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Extension turnover: favorable trends (2/10/2017)

While we want all dedicated personnel to spend their entire career with the NDSU Extension Service, we recognize that staff members sometimes leave Extension for personal reasons, new career opportunities, or other reasons. Some also retire after long and distinguished Extension careers.

Over the past year, the Extension Leadership Team (ELT) has been looking at staff turnover rates to determine how we, as an organization, are doing with retention. To do so, we compared turnover rates for our Extension agent positions to those in other parts of North Dakota state government for the years 2011 through 2015.

According to North Dakota Human Resource Management Services, the division within the Office of Management and Budget that deals with human resource issues for state government, 12.5% of North Dakota state employees left their jobs in 2015 (Table 1). You will also note that turnover for traditional state agencies has increased from high single-digit percentages several years ago to low double-digit percentages now.

ND State Agency Turnover 2007-2015

Now let’s look at turnover with our Extension agent positions (see below). As you will see, our turnover has decreased steadily over the past few years, from 14.8% in 2011 to 8.8% in 2015.

NDSU Ext Agent Turnover 2011-2015

The good news is that turnover of Extension agent positions is lower than that of North Dakota state government as a whole, and while turnover of state employees has been increasing in recent years, our turnover is actually decreasing and, realistically, cannot get much lower.

That’s not to say that we are happy with losing a percentage of our staff every year. We invest significant time, energy, and funds to recruit, hire, train, and support staff, and we don’t want anybody to leave Extension on bad terms. If you have concerns, please visit with your supervisor, mentor, or a member of the ELT. We would much rather address underlying issues or problems than to see an employee leave the Extension Service.

The ELT would also like to think that we have high levels of employee retention because we hire great people and are committed to a set of core values. These include a culture built on honesty, making a difference, valuing lifelong learning, and valuing all people.

The NDSU Extension Service is doing great things, and we are awed and grateful every day to work with such passionate and talented people as we have in Extension. We hope that you feel the same way.

Extension Leadership Team

(Extension Director Chris Boerboom; District Directors Jim Gray, Kim Ruliffson and Ron Wiederholt; Program Leaders Brad Cogdill, Lynette Flage, Deb Gebeke and Charlie Stoltenow; Ag Communication Director Becky Koch; Assistant to the Extension Director Lori Lymburner; and Administrative Interns Carrie Knutson and Sam Markell)

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Another Fellow among us (2/9/2017)

Rich Zollinger 2017

Please join me in a round of applause for Dr. Richard Zollinger, professor and Extension weed specialist with the Department of Plant Sciences. On Monday of this week the Weed Science Society of America recognized Rich with their highest honor – the Fellow Award – at their annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona. Nominees must be active members of WSSA for at least 10 years and have made substantial contributions in more than one of the following areas: professional publications; educational contributions other than publications; development of improvement of weed science programs, practices and products; other professional contributions; service to WSSA or regional conferences; and service to the profession outside the society. There’s a “rich” write-up on page 14 of the awards booklet that describes Rich’s significant accomplishments.  

This is quite an honor, Rich. We’re proud of you!

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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NDSU ombudsperson services (2/6/2017)

Kristine Paranica is NDSU’s ombudsperson, and she has recently notified NDSU Extension that she is expanding the outreach services of her office to more fully include us. She is offering to assist any staff members that are experiencing bullying or bullying behaviors, and to assist staff groups with group conflict, climate concerns, or other group mediation or facilitation needs. More information on the Office of the NDSU Ombudsperson and services is at Please note that Kristine may be able to travel as part of her service (contingent on funding), but you can always contact her by phone at 701-231-5114, or by email at   

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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Carrie Johnson selected as FCSRJ Emerging Scholar for 2016 (2/3/2017)

Carrie Johnson 2016Less than six months into her career with NDSU Extension, Dr. Carrie Johnson, assistant professor, and personal and family finance specialist, is being recognized nationally as the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal (FCSRJ) Emerging Scholar for 2016. FCSRJ selected Carrie for her paper titled, “Perceived Value of College as an Investment in Human and Social Capital: Views of Generations X and Y." The article met the criteria of being an original topic; demonstrating high standards in research design and methodology; and having the potential to make a lasting contribution to theory and/or practice in family and consumer sciences.

Carrie has been invited to receive the award at the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences annual conference that will be held at Dallas, Texas the end of June.

Applause photoCongratulations, Carrie! We’re proud of you.

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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Make 2017’s educational programs the best ever (1/10/2017)

Plan of work development is in full swing! To potentially spark a new idea for content and/or delivery as you build your programs, have a look at the applications for the four programs chosen for the 2016 Program Excellence Awards. We’ve posted them on a new Program Excellence Awards website.  We’re great at learning from and collaborating with each other in Extension, and this is just one more way to do that. Also continue to visit with colleagues and others as you build your programs because most times, the more feedback you get, the better the program will be.

Ron Wiederholt, Southeast District Director

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Employees selected for upcoming professional development and leadership opportunities (12/15/2016)

PILD – A slate of nominations were submitted by the respective presidents of the NDEAFCS, NDAE4-HYW, NDAEAA and ESP for the Public Issues and Leadership Development (PILD) Conference at Crystal City, Virginia in April. Our delegates, who will learn more about and communicate the public value of Extension Service educational programs, will be:

  • Mary Berg, Livestock Environmental Management Area Specialist - Carrington REC
  • Ken Hellevang, Agricultural Engineer - Ag & Biosystems Engineering
  • Vanessa Hoines, Extension Agent, FCS - Morton County
  • Monique Steltzer, Extension Agent, 4-HY - Cass County
  • Jim Gray, Southwest District Director - group contact

NELD North Central – Already announced in an earlier post, here’s a reminder of who was selected from the applications for the 2017 class:

  • Mark Boetel, Entomologist - School of Natural Resource Sciences
  • Paige Brummund, Extension Agent, ANR - Ward County

Administrative/ELT Internship – The Extension Leadership Team was pleased to receive a number of applications for the 2017 administrative internship. Joining the ELT in 2017 will be:

  • Carrie Knutson, Extension Agent, 4-HYD - Grand Forks County
  • Sam Markell, Plant Pathologist - Plant Pathology

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Dena Kemmet and Crystal Schaunaman for the many contributions they made to discussion and decision-making during 2016. The ELT learned much from them and previous interns, and we hope they feel the same.

Fall Conference – The 2017 Fall Conference will follow a format similar to this year’s and will be held Oct. 24-27 at the Fargo Holiday Inn. The three agent associations nominated members for the committee, RECs made their recommendations based on their established rotation, and state specialists were selected by the ELT to round out the committee. Many thanks to these leaders in committing to plan Fall Conference.

  • Bryan Hanson, Research Agronomist - Langdon REC
  • Naeem Kalwar, Soil Health Area Specialist - Langdon REC (co-chair)
  • Carrie Knutson, Extension Agent, 4-HYD - Grand Forks County
  • Susan Toppen, Extension Agent, FCS - Barnes County (co-chair)
  • Dave Ripplinger, Extension Bioproducts/Bioenergy Economist – Agribusiness & Applied Economics
  • Thomas Stefaniak, Assistant Pulse Crop Breeder - North Central REC
  • LoAyne Voigt, Extension Agent, ANR - Renville County
  • Stacy Wang, Extension Associate – Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences
  • Deb Gebeke, Becky Koch and Blaine Schatz – ex officios
  • Elizabeth Cronin, Conference Coordinator – Ag Communication

Applause photoPlease join me in a round of encouraging applause!

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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16 Extension employees recognized (12/13/2016)

The ceremony for the NDSU Agriculture and Extension Faculty/Staff Awards was held on campus last Thursday. I had the pleasure of helping recognize the 15 Extension colleagues who were nominated for awards of excellence. The nominees and recipients were:

  • Chris Anderson, Production Manager-Print & Copy Services/Agriculture Communication
  • Paige Brummund, Extension Agent, ANR/Ward County
  • Carl Dahlen, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist/Animal Sciences (recipient AGSCO Excellence in Extension Award)
  • Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist/Agriculture Communication
  • Michelle Grant, Accounting Specialist/Plant Sciences
  • Hans Kandel, Extension Agronomist/Plant Sciences
  • Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent, FCS/Mercer County
  • Sharon Lane, Distribution Center Manager/Agriculture Communication (recipient, Donald and Jo Anderson Staff Award)
  • Miranda Meehan, Extension Livestock Environmental Stewardship Specialist/Animal Sciences
  • John Nowatzki, Extension Ag Machine Systems Specialist/Ag & Biosystems Engineering
  • David Ripplinger, Extension Bioproducts-Bioenergy Economist/Agribusiness and Applied Economics
  • Andy Robinson, Extension Potato Agronomist/Plant Sciences (recipient, Myron & Muriel Johnsrud Excellence in Extension/Outreach Award)
  • Acacia Stuckle, Extension Agent, FCS & 4-HYD/Emmons and Kidder Counties
  • Danelle Walker, Assistant Office Manager-Entomology/School of Natural Resource Sciences
  • Todd Weinmann, Extension Agent, ANR- Horticulture/Cass County

Ag and Ext Faculty/Staff Awards 2016I said at the ceremony, and will say again here, that I sincerely thank not only the nominees for their outstanding work, but those who took the time to tell their peer’s stories and the selection committees who had the very difficult task of selecting only one recipient for each award.


Pictured left to right are President Bresciani, Carl Dahlen, Sharon Lane, Andy Robinson and Chris Boerboom



Cavalier SCD Achievement Award 2016Last, but certainly not least, please join me in a shout out to the Langdon Research Extension Center and Naeem Kalwar for their recent selection for a North Dakota Soil Conservation District Achievement Award. LREC Director Randy Mehlhoff noted, “Naeem Kalwar’s Extension soil health program is directly responsible for the Langdon REC being named the achievement winner for 2016 in Cavalier County. His soil health program is educating growers on the importance of soil health both in workshops and in real life practices at the Langdon REC.”

Congratulations all!

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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Wonder what ELT does? Apply for an administrative internship. (10/25/2016)

Please consider applying for an ELT administrative internship. Lynette Flage, Ken Hellevang, Jodi Bruns, Julie Garden-Robinson, Charlie Stoltenow, Ron Wiederholt, Rita Ussatis, Mohamed Khan, Chris Augustin, Kevin Sedivec, Todd Weinmann, Lisa Pederson, Joe Zeleznik, Dena Kemmet and Crystal Schaunaman have all joined the ELT as administrative interns. They’d recommend it to others as a good learning experience. The ELT also finds tremendous value in the fresh perspectives and insights interns bring to the team. If you are a full-time agent, or area or state specialist with a master’s or doctorate, and have five of more years of service with NDSU Extension, please consider if this is your time to apply. We’re taking applications for a Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017 appointment now through Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Click here for a description of the program and application form.

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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Celebrating Fall Conference 2016 (10/25/2016)

Thanks to all for a highly successful Fall Extension & REC Conference. I didn’t know how Bruce Sundeen would manage it, but he captured the essence of NDSU Extension Service (us) in our green and gold last Thursday. Here’s to Extending Knowledge; Changing Lives.

2016 Fall Conference Group Photo

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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“Let’s Make Work Better” (10/14/2016)

Without a doubt, NDSU Extension has great accomplishments every day. But at times, it’s tempting for the hiccups in a day to get our attention. This is where a great TEDxUMN Talk titled, “Let’s Make Work Better,” can help all of us reset our outlook. In the Talk, Dr. Theresa Glomb, accomplished professor with the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, lays out some research-based tips that make me re-think my day. Check out the description and short video at the link below for practical advice to “gripe less and celebrate more, stop multitasking, and help others.”

Deb Gebeke was moved by Dr. Glomb’s research as well, so much so that she prepared a neat little half-sheet summary that’s been shared at staff gatherings around the state. And at Fall Conference, she’ll be handing out magnets printed with a reminder to work hard, have fun, choose kind and be present. (Thank you, Deb.) If you don’t have a chance to get one or both and want them to help you “reset,” contact after conference.

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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