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Minnesota Monday aims to spark interest in agriculture, seven days a week

Minnesota Monday
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CROOKSTON – Two University of Minnesota organizations have teamed up to virtually teach youth about agriculture.

University of Minnesota Extension Youth Development – commonly called Minnesota 4-H – and the University of Minnesota Crookston Office of Outreach and Engagement are hosting free 15-minute virtual lessons on Mondays for five weeks this summer.

The online series, called “Minnesota Monday,” began June 8 and will continue through July 6. The series launched with information about soil, and on June 15, the topic was planting and weeds. The next Minnesota Monday virtual events are: June 22, pollinators; June 29, ladybugs and insects; and July 6, water quality and energy.

Michelle Christopherson, UMC director of outreach and engagement, thought of the idea for Minnesota Monday after Gov. Tim Walz ordered Minnesota schools to shut down to stem the spread of coronavirus.

For the last few months before the shutdown, the Crookston Office of Outreach and Engagement had been doing Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, a curriculum that aims to improve agricultural literacy at two area elementary schools in Polk County. Highland Elementary School in Crookston and New Heights Elementary School in East Grand Forks were participating in the newly launched program, Christopherson said.

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“When COVID-19 hit, we had to come to a screeching halt,” she said.

Believing that the program should continue in another version, she talked with U of M Extension 4-H educators in a few northwest Minnesota counties about how they could adjust it to deliver the information in another way. She and the educators thought it was important to figure out a way to get youth outdoors and interested in agriculture and their natural surroundings.

Christopherson looked at the Minnesota Ag in the Classroom curriculum and chose some ideas that could be delivered virtually to youth.

“We hope to spark an interest in a variety of activities that can strengthen the understanding of one’s food and fiber system,” Christopherson said. ”"The focus was northwest Minnesota, so students will start thinking more critically about their environment.”

Minnesota Monday organizers also hope that watching the series will pique an interest in an agricultural- or science-based career.

Because the program is online, parents and children who miss a session still can review it.

Meanwhile, the 15-minute virtual sessions also are designed to be a “teaser” for an upcoming program called “In Your Backyard.” That program, which will kick off July 27 and run through Aug. 1, is for students in kindergarten through college. Three different education levels will be offered, Christopherson said.

To register for Minnesota Monday: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c044aa9a92e5-minnesota

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More information: https://youthcentral.umn.edu/ and https://www.crk.umn.edu/units/outreach-and-engagement

Minnesota Monday's Facebook page is available at: https://www.facebook.com/MinnesotaMonday/

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