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November 2012 Archives

Dean's Column (November 28, 2012)

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Dear Extension Retirees,

Over the last five years, you have helped to grow Extension's development and fundraising capacity. Working with our first development officer, Matt Musel, many of you have helped raise more than $4 million for Extension programs including agriculture, natural resources, leadership and families. The development team now also includes two part-time major gift officers, Jayne Hager Dee and Nancy Frosaker, and five student workers.

Earlier this fall, Matt moved on to other opportunities in fundraising and politics and we welcomed Jane Johnson as our new chief development officer. Jane is a third generation Golden Gopher, with a degree in design from the College of Human Ecology. She comes to us with a wealth of development experience, including the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, University of Minnesota Foundation, Minnesota Museum of Art, and the Regional Parks Foundation of the Twin Cities. Jane will be working alongside Cara Miller, director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation.   

I thank you for your generous support of Extension and I look forward to working with you and Jane. Together we can continue to grow Extension's reach and impact through gifts that support Extension education and research.

Bev Durgan

Professional Development Grants for Retirees

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University of Minnesota Retirees' Association's (UMRA) program of Professional Development Grants for Retirees is now entering its fifth year. These grants have provided support for retirees wishing to continue or develop new research/scholarly/creative interests. Proposals are now being solicited for the 2013-2014 cycle of grants, and the request for proposals (RFP) and required cover page are now available on the UMRA website. The deadline for applications, which must be submitted electronically, is December 10, with award decisions to be announced in March 2013.

Direct questions to Judd Sheridan (, chair of the grants committee, or other committee members listed in the RFP.  

University President Eric Kaler delivered a keynote address at Extension's program conference in October. President Kaler talked about the role of Extension and the University in making Minnesota a better place to live.  Here are a few highlights of his address:

"I think it is safe to say that no University college or program touches the lives of Minnesotans the way Extension does. During my first 18 months at the University, I've traveled across this state and everywhere I go I see Extension's reach: from food and agriculture to youth and families, to community leadership and economic development.

The University's impact reaches into every household. A recent economic impact study found that the University of Minnesota generates $8.6 billion a year in economic activity in the state. That means we return $13.20 to the state's economy for every dollar of state funding we receive.

Like the rest of the University, Extension depends on state funding to be able to deliver the education Minnesotans count on. We need to ensure that the state continues to invest in the University and Extension so we can continue to invest in Minnesota."

The 2012 Minnesota State Fair was a chance, once again, for Extension to demonstrate how 4-H youth development helps prepare young people to lead and succeed. Approximately 320,000 people visited the 4-H building, where they viewed 2992 exhibits. Including livestock, there were 5,866 youth exhibitors, and 324 youth participated in the Arts-In performance. If you missed the Arts-In performance, or would like to know more about how it helps kids improve their leadership skills, watch a 3-minute video on YouTube.

President Eric Kaler and wife Karen visited the 4-H building again this year, and Karen even participated in a 4-H science experiment in which youth scientists attempted to  "walk on water" (a pool of cornstarch and water) as they learned how the mixture acts like a liquid when being poured, but like a solid when force is applied.

Extension volunteer Master Gardeners were also a popular presence at the fair this year. In addition to answering questions from fairgoers, they presented an exhibit on biochar, a nutrient-rich co-product of a biofuel production process. Master Gardener volunteers have been part of a University research team studying the effectiveness of biochar as a soil amendment. 

Year End Giving Options

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As you know, Extension takes University research and education into people's lives, engaging Minnesotans to address many of today's complex issues. Your gift to Extension will make a difference throughout Minnesota.

Some ways retirees have chosen to continue their support for Extension is through fully deductible charitable contributions to the following funds: Extension Dean & Director's Fund (#3419), Extension Internship Fund (#3500), Minnesota Extension Workers Scholarship Fund (#2941), and Qualey/Skjervold Extension Scholarship & Professional Development Fund (#3162).  

Gifts to support Extension can be made online (click on Make a Gift), or mailed to the University of Minnesota Foundation (designate Extension as gift beneficiary and fund of interest), CM-3854, PO Box 70870, St. Paul, MN  55170-3854.   

For questions about giving, or including Extension in your estate plan, contact Jane Johnson, Extension Development Officer, at 612-626-3717 or  

New Retiree

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Maxine Norman retired September 7 after eight years of contributions to Extension's leadership and civic engagement programs, focusing on adult education, curriculum and evaluation. She helped communities face change by engaging them in technology adoption, leadership development, and poverty reduction. 

In Memoriam

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(NOTE: Click on the thumbnail photo to view a larger version.)


Jean W. Bauer, age 67, of Falcon Heights, passed away on July 23. Jean grew up in Terre Haute, IN and earned degrees from Indiana State University, Purdue University and University of Illinois. She was a professor in the University's Department of Family Social Science since 1983. She provided exceptional leadership and mentoring to her department, college, the University, Extension and her research communities.


Harvey Bjerke, 93, passed away in West Concord on September 1. Harvey received his degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota and retired from Extension as an associate professor after 25 years. Harvey managed the Citizens' State Bank in Mantorville for 10 years; he was co-founder of Trinity Lutheran Church of West Concord and served on the school board and town council.


Norman A. Brown passed away on September 25, at age 73.  He received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from Michigan State University and was an honorary recipient of the Doctor of Laws Degree at the University of Natal in South Africa. He was one of the original founders of EARTH University in Costa Rica. His distinguished academic career included faculty and administrative positions at Michigan State University, state director of Michigan 4-H, dean and director of Minnesota Extension, president emeritus of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as leadership positions with many national boards and foundations.


Paulene Mims died January 12 in St. Paul. An Alabama native, Paulene moved to Minnesota in 1968. She worked as an agricultural assistant at the Extension Office in Ramsey County, where she had the opportunity to utilize her passion for cooking, sewing and gardening. Paulene's positions were community-based, working with youth in 4-H programs, and with families as a nutrition economist. After retirement she continued as a Master Gardener.  She was 84 years old when she died.  


Lawrence R. Simonson, known by many as a pioneer in bringing the tourism industry to the forefront of Minnesota, died November 25 in Brainerd at age 87. He was a founding father of the Tourism Center at the University of Minnesota. Larry worked with many resorts and tourism industries doing workshops and resource development. He was the first recipient of the Outstanding Individual of Tourism Award and honored by the governor in 1987.  

Extension's Response to Disasters in Minnesota

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National Disaster Preparedness Month, celebrated in September, reminded us of the important educational role Extension and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) play in increasing the ability of Minnesotans to prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

When record breaking amounts of rain fell in the Duluth area in June, causing unprecedented and unexpected flooding, Extension responded by mobilizing staff who provided flood-recovery information to 730 families at local disaster recovery centers. The educators shared Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit, and answered questions on recovering damaged documents, recordkeeping for insurance, food safety, septic systems, mold, and the effect of flood water on lawns and gardens.

The effort did not go unnoticed. The Governor's Disaster Proclamation stated that the state looked to Extension to provide "information on a variety of basic household questions and how to prepare food safely following a flood and guide flood victims through financial decisions related to disaster recovery."

Did You Know? (News About Retirees)

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Extension Retirees (and Former 4-H'ers) Reminisce About Extension Experiences

The Houston County 4-H program holds the record for producing more University of Minnesota Extension educators than any other county in the state. In an article in the Caledonia Argus, former Extension educators Diane Damerow, Carol Ann Burtness, Naomi Fruechte, Janet Beyer & Phyllis Onstad, all former Houston County 4-H'ers as well, discuss their careers and time with Extension.

Recent Retirees Reach Out

Jayne Hager Dee, former regional director at the Extension Regional Office in Farmington, is working with Extension's Development Office to reconnect with Extension retirees throughout the state. Since June, Jayne has been concentrating on retirees who live in greater Minnesota; this winter and spring she will be meeting with retirees who live in the Twin Cities area.

Nancy Frosaker, former regional director in the Extension Regional offices in Fergus Falls and Moorhead, returned to Extension in May to work part-time as a fund development officer in northwest Minnesota. Her efforts have concentrated on the NW Emerging Leadership program as well as establishing a county 4-H endowment. Her time has been spent on donor contacts.

Their efforts have been warmly received and they report hearing some rich stories from long-time Extension careers. They both look forward to learning again about the importance of Extension and the University of Minnesota's presence in communities throughout the state.

Voyageur Skies Honored with Regional Award

Voyageur Skies: Weather and the Wilderness in Minnesota's National Park has won the 2011 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award in the Art & Photography category. Voyageur Skies chronicles spring, summer, fall and winter in Voyageurs National Park through Extension retiree Don Breneman's stunning photographs, while Extension climatologist Mark Seeley explains the effects of weather and climate on the shaping of the park's pristine landscape.

The Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards is a joint venture of the UMD Library, Friends of the Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers.

Stay in Touch with Your Former Colleagues on Facebook

Extension Retirees and Friends Facebook group now has 47 members. Have fun keeping in touch with your former colleagues, share thoughts, ideas and photos. You can post updates about your volunteer work, or classes, workshops and other opportunities you are taking advantage of that your former colleagues might also find inspiring. To join, go to the University of Minnesota Extension Retirees group page and click "Request to Join."

We also hope you will connect with Extension on Facebook. By hitting the "Like" button on Extension's Facebook page, you can read select news, and join in on conversations about issues that matter to Minnesotans.

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