University of Minnesota: U of M Extension celebrates more than 1,400 partnerships across all 87 Minnesota counties

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University of Minnesota Extension collaborates with communities across the state, providing U of M research, expertise and educational experiences through a network of local offices operating in every one of Minnesota’s 87 counties. The important role Extension plays in all three parts of the University’s mission—and the recognition of this role through a dedicated goal in MPact 2025, the University’s systemwide strategic plan—will be discussed by the Board of Regents Mission Fulfillment Committee next Thursday.

Joined by a current U of M student and 4-H alum, Extension Dean Beverly Durgan will outline how Extension discovers science-based solutions, delivers practical education and engages Minnesotans in their communities on their terms. Durgan will also provide updates on progress made toward the MPact 2025 goal for Extension to expand its partnerships by 20 percent by 2025.

Durgan will highlight the depth and variety of Extension outreach. More than 65 percent of Extension’s 800 researchers, educators and community-based staff live and work in Greater Minnesota. Through 15 regional offices, 87 county offices and the University’s research and outreach centers and campuses, Extension faculty and staff make University research and knowledge accessible and readily available to all Minnesotans, no matter where they live.

Local community involvement drives Extension successes, including the important role volunteers play in Extension programs. In 2021, volunteers across the state contributed nearly one million hours of time in support of 4-H, gardening and nature programming, and as community advisors.

While discussing opportunities and challenges in Extension’s ongoing pursuit of new partnerships, Durgan will also celebrate some of the growing partnerships that have fueled incremental progress toward Extension’s MPact 2025 goal. These include Extension’s role in health partnerships exploring solutions to the opioid and mental health crises, addressing rural leadership needs and working with school districts on clean energy solutions.

Based on fall 2021 survey data representing 734 Extension faculty and staff, Extension was engaged in 1,414 unique partnerships statewide. This established a baseline against which numbers will be measured annually in the years ahead. Extension will also qualitatively review partnerships to determine areas of the state or sectors that could be served more effectively.

As part of its September meetings, the Board is also expected to:

Welcome Regent Tadd Johnson, who will be sworn in during Friday’s meeting.
Discuss progress toward MPact 2025 enrollment goals with leadership from U of M Crookston, the first in a series of discussions with the University’s five campuses.
Receive the annual report on academic program changes from Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson.
Review University President Joan Gabel’s recommended legislative budget request for the 2024-25 biennium.
Review Gabel’s recommended six-year capital plan.
Discuss results from the 2021 Employee Engagement Survey with leadership from the Office of Human Resources.
Consider the Board’s public engagement approach, both how community input is invited and received, as well as how information is publicly shared.
Receive annual reports from Gopher Athletics and the University of Minnesota Foundation.
Discuss updates related to public safety on the Twin Cities campus.

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