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August 2009 Archives

Dean's Column (Summer 2009)

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Dear Extension Retirees,

You are invited to join us in celebrating Extension's Centennial on Thursday, September 3, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the 4-H Building at the Minnesota State Fair. We will have a short program, light refreshments and a special performance of Arts-In during our celebration.

You should have received an invitation in the mail with details. If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to Gwen Gmeinder no later than August 20; call 612-625-6795 or e-mail

I know that mobility is an issue for some, so if you need assistance, please let us know that when you register.

I look forward to seeing you at the celebration!

Extension's 2009 Fall Program Conference will be held at the St. Paul Crowne Plaza Hotel, October 5-7. The conference provides the following options for Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) members:

Monday, October 5
3:30-4:30 p.m. Dean Durgan's presentation
4:30-6 p.m. Poster session/appetizers

Tuesday, October 6
5-6 p.m. ESP annual meeting

Extension Internships

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As a result of generous gifts from individuals like you, University students can share their ideas and energy this summer while gaining educational and scholarly knowledge and experience in discipline-based programming as Extension interns. Interns located at Extension offices across Minnesota are working on a variety of topics such as 4-H, horticulture education and program promotion to Latino audiences.

If you would like to invest in the next generation of Extension educators and staff, please consider making a gift to this program. Gifts to the Extension internship fund can be made at the University's Giving website (fund #3500) or mailed to the University of Minnesota Foundation, CM-3854, PO Box 70870, St. Paul, MN 55170-3854. For more information, contact Matt Musel, Extension development officer, at 612-735-1890 or

Combating Emerald Ash Borer

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Since the emerald ash borer (EAB) was discovered in a St. Paul neighborhood on May 14, Extension resources on identifying EAB and making decisions about ash trees have been in great demand. In addition to information on Extension's EAB webpage, a new publication, "Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer," gives detailed insecticide recommendations, and guidelines for informed decision making.

On June 30, Extension hosted one of three regional EDEN Food Protection Conferences on the St. Paul Campus. Along with participants at nine satellite sites across the area, more than 120 Extension professionals, food industry representatives, and local, state, and federal agency staff attended the conference. In addition to presentations by national and local experts, attendees received hands-on preparation and training by working together on a case study and risk communications exercises intended to improve consumer safety.

New Field Guide for Novice Naturalists

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The Extension Environmental Science Education team has developed a new field guide to selected native species commonly found in Minnesota prairie and wetland ecosystems. The field guide, Prairies & Potholes: Characteristic plants, animals, and geologic features of Minnesota's prairie grasslands, provides illustrations and descriptive text to help novice naturalists identify representative grasses, soils, woody plants, seasonal flowers, mammals, insects, aquatic and upland birds, wetland plants, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

The field guide provides an excellent introduction to the prairie biome for Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, teachers, youth, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Orders can be made through the Extension Store for $4.95 per copy.

The popular perennial calendar, Minnesota Gardening 2010, makes a great holiday gift for Minnesota gardening enthusiasts. The calendar, produced jointly by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and University of Minnesota Extension, is available for purchase online or by phone from the Extension Store, (800) 876-8636. Profits from the sale of the calendar are used to fund Master Gardener research and demonstration projects.

This award winning 12-month calendar has beautiful color photos and timely tips for lawn, garden, and house plant care. This year's special feature provides information on using vines in Minnesota home landscapes.

New Retirees (Summer 2009)

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Mark Ascerno, Extension educator, entomology, retired on July 3 after 33 years of service to the University. Mark's most recent appointment was as professor and department head, Department of Entomology.

Barbara Liukkonen, water resources education coordinator and Extension professor retired from her position on May 31. Her 24 years of contribution ranged from safe drinking water and volunteer monitoring to shoreland education and invasive species.

Valerie Prax, Extension educator in water resource management and policy at the Extension Regional Office in Mora, retired on July 31. Her 34-year career spans the natural resources and environment field.

Gail Tischler retired on June 30 after 34 years of service. Gail held a number of communication positions within Extension from the development of educational slide sets to writer, editor and project manager.

Patrick Weicherding, regional Extension educator in urban forestry at the Regional Office in Andover, retired on June 30 after 16 years of service in the natural resources and environment field.

In Memoriam (Summer 2009)

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Evelyn Harne passed away on July 23, at age 89. She dedicated her entire career to University of Minnesota Extension, serving in Polk, Crow Wing and St. Louis counties before joining the state 4-H staff on campus from 1952 to 1975. She held many leadership roles, including associate state leader in 4-H and youth development, president of Phi Upsilon Omicron, and president of Epsilon Sigma Phi.

What Makes a Small Town Thrive?

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Educators from the Extension Center for Community Vitality were joined by residents of Grand Rapids and Jeff Horwich of Minnesota Public Radio (and other panel members) to discuss "What Makes a Small Town Thrive" on June 22. You can listen to the audio clip on the MPR News Q website.

This year, as more people have searched for ways to stretch their food budgets and enjoy the benefits of eating healthier foods, information about growing fruits and vegetables has been in high demand. In addition to gardening tips available on the Extension garden information website, a video about container gardening was produced to show how simple it is to turn a patio, deck or balcony into your very own vegetable haven.

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