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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,

In Fall 2013, the University conducted an employee engagement survey. The results were made available in the first quarter of 2014. At that time, colleges and units were asked to review the results of the survey and identify actions that will continue to create a workplace in which people thrive.

Specifically, colleges and units were asked to:

  • Look for areas with greatest impact
  • Build on existing efforts where possible
  • Support gradual change, as it is more sustainable

In May, I held a webinar to share Extension's results with all employees. 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 have been summarized in an Employee Engagement Survey Reportthat is available on the intranet.

Thank you for your participation in the 2013 survey. I look forward to using the results to continue to guide our investment in making Extension a vital and engaged workplace. I also ask that you take time to complete the survey when it is offered again in late 2014.

Bev Durgan
Dean

The 2014 farm bill was passed last February. Over the next several months, an estimated 60,000 Minnesota producers and 30,000 non-farming Minnesota landowners will need to make enrollment decisions or lose program benefits. Educating producers and landowners is crucial: the program options are new, the decisions are complicated and the enrollment decisions could have major financial impacts for Minnesota farmers for the next five years.

Extension is partnering with the USDA Farm Service Agency to deliver education and information to help producers and landowners make informed decisions. Over the next few months, more than 80 workshops will be delivered in Minnesota along with webinars and online training. Information about the workshops, as well as fact sheets that provide an overview of the farm bill, are available on Extension's agriculture business management website. Additional fact sheets specific to landowners will be available soon. The training will be led by the Extension ag business management team with help from members of the dairy team and local county educators.

In early November, six ag professional farm bill update workshops will train lenders, crop insurance agents, crop consultants and others so they can help answer producer questions. Extension educators are also encouraged to attend one of these sessions. Contact Kevin Klair or Bob Craven for more information.

Kevin Klair
Extension Economist & Program Leader, Farm Management

The current University Education Job Family Study is wrapping up and results will soon be communicated to staff whose positions were a part of this study, including Extension educators (both types) and other positions with a primary focus on education. 

Affected employees should expect to receive a letter from University Office of Human Resources on October 7 with other key dates as follows:

  • Supervisor information sessions: October 2 and 3 (remote connection & recording available)
  • Letters with results to employees: October 7
  • Employee information sessions: October 15 and 16 (remote connection & recording available)
  • Deadline for appeals: October 28

A preliminary summary of the results shows that both Extension educator promotional series remain in tact--each still with three levels and no current pay or benefits implications.

If you are an educator who does not receive a letter, or if you receive a letter in error, please contact Lisa Brownstein. If you have any questions about the results, please contact Leslee Mason.

Other job family studies affecting Extension include: Finance (wrapping up); Development (underway and no current information); Research (delayed, will now begin November 10); Administrative (delayed, will now begin December 23).

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

Source magazine landed in your email inbox earlier today, or will shortly.  If you don't see it in your primary inbox, look for it in the "Promotions" tab in Gmail. To help spread the word about Extension's work throughout Minnesota, take a moment to share the email with your colleagues, program partners and friends.

Catherine Dehdashti
Public Relations Manager

If you're on Facebook or Twitter or other social media platforms, please support the National 4-H Week campaign, #iam4h.

Beginning the evening of Sunday, October 5, and all dayMonday, October 6, you can help build enthusiasm for the campaign by tweeting and posting your "selfie" on social media using the hashtags #iam4h and #mn4h. As part of a nationwide campaign, social media users are asked to print out and hold the #iam4h sign while taking a selfie. You can continue to post throughout 4-H Week, which concludes October 11.   

Any 4-H supporter can participate; club membership or alumni status isn't required. Although the official campaign begins Sunday, some posting is already underway onFacebook and Twitter.

Allison Sandve
News Media & Public Relations Manager

Participate in challenging discussions that interest you, enhance your programmatic objectives, and create deeper connections with colleagues across the University. Join University faculty members and program staff at the monthly Engaged Scholar Critical Community Engagement roundtable sessions to learn from their experiences, challenges, successes and resources related to topics of community engagement and partnerships.  

All sessions will be held in Morrill Hall from noon to 1 p.m. on the dates listed below. Bring your brown bag lunch; treats and a topic for a vibrant discussion will be provided.

The next roundtable will be held on November 5: "Hidden Subjectivities in Our Academic Disciplines."

Registration is required. For more details and future session topics and dates, visit the U of M Public Engagement website.

Diana Martenson
Organization and Program Development Specialist

The Extension Citizens' Advisory Committee and representatives of the Association of Minnesota Counties held an interactive input session for Extension Reconsidered onAugust 27. County commissioners, community members and Extension leaders generated ideas on the purpose, promise and future of Extension. Participants suggested ideas about how Extension could help meet the needs of the 21st Century, including making Minnesota better with a strong sense of statewide mission; preserving the past by being "historically proud" while being responsive to the future; continuing excellence in delivery of research; and actualizing human capacity in the community.

The next two Minnesota Extension Reconsidered sessions will be held at the Extension Program Conference on Monday, October 6, 1-2:30 p.m., and Tuesday, October 7, 1:15-2:45 p.m. Please join one of the two discussions if you are attending the conference--no need to register for the sessions.

For questions, or suggestions, please contact Dan Gilchrist.

Dan Gilchrist
Assistant Statewide Director
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

William Angell recently received the Jack Bartholomew Award for dedication to presenting outstanding radon professional education from the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists at the 28th Annual International Radon Symposium in Charleston, SC.

Please welcome Jennifer Schultz, who was hired this summer as the Wasp Watchers program coordinator. Jennifer previously worked at the Minnesota Zoo as the Zoo Investigators program coordinator.

Wasp Watchers is a biosurveillance program that monitors the presence of emerald ash borer by observing the activity of a native wasp species (smoky winged beetle bandit wasp). Jen is responsible for establishing baseline information on this wasp species, as well as organizing volunteers to watch the wasp nests and collect beetles. This program is a three-year project. Jennifer is based on the St. Paul campus in the Department of Entomology.

Jeffrey Hahn
Extension Entomologist

Amy Peterson, 4-H program coordinator, Washington County, 9/15/2014          

Abdulahi Dohe, SNAP-Ed educator, Somali, Kandiyohi County, 9/19/2014

Suzanne Root, administrative clerk, Waseca County, 9/22/2014

Erinn Odell, accountant II, Extension Center for Community Vitality, 9/22/2014  

Brian Fredrickson, Extension educator, leadership & civic engagement, Extension Regional Office, Moorhead, 9/29/2014