Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gearing up for Ag Innovation Day 2017

Our second annual Michigan State University (MSU) Agriculture Innovation Day is almost here. The event takes place August 24 at our Lake City Research Center. The theme this year is Focus on Forages and the Future. I hope that you’ll spread the word about this program, and I would like to invite you to join us as well. There’s a great line-up designed to deliver a cutting-edge, in-depth look at forages, livestock and the future to help farmers meet growing demands.

Here are the sessions that will be offered:

  • Making the Most of Reduced-Lignin Alfalfa in Your Operation
  • Precision is the Division in Silage
  • Expand Your Use With Double-Cropping
  • Precision Dairy Cattle Monitoring
  • Finding the Right Mix for Soil Health
  • Baleage Made Tight, Made Right
  • Creating Profitable Beef Operations by Managing Land, Livestock and People
  • Grass-Fed Beef – Research and Experience
  • Is Your Land Regenerating?

Another important element of the day is that MSU will send recruiters to the event to provide students with information about all of the degrees available through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. We want to engage our next generation of farmers and producers, and give them the tools they need to meet the challenges they will face in the future.

We’ll also have an opportunity to hear from President Lou Anna K. Simon and Dean Ron Hendrick over the dinner portion of the event.

The event will begin at 12:30 p.m. and end around 9 p.m. For course descriptions and to register for the event, visit the Ag Innovation Day website. I hope to see you there!

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Filed under Ag Innovation Day, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Animal Science, Events, Farming, Field Days, Uncategorized

Help us transform our new employee orientation

What do you remember about your first day working for Michigan State University Extension? Do you remember what type of orientation experiences you had and whether or not they were helpful? What do you wish would have been different? Anne Baker, our new learning and talent development specialist, joined us a little over a month ago, and has had her own experiences with our orientation program. One of her first projects in her mission to guide our training and development efforts is to work with us all to create meaningful orientation practices. Her first step is receiving your feedback on your orientation experiences. I hope you’ll find a moment to take her short, anonymous survey using this link: https://msu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0Uv1iZlit55mj09.

The more of us who respond, the better Anne can understand our organization’s strengths and weaknesses of welcoming new employees, so that we can transform that experience together. Thank you for your help.

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Welcoming Bill Hendrian as interim district coordinator

Headshot of Bill Hendrian.

On April 1, 2017, we will welcome Bill Hendrian into the position of interim District 4 coordinator for Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. Bill will work with local governments, nonprofits, school systems and neighborhood groups to help ensure that MSU Extension provides the knowledge and resources necessary to identify and address the challenges facing communities in the district. He will also mentor MSU Extension staff members based in his district in professional development and in program planning, delivery and evaluation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with and get to know the people of District 4 as MSU Extension continues to do its part to enrich the lives of Michigan’s families with its broad pool of talented faculty and staff members,” Bill said.

We are looking forward to Bill stepping in as interim district coordinator because he understands the importance of strategic connections and relationships in expanding our outreach and has demonstrated that capacity in a variety of settings and opportunities.

Check out my post from last August if you’re interested in learning more about Bill, his work, and his strategic connections.

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The Inspiring 4-H Challenged Me program

During the 2016 Eastern Michigan State Fair, the 4-H Challenged Me program gave mild to severely disabled children from Lapeer, Macomb, Tuscola and Sanilac counties the chance to show livestock. The program had 17 members and 19 coaches who taught them how to handle, train, show and care for the animals. Two innovative 4-H alumni, Tiffany Howell and Michelle Peel, teamed up with the local intermediate school district social worker and the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H program coordinator, Kathy George, to set the program in motion. In January, the 4-H Challenged Me Club was chosen as a Program of Excellence by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Read the full story, “4-H Challenged Me helps kids make a new connection,” by Laura Scott, and see the photos on the MSU Extension website. Let it challenge us to think about ways we can reach people of all ages who have special needs or are underserved.

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Filed under 4-H, Awards, Children and Youth, diversity, Uncategorized

Welcome to 2017

Firework display against a dark sky.

I would like to start out by wishing you a happy new year and welcoming 2017. I hope you all were able to spend time with your loved ones during the holiday season and as 2016 came to a close.

2016 was an important year for me because in April I became the director of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension after serving as interim since January. I have had the privilege of serving MSU Extension and getting to know and work with so many of you. In 2016, we also welcomed Ron Hendrick as the new dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

In reflecting on the past year, here are some takeaways that I would like to share.

  1. We can use our history, relationships, knowledge and expertise to develop new ideas, approaches and opportunities that to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Creative interventions and spreading the word about the incredible work that you do can help you to achieve your goals, open new paths of opportunity and enable us to do even more to serve people throughout Michigan.
  2. MSU Extension’s response to the Flint water emergency is a testament to who we are as an organization already in place to respond to community needs and emergencies. We need to continue to reach out and find ways to work together across institutes and to engage community, government and volunteer organizations to serve our constituents.
  3. Our organizational vision surrounding strategic connections is built on the premise that every member of our MSU Extension team has responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with legislators, stakeholders and media in his or her community and throughout the state. In 2016, we had a chance to learn about our colleagues’ efforts to connect strategically in Districts 1˗9.
  4. We have an outstanding team here at MSU Extension that is recognized by the university and at state, regional, national and international levels. We also serve incredible young people who are going out and changing their communities, already empowered to take on leadership roles and build new opportunities.

Lastly, I would like to sincerely thank all of you for welcoming me and taking the chance to get to know me during my first year with MSU Extension. I am committed to continue to open doors and build connections that will allow your reach and impact to expand. I look forward to where 2017 will take us.

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Strategic connections with local nonprofits in District 9

Terry McLean, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension community food systems educator in District 9, has a strategic connection with the edible flint network. Edible flint is a local nonprofit organization formed in 2009 that is made up of residents, government representatives and agencies, health institutions, other nonprofits, educators and advocates for social change, working together to improve access to healthy food through community and economic development and education in Flint, Michigan.

Terry is the point of contact for the organization, serves on edible flint’s leadership board and is a co-lead for one of its five workgroups.

Edible flint’s programs have supported 1,068 food gardens in the city of Flint, 111 of which are community gardens, which have contributed to blight elimination and healthy food access for Flint residents,” Terry said. “Collaboration and convening community partners and organizations has been the strategy to support this work.”

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After the state of emergency was declared in Flint in January of 2016, edible flint reached 4,684 residents through presentations, programs and events, and recruited 76 community volunteers who performed 1,415 volunteer hours for edible flint programs and outreach work.

But their important work is only beginning.

“Through edible flint we’ve secured $197,334 in 2016 through six grants — two renewals and four new water emergency-related grants,” Terry said. “Through a strategic planning process that was made possible by a Michigan Department of Agriculture grant this summer, we’ve identified steps for transitioning from the initial lead crisis response to a sustainable recovery program that increases the local food production capacity in the Flint region while incorporating the evaluation’s stakeholder feedback in the strategic plan’s implementation.”

When we asked Terry what she had learned from these important strategic connections, she spoke about how MSU Extension is a trusted partner and “backbone organization” that has contributed to the success of edible flint. I think she identified a key strength of our organization: our ability to be a backbone in our communities across Michigan. We have a unique role to play when needs are identified or when emergencies occur. By bringing together and working with all of the supportive agencies and organizations in our communities, we can be the backbone of a network that moves Michigan forward.

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Filed under Flint Water, strategic connections, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

A pumpkin pie with a piece cut out and sitting on a dish.

Photo by alcinoe at Morguefile.com

I don’t know about your offices, but here in the Director’s office, we get a lot of calls in November with questions about preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and food safety. Our educators have done a great job of getting out that information and resources on our website. I thought I’d mention some here in case you get any questions in your office or even from friends and family.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Looking for a new recipe to try with your turkey leftovers? Beth has a quick and easy turkey soup with vegetables that will be perfect for those chilly couple of days after the holiday.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.

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Filed under Food, Food safety, Uncategorized