Photo by Tucker Henderson
Jordan Gusa has recently joined the staff at the University of Minnesota Extension Office in New York Mills. 

By Tucker Henderson


For the many families involved in 4-H programs throughout East Otter Tail County, a new smiling face will be greeting them from the Extension Office in New York Mills.

Jordan Gusa joined the University of Minnesota Extension team in mid-May after graduating from South Dakota State University just a week prior. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Agricultural Leadership and Communication Studies.

“I’m originally from Wabasha, Minn., which is down in the river valley in the southeastern corner of the state,” said Gusa. “I was a 4-Her in high school and my first year of college. Going into a university that is agriculture-based and majors that are agriculture-based, I thought, was a perfect fit.”

Returning to Minnesota was not in Gusa’s immediate plans, but the North Star State called her back home in the end.

“I didn’t think I was coming back to Minnesota to do 4-H, but I was planning on doing 4-H elsewhere,” Gusa said. “I interned with Minnesota 4-H as a sophomore in college and I was like, ‘maybe I do like the behind the scenes stuff of 4-H,’ so that’s really what intrigued me. Then I did other internships with youth development and things like that.”

Gusa feels that her background in 4-H and her newly acquired skills in agricultural leadership and communication is a perfect blending for her new position.

“What a perfect world,” she said. “Communication, agriculture and teaching all in one, which is 4-H to me.”

Her own background in the organization started when she was in high school. Memories of the Minnesota State Fair and making new friends from across the nation highlight Gusa’s time as a student in 4-H.

“I think every kid’s favorite thing was going to the state fair,” she said. “All your hard work comes into play there. I was part of the meat goat project growing up. Getting to show your livestock off in a bigger arena, a bigger stage. Some of my best friends are from Minnesota 4-H, whether that was meeting them at the food line at the state fair or tack areas there. I got to go to Washington D.C. and other states and such for other clubs within the organization. Fair time, I feel like, is every kid’s favorite, whether that be the county of the state level.”

After settling into her new home in Staples, Minn., Gusa has been getting acquainted with Otter Tail County and the families she will be serving as Extension Educator through the University of Minnesota Extension Office.

“My first fair in East Otter Tail,” said Gusa, “I think that’ll be exciting. I’ll get to meet everybody that I hadn’t met previously, because I haven’t quite met a lot of families yet. Leading up into July, I hope to meet most of them, but if not, I’ll hopefully meet all of them at the fair.

“Then there’s camps and such that go throughout the summer whether that be within that region or the state, because I get to go to YELLO, which is a state-wide camp,” she continued. “I didn’t get to go to that as a 4-Her, so I get to go as a chaperone and that will be exciting. Getting to go to the county’s camp, I have a little session that I’ll get to put on, so getting to be a part of that will be exciting.”

As the year goes on, Gusa is excited for fall when school programming starts back up again and she is able to introduce herself to the local districts.

“Going into the fall, getting to do their school programming and to meet students in the community too, is always a good thing,” she said.

As Gusa adds her name to the list of East Otter Tail County Extension Educators, those of Janet Malone, Donna Geiser, Sherman Mandt, Gerald Ness and Mary Ann Mass, she does so with the pledge to clearing thinking, greater loyalty, larger service, and to better living for her community.