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Vital Connections on Air Episode 6: Minnesota's Workforce

Minnesota has a variety of workforce challenges. In Vital Connections on Air Episode 6: Minnesota's Workforce, Laura Kalambokidis discusses how the state's tight labor market presents challenges for both employers and community members searching for creative solutions. Today's guest blogger, Michael Darger, shares his insights on this issue, as well as information about Extension's Business Retention and Expansion program.

Businesses need many resources to succeed, but which resource matters most? Strong management? Raw materials and supplies? Customers? Local support? Each is important, but most business leaders would agree that a talented workforce is crucial to success. To survive and thrive in today’s workforce environment, Minnesota businesses need skilled employees.
Quality workers—and a plentiful supply of them—are a strength of Minnesota’s economy. Despite the cold climate and perception of a higher tax environment, business has thrived here. As a result, Minnes…

2017 Community Leadership Series - Succession Planning for Community Leaders

The 2017 Community Leadership is bringing a new webinar to you in October.  Our FREE webinar "Succession Planning for Community Leaders," will be on October 19, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (CDT).  This webinar will address a topic many organizations don't think about on a regular basis, planning for the people who come behind them.

Community groups get good at planning...they focus on marketing and promoting events, coordinating fundraising activities, and getting the word out about their projects.  Those same groups, regardless of how successful they are at planning, often overlook the importance of succession planning.  Many never think about this type of planning until they realize that the person(s) holding specific leadership roles or those who have the working knowledge of the organization are ready to leave.  Succession planning is one thing leaders can do to focus on an important piece for the overall success of organizations.  
Jody Horntvedt, Leadership and…

Vital Connections on Air Episode 5: Minnesota's Economy 101

Minnesota’s economy is diverse. That diverse economy provides resiliency. State Economist Laura Kalambokidis joins Vital Connections On Air to explain Minnesota’s current economic situation.  We welcome Brigid Tuck, Extension Senior Economic Impact Analyst, to tell us more about Minnesota’s economy and Extension’s Economic Futures Workshops.
Minnesota’s economy, in general, looks a lot like the economy of the entire United States. This diversity helps Minnesota  weather economic downturns with fewer job losses than other states. And, the state can recover those lost jobs sooner.  Following the Great Recession of 2008-2009, Minnesota started recovering before the nation as a whole.
Extension researchers examined both employment and output in each of 12 Minnesota regions.  Read the findings and look, specifically, at your region’s economic strengths.
Is all this information intriguing to you?  Want to learn more about your own, local economy? Could your community use a deeper understanding…

2017 Community Leadership Series - Who is the next generation of leaders?

Summer might be coming to a close, but the 2017 Community Leadership Series continues with our upcoming FREE webinar, "Who Is the Next Generation of Leaders?"  Join us September 21, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (CDT) to learn more about this interesting topic that explores the new generational cohorts who live and lead in our communities. 

We have been hearing a lot about millennials in the media but what do we really know about them and their impact on our communities?  It is sometimes hard to distinguish facts in all of the reports about this generational cohort that is larger than the Baby Boomers.  As community leaders, it is important to understand the new generation of leaders who will be working beside us in organizations and leadership.
Join Brian Fredrickson, Leadership and Civic Engagement Educator, as he explores the unique characteristics of the millennial and digital cohorts.  This webinar will present research and insights on key factors such as community in…

Vital Connections On Air Episode 4: ReGen

Vital Connections On Air Episode 4 features ReGen, a grassroots organization located on Minnesota’s Iron Range. This group of motivated millennials help young newcomers, and those who are “young at heart,” develop social roots on the range. Social roots are the connections that make a community feel like home to its residents.   More important, they inspire you to make the community stronger.

Char Conger, Jessalyn Sabin, and Desiree Yourczek arrived in the Iron Range for different reasons. Char was relocated for work but ended up staying. Jessalyn and Desiree grew up on the Range, left for school, and then returned. What ties their stories together is that each of them wanted to build relationships when they arrived on the Range—to  connect with other community members.

Scholars refer to the connections that we make as social capital. Social capital is gaining more attention, because  it is critical to the health and vitality of communities. Social capital is made up of bonding network…

Vital Connections On Air Episode 3: The Leadership Gap

We have all received the phone call or had the conversation at the grocery store. One of the community groups in town needs a board member, a volunteer, more people to bring bars.  If you are like me, you say that of course you will do what you can, but as you walk out of the store or hang up the phone all you can think is:  "Isn't there someone else who can help?"  

If you think this is happening more often in your small community, you might be right!  According to Ben Winchester, senior research fellow for University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality, we are facing a leadership gap. In his recent analysis, he found that 1 in 16 people must serve as a leader in rural Minnesota counties. Urban and metro areas are also seeing a need for leadership but because of the size of their communities, their leadership demand is more like 1 in 51 people. Ben shares his research on this topic in our new episode of Vital Connections On Air.

This need for lead…

Vital Connections On Air Episode 2: Make It Litchfield

Communities have the power to tell their own story.  Litchfield, Minnesota has been working to create a narrative that reflects their community and tells a story that is optimistic and focused on the future.  We are joined by Judy Hulterstrum and David Krueger who share how they have implemented a program called Make It Litchfield that has brought together the entire community to write a narrative for this generation.
Make It Litchfield is a local program that was developed using the Making It Home program that is now available through University of Minnesota Extension. Thank you to our guest blogger, Neil Linscheid, who has contributed information about this great program.
What is the Making It Home program? The Making It Home program is a new program from the University of Minnesota Extension. Making It Home is focused on supporting local people as they make intentional efforts to market their community and make their community a more attractive place to live. The program is designed …

2017 Community Leadership Series - Let's Talk about Race: Becoming Reflective about White Privilege in Civic Leadership

There are more great programs coming from the 2017 Community Leadership Series.  Our August webinar explores a topic that is challenging but important to help leaders working in our increasingly diverse communities.  Let's Talk about Race: Becoming Reflective about White Privilege in Civic Leadership will be presented online from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  
How do our patterns of thinking and our shared history influence the way we lead? Using personal stories and case studies, we will introduce and examine race, white privilege, structural racism, internalized racism, bias, color blindness, intersectionality, and white fragility to foster a personal reflection and collective conversation about race as a key element in civic leadership. 
How we lead, whether through influencing public policies, shaping organizational practices, or sustaining cultural beliefs may yield inequity among diverse community members and be informed by unconscious/unrecogniz…

Vital Connections On Air Episode 1: It's Not Your Grandpa's Rural

The Center for Community Vitality is proud to introduce Vital Connections On Air, a podcast that brings you information and research from University of Minnesota Extension and stories from communities around Minnesota.  This podcast will feature some of your favorite Extension educators and researchers as well as new voices from within the University of Minnesota.  We are also excited to introduce you to great people from around Minnesota who are doing the same work you are within their communities.

In our first episode, we are joined by Ben Winchester, Senior Research Fellow with University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality.  Ben has done extensive research in the area of rural migration patterns, which is referred to as the "Brain Gain."  In his visit to our podcast he is discussing the way we choose where we live, work, and play as well as how the narrative of communities impacts those decisions.

The Pew Research Center, as reported by Winchester…

Happy 4th of July!

2017 Community Leadership Series - Leading with Intercultural Competence

The 2017 Community Leadership Series continues with its July webinar "Leading with Intercultural Competence."  This webinar will be held on Thursday, July 20, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (CST).

Our communities are becoming increasingly diverse.  When leading in diverse communities, leaders must be aware of their own beliefs and views of different cultures as well as how that impacts their ability to work across cultures to benefit a community.  Leaders who have an awareness of these issues are able to contribute to the creation of thriving and welcoming places.
This unique webinar offering allows participants the opportunity to complete the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) online.   The IDI provides you with information on your own "orientations toward cultural difference and commonality."  The profile that you will receive can help you to think about your experiences around cultural differences and similarities.  
As part of the online webinar, Toby…

2017 Community Leadership Series - Strengthening Trust in Communities

Join us for the first webinar of the 2017 Community Leadership Series on June 8, 2017 beginning at 11:00 a.m. (CST) as we discuss the impacts of trust in our communities.  Research shows that trust is closely correlated to positive benefits such as increased efficiency and effectiveness.  We also see through research that the lack of trust leads to disengagement and loss of creativity.  The presence, or lack of, trust has even greater impacts on relationship in communities with diverse cultures.

Leadership and Civic Engagement Educators, Eriks Dunens and Dawn Newman, will explore the types of trust and the three most common places where trust is built or lost.  They will also discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist in diverse communities to strengthen networks and build trust.  This 90 minute webinar is FREE and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home or office.  Invite a fellow community leader or colleague to join you for this informational and interactive webinar…

Advance Your Leadership Skills with YouLead 8

We are excited to announce the upcoming 2017-2018 leadership cohort, YouLead: leadership for you and your community, formerly the U-Lead Advisory Academy. As passionate members of Minnesota communities we invite you to register for and join YouLead.
YouLead is an opportunity to build leadership skills while connecting with others who are working on complex community issues. Through the program, you will have the opportunity to: Expand your leadership through community site visits, discussion,interactive lessons, hands-on learning, a national tour and reflection. Explore thought-provoking topics such as powerful communication, unconscious bias, successful teams, motivations, strengths, conflict, well-being, and decision-making - all built on a foundation of Core Leadership Competencies™. Discover Extension’s innovative programs and partnerships.
You can read more about the program at z.umn.edu/youlead. This site provides the schedule, program background information, registration costs and …

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Hosts Advanced Grantwriting Workshop

Have you sat in committee meetings and someone suggests applying for a grant and the entire room moans?  Grantwriting can be a complex process but it can also help you to define the story that you are trying to tell not only a specific funder but your entire community.  The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is offering a two part advanced grantwriting workshop on April 20 and May 18, 2017.  Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to learn strategies and techniques to write sound grants that enhance an organizations marketing strategy.  This workshop also offers you the opportunity to submit a proposal and get immediate feedback to help you learn and better understand the grantwriting process.  Click HERE to learn more or register for this opportunity.  Make sure to visit their Events and Training page for more learning and networking opportunities.

Photo Credit: flickr user 401(K) 2012

New Program to Support Distressed Farmers

Less than one percent of Minnesotans work in the agricultural sector yet we all feel its economic impacts.    As Minnesota’s farmers prepare for the 2017 planting season many of them are also facing financial struggles due to on-going low prices and other factors.  University of Minnesota Extension has announced that it will begin offering one-to-one financial counseling to farmers in serious financial stress. 
The Extension program is expected to run for two years and will augment other services currently available in Minnesota such as the Farmer-Lender Mediation program and the Minnesota Farm Advocates assistance program.  Farmers who participate in the new program will have the opportunity to work with retired agricultural business professionals, who have updated training, and are available across the state.  All of the professionals will also work closely with current Extension educators and Extension's Agricultural Business Management program. 

To learn more about the prog…

Central and Northwest RSDPs Seek Idea Briefs

The Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) connect greater Minnesota communities to the University of Minnesota in order to help solve problems and take advantage of new opportunities.  RSDP works to connect knowledge, resources, and seed funding to drive sustainability in its four core areas of agriculture and food systems, tourism and resilient communities, natural resources, and clean energy.  There are five regional partnerships within Minnesota.  At this time the Central RSDP and Northwest RSDP are seeking idea briefs for seed funding they have available to support projects in their areas that leverage community participation and build strong partnerships with University of Minnesota.  Individuals, organizations, and groups are encouraged to apply.
The Central RSDP serves Central Minnesota including Becker, Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd, and Wadena Counties.  Idea briefs are due by March 31, 2017 and impl…

Minnesota's Township Day is March 14, 2017

Minnesota is made up of 1,790 townships and represent a key piece of our state's history.  The township model is a carryover from Europe but was used as Minnesota’s original form of government dating back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.  Townships were originally plotted to represent 36 square miles but this has changed as cities have grown and areas have been annexed and merged.  Despite these changes the democratic process and leadership shown at the township level are important.  The work done at the township level has been described by the Association of Minnesota Counties as a way to experience democracy at its purest form.
The second Tuesday of March offers citizens the opportunity to participate in this grassroots form of democracy.  Every township must hold an annual meeting on the second Tuesday, which in 2017 is March 14.  The meeting will include election of one or more supervisors who serve a three year term.  Even if you did not meet the filing time for township …

Alumni Impact: McLeod For Tomorrow's 5th Annual WinterFest

Do you or your family have a case of cabin fever?  Do you want to find something different to do this weekend?  Alumni from McLeod For Tomorrow have just the event to get rid of those winter blues and celebrate all that winter has to offer.  McLeod for Tomorrow’s 5th Annual WinterFest will be held this Saturday, February 4 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, MN.  This event features dogsled rides, alpacas, ice skating, the U of M Rapture Center, the opportunity to meet the characters from Frozen and much more!  The day runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and admission and most activities are FREE!  They will have food and beverages available for a small cost.  All money raised from the event benefits the McLeod for Tomorrow leadership program and was created by the program’s alumni.  
McLeod For Tomorrow (MFT) is a county bridging leadership program that began in 2008 in central Minnesota.  Over the course of nine months, participants visit the various communities of McLeod…

Read to Lead

Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block 4 part ONLINE book discussion
March 7, March 21, April 4, and April 18
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. (CST)
Register here
We are excited to offer a new opportunity for alumni and friends of the Center for Community Vitality.  The Read to Lead Series gives participants the chance to explore books that are discussed during our various Extension programs.  Over the course of four online gatherings you will explore sections of the book and discuss ideas with others who are excited about making things happen in their community.  The final session will feature a presentation by an Extension Educator on a specific idea of topic from the book.

Our first selection is Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block.  We have all seen our communities become divided or fragmented based on specific issues or work.  We have also seen people become more disconnected from their community.  When this happens we lose out on new ideas and the gifts that those ind…

Vibrant Economies, Vibrant Communities

Economic development in communities does not happen because one person says that they are going to “do” economic development.  It happens because many community players come to the table to work together to strengthen the local business economy.  University of Minnesota Extension’s Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Strategies Program is here to help community leaders understand the needs and concerns of local businesses.  By understanding and addressing common business concerns, the community ensures a healthier future for itself.  The BR&E Strategies Program focuses on short term and long term objectives that help your community address issues today while planning for the future.  Extension offers BR&E courses online and in person to help community development professionals and community leaders understand the principles of BR&E and the processes involved.  This course will prepare you to lead a BR&E effort in your community and provide you with access to v…

Exploring Communities Using Minnesota Compass

The 2017 calendar presents us with 365 days to make a difference in our communities.   A great tool to help us on this journey is Minnesota Compass.  Minnesota Compass is a project led by the Wilder Foundation that gives everyone in Minnesota common information on a variety of social topic areas.  The information is not just statewide data, but is broken down into regional and county specific data.  Data is also presented for larger cities.  Minnesota Compass provides the opportunity to look at data and trends within your county and region to better understand what is really happening and how you compare to other areas of the state.  The data and trends analysis available to users can help you work with elected officials, write grants to support work in your community, or engage leaders in conversations about changes happening in your area.  Take some time to explore the great data that is available through their website as well as following @MNCompass on Twitter and MN Compass on Fa…