Share your CFANS story with elected representatives during legislative session

January 8, 2024

CFANS alum and UMAA board chair Pat Duncanson encourages alumni to share their story with elected officials as they make funding decisions

Nature Conservancy photo of Kristin and Pat Duncanson

(Left to right) Kristin and Pat Duncanson, farmers in Mapleton, Minnesota. The Duncansons have worked over the years to make their operation more sustainable. © Dudley Edmondson via The Nature Conservancy


All of us make choices about the organizations and institutions that we want to support with our donations of time, talent, and treasure. We make decisions about giving a monetary gift to an appeal that tugs on our heartstrings, or being involved in an activity that allows us to share our underutilized talents in service to a larger audience. Some of us invest our time in organizations that have made a difference in our lives and will make an impact on many others as well.

CFANS and the U is one of the places I have been investing my time since graduation 40 years ago. I have had many opportunities to share my story with prospective students, faculty, staff, Regents, alumni, and lawmakers from Blue Earth County to St. Paul to Washington D.C. Sharing my U of M story has been fundamental in building relationships, allowing me to be a better advocate.

I am honored to serve as the current Board Chairperson of the U of M Alumni Association. In my UMAA leadership role, I have been inspired and motivated by hearing countless stories that alumni and friends of the U have shared about the impact the U of M has made on their lives. Many of the stories involve friendships and career advantages that grew from relationships made at the U. Others resulted from the impact the U’s research, teaching, and outreach has on the economic, natural resource, and social fabric of our landscape. Others simply share their joy of each autumn's first bite of a Honeycrisp apple.

After being a storyteller for so many years, the UMAA leadership roles have given me a unique opportunity to witness the impact of the advocates' stories as told by others. The best source of stories is from your life experiences. Sharing your story can make you an effective ambassador and help support the great work many of us have benefited from.

I encourage you to share your story with local, state, and federal officials as they make funding decisions that impact CFANS and the U of M. The 2024 Minnesota Legislature begins its session in a few weeks. Now is a great time to reach out to your elected representatives and tell your story of why CFANS and the U are important to you. If you want to drop a message to CFANS alumni relations or UMAA, your conversation with legislators will be counted. You do not need to be an expert in the details of state finance or U of M budgets to have that conversation.

Let your story lead the way.