University of Minnesota Extension

Home > Extension e-news

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.

Dean's Column (August 21, 2014)

Dear colleagues,

Extension's academic promotion process was established in 2006 to support and recognize educators for their achievement in six categories: scholarship, education and teaching, program leadership, engagement, program management, and service.

Promotion is a professional indicator of personal and organizational success. Extension'spromotion process reinforces the importance of Extension's education model and our responsibility to develop and deliver effective research-based educational programming.

Please join me in congratulating the 13 Extension staff who recently completed the process to achieve the following:

  • Promoted from assistant Extension educator to associate Extension educator:Randy Nelson and Jill Sackett

  • Promoted from associate Extension educator to Extension educator: Jerold Tesmer

  • Promoted from assistant Extension professor to associate Extension professor:Katherine BrandtJose HernandezCharles Robert HolcombNicole PokorneyJessica RussoKate WalkerJulie Weisenhorn and Kari Robideau

  • Promoted from associate Extension professor to full Extension professor:Angela Gupta

  • Reconfirmed rank of Extension professor: James Salfer

I want to thank all of those involved in this year's academic review process--the applicants, supervisors, review committee members, peer reviewers, mentors, program team members and administrative staff.

The application process for the 2015 promotion cycle has begun. All eligible employees have been notified and the deadline for letters of intent was earlier this week.

Bev Durgan

If you have a chance to go to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" be sure to drop in on Extension colleagues, volunteers and participants. Visit Extension's In the News site for updates on our coverage at the fair. Stories will also be shared via social media sites for Extension and 4-H.

University of Minnesota building

  • Extension will host two spaces in the U of M Building on Sunday, August 31, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. The exhibits will feature 4-H Science of Agriculture with the poultry project, and Master Gardener plant diagnostics.

4-H building & barns

  • More than 6,000 4-H exhibits and performing arts shows feature the knowledge and skills 4-H'ers have acquired throughout the year. About 2,200 "blue ribbon" kids exhibit livestock in the animal barns. See the 4-H State Fair website for daily highlights and results.

  • Exciting scientific activities to try in the 4-H building include drones used in agriculture and Rube Goldberg machines. Watch "Chef for a Day" cooking presentations, offered twice daily.

  • Livestock highlights include a 4-H beef exhibit in the Warner Coliseum on Friday, August 22, and the Purple Ribbon auction in the Ag Star arena on Saturday, August 23.

  • New this year is the free "4-H at the Minnesota State Fair" app, guiding you through event schedules, results, announcements and maps. Download and install it to your iPhone or Android device.

Agriculture-Horticulture building

  • Master Gardener volunteers will answer gardening questions each day, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Watch gardening presentations throughout the day on The Dirt Stage.

  • The Honey Bees program team, including Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will show off a "bee beard" on Wednesday, August 27 at 1 p.m.

Eco Experience building

  • Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator, will present "Natural foods and decoratives from the woods or backyard" on Friday, August 22 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

DNR building

  • Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator, will present "Controlling woody invasive plants" on the DNR stage on Sunday, August 24 at 11 a.m.

  • Jeff Hahn, Extension entomologist, will discuss "Invasive insects in Minnesota: Are they in your yard and garden?" on Sunday, August 24, at 1 p.m.

  • Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will discuss "Honey bees, beekeeping and research" on the DNR stage on August 24 at 5 p.m.

  • Master Naturalists will be available each day in the wildlife wing to answer questions about wildlife in Minnesota.

Minnesota Public Radio

  • Mark Seeley, Extension climatologist, will appear on MPR's Daily Circuit Thursday, August 28, at 11 a.m. MPR broadcasts from the corner of Judson and Nelson. Mark will also appear on tpt's Almanac, being taped there at noon on August 22.

For a complete schedule and map of University events that will be taking place at the fair, see U at the State Fair.

Catherine Dehdashti
Communications & Public Relations Manager

This year, Extension will host the annual program conference in Bloomington, October 6-8. The conference brings together more than 300 Extension faculty, educators and program staff for three days of networking and professional development. This year's conference features two keynote speakers, more than 30 breakout sessions and center-specific gatherings.

The deadline to register is September 12. You also are encouraged to present a poster and a lightning talk at the conference. More information can be found on the program conference website.

During the conference, Dean Bev Durgan will present the annual dean's awards for outstanding contributions by Extension faculty and staff. Associate deans and department heads are encouraged to submit nominations by September 15.

Ying Iverson
Professional and Organizational Development Director

Moodle upgrade and open clinics

A new version of Moodle will be launching this fall. Moodle 2.6 will feature a "cleaner" look with improved functionality for mobile devices. Existing Moodle 2.2 or 2.4 sites will need to upgrade to the new version this fall. Contact Alison Link for more information and to come up with a transition plan.

Also, training sessions are available for faculty and staff who want to learn about starting a Moodle site or spiff up an existing Moodle site. Join an end-of-summer Moodle Open Clinic to help you set up a site, give it some structure, and add activities and resources!  Drop by in person or join online:

  • Wednesday, August 27, 1:30-4 p.m., STSS 114
  • Thursday, August 28, 1:30-4 p.m.Coffman Union Rooms 324, 325 and 326

Alison Link
Academic Technologist

University Wellness program deadline

The deadline to earn your Wellness Program points to secure a $300 or $400 reduction of your 2015 medical program rates is August 31.

UPlan members with single coverage or dependent children coverage need to earn the full 300 points to save $300 on their 2015 yearly insurance premium while members claiming a spouse or family coverage need to earn the full 400 points to save $400 on their 2015 premiums. View your current Wellness Points balance by accessing your personal profile on the StayWell Online website.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

Nearly 230 photos were submitted in the first Extension photo contest, "My Flowers Rock," which invited Minnesotans to enter their favorite photographs of flowers and pollinators. More on the contest, including the winners and a link to an album featuring the honorable mention entries, is available online. All entries are published on Extension's Facebook page.

Congratulations to Extension food science educator Suzanne Driessen, whose entry topped the employee division (photo shown).

Allison Sandve
Media & Public Relations Manager

As part of the University of Minnesota's commitment to providing relevant professional development opportunities, they are again offering University Professional (UP!) Circles, a leadership program started in 2011. This program offers an affordable professional development opportunity for faculty and staff who want to advance their professional goals, hone interpersonal communication and networking skills, and effectively bridge barriers.

UP! Circle participants need to commit to two meetings per month over seven months, from October 2014 to April 2015. The monthly large group sessions will include expert presentations on topics from communication to organizational change, while a monthly small group meeting will focus on advancing targeted goals using a professional circles model. Due to the time commitment, supervisor approval is required to participate.

Apply online by September 12. The participation fee is $50. For questions, send an email to

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

This September, take advantage of two Extension webinars that will hone your H-index and cultural agility skills:

Understanding your H-index, and locating journals for publication
September 3, 10-11 a.m. Kristen Mastel, Extension's outreach & instruction librarian, will teach participants how to compute an individual's H-index using Web of Science and Google Scholar and how to find a journal's impact factor. Learn how these numbers are tabulated to better understand what they tell you about your impact and journal publishing.
Register for "Understanding your H-Index"

Introduction to EOAA (Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action) toolkit
September 11, 1-2 p.m. Kimberly Hewitt, director, and Tina Marisam, associate to the director, both in the U of M Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, will provide practical tools for supervisors and staff to identify, prevent and respond to potential discrimination, harassment, retaliation and nepotism. Participants are required to view pre-recorded modules before attending the webinar.
Register for "Introduction to EOAA Toolkit"

Ying Iverson
Professional and Organizational Development Director

New Employees (August 21, 2014)

Milena Nunez Garcia, SNAP-Ed educator, Spanish, Olmsted County, 8/4/2014 Yeng Moua, SNAP-Ed educator, Hmong, Hennepin County, 8/11/2014 Laura Bohen, SNAP-Ed regional coordinator, Ramsey County, 8/11/2014

Dear Colleagues,

This week, I have been at Farmfest near Redwood Falls. It's an annual event in Minnesota that provides an opportunity for the University and Extension to connect with our agricultural partners. This year, we also had a chance to meet and hear from gubernatorial candidates, as well as state and federal legislative candidates, about Minnesota agriculture.

Today, we are honoring Minnesota farm families at the annual Farm Family ceremony. The University of Minnesota began the tradition of honoring farm families in 1980. Since then, farm families from across the state have been recognized annually for their contributions to agriculture, the economy and rural communities.

The farm families are chosen by local Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture. Those receiving this year's honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong, which keeps Minnesota strong.

Farm families improve the fabric--and the future outlook--of rural communities. They invest time in serving on township boards, hospital boards, school boards and church councils. They volunteer to help families in need, and to assure the positive development of young people through 4-H and other youth organizations.

All of this is on top of what they do to provide food, fuel and a multitude of other agricultural products to the rest of Minnesota, the nation and the world. You can see the diversity of their agricultural achievements in the 72 families honored.

I am proud to honor the University of Minnesota Farm Families of the Year at Farmfest in Redwood Falls. I hope you will join me in congratulating these deserving farm families.

Bev Durgan

Last week, Extension Reconsidered was a featured part of the Rural Design Conference in Crookston. Plenary speakers set the stage for an afternoon design thinking session, with Eric Giordano of the University of Wisconsin providing an update on Extension Reconsidered in other states; U of M Associate Vice President, Andy Furco, considering the future of Extension in the context of an increasingly engaged university; and Jeff Gorfine, a longtime Southeast Minnesota community advocate and former Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships board member, urging the audience to keep the land-grant mission and citizens' needs at the center of Extension's work.

The afternoon breakout session, facilitated by Design Thinking @ College of Design, addressed the challenges: What is the purpose of Extension? What is the promise of Extension? How might we design U of M Extension to deliver on that purpose and promise in the next 100 years? Five teams of participants took on three themes, "University," "Community" and "National-Global Context," using design thinking methods and prototyping the results in a three-dimensional model. The work will be documented and shared in early November as part of the final Minnesota report. For questions, or suggestions, please contact Dan Gilchrist.

Dan Gilchrist
Assistant Statewide Director
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

Pam Hartley, an Extension Master Gardener in Ramsey County, has created a new endowment fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation to support educational programming for the statewide Master Gardener volunteer program. In addition, she has included this endowment fund as part of her estate planning. We thank Pam for her dedication to, and vision for, the program.

Pam has served as a dedicated Master Gardener for nearly two decades, in Anoka County before Ramsey County. She continues very actively volunteering to educate residents in sustainable gardening practices.

Over her years as a Master Gardener, Pam taught both adults and children and helped to create a Veteran's Peace garden that is used for teaching. Pam has enjoyed volunteering at information booths, farmers markets, diagnostic clinics, the state fair and answering phone inquiries. She's honored to act as a mentor to interns and has served in many leadership roles, including both the state and county advisory boards, organizing horticultural days, and co-chairing a regional Master Gardener conference.

We are grateful to Pam for her generous commitment and investment in the future of the Master Gardener program!

Jane Johnson
Development Director
Tim Kenny
State Director, Extension Master Gardener Program

This 60-minute copyright session will NOT give you all the answers to copyright issues that arise in teaching at the University. It will, however, give you several options for course materials that are 100 percent, no-doubt-about-it, free of copyright issues. We'll talk about solid solutions for both face-to-face and online instruction. The session will also emphasize connections with University resources for more in-depth copyright learning, getting permissions, making good use of Moodle and more.

The workshop is being offered twice. Register online for either session:

Kristen Mastel
Extension Librarian

During the summer months, Extension's government relations staff are out and about meeting with Minnesota's congressional office staff. The meetings are an opportunity to get to know the state legislative directors as well as the agriculture legislative assistants. The state meetings are a follow-up to the April legislative visits in Washington D.C. for the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD).  Extension educators who participated in PILD will also join us in legislative visits over the next few weeks: Katherine Brandt, food safety educator, Neil Linscheid, community vitality educator; Ellie McCann, family relations educator; Dave Nicolai, crops educator; and Amanda Sommers, Blue Earth County 4-H program coordinator.

As a reminder, if you meet with a current legislator or a staffer, please complete the legislative database form for our records. Contact Sarah Greening or Gwen Gmeinder if you have any questions.                                      

Sarah Greening
Chief of Staff
Gwen Gmeinder
Government Relations Associate

Jerry Shurson, Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Animal Science, was awarded the American Feed Industry Association Award in Non-ruminant Nutrition Research at the American Society of Animal Science Meeting. The award was sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association.

Community economics educator, John Bennett, is the co-author (with Dr. Adam Pine of the University of Minnesota Duluth) of an article now published by the Journal of the Community Development Society.  The article is entitled, "Food access and food deserts: the diverse methods that residents of a neighborhood in Duluth, Minnesota use to provision themselves."

Scott Chazdon, evaluation specialist in the Extension Center for Community Vitality, along with Nathan Paine, a Humphrey School graduate student, published an article in the most recent copy of the Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, entitled: "Evaluating for Public Value:  Clarifying the Relationship Between Public Value and Program Evaluation." 

Michael Darger, business retention and expansion specialist in the Extension Center for Community Vitality, published an article about evaluating the BR&E program in the April 2014 edition of the Journal of Extension: "Capturing the Ripples from Community-Driven Business Retention and Expansion Programs."

At the 2014 conference of the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals held June 22-25, staff in the Extension Center for Community Vitality won regional and national awards:

Jody Horntvedt, Extension leadership and civic engagement educator: Individual Winner, Educational Package; Introduction to Meaningful Involvement

Brigid Tuck, economic impact analyst, and Extension community economics educators John Bennett and Neil Linscheid: Honorable Mention, Team; Economic Emergency Program; International Falls Plant Shutdown

Bruce Schwartau, Extension community economics educator: Individual Winner, Educational Piece; How Minnesota's Retail Economy Changed During the Recession

Tobias Spanier and Jody Horntvedt, Extension leadership and civic engagement educators: Team Runner-Up, Educational Piece; Neld Participant Guide (Session 2)

Eriks Dunens, alumni program and cohort coordinator and Extension leadership and civic engagement educators, Lori Rothstein, Denise Stromme, Jody Horntvedt, Catherine Rasmussen and Mike Liepold: Runner-up, Excellence in Teamwork Award; 2013 Leadership Alumni Series

Michael Darger, business retention and expansion specialist, Brigid Tuck, economic impact analyst, John Bennett, Extension community economics educator, Mary Vitcenda, senior editor, and Kathi Schaff: Excellence in Community Development Work, Team; Business Retention and Expansion in Your Community

New Employees

Heidi Anderson joined Extension as the 4-H program coordinator in Benton County on July 22.

Heidi has been involved with 4-H as a youth member, a 4-H summer assistant and an adult volunteer. Her hands-on experience, community connections and work ethic will continue to positively impact the 4-H community in Benton County.

Heidi has strong academic training and professional leadership experience that will enable her to be an effective manager and leader in her new role. She is an honors graduate of St. Cloud State University with extensive coursework in marketing and Spanish. Most recently, Heidi provided leadership to the Minnesota Holstein Association where she managed the organization's operations, sales, membership and finances. She also collaborated with and led volunteers to coordinate major events, conventions and sales, while also directly leading the youth educational program.

Please join me in welcoming Heidi to Extension.

Mark Haugen
Extension Educator, Youth Development


On August 4, Rod Greder joined Extension as the new Extension consumer horticulture and agriculture educator in Wright County. Rod comes to us from the private sector with previous experience working for Cargill and Dow AgroSciences as a leader in their R&D, new business development and marketing divisions. He has started his own local foods operation including grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, and a variety of garden vegetables. Rod holds a master's and Ph.D. degree in plant genetics from the U of M and U of Illinois respectively. Rod's efforts in Wright County will be varied, focusing on consumer horticulture, agriculture and the Master Gardener program. Welcome, Rod!

Nathan Johnson
Program Leader, Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences


Letica Rodriguez, SNAP-Ed educator, Nobles County, 7/11/2014

Heidi Anderson, 4-H program coordinator, Benton County, 7/21/2014

Jamie Pikus, executive accounts specialist, Extension Regional Office, Grand Rapids, 7/28/2014

Jeremy Freeman, 4-H program coordinator, Chisago County, 7/28/2014

Michelle Klinkner, 4-H program coordinator, Faribault County, 7/29/2014

Elyse Paxton, senior editor, Extension Center for Community Vitality, 7/29/2014

Employee Transitions

Eli Sagor transitioned to a new appointment on July 14 managing the University of Minnesota Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative (SFEC). This role represents a unique collaboration in which CFANS Extension is partnering with the Cloquet Forestry Center. The SFEC is a long-standing educational program that develops and delivers education programs focused on forest ecology and management targeting natural resource professionals and related audiences. Eli will be officed at the Cloquet Forestry Center and will still spend some time on the St. Paul campus.

Linda Nagel
Director, Cloquet Forestry Center

Employee Departures

It is with sadness that the 4-H Foundation says goodbye to Brad Starbuck. Brad has served on the 4-H Foundation staff as a development officer in the Southwest region and for agriculture programs for nearly two years. His last day with the 4-H Foundation was Friday, August 1. Brad is not going far though; he is taking a job as director of corporate and foundation relations with the Carlson School of Management at the University Foundation. We wish Brad the best in his new role and thank him for his collaborative and positive work with the 4-H Foundation and the 4-H program.

Cara Miller
Executive Director, MN 4-H Foundation


With regrets we said goodbye to Darren Lochner, program coordinator for the Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers Program. Darren's last day with the program was July 25. Darren was instrumental in developing sites, resources and training to pair current adult Master Naturalist volunteers with staff in existing after-school programs to offer fun, outdoor, science-based educational opportunities for 4th and 5th graders. The kids learn about the ecology and natural history of their schoolyard, neighborhood, nearby natural areas and entire state. We wish Darren the best of luck in his new position with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Nathan Meyer
Program Leader
Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences


Mike Boersma joined Extension in January 2006 as Extension educator, livestock and 4-H program director, in Pipestone and Murray Counties. Mike's last day is August 4. He has been a valued member of the Beef Team and the 4-H team in SW Minnesota. Mike developed two computerized Ration Balancer programs for beef producers that are used by producers across the U.S. and internationally. Mike has received numerous awards including the Dean's Distinguished Team Award for his work with the Beef Team in 2009 and with the Private Pesticide Applicator Education Team in 2012. We wish Mike all the best in his new position with the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Farm Business Management program.

Tim Arlt
Program Leader
Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences