Category Archives: Entrepreneurial

MSU CEC Team treated like rock stars in Nebraska

Mark Thomas, Kay Cummings, Andy Hayes, Khurram Imam, Micah Loucks, and Frank Gublo pose for a photo in front the Loop Brewing Co. brick building.

MSU Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) From left to right: Mark Thomas, Kay Cummings, Andy Hayes, Khurram Imam, Micah Loucks, Frank Gublo. Photo courtesy of Andy Hayes.

This week, we’ll hear from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator Andy Hayes sharing about the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) Team’s experiences in Nebraska:

Our MSU Extension CEC Team traveled to McCook, Nebraska, to participate in the state’s first CEC conference. Patterning their conference after our successful Michigan model, the Nebraska Extension team added their own flair and expertise and created an outstanding entrepreneurship conference.

MSU Extension team members Frank Gublo, Mark Thomas, Kay Cummings, Micah Loucks, Khurram Imam and I traveled to the conference and also gave breakout session presentations on a variety of entrepreneurship topics.

Approximately 80 people from 40 Nebraska communities participated. After hearing excellent keynote speakers in the local restored vintage movie theatre, participants attended breakouts around town in a wide range of businesses such as shoe stores, coffee shops, antique furniture stores and jewelry stores.

Nebraska Extension team members were so appreciative of the multi-state partnership between Michigan and Nebraska and our coaching and guidance; and participants were grateful that we traveled all that way to attend and participate; we truly felt like rock stars. And McCook is a cool town – the perfect setting for the team’s first conference.

Some of us even ventured out to the plateau at 5:30 a.m. to watch the mating dance of the prairie chickens. (Honest, you can’t make this stuff up!) It was seriously cool, and the scenery while watching the prairie wake up with the sunrise would make anyone want to live there.

While en route, we picked up a traveling companion from the University of Minnesota Extension, which made the trip even better. We ate beef in a local restaurant in York, Nebraska, and had time to tour the Food Innovation Center on the Nebraska Campus. All were truly impressive.

A great trip, and what makes it even more perfect is that we probably learned way more from our partners in Nebraska than they did from us.

Thank you, Andy, for sharing the stories from your trip. We’re thrilled about the positive impact that you and everyone on the CEC Team are having on the people of Michigan, and we’re proud that your ideas are spreading nationally.

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Strategic connections take time: Reflections from D10

Andy Northrop, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator, works with communities statewide to create and maintain sustainable communities using tourism and economic development. He is the chair of the tourism team for our Greening Michigan Institute (GMI), and he is also on the government and public policy work team. Andy has built connections over the past two years by consistent networking and needs assessment in the communities where he serves.

“I have a personal passion for social change and sustainability,” Andy said. He also gives credit to his GMI colleagues and their programming for building trust in communities around the state through their track record of facilitating the rebirth of rural communities. “I have learned that strategic connections and anticipated outcomes take significant time,” he reflected. “Although we want to see change today, being patient and confident success will come is all part of the process.”

In St. Clair County, in MSU Extension District 10, Andy built a relationship with the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance (EDA) and The Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce. The EDA and the Chamber of Commerce became partners in hosting the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference in 2016. Their collaboration on the conference brought together planning agencies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, private investors, nonprofits, educational professionals, and a number of partners and interested citizens in seeing Port Huron’s rebirth and vision for fostering a culture to support entrepreneurs. The conference drew 138 people, who traveled from two countries, five states, 27 counties and 58 communities.

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Andy, like many of you, works to create connections across the state as well. He has developed key partnerships with Region 6 of Gov. Snyder’s Prosperity Initiative (RPI 6), which comprises seven counties across MSU Extension Districts 9 and 10. One key partner in RPI 6 is Genesee County Planning, which has been instrumental in strengthening our relationship by employing GMI’s tourism team to deliver four First Impressions: Assessing Your Community for Tourism (FIT) programs during 2017.

FIT, officially offered in 2017 for the first time, assesses communities through the eyes of first-time visitors. Four teams of four educators from GMI will conduct unannounced assessments as tourists to four communities across RPI 6 during the spring and summer of 2017 and work directly with their community leadership teams to strengthen their rural tourism industry potential.

This program was adapted to Michigan by modeling from program partnerships with five Northeast Central for Rural Development land-grant universities. It will be the first of its kind to be offered under Extension in partnership with a prosperity initiative.

The four successful communities will also receive state funding from RPI 6 to implement the suggested results from assessments. In 2017, the program is already serving as a cross-workgroup program within GMI. The tourism team envisions this being a cross-institute/Extension-wide program where experts across all four institutes can be tapped to move rural community tourism development forward.

“Overall, these partnerships have positioned GMI and other institutes as reputable partners in areas related to business and economic development, sustainable tourism and placemaking,” Andy said.

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Filed under Economic development, Entrepreneurial, Greening Michigan, Leadership

MSU Extension helps Michigan hop into craft beer

I was privileged to be one of the approximately 340 people to attend the second annual Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference March 16‒17 in Traverse City. The conference was sponsored by Michigan State University and the Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG). Prominent speakers from around the country and the university provided sessions on horticultural practices, pest and disease control, harvest and post-harvest practices, nutrient management and much more. The conference also included expert panels featuring producers, industry representatives and brewers. This year, attendees also had the opportunity to go on a tour of MI LOCAL, Michigan’s newest and largest hop operation with 200 acres planted in 2015 that will be ready for harvest this coming fall.

MSU Extension has collaborated with the MBG on nearly every hop and barley educational program that we have developed over the last eight years. Our close working relationship with the MBG has really been instrumental in connecting hop and barley producers with brewers. The director of the MBG, Scott Graham, received the Friend of Extension Award at the 2015 Fall Extension Conference for his efforts; we are light-years ahead of where we would have been without this excellent working relationship.

MSU Extension educator Rob Sirrine provides statewide leadership for hop research, education and outreach in collaboration with other staff members. MSU Extension hosts multiple educational programs throughout the year and the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference is the main highlight. Rob also represents Extension on the newly formed Hop Growers of America Best Practices Advisory Committee. MSU Extension educator Erin Lizotte provides her integrated pest management expertise. She coordinates the Great Lakes Hop Working Group that she formed with Rob two years ago. The group is composed of educators, researchers and other industry professionals that share information to benefit growers in their region. Dr. Mary Hausbeck, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and her graduate student Doug Higgins have been working to develop downy mildew control strategies over the last two years, and Dr. Bernie Zandstra, MSU professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, will be researching weed control options in the upcoming year.

MSU Extension educator Ashley McFarland has provided statewide leadership for malting barley research, education and outreach for the past three years. Projects have included collaboration with many field crop Extension personnel throughout the state in an attempt to support this reemerging crop in response to the burgeoning craft beverage industry. In addition to variety and management trials, the program also connects farmers with entrepreneurs in the newly developed craft malting market. Ashley is supported by Christian Kapp, MSU crop research technician at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. Ashley also serves on the National Barley Improvement Committee.

In Michigan, the craft beer industry is relatively young, but it is experiencing tremendous growth and making its mark nationally. According to the Michigan Brewers Guild, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. We are competitive on a national scale, but it’s also important to recognize the impact to Michigan residents. Data released by the Brewers Association show that in 2014, craft brewing in Michigan was responsible for 14,773 full-time jobs and $571.6 million in wages, and it contributed $1.85 billion in economic impact to our state. The Brewers Association reports that national growth of small and independent brewers continues to rise. As the craft industry grows, there will be an increased need for research-based resources and opportunities where MSU Extension can partner with the industry to facilitate its growth.

 

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Filed under Agriculture and Agribusiness, Conferences, Economic development, Entrepreneurial, Events

Extension educator chosen to speak at alternative high graduation

Sara Keinath, Michigan State University Extension educator in Wexford County, was the keynote speaker at Cooley High’s graduation. Cooley is Cadillac’s alternative high school and a place where Sara has taught “Going Solo” youth entrepreneur training for two years in partnership with the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce.

 Given the chance to choose the person to speak at their graduation, the students chose Sara. In addition to teaching the youth important life skills, she developed a meaningful and special relationship with them. Honored to accept the invitation, she provided graduates with a short but motivational message on the importance of setting goals for themselves.

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Kids use garbage to learn and serve

Deb Gierke, Schoolcraft County Michigan State University Extension program instructor, knows a lot about garbage. In fact, kids at the CloverKid College summer day camp have crowned her the Garbage Goddess – complete with a cardboard crown and throne. 

Says Deb, “It’s not a title I aspired to, but I’ve earned it.”

 Deb has worked with garbage – and kids – for years. She was able to take that expertise and use it to get kids involved in social entrepreneuring.

 Last January, a Social Entrepreneurship 4-H Participation Fee Grant helped to cover her attendance at a 4-H Citizenship, Leadership and Service conference at Kettunen Center. At the conference, participants learned how to identify social issues and find resources to address those issues. Deb was already working with youth on recycling issues and the conference added to her enthusiasm and gave her more ideas to work with.

 With her help and the help of adult and teen volunteers during 4-H school enrichment at Emerald Elementary and CloverKid College day-camp programming, 350 area youth successfully completed the 6-Rs Activity Series: Be Respectful, Responsible and Resourceful, and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Each member who participated received an “I R a StaR” award.

 Classroom and camp participants collected trash, weighed it and charted their collection totals. They then prepared the garbage for recycling or reuse by cleaning and sorting it.

 Deb notes that the youth themselves noticed that people generate a lot of garbage, but there are not a lot of recycling options in the Upper Peninsula. The kids decided to convert the trash they collected into treasure. Under the kids’ creative hands, a pop can tab became a pet snake, a toilet paper roll became a decorative hair tie and old jeans became backpacks. The youth took part in a “Trash Fash” activity in which they converted paper, plastic and fabric recyclables into fashion T-shirts and hats. The young people became entrepreneurs, creating a business called R&R (Recycle and Reuse) Creations and selling their transformed trash at the school and the day camp.

 All proceeds from the sales went to two local organizations: Project Backpack, which outfits at-risk youth with school bags filled with all the necessary supplies, and the Voices for Youth transitional living home.

 In addition, teen counselors in the summer camp created community awareness by developing a brochure that identified local recycling options. Information about local recyclers was also distributed in Friday school-to-home folders at the elementary school, on the free public television channel and in the local paper. The information distribution made people aware of local recycling centers and consequently brought them more business.

 Youth learned about respecting the environment, managing a business, helping the community and each other while having fun at the same time. They successfully integrated entrepreneurship with service learning and the results benefited the kids as well as the community. And according to Deb, both she and the kids continue to learn.

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The Michigan WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project brings encouragement and hope to women

Sometimes knowing you have the power to improve your situation through hard work and determination can give you the courage to get you through financial hardship. There’s a program that’s empowering women to find that inner strength while learning about nutrition and gardening in the process.

 Since 2001, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has administered the WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) program to empower women living in low-income situations to make healthy lifestyle choices. In 2008, Michigan State University Extension in Ogemaw County piloted the WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project, which was coordinated by Helen DeFlorio, MSUE Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) program instructor. The project added a gardening component to the WISEWOMAN program. It was such a success that the MDCH contacted Diane Rellinger, Extension educator, to pursue options for expansion. In 2010, five other counties joined Ogemaw County in the program – Antrim, Charlevoix, Crawford, Missaukee and Otsego – and 24 women participated. Diane provides overall program and budgetary coordination for the six counties.

 The MDCH received a $52,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and partnering with MSUE, it used the grant to expand the project. The grant allowed the purchase of gardening supplies, plants and fencing. It provided for educational resources, farmers market registration fees, signage, gardening workshops, travel dollars for the participants to get to classes and the farmers markets, and vendor supplies, such as tents, tables and promotional items. MSUE SNAP-Ed, MSUE Master Gardeners, the MDCH, the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency, District Health Department #2 and District Health Department #10 work together to make this project possible.

 Says Diane Rellinger, “This project was a great example of transformational education. It provided a network of support that created enthusiasm and positive behavior change. We saw women bond together and get excited about their health, their new gardening knowledge and the opportunity to increase their incomes through selling their own produce at local farm markets.”

Patti plans for gradn opening

Patti McGee makes plans for her farm market grand opening.

 Patti McGee developed a garden to sell produce at next year’s grand opening of her new McGee Family Farm Market. Patti’s goal is to live off the income generated from the market.

 Teresa Norwick grew vegetables at the Otsego County Alternative Landscaping Demonstration Garden. Through the grant, she was able to rent a plot and begin a garden.
Teresa Norwick poses with her new wagon.

Teresa Norwick was able to rent a plot and begin a garden through the grant.

 Both women learned a great deal about gardening and nutrition.

 MSUE Master Gardeners instructed the women in gardening procedures and encouraged them to keep a gardening journal. Teresa learned to use lasagna organic composting. The name comes from the layering method used in the process. Both Teresa and Patti helped build their own hoop houses to extend the gardening season. Jack Middleton, retired MSUE Otsego County Extension director, guided the hoop house building and also installed drip irrigation.

 The WISEWOMAN program emphasizes making healthier food choices, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and being more physically active. The SNAP-Ed nutrition education series provided eight lessons based on dietary guidelines and tailored the lessons to this age group (ages 40 to 64). The gardening efforts provided increased opportunities to be physically active. Women reported losing weight and feeling better due to their dietary changes and increased activity.

Teresa stockpiles organic lasagna ingredients.

Teresa Norwick stockpiles organic lasagna ingredients.

 According to Rebecca Fleis, MSUE Otsego County program associate, “The amazing thing about the project is the immense blessing a little seed funding can have in the lives of women. Often participants were in very difficult times in their lives financially; the opportunity to be part of the WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project brought encouragement and hope for their future.”

Teresa Norwick and RebeccaFleis

Teresa Norwick (left) and Rebecca Fleis, Extension program associate, stand in Teresa’s hoop house.

 Master Gardener coordinators, Cydney Steeb in Charlevoix County, Lora Freer in Ogemaw County, and Ed Doss in Otsego and Crawford counties, provided gardening education and ongoing support, and Master Gardener volunteers also lent their expertise to designing and growing healthy gardens. SNAP-Ed staff members Lori Eccles, program associate; Megan Rapelje, program instructor; Susan Warren, program associate; Rebecca Fleis and Helen DeFlorio provided nutrition education classes to encourage healthier food choices and provide instruction in using and preserving the garden vegetables grown by the WISEWOMAN participants. Steve Fouch, Extension educator, provided training on how to take produce from the garden to the farm market. 

 Key partners at the MDCH were Robin Roberts, WISEWOMAN program manager, and Viki Lorraine, WISEWOMAN program intervention specialist, along with the lifestyle counselors at the local health departments who identified program participants.

 These are some powerful testimonials. They will be even more powerful if we’re gathering evaluation data that can help us to quantify the effect this program is having on the health and financial well being of participants.

 To learn more, go to http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132–240962–,00.html.

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Entrepreneurship program creates spark in students at alternative school

It’s not often that students in an alternative school setting take initiative for their own learning, but the entrepreneurship program made possible through a 4-H Participation Fee Grant is creating that desire in students at the Sunrise Academy High School in Elk Rapids. Young people at the high school are learning to be business owners of the future through a program introduced by Michigan State University Extension 4-H.

 Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 15–21, was a chance for millions of youth across the globe to connect and explore business ideas in a variety of activities. Dana Tuller, AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), worked with youth at the high school to celebrate the week in a variety of ways.

 Sunrise Academy students learned about business in an entrepreneurship class using the Going SOLO curriculum. They opened a store in the school during Global Entrepreneurship Week that featured products made and purchased by the students. Students ran the business during the entire operation process.

 The students also attended the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. While there, the youth interacted with hundreds of business owners and got ideas about the kinds of businesses they might want to open in the future.

 The students also toured the facilities at Britten Banners, a local business that has grown tremendously over the last fifteen years. Two department managers shared their employment stories with the students. The teens were encouraged when they learned that each speaker started out at Britten Banners in an entry-level position and each has now moved into management.

 Students also were educated through a panel discussion involving a wide range of business owners including a day care provider, an engineer, a disk jockey, a salsa maker, a fresh food initiative entrepreneur and the owner of a local Cartridge World.

 Dana works with lead teacher Kathy Breece, and both women are very encouraged at the kids’ response to the program. One student, in particular, took responsibility for the store, making sure that it was opened every day during lunch break and keeping tabs on the inventory.

 Said Dana, “Students have responded well. It’s not often they get hooked on something, but they’ve really taken ownership of this.”

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