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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,

Earlier this week, Brent Hales, former associate dean for community vitality, began in his new role as senior associate dean. I am pleased to announce that Matt Kane, program leader for community economics, and Mary Ann Hennen, program leader for leadership and civic engagement, have agreed to serve as interim leaders for the Extension Center for Community Vitality. Extension will be conducting a national search for the associate dean in the new year.

Please join me in thanking Mary Ann and Matt for accepting this additional leadership responsibility and in welcoming Brent to his new role.

I wish you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday next week!

Bev Durgan

The cycle for both the 2014 annual performance evaluation and the 2015 professional plan of work (PPOW) will begin in late November. Completed forms are due to your supervisor by January 30. All staff are required to complete an annual performance evaluation (exceptions include county staff, students, temporary or casual staff); the PPOW is completed by Extension educators, regional directors, 4-H program coordinators and others based on supervisor request.

Supervisors and staff will complete the necessary performance evaluation and PPOW forms online through ULearn. When the online system becomes available, staff will automatically receive an email with a link to the correct online form (scheduled for the end of November). Instructions and training on how to use the online system are available on the Extension intranet.

Specific to civil service staff: Civil service staff will receive an overall performance rating, and will receive a salary increase (if applicable) based on merit rather than across-the-board.

Please direct questions to your supervisor.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

Open benefits enrollment runs through December 1 for Extension staff with University benefits; December 8 for staff with federal benefits. If you would like to make changes to your health plan coverage or participate in flexible spending accounts for 2015, you will need to enroll by the deadline.

As a reminder, staff with University benefits will need to make a change if: you currently have Insights by Medica, the employee and spouse coverage tier, or same-sex domestic partner coverage.

For more information and to enroll online, visit the University Open Enrollment website.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

The following Extension webinars will be held in December:

Extension webinars are held every month and offer Extension faculty and staff a chance to review and discuss priority topics within Extension. To access webinar recordings and to view information about upcoming topic webinars, visit the professional development section of the intranet.

Ying Iverson
Director, Professional and Organizational Development

WeConnect: A Global Youth Citizenship Curriculum is now available as a resource for Extension educators who are working with youth from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Designed by Jennifer Skuza and Jessica Russo, WeConnect includes a series of experiential and interactive exercises that help youth learn and use culturally responsive skills and knowledge, and prepare them to thrive in culturally diverse settings, whether they are with friends, or at school, home or work. These skills are based on an international education approach, which is one form of cultural education.

WeConnect is designed for nonformal educational settings such as afterschool programs with middle school-aged youth (grades 6-8 and ages 11-14), but can be adapted to suit both younger and older age groups.

To learn more about WeConnect and how you can use it in your work with young people, contact Jennifer A. Skuza or Jessica Pierson Russo.

Purchase the WeConnect: A Global Youth Citizenship Curriculum online through the 4-H mall.

Jennifer Skuza
Assistant Dean, Youth Development
Jessica Russo
Extension Educator, Youth Development

An article from the October issue of Journal of Extension is a must read for everyone interested in saving time and energy when doing Google searches. This article includes short and sweet tips that are used by other experts at the University:

Contact Kristen Mastel for one-on-one consultations to explore the highlighted Google search tips and more.

Kristen Mastel
Extension Librarian

Cassandra Silveira will be joining Extension on December 3 as an Extension health and nutrition educator. Cassandra comes to Extension with a wealth of knowledge and experience developing, coordinating and evaluating health and nutrition initiatives and providing technical assistance for chronic disease prevention and management. She is currently a Humphrey Policy Fellow.  

Cassandra will start her Extension career providing intensive program leadership and development to grow and enhance the EFNEP program, and from there will lend her broad expertise to food literacy, food access and physical activity initiatives in the central region and throughout the state.

Trina Adler Barno
Program Leader, Health & Nutrition

Tammy Lorch will rejoin Extension as an Extension educator, youth development, on January 5 in the Mankato Regional Office. Tammy has experience working in the field of Youth and Family ministry in several churches, and as an Extension educator in 4-H Youth Development from 2005-2007. Currently, Tammy is the Ready to Learn specialist for Iowa Public Television.

Tammy has a B.S. degree in elementary education from Wartburg College, in Waverly, Iowa and an M.Ed. in family education from the University of Minnesota.

The search committee highlighted Tammy's enthusiasm and passion for working in the field of youth development. She brings skills in working with a variety of youth programs and volunteers, in which they are engaged and have opportunities to grow as individuals.

Her references shared that Tammy is highly organized and can develop systems to work more efficiently. She loves being with people and working in a team environment. Tammy is a strong programmer and a true professional.

Brenda Shafer and Nancy Hegland
Extension Program Leaders, Youth Development

David Foley has accepted the program coordinator position in Le Sueur County. David comes to Extension with a wealth of experience, as he was the 4-H program coordinator in Houston County. Before that he was the interim 4-H program coordinator in Goodhue County and the summer intern for Steele, Goodhue and Dakota counties.

David has a passion for 4-H, having grown up in the program. He feels this opportunity for youth is one in which they have fun, build friendships, learn responsibility, and express themselves. One project that he has carried forward from his 4-H years is his goat project. He lives in his hometown of Dundas, where he has a small herd of Nubian and Saanen dairy goats he refers to as his 4-H project gone wild.

David's knowledge, combined with a great attitude, authenticity, and love for the program make him a perfect fit for Le Sueur County.

Deb Hadley
Extension Educator, Youth Development

Please welcome Linnea White to Extension. Linnea is the new communications associate working with the communications team in Coffey Hall on the St. Paul campus. She will be writing and editing for various internal and external publications and working on communications projects such as county web pages, brand identity materials, regional stakeholder communications and Google Analytics.

Linnea graduated in May 2013 from Bethel College with a B.A. in English literature and writing. She recently completed a year as an AmeriCorps employment navigator at the Resource Employment Action Center in St. Paul.

​Aimee​ Viniard-Weideman
Assistant Dean and Communications Director

Katie Becker, 4-H program coordinator, Clearwater County, 11/10/2014

Dear Colleagues,

In my July 3 enews column, I provided an update on our FY 2014-15 budget and announced that the dean's leadership team would meet in September to review and discuss priority and new position requests.

Following our September meeting, I have approved the following positions:

Extension Center for Community Vitality

  • Engagement specialist faculty position with Humphrey Institute

Extension Center for Family Development

  • 3/4-time position for the Padres Informados, one-year position

Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

  • Dairy/Livestock business management educator, ag business management
  • Risk management educator, ag business management
  • Aquatic invasive species educator
  • Livestock educator
  • Funding for CFANS grape/oenology position and poultry position

Extension Center for Youth Development

  • Two community program specialist positions working with northern Minnesota tribes

Extension Regional Sustainable development Partnerships

  • Research fellow/CERTs behavior change and metrics coordinator, half-time position for one year

In May, I also approved several priority and new positions for all of the Extension centers except the Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences (EFANS). I delayed filling several key positions in EFANS until the arrival of the new dean for the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. We have now had a chance to discuss priorities with Dean Brian Buhr and have identified areas for collaboration and mutual engagement. Because of this, some of the EFANS positions requested in May have been approved this fall.

Each center will manage the timeline and search process for each of these positions. Please join me in welcoming the new staff as they join us this fall and winter.

Bev Durgan

Extension staff with federal benefits
Detailed information about the upcoming 2015 Federal Benefits Open Season (November 10 through December 8) was sent via email. While you may not be planning to make changes, we strongly encourage you to review your plan's 2015 brochure to learn of any changes in coverage. Visit the 2015 Federal Open Enrollment section of the intranet for more information.

If you wish to enroll in the University dental and/or flexible spending accounts benefits for 2015, you must complete the online form through University benefits enrollment by December 1 (changes are effective January 1).

Extension staff with University benefits
Open enrollment for University benefits is November 1 through December 1. This is the one time each year when you can make changes to your University health plan coverage.

You will need to make a change if:

  • Insights by Medica is your current plan (it will not be available in 2015).
  • You currently have the employee and spouse tier (it will not be available in 2015).
  • You currently have same-sex domestic partner coverage that will end on December 31, 2014. You will need to re-enroll your eligible dependent children in coverage for 2015.
  • You wish to enroll in a healthcare or dependent daycare flexible spending account for 2015 (your 2014 account election will not carry over into 2015).

Even if the changes above do not affect you, it is recommended that you review all coverage options and confirm that your provider(s) remain in your network coverage for 2015. For more information on coverage and rate changes, please view the University Benefits section on the intranet.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

In February 2015, the University will implement a PeopleSoft system upgrade that will affect University finance, human resources, portal and student systems. The goal of this project is to create a technical platform that simplifies, streamlines and improves business operations at the University.

Major changes that will affect Extension faculty and staff include (view the video Sneak Peeks for more information):

  1. New MyU Portal (affects all employees). Faculty, staff and students will access specific business tools through the new portal, including: University email and other personalized information based on your role at the University, requests and approvals for leaves of absence, financial system tools, teaching rosters and details. Sneak peek: MyU Portal.
  2. Time reporting will be completed online (affects hourly employees). Sneak peek: Time Reporting.
  3. Absence cards will be completed and approved online (affects all employees and managers/supervisors). Sneak peeks: Absence Reporting, Approving Electronic Time & Absence Reporting.
  4. PCard is moving to the expense report. New functionality will replace the current PCard processes (affects PCard holders and reconcilers). Sneak peek: PCard
  5. New financial WorkCenters will bring all financial processes into one place (affects staff who perform financial functions). Sneak peek: WorkCenters.
  6. UMarket pages will look different (affects staff who order supplies through UMarket). Sneak peek: U Market.
  7. A new Reporting Center will replace UMReports (affects faculty and staff who use UMReports; does not affect Extension financial, budget and grants reports). Sneak peek: Reporting Center.

Most training for the system upgrade will be available online at your own pace. Affected persons will be notified when training becomes available.

The upgrade is expected to launch mid-February. Specific impact of the upgrade project, as well as additional changes that may affect Extension faculty and staff, will be communicated through future issues of enews and through the related sections on the Extension intranet. For questions, contact Deb Page or Madonna Monette.

Deb Page
Assistant Director, Human Resources
Madonna Monette
Finance Director

The current across-the-board salary increase process for Civil Service employees will change to an annual salary increase based on merit (performance). Assuming the University's compensation plan includes salary increases for 2015, merit-based salary increases for civil service* positions will be determined in Spring 2015. Examples of Extension Civil Service employees include: Extension program associates 2 & 3 (ex: 4-H program coordinators, SNAP-Ed educators, etc.), finance professionals 2 & 3, etc. 

The upcoming performance evaluation cycle--based on performance in the calendar year 2014--will include an overall performance evaluation rating. Salary increase dollars will then be distributed to civil service employees based on merit. Instructions about the civil service performance evaluation process will be available later this month. Instructions about the civil service salary increase process will be available early next spring.  

For questions, contact your supervisor or Extension Human Resources: Leslee Mason or Deb Page.

*This information does not apply to AFSCME represented positions.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

Give to the Max Day, Minnesota's annual giving extravaganza, is coming up on November 13. It's a day when our state's generosity shines, and Extension will be a part of the effort. Visit the GiveMN websiteand search for: University of Minnesota Extension, Tourism Center, Monarch Butterfly Conservation and Education Fund, Extension Master Gardeners, Minnesota Master Naturalists, Cooking Matters, Extension Leadership Program Scholarships, or the Bee Squad.  You can make a gift or just help promote giving to Extension by sharing a link with your friends on Facebook or Twitter through the GiveMN website.

This grassroots giving effort helps expand the base of private support for Extension, increasing our capacity. If you have questions about Give to the Max, or about giving any time throughout the year, contact Jane Johnson, Extension development director, or Cara Miller, executive director, Minnesota 4-H Foundation.

To learn more about how gifts to Extension research and education can make a difference in Minnesota, visit the Donate to Extension website.

Jane Johnson
Chief Development Officer

Please encourage your student workers to join Dean Bev Durgan for pizza on Friday, November 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 120 Coffey Hall. Each semester, the dean invites student workers to join her for an informal lunch to discuss Extension's broader mission and programs, and to learn about students' ideas and perspectives. Students should feel free to come and go as their schedule allows.  

Please forward the registration link to the students you work with, including a note encouraging them to attend this important event. For more information, visit the Student Engagement section of the intranet.

Diana Martenson
Organization and Program Development Specialist

The November Extension cultural agility webinar, "Curriculum Development for Diverse Audiences," will take place on November 13, 2-3 p.m.

Presenters Michelle Grabowski, Extension educator, horticulture; Jeffrey Hahn, Extension entomologist; and Cindy Tong, Extension post-harvest horticulturist, will discuss how they have created relevant program materials for home gardeners and immigrant farmers. This is an opportunity to learn from colleagues about changes they have made to curriculum and engagement format to meet the needs of program participants. Register for the webinar.

Ying Iverson
Director, Professional and Organization Development

The U of M Office of Human Resources is sponsoring an on-campus lecture by national retirement expert and author Jean McLaughlin. Jean is the associate director of Institutional Leadership Group at American Council on Education and co-author of "Faculty Retirement: Best Practices for Navigating the Transition."

Her lecture on supporting faculty through transition to retirement will be held Friday, November 7, 9-11:30 a.m. in 402 Walter Library. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be streamed live via UMConnect for those unable to attend in person.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

Staff photos taken during program conference in October have been added to the online image gallery (retakes have replaced previous photos). High resolution versions of these photos are available for download from the gallery. We will continue to offer opportunities throughout the year for Extension staff to have their staff photos taken or retaken at staff conference, program conference and other large staff gatherings.

For questions or comments about the image gallery, contact Sarah Bjorkman.

Sarah Bjorkman
Internal Communications & Brand Manager

Eli Sagor, program manager and Extension specialist, sustainable forests education, was selected as a recipient of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. This award is given in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements in doctoral research. His dissertation is "Personal networks and private forestry: Exploring Extension's role in landowner education.

National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NEA4-HA) awards:

More than 125 members of the Minnesota Association of 4-H Youth Development Professionals recently hosted their youth development colleagues in Minneapolis for the 2014 NAE4-HA conference, held October 26-30. In addition to the conference planning, MN youth development professionals presented 15 seminars, a Super Seminar, and celebrated the accomplishments of the following individuals:

  • Rebecca Harrington, Extension educator, youth development, Excellence in 4-H Volunteerism (Individual; National)
  • Anna Gilbertson, 4-H program coordinator, Stiles Memorial Scholarship (National)
  • Juanita Reed-Boniface (retired), NAE4-HA life member award
  • Anna Gilbertson, 4-H program coordinator, Excellence in Club Support (Individual; Regional)
  • Donna Leff, Excellence in Camping (Individual; Regional)
  • Layne Tralle, 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program coordinator, Regional Communicator, Exhibit Display
  • Amy Nelson, 4-H program coordinator, Educational Piece (Individual)
  • Recognition given to Amber Greeley, state 4-H programs manager, Mark Haugen, Extension educator, youth development, Rebecca Meyer, Extension educator, youth development, and Melissa Persing, 4-H program director, NAE4-HA Distinguished Service Award
  • Marcia Woeste, Extension educator, youth development, Meritorious Service Award

New employees

Peter Lindstrom, Clean Energy Resource Teams local government outreach coordinator, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, 10/29/2014

Employee transitions

On November 3, Karen Beranek transitioned into her new role as an Extension educator in youth development after serving as the 4-H program coordinator in Redwood County. Karen brings experience working as a county Extension educator in 4-H youth development in South Dakota, and was the library director for the City of Lamberton. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in family and consumer sciences from South Dakota State University.

Karen has a strong interest in positive youth development and program development. She is a skilled facilitator and communicator, and enjoys building collaborations with partners that impact youth and adults through a variety of delivery methods.

Karen will work from the Extension Regional Office in Marshall, with colleagues in the southwest region, to design and deliver quality programs to both youth and adults. She will focus her efforts in youth program quality, supervision and science of agriculture.

Nancy Hegland
Program Leader, 4-H Youth Development