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Friday, December 20, 2013

Alumni blog goes on holiday!


Happy holidays and warm wishes to you during this season. As a programming note, we will be taking a break on posts until January. Think of it as an opportunity to go through our previous posts!

We hope everyone has a chance to reflect on the things they are thankful for and to think about how we will improve ourselves, our communities, and our organizations in the new year. We look forward to returning in 2014 and to continue supporting you in ways big and small!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Educator Corner: Better Meetings, Better Results

Educator Corner is a feature on the blog that will appear regularly. Each entry will feature 1 of the 9 Leadership and Civic Engagement educators from around the state providing space for their thoughts on what may be useful for leaders and followers practicing in their communities and organizations.

LHinz.jpgIn the past few months, I have attended many meetings. They are how many things get done, whether at work or in community. Some meetings have gone well but others have not. When meetings get bogged down in details or go off track on unrelated items, everyone suffers. It begs the question: what makes some meetings successful? And, what can each of us do, whether convener, facilitator, or participant, to make our meetings more effective? To start I suggest the following three tips:
  • Develop an agenda - if you're not the chairperson, you can offer your help. Thinking through what has to be done, considering the order of items to lead discussion logically, and writing it down goes a long way. Sending an agenda out in advance lets participants know what will be discussed and allows "think time." Even an agenda done on the spot at the start of a meeting creates focus for the group to stay on track.
  • Create and agree on working agreements - meetings do not thrive on agendas alone. Outlining expected behaviors can be equally important. Working agreement rules for how the group will operate are a fundamental tool to improve a group's effectiveness. Will you begin at a certain time or when everyone is there? Are interruptions ok? Creating and supporting a short list as a group gives everyone a chance to know and commit to making the group's work go well.
  • Record important, but off-topic, items - if items come up that matter but aren't specific to the current topic being discussed, write them down for future conversation. This way, the group maintains focus on the topic at hand while reinforcing that the divergent item has been heard and will not be lost. In addition, you now have a list you can return to for later in the meeting or for planning future meetings.

If your group continues to struggle, you may reconsider why the group has meetings and refocus on that purpose. If the purpose is no longer relevant, maybe it's time for a new purpose or for the group to dissolve.

The next time you're at a meeting where things aren't going well, lend a hand. A group can do better work when its members are engaged and helping make meetings more effective.

For more on building more effective facilitation skills, visit the University of Minnesota Extension website.

Lisa Hinz, educator for East Central Minnesota, works out of Extension's regional office in Farmington

Any use of this post must include credit to Lisa Hinz. For questions, please contact Eriks Dunens, University of Minnesota Extension, at (612) 626-5943 or

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alumni action: John and Joni Burkel providing turkeys for presidential pardon

turkey.pngDid you know that the President traditionally pardons a turkey every Thanksgiving at the White House?

This year, two alumni of Extension's Emerging Leadership Program are providing the bird! John and Joni Burkel are making the trip to Washington, D.C. with their fine feathered friend. John is the current chairman for the National Turkey Federation and Joni has long been involved in turkey promotion.

You can follow the story at the Minnesota Turkey Facebook page.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Alumni meet to learn about emotionally intelligent teams

Facebook.jpgRecently, alumni from several University of Minnesota Extension leadership cohorts and friends gathered to go deeper into learning about Emotionally Intelligent teams. Participants had been a part of:
  • McLeod for Tomorrow
  • Minnesota Agricultural Rural Leaders
  • Bridging Brown County
  • Connecting Nicollet County
  • Association of Minnesota Counties
  • National Extension Leadership Development

Individuals had a chance to determine strategies for increasing and developing the 7 core skills that are essential to generating sustainable productivity and emotional and social well-being in teams.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Opportunity: Extension Citizens' Advisory Committee

vertMrnM.gifThe University of Minnesota Dean's Office is seeking nominations for Extension's Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC provides a grassroots perspective on the operations, strategies, and impacts of Extension across Minnesota. Committee members
  • serve as the eyes and ears of Extension's diverse clientele in communities throughout Minnesota
  • support Extension's public relations and advocacy goals
  • and provide greater awareness and access about Extension programming.

Potential candidates should have:
  • knowledge of or experience with Extension
  • an interest in education and research
  • passion for the future of Extension in Minnesota
  • availability to attend two annual meetings
  • and an ability to speak up and share their perspectives.

If this interests you or sounds like someone else from your cohort, visit for more information and the online nomination form.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Perspectives on Leadership - Who knows what could happen?

This is the last video in this week's series about how leadership can make a difference in communities. If you have your own inspiring story to share, leave it in the comments!

Even the smallest of communities can remain vital when residents know their assets. Christina and David Lien contribute to Flom, Minnesota with lessons learned from the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Perspectives on Leadership - Another inspiring story

We know that leaders make a difference in their communities and wanted to highlight some of the work being done. This is the second in this week's series about Extension leadership alumni who are putting their skills, connections, and ideas into play.

It takes a lot of partnerships to create a healthier community. Kerry Ward used the contacts she made at McLeod for Tomorrow, a Leadership Education Program, to make a difference.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Perspectives on Leadership - Check out these great stories

We know that leaders make a difference in their communities and wanted to highlight some of the work being done. Over the next few days, check back to watch a new story from alumni of different Extension leadership programs for a daily dose of inspiration!

Deanne Bryce re-imagined her restaurant business after participating in the Bridging Brown County Leadership Education program and learning how other businesses in the county had followed their passion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Opportunity: Resilient Communities Project

Here is an amazing opportunity for your community to benefit from the research and resource of the University of Minnesota.

RCPWebBanner.jpgThe gist: The Resilient Communities Project is a year-long partnership between the University of Minnesota and one local community in the state. Students and faculty from across the University collaborate with the partner community to address the self-defined sustainability-related needs of the community through course-based projects. Everything is oriented to creating on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community looking to move towards a more sustainable and livable future.

If this sounds like something your community is interested in, check out their website for more information and an application packet. The registration deadline is February 14, 2014.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Educator Corner: Building skills to follow

Educator Corner is a new feature on the blog that will appear monthly. Each entry will feature 1 of the 9 Leadership and Civic Engagement educators from around the state providing space for their thoughts on what is happening in their work that may be useful for leaders practicing in their communities and organizations.

jody.jpgI recently visited with people in a community as they discussed their future. The conversation moved to this statement - "If we only had more leaders..." This mindset is one that I, too, get caught up in. But over the past two years I started focusing on teaching skills for following as part of leadership training. So what is it all about?

It's as simple as this. Without followers, who would leaders lead? When it comes to leadership, it is important for leaders to understand the concept of followership in order to be more effective as leaders.

Researchers have studied the relationship between leaders and followers for years. Robert E. Kelley, author of the ground-breaking article, "In Praise of Followers" that first appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1988, identified 4 types of followers:

  • The Passive Follower. These followers are passive and uncritical - often unable or unwilling to think for themselves - and they do just what they are told and no more.

  • The Conformist Follower. These followers are active, but uncritical - they don't question the leader - and they allow others to take advantage of them.

  • The Alienated Follower. These followers are passive, critical thinkers - who have developed a "learned helplessness" - and they are often cynical, but not motivated enough to do anything to make things better.

  • The Effective Follower. These followers are active, critical thinkers - with the ability to solve problems, raise up new ideas, self-manage, take risks - and they fully engage with (and often challenge) leaders.

I share these types of followers to make the point that just as there are both effective and ineffective leaders, there are also effective and ineffective followers. We build skills for following by teaching many of the same concepts we use to teach leadership such as critical thinking, questioning skills, framing issues, communication, positive psychology, and many more. When both leaders and followers understand the value of leading and following, they can be more effective in their work and in their community.

For more information on this topic, click here.

Jody Horntvedt, educator for Northwest Minnesota, works out of Extension's regional office in Roseau.

Any use of this post must include a credit to Jody Horntvedt. For questions, please contact Eriks Dunens, University of Minnesota Extension, at (612) 626-5943 or

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Opportunity: Doing Business Online webinar series

online.jpgIf you are a manager, owner, or social media staff of a small business or nonprofit, consider this webinar series. Participants will learn about strategically using online tools to have a more effective online presence. The cost of $40 allows you to attend as many live webinars as possible from the available six.. For information on dates and time, visit the Doing Business Online information page.

Topics will include:
  • Managing online reviews
  • Mobile eMarketing
  • Location based services
  • Social media for business
  • Getting listed higher in Google search results
  • Using analytics to inform business decisions

Friday, October 18, 2013

Opportunity: Health Grants and Facilitation Practice

1008200_312776625523313_906389965_o.jpgTwo neat chances to impact your communities and support your work!

The first is a funding opportunity for community-based organizations that want to use community engagement as a key strategy for reducing tobacco use, heart disease, and preventable cancers.

Why focus on engagement? People are a key ingredient to creating change in their own community. For that reason community members who care about, or are impacted by, the issue at hand should be included in the execution and success of creating community health change. Examples of community engagement include garnering input, cultivating leadership, and growing participation of community members.

The deadline to apply is October 25, 2013 so check out the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota website for more information and the link to apply.

The second is an opportunity to learn and practice an engagement technique for hosting conversations:
The World Cafe Learning Program event is a 3-day practicum and workshop designed to deepen your World Cafe hosting practice and develop your skills in applying the World Cafe design principles to bring forth the creative power of conversation and engage "questions that matter."

The event will take place on November 6-8 at the cost of $200 (previous costs for events like these have been as high as $1,500). If you want more information, check out the online event flyer.

Not certain what the World Cafe technique is? This quick primer gives the basics.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alumni Gather, Consider How to Make an Impact

ULAA 2013.jpg

In late September, alumni of the U-Lead Advisory Academy, a leadership cohort provided by University of Minnesota Extension, met in St. Cloud to determine how best to apply their skills in their communities given new trends throughout Minnesota. As part of the day, Jane Tigan from Minnesota Compass provided information about how the state's population and workforce are changing.

If you are wanting to see data and trends for your region, check out the Minnesota Compass site. How might you use this information to inform your work and action?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Opportunity: University of Minnesota Cross-Sector Forum: Leadership to Address Minnesota's Grand Challenges

The Center for Integrative Leadership is hosting a FREE event for those who have participated in leadership programs with education from the University of Minnesota. As an alumni of an Extension cohort, that means you! The event is about bringing together leaders from multiple professions to address the tough issues that stretch beyond a single area or line of work.

The event is scheduled for Friday, October 23, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Coffman Memorial Union on the University's Minneapolis campus.

To find out more, read below. For an agenda and to register, click here.

Across the University, there are many programs intended to elevate the leadership of working professionals. However, for the most part, the University's professional programs are as siloed as participant's day-to-day work environments. We often don't meet our peers from other sectors until crisis necessitates it. As a result, our solutions aren't as innovative as they might be.

Hosted by the University of Minnesota's Center for Integrative Leadership, this Forum will engage professionals from executive leadership programs across the University in a unique day of cross-sector dialogue, skill-building, and network-weaving. We'll collectively grapple with the "grand challenges" keeping you - Minnesota's professional leaders - up at night.

Through this Forum, you will:
  • Expand your network of professional peers across multiple sectors.
  • Explore the application of an integrative leadership framework to how you approach your work.
  • Experience participatory approaches that can effectively facilitate cross-boundary ideation, collaboration and innovation.
  • Leverage diverse perspectives to explore new paths forward for complex issues you're currently tackling in your work.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Learn: Resources from the West Central Leadership Academy gathering

On Thursday, June 13, 2013, 20 leaders from the West Central Leadership Academy gathered to reconnect, get some resources, and think about the next steps in their leadership path. Sponsored by the West Central Imitative and the Extension Center for Community Vitality, attendees had sessions on taking an idea into action, using social media platforms for community networking, and grant writing. Some good content was shared and we wanted to let everyone know about it! Watch the video participants saw to hear some thoughts on how ideas become sustained and click the link for some quick tips on how Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can expand your network.

Social Media Summary Sheet

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Opportunity: Student Researcher Assistance

We just heard about an opportunity for cities and organizations in greater Minnesota to receive student research assistance. Do you have a project that could benefit from a talented student? For more information and how to apply, check out or read more below.

The Community Assistantship Program (CAP) is pleased to announce a fall 2013 grant program. The grant will allow rural communities to hire a student to work on a project defined by those communities. The deadline for project proposals is June 30th, 2013. Approved project will run from August 27th to January 9th, 2014.

Winning communities will review job applications and select the student who best meets their needs. See

Eligible organizations include community groups, organizations, and local government outside of the seven county metro.

What is CAP?

The Community Assistantship Program provides applied research assistance to community-based groups outside the Twin Cities Metro Area. The research and technical needs of community organizations are matched with the support of talented students. The idea is simple: get the resources of a great University working with communities to address the significant issues facing the people of Minnesota. CAP projects typically place students in a community defined and directed part-time research assistantship for one semester or over the summer. Students are selected by and report to the community organization. Throughout the project students are supported by a community supervisor, faculty, and community mentors.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Opportunity: Community Innovation Grants

The Bush Foundation recently announced a new grant program that is seeking to support communities to create innovation solutions to the problems they face. It's called the Community Innovation Grants and wants to support and reward efforts to create and implement great ideas that make places better. Nonprofit organizations of all sizes are invited to apply for funding of up to $500,000. Applications are being accepted May 29 through July 11. How could $500,000 jump start change or a program where you live?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Opportunity: The Policy Fellows Program

Applications are now being accepted for the 2013-2014 Policy Fellows program at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Now in its 23rd year, the program brings together mid-career Minnesota leaders from government, nonprofit, and business sectors for a nine-month professional development experience. Fellows join a 35-person cohort to focus on enhancing leadership skills, understanding their role in public policy, and developing a diverse personal and professional network. Applications are due May 31, 2013 for the program beginning in September. More information at

Candidates from Greater Minnesota are encouraged to apply. Fellows who come from outside the Twin Cities metro area may apply for lodging assistance.

All Fellows are eligible for scholarship assistance. Scholarships specifically for nonprofit sector participants are made possible by generous gifts from the George Family Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

Friday, April 26, 2013

One week left to register for Leading from Within: The Power of Positive Psychology

There is only one week left to register for the Leading from Within: The Power of Positive Psychology workshop. Here are the details:

When: Thursday, May 9, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where: Brainerd, MN (Land Services Building - 322 Laurel Street)

Workshop fee: $25 in addition to the cost of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0® by Tom Rath

Click here to sign up before registration closes on Friday, May 3.

For an extended description, visit our 2013 Leadership Series page.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tourism potential in your community?

Calling communities with a population under 1500. U of M educators and tourism specialists are ready to help you consider your tourism potential. The application is pretty painless, and is due May 15th. Click here to find out more.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Opportunity: The Rural Arts and Culture Summit

Do you care about arts and culture and the ways they can build vibrant communities?

The Rural Arts and Culture Summit is addressing this topic June 5 and 6, 2013 at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Three dynamic, keynote speakers, June Holley, Michael Strand, and John Davis, will provide knowledge, experience, and insight on weaving together art and community. The speakers will examine how art and community can build and play off of each other to help places continue to grow and improve.

Register today by visiting the website, calling at (218) 998-4037, or by sending an email to

Friday, March 29, 2013

Registration open for Leading from Within: The Power of Positive Psychology

Looking for an opportunity to learn, connect with others, and refresh your skills? The first offering of the 2013 Leadership Series is now open for registration. In Leading from Within: The Power of Positive Psychology, discover your talents and ways to grow them into strengths that help you thrive individually and in your community. Incorporating recent science and research, you will learn to harness the power behind positive emotions. The event is set for Thursday, May 9, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Brainerd, MN. To find out more about the event and link to the registration page, visit the 2013 Leadership Series page. See you in Brainerd!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Further your leadership - The Bush Fellowship Program

For those of you looking to take your leadership to the next level, consider the Bush Fellowship Program. Participants receive support ranging from $25,000 to $75,000. Specifically, the program is looking for leaders who are

  • Passionate about their communities and have a vision for making them better places for everyone

  • Interested in working with, and learning from, others to make their vision a reality

  • Committed to improving their work and their effectiveness in enhancing quality of life in their community

  • Understand that risk, failure and conflict provide valuable learning and are key to necessary to making progress

If this sounds like you, head on over to the Bush Fellowship Program site and read more. The deadline for application is May 24, 2013.

Still not sure? Check out recipient Noreen Thomas, an alum of the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program. Read about her plans here.

Let's dream big to enrich Minnesota communities!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Welcome to the Leadership and Civic Engagement Alumni site!

Greetings! Welcome to the Leadership and Civic Engagement Alumni site - a one stop resource for people who have been through leadership and civic engagement programming delivered by the University of Minnesota Extension. This is a place where you can deepen or refresh your learning and skills, find out about grants and other opportunities for Minnesota communities, connect with other leaders from over 20 years of Extension programs, and be inspired by the work of people like you.

This is our maiden post and we would love to give you a brief tour of the site. This home page you are on is our landing page where we will be posting updated information. If you bookmark this page or add it to your favorites, you can always see the latest.

On the left, you can link to our other pages - find out more about our intentions for the site here.

Click here for information about the Leadership Series in general, or go straight to the 2013 Leadership Series page for information on this year's opportunities to deepen or refresh your leadership skills.

Extension programming relies heavily upon the support of our sponsors. Visit the Program Sponsors page to find out more about these valued partners.

Lastly, we want this site to be useful and relevant to your needs and wants. If you have ideas for content, want to share your inspiring story with others, know of available funding opportunities, or interested in offering a guest-post, please email Eriks Dunens at or by phone at 612-626-5943.

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