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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,

Counties and University of Minnesota Extension have maintained a strong and valued relationship for over 100 years. Thanks to the support of county commissioners across the state, in 2014, Minnesota counties contracted for nearly 120 full time equivalent (FTE) of Extension program staff through their Memorandums of Agreements (MOA). The majority, 94 FTE, are 4-H program coordinator positions, with another 24 local agriculture educator and Master Gardener coordinator positions, and two family development positions.

In the coming months, counties will have an opportunity to renew their three-year 2016-2018 contracts with Extension for the county-funded positions. The current three-year contracts expire in December and regional directors will be working with each county to renew the MOAs before the end of the year.

The new MOA contracts will reflect a new price structure for positions in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The price structure was proposed by a subcommittee of county commissioners and was unanimously approved at the Association of Minnesota Counties-Extension Committee meeting in March.

We greatly appreciate county investments in county Extension staff and programs, and look forward to continuing these important county partnerships.

If you would like to learn more about our county relationship, please take a few minutes to watch the County-Extension partnership video, Succeeding together, which was recently created for new county commissioners.

Bev Durgan

The U of M Tourism Center invites colleagues to a light lunch and poster session from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 6 in the Cherrywood Room of the St. Paul Student Center to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week. RSVPs are due May 1. More information is available from Ingrid Schneider.

Ingrid Schneider
Director, Tourism Center

The inaugural P&A professional development forum brings together thought leaders from across the University and the greater community. The forum features a discussion on contemporary trends in University administrative leadership and P&A's strategic role.

The first event, Preparing Ourselves to Meet Grand Challenges, is from noon to 2 p.m., 402 Walter Library, Twin Cities Campus, East Bank. Register by Friday, April 24. Or you can join via WebEx at

The Extension Technology team worked with staff across the organization to develop a core technology skills checklist, a tool to help grow your tech skills. This checklist aims to assist personnel and supervisors to identify any knowledge gaps and training needs, and provide employees direction for new areas of learning and growth. Read more information on our Quick Bytes Extension Technology Blog regarding this new tool.

Amy C. Baker
Chief Technology Officer

Extension Technology continues offering one-hour WebEx orientation training as part of the University's web conferencing transition from UMConnect to WebEx. UMConnect will be discontinued after Aug. 31. Orientation dates and registration are on the Extension Technology intranet page.

Check out the latest QuickBytes article for some WebEx tips!

Karen Matthes
Director, IT Training and Support

The Interinstitutional Center for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) and the Penn State University Libraries have jointly launched a new-peer reviewed publication "IK: Other Ways of Knowing." IK is an electronic, multidisciplinary peer-reviewed open access journal that publishes original research articles as well as review articles in all areas of indigenous knowledge from a global perspective. The first issue and more information about the submission process are available here.

Kristen Mastel
Outreach and Instruction Librarian

The upgrade of PeopleSoft and related systems is proceeding as planned. The new systems are expected to be operational on Monday, April 20. Several reminders for Extension employees:

  • A preview of the new MyU portal for employees is now available.
  • Upgrade information for Extension employees includes new fact sheets on schedules, absence and payroll for P & A and civil service employees.
  • Once the upgrade is complete, the link to the Libraries homepage will be "Libraries - UMTC" under "Key Links."
  • To locate saved library items, visit the "My account" section on the Libraries home page. Questions on library functions should be directed to Kristen Mastel, outreach and instruction librarian.
  • Staff who make deposits also are reminded to continue this process during the cutover. The procedures -- including links to a substitute deposit forum -- are outlined here.

New employees

Ashraf Ashkar, SNAP-Ed educator, Stevens County, April 1

Frederick Ebinger, rural energy development program manager, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, April 6

Stacy Johnson, 4-H program coordinator, Redwood County, April 7

Pauline Van Nurden, ag business management educator, regional office, Morris, April 9

Employee transitions

After 30 years of service, Terry Nennich is retiring from Extension on April 30. Terry is a regional Extension educator, based in Crookston, specializing in commercial horticulture. Terry has been a leading resource for many specialty crops during his career. Terry brought high tunnels to Minnesota in 1999. Through his research and education program, he has been instrumental in leading the season-extension movement in Minnesota. In addition, Terry is a widely known resource regarding farmers markets throughout the state. Please join me in congratulating Terry on his retirement.

Brian Horgan
Program Leader - Horticulture

Educator Julie Sievert left her position in Sibley County; her last day was April 3. Since 2012, Julie served as a local educator focusing on issues facing livestock and crop producers in her county. She built successful collaborations with local agencies and organizations to educate county producers. Julie also worked the Farm Information Line providing helpful answers to callers. We wish Julie all the best as she moves into her new position and will miss her positive outlook and "we can do it" attitude.

Tim Arlt
Program Leader - AFNR

Sarah Schieck, regional educator, is relocating from the regional office in Morris to the one in Willmar. Sarah will continue working with the Extension livestock/swine team.

Krishona Martinson
Program Leader - Livestock

Jerry Tesmer, former Extension educator in Fillmore and Houston counties, passed away on Monday, April 13. He retired from Extension in February. On March 12, state Rep. Greg Davids presented a resolution letter to Jerry Tesmer at an Agriculture Finance Committee meeting.

The House resolution honored Jerry for his contributions to agriculture: "Be it resolved by the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration of the House of Representatives of the State of Minnesota that it congratulates Jerrold Tesmer for his contributions to agriculture over the past 27 years, and wishes him well in his retirement."

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m., today (Thursday, April 16), with his funeral at 11 a.m., Friday at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Granger, with visitation one hour before the service.

Tim Arlt
Program Leader - AFNR