Retirement? To some people it means leisurely travel, sitting on a beach, enjoying a good novel or spending time with family. To others it does mean some leisure time but it also means continuing your life’s work. Dr. Kenneth VerBurg, professor emeritus, a long-time Michigan State University faculty member in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Resource Development who worked with Extension on our State and Local Government team, continues to be an expert on local government. Retired from MSU in 2000, he continues to work and publish in this area.
The Michigan Township Association (MTA) recently presented its Lifetime Service Award to Dr. VerBurg in appreciation of all of his work on behalf of MSUE’s mission to help people improve their communities by improving Michigan local government. Dr. VerBurg received the award during the MTA’s 60th Annual Educational Conference and Expo that took place in Detroit Jan. 22–25.
Dr. VerBurg conducted the Michigan Municipal Clerks Institute for many years and played an important role in both the New County Commissioner workshops and the County Budget and Finance workshops as well.
He also wrote many books, among them Managing the Modern Michigan Township, an essential manual for township officials. Many view another, Guide to Michigan County Government, as the Bible of county government. The current edition was published in 2007, and Extension educator John Amrhein is organizing the effort to update it with the possibility of also offering an electronic version. We still use the book in our training for newly elected county officials. Every participant leaves the training with a copy of Ken’s book.
John shared some memories about working with Dr. VerBurg: “For many years, Ken and Lynn Harvey were the State and Local Government program. I had the pleasure of working closely with both of them in the years before their retirements. One time, as we wrapped up a workshop, and Lynn was giving me some advice for the next one, which Ken and I were doing, Lynn warned me that I needed to keep Ken on track, on time actually, as he liked to tell stories. Trouble was, I learned a lot from those stories, and assumed others did too, so it was a tough assignment.”
He went on to say, “Ken had a great influence on my early Extension career and was a great mentor! Both he and Lynn would encourage me to jump into teaching a portion of the program even though I knew I couldn’t do it as well as they did. They would let me handle the questions I could and were there to answer the unusual and tough questions that I didn’t know yet.”
Congratulations to Dr. VerBurg who will continue to be a great influence on many lives and communities for years to come.