Category Archives: communication

MSU Extension continues to meet Flint needs

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is providing adaptable programming to meet the specific and urgent needs of the people of Flint. Through cooking demonstrations and instruction from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‒ Education (SNAP-Ed) on purchasing and preparing healthy foods, we have been disseminating nutrition information to help block lead absorption. Through our Master Gardeners and edible flint, we’ve taught about growing healthy food in lead-contaminated soils and water. Through the 4-H dog, rabbit and cavy clubs, we’ve led discussions in caring for animals exposed to lead. Through early childhood development education, we’ve identified the importance of using play to combat lead effects. We have also developed the Fight Lead Exposure site to provide important resources and information to the people of Flint and the state at large.

We have been facilitating partnerships with those wanting to pitch in and help. We appreciate the resource donations from the Michigan Milk Producers and the Michigan Vegetable Growers. We are also grateful to MSU Athletics and MSU students, faculty and alumni that have donated their time volunteering. The Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan have been an essential partner in our efforts.

Why does Extension have such an important role to play? We have been serving the people of Flint since 1913 and have built an essential level of trust. MSU Extension has strong partnerships with county government, health and nutrition, agriculture, 4-H and early childhood development, which makes us a presence that can adapt to specific and urgent needs in the community. Not just in Flint, but across Michigan.

Now, more than ever, MSU Extension is in the state and national spotlight. For example, everyone who received the email invitation to the Democratic Debate on Sunday, March 6, received the MSU Extension “Fight Lead With Nutrition” handout attached by the Democratic National Committee Debate Team. Our work was recognized by the national debate team putting the event together. The effects and range of our outreach are growing. Remember that it is important that each link in our organization be strong and ready to respond to the next crisis or need in our communities.

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Filed under 4-H, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, communication, Flint Water, Food, Health and Nutrition, Impacts, Nutrition, Partnerships

Singing loudly for MSU Extension

In January, I posted about creative interventions and singing/spreading the word about the incredible work that you do and how that can help you to achieve your goals, open new paths of opportunity and enable us to do even more to serve people throughout Michigan. I wanted to share with you several opportunities that President Lou Anna K. Simon and I had to “sing” about the work we’re doing at MSU.

On March 2, President Lou Anna K. Simon testified in front of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee about the work that Michigan State University (MSU) is doing in all aspects of its mission. She highlighted the importance of the land-grant mission in talking about MSU’s response to Flint. Through the efforts of MSU Extension, the College of Human Medicine, the College of Nursing and the College of Education, Spartans have been serving Flint for over 100 years.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon testifies to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon testifies to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.

“If we can’t literally be everywhere, we have the assets to deploy anywhere in Michigan thanks to what we already have embedded and our close relationships with community leaders. And driven by that big land-grant heart, we are trusted knowledge partners dedicated to working with people to build the human and intellectual infrastructure they need to be successful,” President Simon said.

On March 3, I was interviewed by President Simon and MSU athletics director Mark Hollis on our efforts in Flint. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, you can click on this link here. Athletics director Hollis recognized that MSU Extension is often known for our work with agriculture but gave me a chance to talk about the full range of Extension’s outreach and our four institutes. We have 600 people all over the state ‒ talented, passionate, well-educated ‒ and some have been there for over 30 years making a difference.

President Simon asked me to share about how 4-H is more than just a program for youth from rural towns. I talked about how we provide 4-H programs to urban youth and engage them in the sciences, the arts, careers and entrepreneurship, leadership, mentoring and more. Data show that youth that are involved in 4-H are more likely to go to and graduate from college. It’s also extremely important that we have these clubs so that when a crisis occurs, we can address the crisis within our already-formed groups. 25,000 adult volunteers bringing the community together around our young people. Youth need these mentors who are good role models in their lives.

Far too many still don’t know about MSU Extension. I hope we can use our many successes in agriculture to expand our communication about all our programming. President Simon said that she thinks of us as an adaptive technology – that we adapt our services to the needs and research available at the time. She’s right, and it’s important that we keep “singing” about who we are and all that we do around the state.

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Filed under 4-H, Accomplishments, Children and Youth, communication, strategic connections, Uncategorized

Spotlight is changing!

After this week’s edition, the Michigan State University Extension Spotlight will be sent out monthly, instead of weekly, on the third Thursday of every month. Since I’ve started my role as interim director of MSU Extension, I have evaluated which methods of communication work best with our needs. After a lot of thought, I believe that alternating between our monthly webinar on the first Monday of every month and now moving the Spotlight to the third Thursday of every month will give you the most relevant information available without overloading your schedules or inboxes on the off weeks.

Spotlight is a very important communications tool between the administrative team and the field. For years, the director’s blog has been sent out weekly to highlight announcements, accomplishments and the work that you all do in MSU Extension and the associated partnerships that go along with that work. I value the Spotlight as an opportunity to reach you all on a regular basis – to keep all of you up to date on your colleagues’ work, even if you don’t interact with them regularly.

However, in the spirit of brevity and relevance, we are going to send out Spotlight once a month, and send more timely updates only as necessary in between.

Look out for my next Spotlight in August!

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Filed under communication