Blaine County Welcomes New MSU Extension Agent, Sarah Johnson
January 22, 2020
Blaine County has a new Extension Agent. Friday, January 10 was Sarah Johnson's sixth day on the job. Johnson comes to Chinook from a small town in Minnesota with a population of approximately 2,043, so she's no stranger to small town life or to a life where the railroad, crops, and cattle contributed to the early economy.
Although Johnson enjoyed her time in Minnesota, she was ready for a change and expressed excitement about her new position with the MSU Extension Service in Blaine County and to making Chinook her home.
"I'm from Eyota, a South East Minnesota community located along Highway 14 between Rochester and Winona," Johnson explained. "We have humidity AND mosquitoes there!"
Derived from the Sioux Indian word iyotak, meaning "greatest" or "most," Eyota Township was organized in 1858. Today, the community's website declares that eyota means "superior."
An avid quilter whose passion is cooking, Johnson is the middle child in her family. She has two older brothers and two younger sisters, and her parents make their home in Minnesota. Johnson also has family in Canada since her mother grew up in Alberta.
As the Family Consumer Science/4-H Agent, Johnson will focus on food, family, and finance. During a recent interview, Johnson stated that she is in the research phase of her position. In this phase, she is learning the community's needs and wants and evaluating present programs to see what is working. She is also getting to know the area and its people.
"As an educator and a community facilitator, my primary focus is on finding common ground. We need the group to figure out the answers, so if anyone has an idea about what they want to know or learn, please call our office (357-3200) or email me (Johnson.firstname.lastname@example.org)," Johnson said.
Johnson described her job as one that involves assessing local needs and developing relationships with people. "I plan to work with various community groups to develop educational programs that meet local needs. Whether local citizens want to learn more about a topic, need someone to guide them through a process, want to develop local partnerships, desire to make community changes, or just need an answer to a question, the Extension staff is available."
Because an Extension Agents' primary goal is to provide transformational education for local citizens, Johnson hopes to incorporate informed opinions and to use her background knowledge to meet her goals. "My primary goal is interactivity," she stated. "I want to help people move toward self-sufficiency and independence while remaining connected. We need the community for us to be part of the community," she explained.
Another big area of emphasis for Johnson will be mental health. To this endeavor, she brings a Master's Degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University. "Psychology informs nearly every human interaction," Johnson said. "I used so much of what I learned about developmental psychology in my previous teaching position, and I hope to continue learning about the context in which I will be working here. Understanding human behavior and how the mind works will enable me to build strong relationships and to make better decisions."
Other training that will impact Johnson's position with Blaine County are her ten years of grade 7-12 teaching experience at Dover-Eyota High School. For the Dover-Eyota School District, Johnson taught Life Skills 8, Creative Foods, Child Development, Advanced Foods, Independent Living, Interior Design, and Life Skills 7.
"I will incorporate all of this background knowledge to make more informed decisions," Johnson said. "Stop in an introduce yourself, and we'll discuss what I can do for you!"