A grassroots movement of Michigan State University Extension supporters are rallying together to support our programs in Shiawassee County. Outside the county building in Corunna, Nov. 7, about 500 of our advocates protested the possible elimination of MSU Extension programs through budget cuts.
The proposed Shiawassee County budget called for zero dollars to be allocated to Extension. In other words, it called for our organization’s elimination in the county. MSU Extension’s budget was reduced by more than two-thirds in the 2010 budget year. MSU Extension requested $70,530 for 2012, which was still a reduction of 31 percent from the 2009 budget year. As of Nov. 7, the Shiawassee County Finance and Budget Committee recommended to restore funding to last year’s amount of approximately $35,036. The Shiawassee County Board meets today to vote on the budget and determine the fate of MSUE in their county.
As is often the case, the threat of eliminating MSU Extension in a county has provided an opportunity to showcase the difference our programs make in a county, and District Coordinator Deanna East and MSUE staff in the Shiawassee County office have provided details to news outlets and decision makers to show those impacts. Yet the most compelling cases for support of MSUE come from those who directly benefit from our programs, and folks in Shiawassee County have been pretty vocal these past two weeks in letting their elected officials know how MSUE is important to them.
I received an email from Jennifer Weichel, Extension educator, earlier this week, in praise of supporters.
Jennifer said, “We have given these volunteers the life skills they need to fight this battle and the confidence to speak up for what they believe in. I know that this means MSUE staff past and present in Shiawassee County have done their jobs, built capacity, relationships and served as examples of how to make a difference in the community and be catalysts for change. I am proud of everyone who is standing up by calling commissioners, writing letters, making signs and gathering the facts to build their case. As staff members, we have provided the facts and allowed the volunteers to determine their course of action.”
We appreciate the support from the community, the people we serve. It’s even more important for us to get the word out about the great things we do for the state and continue to do the things we do so well that make a difference in educating the public and improving lives.
As Jennifer continued to say in her email, “The most important message I have heard is WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE, and they want us to continue being a part of their lives – not just one week of the year but every day and for generations to come.”
Read more and view a video here.