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May 2010 Archives

Dear Colleagues,

During the last two weeks I have been meeting with members of the dean's leadership team to review FY 2011 budget requests. In preparation for these meetings, I asked each of them to identify savings from the current fiscal year and to prepare a request for next fiscal year that is a 3% reduction from this year's budget. Thanks to your fiscally responsible spending, we will be able to retain savings from the current fiscal year to cover the extra organization-wide expense of the 27th pay period in FY11. In addition, thanks to the work of each of the centers and administrative units, the FY11 budget has been reduced by 3%.

In the coming year, I expect that all of us will feel some pinch from the 3% budget reduction as we continue to hold on filling many open positions and look for ways to reduce spending. I also expect that the pain of reductions is going to get worse in the coming years before it gets better. While I cannot predict what will happen in FY 2012, I do know that we must prepare for significant reductions from our main funding sources. We know that the state will begin next year's legislative session with at least a $2 billion deficit that will impact the University and Extension. This will require us to be even more strategic in deciding what programs are core to the mission of Extension and the University so we can continue to support that work during challenging financial times.

In the coming year, I will be working closely with the dean's leadership team to review our current programs and better define core Extension programming. In addition, we must continue to look for alternative sources of funding.

The coming years will not be easy, but I am confident that we can weather this storm if we are willing to stay focused on delivering programs with significant impacts, seek new funding, and make strategic decisions about core Extension programs.

Bev Durgan

The North Central Region's Sustainable Communities Task Force-a task force made up of Extension representatives from the 12 states within the North Central Region- is conducting an inventory of Extension materials related to sustainable communities. The goal of this project is to create a searchable database of Extension resources from across the 12-state North Central Region related to food systems, energy, built environment design and development, mobility, natural resources, community capacity and knowledge, and regional economy.  The resources can be curricula, fact sheets, video, etc.

There is no submission deadline, and anyone within Extension can participate.  Please add your sustainability resources, programs, curriculum, or other materials to the online inventory collection.

Cynthia Messer
Extension Professor, Tourism Center

The Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences along with the U of M College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, is hosting a two-day series of presentations by Mario Piedra, director, EARTH University, June 1 and 2. The first day will focus on EARTH University's three educational approaches in Central America:  a community development approach based on issues such as water, health and production; a regional approach working with small producers; and, a country approach that involves the supply chain.  On the second day, Mario will discuss biodiversity and how to strike a balance between production and conservation.

Both presentations will be held from noon to 1 p.m., 105 Cargill Microbial and Plant Genomics Building, St. Paul Campus. They will also be available via UMConnect webinar for those who cannot attend in person.  All Extension faculty and staff are invited to attend, and there is no need to register.  For questions contact Renee Pardello.

Renee Pardello
Assistant Dean, Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

The Extension office in Dodge County is the latest contributor to Minnesota Reflections-an effort by Minnesota libraries, archives, historical societies and museums to digitize content related to our state's history.  Minnesota Reflections is the first project of the Minnesota Digital Library which supports education, scholarship and enrichment through Internet access to the digitized collections.  The Extension, Dodge County collection, which spans the years 1923 to 1982, exemplifies changes in agriculture science and technology throughout the years and reflects educational programming in rural Minnesota.  

To view the Dodge County documents and other collections, visit the Minnesota Reflections website. Currently, University of Minnesota Libraries is investigating avenues to capture Extension's "born digital" documents.  For more information, or if you are interested in submitting a project, visit the Minnesota Reflections Phase 7 website, or contact Marian Rengel at

Kristen Mastel
Assistant Librarian, Magrath Library

Check out the online version of the spring 2010 edition of the Extension Retiree Newsletter. In addition to news about our retirees, this issue highlights the Extension website and the Minnesota 4-H Science, Technology and Engineering (SET) initiative. If you have ideas for articles of interest to retirees, please send them to Gwen Gmeinder.

Gwen Gmeinder
Government Relations Associate

Carl Rosen, Extension soil scientist and faculty member since 1983 in the Departments of Soil, Water, and Climate and Horticultural Science, has accepted the position of Soil, Water, and Climate department head. Carl's Extension role has included training regional educators throughout Minnesota. In the past few years, he's also stepped into leadership positions as interim head of the Department of Horticultural Science and as interim associate dean of the Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.  His official first day as department head will be June 21. 

The Extension 2010 Gardening Calendar received the gold award from the National 2010 In-Print Competition sponsored by In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association and In-Plant Graphics Magazine. 

Janelle J. Kuechle, Extension educator, horticulture, Stearns and Benton counties, 5/3/10

Erin R. Johnson, secretary, Beltrami County, 5/24/10

Darla Rae Kramer, support staff, Nobles County, 5/11/10

Lori L. Rothstein, Extension educator, leadership & civic engagement, Duluth, 5/17/10

As noted in the May 6 issue of Extension enews, Carol Ann Burtness, Extension food science educator, retired in January. A reception celebrating her years with Extension will be held on June 15 from 4-6 p.m. at the Long Prairie American Legion, 714 Commerce Road, Long Prairie, MN 56374. For more information or to send photos and other tributes, contact Sue Crotty at or Marcia Woeste at

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, Extension has continued to reduce costs in light of the continuing economic challenges at the local, national and global levels. In the past few years, we have reduced administrative costs by closing two regional offices, consolidating several functions in administrative units and delaying or not filling some positions--including faculty, P&A, bargaining unit and civil service positions--following a departure. Extension will also have savings from the University-wide furlough and temporary salary reduction plans.

Discussions about these mandatory University cost-saving efforts have raised questions about voluntary furloughs as well. I want to use today's column to answer these questions for all Extension employees.

Under the University's plan, all employees can request up to 7 days of voluntary furlough. All requests for voluntary furlough should be discussed with your supervisor. A University request form will be available in the next few weeks. In addition, University employees are eligible to request a reduction in their current appointment based on the options available for their employee group--faculty, P&A, civil service and civil service bargaining unit. Options for voluntary reduction are available for each employee group, however, the programs vary.

Faculty, P&A, and civil service employees are eligible for the University's RECESS program which allows employees to reduce their work effort to as low as 50%, while still receiving the same University contribution toward medical and dental benefits that they had prior to the reduction. Employees represented by the Teamsters, the AFSCME 3800 (clerical) and AFSCME 3937 (technical) unions, should review their specific governing documents for information on the program that is available to them.  Employees with federal benefits should contact Kathy Murphy, federal benefits coordinator, at to determine the effect a reduction in time would have on their employer contribution to medical benefits.

In addition, employees can request voluntary leaves without pay, voluntary layoffs (CS/BU employees) and voluntary non-renewals (P&A). Tenured faculty also have an option of requesting a phased retirement.

All requests should be made directly to supervisors for review. Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee a request will be granted. In addition to considering the preferences of the employee, we will also need to take into account the impact on Extension programs and the employee's unit. For more information about any of these programs, please contact Leslee Mason at or JoAnn Hardy at in Extension Human Resources.

And, in response to another common question related to voluntary furloughs and reductions: All savings from voluntary reductions will be retained in the central Extension budget and not in the Center or program budgets.

Bev Durgan

Renee Pardello recently accepted a new position as assistant dean in the Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (EFANS). In her new role, Renee's three primary areas of responsibility for EFANS are programming, personnel, and finance and grants. Her work will include driving next steps for multidisciplinary initiatives, working closely with the evaluation team to strengthen capacity to report on impacts, providing tools to program leaders to aid them in their work with teams, helping bridge collaborations with Extension and other units on grants, managing the promotion process for educators, and pursuing ways EFANS can operate effectively as an Extension center.

Renee has diverse experience in program development, implementation and evaluation on multiple levels (rural, urban, across cultures) and during different circumstances (challenging budgets, famine, coup d'état). This experience comes from work throughout West and Central Africa and within non-formal and formal educational organizations in Minnesota. She has worked with multiple audiences: youth, volunteers, local Extension educators, natural resource professionals and community leaders.

Renee has been with Extension since 2000, most recently as a program leader for the Water Resource Management, Environmental Science Education and Housing Technology program areas. She is currently leading EFANS initiatives in international work and multidisciplinary, water-related programming.

Please join me in welcoming Renee to this new and important role for EFANS.

Greg Cuomo
Associate Dean, Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Community partners and University of Minnesota faculty and staff will host the official opening of the University's Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center (UROC) - a facility that signifies the University's commitment to the state's growing urban communities.  The open house will take place Wednesday, May 12, from 1-6 p.m. and will highlight the many research, outreach and education programs in the facility.  Extension programs that will have a presence at the UROC, including Urban 4H Youth Development, Simply Good Eating, Hennepin County Master Gardeners and Operation Frontline, will showcase their community partnerships along with providing hands-on demonstrations.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held at the UROC facility in North Minneapolis, 2001 Plymouth Avenue North.  Welcome festivities will begin at 3:30 p.m. followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and brief remarks by President Bruininks at 4 p.m. More information can be found on the UROC website.

Barb Grossman
Director of Urban Operations

Extension's central SurveyMonkey account has been extended through May 2011 to support Extension's survey needs. The list of surveys in the central account is very long, which makes it difficult to search and find current and past surveys.  To help keep the account tidy and provide more efficient search efforts, please take some time to download and delete surveys that you no longer need and file existing surveys into the appropriate SurveyMonkey folder.  It is best practice to always download your survey results to your computer so as not to rely on SurveyMonkey to store your data.

The Extension SurveyMonkey account will continue to be monitored and evaluated on an annual basis to ensure viability as a centrally supported tool.  Call the IT Help Desk at 612-624-6700 for the login and password to access this account.

Although SurveyMonkey will continue to be supported by Extension IT, we would like to encourage people to also try UMSurvey, the University-supported tool. You can find more information on the UMSurvey website, including an orientation video to help you get started.

Allison Jacobsen
Business Applications Manager

Extension is offering various technology training webinars in May and June for NetFiles, UMConnect, PowerPoint and Adobe Presenter 7. Sessions range from 30-50 minutes and are available at a distance so you can participate from your office. The sessions will help build your technology-based skills and create efficiencies in your work. 

View the technology training calendar on the employee website for specific workshop topics, descriptions and instructions on how to attend.  For questions, contact Karen Matthes.

Karen Matthes
Organizational Training Director

The University Libraries, Senate Library Committee, and Office of the Provost are sponsoring a short forum with Jason Baird Jackson, Associate Professor of Folklore at Indiana University, to discuss and learn about issues of access and authors' rights. Connect with others who wish to advance sustainable venues for disseminating the results of scholarship through their roles as authors, editors, society leaders, campus advisors and committee chairs.

University of Minnesota faculty and staff are invited to attend.  The event will take place on Wednesday, May 12, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Walter Library, Room 402, Twin Cities Campus. Space is limited so reserve your seat now or participate online by accessing the live presentation through UMConnect.

Kristen Mastel
Assistant Librarian, Magrath Library

The Arboretum's 2010 exhibit "Powerhouse Plants: Veggies By The Yard" will be on campus this year. Five designs have been created by Arboretum gardener Ted Pew, and will be on exhibit to encourage the home gardener to make space for some healthy, delicious vegetables in their gardens.

Master Gardeners will be planting all five designs in front of the Plant Growth Facilities Building on the St. Paul campus. Once a week throughout the season, they will harvest the vegetables, weigh and measure the produce, and blog about their successes and challenges on the Veggies By The Yard blog. In addition to the campus site, twelve other Master Gardener groups throughout Minnesota will also be planting one or more of the planting designs and blogging about their experiences. For more information contact Julie Weisenhorn.

Julie Weisenhorn
State Master Gardener Director

Distinguished Dean's Staff Awards

The 2010 Distinguished Dean Staff Award recipients were announced on April 29 at the Extension Staff Consultative Committee (ESCC) Staff Day.  We are very proud to have such dedicated and excellent staff within Extension and I encourage you to congratulate them for their outstanding efforts.

  • Georgia Dunlevy, Campus Support Staff
  • Kristi Stedman, Field Support Staff
  • Gloria Wolf, Nutrition Education Assistant
  • Valerie Coit, Program Staff

Bev Durgan

Stephanie Heim, Extension Farm to School Coordinator was recognized by her peers as Minnesota Dietetic Association Recognized Young Dietitian. The recognition is a way to highlight members' volunteer efforts and leadership in the area of food and nutrition.

Heim, in her role as volunteer, has built an intergenerational committee that has tackled tough issues with successful outcomes.  In her Extension role she utilizes her engaging enthusiasm and passion to help Minnesota children have access to healthful foods. 

Phyllis A. Onstad
Extension Educator, Family Resource Management

Doug Tiffany, Extension educator in agricultural business management, received the 2010 ASABE Superior Paper Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). He received this with his co-authors Vance Morey and Matt De Kam for their paper "Integrating Biomass to Produce Heat and Power at Ethanol Plants."

Krishona Martinson, Extension livestock educator, Betsy Gilkerson Wieland, Extension educator in agricultural production systems, and Tom Bartholomay, Extension evaluation specialist, have an article in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Extension titled "Evaluation of an Electronic Horse Owner Newsletter." Read the article on the Journal of Extension website.

Jillian E. Rung, sponsored project accountant, finance and planning, St. Paul Campus, 5/3/10

Lou Ann Jopp, Extension educator in food safety, will be retiring at the end of June. Lou Ann started working with Extension 46 years ago as a college student, editing Extension bulletins. She became an educator in Wright County in 1993. Lou Ann plans to spend time with her granddaughters and at her cabin, as well as gardening and traveling. Thanks to Lou Ann for her excellent work for Extension.

Katherine Waters
Program Leader, Food Science

Carol Ann Burtness, Extension food science educator in Brainerd, retired in January 2010. Carol Ann started with Extension in 1975. During her time in Extension, she co-developed trainings for faith-based organizations and food service employees, delivered programming, and was instrumental in the team's response to increased demand for food preservation information and classes. We wish Carol Ann the best and thank her for her many years of service to University of Minnesota Extension.

Katherine Waters
Program Leader, Food Science

Carl Hoffman, Extension educator, horticulture, retired on April 30. Carl started in Stearns County in 1989 as a summer assistant, increased to 50% time in 1994, and to 80% time in 2004 when he took on Benton County Master Gardener responsibilities. Carl is best known as a horticulturalist and has taught parts of the Master Gardener Core Course and the LPAT programs. Over the past 21 years, Carl has increased the Master Gardener program in Stearns County from 15 to 145 Master Gardeners. Congratulations to Carl on a great second career. We will miss his expertise, kind manner and friendship.

Timothy Arlt
Program Leader

Correction to April 15 issue:  Sherri Gahring retirement article should have read, "Protect the Applicator: Reduce the Risk; and Sun Smart Projects" as programs Sherri provided leadership to during her time in Extension.