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January 2012 Archives

Dean's Column (January, 2012)

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Dear Extension Retirees,

Thank you for your financial support of Extension throughout the years, and for your years of service to Extension. Your contributions are greatly valued, and your passion and dedication to Extension continues to make a difference.

Last fall Extension created a four question survey to gather information that will help us improve communication with retirees and receive valuable feedback on various Extension initiatives. If you haven't already, please take a moment to complete the online survey today. We look forward to hearing from you!

Over the past year Extension has worked with Chelsea Berndt, University of Minnesota student in agricultural education, to create the Extension Retiree Survey. Chelsea graduated in December with her B.S. in agricultural education, specialization in adult leadership and communications.

I am pleased to introduce Sadie Schroeder, our new development intern. Sadie is a communication studies major at the University, a 2010 graduate of Owatonna High School, and was a 4-H'er in Steele County for 15 years. She will be working closely with Matt Musel, Extension development officer, on projects related to enhancing Extension retiree initiatives.

Bev Durgan, Dean

Extension Retirees Connect on Facebook

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Extension recently created a Facebook group where Extension retirees can connect online as a group to share stories, thoughts, ideas, photos, etc. To join the group, visit the U of M Ext Retirees group page and click "Request to Join."

You can also connect with Extension's official Facebook page, where you can keep track of select news, read interesting stories, and join in conversations about issues that matter to Minnesotans. We encourage you to share Extension's content within your social networks, and post photos, videos or comments on Extension's Facebook wall.

If you have additional suggestions about ways in which Extension retirees can connect, send an email to Gwen Gmeinder at

Fall 2011 Issue of Source Available Online

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The Fall 2011 issue of Extension's Source magazine is available on the Extension website.

This issue of Source highlights many ways Extension furthers the tradition and spirit of using research and education to create a better future. Read how Extension educators teach farmers about agroforestry, discover how Extension 4-H prepares youth to excel in college, careers and communities, and learn how Extension joins forces with other state agencies to move the farm to school agenda forward in Minnesota.

This issue also features the impact of Extension research on understanding the brain gain in rural Minnesota, planting recommendations for the wet spring, preparing your yard and garden for winter and the launch of Voyageur Skies, by Don Breneman and Mark Seeley.

Buy Your 2012 Gardening Calendar

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The 2012 Minnesota Gardening calendar is now available from the Extension Store and can be purchased online at the reduced price of $7.50/copy + S/H and tax; suggested retail price is $14.99. Retirees receive the discounted pricing by entering the coupon code "MGC2012." Timely tips for each month guide the gardener through the growing season, and the beautiful photos offer inspiration year round. This year's special feature describes edible landscaping, incorporating fruits and vegetables in the home landscape. Profits from the sale of the calendar support the Master Gardener program. The calendar is produced jointly by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and University of Minnesota Extension.

The University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) welcomes all retired or soon-to-be-retired University faculty or staff and spouses or partners to join. The benefits of joining include: invitations to a number of events throughout the year; a monthly newsletter that contains updates on key happenings at the University; discounts to several University offerings and affiliations; and more.

Prospective members receive a complimentary meal at the monthly luncheon! The next monthly luncheon will take place on January 24 at 11:30 a.m. at the Campus Club, Minneapolis campus, and will feature Marla Spivak, distinguished McKnight Professor of Entomology. Registration is required.

To join or for more information about what the UMRA has to offer, visit the UMRA website.

A dedicated group of Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers are now blogging from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum about what they see in the arboretum's gardens and woodlands, even in winter. Recent entries document the bird species that frequent the Arboretum grounds and describe the many sounds and sights to behold during the winter months.

Epsilon Sigma Phi-Pi Chapter Awards

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The following awards were presented at the 2011 MAEE and ESP awards and recognition banquet on October 3, in Bloomington:

  • Early Career Service Award, Angela Gupta, Extension Educator in Forestry.

  • Mid-Career Service Award, Kim Asche, Extension Educator, Youth Development.

  • Epsilon Sigma Phi Distinguished Service Award, Cindy Peterson, Extension Educator, Family Resource Management.

  • ESP Continued Excellence Award, Kathleen Olson, Extension Educator, Family Relations.

  • ESP Visionary Leadership Award, Phyllis Onstad, Extension Educator, Family Resource Management.

  • ESP Administrative Leadership Award, David Werner, Chief Operating Officer..

  • Retiree Service Recognition Award, Jeanne Markell.

Read about more Extension awards on the Extension enews blog.

In Memoriam (January 2012)

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(click on the thumbnails for a larger version of each photo)

susannefisher.jpgSusanne G. Fisher passed away on October 15, age 70. She was an inspirational leader, innovator, and tireless advocate for 4-H. Her contributions and impacts to the 4-H movement reached from county to state to national to international levels and she was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in 2005. Her career spanned over four decades and she held numerous leadership positions.


Myrna Johnson.jpgMyrna Johnson, 98, of Redwood Falls, died May 10. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Agricultural School in 1937. Myrna returned to Slayton where she worked with USDA and other federal entities, and later with Minnesota Extension as a 4-H club leader. She was named Redwood County Outstanding Senior Citizen in 2001.


Mary Mangum.jpgKathleen M. Mangum, age 70, died September 1 in Olivia, MN. Her career at the University of Minnesota included a doctoral degree and working 24 years for Extension. One of her many contributions was the development of the Farmer Credit Mediation Program.



McKinnon_Jane.jpgJane Price McKinnon, age 91, died October 25, in Spring, TX after a long and accomplished life. She was a faculty member in Horticultural Science, where she taught students and colleagues across the State.



Verna Mikesh.jpgVerna Mikesh passed away on September 4, 2011, in St. Paul, age 96. Her Extension career was rich with her many contributions as a 4-H agent in Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, Otter Tail Counties, as well as her work on campus including many years as the Beta of Clovia house manager.


edplissey.jpgEd Plissey, the first regional agricultural extension potato specialist in the Red River Valley, passed away on November 14, age 77. He held a joint position with North Dakota State, making research in the Valley more practical and useful. As a national expert on potato production, he continued involvement in the potato industry well beyond his retirement.


J_Eugene_Ellis.jpgJay Eugene Ellis, age 94, formerly of Buffalo and Litchfield, died on December 14. He started his Extension career in Sioux County Iowa. He worked for the University of Minnesota Extension as a county soils agent in Wright County from 1954 to 1967. From 1967 to his retirement in 1982 he worked as an areas soils specialist in six counties with an office in Meeker County at Litchfield.

New Retirees (January 2012)

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Welcome to the new retirees who retired in August, 2011 through January, 2012

Rose Allen, Extension educator in family relations. For 26 years, her contributions centered on helping families during major transitions in their lives, teaching parents the impact of divorce and new family strategies through educational tools, such as We Agree: Creating a Parenting Plan.

Shirley Anderson-Porisch retired after a 39-year career in family resource management education that included developing curriculum and training to address the issue of financial literacy. Her ground-breaking work with addicted gamblers and their families is being used across the country.

Melvin Baughman, Extension forester and natural resources program leader, retired after serving 36 years in numerous roles ranging from educator and researcher to leadership at state and national levels.

Neil Broadwater, Extension educator in livestock and dairy education, served the people of Waseca, Winona and Houston counties for 36 years of dedicated service.

James Carlson, Extension regional director, 35 years of service. In addition to leadership in Morrison County and Brainerd regional office, he held educator positions in agriculture and 4-H youth development.

Rita Colchin, Community Nutrition Educator, Dakota County, provided 14 years of service for the Simply Good Eating East Metro Program.

Shirley Doering , regional Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development, worked 28 years starting in Blue Earth County and continued as a regional educator and co-authored "Operation Military Kids" and "Self-Care for Kids" curricula to name a few.

Timothy Dolan, Extension educator who worked in Sibley County for 21 years and provided leadership for food, agriculture and natural resources and community development programs.

Mary Duncomb, Extension education, provided 40 years of service and leadership to the 4-H youth development programs on the county, regional and state levels, working to assure young people had opportunities to learn.

Kendall Dykhuis, Extension educator in St. Louis County, worked 24 years with agricultural production systems and horticulture, addressing landfill problems and increasing the productivity for the area.

Nancy Frosaker Johnson served as an Extension regional director in Moorhead and Fergus Falls in addition to roles as an educator in family development and county Extension director in Clay County, retired with 32 years of service to Extension.

Colleen Gengler, Extension educator, family relations, with 38 years of service in Cottonwood, Nobles, Murray Counties and as regional educator in Worthington where she provided online teaching for families with teens as well as in areas of family and nutritional needs.

Janene Hodges Gilman, worked 32 years as an extension educator in family resource management, and focused on communities, families, new immigrants, unemployed and youth.

Elaine Greenfield, associate administrator for Extension, providing support for 46 years to all aspects of Extension administration from unit directors to information technology.

Kent Gustafson, community vitality, Extension educator in Tourism Center, was passionate about educating people about the world of events, the opportunities for agri-tourism and community leadership.

Jayne Hager Dee, Extension regional director for the Regional Office in Farmington, provided 13 years of building strong relationships with county officials to meet community needs.

Jo Ann Hardy retired after nearly 27 years of service to Extension Human Resources; she contributed her skills in many aspects of work--payroll and data management, employee relations, problem solving, advocacy, and coaching for employees and supervisors, work team management, and policy advising.

Chery Hays Day, Extension organizational training unit coordinator, retired after 26 years as a video production specialist. She was a major player early on in technology-enhanced outreach and received awards for her initiatives.

Susan Hooper retired after seven years as a family resource management educator. Her educational offerings were accessible in diverse settings such as jails, correctional facilities and workforce centers.

Robert Hursh, Extension information technology specialist, with 33 years of service beginning as a programmer and concluding with central system support as database administrator.

Karen Lilley began her Extension career in 1972 as a graphic designer. Her professional skills were utilized in the multiple roles she served through the years: art service coordinator, consulting communicator, computer strategist, information and technology head, print and electronic publishing leader, web coordinator, business advisor and Extension website manager.

James Linn, Extension Specialist and former department head in Animal Science, was nationally known for extensive educational programs in dairy cattle nutrition, feeding management, and replacement heifer nutrition and management.

Rae Montgomery, Extension professor and technology literacy coordinator, through her 29-year career she created distance education technology, online resources, and helped communities integrate technology advances.

Patricia Morreim served Extension for 32 years starting as 4-H agent in Anoka County and moving into leadership roles as a County Extension Director and most recently as the regional director in Andover.

Robert Mugaas, regional Extension educator, 33 years of contributions to education in turf management, weed control, integrated pest management, pesticide education and all aspects of the Master Gardner Program.

Robert Olen, Extension educator, St. Louis County, 35 years of research-based education and contributions in fields of consumer and commercial horticulture; his cold-climate horticultural field research helped increase productivity and profitability.

Kathleen Olson, Extension educator, 40 years of service starting with Goodhue County and concluding as a regional educator centering on educational programs in family relations, teaching parents the skills to raise their children in a complex world.

Phyllis Onstad retired after 26 years as an Extension educator in family development. Her work led to the development of educational programs for, immigrants, and children experiencing their parents' divorce and those impacted by disaster

Barbara Piehl, Extension educator, retired after 34 years providing leadership to the 4-H Youth Development Program on the county, regional and state levels, providing contributions to volunteer and partnership development

G. Lee Raeth, Director of Field Operations, worked in many areas of Extension for 38 years serving as a county agent to district director, lastly developing the regional director team and field operations.

Willa Reed, executive office and administrative specialist, contributor to many areas of Extension including the Center for Community Vitality, Farmer Lender Mediation program, operations and communications teams and dean's office.

June Rhoads, principal office and administrative specialist for 19 years, worked in several different capacities, most recently assisting the many clients in Extension's research development unit.

Barbara (Bobbie) Roberts, executive office and administrative specialist, worked for 35 years to support many administrative functions for Extension, including district operations, human resources and coordinating HR data systems.

Dorothy Rosemeier, Executive Director, West Central Sustainable Development Partnership, retired after 33 years in community development and civic engagement. She started her Extension career as an educator in Swift County and it evolved to leadership, dedication to sustainability and active citizen leadership.

Byron Schneider, associate professor, youth development, retired after 30 years of service to the University, teaching, research and leadership in both national and international contexts for understanding youth development.

Wayne Seidel, Extension educator for Lake County, serving 29 years, teaching natural resource education, storm water management and erosion control and bringing University resources to the region.

Russell Severson, Extension educator, 38 years of dedication to agriculture and the Northwest Minnesota community; his career included work as a research scientist, county and regional educator, with contributions to educational programs in crop improvement and soil and water conservation.

Joan Sigmundik, Executive administrative specialist, for over 27 years she provided administrative assistance to Ramsey County and the Extension Center for Community Vitality, helping program leaders, many volunteers and regional educators.

Carol Skelly, community program associate, 39 years of working with 4-H youth development programming and contributing to Cloverbud educational materials used across the state and county.

Jaclyn Smith, 24 years of service as a Master Gardener volunteer and coordinator, programs in Carver and Scott Counties grew, meeting community needs with horticulture and environmental education.

Toni Smith, Field Operations Outreach Director & Liaison to Association of Minnesota Counties, 35 years of contributions from an educator in Murray, Pope, Wabasha Counties to Extension director to outreach director for field and government relations.

Barbara Sorensen, Extension Educator, Volunteer and Partnership Development, 32 years of leadership to 4-H youth development programs at the county, regional and state level. Resource to colleagues in volunteer and partnership development.

Minnell Tralle, Extension educator, family relations for over 36 years, served as a 4-H youth development agent in Washington County, home economist agent in Sherburne County and program leader and regional educator in family relations.

Joyce Walker, Extension Professor and Assistant Director, Extension Center for Youth Development, 28 years of service to youth development, created critical and innovative programs bridging research and practice in youth work.

William Wilke, Extension specialist, developed a regionally renowned and nationally-recognized program on the post-harvest handling of crops, including grain drying and storage. His programs have widespread use by grain farmers throughout the state.

Did You Know?

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Extension retiree Don Breneman and Extension climatologist Mark Seeley, are authors of new book Voyageur Skies. The book chronicles spring, summer, fall and winter in Voyageurs National Park through Don's stunning photographs, while Mark explains the effects of weather and climate on the shaping of the park's pristine landscape. Copies of "Voyageur Skies" are available for purchase through the Extension Store.

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