22 years after leaving, it’s good to be back home

Allow me to introduce myself – or perhaps I should say re-introduce myself. I am the new/former North Dakota State University Extension Service Family and Consumer Science Agent for Ward County.

You see, my very first job with the Extension Service was in Ward County nearly 30 years ago. Since leaving in 1991, I have lived in a lot of places and held various positions. I briefly served as an area specialist in Dickinson before heading off to graduate school in Missouri. After receiving my M.A., I was a Family Living Educator with the UW-Extension Service in Sauk County, Wis., for three years before taking an Extension Agent position with the NDSU Extension Service in Barnes County (Valley City). I served in that role for the last 15 years and thought I would retire there. However, the stars aligned, and here I am back “home.”

I say “home” because I am a graduate of Berthold High School and grew up just inside Mountrail County. My sister and I inherited the family farm over 30 years ago and that is where I will be hanging my hat during my tenure here. It has been quite a transition from small-town life to rural life, literally overnight. Over the course of the next few months I hope to sell my home in Valley City and finally get everything moved west. Meanwhile, I will be putting a few miles on the car driving back and forth for rummage sales and cleaning-out sessions.

Academically, I received my B.S. from NDSU in home economics education (now referred to as family and consumer science) and my M.A. in human development and family studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. I have enjoyed working in a variety of programming areas, including parent education, aging and adulthood, health and wellness, 4-H youth development and community development. In Barnes County, I was the lead for the Valley City Community Gardens, the county’s worksite wellness program and the county’s 4-H program. I was also an active member of several collaborative efforts, including Barnes On the Move, a community wellness program.

Personally, I enjoy traveling, reading, gardening and taking part in community events. The main reason I decided to move back was to be closer to family. I have three aunts and an uncle who live in the area; all are in their 80s and 90s. I fully intend to play some cards and drink lots of coffee with them over the years to come. And, of course, there are many other extended family and childhood friends who live nearby. I look forward to reconnecting with them!

If you are in Minot, I would invite you to stop by the Extension Office on the first floor of the Ward County Courthouse and introduce yourself. The coffee pot’s always on!

(Ellen M. Bjelland is an Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Science with the NDSU Extension Service in Ward County.)