Congratulations to our 2016 Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) award winners! These awards were announced and received at the 2016 Children and Youth Institute (CYI) Retreat. In 2015, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension served 182,000 youth. The people mentioned below are just a handful of those making a difference in young people’s lives. The awards are a testament to the important work that our CYI colleagues are doing across the state.
Makena Schultz, MSU Extension leadership and civic engagement educator, received the Achievement Award. This award recognizes new 4-H staff members who have demonstrated excellence in the development and organization of their county 4-H Youth Development Programs. Makena received the award for her coordination of 4-H Capitol Experience, programs in reflections and failure resiliency, her lessons on teen facilitation, group decision-making, youth-adult partnerships, communications and conflict resolution as well as her development of new partnerships, and her collaboration in creating the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute.
Melissa Elischer, MSU Extension dairy youth educator, received the Presidential Citation. The award recognizes staff members for a specific program, topic or activity. Melissa works with MSU faculty and MSU Extension staff members, 4-H volunteers and stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate statewide programs that provide opportunities for youth to develop content knowledge and life skill development. Additionally, her work brings together MSU faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Animal Science, local volunteers and industry partners to bring growth and renewed energy to 4-H dairy events. Through her programs, bookmarks and dairy guide, she has been able to introduce and teach animal care and well-being to youth and adults across the state. Melissa also received the Scholarship for Personal and Professional Development, which she can use to travel in the U.S. or abroad to study youth work or use toward graduate tuition to facilitate growth in her Extension work.
Kristi Ayers, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator based in Kent County, received the Diversity Award, which recognizes staff for outstanding effort and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity in county and state 4-H youth work. Kristi has formed key partnerships with community agencies and schools serving youth in Grand Rapids. Through these partnerships, she has offered programs in Spanish as well as food and nutrition education in urban food desserts. She has supplied blankets and books to people who needed them. Through the 4-H embryology project, she has taught young people about the beginning of life.
Kathy Fischer and Dana Wawrzyniec won the Team Award. Based in Calhoun County, Kathy is a 4-H program coordinator, and Dana is a health and nutrition program instructor. Together, they worked with the local nonprofit Sprout Urban Farms to teach Calhoun County residents how to eat healthier. They developed a community space with a tool lending library, visited classrooms to teach about plant gardens and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and formed a partnership with the food service director. After learning about plants in the classroom, students were excited to see fresh produce as part of the lunch choice. Kathy also received the First Time Conference Scholarship to attend the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.
The Partnership Award recognizes individuals or groups outside of MSU Extension who have made an outstanding contribution to MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. The following partners received the award:
1) Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer has supported the Clinton County 4-H Livestock sale for over 30 years. Troy Bancroft, his family and the company staff have a huge impact on the Clinton County 4-H and Youth Fair as financial supporters and sponsors and as volunteers, lending their time and resources. They also provide a space for board meetings, awards ceremonies and other events. The partnership between 4-H and Agro-Culture has been invaluable.
2) Fifth Third Michigan State Fair LLC and Suburban Collection Showplace benefits 4-H and our youth in many ways. It gives 4-H’ers an opportunity to showcase 4-H projects, learn life skills, and apply for and receive scholarships for their achievements. The junior fair board provides leadership development. The future opportunities are infinite, creating a mutually beneficial relationship with a fantastic opportunity to highlight the services of MSU Extension.
3) Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has been a longtime supporter of youth programming in Michigan. For more than 80 years, MMPA has partnered with MSU Extension to enhance and grow 4-H programming in dairy science and other animal science project areas. Contributions to the program have been extensive. They include annual funding through the 4-H Foundation, grant matches, start-up funds with continued support for a 4-H camp, personnel to assist at statewide dairy youth events, and the hosting of an annual youth career development and scholarship program at the Novi headquarters. Ken Nobis, Joe Diglio and Sheila Burkhardt, attending on behalf of MMPA, were honored during the program.
Tom Guthrie and Nicole Wethington each won the Colleague Award, which recognizes an individual within MSU Extension who has made an outstanding contribution to MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. Tom is a statewide Extension educator based in Jackson County. In 2015, Tom was a superhero who helped Jackson County overcome a health outbreak leading to a short quarantine of the barn at the fair. Tom helped in monitoring pig health, calling in experts, and communicating with superintendents and families, and staff worked as a team to minimize the impact to the fair, exhibitors and buyers. Nicole is an MSU Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed) program instructor in Crawford and Roscommon counties. She has taught 4-H day campers about germs and physical activity, trained aspiring chefs about food safety and the source of our food, and shared exotic fruits and vegetables. She has also trained staff and volunteers to deliver lessons on healthy choices.
Helen-Ann Cordes, a 4-H program coordinator in Alpena County, received the Communicator Award, which recognizes significant accomplishment in presenting 4-H to the general public, civic groups, 4-H groups or individuals through public information methods. Her use of technology, print and social media to educate and communicate with members, their families and volunteers has allowed her to reach people where they are. Video recorded trainings and updates for leaders also minimize the number of after-hours meetings necessary. Helen-Ann also uses these media to market 4-H to residents of Alpena County and certain programming to surrounding counties.
Julie Thelen received the MAE4-HYS Excellence in Camping Award, the National Excellence in Camping Award, the MAE4-HYS Programming Expertise Award in Animal Science and the National Excellence in Animal Science Programming Award. Julie is an MSU Extension 4-H livestock and veterinary science educator who develops, implements and evaluates statewide programs for youth. She received both the MAE4-HYS and National Excellence in Camping awards for her work expanding the livestock and veterinary science programs by introducing the 4-H Animal and Veterinary Science Camp. Julie received both state and national programming awards in animal science because of her focus on curriculum development, specifically bringing zoonotic disease education to the forefront of animal science and her development of 4-H club biosecurity and zoonotic lesson kits.
Glenda Weiss received the Urban Programming Award for partnering with local schools to offer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. She designed science activities shared at urban events and developed community center partnerships to hold craft events. She also partnered with Pingree Farms to provide youth with transportation to their farm where they learned about caring for farm animals.
Jodi Schulz, an MSU Extension educator focusing in capacity building and academic success, received the Michigan Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an individual’s career in 4-H. She is a model example of a 4-H staff member, a CYI educator and an MSU employee and has been over her 10-year career. Highlights of her contributions include the Life Skills Wheel, the creation of Michigan 4-H SPIN Clubs and her productive partnership with Bay City Public Schools.
The National Distinguished Service Award is one of the highest honors given at the national level. Staff must have 7 years of experience and have won the Michigan Distinguished Service Award to be eligible. This year, Betty Jo Krosnicki, MSU Extension educator in career education and workforce preparation, and Janelle Stewart, MSU Extension children and youth educator, received this prestigious award. Over the past 10 years, Betty Jo served in a number of capacities during her tenure as an MSU Extension educator, including county coordination, the Volunteerism Area of Expertise Team and workgroup roles on the Academic Success, Life Skills, and Career Education and Workforce Preparation teams. Janelle coordinates for Lenawee County, works on the Leadership/Civic Engagement work team, serves on the Advisory Resource Team and is a member on the Capitol Experience Steering Committee, the State Youth Leadership Council Advisory Committee and the Spectacular Steering Committee. She teaches classes in the leadership, citizenship, global education categories such as Youth/Adult Partnerships, Officer Training, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Teen Facilitation, Leadership, Running Effective Meetings and much more.
Bev Przystas received the National Meritorious Award, which recognizes professional attitude, professional improvement, professional accomplishments, personal attitudes, interests, community involvement and special honors received. Recipients must have more than 15 years of service. Bev has been the 4-H program assistant for Gladwin County for 37 years. Her passion for 4-H youth development has reached many youth, volunteers, her community and peers. Her ability to listen and to work with others has helped to bring positive outcomes to potentially negative situations. In her many accomplishments, she has shown teamwork, compassion and integrity.
Jan Brinn, an MSU Extension educator specializing in academic success, leadership, civic engagement and global and cultural education, received the National Excellence in Global Citizenship Award. The award recognizes those who strive to develop and/or conduct programs and/or projects that provide opportunities for youth to develop a world-view including a global perspective and the skills necessary for global citizenship and the development of appreciation for living in a global society. Jan’s work with the Michigan’s 4-H China Project has been positively influencing youth for over 25 years. More than 350,000 youth have participated in the Michigan 4-H China Project global citizenship programs in a variety of settings. Through the Art Exchange, Michigan children in grades K‒6, communicate and learn about China through creating visual letters to send to children in China.
The Rocky Award celebrates the moments when staff do something extraordinary. This year, the award was given to the group that attended the 4-H National Conference in Portland, Oregon: Jan Brinn, Sarah McKinney, Matt Newman, Roxanne Turner and Nancy Victorson. They received the award based on their successful and thorough exploration of Mount Hood.
Please join me in congratulating our MSU Extension colleagues for their work and their award recognition.