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U of M Extension dean honors Bruininks, faculty

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/6/2011) —University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan honored University President Emeritus Robert Bruininks this week at Extension's annual conference. She also honored several Extension faculty members for exemplary work that helped Minnesotans improve their lives through Extension research and education.

The following is a list of recipients and awards:

Robert Bruininks, President Emeritus, Distinguished Friend of Extension
Throughout his distinguished career at the University of Minnesota, Bruininks advanced the public mission of the University, ensuring its impact as Minnesota's only comprehensive research and land-grant university.

As president, his dedication to the land-grant mission was never more evident than through his ongoing support for Extension. Under his leadership, Extension became a national model for land-grant universities, maintaining a strong and vital University presence throughout the state, taking research and education from the University into people's lives, addressing the issues that matter most to Minnesota.

Kenneth Ostlie, Extension Entomologist, Distinguished Campus-based Faculty
Ostlie delivers relevant and timely Integrated Pest Management solutions to corn and soybean growers, crop consultants and the affiliated agribusiness industry. His research on the European corn borer, corn rootworm and soybean aphids are used by industry professionals and producers to reduce and eliminate outbreaks, saving millions of dollars annually.

Robert Olen, Extension Educator, Distinguished Field-based Faculty
A horticulture educator in St. Louis County for 35 years, Olen has consistently delivered educational programming built on research-based information, providing recommendations for the climate, weather and soils of northeast Minnesota. Olen has led the St. Louis County Master Gardeners, served as a board member of the Harbor Center, supplied local food shelves and led public horticulture projects.

Aquatics Robotics Team, Distinguished Team
The 4-H Aquatics Robotics program is a field-based Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) education initiative that fosters the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Youth build their own remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to test locally, after receiving in-depth experiential trainings about SeaPerch ROV construction and water quality indicators. Teams have built connections to local soil and water conservation boards, watershed districts and lake associations by testing their projects in real settings. This has led to testing local water, cleaning up lake beds and educating other youth.

Extension Team Members: Joe Courneya, Brian McNeill, Samantha Grant, Patrick Jirik, Cara Miller, Brad Rugg and Pam Larson-Nippolt

Tobias Spanier, Extension Educator, Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion
In the changing communities of Marshall and Worthington Minn., Spanier helped members of the majority culture build upon their intentions to become a welcoming presence for newcomers from all cultures. He was instrumental in developing Integrative Community Leadership, a new leadership and civic engagement cohort program that brings together community members from multiple cultures.

Lee Raeth, Director of Field Operations, Distinguished Outstanding Leadership
Raeth has been a leader in Extension for 38 years, most recently as the director of field operations. He has built and nurtured relationships among county partners, university leaders and Extension faculty and staff. Through his leadership with Extension's regional directors, Raeth has built an efficient statewide field operations system that supports Extension education and research.

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