Michigan Fresh has even more to offer

In a March 27 Spotlight, I mentioned how our Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh program educates on fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals as well as food safety, food storage, food preservation and gardening. In addition to this long list of important subjects, the Michigan Fresh work team is also busy on many other projects.

Extension educator Eileen Haraminac took over the coordination of the Michigan Fresh team upon Kathe Hale’s retirement.

Extension educator Joyce McGarry is busy heading up new fact sheet development. The team consists of Mary Dunckel, Michelle Jarvie, Ronald E. Kinnunen, Amanda Knox, Laurie Messing, Jeannie Nichols, Jeannine Schweihofer and Rob Weber. Team members arecompiling information on meats: pork, lamb, poultry, beef and fish. In the future, they will compile information for fact sheets on dairy products. Michigan Fresh fact sheets have been available at many of the farmers markets throughout the state as well as online. The fact sheets are also available in Arabic and Spanish. Find them on the Michigan Fresh website: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh

Other future fact sheets will focus on Michigan chestnuts (Erin Lizotte, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute) and growing hops (Greening Michigan Institute Extension educator Rob Sirrine).

Extension program instructor Stephanie Bruno heads up the team that’s developing recipe cards. The team consists of Jennifer Berkey, Becky Henne and Connie Kurple. These new recipe cards will be distributed at several farmers markets to encourage consumers to purchase Michigan-grown food to use as simple ingredients.

 Kristine Hahn and Eileen Haraminac as well as Sean Corp and other MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications staff are collaborating with the Eastern Market Corporation to promote a new product ‒ Michigan Fresh Frozen fruits and vegetables. The group is working on recipe cards to be distributed at Detroit Eastern Market and through the Peaches & Greens mobile produce trucks. The cards will promote both the Michigan Fresh program and the new Eastern Market Corporation Michigan Fresh Frozen products.

Eileen said, “We want to encourage people to choose nutrient-packed frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh are unavailable. Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing are processed at their peak ripeness ‒ time when, as a general rule, they are most nutrient packed.

Extension associate program leader Becky Henne heads up the social media team. Team members are busy working to build a smartphone app and to develop additional videos. They hope to have the app ready to roll out for the 2015 season. This group is working with Dr. Dru Montri, executive director of Michigan Farmers Market Association; Colleen Matts, farm to institution outreach specialist with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems; and Dr. Norm Lownds, curator of the 4-H Children’s Garden. Additional team members from both the Health and Nutrition Institute and the Greening Michigan Institute include Julie Darnton, Joanne Davidhizar, Dawn Earnesty, Kristine Hahn, Sheilah Hebert, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills.

Dr. Cheryl Peters, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills have been working with the Michigan Fresh team to develop a common evaluation tool for Michigan Fresh cooking demonstrations offered at the Detroit Eastern Market and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. These cooking demonstrations benefit the promotion of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and videos. The free, public demonstrations are designed to inspire people to purchase and consume more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. The evaluation tool will gather information from cooking demonstration observers. Recipes used in the cooking demonstrations come from the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With coordination from Extension educator Terry McLean, MSU Extension will staff a kiosk at the Flint Farmers Market this spring.

Michigan Fresh is a great collaboration not only between our own institutes but between local organizations and farmers markets as well.

If you are interested in promoting the Michigan Fresh campaign materials at your community farmers market, please contact Eileen Haraminac (haramin2@anr.msu.edu) for more information.

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Financial & Homeownership Education work group has all the answers at Money Smart Week event

Money Smart Week, April 5 to 12, is a national public awareness campaign coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help individuals and families better manage their personal finances. More than 400 free Money Smart Week events took place throughout Michigan on topics ranging from kids and money to managing student loan debt, household budgeting and retirement.

Our Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) work group participated in 12 Money Smart Week events throughout the eight days. One of the largest events was the Fox 2 News “Ask the Expert” program held the morning of April 7. This program consisted of both a live call-in program in the Fox 2 News studios and a live webchat on the MyFoxDetroit.com website. TV viewers either called in to the studio or went on the Web to ask questions on debt, credit, budgeting, homeownership and mortgages, retirement and investing, and fraud and scams.

The FHE team members who participated in the studio taking calls were LaShawn Brown, Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Krauch, Angela Miles, Wanda Roberts, Pam Sarlitto and Rob Weber. This group answered more than 250 calls and also talked with Fox 2 News financial reporter Murray Feldman on-air on a variety of money issues.

Answering questions in the online webchat were FHE team members Jim Buxton, Bill Hendrian, Khurram Imam, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Jinnifer Ortquist, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington. This team provided replies to more than 100 questions that came into the chat room.

Money Smart Week provided a great opportunity for the FHE work group to enhance their mission of providing financial education throughout Michigan. And I think the Ask the Expert call-in/live-chat model they’ve developed with Fox 2 News is something that might be appropriate for other program areas and work groups to consider in the future. We’ll hear more about that on the May 5 MSUE Update Webinar.

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PURPLE UP! for military families

Michigan State University Extension colleagues show their support for military families on PURPLE UP! Day, April 15, 2014

Michigan State University Extension colleagues show their support for military families on PURPLE UP! Day, April 15, 2014. Left to Right: MSU Extension associate director Steve Lovejoy, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director Julie Chapin, MSU Extension educator Kendra Moyses, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension associate program leader B’Onko Sadler. Photo credit: Terri Badgley.

I had the honor to address some heroes on April 15 during PURPLE UP! Day at the Breslin Center. These heroes are not the usual kind – they don’t gain a lot of attention and we may tend to overlook them. They are the families of those who serve our nation in the military.

PURPLE UP! Day is a one-day event that is part of the Month of the Military Child. Michigan State University Extension 4-H Military Partnerships Operation: Military Kids organizes activities throughout April to recognize the sacrifices made by children of our service members.

Why purple? I’m told that purple is a universal color used to symbolize all United States military personnel. It’s a combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue. I wore my purple proudly that day as I expressed my gratitude to the families for their service to our country.

At the event, military families took part in fun and educational activities assisted by not only our staff but also members and coaches of various MSU sports teams. No one seemed to mind the fact that a very Spartan room with very Spartan people in it was awash in Northwestern purple. The evening really did revolve around the honored guests.

Read this Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications article to find out details about the event and read comments from Extension educator Kendra Moyses who coordinates the program: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/msu_extension_trades_green_for_purple_to_support_military_families

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There’s still time to submit your proposed offering for SERV

Sharing Extension Resources Virtually (SERV) is an online professional development opportunity we provide twice annually to facilitate skills development among Michigan State University Extension staff. Most offerings are provided by MSU Extension staff or faculty members who have experience worth sharing. Please consider submitting a proposal for one or more SERV sessions of three possible lengths: 10, 25 or 50 minutes. Sessions can focus on core competencies and skills, knowledge or information relevant to some aspect of MSU Extension, or reports of projects or programs you think your colleagues should know about. And feel free to submit (and host) sessions led by colleagues and partners from outside MSUE. Our one request is that you make your sessions engaging and participatory. Click on this link for more information and to apply. The last day to submit a proposal is April 24.

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Breakfast on the Farm hosts recognized as outstanding dairy farmers

MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year Gertie (left) and Geert (right) van den Goor from Goma Farms near Marlette received a citation from the Sanilac County Commission commending them for their Dairy Farmers of the Year award at a commission meeting on April 15, 2014, in Sandusky, Mich.

MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year Gertie (left) and Geert (right) van den Goor from Goma Farms near Marlette received a citation from the Sanilac County Commission commending them for their Dairy Farmers of the Year award at a commission meeting on April 15, 2014, in Sandusky, Mich.

I had an opportunity to see Gertie and Geert van den Goor commended by the Sanilac County Board of Commissioners on April 15 in Sandusky. They received the MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year Award from the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University. The award presentation took place on February 7 at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, and the Sanilac commissioners wanted to add their endorsement to the recognition.

Gertie and Geert are the owners and operators of Goma Farms near Marlette, Mich. They hosted more than 2,500 visitors to their farm in 2012 for Breakfast on the Farm. They began their operation in 1999 with 100 dairy cows and have grown their operation to 2,800 Holstein cows, 2,500 head of young stock and 34 employees today. More important, they are great ambassadors for agriculture and the dairy industry, and really nice people. It was heartening to see them recognized for their many contributions to their community and to the Michigan dairy industry.

Read more in this MSU Extension news article: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/sanilac_county_farm_named_msu_2014_dairy_farm_of_the_year

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Extension retirees recognized, continued

In last week’s Spotlight, I shared some brief information about nine of our 17 new Michigan State University Extension retirees. As promised, here are the other eight.

Extension educator Roberta Osborne began her career with MSU Extension in 1980. She has served 15 counties as agricultural agent, dairy and livestock agent, county Extension director and agriculture educator. She worked extensively with nutrient management planning, training programs and research with crops and animals. She was responsible for planning and delivering holistic programs in all aspects of dairy production, including funding, nutrition, sustainability research and techniques to improve quality. In recognition of her contributions to the dairy industry, she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi State Team Award in Sanilac in 1986. In addition to her dairy management work, she specialized in livestock with an environmental focus. She provided small ruminant education and researched parasite management practices. She co-chaired the manure team, where she established training programs for Extension agents and producers. She also worked on water sustainability research and farmland preservation and management, winning Branch County Farm Bureau recognition for her work in writing the farmland preservation ordinance for Branch County and creating a land use plan for the entire county that saved $20,000.

Senior district Extension educator Charles Pistis was selected to be the first Sea Grant agent for southwestern Michigan in 1977. In 1994, he was appointed the Ottawa County Extension director, holding that position until 2007, when he was appointed the Michigan Sea Grant Extension state program coordinator. He provided planning, implementation and evaluation of Sea Grant Extension programs educating citizens, communities, businesses, public officials and organizations on critical issues such as coastal zoning, marina management, fisheries, shoreline erosion and pollution. He also provided leadership for the Sea Grant team in fish contaminants, aquatic nuisance species, sport fisheries, charter fisheries, recreational boating and marinas. He led several initiatives to adapt, slow and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, establish Michigan bottomland preserves, expand Michigan’s commercial fishing industry and provide water safety education. He has received many awards such as the Michigan Boating Industries Association Lighthouse Award in 2008 and 2004. He received the MSU Extension Distinguished Staff Award in 2002, and the MSU Cooperative Extension Service Director’s Award for Excellence in Performance in 1986. He received several Michigan Council of Extension Associations Awards for Program Excellence for his Coast Watch and rip tides research and education programs.

In 1990, Extension educator Mary Robb began her career with Extension as home economist for Montcalm and Ionia counties. Contributions include “Building Blocks,”a newsletter for families, and Foster Grandparents that involved 75 grandparents working with children. She collaborated with other educators to reach inner-city students through after-school programs establishing community forums to identify family needs and challenges. She became the Kent County leadership and community development educator and collaborated with the Kent County Health Department and Grand Rapids Public Schools to develop the School Health Project and the Families in Touch program. As the county Extension director for community and leadership development in Muskegon County, she established the value and relevance of Extension; she oversaw professional development, established herself as a county expert in group facilitation, and connected with local organizations to collaborate and provide funding for programs. She worked with the MSU Agricultural Product Center to deliver workshops for businesses and designed the Product Center curriculum, reaching more than 100 entrepreneurs. She was awarded the Government Encouraging Entrepreneurs Awardfrom the Chamber of Commerce of the West Shore Governmental Affairs Committee.

Extension educator Warren Schauer served for 32 years in Extension, creating and implementing programming focused on financial analysis, farm business succession and estate planning, and youth market livestock record keeping. He was involved in Telfarm accounting as well as in Annie’s Project that strengthened women’s roles in farm enterprises. He also served as an agricultural innovation counselor. He was responsible for collaborating and organizing effective educational efforts such as Bay de Noc beef producer feeder cattle marketing and the Bay de Noc Garden Conference, as well as dairy, wind energy and bioenergy programs. He communicated with the community through his weekly news column and monthly radio program, reaching northeastern Lower Michigan, the Upper Peninsula and Delta County. He was also widely involved in international Extension efforts, such as his collaboration with the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs in Mozambique and his work in the Ukraine, teaching farm management principles, business skills, credit and accounting. He also participated in the Caribbean agricultural Extension project in St. Lucia, collaborating with local universities and agencies to establish extension demonstration districts, develop farm management accounting materials and provide training. In 2011, he received the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Distinguished Service Award serving over 10 years, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the Growing UP Ag Association in 2008 and the President’s Citation from the Michigan Association of Agricultural Agents in 1985.

Extension educator Sheryl Schrot joined Extension in 1989 as a 4-H Youth Development educator in Menominee County. She provided direction and leadership to the 4-H program through planning, organizing, implementing and evaluating youth development programs according to the needs of the county. She developed the vision and brought several agencies together to create the Bay Area Summer Enrichment Camp (BASEC), which provided weeklong sessions on visual and performing arts as well as environmental education. She received the 1994 Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) Team Award for BASEC. She also participated in the 4-H Camp Molinare to provide overnight camping experiences for children living in low-income situations. She worked with public schools to develop a conservation curriculum and to create after-school programs. She also coordinated 4-H international exchanges with Mexico, Japan and Poland, and received the 2001 Michigan 4-H International Award. Her awards include Distinguished Service Awards from the MAE4-HYS and the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff in 1995 and 2004, respectively.

Extension specialist Cynthia Straus began her 32 years of service to Extension as Alpena Extension home economist, later serving as associate program leader and Extension specialist for technology services. Other notable accomplishments include her leadership development programs and her collaboration with Canadian Extension, the Michigan Sea Grant program and regional staff members to organize the International Water Conference for which she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Pal Project Award in 1986. She received the same award in 1990 for her work with the Water Quality Grant. Also in 1990, she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Extension Team Award for her work in family and community leadership. She helped to develop food safety education and the materials database as a result of the national Grant for Food Safety Education. Awarded the presidency of the Agriculture Network Information Collaborative (AgNIC) organization, her technology work had a vast impact, beginning with her home maintenance and repair database, her implementation of the MSU Extension portal, and her role in organizing publications and education pieces into an accessible, digital format.

Extension educator Mary Swiderski worked with Extension 4-H from 1985 to 1990 and became a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed) educator in 1994. She taught healthy eating, nutrition, cooking and budgeting, especially for families living in low-income situations. Fifty to 60 people per year benefited from her nutrition programs. Her most notable accomplishments were a result of her creation of the Wellness Coalition, which brought together Michigan Extension, the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mackinac Straits Hospital, St. Ignace schools and the North Country Hiking Trail. Working with the coalition, she participated in implementing programs to improve the health of youth and their families by preventing weight problems and chronic health issues. The coalition reached out to schools to implement wellness policies and to create healthier menus as well as vending machines and fund-raisers. To promote physical and emotional well-being, the coalition set up programs such as Get Movin’ in May and Walk with the Principal to encourage physical activity, healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. Additionally, she was responsible for putting together 20 television shows used in local schools. The shows emphasized healthy recipes, food safety tips and physical fitness activities. Additionally, she was named the 2011 Child Advocate of the Year by Mackinac County for her work as the Mackinac County child protection coordinator and her work with the Child Protection Roundtable.

In 1995, Extension educator Craig Thomas, came to Extension with a wealth of experience with Extension programs, agriculture and agribusiness from previous positions in California, Florida and Wisconsin. He became the dairy Extension educator for Huron, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac and Tuscola counties, conducting education programs for agribusinesses, financial institutions, dairy producers and the public. His programs specialized in dairy production technologies and computerized accounting systems, financial planning and economics, and milking parlor management and design. He worked with dozens of dairy farms across the state to educate on performing budget analysis to assist them in obtaining financing for dairy expansions and modernizations, and to reduce costs. These efforts brought millions of dollars of new investments in dairy production facilities in Michigan. He received the John Hannah Award for Program Excellence in 2011 for his collaboration with now retired Extension educator Fred Hinkley on the 18-year program Agriculture Market Update. This agricultural marketing program reached out to crop, dairy and livestock farmers and other agriculture professionals, providing them with commodity marketing education.

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Making connections in Washington, DC

PILD Conference left to right: Phil Durst, Tom Coon, Seaman Knapp (Iowa, Texas, and USDA), Lynnae Jess, Rep. Asbury Lever (South Carolina), Bindu Bhakta, Sen. Hoke Smith (Georgia), Deanna East, Bev Przystas, and Sharon Jeffery.

MSU Extension delegation at the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD Conference, along with a few retirees – left to right: Phil Durst, Tom Coon, Seaman Knapp (Iowa, Texas, and USDA), Lynnae Jess, Rep. Asbury Lever (South Carolina), Bindu Bhakta, Sen. Hoke Smith (Georgia), Deanna East, Bev Przystas, and Sharon Jeffery. The conference took place April 6-9 in Alexandria, Va. near Washington, D.C.

I had the good fortune of spending some time with colleagues from Michigan State University Extension at the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) Conference in the Washington, D.C. area this week. The conference offers workshops and features speakers on the federal side of the partnership that makes up Cooperative Extension. It also provides opportunities to meet with leaders in the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) who support and work with Cooperative Extension programs across the country. The capstone to the conference was visiting Congressional offices to meet with elected members of Congress and their staff members to help them learn about what we do in MSU Extension to help people improve their lives.

This year’s conference had a good dose of history in recognition of the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the federal partnership with land-grant universities and county government to form our uniquely American institution. We even had life-size cut-out figures representing Seaman Knapp, Congressman Asbury Lever and Senator Hoke Smith. Knapp pioneered the concept of farm demonstration agents, which gave rise to Extension agents, and Lever and Smith were the co-sponsors of the Congressional Act, which carries their names. Lever was from South Carolina and Smith was from Georgia. The seven Spartans at the conference couldn’t pass up a photo opportunity with Knapp, Smith and Lever.

I was joined by Bindu Bhakta, Phil Durst, Deanna East, Sharon Jeffery, Lynnae Jess and Bev Przystas, each representing his or her professional Extension association.

 

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