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Extension > Extension news > Archives > September 2008 Archives

September 2008 Archives

With gas prices at record levels, some Minnesotans are sticking closer to home, exploring "hidden treasures" in neighboring communities. These local attractions might include community festivals or fairs, an Amish farm tour or even crops tours, such as apple orchards.

These are the wildest times Francis Gervais has seen in 30-plus years of farming. The Currie, Minn., farmer doesn't know what the future holds, but he has a plan of action. "Farmers need to get in better financial shape to weather the storm that may be coming," he says. "Grain prices went up in a hurry and they can go down in a hurry, too."

To build solid financial footing, Gervais uses benchmark performance information provided by Extension educator Rob Holcomb. As Gervais gears up for what lies ahead, Holcomb and other Extension agricultural business management experts are busy helping farm families implement strategies to deal with fluctuating balance sheets, escalating fertilizer prices, squeezed livestock margins and more.

Like their ancestors before them, four middle-school students dash into a stand of young aspen. Pausing to check location information, they twist their way through the trees. Suddenly one calls out. They've found what they're looking for: a pile of deer scat.

It's Forestry and Wildlife Week at the White Earth Math and Science Academy, a five-week enrichment program held each summer on the White Earth Indian Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. The students learn about animals by observing and discussing the evidence the animals leave as they pass through an area. The students also hone high-tech navigational skills by using handheld global positioning system (GPS) receivers. And they're having a blast.

St. James, Minn., is at a crossroads. Demographics have shifted dramatically over the past two decades, transforming the classic midwestern train town into a multilingual melting pot with a higher-than-average poverty rate. Will St. James be derailed by the change, or draw vitality in its newfound diversity? With a boost from Extension and the Northwest Area Foundation, St. James factory workers, high-school students, business people, educators and civic leaders have joined together to shape an exciting new chapter in the history of this small town with a big vision.

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