Category Archives: Fall Extension Conference

Let’s celebrate! And take some photos while we’re at it

The 2017 Fall Extension Conference (FEC) planning committee members have made exciting plans for our Tuesday evening Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Celebration and are thrilled that it will take place at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. That evening, we will celebrate with our Key Partner awardees and special guests, and enjoy activities together.

This one-of-a-kind event will feature:

  • A networking reception and on-field activities.
  • A special appearance by former Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson.
  • The MSU Extension awards presentation.
  • Praise for 100 Years of MSU Extension in Detroit from MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

We will also enjoy a unique performance called “The Al McKenzie Orchestra Performs a Motown Revue.” The show, featuring Detroit-based talent, will consist of songs by the Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, Mary Wilson, Edwin Star, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and many other Motown acts. To learn more about the selection of artists participating in the evening’s musical entertainment, visit, or to hear a sampling of music by  Al McKenzie, visit:

And don’t forget to share a photo. At FEC, you will be able to share digital photos throughout the conference using a smartphone in two ways:

  • Send the photo as an attachment to (You do not need the Instagram app for this option, just email.)
  • Post it to your own Instagram account with the hashtag #FECdetroit in the caption.

You’ll be able to view all the digital photos at (You do not need the Instagram app for this, just a web browser.)

Several instant cameras will be available for use. They are similar to the old-style Polaroid cameras that take photos and print instantly. You can display any instant photos you want to share on a photo wall that will be set up in the Woodward Ballroom.

Looking forward to celebrating and seeing you next week!

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Bringing health and nutrition into our organizational culture – Fall Extension Conference

You might have noticed that the Fall Extension Conference (FEC) schedule looks a little different this year. If you read through it, you’ll see that there is time dedicated to activities such as “mindful movements,” “stroll through the park” and “mindful eating.” In fact, each day has at least four opportunities to engage in healthy practices in between our conference activities.

As we serve the people of Michigan and help them live healthier lives, we should also value our own health and create practices within our organizational culture to reflect this priority.

“Nearly half of our waking hours are spent at work, and many of those hours are spent in meetings and conferences,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator Dawn Earnesty said. “By adopting healthy meeting guidelines, MSU Extension can help to create an environment that supports employees’ efforts to eat well and be physically active. By internally promoting and taking care of the health and well-being of our own employees, we can better meet the needs of the audiences we educate daily.”

Dawn, MSU Extension educator Bree Carlson and their team worked with the FEC planning committee to incorporate this initiative into our conference this year.

“Specific opportunities at FEC will include physical activity breaks, standing tables, all food and beverages served to meet healthy meeting guidelines, healthy messaging and specific sessions that provide social, physical and emotional professional development opportunities,” Dawn said.

We have a lot to look forward to at FEC. I would like to encourage you to join me and your colleagues to take full advantage of these health-focused opportunities. It’s important that we bring healthy practices into our organization and the way we operate, and I can’t think of a better time to start.

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Recognize your colleagues and partners through award nominations

Photo of hands on top of one another in a team huddle with the text overtop of the hands that reads, "Recognize your colleagues and partners."

Who is the first person or group who comes to mind when you think about outstanding work and meaningful impact? Do you have someone or a group in mind? Good. We’ve got plenty of ways to recognize them at our annual Fall Extension Conference. I know you’ve seen the emails about how to nominate a person or group, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about the “why” behind the awards. Results of a survey of members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources in the U.S. and Canada show that employee recognition is a powerful and important tool in creating a thriving climate within an organization. When we take time to value and recognize each other, it creates a foundation for collaboration, gratitude and innovation. We believe that it’s also an essential organizational practice to recognize partners who have played influential roles in our strategic initiatives. This is our way to give back to them and recognize all that they have done for us. Gratitude is key to relationship building.

One more thing I wanted to mention about award nominations – you don’t have to work on it alone. There are several questions that need thorough answers so that the committee can fully understand the breadth of the nominee’s impact, so teaming up and splitting up the work can produce a great result.

Last of all – just a friendly reminder about deadlines. Please send a quick email to to let us know whom you’re nominating and a sentence about why by the end of today. Miss the deadline? That’s okay, send us your idea anyway. As long as your nomination is turned in by June 1, the awards committee will be able to consider it. Happy nominating!

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Filed under Awards, Fall Extension Conference, Partnerships

Reflections on Fall Extension Conference

I hope that you found this year’s Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Fall Extension Conference (FEC) exciting and inspiring and that you had a chance to meet new colleagues. I enjoyed my chance to connect with you on Tuesday morning. I hope that you were encouraged. Saying “yes” and putting yourself outside of your comfort zone in times of need will open doors and build trust in your communities. Reaching out and finding out what your colleagues are doing across your district and across the state will build a foundation of collaboration that you can tap into in times of need.

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What did you think about our Extension celebration? We were so honored to have our Friend of Extension and Key Partner recipients with us, as well as special guests from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It was great to have the MSU PomponTeam kick off the event with high energy and Spartan spirit. After dinner, we had the unique opportunity to learn about the life of Temple Grandin through a performance of pieces from the new musical “Temple.” Dr. Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, a world-renowned autism spokesperson and a livestock industry consultant. The performance showcased  the talent of Michigan high school students along with musical theatre and dance students from the MSU Department of Theatre.

For a chance to hear Temple Grandin speak and learn more about her work, listen to her TED Talk. The theme of her talk is that the world needs all kinds of minds and that it is important that our society value each person’s mind. This is true in our work with families, youth and communities. This is also true in MSU Extension: each of us has a unique mind and set of skills we bring to the table every day, and our organization needs every one of us. We need each of our minds, especially when our communities face a crisis, such as the water emergency in Flint. It is important that we realize the importance of collaboration and the strengths that our colleagues have to offer, and bring everyone together to create a multidimensional response.

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Congratulations and thank you again to all of our key partners and staff award winners. It is important that we take time to honor the work our colleagues and partners are doing to advance our mission and outreach across the state. Our fantastic MSU Extension Communications Team is working on press releases for our Friend of Extension and Key Partner award winners, and I’ll update this post with a link to each once they’re published.

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Thank you to our FEC committee, volunteers and the MSU Extension Events Management Team for all of their hard work to put together a meaningful conference.

Photo of everyone on the Fall Extension Conference Committee.

Thanks to our Fall Extension Conference Planning Committee!

We hope to continue to make improvements and incorporate your feedback into designing FEC. Please make sure you fill out our FEC survey by Wednesday, November 9, so that your voice is heard about what to keep and what to improve.

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Filed under Awards, Fall Extension Conference, professional development

4-H program coordinator attends Expect to Connect workshop and makes a strategic connection

Last year, Jessica Hufford, Michigan State University Extension 4-H program coordinator in Gladwin County, made and built a strategic connection while she attended the Fall Extension Conference (FEC) Expect to Connect workshop and Michigan Capitol visit in Lansing.

During the workshop, Jessica enjoyed learning about the process of government on a more personal basis.

“I learned that we must be very intentional about making those connections with our representatives in government,” Jessica said. “They have a lot of constituents they are responsible to and I can help them to better understand by reaching out and providing them with info.”

Workshop participants were encouraged to try to make an appointment so that they could visit their representatives or senators as part of the tour. When Jessica reached out to Rep. Joel Johnson’s office, his scheduler said that he would not be available during the time frame, but Jessica agreed to meet with his legislative assistant and drop off materials.

When Jessica went to the office, it turned out that Rep. Johnson and his wife were in the office, and Jessica had the opportunity to speak with both of them.

She was able to reconnect with Rep. Johnson at the county fair and also with his wife a few weeks later at another county event.

“The little bit that I can do to inform them on what I am doing to help youth in the county will help them,” Jessica said.

Rep. Johnson is a supporter of the youth in the county and is a long-time buyer at the livestock auction. His support of 4-H has helped to keep Extension programs going in his counties.

This is a great example of how to form strategic connections. Make time to connect with your government leaders in their offices, even if you only have a chance to talk to their legislative assistants. Also, attend community events to keep solidifying your connections.

I hope that Jessica’s story encouraged you about attending the workshop and showed what the beginning of relationships building can look like in your own county and district.

For the second year in a row at FEC, we will be offering the Expect to Connect workshop and Capitol visit. I encourage you to seriously consider attending this workshop to learn tools to embark on making your own strategic connections. Make sure you register for your spot before they are all filled.

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Register for Fall Extension Conference 2016

I am pleased to announce that the Michigan State University (MSU) Fall Extension Conference (FEC) registration is open. The theme of the conference is Strengthening Our Focus: Living the Brand. I want to take a moment to encourage you to look over the outstanding content of the conference and make arrangements to join us. In an organization as large as ours, it is important that we have a chance to come together once a year to engage with each other, collaborate, grow and celebrate who we are and what we do.

The FEC is put together by a committee made up of your peers, with colleagues who represent our organization geographically and by type of Extension position. We set up the committee two years ago to make sure we created a conference that serves everyone.

With a focus on “Living the Brand: Strengthening Our Focus,” the FEC planning committee has built upon the success of last year’s conference and made some additional changes. Most noticeably, a reimagined Extension Celebration will take the place of the traditional Tuesday evening banquet. Please plan to join us for the evening as we celebrate our Key Partners and Friends of Extension, and enjoy a customized one-of-a-kind performance of the Wharton Center workshop piece “Temple,” which showcases the life of the famous Temple Grandin. Attendance at the Extension Celebration is part of your registration and there is no additional cost to participate, although we do ask that you RSVP to ensure accurate meal counts.

Some additional highlights that I hope will entice your interest:

  • MSU athletic director Mark Hollis as key speaker
  • A special guest appearance by Sparty
  • Workshops on the move and sessions to help with core competencies: Marketing and Quality Service, and Program Implementation and Delivery
  • A new workshop on the move designed for field and campus support staff
  • Multiple opportunities to learn about colleagues across the state – from videos to photo slide presentations
  • A chance to win a fantastic array of prizes by using the passport process
  • Q&A with Mark Burnham, MSU vice president for government affairs, and Heather Swain from Communication and Brand Strategy

With all the hard work and collaboration of the FEC planning committee and the committed events management staff, I think this will be the best FEC yet!

Make sure you register early and book your rooms before the spaces fill. Go to to register, book rooms and find out more information about the conference.


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Upload your photos for Fall Extension Conference

Celebrate your team, event and programming by uploading photos at for our annual Michigan State University Fall Extension Conference. You may submit as many photos as you like of your various teams, programs and activities. For each photo, you’ll be asked for some information (institute, county, event name, names of staff pictured in photo, program focus). If you are submitting photos of programming, please ensure that you have a signed photo release for any individuals in the image, especially if those individuals are youth.

Reach out to your team members and co-workers (everyone wants to know before a photo is posted), find a photo or take a team selfie, take a minute or two and answer the questions and submit, it’s just that easy! Please submit photos by September 1 so we can be sure to include them in the slideshow.

In an organization as large as ours, spread out throughout the state and with new faces every year, we have a great opportunity to get to know each other once a year when we all come together at Fall Extension Conference. In brainstorming ways that we can enhance this time for getting to know each other, we came up with an idea for a silent slide show to showcase our Extension teams and the work you’re doing. We want to feature work teams, districts, clusters, county offices, events, programs ‒ any group of Extension folks coming together. This will allow us to get to know the faces and programs of our educators, associates, instructors and coordinators as well as our county support staff we may not have a chance to meet at the conference.

We hope that this encourages everyone to mix, mingle and take this great opportunity to get to know each other better at this year’s Fall Extension Conference.

Any questions? Contact Betsy Braid at

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A chance to honor each other and our Extension partners

Each year, we have the opportunity to recognize our colleagues and partners for their outstanding work at our Fall Extension Conference. Industry, businesses, local government, media and specialists outside of our organization are just a few examples of effective partners that help us better serve the people of Michigan. It is important that we acknowledge the work and outreach that we are able to accomplish because of these powerful partnerships. Also, internally making time to appreciate each other and our work is an important part of our organizational culture. We have a grand-scale opportunity to acknowledge each other’s efforts. We hope that you will find time to team up and work on a nomination or two for this year’s Fall Extension Conference awards.

The following is a list of awards. You can find their descriptions and accompanying forms on SharePoint here.

  • Diversity & Multiculturalism
  • ESP Friend of Extension
  • Gordon Guyer Cross-Institute Team
  • Innovative Technology
  • Institute Team
  • Key Partner
  • MCEA John Hannah Award
  • Meritorious Service
  • Outstanding Service to MSU Extension

You’ll need to submit your nomination and any required letters of support or documentation (refer to directions on each form) by Wednesday, June 1 to Katie Nicpon at You can also contact her with any questions.

The Fall Extension Conference Awards Committee will meet in June to decide on award recipients who will be notified in early August. We look forward to honoring our colleagues and key partners with you in the fall.

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Fall Extension Conference: Thanks and congratulations!

Everyone’s talking about this year’s Fall Extension Conference that took place Oct. 13-14 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the campus of Michigan State University. It was chock-full of interesting and educational seminars.

We even had the pleasure of listening to the Michigan State University Drumline perform before the banquet and some got a chance to network with Sparty.

The Michigan State University Drumline performs at the 2015 Fall Extension Conference, Oct. 13, 2015, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Michigan.

The Michigan State University Drumline performs at the 2015 Fall Extension Conference, Oct. 13, 2015, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Michigan. Photo credit: Betty Blase.

Various awards are given out at FEC including the John A. Hannah Award for Program Excellence, the Key Partner Awards, the Epsilon Sigma Phi Friends of Extension Award, the Diversity and Multiculturalism Award, the Gordon Guyer Cross-Institute Team Award, the Innovative Technology Award, the Institute Team Award, the Staff Meritorious Service Awards and the Outstanding Service to MSU Extension Award as well as other notable awards and recognitions of service. Congratulations to all of those worthy recipients! Read about this year’s award winners here.

Sparty (on the left) and Kraig Ehm, MSUE ANR Communications video producer/director

Sparty (on the left) and Kraig Ehm, MSUE ANR Communications video producer/director, flex their muscles at the Fall Extension Conference held at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich., Oct. 13, 2015.

I’d like to acknowledge all of the many people who presented. Please read their biographies here.

Thanks to all those who did preparation behind the scenes and worked during and even after the event to make this a fantastic FEC! You are great!

Zoom videos of the presentations from Tuesday morning and session materials will be posted to the Fall Extension Conference website next week.

Please mark your calendars for the next Fall Extension Conference, October 24-26, 2016.

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FEC 2015: You spoke, we listened

Mark your calendars for Fall Extension Conference (FEC) 2015. This year’s event takes place at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the Michigan State University campus Oct. 13-14.

The conference really kicks off on Monday, Oct. 12, with pre-conference sessions. We have two full days of sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Awards Banquet runs Tuesday evening from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The banquet helps us acknowledge and thank our Key Partners and our Friends of Extension that allow us to be successful across the state. We’ll also honor our colleagues for a variety of awards. One post-conference session takes place Thursday, Oct. 15.

Betty Blase chairs our FEC planning committee, a large group of 16 members, representative of all of our staff across the state. We’ve designed this year’s conference with staff in mind. We listened to what you wanted from a conference and we’ve delivered. FEC 2015 focuses on two core competencies: program planning and reporting, and educational and information technology. You’ll learn more about MSU resources and you’ll connect to MSU faculty. We’ll have attendees up and moving with 11 tours and 58 sessions. We even have an FEC 2015 mobile app.

Tuesday’s keynote speaker is Walt Drenth, director of MSU cross country and track and field, who led the 2014 women’s team to a national championship. Wednesday’s keynote is June Youatt, MSU provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Youatt has a history with Extension both professionally and personally.

Registration will be open by Wednesday, Aug. 26. You must register by Oct. 4.

Visit the FEC website ( to register, to find a schedule and a listing of discounted accommodations.

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