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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > RSDP News > Nobles County's David Benson receives U of M Outstanding Community Partner Service Award

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Nobles County's David Benson receives
U of M Outstanding Community Partner Service Award

Contact: Dan Gilchrist, Asst. Director, RSDP, 612-626-9827,

David Benson

St. Paul, Minn. (05/05/2015) - Former Nobles County Commissioner David Benson was recently awarded the University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Partner Service Award. Benson was chosen as a University-affiliated community member who, by devoting time, talents, and expertise to serve the public good, has made significant, demonstrable and direct contributions to society's well-being.

Daughter-in-law Kaija Benson, sister Marilyn Benson, daughter Heather Benson, RSDP Director Kathy Draeger, and sister Shirley Gowdy.

"David has been connected to the University of Minnesota since the age of eight, when he was a member of his local 4-H club," said University Associate Vice President for Public Engagement Andrew Furco. "He is dedicated to the idea of the Land Grant university and its role in our society. David has been actively engaged with Extension programs as a public official and an advocate, and he has been an active leader for environmental sustainability in Southwest Minnesota with Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP)."

Benson was nominated by RSDP Statewide Director Kathryn Draeger. Benson was recruited to work with the Partnerships in 2002 by the late Mary Page, a U of M regent and previous winner of this award, Draeger noted.

Extension CFO David Werner and Shirley Gowdy.

"We owe a great deal to David Benson. He chaired our statewide coordinating committee and has a lead role for the Southwest RSDP board. This past year alone, he was part of creating the Minnesota Food Charter, an organizer of a climate change conference that drew more than 85 people to Lamberton to discuss agriculture and climate change adaptation, and an active participant at the Community-Driven Clean Energy Conference in St. Cloud," Draeger said.

RSDP's David Fluegel and Okey Ukaga, and Kaija & Marilyn Benson.

"While serving as a county commissioner from 1993 to 2013, David served on local and statewide Extension committees," said Beverly Durgan, dean of Extension. "After retiring as commissioner, he remained active as an advocate for Extension at the state and national level. He has helped Extension here and across the country bring climate change and water security issues to the forefront."

Said Benson: "In our current times, when the nation feels very polarized along many different lines, I believe the Land Grant system is more relevant than ever. I am humbled to have been a part of the work of the U of M, through Extension, through the Partnerships, and by this award."

Benson lives on the farm where he grew up in Bigelow, 11 miles southwest of Worthington. David and his family raised cattle and sheep for 20 years, and then grew organically certified food-grade soybeans and buckwheat for 14 years. In semi-retirement, David and his wife, Sally Ann, grow native prairie and hay. Previously he received ESP-Pi Chapter Friend of Extension Recognition in 2013, the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Extension Committee President's Award in 2012 and was recognized by the Minnesota Department of Health's State Community Health Services Advisory Committee as a Friend of Public Health in 2010.

Because Benson and his wife Sally Ann were traveling overseas, his award was accepted on his behalf by his daughter Heather Benson and RSDP's Draeger.

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