Tag Archives: 4-H tech wizards

Michigan State Fair a huge success for Extension and the CANR

By Patrick Cudney

Many of our colleagues spent this Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 4‒7, at the Michigan State Fair at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We can all be proud of the work being done to enhance the Michigan State University Extension presence in southeastern Michigan. More than 112,000 visitors attended the fair this year, so the event created the opportunity to build awareness of our programs to a huge audience. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources was fully engaged with us in the marketing effort.

Julie Chapin, Children and Youth Institute director, and I attended a VIP pre-opening event, which gave us a firsthand look at our giant 60-foot by 40-foot exhibit space that was free to MSU Extension. Credit for obtaining the free space goes to Debra (“Debbie”) Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator, who has been coordinating a 4-H presence at other expos at the Suburban Collection Showplace since 2005. This is the first year we’ve had a coordinated presence from all of Extension. Debbie helped us to build on the base that she created through her previous work at the fair.

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich:
Front row (left to right): Fran Adelaja, MSU Extension specialist; Debra Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Margaret Stockert, MSU Extension 4-H support – Oakland County; Glenda Weiss, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Wayne County
Back row: Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director; Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director; Alan Jaros, MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm director; Karen Craig, MSU Tollgate Conference Center coordinator; Jason Scott, MSUE 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Jake DeDecker, MSU Extension children and youth associate state leader; Mary Blumka, 4-H program coordinator- Oakland County.
Photo credit: Lou Waldock, Waldock Tree Farm

Debbie said, “In 2014, I was invited to the press conference where Oakland County and District 11 were offered space at the 2014 Michigan State Fair. When I was invited in 2015, I asked if we could have a larger space to include all of MSU Extension and they said ‘absolutely – what do you need?’ It is a win-win situation and the folks with the Michigan State Fair and Suburban Collection Showplace have been super accommodating and so easy to work with. I believe we have created a mutually beneficial relationship and a great opportunity to showcase all the services MSU Extension has to offer to the public.”

She added that when Extension educator Alan Jaros, who is director of the MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm just miles down the road from the Suburban Collection Showcase, attended the press conference with her this year, she knew then we were going to do something bigger and better this year.

Tollgate is Extension’s 160-acre learning laboratory visited annually by 12,000 people who explore food systems, agriculture and horticulture, and experience a greater connection to our natural resources.

“With Tollgate’s strong roots in Novi and the surrounding area, our partners and the local community have come to expect high-quality, unbiased, research-based and interactive educational opportunities from MSU Extension. When we were approached to have a stronger presence at the fair, it was an obvious chance to build a greater awareness of MSU Extension’s impact beyond Tollgate,” said Alan.

The fair provides the perfect opportunity for our 4-H youth to showcase their projects and apply for the scholarships offered to youth exhibitors. In fact, this year scholarships totaled $40,000.

It would be impossible to list everyone involved in our success. The following people were involved in coordinating the event. Besides Alan and Debbie, they included Fran Adelaja, Megghan Honke, Betsy Braid, Mindy Tape, Jake DeDecker, Kristine Hahn, Kristi Evans and Mary Wilson.

Others contributing to the event’s success included Beth Stuever, Kittie Butcher, Carol Lenchek, Mary Gerstenberger, Margaret Stockert, Glenda Weiss, Karen Craig, Jason Scott, Ed Scott and Mary Blumka.

In addition, approximately 80 staff and volunteers signed up to help set up, tear down and work the booth throughout the weekend. It really was a team effort!

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery as Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director, looks on at the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich.
Photo credit: Debra Morgan.

The large space was well utilized by each institute. The Children and Youth Institute supplied hands-on activities including crafts, hoverball archery (yep, I tried it, it’s fun), the 4-H Commodity Carnival interactive game, Legos, an early childhood sensory table and the 4-H Life Skills Wheel. 4-H Tech Wizards provided Rockets to the Rescue. The Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Master Gardeners presented Smart Gardening daily, and the Health and Nutrition Institute provided information and a nutrition and health wheel game. Greening Michigan staffed a resource table with information on foreclosure counseling, Sea Grant and the Michigan Fresh program.

I appreciate all of your efforts in moving our organization visibility forward. This is an excellent example of how MSU Extension can improve our engagement and understanding of the work we do in fulfilling our mission. Strategic connections at the finest!

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4-H Tech Wizards expand in Michigan

4-H Tech Wizards are up to new things in Michigan. Tech Wizards is a small-group mentoring program that matches professionals who work in the science, engineering and technology (SET) fields with youth.

4-H Tech Wizards strives to reduce and help prevent juvenile delinquency and school failure, and build supportive relationships as well as introduce mentees to opportunities within the SET fields. It also provides participants with meaningful opportunities to engage in service learning.

Michigan State University Extension in Macomb County will have three new 4-H Tech Wizards sites operating within a month of the start of the school year. The program began at Seminole Academy in June while meetings at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and the Detroit Arsenal in Warren will begin soon.

Extension educators Scott Lakin and Ed Scott and Extension program instructor Alex Boyd work together to make this a regional program.

“Functioning as a District 11 4-H Tech Wizards team has led to greater success in our mentor recruitment efforts. I have found that attending various events and specifically targeted organizational presentations is the most effective way to get individuals to start the volunteer application process,” Scott Lakin said.

Scott designed a display booth to showcase the project areas and technology available. Talking to the public at events led to contacts with numerous adults soon to be trained as 4-H Tech Wizards mentors in all three counties in the district – Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.

Extension program instructors Barb Brow and Susan Fenton continue to work to expand the program in Ottawa County. Kristy Oosterhouse, program aide,piloted the program in Eaton County and assists other counties in efforts to replicate this program. Extension educator Dorothy Munn has secured two AmeriCorps positions to start the program in northern Michigan.

Senior specialist Lisa Bottomley and associate program leader Molly Frendo provide support from the statewide perspective.

“We are really excited to see this program expand to serve new communities and reach new audiences,” said Lisa.

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4-H Tech Wizards mentee shares her positive experience in Mentoring Day speech

Gov. Rick Snyder declared January as Michigan Mentoring Month. Michigan’s mentors work alongside youth, helping them to reach their full potential and realize their personal worth.

In Michigan State University Extension, 4-H Youth Mentoring matches caring individuals with young people to provide support, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples.

In a Spotlight article last January, I mentioned that 4-H Tech Wizards would be implemented in Ottawa and Wayne counties. Tech Wizards is a small-group mentoring program that matches professionals who work in the science, engineering and technology fields with youth.

A year later, a young mentee in the program shared her positive experiences in a speech during Mentoring Day, Jan. 20, at the Capitol in Lansing. 15-year-old Katie Wolters struggled to succeed in her former school. 4-H Tech Wizards helped her gain confidence in relationships while learning science, engineering and technology through hands-on activities.

Read more here.

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Wayne County 4-H Tech Wizards receives award

Wayne County Children and Family Services and Michigan State University Extension established a youth mentoring program to serve adjudicated and at-risk youth throughout Wayne County. Back in January, I told you about 4-H Tech Wizards, a group-mentoring program that matches professionals who work in science, engineering, technology and math fields with youth in Ottawa and Wayne counties. Earlier this month, Wayne County received a 2011 NACo (National Association of Counties) Achievement Award for Tech Wizards. The annual award recognizes innovative county government programs.

 4-H Tech Wizards addresses the need for youth at risk for involvement with the juvenile justice system to engage in activities that will expose them to technology and technology-related careers. The program also involves the youth in community service using technology to address a community need. It puts an emphasis on building family and community supports that promote college access for youth.

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4-H Tech Wizards ready to launch in Michigan

Michigan State University Extension 4-H has received an $82,000 grant from the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to expand youth mentoring. 4-H Tech Wizards, a small group-mentoring program that matches professionals who work in science, engineering and technology (SET) fields with youth, will be implemented in Ottawa and Wayne counties.

 Reducing and helping prevent juvenile delinquency and school failure, and building supportive relationships are primary goals of the initiative, as well as introducing mentees to opportunities within the SET fields. The program includes an emphasis on building family and community support that will promote college access for youth. It also provides participants with meaningful opportunities to engage in service learning.

 Extension mentoring educators Laura Schleede, Ottawa County, and Edward Scott, Wayne County, will provide local leadership to this initiative. Laura and Ed, along with mentoring specialist Lisa Bottomley and associate program leader Molly Frendo just returned from a grantee training in Washington D.C. The team is ready to launch the program with participation from 120 youth.

 According to Lisa Bottomley, Michigan has offered youth mentoring through 4-H for many more years than most other states, and our Extension colleagues across the country are looking to Michigan for support.

 “People really want to learn more about mentoring, and we have the resources,” said Lisa. “In fact, at this very moment I am pulling things together to send to a large group who requested support.”

 Tech Wizards is a program that was developed in Washington County, Ore., and has shown dramatic impacts on a population of youth with high dropout rates from high school. It’s featured as part of the Revolution of Responsibility marketing campaign for 4-H developed by the National 4-H Council. You can learn more about the Oregon project at “Our mouse started a revolution”. I’m sure we can expect great things to happen in this program with the MSUE mentoring team at the helm.

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