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Smith-Lever centennial celebration continues

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In 1914 the Smith-Lever Act created the national system for Extension. Special events to mark this centennial anniversary have included:

  • A video about Extension in Minnesota was created to celebrate the 100-year anniversary.  Check it out: "Extending knowledge, changing lives."
  • Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), was in Minnesota to speak at an international conference on food and science.  On April 30, Extension faculty and staff in northeast Minnesota hosted him at the Cloquet Forestry Center where he  learned  more about University of Minnesota Extension.
  • On May 8, the date of the actual signing of the Smith Lever Act, a national centennial convocation was held in Washington, D.C.  Bev Durgan, Dean;  Aimee Viniard-Weideman, assistant dean of communications and public relations; and David Werner, chief financial officer, participated in the national celebration.
  • Throughout 2014, National Cooperative Extension is celebrating the centennial with a project called "Extension Reconsidered." The project engages 13 land-grant universities, including University of Minnesota, to reflect on and envision Cooperative Extension's role and relevance in higher education across the U.S. In Minnesota, we will hold conversations in a variety of settings.  The primary Minnesota Extension Reconsidered event will be part of the July 30-31 Rural Design Conference at UM Crookston.
More information about the Smith-Lever anniversary is available on the Cooperative Extension website.

U-Lead Advisory Academy

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The U-Lead Advisory Academy (ULAA) is a leadership program for friends of Extension, like you, who are ready to strengthen their ability to provide leadership in their communities. The program will also help you discover Extension's innovative programs through site visits, speakers and activities. This year, ULAA will explore the theme of Leadership for Healthy, Livable Communities. You will gather insights, experiences and resources on this important topic as you learn, connect with fellow participants, and visit communities.

The six month cohort experience will allow you the opportunity to learn, to connect with others around topics of community leadership, to visit the City of New Orleans and learn about their community revitalization efforts after Katrina, and to apply what you learn with support from a network of others who can be trusted colleagues. After your ULAA experience, the Extension Leadership and Civic Engagement team will offer continuing education experiences, and will even offer a chance for an international tour that will support Minnesota's effort to support the global economy.

Scholarship applications are being taken until May 30th, and registration will open on June 2nd. Visit the ULead Advisory Academy website for additional program and registration information.

Center for Small Towns Symposium

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The Extension Center for Community Vitality is a collaborating partner for the 2014 Center for Small Towns Symposium, to be held June 4-5 at the University of Minnesota Morris. This event has a long tradition of helping rural Minnesota consider its opportunities and issues. The focus this year is "Understanding rural migration: Myths, trends and opportunities." Speakers will present research that unpacks migration trends, flows, and economic impacts, and will also explore practical strategies to recruitment and retention of residents in rural Minnesota.

Ben Winchester, Extension research fellow, is the symposium's keynote speaker, presenting his research about rural Minnesota migration. Ben's research goes beyond the overall trends, examining specific data that, for example, monitored the trend of 30-49 year olds moving into rural places. Extension faculty and staff, partners, stakeholders and others who are concerned about the future of rural Minnesota are invited to attend. For more information and to register, visit the event website.

Mary Page Community-University Partnerships Fund

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The Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund has been established to provide support to Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP).  Mary J. Page (1934-2013) was a voice for rural Minnesota. As a commissioner for Renville County, mayor of Olivia, a U of M Regent, and in many other leadership roles throughout the state, she carried the concerns of outstate  Minnesota to important policy-making circles. Mary helped to create, and then served on, the founding board of the West Central RSDP from 1999-2007, and gave vision and leadership to RSDP until 2009.

It is in honor of Mary's commitment to rural communities and RSDP that this endowment has been created, beginning with a founding gift and a matching gift from members of the Page family, which will leverage additional donations. Donors can give online, or contact Jane Johnson, Extension development director, 612-626-3717 or to learn more.

Estate planning survey

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A survey on estate planning to support Extension programs and 4-H will be going out to Extension retirees in phases over the next several months. Coordinated by the University of Minnesota Foundation, the survey asks participants about charitable planned gift intent, provides info on the Heritage Society of the U of M President's Club, and seeks out interest in additional information on charitable remainder trusts, charitable gift annuities, testamentary bequests and other forms of estate planning. Thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in the survey.

4-H Golf Classic event

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The Minnesota 4-H Foundation Golf Classic will  take place on Monday, June 23, at the Medina Golf and Country Club, 400 Evergreen Road, Medina, 12:30 p.m., shotgun start. This annual event provides an opportunity for businesses and individuals to help Minnesota youth see their potential by providing support for the Minnesota 4-H Foundation.

In addition to meeting 4-H youth and learning about their projects, additional featured activities include playing on a 18-hole private golf course, silent and fund-a-need auctions, lunch, on-course beverages and a hearty dinner. Reserve tickets through the Minnesota 4-H Foundation. Reservations should be made for golfers as well as non-golfers who want to attend the banquet and silent auction. For information, contact Erin Kelly-Collins at 612-624-7971 or email Please make your reservations by June 13.

Awards and Accomplishments

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Mark Seeley, Extension climatologist, is one of three honored recipients of the Siehl Prize for 2014. The prize, awarded annually by the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, honored the Siehl Prize laureates at a ceremony in McNamara Alumni Center on the university campus on Thursday, May 22. Other honorees are Richard Magnusson (production agriculture) and Tom Rosen (agribusiness).

Media Moments

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After a long winter, Minnesotans were eager to get out in their farm fields and home landscapes, but a cold spring brought more challenges. Throughout the state, Extension helped viewers understand and cope. For example, in this WCCO-TV report Dave Nicolai, crops educator, talked with WCCO-TV's Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield about "rush hour in the countryside" as farmers try to plant their crops before it's too late. And in this report on Minnesota Public Radio, Gary Wyatt, forestry educator, gave homeowners advice about protecting trees from hungry animals. Extension's horticulture educators, like Julie Weisenhorn and Sam Bauer, can be heard on Smart Gardens Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. on WCCO-AM, taking questions from listeners.

Do you have a question about your spring-summer landscape? Ask a Master Gardener is an online tool that lets you put your question on a simple web form (you can even attach a photo!) and receive a research-based answer from a volunteer Master Gardener within 48 hours.

SNAP-Ed Funding

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A new five-year Farm Bill and the President's 2014 budget have passed the U.S. House and Senate. Both restore most of the funding for the national SNAP-Ed program. We are pleased to see this support for SNAP-Ed and will use any additional funding to add staff to our new regional model.

However, we do not expect to receive all of the funding outlined in the Farm Bill and the President's budget. While funding is authorized in the Farm Bill, the actual appropriations are determined each year and may be less than what is authorized, based on national budget realities. In addition, Minnesota's SNAP-Ed funding is scheduled to be reduced by at least 10 percent each year for the next four years as part of a national effort to redistribute the SNAP-Ed funding across the states. And, the SNAP-Ed grant is administered by the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services, which contracts with Extension to deliver the nutrition education to SNAP eligible participants. As with all grants, we cannot assume the funding is recurring. This is why we are committed to our new regional model that will allow us to expand and contract based on the actual funding.

Smith-Lever Anniversary

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2014 is the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. This federal act established the Cooperative Extension Service, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities to extend research-based knowledge through outreach education. University of Minnesota was ahead of the curve, establishing Extension in 1909, five years before the 1914 federal act which established a state-by-state national network to improve the lives of families, youth, farmers, communities and businesses. While we celebrated Extension's centennial in 2009, we will observe the federal anniversary in 2014. Watch for more information about how you can participate in the national social media campaign and other opportunities to support the anniversary.

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