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Extension Program Excellence Awards

2017 Candidates

For photos, see our news release.

*Denotes Extension Program Excellence award winners

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders Today*

Team members: Macine Lukach, Dawson Schefter, Stanley Dick, Todd Borchardt, Cavalier County Job Development Authority, Kayla Lee, Chalmer Dettler

Twenty-four students in grades 8-12 from Langdon Area, St. Alphonsus, Walhalla and Munich Schools spent three Sundays gaining skills in public speaking, effective communication, effective meeting management, parliamentary procedure, managing conflict, personal branding and legislative strategy. They attended a board meeting, heard from local leaders, and taught parliamentary procedure to younger students. They also met with legislators and the state superintendent. After the program, 100 percent felt they were now prepared to serve in a leadership role; 88 percent felt confident they could run a meeting using parliamentary procedure. Three months later, 92 percent had accepted a leadership role in an organization they belong to. Parent comments included, “I feel my daughter is more willing to volunteer to lead after completing the BTLT’s program,” and “My son understands the steps of leadership and how to be a leader. Program very beneficial.” An adapted program will continue on a statewide basis.

Design Your Succession Plan*

Team members: Crystal Schaunaman, Carrie Johnson, David Ripplinger, Joel Lemer, Paige Brummund, Ashley Ueckert, Cindy Klapperich

Data reveal that 77 percent of all farm assets are owned by those age 70 years or older, yet less than half of N.D. farms and ranches have a succession plan in place. The curriculum to help families start the process consists of five modules: Starting Your Succession Plan, Determining What You Want, The Next Generation and Your Legacy, Family Meetings and Conversations, and Choosing and Working with Professionals. After developing the curriculum, the program has had 400 participants since the 2014-15 pilots. After the 2016-17 programs, 97.8% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to work on their succession plan in the next six months, and 97 percent were confident in their ability to gather the information they will need to meet with a professional. A one-year follow-up comment was, “Meeting with a professional went well because we got ideas from the seminar. We saved so much money and time and had less frustration.”

The Family Table: Eat, Connect, Savor

Team members: Julie Garden-Robinson, Carrie Johnson, Kim Bushaw, Sean Brotherson, Bob Bertsch, agents and partners in 30 counties

Meals eaten as a family tend to be more healthful, save money, and give families an opportunity to communicate and strengthen relationships. The goal was to introduce new, younger audiences to Extension and to increase family mealtimes among participating families to at least three times per week. This statewide program provides families with tips, meal plans, recipes and conversation starters to help make family meals happen. Resources included a website, a Facebook page, at least three information releases per month, a monthly e-newsletter, promotional materials and 13 audio PSAs. From January to September, the website had 19,658 page views by 2,253 users with an average session duration of nearly 7 minutes. The Facebook page reached 67,342. Of those, 2,920 are considered “engaged users” because they “liked” or “commented” on a Facebook post. Analytics show that social media is reaching younger adult audiences and can help improve the nutritional wellbeing of North Dakota citizens.

Farm Safety Day*

Team members: Duaine Marxen, Christina Hansen, Craig Askim, Amanda Dahners, Chelle Doll

This year’s Farm Safety Day focused on:

  • Lawn and yard safety: safe riding and push mower use, safe weed and hedge trimmer use, and blade maintenance
  • Sun savvy awareness: skin cancer risk, sun protection factor, UV light exposure with a bracelet that changes color
  • CPR: practice with CPR dummies, AEDs, first aid and safe barriers when exposed to blood
  • Safe sound levels: sound samples and hearing loss, ear protection

On pre- and post-tests, students significantly increased their knowledge in all four program areas. For example, the CPR pre-test results showed 29 percent correct responses, and the post-test reflected 87 percent correct responses. A survey 3½ months after the event showed behavior change. For example, 60 percent said they now wear long pants and closed-toe shoes when mowing the lawn, 81 percent said they apply sunscreen and 74 percent said Walmart bags are not safe blood barriers.

Forks' Well Fed

Team members: Molly Soeby, Jean Noland, Linda Kuster, Megan Hruby, Nikki Johnson, Linda Hammen, Caryl and Ben Lester, Brooke Riendeau, Marty Jackson, Katie Skarda, Kacey Morgan

With input from the Extension Community Forums and a United Way grant, the team delivered six hands-on nutrition classes using the CREATES Farm Fresh Food with Food $ense curriculum from Utah State University Extension. Forks’ Well Fed incorporated the Mobile Market Trolley for access, tokens to purchase the recommended amount of daily servings for the family (supplementing SNAP and WIC) and an Earn-As-You-Learn component for the incentives offered. Over five months, participants who attended class:

  • earned monthly produce tokens and small kitchen tools
  • received recipes featuring the fresh produce highlighted in their class
  • spent time at the Town Square Farmer’s Market with their children helping to give them a sense of belonging in our community
  • purchased fresh produce and had their children help pick it out 
  • learned about agriculture and healthy eating

Of the eight who completed the program, 100 percent reported increased consumption of produce.

From Sheep to Sweater (and More)*

Team members: Kristi Berdal, Angela Johnson, Leigh Gunkel, Katelyn Hain, Megan Vig, Stacy Wang, Dave Haasser, Travis Hoffman, Stacy Luehring, Rita Kainz

With a Community Forum Pilot Program Grant and Department of Agriculture mini grant, the team developed an agriculture literacy program for elementary school youth that focused on the sheep industry.  Between April and December 2016, they delivered the lessons to all public school elementary students and staff in Griggs, Nelson and Steele counties, reaching more than 650 individuals. Each lesson consisted of a slide program and three hands-on activity stations: the meat and cheese from sheep, including tasting lamb meatballs; sheep care, including their digestive system feeds they eat and docking tails; wool properties, feeling wool and viewing the fibers under a microscope, spinning wool into yarn. Students also got to see and touch a live sheep.  Six months after the lessons, 67 percent of teachers felt that their students had a better understanding of the sheep industry and what agriculture is, and 100 percent plan to schedule more Ag in the Classroom programs with Extension staff.

On the Move to Better Health: Kids Cooking School

Team members: Julie Garden-Robinson, Mary Jean Hunter, Susan Milender Toppen, Kimberly Fox, Deb Johnson, Shaundra Ziemann-Bolinske, Maxine Nordick, Rita Ussatis, Nicole Smith, Janet Wanek, Amanda Dahners, Dena Kemmet, Michelle Effertz, Vanessa Hoines, Kari Helgoe, Kayla Carlson, Sara Laite, Ronda Gripentrog, Karen Armstrong, Vicky Arvidson, Cindy Klapperich, Christina Rittenbach, Lu Morehouse, Jamie Medbery, Tara Sondeland, Ellen Bjelland, Trisha Jessen

The On the Move Cooking School curriculum was piloted as a four-day cooking camp in four Fort Yates/Sioux County communities during two consecutive summers. Results showed that hands-on food preparation increased skills in food preparation and food safety, and taught nutrition and health concepts. The lessons were designed for Native American children, including food and cultural practices information. The curriculum was revised for broad use and shared with more than 400 children in 19 counties in 2017. The eight hands-on lessons included preparing snacks, basic gardening skills, eating right while eating out and exploring our food system from farm or ranch to table. The children received a cooking kit at the end. Children have improved their cooking knowledge and skills and reported that they eat vegetables and fruits more often after the program. The program was selected to be a nationally featured program in the National 4-H Council/Walmart Foundation video.

Pizza Garden

Team members: Kayla Bakewell Carlson, Ronda Gripentrog, Chandra Langseth, Deb Evenson, Millie Steckler, Wahpeton Youth Club, Wahpeton Parks and Rec, Wahpeton Public Schools, Wahpeton Summer Food Program

The pizza gardens offered students and staff of the Wahpeton Youth Club the opportunity to learn about growing vegetables and other plants in container gardens, the benefits of physical activity and nutrition. Family Mealtime cards were created for each family to take home. Topics on the mealtime cards focused on the content learned in the six lessons. The pizza gardens concluded with a comprehensive game of jeopardy and a pizza party. During the pizza party, youth had the opportunity to make personal whole grain pizzas using herbs they had harvested from the garden that morning. After the project, 92 percent of the youth understood their food came from agriculture, farms, or fields/gardens, and 92 percent of the families said they were likely to plant a garden or container pot in the future or were already doing so.

Youth Lead Local

Team members: Jodi Bruns, Acacia Stuckle, Sue Quamme, Carmen Rath-Wald

The team adapted the adult Lead Local program and piloted it on Election Day for 25 Ashley, Linton and Napoleon student council members. The students experienced the Real Colors personality assessment, how to create agendas and run effective meetings, the importance of parliamentary procedure and group decision making, how to deal with conflict and ethical leadership. FFA members demonstrated parliamentary procedure using how to make trail mix as an example. Each school’s attendees worked on a project to put their new skills and tools to work. Napoleon organized fundraising efforts to help a teacher to adopt a child. Evaluations at the end of the workshop day showed that 100 percent of participants felt they could use the ideas or skills they learned during the workshop. Six-month evaluations indicated the students appreciated learning about parliamentary procedure, working as a team, and organization of and dedication to a project.

2016 Candidates

*Denotes Extension Program Excellence award winners

Ditch Hay Program*

Team members: Carl Dahlen, Miranda Meehan, Fara Brummer, Kevin Sedivec, Karl Hoppe, John Dhuyvetter, Danielle Steinhoff, Paige Brummund, Yolanda Schmidt, Mark Miller, Katelyn Hain, Bradley Brummond, Kelcey Hoffmann, Megan Vig, Angela Johnson, Brian Zimprich, Breana Kiser, Nicole Wardner, Timothy Becker, Lindsay Maddock, Joel Lemer, Kelsie Egeland, Ashley Stegeman, Sheldon Gerhardt, Crystal Schaunaman, Craig Askim, Katie Wirt, Jackie Buckley, Richard Schmidt, Duaine Marxen, Becky Buchmann, Kurt Froelich

North Dakota livestock producers commonly cut and bale hay in road ditches, but no information has been available on the quality of the hay or the variables
impacting the quality. In addition, increased activity on rural roads in some parts of he state has caused more dust accumulation on plants adjacent to the roads, leading to questions about nutrient quality and the suitability of these forages as livestock feed. Extension agents from 29 counties collected and characterized samples from 82 operations in 36 counties, and the samples were analyzed for nutrient content. Agents reported the findings to the participating producers and developed presentations to disseminate the results to others. Participating producers reported n increase in knowledge and understanding of the variation in the ditch hay’s nutrient content (64 percent), factors that impact quality of ditch hay (55 percent) nd the importance of forage testing (55 percent).

Farm Safety: It Won’t Happen to Me!

Team members: Rick Schmidt, Dawn Alderin, Katie Wirt, Duaine Marxen, Calla Jarboe, Craig Askim

Farm accidents can happen to anyone. In 2015, 56 farm machines were rear-ended on North Dakota’s public roadways. Some 375 farmers and 113 children die from
on-farm accidents annually. Extension agents held several safety programs this year, including a three-day tractor safety school at the North Dakota 4-H Camp. Twenty- one youth from across the state learned about farm safety and how to operate farm machinery properly. Hettinger County agents organized a full-day safety program for local elementary schools. The program addressed tractor, ATV, electrical and grain safety. In May, a two-hour ATV safety segment was conducted in New
England, with more than 100 youth participating. Grant County agents started a summer program to educate teenagers on various agriculture topics, including farm safety. Students who took these courses reported they didn’t realize how dangerous farm equipment could be and what they need to
know to operate farm equipment on public roads.

Field to Fork: Enhancing the Safe Use of North Dakota Specialty Crops*

Team members: Julie Garden-Robinson, Allie Dhuyvetter, Stacy Wang, Bob Bertsch, Deb Tanner, Ellen Crawford, Scott Swanson, Tom Kalb, Esther McGinnis, Clifford Hall,Todd Weinmann, Kyla Splichal, Glenn Muske, Shaundra Ziemann-Bolinske, David Saxowsky

Ensuring safe, nutritious food is critical not only for the consumer, but also for the specialty crops industry. Foodborne illnesses related to fresh fruits and vegetables have risen in recent years. The team designed a project to enhance knowledge and safe food handling of specialty fruit and vegetable crops from field to table. Fourteen webinars were archived on YouTube for future use. A comprehensive website was developed for new and existing Extension information about certain specialty crops. Ten Field to Fork handouts were developed for use in farmers markets. An online mini-course was created using Versal software. Other marketing materials also were
developed. More than 450 people have attended the webinars. Forty-nine percent indi- cated they will change their behavior as a result of the webinars. The website has been viewed by 4,470 visitors and the archived YouTube webinars have had 1,038 views.

Fork’s Well Fed Program

Team members: Jean Noland, Linda Kuster, Kayla Bakewell, Linda Hammen, Molly Soeby, Hannah Harmon (Stable Days Youth Ranch), Caryl Lester (Town Square Farmers Market), Brooke Riendeau (University of North Dakota Community Nutrition and Public Health), Brittany Lindstrom (UND Dietetics), Rick Hogan (Hugo’s Family Marketplace)

According to Hunger in America 2014, 58,100 people in North Dakota turned to food pantries and emergency meal programs to meet their nutritional needs. However, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients often don’t know what to do with the fresh produce they purchase with their SNAP dollars. The Fork’s Well Fed program provides monthly classes to teach nutrition and engage families in hands-on demonstrations that emphasize how to plant, harvest, clean, store, prepare, serve and preserve fresh produce. Participants also learn about unit pricing to find the best food deals and how to read Nutrition Facts labels to make more healthful choices. They also have increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables, knowledge of purchasing and using local produce, confidence in their ability to prepare a healthful meal that their family will eat, and knowledge of handling produce and eliminating waste.

Herbicide-resistant Weed Watch

Team members: Brad Brummond, Richard Zollinger, Tom Peters

Weed resistance is making rapid advances in North Dakota, and Walsh County has been confirmed to have glyphosate-resistant kochia. Waterhemp also has become a problem in North Dakota. Extension staff used two problem-based learning exercises to reinforce lessons at pesticide training meetings to help producers identify and control weeds. The first example was a glyphosate-resistant field in Walsh County. The second problem was weed resistance in a Richland County field. Participants worked in groups, using the NDSU Weed Control Guide and information from presentations on resistant weeds and weed resistance strategies. Eighty percent of the participants achieved a high level of skill on the problems. Ninety percent were able to identify characteristics of Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and redroot pigweed. The program created awareness of weed infestations, and at least one serious infestation was stopped when a producer identified waterhemp in a Walsh County field following a training session.

Kids, Compost, Crops and Consumption*

Team members: Alicia Harstad, Kelcey Hoffmann, Nikki Johnson, Linda Schuster, Stacy Wang, Todd Weinmann

Ninety-two percent of North Dakota children do not eat enough vegetables, and the average American consumer is three to four generations removed from agriculture. A multidisciplinary Extension team created Kids, Compost, Crops and Consumption to teach youth about nutrition, agricultural production and the origin of their food. The program was piloted to 80 third- and fourth-graders in a Fargo school. Six monthly lessons focused on different parts of the food cycle. Each student received a square-foot garden box and the supplies and information to grow spinach during the summer. Students also received and tasted two spinach recipes. Every lesson also promoted daily physical activity. Following the program, 97 percent of the students reported knowing livestock use plants as food; 78 percent know paper can be composted, compared with 41 percent before the program; and 85 percent indicated they are more willing to try new fruits and vegetables.

Large-scale Unmanned Aircraft System Data Collection, Processing and Management for Field Crop Management

Team members: John Nowatzki, Sreekala Bajwa, Martin Ossowski, David Roberts, Angela Johnson, Alyssa Scheve, Joel Ransom, Hans Kandel, Sara Ogundolani, Jana Daeuber, Melanie Ziegler, Aaron Reinholz, Siji Saula, numerous NDSU undergraduate and graduate students

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are a rapidly developing technology for crop and livestock production in North Dakota and throughout the world. North Dakota producers are interested in selecting UAS equipment, managing and processing imagery collected with UAS, analyzing the data and implementing it into their
crop and livestock management. This project is a new approach to UAS crop and livestock management applications. Project personnel used a large-scale Hermes 450 UAS and several small UAS to collect high-resolution imagery at various elevations in a 100,000-acre corridor in Traill and Steele counties for use in precision field crop management decisions. The UAS collected crop plant stand counts, and data on selected crop nutrient deficiencies and diseases, weed identification and crop yield predictions. Project personnel are comparing the usefulness and economics of imagery collected from UAS with satellite imagery and data from field observations, in-field optical sensors and crop harvest yields.

North Dakota Junior Master Gardener Program

Team members (Extension staff): Dean Aakre, Karen Armstrong, Kristi Berdal, Lindy Berg, Mary Berg, Andrea Bowman, Kim Braulick, Brad Brummond, Paige Brummund, Anitha Chirumamilla, Amanda Dahners, Amelia Doll, Dan Folske, Julie Garden-Robinson, Katelyn Hain, Alicia Harstad, Amanda Hayen, Marcia Hellandsaas, Bill Hodous, Vanessa Hoines, Kim Holloway, Caroline Homan, Angie Johnson, Callie Johnson, Tom Kalb, Annie Mae Kelly, Breana Kiser, Carrie Knutson, Julie Kramlich, Samantha Lahman, Brenda Langerud, Joel Lemer, Lindsay Maddock, Duaine Marxen, Karla Meikle, Lu Morehouse, Peggy Netzer, Carmen Rath-Wald, Steve Sagaser, Crystal Schaunaman, Kelsey Sheldon, Tara Sondeland, Ashley Stegeman, Acacia Stuckle, Rachel Wald, Janet Wanek, Nicole Wardner, Katie Wirt, Megan Vig, Todd Weinmann, Brian Zimprich
Non-Extension team members: Tim and Tammy Aronson (Boy Scout Troop 203), Margaret Azure (Cankdeska Cikana Community College), Shaun Azure and Terry Breno (Dunseith Community Home), Erika Berg (Kindred Sandburrs 4-H Club), Angela Boser (Cub Scout Pack 435), Mary Brenden (NDSU Master Gardeners), Becky Brown and Mary Kester (Peace Lutheran Church), Ron Carlson (Lisbon FFA Alumni), Netha Cloeter (Plains Art Museum), Tina DeGree (Dakota Boys Ranch), Natasha Deplazes (Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm), Jeff Ellingson (Hay Creek Kids 4-H Club), Summer Englehard (Carpio Lutheran Church), Jacqueline Frederick (Turtle Mountain School), Mindy Grant (Clover Friends 4-H Club), Laura Halvorson (Metigoshe Ministries), Jamie Hardt (Independence Inc.), Jennifer Hein (Lisbon Public School), Melissa Hendrickson (Horizon Middle School), Amanda Huettl (Max FFA), Lisa Iverson (NDSU Master Gardeners), Andrea Jang (CHARISM), Doug Kuruc
(Richland County 4-H), Curt Larson (NDSU Master Gardeners), Deb Lee (Ransom County 4-H), Lou Ann Lee (Lucky Leaf 4-H Club), Rita Leistritz (Faith/Journey Lutheran Church), Miranda Letherman (Jamestown Fine Arts School), Ruby Lawler (St. John Public School), Debbie Lund (NDSU Master Gardeners), Rena Mehlhoff (Big Brothers/Big Sisters), Kristin Mitchell (Mount Pleasant School), Brenda Morman (Chahinkapa Zoo), Ross Myers (community volunteer), Valerie Potter (North Central Juvenile Drug Court), Sister Pamela Pranke (Grace Episcopal Church), Marita Rau (Finley-Sharon FFA), William Robinson (Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral), Jon Schiele (Edgeley Public School), Lucas Schmaltz (Northern Cass FFA), Mariana Shadden (Circle of Nations School), Desi Severance (Wyndmere FFA), Jace Stallman (Boy Scout Troop 263), Cynthia Varriano (Bennett School), Vera Walker-Boyle (Litchville Clover 4-H)

Ninety-two percent of North Dakota children do not eat enough vegetables, and an estimated 78 percent do not get enough physical activity. The North Dakota Junior Master Gardener Program provides hands-on programs that reach more than 5,000 youth in more than 50 counties every year. The Extension Service also has awarded $30,000 to 65 youth gardening projects. Extension staff provided educational support to all of the projects and led 43 of them. Partner organizations included schools, youth clubs, child-care centers, churches, businesses and organizations. Project leaders reported youth developed skills in gardening and science. Children also learned how to eat a healthful diet and enjoyed being active in the garden. The youth also gained experiences in helping their community through public service. Projects assisted in the production of 30,000 pounds of fresh vegetables, which were donated to food banks, churches, new Americans, the elderly, needy families and school cafeterias.

Try-Day Tuesdays With My Plate

Team members: Linda Kuster, Kayla Bakewell, Carrie Knutson, Nancy Smith, Carole Hadlich, Linda Hammen; Sara Bilden (Emerado Elementary School), Leslie Wiegandt (Wilder Elementary School), school staff, community celebrities

One of North Dakotans’ priority issues is good nutrition and wellness. Try-Day Tuesdays was a recurring event during which more than 300 students and school staff sampled a healthful food from each MyPlate food group. The team encouraged youth to bring the easy, low-cost recipes home to make with their family. Featured “community celebrities” promoted tasting each food group. Celebrities included fire fighters, police officers, University of North Dakota athletes, Miss North Dakota International and 4-H alumni. Students and staff were encouraged to wear the color of the food group highlighted, and shared jokes, clues and tips about the food. After tasting the new food, each student and staff member received “I Tried It” stickers. Classrooms with the most stickers received a prize. Results of the Try-Day ballots from the schools indicated that more than 90 percent of participants liked the food offered from the grain, dairy and fruit groups.

Watch Me Grow*

Team members: Kayla Bakewell, Willie Huot, Michael Knudson, Linda Kuster, Jean Noland, Steve Sagaser, Molly Soeby, Nancy Smith, Linda Hammen, Carole Hadlich, Grand Forks Head Start staff

An Extension community forum in Hillsboro highlighted community and family concerns, including a lack of good-quality family opportunities, health and wellness at a young age, access to healthy affordable foods and information on how to grow your own food. Discussion at a fall Extension Advisory Council meeting elicited a need for a family-orientated outreach program in rural Grand Forks County communities. An Extension team developed Watch Me Grow to deliver education on container gardening and nutrition while providing for family and community engagement. The program was delivered in Northwood and Larimore and to Head Start youth and their families. Families chose between a pepper and tomato plant and among pea, bean or carrot seeds to plant in grow bags. Results indicated 90 percent had successful container gardens, 80 percent ate vegetables from their container gardens and 60 percent saved money by growing their own vegetables.


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