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Cook County Connections: University of Minnesota Extension Provides Services for All Cook County Residents

Mar 01, 2024 09:36AM ● By Content Editor
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From Cook County, MN - March 1, 2024

By Sarah Waddle, Cook County Extension Educator/Community Center Director


University of Minnesota Extension’s mission is to make a difference by connecting community needs and University resources to address critical issues in Minnesota. Here in Cook County, we have a local Extension office staffed by an Extension Educator. We provide educational workshops, trainings, technical assistance, and partnership with community organizations to bring University of Minnesota resources to Cook County to meet community needs. Our focus areas are around gardening, local food system supports, natural resources, and family health and wellbeing.

What does that mean in action? We host programs and events, help people one on one with their questions, work with volunteers in the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs, work together with community partners on system change for a healthy, accessible, local food system and more. In 2023, Cook County Extension hosted trainings and workshops that reached 553 participants, responded to 79 technical assistance requests, trained 12 new Master Naturalist volunteers, and coordinated the local Master Gardener program- through which 16 volunteers gave 761 hours of service. In addition to these direct connections, we offer many resources to the community like our library of gardening and farming books, our monthly Northern Gardening radio show on WTIP, connections to Extension web and print resources and more.

Extension aims to make University resources accessible to everyone in our community. If you have a question or idea you think we could help with, we encourage you to reach out anytime. The Extension office is located at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais and is open Tuesdays-Fridays, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Many resources from Extension are also available online, a good starting point is the local office website: In addition, we send a monthly newsletter that anyone is welcome to subscribe to in order to stay informed about upcoming programs and opportunities. You can sign up to receive the newsletter on the local office website.

Our work and programs in Cook County are guided by the County Extension Committee (CEC). Every County in the state has a CEC that gives input to the annual Extension budget, priority program areas, and future directions. Our local CEC is made up of two County Commissioners, the County Auditor, and six citizens. Currently there are two openings for committee members. We encourage anyone interested in Extensions’ work in Cook County to consider applying to join the Committee. The Committee is welcoming and open to participation from people with any background and you do not need to have experience serving on a board to join us. Committee members commit to a three-year term that can be renewed up to three times. The Committee meets 5-6 times per year, and meetings can be arranged to meet the members’ schedules. Committee members receive a meeting per diem of $30 per meeting and reimbursement for mileage driven to and from the meetings. If you have any questions about the opportunity or would like additional information, please reach out to Keri Cavitt at [email protected]. The application process is simple and starts with filling out an online interest form at:

In addition to considering joining the Extension Committee, we encourage residents to check out our upcoming programs and join something of interest to you. In March we will host a workshop called Head to the Kitchen: Finding your Path for Starting or Growing your Food Business. This workshop will highlight different food business options, food safety planning, and an opportunity to connect with Extension food safety educators and local licensing and regulatory agencies. Learn more and register online at In April we will host a workshop on Spruce Budworm in Minnesota’s Forests during which participants will learn about identification, biology, and management of Spruce Budworm. The workshop will feature an update on the latest information regarding the current outbreak and its impact on public and private forest lands into 2024 and beyond. More information and registration is available at

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.

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