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March 22, 2017

Extension offers one-to-one services for financially distressed farmers

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-626-4077,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (3/22/2017)—University of Minnesota Extension today announced it will begin offering one-to-one financial counseling to farmers in serious financial stress.

“We know that due to a variety of factors, including on-going low prices, some farmers find themselves facing difficult circumstances,” said Bev Durgan, Extension dean. “With our new program, Extension offers distressed farmers help in understanding their financial situation and exploring options to keep their farms functioning as a viable enterprise.”

To set up a confidential appointment with an Extension farm financial analyst, farmers can call the Farm Information Line at 1-800-232-9077.

The Extension program is expected to run for two years and will be modeled after similar services offered in states including Kansas and Iowa. It will augment services currently available in Minnesota, including the Farmer-Lender Mediation program, which is overseen by Extension, and the state Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Farm Advocates assistance.

Financial analysts include retired agricultural business professionals from Extension and other organizations. The program is set up to provide analysts at geographically diverse locations in Minnesota. They’ve undergone training to update their capabilities and will work closely with current Extension colleagues.

“Compared to the 1980s, the magnitude of the financial stress on Minnesota farms is not as widespread. That’s good news, but it may also keep the many farmers in difficult circumstances from seeking the kind of help that they need,” said Extension agricultural economist Kevin Klair, who leads Extension’s Agricultural Business Management program. “That’s why we’re working with a variety of agriculture interests in Minnesota, including the banking industry, to reach out and let farmers know we can help them explore their options.”


For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

March 08, 2017

Join citizen scientist network to help fight aquatic invasive species

Contact: Dan Larkin, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, 612-625-6350,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (3/8/2017)--Registration is now open for AIS Detectors, a new volunteer network and science-based training program to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Minnesota.  

The program is being launched at seven locations this spring by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center in partnership with University of Minnesota Extension. 

Participants will learn how to properly identify and report new findings of aquatic invasive species such as starry stonewort, zebra mussels, round goby, and others. After being trained, AIS Detectors will serve a critical role by helping the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources respond to reports of possible AIS, weeding out false positives, being on the lookout for new infestations, and providing outreach to their communities. 

The program is ideal for motivated adults over the age of 18, lake association members, Master Naturalists, AIS managers and inspectors and anyone else who has a desire to learn more about AIS. Detectors will learn how to identify 11 aquatic invasive species that threaten Minnesota, as well as their common lookalike species.

The program consists of a self-paced online course and one in-person workshop. When registering, participants will choose their workshop date and location. Options include:
  • April 21, Andover 
  • April 28, Mankato
  • May 4, Detroit Lakes 
  • May 5, Alexandria
  • June 2, Grand Rapids  
  • June 9, Bemidji
  • June 16, Brainerd 
The fee is $175, which includes unlimited access to the online course, a printed training manual, the full-day in-person workshop (including refreshments and lunch), an AIS identification field guide and networking opportunities with other AIS Detectors and experts. Scholarship applications are available.

To learn more and register, please visit


The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center works across the state to develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems; and to advance knowledge to inspire action by others. A portion of the funding for AIS Detectors program is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Learn more at

University of Minnesota Extension works in communities statewide to create a stronger Minnesota through education and research.

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

February 13, 2017

Give Valentine's Day roses the right love and they'll last longer

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-626-4077,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/13/2017)—Valentine’s Day and roses go hand in hand. Bouquet givers and receivers can extend roses beauty with tips from the University of Minnesota Extension horticulture team.

Selection: Look for flowers with a few outermost petals beginning to unfurl. Look for all petals to be fresh and not brown or discolored, especially the outer petals, which are the first to deteriorate.

Healthy leaves and stems: Leaves and stems should be medium to dark green. Yellowed or light green leaves and stems are a sign of aging flowers.

Promote water uptake: Cut the stem ends to encourage them to take up water. Use a sharp knife or pruners to avoid crushing plant tissue. If possible, cut the stems underwater or place them in water soon after cutting. Check your vase daily; roses can take up a lot of water.

Preservatives: Use the floral preservative that’s usually packaged with any deliveries or available where you purchased the flowers. Dissolve the entire packet in room temperature water before you begin cutting the stems. These preservatives typically contain ingredients that limit bacterial growth and provide carbohydrates for longer lasting flowers. Remove the leaves that will be immersed in water; this reduces added bacteria and the smelly decay that comes with it. The benefits of adding common sugars such as soda pop are a myth that actually risks increased bacteria and may shorten the bouquet’s life.

Slow flower development: Keep your flowers in a cool place. If the room where you would like to enjoy your flowers is warm, move them to a cooler place when you are away. Direct sunlight should be avoided because it can make the flowers open too quickly.

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

February 06, 2017

Deep winter greenhouse open house is Feb. 18 in Lake County

FINLAND (2/7/2017)—The Northeast Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP) and Organic Consumers Association will host a public open house at the first deep winter greenhouse to finish construction.

The open house will be from 1 to 4 p.m., Feb. 18 at the Organic Consumers Association, 6771 South Silver Hill Drive in Finland. The event includes deep winter greenhouse presentations at 1 p.m., a 1:30 p.m. ribbon cutting and tour and self-guided tours and a question-and-answer period starting at 2 p.m.

The event is free. RSVPs are requested to Greg Schweser, director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at RSDP, a part of the University of Minnesota Extension, at

Throughout Minnesota, the RSDPs are working with producers and community groups to test a prototype design of these passive solar greenhouses, which allow farmers to grow produce through the winter. This structure contains a south-facing wall designed to capture the maximum amount of solar energy. Stored heat dissipates into the air above creating an environment well-suited to grow crops that thrive in low-light and low-heat conditions.

“Deep winter greenhouses represent a future of local foods that will come from innovations to expand markets and the production season,” Schweser said.

RSDP provides information and resources on deep winter greenhouses on its resource page:

Support for this project has been provided by the University of Minnesota Extension, MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures, University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment and a consortium of agriculture lending banks.


For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

January 13, 2017

Grocery stores: Minnesota's haves and have-nots

Fresh produce is becoming less available in Minnesota's food deserts as a staggering loss of grocery stores close, particularly in rural Minnesota. In the Star Tribune, Kathy Draeger, statewide program director of Extension's Rural Sustainable Development Partnerships, shares how our research points to a growing problem -- and how efforts underway to stem the losses can make a difference.

"Not only does the future health of Minnesota depend on it, so does the economic health of so many of our communities," she writes.

January 12, 2017

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics video features Andrew Doherty, Extension SNAP-Ed educator

EatRightTV, the YouTube channel of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recently featured Andrew Doherty, a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) educator and a registered dietitian-nutritionist with University of Minnesota Extension.

"I find it important to work with low-income individuals because those are the people most at risk for nutrition deficiencies and health-related conditions," says Doherty in the video. "Being able to work hands-on with those who have the most nutritional needs is very fulfilling to me."

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed January as SNAP-Ed Month. Visit the SNAP-Ed website to learn more about the program. 

January 05, 2017

Informed southeast Minnesota communities come together on economic improvements

Brigid Tuck, Extension Senior Economic Analyst

A presentation by Brigid Tuck, University of Minnesota Extension Senior Economic Analyst, has
given inspiration to ongoing conversations in the 11-county region in southeast Minnesota.

Tuck shared reports examining the economic composition and performance of Minnesota’s twelve economic development regions with a crowd of 545 at the Southeastern Minnesota Economic Summit, hosted by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce in September, 2016. Both before and after the summit, she and other Extension specialists and educators toured communities and engaged in conversations with residents of Faribault, Goodview, and Oronoco on their economic futures.
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