The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 22, 2013

Our View: Ag research center a gem

The Free Press

— Thumbs up: To the Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca marking its 100th year of developing better crops, animals and techniques for farmers around the world.

The University of Minnesota center is a highly respected facility that does research into everything from fruit trees and row crops to dairy production and livestock breeding. The center employs internationally recognized researchers and has visitors from around the world who come to southern Minnesota, home of some of the most advanced agricultural practices anywhere.

While private agricultural companies do a lot of great research to advance agriculture, the kind of work done at the publicly funded SROC is invaluable. It provides independent, publicly accessible research and development that helps everyone from home gardeners to major farm operations.

Unfortunately, Waseca’s role in agriculture education should and would be much more prominent if not for the ill-conceived decision by the University of Minnesota in the early 1990s. That’s when they closed the U of M Ag college campus. With today’s high demand for trained agribusiness graduates, the college would be more valuable and important than ever.

MSU connects with community

Thumbs up: To the Minnesota State University Community Engagement Office for making such an effort to connect with the Mankato area community.

To recognize the relationship between MSU students and residents, the office is putting on a community service project called The Big Event on April 20. On that day, 900 students and faculty will take on improvement projects in the community — anything from doing windows to light construction.

The volunteers will help businesses, churches, schools — anyone who wants them (they can’t do shingling or other more dangerous tasks).

This effort to build a relationship between the campus and greater Mankato communities is an important one — and should be a long-term goal of any town that has a major university. The Big Event is a great idea, and hopefully one that can be carried out for years to come.

Legislator offers sense of hockey humor

Thumbs up: Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, deserves a thumbs up for his well-meaning attempt at humor regarding WCHA hockey rivalries and $800,000 of taxpayer money.

Winkler proposed a bill — “a little in jest,” he says — for the state to pay the University of Minnesota $800,000 any year they play the University of North Dakota in hockey.

With the Gophers switching to a Big Ten league next year and North Dakota joining another league, the Gophers and North Dakota won’t likely play for at least two years. As a long time hockey fan, Winkler hates seeing one of the best rivalries in college hockey going by the wayside.

While we expect our legislators to be serious people most of the time, a little hockey humor never hurts in the State of Hockey. We will turn our thumb down, however, if he is at all serious.

Loyola helps parents understand social risks

Thumbs up: It seems parents can never be informed enough about all the risks their children face in daily life and a recent Loyola High School program helping parents understand the risks of social media was a great service to the entire community.

Loyola teachers, counselors, staff and students and area law enforcement organized an event to help inform parents mostly about the exploding world of social media to which their children are exposed.

From the code of text messages to cyber-bullying, the material presented offered parents a real eye opening experience in some cases.

A powerpoint presentation from the event can be viewed at