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Leigh Gunkel and others honored at NDSU Staff Recognition Social (6/7/2017)

Please join me in an overdue round of applause. Several Extension broad-banded staff members were recognized with awards at the NDSU Human Resources/Payroll and Staff Senate recognition social held on campus April 20.

Leigh GunkelLeigh Gunkel, pictured at the right with Pres. Bresciani, is a nutrition eduation assistant in Griggs, Steele and Traill counties. Leigh received a $250 Staff Recognition Award in the technical/paraprofessional category for her excellent, creative and collaborative work with the Family Nutrition Program. She has developed an extensive network in her 20 years of educational programming and strives to improve food options for the low-income audiences she serves. Sonja Fuchs, web technology specialist with Agriculture Communication, was one of several others from NDSU who were also nominated for this award.

These staff were recognized for their 150 years of combined service: Eric Brandvik, Sonja Fuchs, Angela Scott and Shannon Ueker (5 years); Cindy Dunn, Lisa Johnson and Vicki Miller (15 years); Phil Koapke, Linda Kuster and Bruce Sundeen (20 years); David Dynes (25 years). Recent retirees Val Entringer, Holly Erdmann and Rhonda Holzer were also recognized.

Applause photoWe appreciate each one of you – congratulations!

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director


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Time flies when you're having fun! (5/19/2017)

4-H Camp 50th AnniversaryWho knew that 50 years of 4-H camping could pass so quickly and touch so many people? The North Dakota 4-H Camp is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a Reunion for Alumni and Friends of 4-H on August 19 and 20. The N.D. 4-H Foundation has planned a fun and relaxing weekend with many events including a cooking class with the NDSU BBQ Boot Camp, a social and silent auction, entertainment and other activities. If you are up for a friendly archery competition, find me and we’ll see about bragging rights. Please check the Reunion site for more information and registration details. The registration deadline is July 20. This will be a great way to end the summer with 4-H friends!

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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Four inducted into Quarter Century Club (5/5/2017)

Four men began very different career paths a quarter century ago, but last night we celebrated something they all have in common – 25 years of dedication to NDSU and the NDSU Extension Service. John, Dave, Jack and Tom joined 20 other university employees as the latest inductees into the NDSU Quarter Century Club. Please help me congratulate these familiar names with a round of applause for their combined 100 years of service to NDSU and the people of North Dakota:

  • John Dhuyvetter, Livestock Systems Area Specialist, North Central REC
  • Dave Dynes, Press Operator-Print and Copy Services, Agriculture Communication
  • Jack Rasmussen, Chair, Department of Plant Pathology
  • Tom Scherer, Agricultural Engineer, Ag and Biosystems Engineering

 Quarter Century Club 2017






Left to right: President Bresciani, Dave Dynes, Tom Scherer and Chris Boerboom (John and Jack unavailable)


Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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949,431 (4/21/2017)

It’s the record number for an atlas of Dickey County in the Library of Congress.

It’s the MLS number of a home for sale at Knoxville, Tennessee.

And it’s the beginning of a whole lot of phone numbers in southern California.   

The thing I want to talk about is the 949,431 direct contacts – differences – you made with North Dakotans in 2016.

Though these contacts are just one measure of our work, they demonstrate our direct connection – the relationships – with the people we’re here to serve. If you think your QPRs don’t matter—you’re only one person, right?—please think again. The 2016 QPR Pie Chartchart to the right (click to upsize) is put in front of SBARE members, legislators, the Extension Comprehensive Review Committee and others who can and do impact the organization’s future, so please continue to take the time to report. It supports your peers, your program team and Extension, as a whole.

I thank you for your impact statements as well. As Paul Harvey ended his radio programs, they tell “…the rest of the story.” The more solid successes you report, the better position we’re in to show our county, state and federal stakeholders that the NDSU Extension Service is a great investment. They demonstrate the need for and strength of all of our program areas. Your impact statements are used in legislative reports, the Annual Highlights report and federal reports; they’re shared with our congressional delegation; and many are posted on a national database that touts excellence and accomplishments in Extension programming for our national partner, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). We’re in the process of putting renewed vigor into further uses of impact statements in the press and social media as well.

Your QPRs and impact statements, and the work you do, matters. Please continue to give due diligence to reporting so we can know about, celebrate and share your successes.

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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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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