Category Archives: Youth development

Tuscola County 4-H club takes second place nationally

Congratulations to the Deford Dazzlers Rocket Team 4-H club who won second place in the national Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). Peter Hansen, Alexander Hansen and Chrysler Parrish, the three club members, traveled to The Plains, Virginia, on May 14 to compete.

The Deford Dazzlers 4-H Club receives their award for finishing in second place in the nation during the Team America Rocketry Challenge. The team is in the orange shirts (from left to right): Peter Hansen, Alexander Hansen and Chrysler Parrish.

The Deford Dazzlers 4-H Club receives their award for finishing in second place in the nation during the Team America Rocketry Challenge. The team is in the orange shirts (from left to right): Peter Hansen, Alexander Hansen and Chrysler Parrish.

According to the TARC website, the competition is an important part of the aerospace and defense industry’s strategy to build a stronger U.S. workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. TARC is also the world’s largest student rocket contest.

Just to get to the competition, the team competed with 775 teams to qualify for one of 100 spots. Despite windy weather, the team’s rocket launch reached an altitude of 829 feet, the second highest score.

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, IBM and other sponsors awarded the Deford Dazzlers Rocket Team with $16,000 in scholarships ‒ $5,000 per team member, plus another $1,000 for the 4-H club to help fund its science and rocketry education program.

Patricia Hansen, 4-H club leader told the Cass City Chronicle that all of this would not have been possible without Tuscola County 4-H, their program coordinator Heather Middleton and Extension secretary Catherine Patterson.

She also thanked the Tuscola County 4-H Council as well as the Tuscola County residents who recently voted to continue to fund Michigan State University Extension.

We are very proud of our 4-H members and would like to thank everyone who has contributed to their growth and the valuable opportunities they’ve had. Congratulations again to our young rocketeers.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Youth development

Thousands enjoy 4-H Exploration Days on campus

From June 22 to 24, Michigan State University Extension hosted 4-H Exploration Days, a pre-college program annually attended by about 2,500 young people ages 11 to 19 along with chaperones from across Michigan.

The program helps youth increase responsibility, confidence, independence and accountability as well as practice problem-solving, decision-making and time-management skills. 4-H Exploration Days attendees have the opportunity to meet new people and exercise communication, teamwork and leadership. The event also inspires them to explore college options and to develop social and academic skills they need for a successful transition to college.

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This year, campers came from all over Michigan, representing all 83 counties. Youth participated in over 200 sessions ranging from animal science to sports and from business and entrepreneurship to arts and crafts. Outside of sessions, they enjoyed many on-campus activities such as swimming at the IM Sports West outdoor pool, bowling at the Union, ice skating at the Munn Ice Arena, visiting the Abrams Planetarium and lots more. They also attended an entertainment event on Wednesday night, which featured motivational speaker Brandon Lee White.

I’d like to thank the hundreds of MSU Extension staff members and 4-H volunteers who made this opportunity possible for our youth.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Youth development

Youth global engagement: World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute

On May 12, Michigan State University hosted World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute (WFP MIYI). During the one-day event, youth in grades 8 to 12 presented research and recommendations on how to solve key global challenges by giving short speeches and taking part in small group discussions with local experts. They had the opportunity to connect with other student leaders from across Michigan to share ideas, identify solutions to problems and build friendships. They also interacted with global leaders in science, agriculture, industry and policy as well as innovative researchers, professors and college students working to improve food security around the world. Youth participants took part in educational sessions and interactive panels to explore current research and issues in international development and life sciences.

Several youth shared about their experiences with WFP MIYI:

“World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute has opened doors for me to a network that few organizations have the ability to do.”

“Through participating in WFP MIYI, I am more confident, learned so much and feel that I can make a difference.”

“My experience at the Michigan Youth Institute has given me skills in leadership and confidence, and has inspired me to think about others around the world.”

“My experience here not only helped me learn how to do research, write a paper on that research, and present it. It also exposed me to all of these global issues and to some wonderful experts and peers who are active in solving that.”

“The experience of participating in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute has helped me prepare for a huge goal that will be to fight and conquer hunger.”

The WFP MIYI is sponsored by Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-H, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Michigan FFA. MSU Extension 4-H educators Makena Schultz and Brian Wibby lead the collaboration and organization of WFP MIYI.

“The WFP MIYI directly engages young people in what could be one of the most significant challenges ever to face humanity: How will we provide access to a sufficient, nutritious and sustainable diet for each of the 9 to 10 billion people who could be inhabiting our planet later in this century? The WFP MIYI helps young people to develop an understanding of the interconnected nature of the many factors that are related to global food security, and creates a space where youth can develop the knowledge and skills needed to create effective solutions to this wicked problem,” Brian said.

Makena feels that the most meaningful takeaway from the event is that young people have a chance to take action in their passion for helping others.

“The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute offers a lens for young people to do that, so they can explore their passion, through the lens of global food security, which is really exciting,” she said. “Young people have really innovative ideas, they’re very creative, they think outside the box, and very often they come up with great solutions to problems that maybe adults or other members of the community might not see so easily.”

Interested in hearing more about World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute? Kraig Ehm of MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Creative interviews Makena and participant Raegan Gembarski on the World Food Prize edition of In the Field on the Spartan Podcast.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Food, Resources, Student Presentations, Youth development

Thoughts on my second month as director

The focus on Flint in recent weeks and the need to address important nutrition, child development, public health and community infrastructure issues has given us the opportunity to remind folks that MSU Extension has been in Flint for 100 years. We will be there for the next 100 years, and can be an important part of developing and implementing solutions that change lives. Your colleagues are making a difference. Deanna East is helping to coordinate the Michigan State University response in Flint. Eric Scorsone and the recently announced MSU Extension Center for Local Government Finance and Policy are engaging local officials and testifying before the State Legislature. Erin Powell, Cathy Newkirk and many others are addressing nutrition issues on the ground. Terry McLean and the Edible Flint crew are working closely with the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and state officials to ensure that food is distributed in areas of greatest need. This is important work that underscores the breadth of our collective experience, the ability to respond quickly and the importance of partnerships that you have built over decades.

The critical role that MSU Extension is playing in Flint is replicated in every community throughout Michigan. But, seven weeks into my new job as part of your team, it is already clear that not enough people know who we are. Moreover, those who do know us well are not always familiar with the breadth and depth of MSU Extension programming. I met recently with an agricultural commodity CEO, for example, who indicated that labor force issues were among his biggest industry concerns. As we talked, it became clear that, although his interactions over many years had been primarily with our Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (for obvious reasons), many programs in the Greening Michigan, Children and Youth, and Health and Nutrition Institutes would be potentially valuable resources to him in recruiting and retaining valued employees.

We often use a slide when describing “Who is MSU Extension?” that includes the following bullets:

  • Faculty and Academic Staff on Campus
  • Extension Educators and Senior Extension Educators
  • 4-H Program Coordinators
  • Program Instructors, Program Associates, Program Assistants
  • Support Staff Members, on and off campus; MSU or county employees
  • Funded by County, State and Federal Resources

While these statements are accurate and descriptive, what if, instead, we said things like:

  • Unparalleled statewide health education delivery system.
  • Business start-up, tech transfer and product development expertise.
  • Serve schools statewide; capable of gathering more than 2,000 kids and their families for a single event.
  • Rapid response for agriculture, human health and other emergencies, such as the current Flint water crisis.
  • Future funding growth to come from building partnerships!

You can help me in at least two important ways.

  1. Don’t hesitate to tell people about the great work you do, and add in a bit about what your colleagues do in many areas across the entire state. If you aren’t aware of all MSU Extension programs, the website is a good place to start.
  2. Help us to find even more creative ways to describe what we do and outlets for sharing that information with the world. What descriptive statements would you add to this list to describe “Who is MSU Extension?”

Consider browsing through our public value statements occasionally to refresh your memory about how all of your colleagues’ work makes a difference in Michigan. We work for an amazing organization. By working together we can ensure that more people understand how we can help positively change their lives, communities and businesses.

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Filed under Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, Economic development, Financial education, Flint Water, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Resources, Youth development

How we will help our community in Flint

As a father myself, I was concerned by news of lead seeping into the water in Flint and its devastating health effects on children. Often, when people refer to Extension, they call us “boots on the ground,” and sure enough, our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition professionals have been working closely with the Genesee County health department, local agencies, hospitals and health professionals, and colleagues from MSU ever since the lead issue was uncovered.

In Flint last Thursday, the Pediatric Public Health Initiative was announced that will further focus attention and resources on Flint and children there who have been affected by toxic levels of lead in the water system. This collaboration brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography and education, and includes the Genesee County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the MSU College of Human Medicine and MSU Extension.

Photo of announcement by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative to a room filled with partners, media and government officials.

Announcement by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

What can MSU Extension do to help? We cannot reverse the damage, but we can use evidenced-based research to help Flint residents lessen the effects over time.

We can teach families how to prepare meals that help block the body’s ability to absorb lead. MSU Extension nutrition staff members have worked together with the Hurley Medical Center and the MSU College of Human Medicine to provide nutrition education. That includes developing and sharing recipes that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C. We’ve been sharing these recipes through our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education classes, as well as demonstrations at the Flint Farmers Market. MSU Extension is hiring additional staff to help childcare providers assess their facilities and improve practices related to nutrition, especially in those parts of the city where lead exposure is the highest.

We can also help families learn effective parenting strategies that promote social and emotional skills and early childhood literacy. MSU Extension’s early childhood education team will teach parents and caregivers about how to best protect their children from lead exposure in the home and how to combat the side effects through effective child development strategies. Research has long indicated that high-quality early childhood education and increased parenting capacity, is one of the best strategies to offset adverse childhood experiences and to promote school readiness. MSU Extension’s early childhood programs focus on school readiness for children from birth to age 8 by promoting social and emotional skills, early literacy, and science and math skills, and by teaching effective parenting strategies.

Research indicates that high-quality early childhood experiences, parenting education and good nutrition are critical measures we can implement today to offset damage and increase children’s likeliness of school success. Our MSU Extension colleagues are working to provide those educational experiences, and in the coming weeks and months, they will be doing even more alongside our partners in the initiative.

Want to know more about what’s going on in Flint and the Pediatric Public Health Initiative? Below are some articles that you might find interesting in learning more about the situation in Flint and our collaborative efforts surrounding it.

Efforts Will Monitor Flint Kids’ Health

Pediatrician to Lead Fight against Flint Lead Poisoning

Generation of Flint Kids with Lead in Blood May Not See Effects for Years​

New Public Health Initiative Announced in Flint

Flint Organizations Announce Pediatric Public Health Initiative

MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital to Work Together on Flint Water Crisis Study

Flint Combats Lead-Contaminated Water Effects on Child Development

 

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Filed under Children and Youth, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Parenting, Partnerships, Social and emotional health, Uncategorized, Youth development

Celebrating Michigan 4-H at the MSU basketball game

This weekend, my wife, Nancy, and I had the pleasure of attending the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H Day at the Breslin to cheer on our Lady Spartans as they faced the Iowa Hawkeyes. Our staff members, volunteers and our 4-H families added 5,307 members to the crowd.

4-H youth and their families, 4-H volunteers and MSU Extension staff members are celebrated at this annual event, which recognizes the impact of 4-H programs throughout Michigan. This year, this event was the launch of the 4-H Grows Here campaign in Michigan. For more information on this campaign, please read my blog post devoted to 4-H Grows Here in Michigan.

Picture of scoreboard with visual representation of the 4-H Grows Here campaign.

We launched our 4-H Grows Here campaign at the game. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

During half time, I joined our 4-H youth at center court to lead the crowd in reciting the 4-H pledge. It was a humbling experience to be invited to join tomorrow’s leaders.

Picture of Ingham County 4-H and Jeff Dwyer at the center of the court during half time to lead the 4-H pledge.

I joined Ingham County 4-H at the center of the court during half time to lead the 4-H pledge. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

 

4-H displays filled the center concourse and proudly illustrated our programs to 4-H members and other guests. 4-H staff greeted guests and provided information on the many programs that 4-H has to offer on topics including livestock and marketing, international exchanges, natural resources, life skills, early childhood development, robotics and technology.

Photo of interactive booth with two 4-H staff members guiding youth and parents in a fun activity.

Adults and children alike were able to participate in fun activities in the concourse and learn more about 4-H. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

A group of sisters spin the wheel during a 4-H booth activity.

Wheel of 4-H fortune anyone? Photo credit: ANR Communications.

Jeff Dwyer and Julie Chapin with the 4-H Ingham County group with the 4-H flag and US flag.

The courageous Ingham County 4-H group that was kind enough to let me join them for the pledge at half time. What a great group! Photo credit: ANR Communications.

I would like to thank all the 4-H youth, Extension staff and families for coming out to the game and celebrating MSU Extension 4-H.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Events, Youth development

Partnership with Michigan DNR and MSU Extension connects urban youth to state parks, outdoor recreation

A program created by a collaborative effort between Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gets kids outside in the great outdoors and actively developing skills in fishing, archery, orienteering, camping and just exploring nature. The Outdoor Education Skills Clinic, part of the DNR’s Urban Outreach Initiative, is a great way to give youth from urban neighborhoods the opportunity to explore our state parks and the world outdoors. And while the kids are learning, having fun and being active, adult volunteers are gaining mentoring skills resulting in more positive outcomes.

 The clinic is an 8-week-program that took place June 20 through Aug. 12, 2011, at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Proud Lake Recreation Area, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon State Park and Bay City State Recreation Area. Altogether 2,287 youth participated along with 391 adults.

 Gary Williams, Extension educator in Wayne County, coordinates the program. Gary reports that every youth and every adult leader who participated in evaluations indicated that they had a positive learning experience in the great outdoors. And both groups responded overwhelmingly that they would like to participate in additional outdoor activities.

 As far as future clinics go, Gary says he is “in the groove already, looking forward to next year and planning an additional site.”

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Filed under Youth development

Life of Lake Superior Youth Program continues to educate with “workshops on the move”

Eleven years ago, Michigan State University Extension developed the format for the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program. And eleven years later, it continues to maintain enhanced new programming each year.

 The Life of Lake Superior Youth Program brings children, aged 9 to 14, and adults together to explore their community and appreciate the opportunities that exist nearby in the arts, natural resources, history, culture, recreation and careers, which have relevance for children living along the Lake Superior shoreline. The option to have a parent or grandparent participate with their children in every activity is one of the distinctive features of the program. This year, 51 youth participated along with 15 parents/grandparents.

 Presented by MSU Extension in Alger County, the 2011 program took place on four days and four different sites in July. A series of “workshops on the move” included:

 July 7: Attendees received sailing instructions then sailed in Munising Bay. Staff members from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, part of the National Park Service, gave a demonstration in the Bayshore Marina in Munising on personal flotation devices.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay, July 7, 2011. Photo by Alana Herzog.

 
Park rangers demonstrate personal flotation devices.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore chief ranger T.C. Colyer, assisted by park ranger Bill Smith, demonstrates personal flotation devices to participants of the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program, July 7, 2011, at Bayshore Marina. Photo by Birch Smith.

 July 13: Participants learned about geomorphology (which I’m told is the study of landforms), sport fishing and logging at Kingston Plains and Kingston Lake. As part of the fishing experience, Ron Kinnunen, Sea Grant senior district Extension educator, brought a collection of aquatic invasive specimens. He talked about fish anatomy while dissecting a Lake Superior whitefish. Kids were particularly enthralled with a large stuffed and mounted Asian Carp that he brought along. Incidentally, Ron helped design the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program at its onset and has contributed every year by teaching something related to his current Sea Grant research.

 July 19: Attendees helped plant 5,000 native wildflower plugs as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s work to restore native plants at Grand Island National Recreation Area. At another site, one of the island resident’s summer home, youth went on an exploration hike and did card loom weaving, incorporating birch bark, leaves, grasses and driftwood.

 July 27: Participants paddled a 24-foot voyageur canoe in Munising Bay, learned about the area’s history at the Alger Heritage Museum, did a re-enactment skit at the fur traders’ cabin and watched a blacksmith demonstration.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe on Munising Bay, July 27, 2011. Photo by Jude Holloway.

 The event closed with an evening family fish boil celebration at the Alger Heritage Center, July 27.

 Healthy meals and snacks are part of each day of the program. Vicki Ballas, MSU Extension SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) program associate, designed the “Captain Nutrition” component. In the past, healthy meals and snacks were always a critical part of the program. But when Vicki joined the Alger County staff, her creativity and interest in kids and nutrition, led to making the meal something the kids would be involved in preparing. All foods served are those that youth easily could teach their families to make at home. And before each meal or snack time, Vicki teaches them what they are preparing, including all food groups and making half their plates fruits and vegetables. The Captain Nutrition component of the last three years has truly enhanced the overall program.

 Since 2000, MSU Extension has partnered with more than 35 community services and their professional and technical staff to deliver unique workshops each summer. About 40 adult volunteers annually provide their services as presenters, mentors or community partners. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service actively participate in program planning as well as hosting Life of Lake Superior activities.

 Joan Vinette, MSU Extension educator in Alger County, attributes the program’s success to its dedicated volunteers and collaborators.

 Joan says, “It takes an intense effort to bring together all the logistics. But the rewards are in watching kids (together with peers or a parent or grandparent) enjoying outdoor learning at different venues that highlight natural features unique to Alger County. Youth get to experience recreational opportunities, scientific research, economics, cultural heritage and art that influence life along the shore of Lake Superior.”

 Visit the Life of Lake Superior Facebook page to view many more photos and some videos.

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New resource for parents and child care providers to extend books beyond just reading

The Better Kid Care America eXtension Community of Practice launched a new database of story-stretching ideas for child care providers and parents of young children. The database contains lots of hands-on, ready-to-try ways to extend some favorite children’s stories into additional learning experiences. Kendra Moyses, Michigan State University Extension educator with the Children and Youth Institute, helped revise and format materials from MSUE programs, such as Michigan Better Kid Care and Building Strong Families: Parenting the Preschooler, to help populate the database with activities that take books beyond just reading with young children.

Search or browse these story-stretching ideas to find great ways to expand children’s books with related language and literacy, math, science, art, social skills, music, movement and more. The ideas are especially designed to help young children of different ages expand their learning from children’s books. The story-stretching ideas can be used in many different areas of the curriculum in both child care classrooms, family child care homes and by parents with their young children.

There are three ways to see the story-stretching ideas:

Pass on this great resource to families and child care providers that you work with.

The Better Kid Care America Community of Practice is a team of early childhood professionals who are committed to supporting quality child care nationwide and dedicated to helping child care programs improve their quality. Its mission is to actively engage and educate child care providers, parents and community leaders with high quality, Web-based early childhood resources and learning experiences. Extension colleagues throughout the U.S., including Kendra, provide team leadership. Although we’ve reduced our own level of involvement in using the Better Kid Care curriculum, this national consortium makes it possible for us to connect child care providers in Michigan with the value of this program.

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Filed under Youth development

4-H Discovery Campers explore the world of energy

At the first-ever 4-H Discovery Camp, a group of nine teens spent a week learning about alternative energy solutions July 5–9 through tours of Michigan State University on-campus labs, the MSU Power Plant, the MSU Museum, Zeeland Farm Services, MBI, Carbon Green Bioenergy and Horizon Wind Energy Farm. Participants also did hands-on research at the Kellogg Biological Station. The campers stayed in a campus dorm where they enjoyed a mix of recreational opportunities and learning experiences. They conducted their own experiments and created their own biofuel. The teens also had a chance to visit the farm of Leon Jackson in Applegate, Mich. Mr. Jackson makes his own biofuel while using solar panels and wind turbines to reduce his energy costs.

campers at Zeeland Farm Services

4-H Discovery Campers at Zeeland Farm Services with Jan Wendland (front row, left) Neil Kentner (front row, right) and Melanie Chiodini (back row, left)

The camp was part of the 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) nationwide initiative. The camp sponsor was the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan; day sponsor was the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee. The camp fees were partially funded through a grant from Michigan State University Extension 4- H Youth Development.

campers at MSU Power Plant

4-H Discovery Campers listen to Gary Mell, performance engineer, at the MSU Power Plant

Wind energy farm turbines

4-H Discovery Campers viewed the wind turbines at Horizon Wind Energy Farms

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Filed under 4-H, Youth development