The U of M Extension office covers a lot of areas that are beneficial to Pine County residents: the Master Gardener program, agricultural programs, health and nutrition education and so much more. One area that the office helps out with through many types of programming is working with youth. 

Many are aware of 4-H and the many benefits of it which are made possible by various types of funding. Susanne Hinrichs, regional director for the U of M Extension office, and Jan Derdowski, extension educator, spoke on one type of funding that will help keep education and programming available for youth. A proposal was made to the Pine County Board of Commissioners at the May 3 regular meeting to use $160,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for youth programming in an eight city area. The board unanimously approved the proposal, and the ARPA funds will be utilized for the youth programming.

Hinrichs also spent some time talking about some new and eager faces with the Extension office. They have welcomed Kristin Reilly as an individual and family educator and University of Minnesota resource to Pine County and surrounding areas. She will also serve as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program educator (SNAP) which provides assistance for low income families working with the Department of Health and Human services. SNAP is funded by the USDA and is of no cost to Pine County. Reilly, who is coming from Detroit Lakes with a background in Health and Nutrition, will educate families how to budget groceries, how to cook healthy meals and use recipes, on safety aspects such as knife and food safety, and how to cook together involving the whole family.

Another new face is that of Katie Hagen, the new agriculture educator. Hagen is familiar with the area as she grew up in Pine City, became a high school agriculture educator and during college, was a summer intern at the Pine County Extension office. She is very familiar with Extension education and is well acquainted with many agencies in Pine County, as well as the local farmers. Hagen recently met with residents at Tobies in Hinckley as a meet and greet and had a strong turn out. She will split her time between Isanti and Pine County. 

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