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Showing posts from August 2012. Show all posts

Up-Close with Invasive Species at the State Fair

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Categories: Outdoors, Environment

Minnesota DNR Building at the State Fair

The DNR Building promises more than a few opportunities to learn and have fun at the fair.

As you enjoy corndogs, deep fried candy bars, camel sliders and bacon ice cream (really!) at the Minnesota State Fair this year, make sure you stop by the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) building. You’ll be able to cool off and learn about the impact of invasive species on Minnesota’s environment. The DNR’s emphasis is on increasing Minnesotans’ awareness of invasive species and equipping people with the necessary tools to do their part in helping prevent these species from spreading. 

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Asian Carp (above) are an invasive species in MN waters

Renee Vail, who coordinates the DNR exhibits at the State Fair, adds that “Minnesotans are passionate about our natural resources, and this is an effective and entertaining way for us to communicate conservation messages.” 


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What’s new at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair?

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Technology

Eco photo building Tiny House.jpg

Getting ready for the seventh year at the Minnesota State Fair, the Eco Experience is better than ever! Every area of the exhibit has added new components to get Minnesotans to take action in their everyday lives.

Energy Solutions Home: This brand new component of the Eco Experience showcases real solutions for your home. Saving energy will not only save you money but makes a difference in the air we breathe and the water quality in our communities. Put together by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and partners from around the state.

The Energy Solutions Home includes these features:

  • Home performance. How much energy does your home use and what is the environmental impact of a typical Minnesota home? Check out this interactive display. See equipment like blower doors, infared cameras, and other advanced energy audit equipment.

  • Home lighting. Do you become overwhelmed when you’re shopping the lighting aisle? Learn how to choose exactly what you need for many types of rooms.

  • Home envelope. Have you experienced ice dams? Learn how to seal and insulate your home to prevent them in this interactive display showing all types of insulating and sealing issue.

  • Saving water. See the latest info on low-flow fixtures, faucets, showerheads and plumbing fixtures. Saving water saves you money

  • Green materials. Check out the latest finishes, cabinets, high-efficiency appliances and Minnesota-made products.

  • Renewables. Have you considered solar or wind power for your home? See the latest products and meet professionals who can answer questions on the best options and performance of renewables for your home.

  • Landscaping. Learn how to implement things like rain barrels, pollinator gardens, drip irrigation, and permeable pavers. Check out our beautiful but eco-friendly mini gardens.

  • Paying for it. Learn how to pay for your home improvements through affordable financing and loan programs.

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Find us at the State Fair!

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Join us at the fair!

Stop by and visit us at the Great Minnesota Get together! Visit the Governor on Facebook for can’t miss agency stops and follow @GovMarkDayton on Twitter to find out when the Governor will be visiting the Minnesota State Fair throughout the week. 

Pollution Control Agency: The Eco Experience, with more than 350,000 visitors during the 12 days of the Fair, cannot be missed. MPCA, a main contributor to this project, encourages Minnesotans to buy more eco-friendly products and services, provides support for those businesses which produce green products, and helps Minnesotans attain and act on environmental knowledge. Eco Experience is located on the corner of Cosgrove and Randall bringing together different organizations, ideas, and hands-on activities all about helping improve Minnesota’s environment!

Department of Agriculture: Urban Minnesotans may think the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) only works with farmers. However, the MDA’s 2012 State Fair exhibit will show how the agency touches every Minnesotan.  Located in the North Hall of the Agriculture/Horticulture Building, the MDA exhibit will offer: 

  • The Bed Bug Room – you and your kids will have fun trying to find the bed bugs (not real!) hiding in the room. You’ll also learn how to identify bed bugs and how to protect your family from the growing problem of bed bugs. 
  • Minnesota Grown Family Fun – discover what foods are grown in our great state and how farm tours can make your next visit to the apple orchard, berry farm or pumpkin patch even more exciting! 
  • The Minnesota Deli – here kids and adults will test their food safety inspection skills and find out what MDA inspectors look for when inspecting Minnesota’s grocery and convenience stores. Learn how ice cream gets from the dairy farm to your freezer. 
  • The North Star Campground – learn to recognize the damage gypsy moths and emerald ash borers can cause and how you can help to prevent their spread.

The Department of Natural Resources: promises more than a few opportunities to learn and have fun at the fair. Fairgoers can see Smokey the Bear at 11am and 1pm daily and even “take a walk” with him at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm on Friday, August 24. 

Visitors can learn the facts about invasive species in MN with the DNR’s new interactive stations and videos, and can participate in scavenger hunt with prizes. Fairgoers who stop at all the stations can earn an Invasive Species Awareness paper crown, fearing leaping silver carp  and an emerald ash borer beetle (limited quantity available), as a reminder to keep your eyes peeled for non-native plants and animals!

Check out the Fire Tower any time of the day, 9am to 5pm, weather permitting. Or attend a Fish Pond Talk by MinnAqua Program Specialists at quarter-to-the-hour from 9:45am-4pm. If visitors are excited about birds, the DNR Garden Stage has them covered with the show all about “Birds of Prey” at 11am, 2pm, and 4pm daily. Don’t forget to mark down these three special days hosted by the DNR: Governor’s Fire Protection Day on August 24, Invasive Species Day on August 27, and Commissioner’s Awards Day on August 31.

Department of Education: Read-It is sure to have many wonderful adventures at the fair, make sure to join him at the Department of Education’s booth! Stop by for a chance to win Read-It’s twin sister, Paige. On Monday, August 27th at 3 pm, the Minnesota Department of Education will test knowledge of six state commissioners and six middle school students in the first ever Back to School Academic Olympics at this year’s State Fair. Competing in teams of two – one commissioner and one youth – Emcee Jason DeRusha of WCCO will ask academic based questions until only one team is left standing.


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Minnesota Leads the Nation in ACT Scores

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM
Categories: Education

College students

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees260. Guest Blog by Minnesota Department of Education.

Today, ACT released testing data for the class of 2012, showing that Minnesota students continue to lead the nation in college preparedness.

With 74% of all students taking the test, the state average was 22.8 points out of a possible 36. For states where at least half of the students took the exam, this average score is nearly a point and half higher than the national average, placing Minnesota at the top of the pack. 

Other successes from today’s release include a three percent increase in the number of Hispanic students meeting ACT benchmarks in Minnesota. 

The ACT is an end of high school exam that measures a student’s college and career readiness. This year’s scores will help inform the work of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, Higher Education Commissioner Larry Pogemiller and MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone as they collaborate on a plan to redesign grades 11 – 14. Their efforts are focused on increasing the achievement of every Minnesota high school student, and helping them be better prepared for success in post-secondary education and into the workforce.

While Commissioners Cassellius and Pogemiller were pleased by Minnesota’s performance, they both acknowledged the definite need for growth and increased urgency to ensure all students graduate from high school fully prepared for college and career.


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Interior Secretary Salazar, Governor Dayton Tour Mississippi River for America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 2:47 PM
Categories: Environment

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Governor Dayton joined by US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (second from left) and staff at the Mississippi River National Recreation Area

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Minnesota last Thursday to promote the president’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative. He was joined by Governor Dayton in St. Paul, where the two toured the Mississippi River National Recreation Area and discussed the importance of spaces like the river for the preservation of outdoor recreation.

salazar-sm.JPG The Mississippi River is one of AGO’s targeted projects nationwide, and one of two in Minnesota. AGO is aiming to partner with other federal agencies and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to increase recreational access to the river, particularly for communities of color, and to create a coordinating body to maximize local agencies’ participation in restoration, preservation, and education programs on the river.

Governor Dayton and Secretary Salazar spoke Thursday on the importance of the AGO Initiative and the positive impact the program could have on Minnesota’s natural waterways. AGO’s other potential project in Minnesota is to expand the infrastructure of parks and trails along the Minnesota River and to provide other improvements and restoration efforts in the Upper Minnesota River Watershed. The AGO also wants to designate both the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers  “National Blueways,” which would afford federal protection to the entirety of the rivers rather than just segments designated National Rivers or Recreation Areas.


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Organic Cost Share Program helps farmers, industry, consumers

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Categories: Agriculture

Organic Minnesota Cows

Organic cows and calves raised at Derrydale Farms near Le Sueur, MN

Governor Dayton wants to make sure Minnesota’s organic farmers and food companies know that the Minnesota Organic Certification Cost Share Program is now taking applications.

The organic marketplace continues to grow but something you may not know is that organic farmers and food manufacturers have to “ante up” in order to access this market. They go through a verification process, called “organic certification” that provides consumer assurance that they are following all the provisions of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards.  And the organic operations themselves have to pay for this certification, which costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year -- depending on the size of the farm or company’s sales.

The USDA provides each state with funds to defray these costs.  Organic operations are eligible for a rebate of 75% on what they spend for certification -- capped at $750 per certificate or type of certification they have.  For example, dairy farmers pay to have both their crops and animals certified, so their maximum payment is $1,500.


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A “Sense of Urgency” in Anti-Bullying Task Force Recommendations

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Education

Bullyingtaskforce.jpg 

At a meeting on Wednesday, August 15, Governor Dayton met with members of the Prevention of Bullying Task Force to discuss ways to prevent bullying and harassment in Minnesota schools.

Before students can learn, they need to feel safe. That’s the message underscoring the mission of the Prevention of Bullying Task Force, which released its recommendations to Governor Mark Dayton this week imploring immediate and urgent action to combat bullying, harassment, and intimidation in Minnesota schools.

The Task Force was established by Governor Dayton in February by Executive Order for the purpose of ensuring that all students have a safe learning environment, which is essential in determining not only the academic success of students, but also healthy social and emotional development.

In the process of determining their recommendations, the members of the Task Force heard testimony from students, educators, parents, and community members, as well as from more than a dozen expert panelists.

After consideration of these testimonies, along with a review of a wide range of documents and research, the Task Force has yielded its recommendations, which it believes will help create safe, learning-positive environments where students can thrive.

The eight recommendations issued by the Task Force to Governor Dayton are:


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Blog - Governor Dayton Applauds State of the Art Veterans Care Center

Posted on August 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Veterans, Health, Seniors

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Minnesota has long been a leader in providing care for our veterans and assuring they receive the highest standard of care. The latest addition to the Minneapolis Veterans Home is no exception; it will be only the second such facility in the country to offer day services in a Veteran-specific model of care.

Governor Dayton spoke yesterday at the dedication for the brand new facility – called “Building 19” – which is a new, state-of-the-art, skilled nursing facility and Adult Day Center. It features 100 private rooms arranged to provide a home-like atmosphere for veterans receiving care, and it incorporates the latest technology and modern amenities to enhance care.


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Minnesota Fifth Grader Hits a Home Run for Financial Literacy

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Commerce, Education

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Quinn Muhich congratulated on the big screen at a Twins game for hitting a homerun for financial literacy

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As kids grow into a word of finances and start becoming consumers, it’s important that they learn the importance and of saving money early. That was the thinking that led Governor Mark Dayton, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and the Minnesota Twins to host the state’s first-ever “Hit a Homerun for Financial Literacy Contest.” The contest encouraged grade 3-5 students from across the state to describe three simple steps they could take to make smart decisions with their money.

This year’s winner was Eveleth fifth grader Quinn Muhich. The three steps described by Muhich in his essay are “wait, save, and give,” which highlight the benefits that smart financial planning can have not just for oneself, but for those in need, as well.

“This contest reminded me that it is always important to think before spending money,” said Quinn. “My family has taught me that

saving money is important so that I can buy something nice with my savings and I can give to those who don’t have as much.”


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Minnesota DHS Makes Accountability a Priority

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Health, Reform, Technology

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The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is built upon the idea of helping Minnesotans, and thanks to their online public dashboard tool, it’s become even easier for Minnesotans to help themselves to information on the progress of DHS.

The DHS Dashboard allows taxpayers to know what they’re getting from the programs they pay for, and was inspired by Governor Mark Dayton’s “Better Government for a Better Minnesota” reform effort. The dashboard debuted one year ago, and has now been updated to include the most recent data available for the majority of its 15 measures of progress, as well as introducing additional measurements. As DHS advances in its commitment to accountability, transparency, and continual performance improvement, more measures will continue to be added.


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