelson (knowledge): Mr. Nelson was the original superintendent at what is now the Southwest Minnesota Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton was a tireless advocate for putting agricultural research to work for farmers. He led the research center for nearly 40 years, contributing to important breakthroughs in corn management, hail damage, soils and drainage.

James "Tony" Thompson (production agriculture): Mr. Thompson is a Windom, Minn. farmer who manages his family's nearly 5,000 acres to produce bountiful, profitable crops while carefully conserving the farm's soil and water. He's opened his home and farm to hundreds of researchers and scientists who want to learn more about agro-ecology.

Paul DeBriyn (agribusiness): Mr. DeBriyn is the president and CEO of AgStar Financial Services. He took over a struggling agricultural lender in the 1980s and built it into an industry leader. In addition to his business success, DeBriyn has been a leader in advocating for agriculture, in developing leadership and scholarship programs, and in helping rural economies thrive.

The recipients were announced today as part of the celebration of National Ag Week. They will be honored at a ceremony on May 26 on the University campus.

U of M students are doing great things in their communities and around the world!

Megan Meyer, U of M dental therapy student, has devoted her life to A Hand in Health. This is the international nonprofit organization that she founded five years ago. Meyer created this organization in response to the many mission trips she has experienced in places such as Mexico and Gambia, Africa. Through working with patients during surgery at the Sulayman Junkung General Hospital in Gambia, Meyer was inspired to continuously help people less fortunate than herself. Now, she is an inspiration to other University of Minnesota students!

Since its founding, A Hand in Health has aquired 20 volunteers. Meyer has recently began a project to send one million books to the Gambian people. Currently, there is only one book per 1,000 citizens in this small, poverty-stricken nation. A Hand in Health, partnering with Books for Africa, has already delivered 7,500 books to create the first community library in Gambia. This service will undoubtedly benefit the children of Africa, and will improve the current 40.1 percent literacy rate of Gambia.

Meyer's life-long commitment to community service sets an amazing example for other students. She has proved that one person can make a huge difference, no matter how old (or young) you are! To learn more about Megan Meyer and A Hand in Health, check out this Minnesota Daily article. For even more information on this success story, visit the the 1 Million Books for Gambia blog, or the Books for Africa website.

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