Category Archives: curriculum

Money management classes taught in the deaf community

One of our values at Michigan State University Extension is the commitment to reaching out to diverse clientele and finding ways to adapt our content to their needs. This November, Wanda Roberts, Extension educator in Oakland County with the Financial and Homeownership Education Team, taught a Money Management Workshop Series at Faith Assembly Deaf Church in Pontiac.

The program reached 21 people who are deaf, three who are deaf and blind, and three who are hard of hearing. The program engaged eight sign language interpreters each week to work with the group. Topics presented during the series included making money decisions, creating and managing a spending plan, managing credit and debt, as well as saving and investing.

The participant feedback was very positive. Two participant responses follow:

  • I enjoyed learning. I’m prepared for the future. I can now protect myself and my family. The three classes were worth it! Many deaf and hard of hearing wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn these details.
  • I’m very impressed since I actually understood all of it. I’m not even anxious a bit. I like the way the instructor was patient with all questions and was open about our concerns.

Our commitment to Michigan individuals and families extends to many diverse audiences, and it’s exciting to see how the partnerships we make can help facilitate that.

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National Mentoring Resource Center website to feature MSU Extension Mentor Training Toolkit

Our Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development educators recently created Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit to assist mentoring program staff in delivering interactive, evidence-based training. The Capacity Building team is responsible for pulling together this curriculum, specifically Lisa Bottomley, senior mentoring specialist; Christine (Sisung) Heverly, 4-H program coordinator; Jillian Tremonti, Extension program worker; Anna Elden Brady, Extension program worker; and Molly Frendo, who was an associate program leader during her time at MSU Extension.

While releasing the curriculum is already a success on its own, the curriculum is also going to be featured as a recommended resource on the National Mentoring Resource Center website, after Lisa and Molly successfully presented it at the 2014 National Mentoring Summit and it passed the Board’s review.

Michael Garringer, director of knowledge management at the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), welcomed the contributions, saying, “I want to express my appreciation for your submission of this great resource. I’m really impressed with the quality and design of the training content and am happy that listing it on the NMRC will help practitioners around the country learn about and access the materials.”

The entire curriculum contains 56 activities divided into five modules: Cultural Competency; Building the Mentoring Relationship; Communication; Setting Boundaries and Youth Development.

The following Ready to Go units are available individually through University Stores:

Congratulations to the Capacity Building team on finishing this curriculum and making an important connection with the National Mentoring Resource Center!

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Follow these tips to promote your ‘baby’: Part 3

The last two Spotlights offered real-life examples of how some of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues have successfully marketed their curriculum resulting in at least moderate increases in sales of the product in the MSU Extension Bookstore. Today, I’d like to offer my final example.

Extension program leaders Janet Olsen and Karen Pace wrote Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments (HNI101). The curriculum is designed to help young people aged 11 to 14 and adults work in partnership to create environments that are physically and emotionally safe.

The curriculum has sold well in the MSU Extension Bookstore with 70 percent of sales coming from outside Michigan.

Janet said, “Karen and I have been quite intentional about our marketing efforts, and we think that there are multiple aspects of our overall program development and marketing that have contributed to good sales.”BeSafe-Cover-BookstoreThumb

For starters, the two did not just develop the curriculum because the subject interested them. They created it when seeing a need for research-based bullying prevention education within out-of-school time settings. As they created the curriculum, they paid particular attention to research from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning), which stressed that effective after-school programs that promote social and emotional learning are sequenced, active, focused and explicit (which also spells SAFE). Making connections between the Be SAFE curriculum design and the findings from CASEL has been an important aspect of marketing the value of the material.

Early in the process, they focused on cross-institute partnerships and capacity-building. Although the Be SAFE initiative was developed within the Health and Nutrition Institute Social and Emotional Work Team, they began building connections with staff in the Children and Youth Institute. As soon as the curriculum came off the presses in January 2013, they offered workshops to build the capacity of staff to address issues of bullying within their communities and to use and market the curriculum as a tool for addressing these issues. They also developed flyers designed to make local marketing easy to carry out. They currently offer mini-grants staff can use to help program sites put the curriculum to work.

They’ve promoted Be SAFE at a wide variety of youth- and health-related conferences across Michigan and the country. Some of these have been Extension-related (such as the National Extension Conference on Volunteerism and the Priester National Extension Health Conference), and many have been through external groups and organizations (such as Girl Scouts, the Michigan AfterSchool Association and the Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly). They always provide participants with copies of the curriculum flyer, as well as flyers for additional Be SAFE educational workshops. They always make sure they tell people to download a free PDF of the introduction to the Be SAFE curriculum from the MSU Extension Bookstore site. They also stress that the curriculum is available in multiple formats (print, flash drive and CD-ROM).

They’ve offered webinars about bullying topics “bookended” by information about Be SAFE. They’ve marketed these webinars through the local and statewide networks of MSU Extension staff members, as well as through the eXtension website and national Extension youth- and health-related Listservs. The recordings of the webinars are available for purchase through the MSU Extension Bookstore.

They use MSU Extension news articles as a marketing tool. As they write news articles about bullying and related issues, they often include a final paragraph that connects with the Be SAFE initiative and that highlights the curriculum. For example, a recent article about cyberbullying included three pertinent links: the Be SAFE program web page, the Be SAFE curriculum page in the MSU Extension Bookstore and the Events registration site for a recent webinar about cyberbullying.

They offer continuing education units for their workshops, which helps them reach broader audiences. They have worked with the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative to have the Be SAFE-related workshops approved for continuing education hours. This has allowed them to have their approved workshops listed on the collaborative’s website, which is accessed by large numbers of social workers who need ongoing education hours for their licensing requirements.

Karen and Janet worked to get Be SAFE included in a nationally sold publication produced by the National 4-H Council titled A Guide to Bullying Prevention Programs. It talks about Be SAFE as an important resource to address issues of bullying.

As you can see from all three examples I’ve talked about, trying a variety of marketing methods can lead to successful sales of your product. Find some that work for you.

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Follow these tips to promote your ‘baby’: Part 2

Last week, I gave you a real-life example of how some of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues have successfully marketed their curriculum resulting in at least moderate increases in sales of the product in the MSU Extension Bookstore. Today, I’d like to offer another example.ReadyToGo-Thumbnail

Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit (4H1642PDF) assists youth mentoring programs in the training of new and existing mentors and other youth-serving organizations in training volunteers working with young people. Nearly 88 percent of sales of the curriculum came from outside Michigan. MSU Extension 4-H senior mentoring specialist Lisa Bottomley, the project’s director, attributes national interest to the multiple presentations presented by MSU Extension staff members at national conferences. These included the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents conference in Orlando, Fla., the National Mentoring Summit in Washington, D.C., the National Extension Conference on Volunteerism in Frankenmuth, Mich., and the Galaxy IV Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. In addition, staff members did a workshop at the 4-H National Mentoring Program grantee training. This year, Lisa will present a workshop and promote curriculum at a table at the training in January. Two out of the five hours she spends training will be on the curriculum. She and associate program leader Molly Frendo will also present two sessions on the curriculum at the National Mentoring Summit again this January.

Lisa found that articles she wrote for the MSU Extension website has drawn in interested customers. Articles such as “Why Boundary Setting Matters in Mentor-mentee Relationships,” contain Lisa’s contact information, encouraging readers to contact her for additional information or mentor training materials.

Some even have obtained permission to adapt some of the sections to their curriculum. The Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs (FRP Canada) adapted material from Ready to Go for their twin Peer Mentoring guides, one for family support practitioners and one for family support volunteers. (See the section on boundaries in each guide.)

Next week, I’ll tell you about another curriculum and how two of our colleagues marketed it.

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Follow these tips to promote your ‘baby’

Many of you have produced Michigan State University Extension curriculum or bulletins on subjects near and dear to you. The product has become your “baby” so to speak. You’ve put much time and energy into producing a product you believe in. You want others to benefit from your efforts. However, you’re disappointed to find that sales of the product in the MSU Extension Bookstore are not what you expected. This does happen in some cases. But there are other cases where MSU Extension-produced products are selling well in our bookstore. Often, the product’s promotion may make the difference. I’d like to tell you about three cases in which our MSU Extension colleagues’ efforts in promoting their products have resulted in at least modest increases in sales. All three worked with Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications to develop their products.

RELAX: Alternatives to Anger is an educational series for people who want to manage their anger and stress both at home and at work. It was updated in December 2012 by MSU Extension educators Holly Tiret and Suzanne Pish. Sales of RELAX from the third quarter of 2013 accounted for more than double the total sales of the first and second quarters.

Holly attributed the uptick in sales during that period to the RELAX team’s promotion of the product at the Galaxy IV Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., in September. At the conference, the team distributed postcards advertising the RELAX curriculum that included a brief description, cost, contact information, and the MSU Extension Bookstore and MSU Extension websites. The team further increased product visibility by wearing shirts with the MSU Extension logo and the RELAX  logo at the conference. In addition, the Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) provided funds to purchase a booth to promote many MSU Extension programs.

Holly said, “We didn’t just sit at our booth. We walked the exhibitor booths, and people kept asking us what RELAX on our shirts stood for. We ended up having to carry postcards with us to give to people as we walked around visiting other vendors.”

Sales of RELAX outside of Michigan accounted for a third of all sales. Holly attributes that to national exposure through the Galaxy conference and participating in the exhibitor hall. The curriculum also received National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) national, regional and state awards further increasing awareness.

“The fact that we were a part of the professional organization helped us reach a much broader audience of potential customers,” said Holly.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll tell you about two other curricula that our colleagues have successfully marketed.

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‘Be SAFE’ curriculum earns Award of Excellence in international awards program

The producers of a recent Michigan State University Extension curriculum called Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments, have received an Award of Excellence in the 2013 APEX Awards for Publication Excellence program.

“Be SAFE” addresses issues related to bullying in out-of-school settings. Janet Olsen and Karen Pace, MSU Extension health and nutrition program leaders for social and emotional health, wrote the curriculum. The curriculum was edited by Rebecca McKee and designed by Marian Reiter, both from Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications.

The award came in the “One of a Kind – Education and Training Publications” category. APEX Awards for communications professionals are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the ability to achieve overall communications excellence. APEX Grand Awards honor the outstanding works in each main category, while APEX Awards of Excellence recognize exceptional entries in each of the individual categories. With some 2,400 entries, competition in this 25th year of the awards program was exceptionally intense, according to John De Lellis, editor and publisher of Communications Concepts, the sponsor of the awards program. One hundred Grand Awards were presented to honor outstanding work in 12 major categories, with 971 Awards of Excellence recognizing exceptional entries in 138 subcategories. There were winners from 40 states plus the District of Columbia, four Canadian provinces and eight other countries. Communications Concepts is based in Springfield, Va.

You can find out more about Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments in this Feb. 21, 2013, Spotlight article: https://msuespotlight.com/2013/02/21/extension-program-leaders-create-resource-to-address-bullying-in-out-of-school-settings/

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Extension guide assists lake users in stomping out invaders

When we think of invasive aquatic species, we often think of nonnative fish that invade our waters, but many invasive plants can cause harm as well. Michigan State University Extension has come up with a quick and easy guide for boaters and paddlers to use to identify certain plant species not native to Michigan that displace native plants, degrade lake habitats and ecosystems, and create problems for people who live on and use our lakes.E-3189cover (2)

MSU fisheries and wildlife specialist Lois Wolfson and MSU senior Extension educator Jane Herbert co-authored A Michigan Boater’s Guide to Selected Invasive Aquatic Plants (E-3189). The small spiral-bound book was produced on water-resistant paper, making it perfect for a boater to bring along for the ride. Full-color photos assist in plant identification. Each of the 11 plants covered includes a description, habitat and distribution, and control and management. Boaters are encouraged to report invasive species sightings using the Midwest Invasive Species website at www.misin.msu.edu.

Because removing the plants once they establish themselves is difficult, the book contains a section on prevention and monitoring so lake users can reduce the chances of an invasion and take immediate action if they do spot an unwelcome intruder.

You can purchase the guide at the MSU Extension Bookstore.

Read more in this ANR Communications news article and in this MSU Extension news article.

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