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Duo retires from extension service

Two familiar names in the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Dakota County, will end their service this month.

Extension Service Regional Director Jayne Hager Dee and youth program director Mary Duncomb of Hastings, have announced their retirements.

Dee came to Dakota County in 1998 as the county extension director and now serves Dakota, Freeborn, Goodhue, Mower, Rice and Steele counties as regional director. Her work has included building strong community partnerships to secure funding for extension and opportunities for programming to meet community needs. She is director of the regional office in Farmington.

At the University of Minnesota, Dee was selected to participate in the Women's Leadership Institute, a policy fellow with the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute as a member of the Faculty Senate, and participated in the LEAD -21, the national land grant university system leadership development program.

Dee's career began in public relations and marketing in the food industry. She joined Iowa State University in 1989 as the coordinator of the Iowa Public Policy Education Project and moved into university administration as assistant director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, also at Iowa State University.

She has been active in many state and local organizations. She served as county supervisor in Marshall County, Iowa, and was an elected member of the Iowa Valley Community College District Board of Directors. She was president of the Iowa 4-H Foundation and has served on several foundation boards. In Minnesota she was vice chair of the Minnesota Board on Aging. She is currently chair of the Northfield Charter Commission and secretary of the Minnesota Public radio Twin Cities Community Advisory Council.

Duncomb's career has spanned 40 years of fresh and consistent ideas and programs to keep youth development vital with the changing times.

She began her careers in Swift County, then moved to Scott County. In the fall of 1978, Dumcomb moved back to Dakota County, her home county and stayed here. In 2004, the University of Minnesota Extension moved to a regional model, with Duncomb managing the 4-H programs in Dakota and Washington counties. Through a variety of changes through the years, Duncomb remained focused on ensuring quality youth programs reached all audiences. As a result, Dakota boasts the largest 4-H program in Minnesota.

She introduced the Youth teaching Program in Dakota County in 1986. This program trains high school youth to teach elementary-age youth in alcohol, seat belt safety and tobacco decisions, character education, and more recently, bullying. The program uses an effective delivery that allows older teens to serve as role models to younger youth.

The program has won state and national honors and is a national 4-H program of Diction as well as earning the Met Life Foundation Award of excellence.

Duncomb has been able to secure funding to allow 4-H programs to grow and meet current needs. Funding has been received to design and conduct reuse and recycling programs. Duncomb has served on the Operation Military Kids design team, which wrote lesson plans that have been distributed throughout the world to military installations.

She has built her work through relationships with others - program coordinators, community partners, stakeholders, youth or adult volunteers. She has been recognized by the University of Minnesota as an outstanding Extension Educators and has been awarded the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents' awards.