Category Archives: communication

MSU Extension partnership event highlighted on Jackson County local news station

Jackson County local news station JTV interviewed Michigan State University Extension program instructors Jae Gerhart and Angela Maniaci about their partnership with the Jackson County Agricultural Council and the Grand River Brewery in Jackson, Michigan, to put on a community event that took place June 4. Jae is the Washtenaw County food systems program instructor, and Angela is a nutrition and physical activity program instructor based in Jackson County. The purpose of the event was connecting people with local produce and providing examples of ways to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.

Jae engaged a local farmer to provide produce, and Angela put together and cooked recipes using the local produce for the event held at the Brewery. The tasting event allowed participants to vote and see their selection appear on the Grand River Brewery’s menu for the season.

You can watch the JTV interview with Angela and Jae by visiting their website.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, communication, Events, Food, Nutrition, Partnerships

Share your ideas for the Partnerships and Peninsulas podcast

I had a chance to sit down June 8 with Russ White for an interview on MSU Today, a weekly radio show on WKAR, to share my vision for Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. You can listen to the interview on the WKAR website.

During the interview, I had a chance to preview my new podcast, Partnership and Peninsulas, which I will launch in the fall. It will focus on MSU Extension programming and partnerships across the state. I’ve recorded several episodes so far on veteran programming, managing farm stress, living the 4-H life, the opioid epidemic and urban agriculture in Detroit.

I’m hoping that you can help by sharing interview ideas with me. Who are the great Extension partners in your community who can tell their Extension story and would be comfortable being interviewed?

Share your ideas with me by filling out the online form for the podcast. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Filed under communication

Speaking out for MSU Extension and AgBioResearch in DC

Last week, four Michigan State University (MSU) Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) volunteers traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual CARET meeting and to meet with each of our Michigan congressional offices.

Have you met our CARET representatives? Char Wenham and Saturnino “Nino” Rodriguez come from education backgrounds – serving first as teachers, then as administrators, and continuing to serve in various education capacities today. Doug Lewis is the director of student legal services for the University of Michigan and is the president of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Glenn Preston is a dairy farmer who owns Preston Farms in Quincy.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, each of our CARET representatives paired up with someone from MSU for their visits. They thanked our U.S. senators and representatives for their support, and shared stories of how Extension and AgBioResearch makes a difference in their communities.

“For me, the significance of the trip is being able to talk about the importance of Michigan State’s responsibilities that are land-grant related and different from any of the other universities in the state,” Char said. “As a volunteer, it is also a wonderful experience to travel, make congressional visits, and get to know the people who make our Extension and AgBioResearch so successful. Everyone that I talked to was positive about MSU, the land-grant mission, and the specific work of MSU Extension and AgBioResearch in their areas.”

Our CARET representatives serve as a liaison between district councils, field station advisory groups, and state agencies and organizations. They help to facilitate a two-way relationship, between MSU and our partners and stakeholders. They learn about us and share information about us, and they share information about their communities with us.

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Filed under communication, Conferences, strategic connections

Tools for employees having controversial conversations surrounding GMOs

corn field

According to a Pew Research Center report, “the way Americans eat has become a source of potential social, economic and political friction as people follow personal preferences reflecting their beliefs about how foods connect with their health and ailments.”

As Michigan State University’s (MSU) connection with Michigan residents, MSU Extension professionals are increasingly engaged in conversations about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But in a survey conducted by our program evaluation specialist Cheryl Eschbach, only 37 percent of Extension survey respondents felt capable of replying to GMO-related questions with science-based information, and only 1 percent felt extremely capable.

Recognizing a need, Ron Bates, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) director, brought together a cross-institute committee to develop a training for MSU Extension professionals. The result was a two-day training, “Getting your GMO Questions Answered 101,” offered January 8-9, 2018. MSU faculty and Extension professionals shared presentations on research and technology as well as communicating with clientele about GMOs with over 100 Extension staff members.

“It was a really great workshop,” Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator Jeannine Schweihofer said. “I think it helped me to hear viewpoints from different aspects and concerns that people have about GMOs. Getting the right information out there so people have it is really important.”

“The GMO workshop increased my understanding, and that will help me to confidently answer consumer questions about GMO foods that arise during my food safety programs,” MSU Extension health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich said.

Ron Goldy, MSU Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator and event committee chair, felt the event was successful in opening up dialogue and providing tools to talk to MSU Extension clientele, especially during the interactive activities.

This workshop was designed to be the first of many opportunities to provide MSU Extension professionals with resources and to open up dialogues.

“We’re hoping that people from other institutes will take the idea back, and that institute will develop a program with their clientele’s concerns in mind,” Ron said. “There will be further trainings within AABI, and we’re trying to figure that out as well. As soon as we hear back from the event evaluations, we’ll decide on the next steps.”

Additionally, the committee is working on creating an online space to make the documents and presentations from the workshop available to all Extension employees.

I would like to thank the team of people who made the event possible: Ron Bates, Betsy Braid, Erin Carter, Julia Darnton, James DeDecker, Mary Dunckel, Cheryl Eschbach, Theodore Ferris, Elizabeth Ferry, Ron Goldy, Rebecca Grumet, Courtney Hollender, Rebecca Krans, Joyce McGarry, George Silva, Lisa Treiber, Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler. I’d also like to thank all of the speakers and presenters throughout the event.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, communication, Events, Farming, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, professional development, Resources

A National Framework for Urban Extension

Photo of a city street looking through a small window.

The Journal of Extension published “A National Framework for Urban Extension,” co-authored by Michigan State University Extension educator Marie Ruemenapp. The framework was created out of a collaboration by the National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL) group that Marie co-founded and in which she serves as the vice chair. NUEL was formed after a group of mid-level managers and administrators from Extension in urban cities met together over breakfast and began conversations about commonalities in their work, and the opportunities and obstacles faced in urban and metropolitan areas. The group decided to continue the conversations and to meet regularly. They began to draft a framework for urban Extension.

Marie said, “(Our goal is) to elevate the conversation around what Extension should be doing in urban environments to a national discussion, and to begin to collaborate and network around that, so that state Extension systems can be more effective in urban and metropolitan environments.

“Eighty percent (of people) in Michigan live in five metro centers around the state. About a third of the state’s population lives in one of 26 cities. So Michigan really is a metropolitan and urban state. And that’s true across the country. Even nationally, about 80 percent of the population live in urban or metropolitan centers. We need to work where our clients are and make sure we’re relevant to meet their needs in ways that work for them.”

To craft the framework, NUEL members conducted an extensive literature review and collected information and experiences from Extension staff members working in urban centers around the nation. They identified four areas of historical development and opportunity for urban Extension: positioning, personnel, programs and partnerships.

To condense the framework and recommendations to make it more accessible, Marie worked with fellow NUEL members Julie Fox, associate professor, Ohio State University Extension; Patrick Proden, metro regional administrator, Division of Outreach and Engagement, Oregon State University; and Brad Gaolach, director, Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension, Washington State University Extension; to author the journal article. Read the journal article at https://joe.org/joe/2017october/a2.php.

At the end of 2015, the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy identified that they were going to put a priority on urban Extension, and they asked NUEL to give leadership to their efforts. As a result, the group planned the National Urban Extension Conference in 2017. They plan to sponsor this conference every two years.

NUEL is also in the process of organizing a regional collaborative networking group for staff members who work in urban Extension and are interested in talking to other staff. This is a great opportunity to get involved. If you are interested in joining this network, email Marie at ruemenap@anr.msu.edu. She will connect you.

Further information on urban Extension:

A National Framework for Urban Extension: A Report from the National Urban Extension Leaders (full report)

Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, Special Issue: Urban Extension – June 2017

Also, you can find many helpful resources on the NUEL website.

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Filed under Accomplishments, communication, Publications, Urban Collaborators, Urban Extension

MSU Extension teams up with MDARD over baby chicks

Two baby chicks huddle together.I recently saw a T-shirt that made me chuckle. It read, “Chickens are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” Each spring, customers flock to farm supply stores across the country for Chick Days, where live chicks are available for purchase. The adorable baby birds are tiny and cute, but many people do not know that the chicks also carry dangerous germs such as Salmonella. With a rise in salmonella cases in 2016, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension decided to work together to improve educational efforts around salmonella prevention with chick buyers in 2017. Extension educator Katie Ockert and Mindy Tape and Jamie Wilson from our communications team worked closely with MDARD on collaborative efforts that resulted in “Chick Bags.” Each bag contains a series of informative rack cards, disinfectant and cleaning brushes. More than 1,000 free bags will be distributed to chick buyers at 10 Family Farm and Home stores. In addition to helping chick buyers understand ways to prevent Salmonella contamination, the cards also provide new owners with valuable information on caring for their animals and preventing the spread of disease among their birds.

These are great guides that are worth taking a look at and sharing with any chick buyers you might know. You can find them on the MSU Extension website and at the sites below.

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Filed under Agriculture, Animal Science, communication, health, Health and Nutrition, Partnerships, Publications

Getting the word out to Flint families

On Tuesday, April 26, MSU Extension participated in the Flint Farmers Market event held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and attended by representatives from state and local agencies, the media and the public. The event raised awareness about the nutrition assistance programs and guidance resources available to Flint residents.

During the press conference, speakers from many organizations and programs such as the Fair Food Network, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Farmers Market Nutrition Program, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan joined USDA speakers to share about nutrition and program information. Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator, spoke at the press conference, highlighting MSU Extension resources and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‒ Education (SNAP‒Ed).

After the press conference, participants interacted with program staff during activities and demonstrations, and at informational booths. Our MSU Extension team provided a cooking demonstration, a Cooking Matters class and a Discover Michigan Fresh tour. They also set up a “fender blender” bike for participants to ride to create a healthy smoothie and taste the results of their efforts. The MSU Extension booth showcased our nutrition education curricula, fight lead brochures and class fliers.

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The event provided accurate information, brought partners together who support the efforts in Flint and delivered a cohesive message. The USDA took sounds bites and video footage to develop public service announcements for future use to reach out and educate more of the public about the important resources available.

Thank you, Dawn Contreras, Deanna East, Erin Powell, Lynette Kaiser, Rich Ashley and his son Gabe, Liz Josaitis, Maha Khrais, Shane Jackson, Nancy Latham, Becky Henne and Tom Cummins for your efforts to provide meaningful activities and content, and for representing MSU Extension at this successful event.

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Filed under Children and Youth, communication, Events, Flint Water, Food, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Partnerships, Publications, Resources