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Woman's career grounded in education

MOORHEAD - In 32 years with University of Minnesota Extension, Nancy Frosaker Johnson has seen a lot of changes. She started out as a home economist teaching about 1,000 women in the Clay County home study group things like family development, fi...

MOORHEAD - In 32 years with University of Minnesota Extension, Nancy Frosaker Johnson has seen a lot of changes.

She started out as a home economist teaching about 1,000 women in the Clay County home study group things like family development, financial security and food preservation.

By the time she retired at the end of December as the regional director, Frosaker Johnson was supervising the Extension program in nine counties.

"One thing to be successful in today's world is to be very sincere in what you're doing and really give meaning to what you're doing," she said.

Extension is a partnership between the university and federal, state and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. Frosaker Johnson's interest in Extension started because of her involvement in 4-H growing up in Minnesota's Roseau County.

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"I have always enjoyed being a part of education, and I knew from an early age that I wanted to be part of a system where I could work with people," she said.

As more women joined the workforce and the study groups ended, Frosaker Johnson opted to pursue a leadership role.

"As a county director and later regional director, I really became a true advocate as far as trying to form partnerships with Extension and talking about how Extension is an outreach arm of the University of Minnesota," she said.

She spent the past 22 years in supervisory roles and has been regional director since 2002. She worked to promote 4-H and agriculture programs and to make sure county commissioners support the Extension programs in their counties.

Frosaker Johnson planned to work for a couple more years, but the University of Minnesota offered her a retirement incentive.

"I felt that perhaps it was time to retire and look at something else and welcome the idea of new people coming on board with new ideas," she said.

She plans to take some time to unwind before looking for another opportunity to work with people in the Fargo-Moorhead community, she said.

"One of the things I've really appreciated over the years is the opportunity to work with many college students and mentor many young people who have started an Extension career," she said.

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Some of her proudest accomplishments are in providing resources for picking up the pieces and cleaning up following flooding.

Frosaker Johnson said she will miss the people she's worked with.

"There are a lot of people in this county as well as counties up and down the valley who really believe in the university and its mission to bring different educational programs to people," she said. "We are very fortunate to live in an area where people are very grounded in education."

Along the way, she has learned a lot of life lessons as well.

"As women, we need to be very conscientious about how we balance work and family," she said. "We need to make sure we find ways to take care of ourselves so we're able to give what we need to give to our work and family."

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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