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Public Engagement Day April 4 at three locations in Morris

By Kim Ukura

UMM News Service

This summer, the open space outside Legacy Living, a locally-owned adult daycare facility, will blossom to life thanks to the collaborative work of Morris senior citizens, University of Minnesota, Morris students, and local children.

The intergenerational horticulture therapy project, organized by UMM student Ali Schulze, will connect Legacy Living clients with children from local daycares.

Intergenerational activities are a key component of Legacy Living and have provided a useful way for students of all ages to connect with older adults in the community.

"It is a wonderful way for our students to learn things they can't get in a textbook and for our clients to interact with people they normally may not interact with," said Lisa Denzer, co-owner of Legacy Living.

Legacy Living is one of the many examples of public engagement efforts between the University of Minnesota, Morris and the greater Morris community.

These activities will be highlighted on Friday, April 4, as part of UMM's Public Engagement Day.

Andrew Furco, associate vice president for public engagement, will be a part of the celebration. Furco began his work at the University of Minnesota on Jan. 2, 2008 and is making a point of visiting each university campus to learn first hand about their engagement activities.

"Each campus has a very important role and important responsibility, but each campus is unique and will have specific needs," Furco said in an interview with the University News Service. "My job is to work with each one to ensure that it can be successful in all aspects of its engagement efforts," he added.

To highlight some of the many engagement activities the public will be invited to three concurrent open houses to be held between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 4.

The three Morris locations that will be featured are: Legacy Living, 108 E 6th St.; Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance, 603 Atlantic Ave.; West Central Research and Outreach Center, 46352 State Highway 329

Staff will be on hand at each location to speak with visitors and explain the connections between the university and their organization. Posters of other engagement projects will be on display.

At 12:45 p.m., guests are invited to a Public Engagement Day local foods lunch in the Food Service Building at UMM. Furco will be the featured speaker. Space is limited so those who are interested in attending the lunch are encouraged to RSVP to Jessica Beyer of the Center for Small Towns at the email address:

Public Engagement Day is intentionally scheduled to coincide with both the Undergraduate Research Symposium at UMM on April 4 and the 30th annual UMM Jazz Fest, April 3-5, two longstanding UMM events that also demonstrate the high level of engagement by UMM students.

The April 4 event at UMM is a pre-event to the larger University of Minnesota Public Engagement Day that will take place on Tuesday, April 22, in Coffman Memorial Union on the Twin Cities campus.

Dr. Engin Sungur, UMM professor of statistics, will participate in a panel discussion about research perspectives and community influences during the Twin Cities event. Other representatives from UMM will also present a workshop about the way students and communities can get involved with engagement activities with the University.

UMM's Public Engagement Day is hosted by the University of Minnesota, Morris in partnership with the University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center, Extension, and the West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. Activities are funded in part by the U of M's Office of Public Engagement.

For more information about any of the activities related to Public Engagement Day, contact Jessica Beyer at or (320) 589-6451.