Strategic Connections and Housing Education in District 12

Photo of the side of a house that is made of gray wood with a stair case in front of it. The wall of the house has a window with blue shutters. Over top of the photo is the title of the blog post "Strategic Connections & Housing Education in District 12."

This month we’re highlighting Terry Clark-Jones’ strategic connections with the Washtenaw Housing Education Partnership (WHEP) in District 12. Terry is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension senior educator who provides programming on two work teams: Financial and Home Ownership Education, and Social Emotional Health.

MSU Extension was a founding member of WHEP in 2001, a partnership designed to bring together housing education providers. The group formed as a response to increased educational requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for their affordable housing programs.

Why is housing education important?

“For many potential first-time home buyers, the challenge is coming up with the up-front funds it takes to purchase a home,” Terry said. “It’s important to educate the consumer of the affordable housing programs available to them, such as Michigan State Housing Department Authority Down Payment Assistance, Federal Housing Authority, USDA Rural Development Loans, Habitat for Humanity and the Federal Home Loan Bank Home Ownership Opportunity program.  These programs also require that potential first-time home buyers participate in this education. Research done by Freddie Mac and NeighborWorks show that homeowners who participate in these classes are less likely to foreclose.”

Now, in 2017, the partnership is still going strong, growing from three to eight organizations: Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, POWER Inc., Housing Bureau for Seniors, the Washtenaw County treasurer’s office, the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and MSU Extension. How it works: participants are welcomed and registered through MSU Extension, then they attend our home ownership education classes, and then they move on to the other partner organizations depending on their needs. WHEP has made affordable housing education and programs a seamless process to provide the best and most custom service to prospective buyers.

“This partnership has created many opportunities, including referrals, increased grant funding opportunities, visibility in the community and leads to new partnerships beyond housing education,” Terry said. One funding opportunity helped to create an affordable housing program in Washtenaw County. Because of the partnership, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development received a federal grant to create a special affordable housing program in the county. It was a rehab/acquisition program where participants in a targeted income range could purchase a home and receive up to $35,000 in assistance to help with repairs and a down payment. If they stayed in the home for 20 years, the loan would be forgiven. This program lasted 18 months and helped about 30 families.

Through working with WHEP, Terry has learned that building and maintaining partnerships take a lot of work.

“Partnerships are hard to keep going and productive,” she said. “Their success can be decided by the personalities at the table. But with time and a common goal, it can be a great experience with awesome outcomes.”

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Filed under Housing, Partnerships, strategic connections

Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference in Detroit

Each spring, educators from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension with support from MSU AgBioResearch and the Michigan Brewers Guild host the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference. For the first time, this year the conference was held in downtown Detroit. March 2-3, over 300 agricultural producers, processors, vendors, brewers and others attended, coming from 15 states and multiple countries. The conference offered both basic and advanced sessions for hop growers, and a barley session and malting tour for both growers and brewers.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, stands at the front of the room at a podium giving a presentation to a ballroom filled with seats and participants.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, addresses a near capacity crowd at the 3rd annual Great Lakes Hop & Barley Conference in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Rob Sirrine.

The conference incorporated elements that are unique to the area. For example, Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Corporation, described Detroit’s increasing demand for local food and craft beer. Another Detroit highlight for participants was the evening reception held at the Detroit Beer Company. Participants left rave reviews of the location and the experiences that they had.

The conference is an important way to support all of the participants in the growing craft beverage industry. According to the national Brewers Association, Michigan ranks sixth in the United States in the number of craft breweries, and the industry creates an economic impact of $1.8 million. MSU Extension is proud of our educators who are at the forefront of education and working with this evolving industry.

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Speaking of our educators, we’d like to send a huge thank you to the conference planning committee, made up of Ashley McFarland, Erin Lizotte and Rob Sirrine, and Scott Graham from the Michigan Brewers Guild. Also, thank you to MSU Events Management (Betsy Braid and Megghan Honke) and MSU county-based staff members Annette Kleinschmit and Michelle Coleman, who helped behind the scenes.

As soon as it’s posted, I’ll link to Rob, Ashley and Erin’s news article about the conference so that you can read more about all of the opportunities that participants had, the tours and the speakers.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Conferences, Farming, Hop & Barley

Welcoming Bill Hendrian as interim district coordinator

Headshot of Bill Hendrian.

On April 1, 2017, we will welcome Bill Hendrian into the position of interim District 4 coordinator for Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. Bill will work with local governments, nonprofits, school systems and neighborhood groups to help ensure that MSU Extension provides the knowledge and resources necessary to identify and address the challenges facing communities in the district. He will also mentor MSU Extension staff members based in his district in professional development and in program planning, delivery and evaluation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with and get to know the people of District 4 as MSU Extension continues to do its part to enrich the lives of Michigan’s families with its broad pool of talented faculty and staff members,” Bill said.

We are looking forward to Bill stepping in as interim district coordinator because he understands the importance of strategic connections and relationships in expanding our outreach and has demonstrated that capacity in a variety of settings and opportunities.

Check out my post from last August if you’re interested in learning more about Bill, his work, and his strategic connections.

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Honored to be recognized – MSU Distinguished Partnership Awards

Jeff Dwyer stands with several other award winners, holding their plaques, for the MSU Distinguished Partnership awards.

Jeff Dwyer receives the MSU Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.

I have some exciting news to share with you. In 2016, Michigan State University (MSU) created the MSU Distinguished Partnership Awards to recognize highly engaged and scholarly community-based work that creates positive change in the community and in scholarship. I am honored to be the recipient of the MSU Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service. On February 21, 2017, I received this award for my work with building a statewide research network based on community engagement. The award honored almost a decade of my work with community partners to build a statewide network for the MSU College of Human Medicine and to bring together health-focused professionals from the university with communities across Michigan.

I am proud of my work, but I feel that this is only the beginning. My vision for my role in MSU Extension is to increase our networks and partnerships across the state, and I am committed to working alongside you as you do the same. We are all important in seeking out and bringing together partners to serve Michigan residents. Your role as boots on the ground in our communities is absolutely essential. Your work to make strategic connections and grow relationships is a core component of our ability to meet community needs.

In reflecting on my award, I remember what Mother Theresa once said: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Each of us has an important role to play in creating ripples across our state to nourish and grow our communities. We can build strong networks together.

 

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Register for the ANR Week Luncheon – time is running out

On March 8, as part of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) invites you to attend the ANR Week Luncheon. The event will take place in Kellogg Center Big Ten A/B from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register for the luncheon, simply click on this link to the ANR Week Luncheon registration page.

The ANR Week Luncheon recognizes supporters of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and those who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan agriculture and natural resources. During the luncheon, worthy recipients will be honored with the following awards: Distinguished Service, Outstanding Agriculture Educator, Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad, Distinguished Faculty, Alumni Service, Outstanding Young Alumnus and Outstanding Alumnus.

Before the luncheon, you can join us for a poster reception that showcases the breadth and depth of CANR research and outreach programs.

The last day to register for the luncheon is March 5. Here’s the link: https://events.anr.msu.edu/event.cfm?eventID=6116C04C6E73C5DF.

The ANR Week Luncheon is just one important part of ANR Week, scheduled for March 4-11. The program does an outstanding job of offering a wide variety of conferences and workshops in many areas, including agriculture, horticulture and natural resources. Check out the schedule and consider joining us for even more than just the luncheon. See you there.

 

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Ensuring access to high-quality programs in District 11

Photo of an adult hand holding a baby's hand in focus, blankets and pillows in the background of the shot are blurred.

Lisa Tams is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator located at the Western Wayne County office, and she serves District 11 in the area of social-emotional health and well-being. One of the key community partners she has engaged to expand her programming is the Wayne County Third Circuit Court. For over three years, through this partnership Extension has served more than 2,500 court-ordered Wayne County families and individuals with children through parenting programs such as Kids First and Alternatives to Anger for high-conflict co-parents. The goals of these programs are to improve parental skills and knowledge in effective co-parenting, and to decrease the risk of negative outcomes in the social-emotional health and well-being of their children as they go back and forth between two homes.

Lisa and her colleagues are currently working on a large expansion of Extension’s partnership with the court to provide another community-based parent education program that will differ in scope and size from our current programs but have the same basic goals: to strengthen families and improve child well-being. Through this new initiative, Lisa and her team will work to educate and support custodial single mothers who engage not only with the Third Circuit Court but also with the Department of Human Services. Their education programs will reach custodial single mothers who seek to establish paternity and acquire the skills and knowledge to begin co-parenting with a partner who has been absent from the child and custodial parent’s life for an extended period of time. This expansion is being funded through a $389,000 annual allocation to Extension from the county, and we expect full implementation of the pilot program by late summer.  Lisa and her team are excited for this new opportunity with the Third Circuit Court to expand their important shared work of improving the lives and functional well-being of children and families throughout Wayne County.

“From my experience with the Third Circuit Court, I have learned that strategic connections are a very effective and important way to combine expertise, target resources and reduce duplication of services between organizations with the same mission,” Lisa said. “The only way to effectively meet the high need for educational and support programs for families and children in a place like Wayne County, where the need is great and the resources are scarce, is to join forces with other trusted organizations, use the unique strengths of each partner, leave self-interest out of the equation, and work toward streamlining access to high quality programs and services for the communities, families and individuals we serve.”

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Filed under health, Parenting, Partnerships, strategic connections

The Inspiring 4-H Challenged Me program

During the 2016 Eastern Michigan State Fair, the 4-H Challenged Me program gave mild to severely disabled children from Lapeer, Macomb, Tuscola and Sanilac counties the chance to show livestock. The program had 17 members and 19 coaches who taught them how to handle, train, show and care for the animals. Two innovative 4-H alumni, Tiffany Howell and Michelle Peel, teamed up with the local intermediate school district social worker and the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H program coordinator, Kathy George, to set the program in motion. In January, the 4-H Challenged Me Club was chosen as a Program of Excellence by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Read the full story, “4-H Challenged Me helps kids make a new connection,” by Laura Scott, and see the photos on the MSU Extension website. Let it challenge us to think about ways we can reach people of all ages who have special needs or are underserved.

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Filed under 4-H, Awards, Children and Youth, diversity, Uncategorized