4-H program coordinator attends Expect to Connect workshop and makes a strategic connection

Last year, Jessica Hufford, Michigan State University Extension 4-H program coordinator in Gladwin County, made and built a strategic connection while she attended the Fall Extension Conference (FEC) Expect to Connect workshop and Michigan Capitol visit in Lansing.

During the workshop, Jessica enjoyed learning about the process of government on a more personal basis.

“I learned that we must be very intentional about making those connections with our representatives in government,” Jessica said. “They have a lot of constituents they are responsible to and I can help them to better understand by reaching out and providing them with info.”

Workshop participants were encouraged to try to make an appointment so that they could visit their representatives or senators as part of the tour. When Jessica reached out to Rep. Joel Johnson’s office, his scheduler said that he would not be available during the time frame, but Jessica agreed to meet with his legislative assistant and drop off materials.

When Jessica went to the office, it turned out that Rep. Johnson and his wife were in the office, and Jessica had the opportunity to speak with both of them.

She was able to reconnect with Rep. Johnson at the county fair and also with his wife a few weeks later at another county event.

“The little bit that I can do to inform them on what I am doing to help youth in the county will help them,” Jessica said.

Rep. Johnson is a supporter of the youth in the county and is a long-time buyer at the livestock auction. His support of 4-H has helped to keep Extension programs going in his counties.

This is a great example of how to form strategic connections. Make time to connect with your government leaders in their offices, even if you only have a chance to talk to their legislative assistants. Also, attend community events to keep solidifying your connections.

I hope that Jessica’s story encouraged you about attending the workshop and showed what the beginning of relationships building can look like in your own county and district.

For the second year in a row at FEC, we will be offering the Expect to Connect workshop and Capitol visit. I encourage you to seriously consider attending this workshop to learn tools to embark on making your own strategic connections. Make sure you register for your spot before they are all filled.

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National recognition for Flint water emergency response

In the photograph, left to right, are Deanna East, associate state leader for health and nutrition; Dr. Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension director; Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator; Lynette Kaiser, MSU Extension health and nutrition program instructor; and Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of USDA NIFA.

In the photograph, left to right, are Deanna East, associate state leader for health and nutrition; Dr. Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension director; Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator; Lynette Kaiser, MSU Extension health and nutrition program instructor; and Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of USDA NIFA.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Michigan State University (MSU) Extension the Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership for our response to the Flint water emergency. The Abraham Lincoln Award is the most prestigious award presented by the secretary of agriculture. The Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership recognizes the exceptional contributions of USDA’s external partners in innovation, productivity and efficiency in program delivery and leverage federal funding to the benefit of USDA’s customers, the external partner and USDA.

MSU Extension received this honor for “successfully responding to stakeholder needs for information about combating the effects of lead exposure to Michigan communities by developing exceptional emergency response with limited staff, time, and budget.”

I had the opportunity to travel with Deanna East, Lynette Kaiser, Erin Powell to accept the award on behalf of our organization and everyone involved in the emergency response. The USDA Abraham Lincoln Honor Award ceremony and reception took place at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Although only three people traveled to D.C. to receive the award on Extension’s behalf, our efforts in Flint were carried out by a large group of committed and passionate staff members. Health and nutrition staff developed programming materials and efforts to address healthy eating to mitigate lead absorption. Children and youth staff worked closely with community partners to develop resources and programs to help parents promote activities that support cognitive development. Greening Michigan and agriculture and agribusiness staff provided gardening and accessing healthy food education and soil tests. And both MSU Extension Communications and ANR Creative helped produce the resources necessary to carry out their endeavors.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to honor all of our staff members that were part of this vital team at the Fall Extension Conference. Congratulations to the MSU Extension team on your 2016 USDA Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership.

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Register for Fall Extension Conference 2016

I am pleased to announce that the Michigan State University (MSU) Fall Extension Conference (FEC) registration is open. The theme of the conference is Strengthening Our Focus: Living the Brand. I want to take a moment to encourage you to look over the outstanding content of the conference and make arrangements to join us. In an organization as large as ours, it is important that we have a chance to come together once a year to engage with each other, collaborate, grow and celebrate who we are and what we do.

The FEC is put together by a committee made up of your peers, with colleagues who represent our organization geographically and by type of Extension position. We set up the committee two years ago to make sure we created a conference that serves everyone.

With a focus on “Living the Brand: Strengthening Our Focus,” the FEC planning committee has built upon the success of last year’s conference and made some additional changes. Most noticeably, a reimagined Extension Celebration will take the place of the traditional Tuesday evening banquet. Please plan to join us for the evening as we celebrate our Key Partners and Friends of Extension, and enjoy a customized one-of-a-kind performance of the Wharton Center workshop piece “Temple,” which showcases the life of the famous Temple Grandin. Attendance at the Extension Celebration is part of your registration and there is no additional cost to participate, although we do ask that you RSVP to ensure accurate meal counts.

Some additional highlights that I hope will entice your interest:

  • MSU athletic director Mark Hollis as key speaker
  • A special guest appearance by Sparty
  • Workshops on the move and sessions to help with core competencies: Marketing and Quality Service, and Program Implementation and Delivery
  • A new workshop on the move designed for field and campus support staff
  • Multiple opportunities to learn about colleagues across the state – from videos to photo slide presentations
  • A chance to win a fantastic array of prizes by using the passport process
  • Q&A with Mark Burnham, MSU vice president for government affairs, and Heather Swain from Communication and Brand Strategy

With all the hard work and collaboration of the FEC planning committee and the committed events management staff, I think this will be the best FEC yet!

Make sure you register early and book your rooms before the spaces fill. Go to http://fec.msue.msu.edu/ to register, book rooms and find out more information about the conference.

 

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Ag Innovation Day focuses on soils

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Ron Bates, agriculture and agribusiness institute director for Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, sent a great event summary that I would like to share:

MSU Agriculture Innovation Day: Focus on Soils had a very successful inaugural launch August 24 at the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center. The planning committee, representing a broad spectrum of Michigan agriculture and MSU Extension faculty and educators, presented a great program that over 430 participants truly appreciated.

The MSU Extension Events Management staff did a tremendous job putting together the logistics for the day, ensuring the event ran smoothly. We were fortunate to have great volunteers from across MSU Extension as well as people from private industry. Our partners in the MSU Land Management Office provided important logistics assistance along with set-up and clean-up.

The terrific speakers for Focus on Soils provided important content along with ways to use their information in practice. Featuring U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and President Lou Anna K. Simon along with Dean Ron Hendrick, Dr. Doug Buhler and Dr. Jeff Dwyer for the lunch program was very well received.

A special feature of the lunch program honored the McCray family for 50 years of variety trial collaboration with MSU.

The event was successful due to the tremendous collaboration across our many partners.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I was delighted to attend the event and would like to send a huge “thank you” out to the Events Management team, the presenters, MSU and Extension staff members, the volunteers and all of the participants for a successful launch!

 

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Strategic connections can start with a smile and handshake

The Financial and Homeownership Education Team are posing for a photo with Senator Darwin Booher.

The Financial and Homeownership Education Team meet with Senator Darwin Booher. Photo courtesy of Bill Hendrian.

Bill Hendrian, Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) team educator in District 5, shared with me some great advice about building strategic connections with people – from local employers to state legislators. Something as simple as a smile and a handshake can open a door that leads to another.

Some thoughts Bill had and experiences he shared:

  • Attend local events, even if they’re not in your program area. Also, seek out events where local and state leaders will attend. Bill attended a local agricultural breakfast. There, he met Darwin Booher with a handshake, a smile and his elevator speech.
  • Remember to say, “Thank you.” Sen. Booher helped appropriate funds during the foreclosure crisis of 2008 that funded Michigan State University (MSU) Extension FHE positions and programs. The FHE work team visited the senator in 2015 to personally thank him for all of his efforts. Team members also shared the success that they were having helping Michigan’s struggling homeowners. That success was made possible because of the funding to train and assemble a staff ready and able to meet the needs brought about by the crisis. Sen. Booher has recently touted our efforts with local community leaders as well as the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
  • Share your impact stories with county commissioners. They can also connect you with others. MSU Extension provided education and guidance in regard to the Michigan Step Forward program, helping local citizens who were hardest hit by the recession. The commissioners realized that the program was responsible for recouping thousands of real property tax dollars into the county coffers. Now, their county offices refer struggling homeowners to our offices to help them stay in their homes.
  • Each time you hold a program or speak with an audience, remember that each person sitting there has connections of his or her own. It turns out that one of the folks who attended an FHE course was a human resource professional at a large manufacturer. When the company needed financial education for its employees, the manager suggested using MSU Extension programs. Because of that connection, we were able to provide on-site Money Management classes.

“I have learned that it is important to make ourselves available to our local communities as often as possible,” Bill said. “I have learned that even a smile and a handshake can go a long way, that one door leads to another and that it is important to be patient, and stick to our goals as educators – to provide relevant, timely programming and to treat everyone with respect. You never know when you will have the opportunity to give your elevator speech.”

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Participants learn latest turfgrass research and management recommendations

A crowd of participants listen to a demonstration in a field.

Over 400 participants attended MSU Turfgrass Field Day. Photo courtesy of Kevin Frank.

Michigan State University (MSU) Turgrass Field Day took place Aug. 10 at the Robert W. Hancock Turfgrass Research Center on the MSU campus in East Lansing. Turfgrass Field Day presented the latest research and management recommendations from the MSU Turf Team. Over 400 participants attended 12 different research tours and presentations covering turf research for golf, lawn and athletic fields. In the afternoon, attendees chose between three in-depth, hands-on workshops on weed walk, disease ID and insect diagnostics.

“Wonderful example of the interest from industry representatives in attending the various sessions ranging from weeds to insects,” Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, said. “Hundreds of turf managers from golf courses, municipalities and other universities were in attendance.”

Carl Schwartzkopf, MSU turfgrass management alumnus, announced that he will donate $20,000 to the Paul Rieke Endowment for turfgrass graduate students. The Michigan Turfgrass Foundation website describes the endowment dedicated to retired MSU faculty member Paul Rieke who made major contributions to turfgrass science through research, education and outreach.

Thank you Amy Fouty, Jennifer Maszatics, Kevin Frank, Mark Collins and Jesse Sholl and to all the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation and MSU staff members that put on such a successful field day.

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Research and outreach come Together at the Farm

Thank you to our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch faculty and staff and our partners for a successful event at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) in Chatham. Over 200 people from across the state and the Midwest attended the U.P. Food Conference: Together at the Farm program.

Together at the Farm showcased our research and outreach efforts through interaction with attendees at both of the farm sites. During the morning and the afternoon sessions, a diverse pool of presenters offered over 20 workshop opportunities such as ruminant grazing systems, composting for soil quality, sustaining a school garden program, year-round herb production in greenhouses, small farm tools and implements and understanding policy to support local food systems. Presenters included MSU faculty, but the event also capitalized on local expertise and guest speakers. The evening included a keynote speaker and dinner, followed by a barn dance.

For attending, participants could receive credit in Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Phase I, Master Citizen Planner and State Continuing Education Clock Hours.

We would like to thank all of our partners that made Together at the Farm possible: the U.P. Food Exchange, the Marquette Food Co-Op, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and MAEAP. Thank you to all of our event sponsors for making the program possible. Interested in finding out more about the event and our sponsors? Visit upfoodexchange.com. We hope that you’ll be able to join us next year.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Field Days, Gardening, Horticulture, Partnerships, Uncategorized