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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,

We have begun the national search for Extension's senior associate dean and I invite you to assist in recruiting candidates for this important position. The position description and announcement is posted on the Human Resources website.

We have taken the last several months, since the departure of Senior Associate Dean Dick Senese, to review the position and consider various alternatives. The newly posted position will merge key responsibilities from two senior level positions, senior associate dean and chief financial officer.

A search committee representing the various internal groups within Extension, including the Extension Faculty Consultative Committee and Extension Staff Consultative Committee, has met and is now working on recruitment. Members are: Ben Anderson, Trina Adler Barno, Denise Trudeau Poskas, Ying Iverson, Krishona Martinson, Matt Kane, Brian McNeill, Megan Thorson, Lissa Pawlisch, Tom Rothman and chair David Werner.

We hope to conduct interviews in mid-October. Information about those interviews will be shared in future issues of enews.

Bev Durgan

To support our cross-disciplinary efforts in key issue areas, we are seeking grant proposals for projects that advance Extension's work in the following issue areas:

  • Promoting youth educational success
  • Food systems

Successful proposals will add value/impact and contribute to Extension's cross-center collaboration and external partnerships. They may be carried out by diverse teams from across Extension and include other University and external partners. 

This effort is designed to increase external visibility and demonstrates Extension's comparative advantage to address these complex issues.  Projects must advance Extension's contribution to research, education and value/impact through applied research-based educational programming.

An Extension educator, specialist or faculty member with an Extension appointment must serve as one of the project leaders. Non-Extension personnel are encouraged to work jointly with Extension staff and may serve as co-project leaders.

Deadline for proposals is August 15 and more information is available on the intranet.

Bev Durgan

Enter the first-ever University of Minnesota Extension Facebook Flower Photo Contest, featuring a special category for shots of pollinators and bee-friendly plants. The contest runs through Aug. 8 and more information is available on Extension's Facebook.

The contest is designed to provide a showcase for Minnesota's garden enthusiasts and build our following on social media, where we regularly share the value that Extension employees deliver to Minnesota. 

Be sure to cast your votes for your favorite images; simply click on the photo and hit "vote." Although Extension employees and their immediate families are not eligible for prizes, they are eligible to submit photos. The top employee photo will be featured on Extension's website and Facebook page.

Allison Sandve
News Media and Public Relations Manager

Learn about the latest neuroscience research and how brain-based principles can improve online communications at the August topic webinar, "Communicating with the brain in mind: Part II". Aimee Viniard-Weideman, assistant dean and director of communications and public relations, will present from 10 to 11 a.m., Aug. 14.

Extension webinars are monthly and offer faculty and staff a chance to review and discuss priority topics. For more information, visit the Professional Development section of the intranet.

Ying Iverson
Professional Development Director

Make a positive impression with your audiences by using professionally branded, designed and printed Extension materials. Extension folders and notecards are available to order from the University Bookstore. The folders help package materials for meetings and presentations, clearly identifying Extension's value. Notecards are useful for personal and memorable connections to follow-up on a meeting, send a thank-you, or provide a quick program update.

These items are available through the University Bookstores:

  • Notecards/invitations (pkg of 25), $16.00
  • Pocket folder (pkg of 25), now $13.00!

For information on how to produce new promotional items, visit the Promotional Items & Clothing section of the Extension intranet.

Sarah Bjorkman
Internal Communications & Brand Manager

Awareness of Extension brand and visibility continues to grow as staff use the Extension brand templates and resources. These materials have been available for the last two years, with new items created and added based on demand.

One of the most common requests has been for specific templates available in Publisher. Based on that feedback, the following items have been created, tested and are now available in Publisher files: general Extension brochure templates and postcard templates, and 4-H brochures and postcards. Use the built-in fonts and colors for text and text boxes by selecting "Styles" from the toolbar then choosing the text style you need. Other notes have been added to the document to provide guidance on how to use the template.

Please use the file formats available; do not recreate templates in a different file format. We will continue to monitor the need for additional items to be converted to Publisher files. For questions, or to provide feedback on Extension's brand resources, send an email to

In coming months, several updates will be added to Extension's brand resources, including revised brand pages on the intranet, co-branding guidelines and additional template downloads.  

Sarah Bjorkman
Internal Communications & Brand Manager

Register and get ready for an inspiring, energetic discussion on how Extension can address the grand challenges of the 21st century at a plenary session for Extension Reconsidered. This event is part of the Rural Design Conference July 30 and 31 in Crookston. The plenary on Thursday, July 31, will set the stage for a subsequent Extension Reconsidered design thinking breakout session and will include voices representing the national, University and community perspectives. Kathryn Draeger, statewide director of the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, will moderate the panel of Eric Giordano, director, Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, Wausau; Andrew Furco, associate vice president for public engagement, University of Minnesota; and Jeff Gorfine, a longtime southeast Minnesota community advocate.

Kathy Draeger
Statewide Program Director
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

Congratulations to our Extension educators who were honored by Extension professional organizations, including Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP), Minnesota Association of Extension Agricultural Professionals (MAEAP), National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA), and National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS).

The award recipients include:

David Bau
, Extension educator in agricultural business management: MAEAP/NACAA, first place - state and regional finalist, learning module/notebook, "2013 What is a Fair and Profitable Rental Agreement Master Handbook;" second place, state, publication, "2014 Farm Resource Guide'" third place, state, computer-generated graphics presentation with script, "2014 Winter Crops Days: Outlook for Corn, Soybeans and Rent"

Debra Botzek Linn, Extension educator in food science: NEAFCS, Second place, central region and third place, national winner: Community Partnership Award / Continued Excellence honor

Kathy Brandt, Suzanne Driessen, Extension educators in food science: NEAFCS food safety award, first place, central region and second place, national (along with Suzanne Driessen and Katherine Waters)

Angela Gupta, Extension educator in natural resource management and utilization: ANREP, Early Career Leadership Award

Emily Wilmes, Extension educator in agricultural production systems: MAEAP/NACAA, first place, state, audio recordings, "Fly Management for Dairy Cows"

Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension educator, fish, wildlife and conservation education: ANREP, honorable mention, "Engaging Natural Resource Volunteers: From Education to Action" poster

Julie Miedtke, Extension educator in natural resource management and utilization: ANREP, Long Publication Silver Award, "Minnesota Harvester Handbook," with David Wilsey

David Nicolai, Extension educator in crops: MAEAP/NACAA: first place, state and regional finalist, video recording, "Herbicide Spray Drift"

Jill Sackett, Extension educator in crop production systems: MAEAP/NACAA, first place, state and regional finalist, program promotional piece, "Fall Cover Crop Field Day Flyer;" first place, state and regional finalist, fact sheet, "Prevented Plant Cover Crop Options"

Eli Sagor, program manager and Extension specialist, sustainable forests education coop: ANREP Long Publication Bronze Award for the "Growing your Peer Learning Network: Tools and Tips for the Women Owning Woodlands Network" (with four colleagues from other states)

Chuck Schwartau, regional director, southeast: MAEAP/NACAA, first place, state plus regional and national finalist, "How Healthy is the Employment Situation on Your Farm?" feature story; second place, state, computer-generated graphics presentation with script, "Would You Work for Yourself;" second place, state, program promotional piece, "Dairy Systems That Work - Summer Field Day;" first place, state and regional finalist, personal column, "It's Still Up To You To Get It Done" and "What Keeps Employees"

Liz Stahl, Extension educator in crops: MAEAP/NACAA, first place, state plus regional and national finalist, computer-generated graphics presentation with script, "Pesticide Resistance in Crop Production;" first place, state and regional finalist, publication, "Control Volunteer Corn for Yield Protection and Corn Rootworm Management"

New Employees

Please join me in welcoming Andrea Rice to the Master Gardener volunteer program leadership team. Her main focus will be teaching technology expertise to the development of Horticulture Continuum of Learning education experiences. Andrea brings experience from her most recent job as coordinator for the Maryland Beginning Farmer Success program at the University of Maryland. Her office will be at the Arboretum; and she started July 15.

Tim Kenny 
State Director, Master Gardener Program

Dr. Joshua Rice, youth development Extension specialist in the science of agriculture, started his position on July 1. Josh earned his B.S. in animal and veterinary science, M.S. in agriculture, and Ph.D. in human and community development from West Virginia University. Before joining Extension, Josh taught agricultural sciences and acted as FFA adviser at Southern High School in Annapolis, Maryland. Josh is located in 405 Coffey Hall.

Jennifer Skuza
Assistant Dean, Extension Center for Youth Development

Debra Hawthorne, SNAP-Ed educator, Beltrami County, began July 10.

Dear Colleagues,

This week we closed the books on fiscal year 2014 and began fiscal year 2015. So, I thought this would be a good time to give you a budget update. 
As we look to the new fiscal year, we anticipate a steady budget with slight increases in federal and county funding. Extension's funding comes from numerous sources: State 40%; Grants, Gifts and Program Income 26%; County Government 20% and Federal 14%.

  • Extension's state allocation (O & M funds and State Special) is nearly unchanged, down less than 1% with a final allocation of just over $27 million.
  • Our county partners remain strong supporters of Extension and our calendar year commitments show a 2.35% increase in funding, topping $14 million.  
  • Our grants, gifts and program income funds appear to remain strong, especially with the return of SNAP-Ed funding.  
  • The best news this year may come from our federal partners with an increase in Smith-Lever funding of 9.2%, bringing our federal formula funding to just under $10.5 million.

While I am pleased with this budget projection, it is also important to note that we must always be prepared for reductions during the year. Looking back at 2009 through 2013, Extension had a reduction in at least one funding source in each of these years. For example, in 2013 we experienced a major reduction in our federal Smith Lever funds and SNAP-Ed grant funding. In 2012, Extension internally funded a 2.5% salary increase, and in 2011, 2010 and 2009 Extension experienced 5.0%, 6.2% and 5.8% in state reductions, respectively.
During this year's budget process, we approved a number of new positions. The associate deans have been notified of those positions which will be posted in the coming months. The dean's leadership team will meet in September to review and discuss priority and new position requests.
I want to thank all of the staff in finance and accounting who have worked so tirelessly to complete another fiscal year.

Bev Durgan

Summer is a good time to meet with your local legislators. For example, if you are at the county fair, you may see an incumbent or a candidate running for a seat in your district. In its basic form, advocacy is a commitment to engage and educate. Check out ways to be an advocate and suggestions for delivering a powerful advocacy message on the government relations section of the intranet.

As a reminder, if you do 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

With high levels of seasonal activity in Extension, summer is a great time to revisit social media practices.

Check out the new, updated social media guide on the intranet to help you improve and grow your social media presence. The guide summarizes key information about social media and offers the latest research into effective practices.

Highlights include:  

  • Best practices on using Facebook and Twitter to maximize visibility.
  • Tools such as URL shorteners can help measure engagement.
  • Editorial calendars allow you to focus your message and build upon goals.

The new site also reinforces legal and copyright requirements and provides FAQs, photography resources and more. For additional information about social media and to determine if it fits into your program marketing plan, contact Allison Sandve.

Allison Sandve
News Media and Public Relations Manager

Extension Qualtrics theme

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Extension now has a Qualtrics theme that all faculty and staff can use for online surveys. This new theme includes Extension's wordmark, colors and fonts consistent with the other branding templates and resources. You can apply the Extension template from the survey editing screen in any Qualtrics survey. Just click "Look & Feel," then click the theme name (default "University of Minnesota") under the Block M thumbnail image in the the upper left-hand corner. Select "UMN Extension" and you're all set!

Qualtrics user group mailing list
To keep up-to-date on campus-wide Qualtrics announcements, join the Qualtrics Google Group.  This group will act as a listserv for Qualtrics-related tips and announcements.

Qualtrics advanced features
The University is also considering adding some more advanced features to Qualtrics, including offline surveys, file uploads, SalesForce integration and Qualtrics 360. Indicate your interest in these features by filling out the feature request survey.

Alison Link
Academic Technologist

Last week, more than 50 photos were added to the online image gallery, including several photos in the following categories: weed science; gardening; youth science and activities; and livestock.  More photos will be added in the coming weeks for tourism, community, customer service, local foods and small farms.

Photos will continue to be added to the image gallery throughout the year as they become available. All image gallery photos support Extension's photo style and can be used for brochures, flyers or other Extension educational and program marketing templates. These professional photos, paired with the high-quality design templates, are an effective way to communicate with our many audiences while strengthening the Extension brand.

For questions or comments about the image gallery, email

Sarah Bjorkman
Internal Communications & Brand Manager

Extension Reconsidered's centerpiece event in Minnesota will be July 30-31 in Crookston, as part of the Rural Design Conference. Design thinking techniques will be utilized to look at the history, and 21st century possibilities, for Extension. Register for the event online.

Participants and non-participants alike may be interested in these "thought pieces" from Choices magazine that organizers are reading: "Extension Reconsidered," an article by Scott Peters, who initiated the national Extension Reconsidered conversation, and "Using Rural Innovation Principles for University Renaissance," which explores using design thinking to address "wicked problems" in our society.

Kathy Draeger
Statewide Program Director
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

Departing employees

Ann Walter joined Extension in Mower County in 1992, serving as the 4-H youth development educator, after working with the 4-H program in Worth County, Iowa. She was a key player in the Heartland Cluster, working with teams to deliver programs that reached new audiences. In the regional system, she worked with community youth development programs, regional 4-H youth development programs and most recently as a member of the southeast regional team.

Ann's focus has been to provide training on cultural competency and youth program quality. She co-led the statewide Quality team, which developed resources to ensure that quality is integrated in all aspects of 4-H.

Ann has received numerous MAE4-HYDP Communicator awards during her career. As a team member with Operation Military Kids (OMK), she received the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Outstanding Educational Package award in 2010, and the Extension Dean's Award for Distinguished Team in 2008. She also received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Early Career Award and the NAE4-HA Distinguished Service Award.

Ann celebrated her retirement with colleagues and family on her last day, June 30. She is looking forward to spending more time with family, in her garden, and exploring part-time employment working with youth in her community.

Nancy Hegland
Program Leader, Youth Development