University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

Extension > Leadership and Civic Engagement Alumni > 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Season's Greetings from the Center for Community Vitality

All of us at University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality wish you a happy holiday season!  We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with you in 2016 and look forward to what is yet to come in the new year.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Changes in Business, Changes in Community

Two of every three businesses in the U.S. are owned by a baby boomer who is looking to turn over the keys to the next generation in the coming years.  That means change is inevitable in the landscape of Minnesota's Main Streets and business communities.   The recent article "Turning over the keys to rural business," from the Winter 2016 edition of Vital Connections, discusses the challenges and opportunities that are presented through this transition.  Bruce Schwartau, Extension's Community Economics Program Leader, indicates that there will not only be changes in community businesses but also changes in community leadership.  Read the whole article HERE and share your thoughts on what you are seeing in your communities.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Happy Election Day!

Make sure to take time and exercise your right to vote.  In case you need help finding your polling location, visit the MN Secretary of State's poll finder website.  "I Voted" stickers are the hottest accessory this time of year!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Creating Community Across Generations

Minnesota’s communities currently have five generations living and working together.  The unique characteristics and beliefs of each generation add many benefits to communities but they do present challenges.  It is important to keep in mind the events and characteristics that define each generation while ensuring that you move beyond generalizations.  It is also important that we continue to work towards respect within our communities.  In order to do this, we must acknowledge that each generation has a different definition of respect.  It is important to acknowledge cultural definitions of trust as we work in communities that are diverse in generations and cultures.  To learn how to work across generations to strengthen your community, check out “Creating community across generations” in the newest issue of Vital Connections.  It offers great information and insight on the topic from Extension educators Lisa Hinz and Jody Horntvedt.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Become a Trainer for At Your Service: Working with Multicultural Customers

Have you heard about the University of Minnesota Extension's Tourism Center?  The Tourism Center can assist communities to promote local economic growth through tourism, provides workshops and training to help businesses and governments provide quality customer service to customers from many cultures, festival and event management training to help your event be successful and fun, as well as custom research services for organizations and communities.

The Tourism Center is currently offering a train-the-trainer opportunity for their At Your Service: Working with Multicultural Customers program.  At Your Service: Working with Multicultural Customers explores the nature of customer service and ways to create good experiences when working with diverse customers.  Participants of this program explore how culture affects perception and behavior, gain skills to identify and address customer needs, control their own attitudes in difficult situations, and actions to consistently deliver great service.

The train-the-trainer workshop will be offered October 27, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Coffey Hall located on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.  Register today!  To learn more about this training opportunity and all of the resources available through the Tourism Center visit their website.  Make sure to follow @umntourism on Twitter and "like" University of Minnesota Tourism Center on Facebook!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bush Fellowship Program Accepting Applications

The Bush Fellowship allows the Bush Foundation a platform to inspire and support the creative work that is being done across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations within that geography.  Since 1965, Bush Fellowships have been awarded to more than 2,200 innovative leaders to help them pursue their own leadership plans or ongoing education to help them lead their communities.  The Bush Fellowship provides resources, experiences, and time to people with potential in order to advance the region and strengthen communities.  The Fellowship allows access to programs, mentors, and networks that might not otherwise be available to them in addition to a flexible grant of up to $100,000 to be used over 12 to 24 months.  This grant can be used to pursue the education and experiences needed to be more effective leaders in their community.  Applications for the Bush Fellowship are currently available by visiting the Bush Foundation website.  The deadline is September 29, 2016 at 12:00 noon (CST).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Register Today for Minnesota Council of Nonprofit's 2016 Annual Conference

This year nonprofit professionals and community leaders will gather on October 6 and 7 in Duluth, MN for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 2016 Annual Conference.  This conference brings Minnesota's nonprofit community together to celebrate their impacts, learn from each other, and prepare to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead.  The conference features more than 30 breakout sessions and enlightening keynote speakers.  This year Winona LaDuke, Executive director of Honor the Earth, and Frances Kunreuther, co-direct of  Building Movement Project will deliver keynote addresses that will focus on the conference theme of "Listen. Learn. Lead."  This conference provides opportunities for people at all levels of the nonprofit sector whether in a position of leadership, front line staff, or volunteer.  Visit to learn more and register today!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Kelly Coughlin, ULAA 6 Alumni, recently completed serving six years on the Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership Board.  During her time with this organization she was able to work on the Central RSDP’s food systems work group to help promote farmers’ market projects.  She also used her leadership skills to build coalitions to create the Choose Health program.  This unique community health initiative in Central Minnesota provides access to locally grown foods to families who experience food insecurities.  Choose Health also provides families the opportunity to participate in health screenings, cooking classes, and other educational opportunities.  Read how Kelly has used her leadership skills to help her community and region in RSDP Happenings.   Thanks for all that you do for our communities Kelly!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

OPPORTUNITY: Boots to Business Reboot

Veterans have strengthened our communities through their service in our armed forces. They continue to strengthen our communities by bringing their unique skill sets and experiences as well as their discipline and commitment to the business sector. Boots to Business Reboot is a two step training program that helps Veterans of all eras learn more about business ownership. The program helps participants learn about the components of a business plan as well as learning about local resources. Boots to Business Reboot is coming to Camp Ripley in Little Falls, MN September 14th and 15th. To learn more about the program and to register visit For more information call 612-370-2356 or email This program is sponsored locally by Minnesota Central Region Small Business Development Center and SBA Minnesota District Office.

Photo credit: Flickr user Marcia Oliveira

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

LEARN: First Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition

The First Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition offers a first of its kind conference that will bring together tribal officials, researchers, practitioners, and community members to build new partnerships, learn about innovative work being done to improve Native American nutrition, and explore ways to overcome obstacles.  The conference will feature more than thirty experts in Indigenous food, nutrition, and health.  For more information on this unique learning opportunity or to register visit the conference website at

Photo credit: flickr user Dimosthenis

Thursday, August 25, 2016

LEARN: Community Dialogue Through Art

Peace of My Mind is a multimedia art project that encourages public conversation about issues such as conflict resolution, civic responsibility, and peace.  Through the photos and stories of a diverse group of individuals we are encouraged to celebrate our common experiences and create a sense of community.  This traveling exhibit is currently at University of Minnesota Crookston and will be open to the public through August 29, 2016.  The exhibition will culminate with a keynote address by the photographer, John Noltner, along with a discussion on Monday, August 29 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.  The public is invited to attend and parking will be free during that time.  Lorna Hollowell, director of the U of M Crookston's Office of Diversity and Multicultural Programs, the exhibit, keynote address, and discussion will kick-off a year of programming designed to foster a campus and local community of peace.  To learn more about A Peace of My Mind visit their website at

Photo credit: flickr user Cem

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

University of Minnesota Extension on a Stick

It is that time of year when we start to think about corn dogs and butter heads.  That's right it is time for the Minnesota State Fair!  As you are walking around searching for the newest food on a stick, don't forget to look for the great educational opportunities that are available at the fair as well.  University of Minnesota Extension will have Educators in the Eco Experience, Agriculture - Horticulture, DNR, and U of M Buildings.  Click here to read more about Extension's busy fair schedule.

University of Minnesota Extension's presence can be seen throughout the grounds but most notably in the 4-H Building and Barns where nearly 6,000 youth who are involved in Extension's 4-H program will display their talents, exhibits, and animal herdsmanship skills to the public.  To see what is going on with 4-H at the State Fair visit their website to see schedules and download their app.

In David Letterman fashion, I am going to leave you with a top ten of #UMNonaStick things you need to check out during the Great Minnesota Get Together.  Make sure to download the UMN@TheFair app to help you plan your route and enjoy your visit.  Enjoy the fair!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Join the Center for Community Vitality Team!

The Center for Community Vitality is looking for a new team member!  We are currently seeing a half-time web production assistant to join our energetic communication team.  In this role you will work with a variety of people throughout the Center to create web content that engages stakeholders and the public to learn about the different types of work we do.  To learn more about the position visit  The Center for Community Vitality is a fun and committed group of people working to help communities choose their future.  Be part of this exciting work and apply today!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Statistics in the Community

Do you know the benefits of statistical consulting?  Statisticians have helped large businesses and organizations make decisions to guide programs and development for many years by studying trends and developing surveys that gather the right data.  This is a resource that small communities and organizations need but typically can’t afford.  The University of Minnesota Chapter of Statistics in the Community (STATCOM) can change that.  STATCOM is a student-run volunteer organization endorsed and supported by University of Minnesota’s School of Statistics.  Its mission is to provide free statistical consulting to local non-profit, governmental, and community service organizations, by engaging students in voluntary, service-oriented statistical consulting and leadership.  STATCOM will connect your group to a team of Master and PhD students or other volunteer statisticians who are mentored by professors in the School of Statistics and other departments within the University of Minnesota.  STATCOM can assist your organization or community in making better decisions with data, designing surveys or experiments that get you the information you want, evaluate the effectiveness of programs or campaigns, or learn how to maximize resources.  They have been involved with many great projects that have benefited a variety of organizations.  To learn more about how to create a partnership with STATCOM visit their website.  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Data Tools for Starting Community Development Conversations in Your Community

Have you ever wanted to open a conversation about the potential development opportunities in your community, but lacked data that supports your idea? Below are a few data resources that could help trigger conversations in your community regarding its future. They are very broadly grouped into tools that can be used to start conversations about health, workforce and resident recruitment, and poverty and income issues in your community. The best way to start these conversations is to take a data point from one of these resources and ask your local elected officials if they are aware of that statistic. If they were not aware of it, the next step is to ask what could be done to increase awareness about it or address it.  If you are a public official, you can bring these data points to the attention of your fellow officials or staff to initiate conversations about the results.

The important thing to remember though is that once you start the conversation, don’t let it stop. The more people think and converse about an issue, the more likely a solution can be found. Another thing to keep in mind is that these data points can be tracked over time and used monitor progress towards envisioned change. The sources for much of this data are federal or state agencies like the U.S. Census, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. To facilitate more in-depth conversations on these topics or dig deeper into the economic effects of issues in your local community, you can also tap in to the services offered by the Community Economics Program of the University of Minnesota. Whatever your developmental idea is, we hope that the resources provided below can help it blossom into a community conversation that engages your public officials, neighbors and friends as well.

Tools for Health Conversations

(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

(University of Michigan)

Tools for Workforce, and Resident Recruitment Conversations

(Minnesota Employment and Economic Development)

(US Department of the Interior Indian Affairs)

On The Map - Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, where do people live who work in your community?)
(United States Census Bureau)

(U.S. Bancorp)

Tools for Poverty and Income Conversations

The Rural Data Portal - Taking stock of People, Poverty, and Housing In Your Community    (Housing Assistance Council)

(National Association of Counties)

(Corporation for Enterprise Development)

(Economic Innovation Group)

Thank you Rani for this great information!  Visit the Community Economics website to learn more about the important work that Rani and her colleagues are doing and how you can use them as resources in your community.  

We will be bringing more guest posts to the LCE Alumni Blog.  If there is a specific topic you are interested in please leave a comment!

Photo credit flickr DouglasDuffield

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Center For Small Towns Connects Communities to Resources

Many times communities and organizations have great ideas but need specific resources to help them move towards action.  University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) has the resources and expertise you might be looking for through their Connecting Students and Communities Program.  This program is a joint partnership between the Center for Small Towns and the UMN Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.  This program assists communities and organizations on community identified issues and projects while creating unique opportunities for University of Minnesota Morris students to engage with and contribute to small communities.   Past projects have addressed a variety of issues including housing, youth development, diversity, arts and culture just to name a few.  To read more about projects that have been completed and get ideas for your community visit the Center For Small Town Community Project Examples page.  The proposal deadline is August 15, 2016 and projects will begin in fall 2016. 

Photo credit flickr Chrissy H 

Monday, August 1, 2016

LEARN - Leading and Following Across Generations

The 2016 Leadership series is coming to a close but we are going to go out with a bang!  Our final three webinars are part of a series that will help us learn how to both lead and follow as we work with people from different generations.  The Leading and Following Across Generations series examines ways to move beyond stereotypes and potential conflict to bridge across generations which can increase creativity, problem solving, and learning.

Webinars are from 8:30 to 10:00 AM (CDT) on the following dates:
  • Friday, September 9 - Lisa Hinz will start the series by exploring the unique mindset, expectations, and work styles of each generation.
  • Friday, October 7 - Jody Horntvedt will share tips and tools for communicating and connecting across generations to create valuable collaborations that will strengthen community building efforts.
  • Friday, November 4 - Brian Fredrickson will close the series by helping participants explore ways of harnessing the strengths of each generation to lead and follow more effectively in order to maximize the most from the attitudes and skills of each generation to strengthen our communities.
Participants will receive materials to review one week prior to each session. Participants will also be guided on how to have across generational conversations that will be used in the October and November sessions.

Registration is open now through September 1 at 11:00 PM (CDT) for this exciting and informative series.  You will only need to register one time to participate in all three sessions.  Register at

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Exploring Hidden Thoughts through the D.I.E. Method

Today we continue our exploration of Leading with Cultural Competence by considering ways to understand interactions and our own feelings.  

We  can risk cultural collisions every day if we do not take active steps to increase our understanding of not only cultural competency issues but also our own underlying attitudes, beliefs, and values.  These attitudes, beliefs, and values are the issues that lie underneath the surface and can cause the biggest problems in our ability to understand those that we are working with and learning from.  Just as the crew of the Titanic did not adequately estimate the size of the iceberg that laid under water, if we don’t check our attitudes and beliefs we can underestimate the amount of work we need to do to become culturally competent.

One method to use in increasing your cultural competence is the Describe, Interpret, Evaluate Method introduced by Janet Bennett and Milton Bennett in the 1970s while doctoral students at the University of Minnesota.  This method encourages individuals to take time to explore the who, what, where rather than immediately jumping to a conclusion based on our biases and long held beliefs.  Here are some types on using the D.I.E. Method:  
  • When you describe the event, situation, or individual remain factual.   Use concrete terms and thoughts to give shape to what you witnessed or experienced. 
  • As you move to interpret you should push yourself to develop three possible interpretations for what occurred.  This step is also a great time to seek input from a member of the culture you are interacting with to develop possible interpretations and understand the interaction from a new perspective.
  • Evaluate the situation by examining what you think and feel about the experience based on the interpretations and new knowledge you may have into the culture.  Acknowledge your feelings both positive and negative and also think about how the situation was viewed by the person from the other culture. 
  • As you use the D.I.E. method take time to work through each stage trying hard not to jump from describing to evaluating. 

There are new thoughts around moving to a model that is Describe, Analyze, Evaluate.  Supporters of this model believe that using analysis rather than interpretation as the second step moves farther away from subjective reactions which can lead to judgment.  Analysis of an issue lends itself to deeper discussions and moving the conversation forward to explore underlying issues.  DAE is also a Korean word that carries many meanings such as “foundation” and also “the opposite.”  What a great word to use to describe wanting people to change their foundation of thinking in relation to past attitudes and assumptions.   To learn more about the thoughts behind the DAE model check out Nam & Condon in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 

Photo Credit Flickr user Dan (catching up)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Join the Team as a Program Coordinator

We are excited to announce a new position for a team member in Northwest Minnesota.  This newly created position is for a Leadership and Civic Engagement Cohort Program Coordinator to work with the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program (RRV ELP) as well as the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) Program.  This part time position will be housed within one of the NW Regional Extension Centers (Roseau, Crookston, Moorhead, or Morris).  For more information, check out the full posting.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Leading with Cultural Competence - Never Stop Learning

Often times during sessions on cultural competence people are surprised to learn that their understanding of cultural dynamics or diversity is not as advanced as they believed.  This does not mean that a person is doomed to remain at that knowledge level forever and not able to grow their cultural competency skills.  It is actually quite the opposite.  When people are able to better understand where they are on their journey towards cultural competence they are better able to seek out new knowledge and experiences.  Today we offer for you five books that were recently recommended during June's Leading with Cultural Competence workshop. 

Facilitating Multicultural Groups by Christine Hogan
‘Facilitating Multicultural Groups’ is a good reference tool when preparing for meetings and workshops.  It gives tips on how to adapt materials and prepare for situations that may arise in intercultural settings.  According to Toby Spanier, Extension educator, with this book you are getting two for one because of all of the facilitation techniques and tools that are presented.

Driven by Difference by David Livermore
David Livermore is a thought leader on cultural intelligence and global leadership.  He is able to take research and make it understandable and applicable for community leaders.  In 'Driven By Difference,' Livermore presents strategies and practices that “guide multicultural teams to innovation” through the building of trust, creating a safe environment, and engaging multiple perspectives.   When asked why this book is useful for leaders Toby Spanier stated that it helps us see that “we shouldn’t view diversity as a problem to be solved, but rather as a treasure trove, rich with innovative solutions waiting to be mined.”

Leading with Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore
As the author of more than ten books on diversity and leadership it is not a surprise that Livermore has two books on our must read list.  In 'Leading with Cultural Intelligence,' Livermore offers a four step model to help us manage across cultures more effectively.  Spanier shared that this book brings alive the concept of cultural intelligence and applies it with practical how-tos.  It is grounded in cultural intelligence theory and research helping community leaders to understand the “whys” as they do their work.

Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky
Andy Molinsky present us with a critical new skill, global dexterity.  He defines this as the ability to adapt our behavior to new cultural contexts while still being our true authentic selves.  He captures the six dimensions that set behavior expectations within a cultural setting: directness, enthusiasm, formality, assertiveness, self-promotion, and personal disclosure.  According to Spanier, “if you can master these expectations you have cracked the cultural code.”

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar Schein
Although this book is not specific to cultural competence it discusses an important skill that we need in order to improve our understanding of others.  The practice of humble inquiry moves us beyond telling people what they need to know and into discussions that help us learn about the individual and encourages building relationships based on curiosity and interest in the other person.  Catie Rasmussen, Extension educator, believes this book is important to community leaders because it shows how we benefit by three actions - telling less, listening more, and asking questions using humble inquiry.

Now that you have a few books to pick from, head over to your local library, bookstore, or find your favorite electronic reader and head out to enjoy the sunshine with a good book!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Power of Community

Pakou Hang is a graduate of the Minnesota Ag and Rural Leadership (MARL) program, which is a partnership between Extension's leadership programs and Southwest State University. In this video, she discusses her leadership story and her belief in the power of community. You NAILED it, Pakou! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

OPPORTUNITY - Paths to Civic Engagement Workshop Series

In Minnesota there is a call for more leaders in rural communities.  According to an analysis by Extension research fellow Ben Winchester, 1 in 16 people must serve as a leader in rural Minnesota counties.   To help people prepare for this level of service the Initiative Foundation is offering the Paths to Civic Engagement workshop series as a way to give advanced training to up to 50 motivated community members under the age of 40.  The workshop series addresses topics such as ethical leadership, interacting with the media, resolving conflict, understanding the basics of government finance, and more.  While helping individuals prepare to take on elected, appointed, or staff positions within local units of government and non-profits it also helps participants build a support network that will be there for them as they step forward into leadership roles.  Visit the Initiative Foundation website to learn more about the Paths to Civic Engagement program and how to apply.  They also have an excellent video to give you more information about the program.  Registrations are being accepted until July 15, 2016 and accepted on a first-come, first served basis.

The Initiative Foundation serves fourteen counties in Central Minnesota including “the St. Cloud area and Twin Cities metro ring counties in addition to the Brainerd Lakes area, two tribal nations, and the rural countryside.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Leading with Cultural Competence - What is Culture and Why Does it Matter?

We recently held the Leading with Cultural Competence workshop as part of the 2016 Leadership Series.  This day-long session allowed participants to explore their understanding of cultural competence and how to be more effective leaders.  Information for today’s post has been adapted from materials prepared for the session by Extension Educators Catherine Rasmussen and Toby Spanier.

When we are asked to define our culture many of us may immediately name a country we or our ancestors immigrated from.  We don’t always give credit to the other pieces that create our culture – our socioeconomic status, gender, educational history, or geographic location to name a few.  Each aspect of our lives informs our culture as well as the culture of the places we live, work, play, and lead. Simply stated, culture is made up of shared basic assumptions that are learned over time and considered to be valid.  These valid assumptions are then taught as the “norm” to others around us and impact the behaviors and actions of the group.  This process is what creates bonds between families, groups, co-workers, and organizations.    Understanding all of these different pieces does not only contribute to our better understanding of culture but also leads us on a journey towards understanding the concepts of cultural competence.

Cultural competence is the understanding the culture is deep, pervasive, complex, patterned, and morally neutral.  A developed understanding of cultural competence allows us to see how culture has formed our own beliefs, values, and patterns of behavior.  As we understand ourselves better it makes us more capable of accurately understanding and adapting behavior to cultural differences and commonalities that are around us.  Cultural competence is something that people can work to improve and learn through their lifetime.  

We cannot expect to develop a sound understanding of our own culture or to be cultural competent overnight.  Culture and cultural competence are topics that we need to take a moment to understand and explore.  To learn more about the cultural and demographic shifts seen within Minnesota take a minute to read the Brookings Essay by Jennifer Bradley.  It provides interesting information on how Minnesota is becoming more diverse and takes a close look at changes seen within Minneapolis-St. Paul.  University of Minnesota Extension’s own Ben Winchester has also done extensive research into how the population is shifting with rural Minnesota.  His analysis of 2010 Census data published in the Rural Minnesota Journal provides an interesting look into how the population is shifting within Minnesota and what changes are noted within rural communities.  Both reports share a common theme – our state is becoming more diverse.  This fact makes it important that we further explore issues of diversity and learn how our culture impacts our ability to work with people from a different culture.

Photo credit flickr contributor carolinejohn1998

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

We wish you a happy, and safe, 4th of July.  Thank you to past and present leaders who have helped to shape our country.

Friday, July 1, 2016

LEARN - Leading to Keep Going Strong

Leading to Keep Going Strong
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
9:15 - 10:30 a.m.
FREE Online Offering

The 2016 Leadership Series rolls on with another FREE webinar in August.  Join Extension Educators Denise Stromme and Lori Rothstein as they explore tips, tools, and methods to help leaders stay invigorated and on task while wearing a number of different hats.    Make some time in your busy schedule to enjoy this webinar and help yourself refresh before taking on the next big project.  Registration is open now through August 2 at

Want to find out what other great webinars are coming up yet this year?  Head here to read about all the other events planned for the 2016 Leadership Series

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Leading with Cultural Competence

We recently held the Leading with Cultural Competence workshop as part of the 2016 Leadership Series.  This day-long session allowed participants to explore their understanding of cultural competence and how to be more effective leaders.  For the next four weeks we will explore the topic of cultural competence using information presented as part of this session as well as new research.  Make sure to check back each Wednesday in July to learn more about cultural competence and strategies to help you be more effective in leading across cultures. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Don't Miss the New Issue of Vital Connections!

University of Minnesota Extension’s Center for Community Vitality has released the Summer 2016 issues of Vital Connections.  Make sure to read the great articles looking at the future of rural grocery stores and the ways our alumni have chosen to lead in their communities.  The quarterly newsletter is a great mix of research and insight from the University of Minnesota Extension and real stories from Minnesota communities!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

OPPORTUNITY - Network with Others Who Value Community Development

The Community Development Society (CDS) and International Association for Community Development (IACD) Conference is coming to Minnesota!  The theme for the conference being held in Bloomington, MN from July 24th through July 27th is Sustaining Community Change - Building Local Capacity to Sustain Community Development Initiatives.  Attendees will have the opportunity to network with peers involved in the area of community development and hear from speakers on community development issues from state, national, and international perspectives.  Those who attend also have options of participating in pre-conference sessions as well as mobile learning workshops.  Wow!  Take advantage of this great event happening right here in Minnesota.  Visit the conference website for more information and to register!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

LEARN: An Evening of Stories from Emerging Leaders

Civic engagement and politics are popular topics in conversations and the news as we approach this year's election.  As leaders, we pay attention to the conversations and think about how different actions impact us personally as well as our communities.  These thoughts and conversations can change how we decide to be involved and what action we choose to take.  Minnesota Rising with Minnesota Public Radio’s Generation Listen is hosting an interactive event to explore how we can work toward positive change through action and involvement.  “Keeping it 100” is an evening of stories from emerging leaders who have diverse backgrounds and approaches for working in communities.  To learn more about this event and the diverse group of leaders speaking visit Minnesota Rising.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Zohar B

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Leadership Makes a Difference

We value the work that alumni from our programs are doing in their communities and we want to share it with everyone.  We have added an exciting page that features alumni from various leadership and civic engagement programs around the state to our website.  Check out the great ideas that your fellow alumni shared about their action plans following their leadership program by visiting the "Leadership makes a difference" from the Center for Community Vitality's webpage.  This page is about you and the work that you are doing so help us add more stories and more pictures!  Contact Christy at if you have a story to share or know an alumni that we should feature. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Help Wanted: Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships Seeking Board Members

The five Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships are citizen driven and work to build community-University partnerships that create new opportunities and solve problems in Greater Minnesota.  RSDP works to bring together local talent and resources with University of Minnesota knowledge and seed funding to drive sustainability in four areas: agriculture and food systems, tourism and resilient communities, natural resources, and clean energy.  Members of the RSDP Regional Boards work to help those identified projects succeed and make lasting community impacts.  If you are interested in serving as a Board Member visit the RSDP website and review the Board member application at the bottom of the page or contact Caryn Mohr for additional information.

Photo Credit: Flickr Michiel Gaas

Friday, June 10, 2016

OPPORTUNITY: Recognize Good Work and Leaders in Your Community

The Minnesota Association of Community and Leadership Education Professionals (MACLEP) supports those who work in community development.  In 2016 they want to recognize the good work that is being done within communities and by community leaders throughout Minnesota.  Award winners will be recognized as part of a pre-conference gathering at the Community Development Society’s National Conference being held in Minnesota this July.  To learn more about the awards and nominate someone visit the MACLEP website at this link.  Deadline for nomination is June 15, 2016.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Learn - Leading with Cultural Competency

June 23, 2016 | 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. | Willmar, MN

The 2016 Leadership Series is underway and excited about our upcoming in person event on June 23, 2016 in Willmar, MN.  Leading with Cultural Competency will provide participants the opportunity to explore their skills in leading in diverse communities.  Those who attend will take the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) prior to the session.  The day of the session Extension Educators Catie Rasmussen and Toby Spanier will lead participants through understanding their personal profiles and creating a plan to enhance their skills along the intercultural development continuum.

Register today at   Registration is $40 which includes the cost of the assessment, class materials, lunch and refreshments.  Registration will close on June 1, 2016.

Head over to the 2016 Leadership Series page to learn more about the great learning opportunities available!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

LEARN - Understanding the New Generation of Volunteers

Can you feel that?  There’s been a “seismic shift” impacting the volunteering world during the last 20 years.  And that shift is now impacting organizations as they work to recruit and retain volunteers.  Margaret Henderson recently contributed a post to the UNC School of Government’s Public Leadership Blog about the need to be flexible when we work with volunteers.   This flexibility is needed in order to recognize the unique qualities and attributes volunteers bring based on their generation, interests, and experience.   We know that if we can engage people in one type of civic engagement task, such as volunteering, they are more likely to become involved in other groups, committees, and events.  Read all of Margaret Henderson’s post  in the UNC’s School of Government Public Leadership Blog to learn more about the “seismic shift” in volunteering and how to meet the needs of those who want to serve in your community.

Photo credit Flickr user wood_owl

Thursday, May 12, 2016

OPPORTUNITY -  Connect Your Community Project to University Resources

The Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (NWRSDP) has announced its funding priorities for community projects in FY2017.  They will focus on projects related to natural resources, food systems, clean energy, and resilient communities and tourism.  You can learn more about the area that is covered by the NWRSDP here.   Idea Briefs for this grant opportunity are due on May 30 and September 30.  Visit their website for more details on how to apply. 

Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) connect communities in Greater Minnesota with resources from the University of Minnesota.  As part of University of Minnesota Extension, RSDP brings together community members with knowledge and start-up funding from the University in order to solve problems and work towards efforts that address their four main focus areas.  Learn more about the exciting projects that RSDP is involved in across Minnesota.

Photo credit Flickr user Uncle Milborn

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

OPPORTUNITY - Recognize Preservation Efforts in Your Community

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) has announced it is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Minnesota Preservation Awards.  These awards honor groups and individuals who have worked to preserve Minnesota’s historic resources.  We know many of you work hard in your communities to preserve the historic structures that tell the story of your town and region.  Take time to visit PAM’s website and nominate someone for their work!  Applications will be accepted through Thursday, June 30, 2016 until 4:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: St. James Plaindealer

Monday, May 9, 2016

Greetings From the New Alumni Program and Cohort Coordinator!

Hello!  My name is Christy Kallevig and I am excited to join the Center for Community Vitality as the new Alumni Program and Cohort Coordinator.  I am based in the Willmar regional office but serve alumni and leadership and civic engagement cohort programs throughout Greater Minnesota.  I have a background in social work with a focus on community practice and development.  My interests have always been in program development and I love taking a small idea and turning it into a big reality.

Throughout my career in social services and youth programming I have found great joy in helping people discover new talents, skills, and knowledge.  In this role, I look forward to helping you to further your leadership journey and enhance your talents and skills.  We know that, as leaders, we must never stop learning about emerging issues that will impact our communities and state.  I hope to bring this type of information and education to you through webinars, in person educational events, and the leadership and civic engagement alumni site. 

I look forward to meeting many of you as I travel to different events throughout the state.  Please feel free to contact me at or (320)235-0726 ext. 2018, if you have ideas for alumni programming or want to host an event in your area.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Opportunity - The Future of Rural Communities: Implications for Housing Forum

Many factors contribute to the housing needs within rural communities.  The Federal Reserve Board along with interested partners will present a forum to address housing issues in America on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 beginning at 8:30 a.m.  The live-stream event will explore the changing demographics and economic trends that impact rural communities.  There will also be discussion on models that have developed through the innovate work and collaborative efforts of policymakers and community members.  Don't miss this great opportunity to gain more knowledge on this important topic. Check out the full agenda and plan to join the live-stream event on May 10!

Photo credit Flickr user Erin

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Learn - Lessons from a Vocal Mob Hijacking a Meeting

Have you been in a meeting that has been hijacked by a vocal mob? Author Dave Biggs, a public engagement professional, shared a story about a time that it happened to him in a local community meeting and the lessons he learned. One big lesson:
In some situations, we reduced the opportunities for disruptive plenary outbursts by organizing table discussions.
Go read the full article to get three more practical tips to help meetings run smoothly.

If you are looking for more tips on what to do in tough situations, join our webinar. Information and registration at

Photo credit flickr user gep

Monday, March 28, 2016

Learn - Leading through Tough Situations

University of Minnesota Extension is kicking of its 2016 Leadership Series with a FREE webinar about Leading through Tough Situations. If you want tips and ideas on how to get out of a snag during a meeting or how to appropriately work with a difficult team member, check this out. The webinar is split into two parts, each 90 minutes, focusing on different tough situations:
  • Understanding Conflict in Groups - Thursday, May 19 from 8:30 to 10:00 AM
  • Dealing with Difficult Meeting Behaviors - Thursday, May 26, 8:30 to 10:00 AM
Participants are responsible for viewing some short materials before each session. So register for this FREE webinar before spaces run out:

Image made with Piktochart

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Opportunity - Nominate someone for 50 Over 50

AARP and Pollen are putting together a list of 50 great Minnesota community leaders over the age of 50 to celebrate those who are making an impact and show no signs of slowing. We know there are many great leaders across the state who could qualify. Nominate someone from your community today!

Photo credit Flickr user Cheddar

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Got a big idea?

If you do, you should share it with our colleagues at the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. They are in the business of bringing University partnerships to help make ideas happen. You can fill out an idea form by going to their web site and filling out an Idea Brief.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Learn - Minnesota Compass on Civic Engagement Measures

Minnesota Compass' Allison Liuzzi recently published a blog post outlining three key civic engagement indicators for Minnesota. Check it out to see how Minnesota residents stack up again others across the nation in measures like connection to government, connection to community, and connection to each other. What do these numbers suggest for your community?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Opportunity - Community Capitals workshop

Research shows that the most successful communities contain seven key elements. Join the researchers Cornelia Flora and Jan Flora as they detail how to engage different community members in developing all seven capitals where you live.

Date: March 21, 2016
Time: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Location: Black Bear Casino - Stoney Brook Room
Cost: $20 (includes continental breakfast and buffet lunch)

For more information, contact Extension Educator Dawn Newman (218-726-6474 or

Register online now.

This event is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Extension and the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Extension to help create public outreach that focuses community strengths.

Image credit:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Opportunity - Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation announces $100,000 in grants

As part of its effort to invest in economic growth in the region, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is offering $100,000 in Incentive Grants for nonprofits and government agencies. Grants go up to $20,000 and should focus on the areas of early childhood and economic development. Applications are due March 21, 2016. Get the full guidelines and online application at their website.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Learn - Leading through Change

Change can be tough - for individuals and communities. In the recent issue of Vital Connections, Elyse Paxton spoke with Willmar resident Melissa Sorenson and Extension Educator Brian Fredrickson about ways that leaders can help make change happen. Check it out.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Learn - Advocacy Training Events

Doing good work happens at all levels, whether it is helping to address immediate needs or working to create systems change. If you or your organization is thinking about the big picture opportunities, consider Minnesota Council of Nonprofits' webinar series on Advocacy. In their own words:
Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits this spring for the Let's Advocate!—a series of free learning opportunities devoted to exploring the skills, processes and resources that can help you advocate effectively for your organization. Through a mix of webinars, in-person convenings and workshops, this free series will help you make advocacy a core part of your nonprofit.
Opportunities are free and most are available online. Topics include:

  • Children and Youth Issues Briefing - Feb 18 from 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • How a Bill Becomes a Law - Feb 25 from 10-11 a.m.
  • Session Line-Up - March 11 from 10 a.m. - noon
  • Capitol Lab - March 18 from 10 a.m. - noon
  • Understanding the State budget - March 30 from 10-11 a.m.
  • Advanced Capitol Lab - April 15 from 10 a.m. - noon
  • Developing Your Elections Plan - May 24 from 10-11 a.m.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Join the team - hiring an Alumni Program Coordinator

We are looking for a new team member to lead our Alumni Program and provide coordination to some of our leadership cohorts. This team member will make sure that alumni of leadership and civic engagement programs continue to receive support and education from our statewide network. Location options are available across the state. For more information, check out the full posting.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Winterfest 2016 - Back and better than ever

Join your friends and make some new ones at Winterfest 2016. If you like being active in the outdoors, come to this event that supports community leadership development across McLeod County. For more information, check out the McLeod for Tomorrow webpage. Show up and you may even get to meet an alpaca!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Opportunity - Community Innovation Grants

Is your community seeking to increase understanding of an issue, come up with ideas for addressing it, and wanting to test and implement solutions? Consider applying for the Community Innovation Grant. Offered by Headwaters Foundation for Justice and the Bush Foundation, your community could receive anywhere from $500 to $10,000.

Check out this site for all the details. The deadline is February 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm.
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy