Personal Column

Shane Bugeja
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
University of Minnesota Extension
Blue Earth/Le Sueur County

In 2019, I noticed there was a dearth of extension agricultural/horticultural information in our local paper, Le Sueur County News. After examining my technical service records and listening to conversations at hosted extension events, I decided that a printed article would benefit Le Sueur County and the University of Minnesota.

In August of that year, I reached an agreement with Le Sueur County News to publish an article every 4th Wednesday of the month. The original would be submitted to the editor the week prior to publication. Circulation of Le Sueur County News is 1,536, but was also available online and cross listed with other city/county papers. My selections for this award were published on November 27th, 2019 and February 19th, 2020. The audience that read Le Sueur County News is predominately rural, and included both homeowners as well as farmers.

The November article regarding the Impossible Burger and its manufacture was done primarily due to observing one-sided articles written by non-scientists or industry authors. I also noticed the same intense discussion about these products at my own events, particularly in beef programs. I strived to bring a balanced discussion to the topic, while also mentioning an aspect that I found fascinating, the use of leghemoglobin.

In January, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture released an updated list of noxious invasive species. Many new additions included weeds from Eurasia. After hearing discussion about why all these invasive species come from certain countries, I felt there needed to be an awareness that North America as well as Asia/Europe all export potential invasive species. I highlighted one example of a seemingly innocuous native plant such as goldenrod that is quite a nasty problem elsewhere on the globe. This topic was written in the February 19th article.

In essence, my main objective in writing these columns was to not only scientifically inform the public about serious issues in agriculture and natural resources, but also to help instill curiosity about the world around them. After hearing positive feedback from county residents, I will continue to strive for this goal.