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January 2009 Archives

When interest in lawn care grew in the 1970s and '80s, Extension horticulturist Bob Mugaas set aside his rose pruning shears and swung his full attention to the shorter, finer plants that make up turf. As he balances aesthetic needs with environmental quality, Mugaas teaches Minnesotans how to address pesky lawn problems with fewer pesticides, less water and thankfully, less work.

Lawrence Simonson began reaching out to Minnesota resort owners four decades ago, when he sensed needs within the tourism industry the University could help address.

For decades Minnesota families have looked to the University for answers to their more pressing questions. In the 1920s, they struggled to feed and clothe children on severely limited budgets. In the 1940s, they learned to grow victory gardens to produce balanced meals with limited resources. And in the 1990s, some battled teen drug and alcohol issues.

4-H youth get green

January 1, 2009

Minnesota 4-H conservation work dates back to 1926, when a state forester helped 4-H participants grow red pine seedlings at Itasca State Park. The goal, according to T. A. Erickson, the state's first 4-H club leader, was to help youth learn to appreciate trees, flowers, grass, bird and animal life, lakes and hills, good soil, and their importance in our lives. The reward is towering red pines, which are still appreciated by park visitors today.

More than 80 years later and some 150 miles away, a 4-H Green Team works on maintaining the Superior Hiking Trail. As they navigate the forests and ridges outside Duluth, they admire similar stands of massive red pine along stretches of the trail.

Throughout the years, Extension educators have visited classrooms, teaching children the importance of eating right. Today the need seems stronger than ever. Thanks in part to the appeal and widespread presence of junk food, the percent of children ages 6-11 who are overweight nearly tripled between 1976 and 2004, from 6.5 to 18.8 percent.

Fortunately, Minnesota doesn't experience insect plagues like Laura Ingalls Wilder did from her little house on the prairie in the 1870s. The last major grasshopper invasion in the 1930s damaged crops but left behind the foundation for a problem-solving partnership. This research-based approach became the model that farmers, state officials and Extension would follow to tackle problems.

Help for honeybees

January 1, 2009

For Extension entomologist Marla Spivak, reaching into a hive of swarming bees is business as usual. But she's less concerned about getting stung than she is about honeybee survival.

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