Expect to Connect: Please send in your stories

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is an organization built upon relationships. With that in mind, we created the strategic connections initiative Expect to Connect. The initiative is built on the premise that every member of our MSU Extension team has responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with legislators, stakeholders and media in his or her community and throughout the state.

Following the momentum of the rollout of the initiative at Fall Extension Conference (FEC), we want to feature your strategic connections success stories in this Spotlight. We want you to tell us about the strategic connections you’ve made, relationships you’ve built and partnerships you’ve developed. We also want to know how these connections have had an impact on your work, on your programming, on the overall organization or on all three. Please send your stories to Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director of operations, at cudney@msu.edu, and encourage your peers to submit theirs. You don’t need to be a professional writer. We’ll help you tell your story. Just send us your story of approximately 250 words, and we can work with you from there.

To kick off the monthly Expect to Connect articles, this first introductory story will focus on the FEC workshop-on-the-move “Developing Strategic Connections” led by Mike Kovacic, MSU Extension outreach specialist. After learning about the Expect to Connect tools on the first day of FEC, participants got a chance to put their knowledge to work in downtown Lansing.

Over 25 MSU Extension staff members had an opportunity to tour the historic state Capitol and meet with lobbyists and legislators to learn more about how MSU Extension voices can be heard in state government. Nancy Vriebel and Scott Jones from Senate Appropriations Chair David Hildenbrand’s office shared insights on the importance of connecting with legislators and other stakeholders on a regular basis.

“We’re here to serve you,” Nancy Vriebel told the group. “We want to hear from you, in your words, how you are working with our constituents.”

The participants were treated to a special visit by Sen. Goeff Hansen along with his policy advisor Peter Wills who discussed key issues and the importance of citizen input as part of the overall policy process. Finally, workshop attendees connected with members of the Michigan House of Representatives to discuss individual programming efforts and the impact MSU Extension has on the lives of constituents.

Two of our colleagues talked about the experience:

“Meeting with legislators was the best part, especially the one-on-one with the representatives serving my work area,” Extension educator Jim Isleib, educator said. “Don’t be intimidated about meeting legislators. They will benefit from knowing you too.”

Extension educator Zelda Felix-Mottley said, “The representatives and senators want to hear from constituents. They are engaging and interested in what you have to say. Our legislators want to put a face to MSU Extension ‒ that’s your face with your Extension story.”

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