Two Michigan State University Extension educators received MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Awards at the annual University Awards Convocation Feb. 14 at the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center. The awards presentation followed President Lou Anna K. Simon’s Founders’ Day Address and discussion of the 2012 State of the University report. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources honored the awardees with a reception prior to the ceremony in the atrium of Agriculture Hall.
The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of academic specialists and MSU Extension academic staff members who serve the university in advising, curriculum development, outreach, extension, research and teaching.
Roger A. Betz, senior Extension educator, is the person Michigan agricultural producers go to for help in all things financial. Since 1990, Roger has served as district Extension farm management educator, using a variety of educational methods to effectively disseminate knowledge. Roger is dedicated to assisting farmers to successfully manage their operations through sound financial practices. Roger has worked face to face with several hundred farm families to make sound business decisions that assist them in managing their tax obligations. These decisions lead to growth of the farm businesses and contribute to economic growth at the local and state levels.
He’s used the University of Minnesota’s FINPACK financial management software to help more than 600 Michigan farms manage their finances. He created and developed a worksheet to supplement FINPACK’s financial analysis, which was incorporated into this nationally used software.
Roger has provided leadership and coordination for the TelFarm accounting program. His work with TelFarm producers not only benefits the farm families but also provides valuable research data for MSU. He developed several electronic tools designed to help producers make very complex decisions about whether to take part in various USDA programs.
For 18 years, Roger has conducted two, full-day financial training sessions a year for Extension educators. He also developed and taught an intensive three-year training program to build his fellow Extension educators capacity and confidence in working with producers in financial and farm management.
Roger is an innovator and effective leader who is passionate about helping both farmers and co-workers. And if anyone ever doubted that, they would have been convinced by the four farm families who attended the ceremonies on Tuesday because he has meant so much to them.
Lela L. Vandenberg, senior Extension specialist, has served MSU Extension for the past 18 years.
Lela formed MSU Extension’s LeadNet team, a professional development group composed of multiple teams collaborating to develop curricula and materials, conduct workshops and encourage leadership development in strategic planning, conflict resolution and team building. Several of these curricula were adopted by other organizations and in other states.
In 2009, Lela assisted the integration of MSU Extension into eXtension, the nationwide collaborative Web presence for Cooperative Extension. As team chair of the MSU eXtension Institutional Team, she promoted and implemented this new technology, ultimately changing how technology is used within Extension.
She created a training process that helped us successfully conduct two virtual Fall Extension Conferences, the first of which was a weeklong conference attended by more than 600 staff with more than 100 online meetings. She took the lead in developing an extensive training process to orient staff to use Adobe Connect Pro to teach, collaborate and assist online conference training.
As part of a team who worked intensely to engage MSU Extension horticulture staff in “Ask an Expert” training and use, Lela was instrumental in expanding horticulture information to residents across the state. She helped design and coordinate numerous online “Ask an Expert” training sessions for staff and Master Gardener volunteers.
Simply put, she’s a leader in leadership. Her contagious enthusiasm encourages others to get involved and take the lead. We’ve known that around MSUE and perhaps we’ve taken it for granted. What’s been fun to see is how others around the country have discovered the wonderful colleague we have in Lela.
Congratulations to both of you!