Extension retirees recognized

The Faculty and Academic Staff Retirement Luncheon took place April 8 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The luncheon recognizes faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year. Michigan State University Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi co-host a reception prior to the luncheon. I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree. We had 17 new retirees, so I’ll feature nine this week and the other eight in next week’s Spotlight.

Alternate: Steve Lovejoy, Renee Applegate, Mary Robb, Chuck Pistis, and Brenda Reau at the retiree reception hosted by MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi, April 8, 2014. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi

Left to Right: Michigan State University Extension associate director Steve Lovejoy, retirees Renee Applegate, Mary Robb and Chuck Pistis, and MSU Product Center associate director and past president of Epsilon Sigma Phi Brenda Reau at the retiree reception hosted by MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi, April 8, 2014, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi

Extension educator Renee Applegate started out as an MSU Extension 4-H program assistant in 1982, later serving as a 4-H youth agent in Gratiot and Jackson counties and as the Michigan international exchange coordinator. As Gratiot County 4-H youth development educator, she had responsibilities for numerous 4-H clubs, members and leaders as well as for school programs. She served on the Child Advocacy Board, the Youth Advisory Council of the Gratiot County Community Foundation, the 4-H Environmental Education Programming Committee and the 4-H International Programming Committee. She was involved in teaching for numerous 4-H programs and workshops such as 4-H Exploration Days and the Pork Quality Assurance Plus Youth Education Program in addition to her educational collaboration with Jackson County Public Schools. As the state international exchange coordinator, she was responsible for coordinating Michigan and regional programs to Belize, Jamaica, Mexico, Poland, Australia and Finland. She increased the overall outreach of the exchange program and engagement of host families and youth. Through her work, more than 300 Michigan youth and 600 international youth experienced travel through the 4-H exchange program. In 2008, she was awarded the 4-H Extension Presidential Citation.

Extension specialist Douglas Brahee served as the regional director of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) from 1990 through 2010 and served as interim district coordinator for District 1 until his retirement. He has enhanced MSU Extension through his servant leadership, work ethic, compassion, organizational commitment, teamwork and dedication to grow and expand the outreach of Extension in the U.P. He worked closely with Extension colleagues, local offices, Native American communities, county directors, county boards and commissioners as well as government officials to plan, develop, deliver and manage effective programming, structuring and development of Extension outreach in the U.P. He also worked closely with the Native American communities with the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) to provide essential training and to build strong relationships. His important contributions to Extension include development and implementation of a volunteer system, his work on grants for program funding, and his work on civil rights and improvement.

Extension educator Ned Birkey began his career in 1989 as agricultural agent for Newaygo County and in 1992 transferred to Monroe County. In 2007, he became the Monroe, Wayne and Washtenaw district Extension educator. An excellent educator, he assessed the needs of local farmers and developed effective programs using a variety of teaching techniques to meet clientele needs and provide effective leadership. He managed the Michigan Soybean Yield Contest as part of the Soybean 2010 Project and served as chair of the Karst Committee of Monroe County. He was an MSU Product Center ag innovation counselor, a member of the Wheat 2000 Project and president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) in 2008. He was also committed to engaging the community with local farmers and began organizing farm tours in 1994 for Congressman John Dingell. He received many awards throughout his career, including the 2009 Excellence in Extension Award from the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee in addition to his presentations and awards at many National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) conferences.

In 1973,Extension educator Michael Erdman worked on a purebred farm at MSU as a beef cattle fitter and from 1973 to 1975 as the senior chemist at the Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center. He began his career with Extension in 1989 as the Menominee County Extension director. He was a valuable educator in Menominee County for 21 years. A highlight of his career was his work with the Dairy Team and his participation in and development of an effective dairy management program across the U.P. In addition, as a microbiologist, he planned, developed and instructed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and ServSafe training and workshops in various locations for the appropriate training and certification of restaurant owners and food service managers throughout the U.P. He completed the Eating Right Is Basic series with county fourth graders in the food safety and agriculture class to reach out to county youth. During the Extension restructuring process, he became the District 1 coordinator and was able to secure funding for all nine counties in the district by working with department heads, administrators, controllers and comptrollers, clerks, treasurers and county commissioners to keep all offices open.

Extension educator Sherry Grice devoted 34 years to MSU Extension 4-H in Calhoun County where she has had a profound impact on the youth, volunteers and community. Each year, she reached more than 900 young people through club work and 1,000 through special interest programming. She oversaw the six-week Creative and Expressive Arts Program, enrolling 60 to 70 children each year. Much of her work focused on minorities and programs to encourage young people from families living in low-income situations to participate in 4-H and to pursue continuing education after high school. She was involved in many key initiatives such as Calhoun County Communities that Care (Title V Delinquency Prevention Program), the Kellogg Youth Initiative Partnerships (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), the National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century, Community Partners for Albion’s Youth and the Albion Positive Youth Development Task Force. She also provided leadership for more than 350 volunteer leaders yearly through recruitment, training, management, assistance and motivation. During her tenure, minority youth enrollment increased to 13 percent and the participation of culturally diverse volunteer leaders also increased. In recognition of her work, she received the 2009 North Central Regional Diversity Award and the 2009 Diversity Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NEA4-HA). She also received the American Association of University Women Educational Equity Award in 2003 as well as recognition from the Albion Multi-Cultural Hall of Fame.

Extension educator Katherine Hale began working with MSU Extension in 1987, conducting needs assessments, facilitating community work groups and planning committees, and writing grants. In her 17 years as Extension educator for family and consumer sciences, she provided health, nutrition and child development education and raised funding for programs through community collaboration, contracts and grants. For six years, she was the county Extension director in St. Clair County, collaborating with community organizations; developing, promoting and marketing MSU Extension programs; and helping establish programs for local Project Fresh markets and Food and Farm Trails tourism. As the special projects southeast region educator, she worked in grant writing, conducted program evaluations, and coordinated special health projects and media. Her notable accomplishments include implementation of the Macomb Food Collaborative now serving Macomb as a nonprofit organization as well as the annual All About Food conference serving more than 200 people, including farmers, food service organizations, health educators, gardeners and food connoisseurs.

Extension educator Russell Kidd served as a district Extension forestry agent, organizing and leading educational programs for a variety of audiences such as private forest landowners, Christmas tree growers, maple syrup producers, loggers, and Master Gardeners and 4-H groups over 20 counties. He served as county Extension director in Oscoda, Crawford and Roscommon counties, assuming larger administrative and leadership roles while maintaining his involvement in educational programming and training. He established a 30-year relationship with the maple syrup industry, and for his contributions, he has been made an honorary life member of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. He was an integral participant in education programs such as Ties to the Land, forest health programming, gypsy moth intervention and logger education. He was often sought out for his expertise in forest health across northern Michigan. Additionally, he worked with the Michigan Sustainable Forestry Education program to train loggers and industry foresters about green certification programs so they could comply with government mandates. During his participation, his team raised more than $2 million to advance the outreach of the program.

Extension educator Margaret Lashore has served Extension in the Saginaw Bay area and Bay County since 1986. Her leadership and dedication directed Extension efforts to educate the community about personal health management and quality of life, offering financial management and home ownership classes as well as nutrition education, and establishing the Bay Area Housing Corporation through her role as chairperson of the Housing Task Force. In October 2005, her role expanded to work with creating and managing the statewide system for reporting and evaluating the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed), Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Breastfeeding Initiative (BFI) programs and educator training. She also established and worked with ANR programmers to develop the Activity Report Online and the BFI Reporting System that report data to the Michigan Department of Human Services monthly and to the Food Stamp Nutrition Education and Administrative Reporting System annually to continue Extension federally funded programs. She has received numerous awards from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS), such as the Florence Hall Award in 2009, the Continued Excellence Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Service award in 2000.

 Since 1980, senior Extension educator Dale Mutch has served in many capacities in MSU Extension. He has been an agricultural agent; district and state field crop integrated pest management coordinator; senior district Extension educator specialist; and coordinator, consultant and professor for the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. His career has focused on low-input and organic farming systems, and his applied research emphasized projects with farmer advisory teams. He has also served on the NorthCentral Region ‒ Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education(NCR-SARE) Administrative Council, participated in the Technical Committee and Producer Grants Program and was Michigan’s sustainable agriculture state coordinator for NCR-SARE in 2007. As a result of his research, He has authored or co-authored more than 30 papers, published or presented in professional settings. In 2004, he was chosen for the 2004 Distinguished Staff Award for his work with farmers, university scientists and Extension agents to design, conduct and publish research helping producers operate farms that are environmentally and economically sustainable. He received two NACAA Communications Awards(2000 and 2008) for his MSU Extension bulletins and the Friend of Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance Award in 2004. He remains a reviewer for NCR-SARE grants and is helping to coordinate the National Cover Crops and Soil Health meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

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