MC & NDSU Extension reestablish partnership



For Immediate Release                                                                              February 16, 2024

Morton County and NDSU Extension reestablish partnership

(MANDAN, ND) – Morton County and NDSU Extension announce new and improved efforts to rebuild and strengthen Extension services in Morton County.  The announcement comes after recent talks resolved disagreements threatening to adversely impact 4-H events for youth, including the upcoming Morton County Fair.

The two parties met over the last few months to cooperatively address items of controversy, including during a special Morton County 4-H Council meeting on January 22 attended by many 4-H member families, Council leadership, NDSU Extension leadership, and County leadership.  During the meeting, Morton County Commissioners and NDSU Extension officials publicly expressed their desire to rebuild this partnership and collaboration supporting the 4-H youth of Morton County.


“There have been disagreements in the past, but we’ve worked through them in a professional manner. We must all remember that Morton County is an agricultural county and that 4-H programs provide a critical outlet for youth involvement in both agriculture and in serving our communities. We have turned the page and I am excited about having a new renewed relationship with NDSU Extension,” said Nathan Boehm, Morton County Commissioner. 

“The passion for 4-H is strong in Morton County and the support from the Morton County Commission helps us all move forward in a positive direction. The County Commissioners are going to be working with us to fill Extension agent positions in a timely manner ensuring the public is well-served and that Morton County 4-H youth will continue to have opportunities to learn, grow, and showcase their achievements,” said Dena Kemmet, Central District Director for NDSU Extension.


Of immediate importance will be the election of new officers to the 4-H Council and reestablishment of the 4-H bylaws committee. A meeting is scheduled for these purposes on Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 PM in the Morton County Commission Room at the Morton County Courthouse. Per 4-H bylaws, active 4-H leaders are eligible to participate and vote in that meeting.

“Morton County and NDSU Extension agree we cannot afford to lose sight of what is most important and that is serving the public and providing our youth with opportunities for continued growth,” adds Boehm.

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For More Information, Contact:            Nathan Boehm

Morton County Commissioner

(701) 220-8174 /



About NDSU Extension: NDSU Extension gives residents easy access to the resources and expertise of North Dakota State University. Through educational programs, publications and events, Extension agents deliver unbiased and research-based information to assist residents in economic and community development, family and consumer issues, agriculture and the environment. Extension agents also actively participate in youth education and 4-H.


About 4-H: The 4-H program is delivered by a Cooperative Extension Services through more than 100 public universities throughout the United States. The program is research-based and provides youth with hands-on experiences, projects, mentorship, and skills to lead for a lifetime.




Morton County’s Partnership with NDSU Extension


  1.       What transpired between Morton County and NDSU Extension?

Within the last year and a half, the NDSU Extension Office in Morton County has encountered turnover.  Historically, Morton County has encountered little to no turnover in Extension Agents as we have had long-term employees committed to the mission of Extension.  With turnover often comes change.  Employee changes will often create natural disruption until the right person is placed into the right job at the right time.  We are simply working through that natural disruption, alongside NDSU Extension, to regain our footing within the County Extension program.


  1.       Did staff leave because they were unsatisfied?

Often times, employees migrate to other employers as they are looking to address a need or want that may be unavailable to them with their current employer.  Since 2016, there has been healthy attrition both in and out of this Department.  Over eighty percent of the attrition has been positive, in nature, either due to a retirement, promotion, or advanced opportunities.  We have been fortunate to have had remarkable talent work for Extension where an Agent’s knowledge, skills, and talent are in high-demand in the external marketplace.


  1.       Why did the majority of the 4-H Council resign?

Three of the current 4-H Executive Council Members resigned from the Morton County 4-H Council.  Those members are leaving unsatisfied with their experience on the 4-H Council.  They have not left the program and are still committed to moving 4-H into the future here in our County.  Where they leave off, we pick up.  Morton County and NDSU Extension are working to address those deficiencies and restore balance back to the program.  We want to strengthen our volunteer experience so that it is inviting and entices our members to commit their time and effort into advancing 4-H.  It is important for past and future Council Members understand their importance and value to this program.


  1.       Will there be an Achievement Day at the Morton County Fair in 2024?


  1.   NDSU Extension has dedicated staff and resources to assure Morton County will be able to offer Achievement Days to the youth in our County.  Although 2024 is a year of rebuilding, we are committed to assuring our 4-H Members have the opportunities and all the experiences Achievement Days has to offer.



  1.       Will Achievement Days have strict registration deadlines that limit 4-H participation?

As with any competitive program, there will be registration requirements and associated deadlines.  The Morton County 4-H Council will be working to improve and clarify what those registration deadlines are over the next few months.  Our goal is to assure every family has a fair opportunity to enroll and participate in Achievement Days.  If the registration process negatively impacts a 4-H member, the 4-H Council will have a process developed and communicated that works with the family on unexpected exigencies. 


  1.       Did the county 4-H Executive Council build a campaign against employees in NDSU Extension in Morton County?
  2.   The 4H Executive Council only relayed concerns to both the County and NDSU Extension that were provided by 4H Members and families.  To address incoming feedback, Morton County launched a satisfaction survey for 4-H Achievement Day goers that invited the public to provide commentary on their 2023 experience.  The County received forty separate pieces of commentary that was largely critical of the event.  As with rumors, the general public began to build assumptions which later misled the narrative. 


  1.       Is there a future for Morton County and NDSU Extension?


Emphatically, yes.  We encountered challenges, disagreements, and at times held opposing views.  However, we never once questioned our commitment to the youth in our community.  Our youth remained the one common talisman that kept us focused on our future.  We are rebuilding our program here in Morton County, alongside NDSU Extension.  We are not one without the other in this mission.  We are the Bison – we face the storm to minimize the amount of pain, time, and frustration everyone feels during an era of change.