By Patrick I. Cudney
A Michigan native, I grew up in the Traverse City area and attended Benzie County Central schools, graduating from Benzie Central High School. I attended Central Michigan University where I received a bachelor’s degree in community recreation and park administration as well as a Master of Science degree in administration. I have a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of our state and enjoy her abundant natural resources. My wife, Abigail, and I have three children, McKenna (18), John Patrick (9) and Kate (5).
My history with Michigan State University Extension began in 1996 when I became a 4-H youth agent assigned to Kalkaska County. A short time later, I became the county Extension director of Benzie County, making me at age 27, the youngest county Extension director in the state. Three years later, I became regional director of the MSU Extension north region. This gave me the opportunity to help direct the work of more than 150 Extension and county faculty and staff members in a 21-county region of northern lower Michigan. With the MSU Extension restructure in July 2010, I became district coordinator for District 3, serving nine counties in northwest lower Michigan. I’ll continue in this role until I take on the exciting opportunity in serving as associate director of operations in September.
In this new role, I’ll have the opportunity to oversee logistical and business operations for our organization, including supervising the field-based leadership team as well as providing leadership for the organizational development units of MSU Extension including budget planning and management, human resources, professional development, communications and marketing, program reporting and evaluation, diversity, technology and other essential program support.
I’m a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP), the Extension professional’s fraternity. I’ve been honored to receive the ESP Meritorious Service Award and the ESP Administrative Leadership Award.
I’ve participated in the North Central NELD (National Extension Leadership Development) program in 2001-02 and then served on the NELD planning committee in the 2003-04 program years. I was a member of the inaugural graduating class of the LEAD21 (Leadership for the 21st Century) national land-grant leadership development program in 2005-06.
My education and experience has led me to an interest in community engagement in public-policy decision-making and the science of public administration. I plan to put that education and experience to work with all of you, as we reach out to Michiganians across the state to meet the needs of individuals, families, communities, businesses and industries. It is the content-rich, research-based educational programs that make Extension truly effective and unique, and it is only through meaningful partnerships that we are able to provide our greatest impacts.
I am truly honored to be able to serve the state and MSU Extension in this new role. We are all stewards of this proud organization during the time we serve, and it is all of our responsibility to do our part to ensure it remains an essential and integral part of the fabric of communities across the state.