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August 2011 Archives

Dean's Column (August 2011)

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Dear Extension Retirees,

I hope you are able to join me and your fellow Extension retirees on Tuesday, August 23 for our annual retiree celebration. This year, we will be hosting a luncheon to honor our retirees at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Maple Grove.

So please mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 23, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. and plan on joining us to see old friends and hear the latest updates on Extension.

Please watch for the email invitation and be sure to RSVP to Gwen Gmeinder (, 612-625-6795) by August 15.

I look forward to catching up with you in August!

Bev Durgan, Dean

Nutrition Education Assistant Name Change

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Effective January 1, the Extension Nutrition Education Assistant (NEA) title has changed to Community Nutrition Educator (CNE). CNEs provide direct delivery of the Extension Simply Good Eating program and the new title more accurately reflects their work in community nutrition education and parallels other similar paraprofessional positions. "Assistant" has frequently caused confusion with partners and participants. While CNEs are supervised by Extension educators and program coordinators, a CNE receives training, uses research-based curricula and establishes program sites and relationships with partners. This name change does not change the great work CNEs are doing across Minnesota.

Survey of retirees - Research and engagement

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Matt Musel, Extension development officer, is directing a research project designed to gain more insight into Extension retirees and retiree engagement. The research is being conducted by Chelsea Berndt, currently a senior in agricultural education at the University of Minnesota. The project began in fall 2011 through demographic research on 343 Extension retirees in the University Foundation database. Chelsea found that 88.8 percent of retirees have remained in the state of Minnesota, and that 26.5 percent of retirees are alumni of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. Furthermore, 86.1 percent of retirees have supported the University of Minnesota through a donation.

Chelsea has utilized this information to develop a four-question survey for retirees and has been busy administering the survey via phone. If you receive a phone call from Chelsea, please take a few minutes to talk with her. The data we collect through your participation will be used to improve communication with retirees and receive valuable feedback on various Extension initiatives.

On April 26, the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) and the University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) sponsored a seminar, "The New Tax Law and Estate and Gift Planning Strategies." In response to requests from retirees who were interested in the information but could not attend, we asked for a short overview of the seminar content from Lynn Praska, UMF planned giving representative. Here are notes from Lynn on the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The Act contains a provision to extend the opportunity for donors to make qualified charitable contributions from their IRAs, which expires December 31, 2011.The rules are:

Donors must be at least 70 1/2 when the gift is made.
Distributions must be from an IRA and will satisfy the donor's minimum required distribution (MRD).
Distributions must be made directly to the charity.
Allows for an exclusion from gross income of up to $100,000 per year for otherwise taxable distributions. There is no income tax deduction involved, only the exclusion from gross income.
Gifts must be made "outright" - they cannot be used for a gift annuity or charitable remainder trust.
The Act also:

Temporarily extends the 2010 ordinary income tax rates for all individual taxpayers for two years (through 2012).
Continues lower tax rates for qualified stock dividends and long-term capital gains.
Provides a temporarytwo-year$5 million estate tax exemption with a 35 percent tax on estate assets over $5 million for persons dying before January 1, 2013.
If Congress does not act before then, the $1 million exemption and 55 percent estate tax will return in 2013.
Congress also reunified the gift and estate tax systems that were separated in 2001 so that the $5 million exemption applies to both gifts given during life and those that pass to heirs at death.
Any unused exemption carries over to the surviving spouse.
Because it is difficult to condense a two-hour seminar into bullet points, you are welcome to contact Lynn Praska directly if you have any questions about the Act, or about how to support Extension with an estate gift; she can be reached at 612-624-4158 or

Get all the latest Extension headlines

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If you would like to know when Extension hits the news, subscribe to the Extension In The News news clips. We will email you each Tuesday with links to stories about Extension programming and partnerships, or stories that quote Extension experts on newsworthy subjects.

In The News is a weekly sampling of recent Extension news clips from local, regional, statewide and national sources. Collected online via GoogleNews, In The News represents about one-third of Extension's total news clips.

To subscribe, send an email to, or subscribe from Extension's news website.

New Retirees (August 2011)

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Cindy Bigger retired after 30 years in Extension that included an early role as a Clearwater County 4-H summer assistant and more recently, an educator in Leadership and Civic Engagement. Her contributions have been many for 4-H youth, volunteers, Farmer Lender Mediation partners and local government and community leaders.

Raymond A. Bisek, after 21 years of work in the fields of agriculture and natural resources, will retire at the end of May. Ray's career spanned work as a county agent, original farm info line and more recently, collaboration as an Extension educator on corn and soybean trials in northwest Minnesota.

Donna Geiser, Extension educator who has worked with 4-H youth development program for over 25 years, retired in May.

James Kurtz retired at the end of June from his nine year appointment as an Extension educator in agricultural business management. He also served as the field representative for the Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association, working out of the Extension Regional Office in Worthington.

David A. Nelson retired in July after 13 years of Extension programming in community vitality. His contributions were many, most known were in the development of the Economic Impact Analysis offerings and in-depth analysis of Rural Health Works.

Harlan Rosendahl provided leadership in regional 4-H youth development programs, both with North Dakota Extension Service as well as in Anoka and Douglas Counties, and most recently in the Extension Regional Office in St. Cloud. He retired on June 30 with 30 plus years of service.

In Memoriam (August 2011)

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John Edward Becker died on February 2 in Sioux Falls, SD, at age 93. Known as "Ed" to his friends and colleagues, he had a distinguished 31-year career with Extension working as an Extension agent, later as an area director in Grand Rapids and as a district director for southeast Minnesota.

Leonard B. Hertz, age 86, Roseville, died on January 28. He was a professor in the Department of Horticultural Science from 1967 to 1991; his research centered on cultural and chemical weed control methods for fruit and vegetable crops .

Clara "Pat" Pogalz passed away on November 20, 2010, at Fairview Care Center in Dodge Center. Pat was the Dodge County 4-H youth agent for a number of years. A celebration of her life was held on June 4 at Riverside Cemetery, Dodge Center.
Evelyn M. Falkoski , age 68, of St. Paul, passed away on July 13 after a battle with cancer. She worked as a receptionist in Coffey Hall and in Extension's Office of Special Programs.

A cold, rainy spring meant delayed crop planting for Minnesota farmers. It has also meant more chances to reinforce Extension's reputation as a source for credible, research-based information.

Several Extension faculty and educators were busy with state, regional and local media covering this topic. Liz Stahl and Russ Severson, explained the late-planting situation to a broad audience on MPR's Morning Edition, and David Nicolai helped WCCO-TV present accurate information to metro viewers. Seth Naeve, Jeff Coulter and Nicolai reached farmers with related research-based information for decision-making via Ag News Wire columns, which are distributed to hundreds of local and ag news sources. These columns appeared, for example, in Minnesota Ag Connection and Tri-State Neighbor. Local educators such as Jodi DeJong-Hughes and Dan Martens (and several others) gave interviews to ag

A video featuring Operation: Military Kids (OMK), which supports military youth in Minnesota in discovering positive ways to cope with deployment, is now available on Extension's YouTube channel. The video was created to pitch the timely program to the news media and to feature the program on the internet. YouTube makes it easy to share videos by email or on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites - just click the "Share" button below the video for options.

The topic of military families is newsworthy as approximately 2,500 troops from Minnesota are preparing to be deployed in the coming months. In addition, more than 15,000 youth have already been affected by the deployment of a parent or loved one.

Did You Know? Larry Zilliox has a TV show

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Early in his Extension career, Larry Zilliox was a Douglas County livestock educator and also worked with 4-H youth, but he finally turned to horticulture because of all the gardening interest around the lakes in Alexandria. In the latest career turn for this retiree, Larry became the T.V. host of the Prairie Yard and Garden show produced by the University of Minnesota Morris on the local PBS affiliate.

Now filming his fourth season, Larry says he enjoys the chance to interview gardeners in their own backyards and to feature Extension Master Gardeners on the show, as well as the occasional Extension specialist or retiree. Many previous episodes are available for viewing on the show's website. (Check out Extension retiree Mary Ann Scharf on the Storing Vegetables episode!)

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