A host of University of Minnesota Extension friends, faculty, educators and teams were honored with the 2020 Dean’s Distinguished Awards. The awards were presented on Oct. 6 by Extension Dean Bev Durgan during Extension’s annual conference, which took place virtually this year.
Honors went to:
Mark Goodrich, deputy general manager of Minnesota State Fair livestock and competitions
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Friend of Extension
Goodrich has been instrumental in helping 4-H educators, volunteers and participants fit as seamlessly as possible into the Minnesota State Fair community. He has assisted with critical operational systems that allow 4-H families efficient access to the fairgrounds and helped assure adequate funding for 4-H at the fair.
More importantly, Goodrich is a champion of young people. His head and heart work together to put youth first. The fair is about competition, fellowship, education and of course, the necessary bottom line. Above all these, Goodrich has championed young people. He has always looked for ways to highlight the education and accomplishments of 4-H youth.
Jean Illsley Clarke, author and parenting expert
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Friend of Extension
Clarke forged new opportunities through her partnership with the Extension Center for Family Development. She taught educators about what it means to be a respectful, thoughtful, insightful family science professional. She led the development of the Good Heart Parenting: A Journey of Love and Strength book that has been distributed locally, nationally and internationally. Her philanthropic generosity and support has allowed the Extension family development team to reach broader audiences and to develop exciting new online delivery methods for programs and outreach.
Clarke, the consummate mentor, is a great friend of Extension and helped expand parenting programs in her gracious and expert demeanor, teaching us along the way.
Jennifer Skuza and the Youth Development leadership team
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Team
Skuza and her leadership team demonstrate what it means to be extraordinary. They worked tirelessly on behalf of more than 66,000 young people across Minnesota to ensure that the highest-quality programs were available to youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving programs, camps and events to a virtual environment required additional training for 4-H staff and volunteers to ensure the safety of the young people who participated. Using a multi-pronged communication plan, the leadership team led more than 150 Extension educators and staff through this transitional process. The team demonstrated knowledge, expertise and determination, and succeeded under very difficult circumstances.
Members: Becky Harrington, Erin Kelly-Collins, Brenda Shafer, Colleen Sanders, Nancy Hegland, Kate Walker, Sam Grant, Sharon Davis, Michael Compton and Jacquie Lonning
Daniel J. Larkin, assistant professor and Extension specialist, aquatic invasive species, fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Campus-based Faculty
Larkin demonstrates excellence through his Extension education and research program. His popular and successful Extension programs train and engage professionals and citizens to effectively respond to aquatic and wetland invasive species.
Since joining the faculty in 2015, Larkin has developed four new Extension programs, which address research questions and drive further research to focus on data gaps. His efforts have been research-based, collaborative and innovative in their design, and have truly had a positive impact on Minnesota.
Tobias A. Spanier, Extension educator, Leadership and Civic Engagement
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Field-based Faculty
During Spanier’s 18 years with Extension, his teaching philosophy has been guided by the idea that all learners are unique and need stimulating educational environments to grow. Spanier advocates for and models inclusive and equitable practices and has helped broaden and deepen diversity and inclusion programming across Extension. His experiences teaching in Central and South America and extending Extension’s borders through programming in Morocco and Kenya demonstrate his commitment to creating bridges among community leaders, new immigrants and the University.
Spanier’s leadership was recognized at the national level when he co-led the North Central Extension Leadership Development program (NELD). His commitment to Extension and the people he serves is highly regarded and we applaud his many efforts.
The Opioid Team
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion
Members of the Opioid Team have approached their work through a multidisciplinary lens. Faculty and staff from Extension’s centers for Family Development and Community Vitality came together with the College of Pharmacy as well as community partners from Itasca, Aitkin, St. Louis, and Pine counties and four tribal communities – Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in Minnesota, and Lower Brule and Crow Creek in South Dakota — to build a body of work that focuses on addressing substance use in rural and tribal communities. Relationships are at the core of the opioid team’s work. The team members strive to create a community-driven approach that is both nimble and innovative. The intense work they have done to forge new paths for Extension in substance abuse is commendable.
Leaders: Mary Jo Katras, Jennifer Garbow, Emily Becher, Lori Rothstein, Denise Stromme, Holli Arp
Partners: Becca Adams, Susan Beaulieu, Jana Blomberg, Kate Welshons Bouta, Baabiitaw Boyd, Kelly Chandler, Jessica Elm, Fermin Espinoza, Becky Foss, Keri Hager, Cole Hanson, Noelle Harden, Dane Hautala, Lori Hendrickson, Pamela Hughes, Lucas Kosobuski, Laura Palombi, Stephany Medina, Erin J. Melz, Briana Michels, Diane Ruonavaara, Robyn Tomaszewski, Solomon Trimble, Amanda Vanyo, Melissa Walls, Chelsea Williams
Kathy Draeger, statewide program director, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP)
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Outstanding Leadership
Draeger’s leadership of Extension’s RSDP is exemplary. Her innovative spirit fosters an inclusive organization, creates safe spaces for community board members to share their cultural perspectives, and encourages staff and community partners to flourish. Her resourcefulness in finding non-traditional sources of funding has helped new programs succeed in addressing emerging community needs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought a statewide stay-at-home order earlier this year, Draeger’s leadership brought communities together to plan, learn and address critical needs during this stressful time.