Extension's first tourism programs were developed in the 1960s for resort owners in northeastern Minnesota. Tourism specialists used the tried-and-true Extension model for working with farmers and small communities. They helped community leaders plan and develop tourism while boosting business activity, respecting the interests of local citizens and protecting natural resources. The programs spread as community development educators provided research and educational programs across the state. Throughout, the Minnesota Department of Tourism provided feedback and support. In 1987, Extension and the University of Minnesota, with private endowments, created the Tourism Center for ongoing educational programs.
In 1960, the first nationwide forum for volunteer 4-H leaders was held at the National 4-H Center in Washington, D.C. Adult volunteers play a critical role in 4-H's unique learn-by-doing model. They guide kids through a discovery process by getting them to question, analyze and reflect. They are trained in the important "keys to youth development"? and they make sure youngsters feel a sense of belonging.
Today, more than 11,000 Minnesota volunteers contribute 92,700 hours annually. That's a contribution worth more than $21 million each year. But volunteers' greatest value is the incalculable contributions they make to the lives of young people.
In Anoka County in 1965, Extension organized a new program that took elementary school teachers and their students outdoors to learn about Minnesota's natural resources. Extension faculty taught 2,000 kids at natural camp settings. The workshops, outdoor lab sessions and field trips all offered a new kind of experience that laid the foundation for today's environmental science field days. Now, Extension offers innovative classes across the state for nature center educators, teachers and youth environmental educators (like those who work with 4-H and Scouts groups). Today, Extension environmental science education programs offer curriculum tips, research-based best practices and ready-to-teach content.
During the post-war 1950s and '60s, women wanted to know more about family life, mental health, farm policy, farm business and improving their homes. Extension responded with new programs and in 1958, using a new way of communicating, began broadcasting best food buys over Minnesota's 22 TV stations. Heart disease among women was a big concern, and Extension taught lessons in eating right to manage weight. Extension also developed nationally known programs to teach handicapped homemakers how to manage with less energy or limited motion. Now more than ever, families relied on Extension's research-based information to help them make good decisions.
Extension expanded its health and nutrition programs in the mid-1950s to American Indian families. Invited by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to set up programs on the White Earth and Red Lake reservations, Extension hired its first agents to work with those communities. These agents became known and trusted on the reservations. They organized 4-H clubs and homemaker groups and taught gardening, nutrition and clothing projects. This work laid the foundation for programs such as the White Earth Math and Science Academy in the 1990s and ongoing interactive nutrition programs that help increase understanding today between Minnesota's oldest and newest cultures.
In the 1960s, Minnesotans became concerned about the safe use of chemicals. Farmers used pesticides to control weeds, insects and plant diseases. Using additives in animal feeds to encourage growth and promote animal health was another concern. And a big worry was the direct hazards to people who applied chemicals. In 1964, Extension pulled together a committee of entomologists, agronomists, plant pathologists, animal scientists, nutritionists and others to gather research and set up educational workshops. Working in concert with state agencies and industry groups, Extension presented courses across the state for chemical applicators, farmers, pesticide dealers and others responsible for safe environmental practices and a safe food supply.