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September 15, 2015

Showcasing the Extension-County partnership at the 2015 State Fair

Bev Durgan
By Bev Durgan, Dean, University of Minnesota Extension, for "Minnesota Counties" newsletter

The 2015 State Fair once again provided an important opportunity for Extension to showcase our youth, county partnerships, Master Gardeners, and Extension education and research to the more than 1.5 million people who attended the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
In the 4-H building and animal barns, counties were well-represented by the 5,630 4-H’ers who came to share their hard work and learning through the showing of 2,689 projects and 2,849 animals. Their projects—from engineering to photography to livestock—began in their counties, where they are supported by families, communities, volunteers and 4-H program coordinators. Watching youth discover the courage and confidence to perform or present their learning in front of a crowd is always inspiring.

I want to thank the county commissioners from the AMC-Extension committee who joined me and our 4-H’ers in the 4-H building during their August meeting. Your support is what keeps 4-H alive in our counties.

As you know, after the fair is over, youth bring back their learning to apply it in their home counties. As they learn and develop essential skills that they’ll use throughout their lives—like problem solving, decision making, coping, communicating and responding to the needs of others—they turn around and give back to their communities.

The State Fair was also a chance to share research and education with fairgoers of all ages and interests. Extension Master Gardener volunteers worked each day of the Fair, answering the gardening questions of nearly 5,000 fairgoers in just 12 days. These trained volunteers learn research-based information from University of Minnesota Extension horticulturists and other experts, and share it by volunteering at least 25 hours each year in counties across the state.

Counties are currently taking the opportunity to renew their three-year contracts with Extension for positions including 4-H program coordinators, local agriculture educators, Master Gardener program coordinators and family development positions. We greatly appreciate your investment in county Extension staff and look forward to more programming that meets your county needs and continues to improve lives.
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