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Extension e-news

Extension e-news is the official news source for Extension faculty and staff. It is published twice a month on the first and third Thursdays.

Dear Colleagues,

As 2014 draws to a close, I want to thank each of you for your work in the past year. Together we have made a difference in Minnesota while increasing visibility and building public support for the University. With more than 500 state advisory committee members, 34,500 volunteers, and 700,000 annual program participants, and 13 million website visits a year, Extension continues to take University research and education into people's lives. Extension engages Minnesotans to address many of today's complex problems - water quality, food safety and security, childhood obesity, rural economic development, farm profitability, family finances, youth development, water quality and natural disasters, just to name a few.

I wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and I look forward to working with you in 2015!

Bev Durgan

The Minnesota State Legislature convenes on Jan. 6 to begin its two-year session. The University of Minnesota is requesting a $127.2 million increase for its FY 2016-17 biennial budget. The request will focus on access and affordability, facility improvements, a healthy Minnesota, and vibrant communities.

As the legislative session begins, continue to visit the Government Relations section on the intranet for updates. If you meet with your legislator, please remember to let us know about your interaction by completing the legislative database form. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sarah Greening or Gwen Gmeinder.

Sarah Greening
Chief of Staff
Gwen Gmeinder
Government Relations Associate

Learn more about the University's new systemwide, enterprise-level web conferencing tool for students, faculty and staff at town hall sessions from 9 to 10:30 a.m., Dec. 19, 402 Walter Library on the Minneapolis campus, and 9 to 10:30 a.m., Jan. 6, 64 Biological Sciences on the St. Paul campus. Remote participation will also be available. Registration (required) and more information.

Amy Baker
Chief Information Officer

The Local Foods College, a series of eight sessions for gardeners and farmers who are part of the growing community-based food system, will begin January 13 and runs through March 3. The weekly sessions can be viewed online and at several locations throughout northern and central Minnesota. Registration is free for participants who print their own materials.

This year's topics include natural soil fertility, vegetable production tips and tricks, marketing and business planning, pollination, deep winter greenhouses, growing in small spaces, food hubs, and more. The sessions are presented by educators, practitioners and others involved in the effort to build local food systems.

The 2015 Local Foods College is supported by Extension, the Statewide Health Improvement Program, and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education. For more information and to register, visit or call 1-888-241-0781.

Linda Kingery
Executive Director
Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Northwest

New Employees

Kaitlin Barbosa has returned to northwest Minnesota as the 4-H program coordinator in Kittson County. Kaitlin was a 4-H member in Marshall County. After receiving her bachelor's degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Kaitlin worked in outreach coordination and youth work in the Seattle area. She has experience in coordinating events and programming for youth, including trips to Guatemala. She brings an enthusiasm for the skills gained in 4-H with a strong desire to see that youth are prepared for the future. Kittson County 4-H is thrilled to welcome Kaitlin to their community. Teen ambassadors, who were involved in the search committee, hosted an open house for her earlier this week.

Margo A. Bowerman Extension Educator, Youth Development

Becky Kunz has accepted the Isanti County 4-H program coordinator position. She has more than 20 years of experience in youth development and program management. She recently finished a master's degree in organizational leadership, with a special focus on generational diversity issues. She has a deep passion for partnering with youth and volunteers to facilitate the best strategies for success. Originally from California, she and her husband live in the north metro area with their two children.

Jessica Pierson Russo Extension Educator, Youth Development

Other new hires

Adam Dorrance, executive office and administrative specialist, regional office, Grand Rapids
Cassandra Silveira, interim Extension educator, health and nutrition, Ramsey County

Dear Colleagues,

In October, the University conducted the second annual employee engagement survey. Overall, 64 percent of University faculty and staff participated; Extension's response rate was 80 percent!

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to complete the employee engagement survey. We expect to receive the results in early 2015.

Last year was the first time the University conducted the survey, which is designed to measure drivers of engagement based on two key outcomes: commitment and dedication, which relate to individual motivation; and effective environment, which captures factors within a work group that support success.

Colleges and units were asked to review the results of the survey and identify specific actions that that would continue to create a workplace in which people thrive. During the summer, Extension leadership, centers and units met with their respective teams to review results and identify one to two actions that would make a positive difference. The results of those discussions were summarized in an Employee Engagement Survey Report that is available on the intranet.

Thank you again for your participation in the 2014 survey. I look forward to sharing the results with you.

Bev Durgan

Due to system deadlines during the holidays, there is one early timesheet submission date in December for hourly Extension staff. Supervisors must submit timesheets by Friday, Dec. 26 for pay cycle: 12/15/2014 - 12/28/2014.

Turning in timesheets on the posted deadlines is critical to ensure employees are paid accurately and on time.

If you have any questions about payroll processes and deadlines, please contact Extension payroll specialists Lucy Lu or Nancee Easter.

Deb Page
Assistant Director, Human Resources

Post-election work to do

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The mid-term elections brought many new names and faces to the Minnesota House. We hope you will take time now to connect with your legislator. If your representative is new, please introduce yourself and indicate you are looking forward to working together over the next two years. If your representative was re-elected, it is useful to thank him/her for past work and indicate that you are willing to work together and serve as an Extension resource for research and education.

To learn more about the legislator's background, issues and interests, check out theMinnesota House. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Sarah Greening orGwen Gmeinder.

Sarah Greening
Chief of Staff

Gwen Gmeinder
Government Relations Associate

The Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (EFANS) has changed its name to Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR). The acronym is pronounced A-F-N-R, and we are no longer using EFANS or CFANS-Extension. Thank you for beginning to use the new name. For more information,read my announcement to our center faculty and staff and view the Extension naming style guide.

Mike Schmitt
Associate Dean, Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

Do you struggle to get evidence-based information for your community programming? Do you spend too much time digging for relevant materials for your teaching and grant writing?

Join us for the webinar, "Work for Extension?: What librarians can do for you" on Thursday, December 11 from 1 to 2 p.m. to learn how to effectively use library websites with three librarians to guide you. You can access the webinar at

We will present resources from the National Agricultural Library, your land-grant library and other regional resources. There will be a brief database demonstration as well. A handout of resources useful for Extension work will be provided. A more advanced webinar is being planned for spring 2015. This webinar is co-sponsored by USAIN, NAL and eXtension, and is presented by librarians Stephanie Ritchie, Madeleine Charney and Kristen Mastel.

Kristen Mastel
Extension Librarian

Have you noticed the phishing emails that have been going around lately? Phishing emails cost people time and are a big security threat. It only gets worse with holiday and charity phishing scams.

Here are the four easy steps to becoming completely phish-proof!

  1. Check the grammar

  2. Check the sender

  3. Hover over the link

Report it to

Extension Technology Team

As temperatures outside drop, it's important to remember to avoid leaving your laptop outside for too long. If you have concerns about how long is too long for a computer to be left out in the cold, follow this basic rule: if an opened bottle of water in your vehicle has formed ice or has frozen, then your laptop has been out in the cold too long. Once indoors, take the laptop out of the case and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes to acclimate to room temperature before plugging it in and powering it up. This includes leaving it off the docking station.

Billie Wilson
Extension Technology

Apply for Extension Technology project support. Selected projects will receive a package of services from Extension Technology as well as central University resources as available. The support package provides a hands-on experience for the project team to be inspired by, learn about, practice and collaborate with a variety of resources for the design and development of technology-enhanced Extension educational tools and curriculum. Proposed tech tools and products can include videos, lecture captures, podcasts, Moodle modules, apps and e-books. The next deadline for proposals is December 15, 2014. Read more about proposal requirements here.

Amy Baker
Chief Technology Officer

New employees

Erinn Barclay started as the new accountant in the Extension Center for Community Vitality on September 22. She recently moved to Minneapolis from Chicago with her husband. Erinn has more than seven years' experience in University finance and grants management. Previously, she worked in research administration at the medical school at Northwestern. Erinn's educational background includes a degree in public relations and psychology from Coe College.

In her role, Erinn will provide serve as a resource for Center staff, providing financial reports, projections, and budgets for program leaders. She is looking forward to using existing solutions to implement the best financial practices. In her free time, Erinn enjoys hanging out with her husband and their beagle. She is excited to be in Minnesota and is looking forward to exploring the Twin Cities.

Joyce Hoelting

Brian Fredrickson joined the Extension Center for Community Vitality on September 29 as the Leadership and Civic Engagement educator serving the West Central area of Minnesota. He is housed at the Moorhead Regional Extension Office, serving the counties of Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Traverse, Big Stone, Stevens, Pope and Swift.

Brian graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus with a B.A. in Political Science in 2006, and received his M.A. in the teaching of social studies from Columbia. While in New York, he taught social studies at the Bronx Leadership Academy II. He returned to the University in 2008 and has since served as instructor, using both face-to-face and online technologies, at the University's leadership minor program, and with the Bridge to Academic Excellence program.

Brian has organized workshops with faculty from the Center for Democracy and Citizenship. In 2009-10, he co-directed the launch of the Warroad Area Leadership Program for Girls for high school students. His other educational work focused on instruction and research with the former General College and the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning. He also coordinated a team of instructors, advisors, teaching assistants, facilitators and librarians who developed learning opportunities on topics such as understanding cross-cultural leadership and supporting students' development around civic life and ethics.

Mary Ann Hennen
Program Leader, Leadership and Civic Engagement


New graduate students join the Center for Community Vitality

Felipe Boroso was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After turning 22 in 2011 and studying economics for three years in Sao Paulo, he transferred to a private university in San Antonio, Texas, where he received a degree in International Affairs. Currently, Felipe is a graduate student of development practice at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. His work in Community Vitality will provide research assistance to Matt Kane and Brigid Tuck on a project that explores the different organizational frameworks adopted by counties to carry out economic development efforts.

Jeffrey Ims will work in Leadership and Civic Engagement under the direction of Dee Trudeau, with a primary focus of leadership curriculum development. He is currently in the master's program in human resource development in the Organizational, Leadership and Professional Development (OLPD) department, where he also earned his bachelor's in human resource development. Jeff has a passion for developing individuals to ensure they effectively maximize their potential. Most recently, Jeff worked at the Mayo Clinic as the leadership and learning development intern developing a three-day leadership development workshop, and an action-learning program for physicians and scientists who were emerging leaders within their departments.

Atticus Jaramillo is pursuing a master's degree in urban and regional planning at the Humphrey School, with a concentration in housing and community development. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a double major in history and political science. While attending school, Atticus served as an intern for the City of La Crosse Neighborhood Revitalization Commission and as a GIS intern for the City of La Crosse Department of Planning & Development. As an Extension graduate research assistant, he will work on civic engagement curriculum development.

Mary Ann Hennen
Program Leader, Leadership and Civic Engagement

Deb Braulick, SNAP-Ed Educator, Redwood County, 11/24/2014
Sarah Butler, Extension Educator, Financial Empowerment, Dakota County, 11/24/2014

Employee transitions

Sarah Bjorkman, internal communications and brand manager, has accepted a new position as marketing manager for the U of M School of Public Health. Sarah will be working on brand development and marketing strategy within the school, working closely with student admissions and development staff, faculty and public partners.

Her last day with Extension will be Dec. 9. Please join us in wishing Sarah all the best during a farewell party on Tuesday, Dec. 9, from 2:30-3:30 p.m., in 120 Coffey Hall.  

For the past seven years, Sarah has been part of the Extension Communications and Public Relations team, strengthening Extension's brand by creating systems and resources for staff to communicate consistently, clearly and effectively to internal and external stakeholders. A few of Sarah's accomplishments include developing and implementing the system-wide brand identity templates, trainings and guidelines; creating the comprehensive photo image gallery; and improving employee communications through the intranet, e-newsletters and listservs.

In her words, "The most important and rewarding part of my work in Extension has been creating opportunities for people throughout Minnesota to understand all of the ways Extension touches their lives. The work our educators, faculty and staff do in Extension truly does make a difference in people's lives, and I'm grateful to be part of that."

Aimee Viniard-Weideman
Assistant Dean and Communications Director