Past Events - 2011

Welcome to the 2011 UMR CONNECTS past events page. All presentations on this page have already taken placeYou can view the list of upcoming presentations here.

December ~ Stress Management

December 13 ~ Stresssss-lesss Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are designed to decrease stress in our lives such as developing a healthier lifestyle, losing weight, quitting smoking, and more. Typically, they end up causing more stress. When we set goals that are unrealistic or self-defeating, the likelihood of success is small. Through vision development, positive thinking, boundary setting, and guided imagery, learn encouraging ways to look at change.

Speaker: Sonja Hallworth, CSC, CFC, HFS offers 33 years of employment experience in the fitness and wellness field as a Fitness Director, Group Exercise Instructor, Personal Trainer and now Coach. Employment facilities included the Marine Corps, the University of Arizona, YMCA's, health clubs, the Mayo Clinic, a chiropractor, and hospital health promotion programs. She has a B.A. in Physical Education and Religion from Luther College. She is a certified Wellcoaches Wellness and Fitness Coach; ACSM Health Fitness Specialist; Cooper Institute Health Promotion Director; Arthritis Foundation Aqua Leader; Sexual Assault Victim Advocate; and Living Well With Chronic Conditions Facilitator, etc.

December 6 ~ Holiday Hoopla: Why We Do What We Do

This light hearted session is designed to take a minute or two (we know, we know, you are very busy) to reflect on your elf duties this time of year. Most of us can identify feeling more frazzled with more to do at the office, in the mall and in our homes. Have you ever asked yourself if you really like it? Let’s make sure that all the extras we do this month make sense to us. Sometimes what were once traditions can morph into plain old annoyances over time. This session will help us declutter our lists and our responsibilities and give us good reminders about coping with the inherent stresses of the season (can you sing “Feliz Navidad” anyone?). All are welcome, Santas and Scrooges alike! Bring a Holiday trinket from home to share in the introduction... don’t think too hard on this one, just bring something that represents the holidays at your house.

Speaker: Named Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year for 2011, Katy Smith has nearly 30 years of experience working side by side with families, educators, and business professionals helping to connect people and build stronger, more vital communities. She has a Bachelor’s degree in social work and a teaching license in Parent Education from Winona State University. Her Masters of Education is from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse. She believes that people learn best when they are engaged in a powerful story that challenges their thinking and touches their emotions.

For more on Katy’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award visit:


November ~ Innovation for a Smarter Rochester

November 29 ~ Taking Back Our Cities

Municipalities in North America are at a crucial moment in history. The property tax system is broken, our infrastructure is crumbling, relations between cities and senior governments are often strained and cracking, and competitor cities around the world are surging economically and culturally. Our cities are at risk of being left behind unless the structure and financing of our towns and cities change.

How can our cities successfully compete internationally in the 21st century? And are local governments now the most important order of government for most people most of the time? How can Rochester build a more creative, vibrant city?

These are some of the provocative issues raised by Gord Hume’s fascinating new book “Taking Back Our Cities”. Please join Mr. Hume as he concludes the UMR CONNECTS November speaker series and learn how together we can transform Rochester’s urban space into an even better/smarter place to live, work, and visit by utilizing cutting-edge technologies, integrated urban planning approaches, and sustainable methodologies.

Speaker: Gord Hume is recognized as one of Canada’s leading voices on municipal government and is an articulate and thoughtful commentator on civic government and community issues. He is a very popular public speaker, an advisor to municipal governments, and a respected and provocative author.

“Taking Back Our Cities” is an unblinking look at the relationships between Canada’s various levels of government and why municipal government has become the most important level but how we must change the system to prosper.

Gord is a popular and sought-after public speaker who is known for his passionate and inspiring presentations. He has addressed major audiences and local governments across Canada, as well as in Asia, Europe and the United States. In the fall of 2010 Gord was the keynote speaker at the UNESCO Congress on Creative Cities in South Korea.

As an author, entrepreneur, successful businessman and community leader, Gord has a remarkable record of success.

November 22 ~ Rochester's Smarter City: Public Safety Project

In this session you will learn about technology's role in making cities safer...and in particular, here in Rochester. You will hear from Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson about the RPD's Intelligence-Led Policing Units. You will also learn how public safety solutions from IBM create a reliable way to keep all agencies in touch, whether securing people, data, property and infrastructure; solving crimes; or dealing with natural or man-made disasters.


Roger Peterson obtained a bachelor degree in criminology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. A thirty-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department, he started as a patrol officer in August of 1981, was promoted to Detective in 1986, and to Lieutenant shortly after that. In 1988 he assumed command of the Violent Crimes Unit and the Narcotics Unit of the Police Department and was subsequently promoted to Captain of Investigations in 1996. He was also in charge of the Rochester/Olmsted Emergency Response Unit for 9 years from 1989 to 1998. In 1998 he obtained the rank of Deputy Chief with overall responsibility for the Operations Bureau of the Police Department including the patrol and investigative divisions. He was appointed Chief in July of 1998.

Matthew J. Paschal is an analog circuit design engineer at IBM in Rochester, MN where he designs high speed IOs for gaming and IBM server microprocessors. During his career at IBM he has contributed to the state of the art in various technologies such as optical transceivers, high speed serializer/deserializer IOs and GDDR3 memory IO interfaces. Mr. Paschal has received 13 patents. During the last few years Mr. Paschal has expanded his expertise into public safety technologies, working on several projects involving smart video surveillance. Mr. Paschal's interests lie in applying IBM technologies such as CMOS/SOI/SiGe silicon technologies, wired/wireless sensors, PowerPC microprocessor architectures, and edge of network computing to Smarter Planet applications.

November 15 ~ Rochester Downtown Master Plan

Planning is a key factor in positioning communities for future growth. The Rochester community recently completed a detailed downtown master plan. This presentation will provide an in-depth discussion of the importance of downtown to the local economy, a description of the downtown master planning process, and an overview of the specific recommendations and implementation program for the master plan. Time will be set aside for questions and answers.

Speakers: Jon Eckhoff, Jay Hesley, Doug Knott, Don DeCramer

November 8 ~ IBM Smarter Solutions Panel

Smarter Data Center and Buildings: What started in IBM’s data center to help its customers with energy & cooling constraints has grown to help building owners and operators save money and become more eco-friendly. And this is just one of the innovative solutions that IBM has developed. Learn more about what has been done and the directions ahead for building operations from IBM.
Speaker: Brad Brech is a Distinguished Engineer, currently working Data Center Optimization and Smarter Planet Solutions. He has worked at IBM Rochester for 29 years, and is active in the community.

Smarter Healthcare: IBM is expanding the use of technology in the healthcare industry. An example is the use of "Watson", IBM's computer that beat the world's best at Jeopardy. Learn about Watson and how an IBM team is working to use this technology in the healthcare industry.
Speaker: David Wall is a senior software engineer, currently working on the Watson for Healthcare solution. He has worked at IBM Rochester for 27 years, the last 10 in the healthcare industry.

Smarter Food: One billion people are hungry and the perfect food supply chain doesn't exist. It is clear our food production choices could use an extra infusion of intelligence. The Smart Food utility allows regions to examine their food industry assets, nutritional goals, and budgets to determine the best way to produce or import foods that will meet the region's nutritional needs at the lowest cost. The system can be used to quickly get food to disaster relief areas, hunger target zones, or simply to help grocers make more informed food supply decisions.
Speaker: Rob Meyer has been with IBM for 8 years. He currently works in Corporate Tools, developing and supporting applications for internal customers. He became engaged in the Smarter Planet initiative through founding and leading the Smart Food Turbo Team, and continues to be heavily involved in this exciting area.

November 1 ~ Smarter Planet - Smarter Cities Overview

Smarter planet is the foundation for IBM’s vision for smarter cities--a vision that demonstrates how cities can lead the way into a prosperous and sustainable future. From IBM’s perspective, we see a smarter city as an urban development that employs instrumentation, interconnection, and intelligence to provide awareness of and coordinated responsiveness to activities and events within the city. These capabilities enable the people and the local industry to benefit from a great place to live, work, and run a business.
Speaker: Chuck Wallace spent 32 years with IBM. The last 10 years of Chuck’s career was spent as Program Director of the Rochester Executive Briefing Center, where he and his team interacted with IBM customers around the world, expounding the latest IBM and Rochester site strategy and technology. Chuck and a team of specialist created the Smarter Planet Overview course as a part 113 hours of Smarter Planet education created as a result of a grant between the State of MN, IBM Rochester and RCTC.


October ~ Globalization

October 25 ~ Globalization and the Future

Combining a brief history and the latest research, we will delve into the details and the different perspectives inherent in the globalization process. We will define and review the pros and cons of globalization theory, while discussing different perspectives of globalization's impact on people, businesses, institutions, and nations. Using this insight we will review some scenarios of the future and draw conclusions about the future implications of globalization.

Speaker: Stephen Troutman is a futurist, consultant, community volunteer, and keynote speaker. He is recently retired from IBM, where he specialized in organization change and transformation consulting, and sales management. He also retired from the US Naval Reserve, where he held four Commanding Officer assignments. A Futurist since 1999, he is a frequent speaker on futures and business topics, including: Virtual Teaming, and Generational Futures. As a community volunteer, he serves on the Boards of Directors of the Rochester Art Center, Rochester International Film Group, Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE), and Learning Is ForEver (LIFE), where he is President.

His class on Generational Futures which describes a repeating, 80 year, generational cycle is being offered through Community Education on Nov 16th.

October 18 ~ Student-Led International Medicine through Global Brigades

Global Brigades is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. In 2011 alone, for every one volunteer, 60 patients were seen by licensed doctors in villages that would not have access to health care otherwise. This past summer, Dr. John Bachman and four college students had the opportunity to experience Honduras while working in health clinics. Listen to the compelling stories, experiences, and trip highlights that these volunteers will share about the tangible impact they made on the communities they served. For more information, visit

Speakers: Dr. John Bachman from Mayo Clinic and students Chelsea Griffin, Jessica Gascoigne, Ellie Linscheid, and Tanner VanLith

October 11 ~ "The World is Flat" - What Does That Mean to Us?

How do we adapt, prepare fast and play to win-win? This presentation will focus on exploring and understanding the implications of “The World is Flat” for science and technology-intensive organizations with a special focus on challenges and opportunities in India and China for Minnesota organizations, and what it means for Minnesota and U.S. competitiveness. We’ll focus on development and internationalization of technology and business, while developing an understanding of the underpinnings/enabling technologies of pertinent global dimensions.

Speaker: Dr. Amin works on enabling smarter, more secure and resilient infrastructures and is a leading expert on the U.S. electricity grid. Before becoming the Honeywell/H.W. Sweatt Chair in Technological Leadership, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Minnesota, he directed all Infrastructure Security, Grid Operations/Planning, Energy Markets, and Risk and Policy Assessment at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, California. At Minnesota, his responsibilities include direction and oversight of all academic, financial and administrative elements of Technological Leadership Institute’s education, research and consulting. He teaches/researches in complex dynamical systems, smart grids and energy security, pivotal technologies, S&T policy, and infrastructure security. For more information, please see

October 4 ~ A Changing World: Literacy, Education, and the Future of Humanity

We are at the beginning of a transition into a new era for humanity. Based on personal experience and study teaching and working with Asia for the past 16 years, Merlin will develop a view of the world in 2050 and the urgent critical role of a literate and well educated community to not just make this a better world but a different world.

Speaker: Merlin Ricklefs completed an IBM career in several positions of senior management. He has since held university appointments including 3M McKnight Distinguished Visiting Professor at UMD, Visiting Professor Chulalongkorn U, Bangkok, Thailand, Visiting Professor, Gustavus Adolfus, and Guest Lecturer Sun Yat-Sen U, Guangzhou, China.

He is currently an International Consultant and Educator on subjects of Global Leadership and Effective Management and lectures for the University of Minnesota Chinese Executive leadership Training Program. With the assistance of his wife, Karen, they have hosted 12 Chinese delegations in Rochester.


September ~ A Tribute to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

September 27 ~ 9-11 Lessons

Each one of us has our own memories and experiences which define 9-11-2001 for us. What lessons can we still take away from that tragic and defining day? Can positive ideals and principles come out of the ashes? Michael Hingson explores these questions as he shares his story of survival and growth and how he escaped and went on living because of his own strong and fearless sense of survival as well as because of his hero and friend, his guide dog Roselle. Michael will take you step by step through his own experience of the attack first hand, then his trip down 1463 stairs to freedom only to have to run from the collapse of the South Tower, just 100 yards away from where he was standing.

Speaker: Mike Hingson is President of The Michael Hingson Group, INC.“Speaking with Vision”. He is author of Thunder Dog, A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero (copies will be available for sale at his presentation or from his website in advance). For more information, please visit:

September 20 ~ September 11th's Place in American History

September 11th occurred ten years ago. It takes roughly that amount of time before an event moves into the realm of historical study. That is when the causes, results, and other forms of analysis that constitute historical scholarship start to come into focus. This presentation will include: a discussion of the thematic organization of US history; how historians may interpret September 11th in the years to come; and what that moment has and will continue to mean to us as a nation.

Speaker: Chad Israelson has been a history instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College from 1996 to the present and received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2003. He has been the Faculty President at RCTC from 2010 to the present. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and an MA in history from the University of Nebraska. Mr. Israelson writes a monthly political column for the Post Bulletin newspaper and does political analysis for KTTC and KAAL TV stations.

September 13 ~ 9/11: Stories of Extreme Valor

On a day remembered tragically around the world, there were countless acts of valor by police officers, fire fighters and ordinary citizens. Those acts of selfless courage gave hope to the immediate victims and to our nation. That hope carries forward to today and beyond. Our guest speaker served with the U.S. Department of Justice on 9/11 and was responsible for organizing and leading the effort to assist the families of the public safety officers that perished at Ground Zero. We will honor their sacrifice by remembering them and their heroism.

Speaker: Jeff Allison is the Special Adviser on Campus Public Safety in the FBI Office of Law Enforcement Coordination. The FBI nominated Jeff for the Service to America Medal for his work to enhance campus public safety across the nation. Jeff began his federal career in 1985 as a police trainer for the U.S. Department of Justice. He subsequently served as the Director of the Police Corps, a national college scholarship and police training program. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Jeff served as a Maryland State Trooper and as a field training officer and detective with the Aurora, Colorado Police Department.

Jeff is married with two daughters and a son. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland, and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University.

September 6 ~ A Decade After the Attack on the World Trade Towers: A Perspective from Across the Hudson River

One-fourth of those who died in the World Trade Towers tragedy were residents of New Jersey. Joe Marchesani grew up there, 10 miles from Manhattan, long before the Towers existed. He'll talk about their history and include photos he's taken over the years.

Speaker: Mr. Marchesani is a program director at the University of MN Rochester. Among other positions in the public and private sectors, he has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of MN Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Loyola University - Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology.


August ~ Sustainability

August 30 ~ What's Sustainability and What Do Local Foods Have to Do With It?

Now, more than ever, we hear about sustainable this and that. What does sustainability really mean? How can each of us be expected to do our part? It all seems out of reach and life is busy! This session will provide some general definitions and use local foods to frame the concept of sustainability. If we keep a few things in mind and do a little here and there, we can make a positive difference to the sustainability of southeast Minnesota.

Speaker: Erin Meier directs the University of Minnesota Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships are citizen-driven organizations based in five regions throughout greater Minnesota. Their work links University resources with community-identified, regionally-based projects in sustainable agriculture, community-based food systems, renewable energy, natural resource use, rural economic development, and community vitality. Rather than acting as a typical granting organization, the Regional Partnerships offer resources. They provide the funding and facilitation to “buy” University of Minnesota resources (research faculty, extension staff, student interns, etc.) for community-based, applied education and research projects.

Ms. Meier holds an MS in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University and has research interests in local food systems, consumer behavior, and the external costs of agriculture. She is a geographer (BS, University of Illinois) with past experience as a cartographer and geographic information systems analyst.

August 23 ~ Restoring Natural Areas Where We Live and Work

What are the various roles that restored natural areas can play in a community as it pursues sustainability? Come hear the story of a wetland restoration and creation project underway in the City of Rochester, and participate in a conversation about the value of high-quality natural areas in the midst of the human built environment and the exciting possibilities that surround the Cascade Meadow project.

Speaker: Stefan Theimer is the Program Coordinator for Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center in Rochester, Minnesota. He has worked throughout Minnesota as an environmental educator, including several years as a naturalist, and in the classroom with grades K-5 as well as undergraduate students. He conducted research on the topic of Nature Connectedness, while pursuing his master of education at the University of MN Duluth. He also serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education, and is an avid paddler and musician. (

August 16 ~ Toward Zero Waste - Using an Integrated Solid Waste Management System to Reduce Landfill of Raw Wastes to Zero

John Helmers, Director of Olmsted County's Department of Environmental Resources, will present the environmental and long term financial benefits of using an integrated solid waste management system and discuss the possibility of expanding the system to reduce landfill use to only materials which have no further value or ability to be reused.

Speaker: John Helmers is the director of the Olmsted County Department of Environmental Resources. The department's Solid Waste Management Division operates an integrated waste management system that includes a public education program for waste reduction, re-use, recycling, and proper disposal of household hazardous wastes. The system also operates a central yard waste composting facility, a household and small generator hazardous waste collection facility, a waste-to-energy facility and landfill facilities which serve Dodge and Olmsted counties. The system which is operated as an enterprise fund, obtains revenues from waste disposal fees, hauler collected service fees, and sales of products including compost, steam and electricity and using no property tax moneys. More information can be found at

Mr Helmers has over two decades of engineering experience including all aspects of solid waste management gained while working for public agencies and private engineering consulting firms. He also has seven years of teaching experience at Rochester Community and Technical College. Helmers earned an Associate of Science from North Iowa Area Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering/Surveying from Iowa State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Minnesota.

August 9 ~ Being a Resilient City Using Green Initiatives (Thomas Dunbar, FASLA)

IMAGINE...a “city” within the city... with virtually ALL elements productive and that contribute to the public health and economy of the neighborhood, as well as the natural environment:
- A neighborhood supporting businesses where food is grown, harvested, marketed, sold and consumed
- Dozens of “green jobs” created and money reinvested back into the community
- Innovative approaches to sustainable energy and water efficiencies that are on track to achieve the highest-rated LEED Platinum Certification
- A neighborhood center that will serve as an active hub of youth and teen programming, adult services, senior activities, community activities, events and green job development
- Schools where students integrate all subjects in a “living laboratory” where they become fully engaged life-long learners

These aspects of Energy, Agriculture, Education, Research, and Neighborhood are all being developed by The Resilience Research Center, bringing community together through outreach, education, social-wellness, and research opportunities in a world-class residence center in one of Madison, Wisconsin’s struggling neighborhoods.

Please join Executive Director of the Center for Resilient Cities, Thomas Dunbar,FASLA, as he shares the vision of a resilient community becoming a reality.

Speaker: Thomas R. Dunbar FASLA, Executive Director
Before joining the Center for Resilient Cities in April 2008, Thomas R. Dunbar FASLA, previously served for 25 years as a Principal, Landscape Architect, and Planner for Dunbar / Jones PLC in Des Moines, Iowa, with an extensive record of professional practice in neighborhood planning, master planning, and park and recreation planning and design. Serving as National President for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1998 is but one of Dunbar's many accomplishments.

Dunbar holds a BS in Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University, an MS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MBA from the University of Iowa, and a Certificate in Design Firm Management from Harvard University. He has taught courses at the University of Iowa, the University of Manitoba, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Kansas State University. He has authored several research and design publications. (

August 2 ~ Sustainable Building in Downtown Rochester: 318 Commons

What is sustainable building and why is it important? What does LEED mean, anyway? Who is the United States Green Building Council? How does the design of the building systems effect its operation? We will explore these questions and how they relate to the new building to be used as a part of the University of Minnesota Rochester campus in downtown Rochester: 318 Commons. Some university Students may be interested in how their building is heated and cooled. Some community members may be interested in the decisions of why the building is designed the way it is. University faculty and staff may want to encourage learning about sustainable building and operations. A brief "behind the scenes" tour of the building will accompany this presentation.

Roger Nelson, AIA, LEED-AP, has been with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson (HGA) Architects and Engineers since 1993. Roger is a licensed architect and LEED accredited professional. He has provided project management on the 318 Commons facility. He has more than 20 years experience working with healthcare, educational, commercial, residential, government, and institutional clients. Motivated by the art and science of architecture, Roger is likewise committed to sustainable design principles that promote efficient use. He once took a ten-week sabbatical to research and study sustainable building strategies.

Kim Jensen, AIA, LEED-AP, has been with HGA Architects and Engineers since 2005. Kim is a licensed architect and LEED accredited professional. She has provided the project management and design for the UMR spaces within the 318 Commons building. She has more than 18 years of experience in a wide range of project types, including higher education, healthcare, commercial and governmental building types. Kim has been interested in architecture from an early age and enjoys the technical and aesthetic aspects of the field. She advocates sustainable choices that wisely incorporate resource use. She is a committee member on the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) Minnesota - Rochester chapter.

HGA Architects and Engineers:


July ~ Minnesota Authors

July 5 ~ Mike Heger: Growing Perennials in Cold Climates Co-Authored with Debbie Lonnee and John Whitman/Apr 1, 2001 revised and updated edition

The first part of this presentation will highlight the history and unique characteristics of the landmark book, Growing Perennials in Cold Climates. Following that, a number of the most highly rated plants in the book will be discussed (with live specimens on hand). Copies of the book will be available for purchase that evening and Mike will be more than happy to sign your copy.

Speaker: Michael L. Heger, along with his wife Jean, owns Ambergate Gardens located near Chaska, MN. Though a foreign language major in college, his love of the outdoors brought him into 15+ years of employment with the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Ambergate Gardens was started in 1985 while he was still employed at the Arboretum. In 1988, it became a full time business for Mike and Jean. Ambergate Gardens is a retail mail order/walk-in business devoted entirely to herbaceous perennial flowers. It also offers a line of wholesale containerized perennials to local designers and landscapers. Mike is active in numerous plant societies and trade organizations related to perennial flowers. He has lectured on a wide variety of gardening topics throughout the northern tier of states. Mike is also the author of Perennials A to Z, a series of articles that were originally published in Minnesota Horticulturist. Most recently, he has served as a consultant for the Midwestern Garden Book to be published by Sunset Publishing Corp. in the near future. Mike is a member of the MNLA Publications Committee, which oversees the content on

July 12 ~ Catherine Friend: Sheepish: Two Women, 50 Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet; Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn; The Compassionate Carnivore, Or How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald's Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat

Why should city dwellers care about sheep and wool? Because they touch our lives every day. Catherine Friend, author of Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet, will share her recent journey from someone who just produces wool to someone who loves and appreciates it. She will also talk about the difficulties of being both a writer and a farmer, and the process of getting published.

Speaker: Catherine Friend is a former "city girl" who lives on a small farm in southeastern Minnesota where she and her wife, Melissa, raise sheep and cattle. She writes adult nonfiction, fiction, and children's books. The Compassionate Carnivore won the MN Book Award in General Nonfiction. Her memoir, Hit by a Farm, was selected by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the best books of 2006. Her children's picture book, The Perfect Nest, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five best "read alouds," and was nominated for numerous state reading awards. She was awarded a Loft/McNight Artist Fellowship for Writers, and her adult adventure novels have won state awards from the Golden Crown Literary Society and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Catherine has a M.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Economics and Spanish. She does chores, teaches writing workshops, and speaks at libraries, yarn shops and fiber festivals, professional organizations, and schools. She's discovered that farm chores and snowshoes make Minnesota winters bearable, and is especially proud she's learned how to take the wool from her sheeps' backs and knit it into very cool socks.

July 19 ~ Gordon Fredrickson: A Farm Country Christmas Eve, A Farm Country Halloween, A Farm Country Thanksgiving, A Farm Country Picnic, If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure, If I Were a Farmer: Field Work, If I Were a Farmer: Tommy's Adventure

Join Gordon as he performs his stories for adults and children (ages 1-101!). During his presentations, pictures of the past and colorful illustrations from his books are shown as Gordon performs an introduction, a prologue, a story, and an explanation of why he writes about farming. As noted in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Gordon "felt growing up on a farm shaped him and bonded his close-knit family, and the former English teacher worried that as agricultural practices changed, their way of life wouldn't be remembered." This led him to write six books, with a seventh on the way, that portray farm life in the 1950's.

Speaker: Born in New Prague, MN, Gordon W. Fredrickson was raised on a 120-acre dairy farm in eastern Scott County and, like all of the local farm children, he began farm work as a young child. He attended a one-room country school for three years before it was consolidated into a part of a large school district where he had to be bused to town. Gordon served in the U.S. Army for 3 years, earned a Master of Education degree at the University of Minnesota, and taught high-school English for 16 years. During the first 5 years of his teaching career, he and his wife Nancy owned and farmed 160 acres in western MN, where they raised cattle, hogs, and grain. Inspired by actual events from his childhood on the farm, Gordon has written ten children's books since the year 2000, and Nancy has printed and bound them at home. For the past 10 years they have been selling the books at senior centers, farm shows, and elementary schools where Gordon performs his stories in costume and with props. A Farm Country Christmas Eve was the first of these books to be published by Beaver's Pond Press, Edina, MN and by July 2011, Gordon will have 7 books published by the MN publisher.

July 26 ~ Yuko Taniguchi: The Ocean in the Closet; Foreign Wife Elegy

The ocean, a liquid bridge that spreads its fingers to connect all the continents, has been Yuko Taniguchi’s obsession and a recurrent image in her work with fiction and poetry. In this presentation, Taniguchi will read samples from her poetry and fiction that portray the stories of human lives through images of the ocean. She will also discuss how a story is developed by the paradoxical nature of the ocean. While the ocean offers peace and calmness, it has also affected us in destructive ways such as the recent tsunami caused by the earthquake in March, 2011 off the Northeastern coast of Japan. Taniguchi will share the poetry that she has written from her most recent visit to Japan in June, 2011.

The presentation will also address the process of writing. Describing a place will take us to a story naturally. A narrative is so strong that as long as there is a space, it spreads its roots like dandelions growing through the crack of the concrete road. Writing about human lives is deeply connected to a specific place. In Japanese, the word, human (?? - ningen) means “a person in the world.” As a Japanese woman living in Minnesota for 16 years, Taniguchi will discuss how we behave at a particular place and turn those observations into narrative.

Speaker: Yuko Taniguchi has developed the writing courses across the curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program at the University of Minnesota Rochester. Her writing classes include English composition, creative writing, professional writing, and critical reading. She also assists students one-on-one at the UMR Writing Center. Yuko has a B.A. in English from the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. In addition to her position as Writing Specialist Faculty at UMR, Yuko has contributed to the Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine: Writing and Medicine program. Her novel, The Ocean in the Closet, has won a number of honors, including Finalist/The Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Finalist/11th Annual Asian American Literary Awards, 2008 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book, 15th Annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards, Finalist/ForeWord Magazine's Editor's Choice Award, and Honorable Mention/The 2007 Gustavus Myers Center Outstanding Book Awards Advancing Human Rights.


June ~ Rochester History

June 7 ~ Celebrating 100 Years of Mayowood: A History of the Country Estate of Dr. Charlie Mayo

As part of the Mayowood Centennial Celebration, one of the History Center of Olmsted County's historic house guides, Lynda Fitzgerald, will offer a program on the Historic Mayowood Mansion. The mansion, known to the family as "The Big House", was the centerpiece of the 3,000 acre estate of Dr. "Charlie" Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic. Lynda will discuss some of the family history related to the creation of the Mayowood estate and the lives and times of the three generations that called the Big House home from 1911 to 1969.

Speaker: Lynda Fitzgerald is one of the dedicated guides at the Historic Mayowood Mansion. Originally from Missouri, Lynda has resided in Minnesota since 1970. She has a degree from Oklahoma University in History and English and a Master's Degree from Winona State. Lynda also works as an English teacher.

June 14 ~ 100 Years of IBM: A View from IBM Rochester

In 1956, IBM purchased nearly 400 acres of land in Rochester, Minnesota, and launched a significant presence in manufacturing, engineering, and innovation that has been felt across the state and around the world. This presentation will focus on IBM Rochester's activities across more than a half-century, setting these achievements into a wider context as IBM celebrates its centennial history (1911-2011). Rochester's manufacturing expertise evolved over the years into a specialty in engineering and innovation, resulting in notable achievements in computer storage, computer-game chips, a string of successful mid-range computers, and the landmark Blue Gene supercomputer. In many ways, IBM Rochester helped bring about the transformation of Minnesota into a "digital state".

Speaker: Thomas Misa directs the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota, where he is a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and teaches in the Program for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. He is the author or editor of seven books, including, Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present (Johns Hopkins University Press 2011; second edition).

June 21 ~ 150 Years of Immigration in Olmsted County

Take a look back at four different groups of immigrants that have made Olmsted County and Rochester their home in the last 150 years. The presentation will compare and contrast immigrants from Northern Europe in the mid to late 1800's, the Greeks from 1920-1940, the Southeast Asians in the 1970-1990's, and the recent immigrants from Somalia and other countries from the 1990's to present. The lives of representative individuals from each group will be used to tell the story.

Speaker: Paul Koeller is a retired IBM Software engineer who has lived in Rochester since 1977. He currently volunteers at Mayo Clinic, The Rochester Public Library, and the Olmsted History Center. Paul has an interest in researching and presenting topics on local history. He has given history presentations at the History Center, Rochester Public Library, Charter House, Mayo Clinic, The Rochester Senior Center and other places. Paul is also the co-author of a book entitled, Brewed With Style - The Story of the House of Heileman, a history of the G. Heileman Brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

June 28 ~ Olmsted County Exploration in 1820

Hear from Don Borcherding who will provide his historical interpretation of Captain Andrew Talcott (1797-1883) while dressed in an 1840 Corp of Engineers captain's uniform. He will recount the steps involving the early exploration of a military road from Council Bluffs to Fort Snelling that coincidentally went through Olmsted County in 1820. Captain Talcott was a young lieutenant just out of West Point, charged with mapping the route and noting the physical features of the country. He was also chief astronomer and surveyor of the Iowa-Minnesota border in 1852.

Speaker: Don Borcherding is a professional engineer and land surveyor and retired CEO of Yaggy Colby Associates. He has designed numerous subdivisions in Rochester over the last 30 years. He is an eight year veteran and current Emeritus member of the State Licensing Board for Architects, Engineers and Surveyors and a current member of the Committee on Exam Policies and Procedures for the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Don is an adjunct professor in the St. Cloud State Surveying Degree Program. He has 35 years experience researching the surveying history of the State of Minnesota.


May ~ Celebrating National Military Month

May 3 ~ “Fly Girls: WWII Women’s Air Force Service Pilots” DVD

At the height of World War II, more than a thousand women left their homes and jobs for the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the first female pilots to fly for the United States military. Eager to prove themselves, they faced danger and discrimination and 38 gave their lives for their country. Drawing on archival footage, rarely seen home movies, and interviews with pilots themselves, this AMERICAN EXPERIENCE production tells the fascinating story of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These pioneering women logged more than sixty million miles, ferrying planes throughout the United States, test-piloting experimental aircraft, and training men to fly.

Facilitator: Teresa Puetz, UMR

May 10 ~ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Among Military Personnel

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur following a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious injury, or violent personal assaults. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people have stress reactions that don't go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and feeling emotionally numb. These symptoms can significantly impair their daily life, long after returning home.

Speaker: Mark Imig, M.D., Mayo Clinic

Dr. Mark Imig is originally from Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas where he graduated magna cum laude. He attended medical school at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He excelled during his adult psychiatry residency training here at Mayo Clinic and co-authored two peer reviewed publications. Currently, he is in his second and final year of child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Mayo. He will be practicing in the Mayo Health System at Austin Medical Center after he graduates in July of 2011.

May 17 ~ Examining Parenting in Military Families – the After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) Project

Please join us to review research regarding children’s wellbeing and the family stress associated with deployment, and a new National Institutes of Health funded study to develop and test parenting tools for Minnesota National Guard families.

The goal of this study is to further research on effective substance use prevention for military families by examining whether an Oregon Parent Management Training (PMTO) prevention program, enhanced with e-technology and adapted for combat deployed families’ needs, will reduce risk behaviors associated with youth substance use by improving parenting, child, and parent adjustment. The program’s feasibility and acceptability are currently being examined and subsequently a randomized controlled trial of the 14-week group program and web enhancement will be conducted with 400 families from the Minnesota Army National Guard. Families with 6-12 year old children will be followed over 2 years to examine program effects.

Speaker: Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D., L.P. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Social Science and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the implementation of evidence-based prevention interventions, especially those focusing on parenting in highly-stressed families. She is Principal Investigator/PI on a National Institute of Drug Abuse-funded project to develop and test a web-enhanced parenting program for National Guard families with parents returning from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Gewirtz is also PI/Project Director for Ambit Network, a SAMHSA/National Child Traumatic Stress Network Community Services and Treatment center focusing on the implementation of evidence-based interventions for traumatized school-aged children and their parents. Dr. Gewirtz has written and has presented widely at both the local and national level on prevention and intervention for high-risk children.

May 24 ~ Beyond the Yellow Ribbon: Supporting Military Families

National Guard and Reserve units make up half of the United States armed forces serving the long, nine year war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is different than any other war the United States has fought and affects our community. This spring, the Minnesota National Guard is deploying another 2,700 Minnesota soldiers, the largest deployment since World War II. Approximately 700 troops from our area will be deployed. Having a family member, a mom or dad, a son or daughter, taken out of civilian life and deployed to a war zone has a tremendous impact on them and on their families. This impact has consequences before, during and after deployment.

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Southeast Minnesota is a grassroots organization that supports the military families in our midst. A panel of local volunteer organizers will talk with us about what happens to families during deployment and discuss the role volunteers and the community can play in supporting these military families to deal with the challenges of deployment and returning home.
More info on this organization can be found at:

Speakers: Sheila Kiscaden, Kenn Roehl, Lucille Schweyen, and Taran Schneider

May 31 ~ “Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of WWII” DVD

In early December 1941, Betty Jean Jennings was a freshman completing her first semester at a rural Missouri college. In Philadelphia, Doris and Shirley Blumberg were seniors at Girl’s High and Marlyn Wescoff was completing a minor in business machines at Temple University. In an era of limited career opportunities for women, these bright students anticipated low paying jobs as schoolteachers or bookkeepers. But on Sunday, December 7, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and changed these young women’s lives forever. With Pearl Harbor suddenly drawing the US in to WWII, the Army launched a frantic national search for women mathematicians. Join us to watch the documentary that shows how in 1942, when computers were human and women in science were underestimated, this group of female mathematicians helped win a war and usher in the modern computer age. Sixty-five years later their story has finally been told. (DVD followed by brief discussion led by UMR Staff)

Facilitators: Maria Brown and Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran


April ~ Keeping Minnesota Strong

April 5 ~ MN HORTICULTURE ~ Apple and Grape Breeding Programs at the U of M

Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Plant breeding is the art and science of changing the genetics of plants for the benefit of humankind and has been practiced for thousands of years. In this session, you will hear from Peter Moe of the University of MN Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center* talk about the University of Minnesota's apple and grape breeding programs and how they have introduced hardy, high quality plants and productive new varieties over the past 100 years.

BIO: Peter Moe is the Director of Operations at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center in Chanhassen, MN. In addition to being responsible for all operations at the Arboretum, Peter teaches credit and non-credit classes, conducts tours, appears on television and radio, and is part of the Landscape Arboretum’s strategic and master planning team. He is a member of several community committees including the Carver County Extension Committee; the Wetland, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee; U of M Alumni Society; MN Nursery and Landscape Association; and the American Public Garden Association. Peter has a Bachelor of Science in Horticultural Science and Master of Agriculture - both from the U of M. He and his wife Susan have a daughter who started at the U of M in the fall of 2010 and two sons who are both U of M graduates.

* The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is part of the Department of Horticultural Science within the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Their mission is to provide a community and national resource for horticultural and environmental information, research, and public education; to develop and evaluate plants and horticultural practices for cold climates; and to inspire and delight all visitors with quality plants in well-designed and maintained displays, collections, model landscapes, and conservation areas.

The Arboretum features more than 1,000 acres of magnificent gardens, model landscapes, and natural areas - from woodlands and wetlands to prairie - with extensive collections of northern-hardy plants. If you travel to the Twin Cities, you can tour the Arboretum on their 12.5 miles of garden paths and hiking trails. For full details, visit their website:

April 12: MN FUELS ~ Will Biofuels Save Us All?

One of the great economic development success stories of the last two decades has been Minnesota’s financial and political investment in the corn ethanol industry. Starting from a base of essentially zero production in the late 1980s, the state helped create an industry that today produces over a billion gallons of ethanol each year and employs over 1,000 workers.

But the desirability of continuing this success story has recently been called into question. The environmental performance of corn-based ethanol has been challenged at a time when the industry is struggling financially. We are also hearing about a host of technologies that are said to be capable of profitably making biofuels from non-grain feedstocks and at the same time deliver better environmental performance than the plants that are now operating.

What are the odds of this happening? Are the “next generation” biofuels all they’re cracked up to be? Will any of them help us meet our enormous appetite for energy while at the same time help us forestall the inexorable march toward global climate change? Come to this session for answers to these questions and more!

BIO: Dr. Steven Taff is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Economics with expertise in agriculture policy, local public finance, and environment policy. Current research includes analysis of alternative climate change remediation policies and economic implications of biofuels policy. His major extension teaching is in agriculture policy, land resources management, local public finance, and environment policy.

April 19: MN DEMOGRAPHICS ~ They Are a Changin’!

There is no question that Minnesota's demographics are changing! However, some people have not seen the actual data or had an opportunity to think through the implications of these changes. In this presentation, we will learn how age-related census data is displayed and analyzed. Then we will use census and other data to piece together a picture of Minnesota's future population demographics. We will also make comparisons to population shifts in other areas. Armed with the demographic facts and projections, we will discuss some of the broad issues and implications for the future.

BIO: Stephen Troutman is a Futurist and frequent speaker on business and futures topics. His futuring expertise includes demographics, climate change, generational cycles, and the tools of the futurist. He has broad skills in business transformation consulting; virtual teaming; process management, facilitation, and leadership. He retired from IBM in 2010 after 33 years and from the US Naval Reserve in 1994 after 23 years of service. Steve is an active member of the World Future Society and the Minnesota Futurists.

April 26: MN ECONOMY ~ The University of Minnesota’s Unique Role in Minnesota Economy

In this session you will learn about the University of Minnesota’s unique role in building and sustaining a strong economy, plus you will learn about the impact it has made throughout Minnesota, particularly through its nine Research and Outreach Centers.

BIO: Greg Cuomo is the Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach in the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. As Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach, Greg provides leadership for nine research and outreach centers and more than 40 extension programs that make university research practical and useful to Minnesotans. He leads University of Minnesota Extension’s Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences program teams in interdisciplinary approaches that address important societal issues such as food sufficiency and security, water, climate, and renewable energy. His goal is to link the unbiased, research-based work of the University with the citizens of the state.


March ~ Health and Wellness

March 15 - Team Will Power

We’ve all heard about or seen the TV show “The Biggest Loser” which typically airs on NBC on Tuesday nights at 7pm CST. Plan to attend this event and meet Will Aguero & Sherri Halleland, who auditioned as a Team for "The Biggest Loser". While here, we invite you to listen as they talk about the importance of activity, emotional support, and eating healthy in our daily routines.

Check out Team Will Power’s Facebook Page at:

March 22 - Decision Making: The Roles of Emotion, Morality, and Regions of the Brain

This presentation begins with excerpts from a video, featuring a panel of neuroscientists discussing very recent studies of the human brain, emphasizing the role of neuron (brain cell) activity and the different brain regions that correlate with decision making. Besides the biological and electrical components, the roles of emotional, and even moral and philosophical aspects of what is going on, when a person is making a
decision, are examined. There's new, and perhaps surprising material here.

Psychological aspects are involved in decision making too, of course, and here we find some especially interesting and revealing insights, into what kind of beings we are. This can contribute to a happier and ultimately healthier life. As time permits, we'll view a second short video featuring results from research in the field of positive psychology. Both videos are engaging and usually provoke lively discussion afterwards.

Frank Rizzo is professor emeritus at Iowa State University. He also held faculty positions at the Universities of Illinois, Washington, and Kentucky. He has won 10 awards for outstanding teaching, and two international medals for his research in applied mathematics; he received the Worcester Reed Warner Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in 1993; and was the first recipient of the biennial Frank J. Rizzo Medal established in his name, by the International Association for Boundary Elements, in 2004. Frank is retired but still teaches classes in Psychology and Philosophy in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Iowa State.

March 29 - Based on the best-selling book “How NOT to be My Patient: A Physician’s Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis”.

Come hear from the author himself, Dr. Edward Creagan, M.D. why it is extremely important to NOT leave good health up to chance... but instead to support good health by making informed choices. He will cover some of the various steps you can take to give yourself the best odds of surviving or avoiding cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Creagan is the American Cancer Society Professor of Clinical Oncology, The Rouse Professor of Humanism in Medicine, and a Professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He has received the Distinguished Clinician Award, Mayo's highest honor. And was the president of the Mayo Staff. He is the author of 400 scientific papers and has given approximately 700 presentations throughout the world.