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University of Minnesota Extension

Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund

Mary's background

Portrait of Mary Page

Mary J. Page (1934-2013) was a voice for rural Minnesota. As a commissioner for Renville County, Mayor of Olivia, Regent for the University of Minnesota, and in many other leadership roles in the community and in southwestern Minnesota and the state, she carried Greater Minnesota needs to important policy-making circles.

Mary provided foundational ideals that formed the citizen-driven aspects of the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) and left a lasting imprint on the program. Mary helped create, and then served on, the founding board of the West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership from 1999-2007, and gave statewide leadership to the Partnerships until 2009.

Mary Page fund

The Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund continues Mary’s legacy by supporting University of Minnesota students working on community-based sustainability projects in Greater Minnesota. Members of the Page family founded this endowment and have pledged additional matching support for gifts to honor Mary's commitment to rural communities and RSDP. On May 21, 2014, RSDP, Extension and the Page family held a kickoff for the fund.

Greater Minnesota communities and organizations interested in applying to have a Mary Page fund student work on their community project should contact their RSDP regional Executive Director. University of Minnesota students apply to work on projects through the University’s employment website. Student hiring is administered through the University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) Community Assistantship Program (CAP).

Project examples

Since the spring of 2015, the Mary Page fund has connected student ideas and skills to community-driven projects across the state. These projects have helped communities realize their sustainability visions, and have shaped the educational experiences and career paths of students. Examples of projects and students supported by the fund include:

  • Research on commercializing hazelnuts (Amanda Sames, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
  • Research on the Central region's assets and challenges related to workforce needs and community development as part of the Greater Minnesota Rising project (Brooke McManigal, Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
  • Research with the Natural Fiber Alliance to identify the interest of manufacturers in developing new products and markets for local wool (Zhiyou (Austin) Yang, Applied Economics)
  • Business planning for a community garden in Olivia that will benefit the regional economy by creating jobs and providing fresh, healthy foods (Claire Stoscheck, Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
  • Work with the Thief River Falls Downtown Development Association to support current businesses and encourage new business development (Joe Polacek, Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
  • Development of a lake management plan for the restoration of Cedar Lake of Rice County (Cole Reagan, Water Resources Science)
  • Development of a resource guide to becoming a U.S. citizen for the growing Micronesian population in Milan (Patrick Roisen, Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
  • Development of a master plan for the National Loon Center in Crosslake (Joe Polacek, Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
  • Evaluation activities conducted in association with RSDP’s 20th anniversary (Isabel Marsh, Humphrey School of Public Affairs)


RSDP successfully reached a challenge grant provided by Mary's daughter, Marcia Page, and continues to raise money for the fund. Your contribution can help us support University of Minnesota students in continuing Mary's legacy of promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability in our rural communities. If you are interested in donating to the fund and would like to learn more, please contact RSDP Statewide Director Kathy Draeger at draeg001@umn.edu.

Donate to the Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund

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Reviewed in 2018

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