Tag Archives: ag expo

Visitors acquire knowledge at Ag Expo

This year as they do every year, our Michigan State University Extension colleagues were out doing what they do best ‒ educating the public and promoting our programs at the Ag Expo, which ran July 22‒24 on the MSU campus. Two out of the three days produced comfortable temperatures in the 70s ‒ a welcome relief from the past few years in which staff worked in 90-plus degree heat and high humidity.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) tent featured diverse exhibits and educational presentations.

A new and popular presentation focused on drone technology. A representative from the MSU Department of Geological Sciences gave daily presentations about the unmanned aerial vehicles, their uses and pending litigations.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development featured traditional exhibits with new twists. Children received free books, which promoted early childhood literacy. They learned about science from “Oobleck,” a substance made from common ingredients. The idea comes from the Dr. Seuss book “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” Attendees spun the Targeting 4-H Life Skills Interactive Educational Display wheel and learned about the 4-Hs in 4-H (head, heart, hands and health). The Commodity Carnival game taught visitors about how weather and commodity prices affect profit when selling livestock.

Michigan State University Extension educator Makena Schultz interests a visitor in the Targeting 4-H Life Skills Interactive Educational Display wheel at Ag Expo

Michigan State University Extension educator Makena Schultz interests a visitor in the Targeting 4-H Life Skills Interactive Educational Display wheel at Ag Expo. The event ran July 22-24, 2014, on the MSU campus. Photo credit: MSU ANR Communications

Master Gardeners exhibited the Smart Gardening initiative.

Our MSU Extension staff educated visitors with a variety of presentations. Gardeners enjoyed presentations on insect friends and foes in the garden as well as on growing smart tomatoes. They learned how to care for soil through talks on the foundation of soil and on the MSU soil test mailer. They also learned how to preserve food after harvest.

Producers learned about how rainfall simulation expands knowledge of crop production. They attended presentations on the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) and deer mortality composition. Visitors also learned about the Affordable Care Act and the 2014 Farm Bill.

Staff at the MSU Extension Bookstore tent gave away free pesticide manuals and other products of interest to visitors. They also gave away promotional materials to direct people to the bookstore’s website.

 

Two Ag Expo visitors examine baby chicks at Ag Expo.

Two Ag Expo visitors examine baby chicks at Ag Expo. The event ran July 22-24, 2014, on the MSU campus. Photo credit: MSU ANR Communications

The distribution of knowledge was not confined to the grounds. Our staff also gave tours of the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center and the MSU Poultry Teaching and Research Center.

Finally, it wouldn’t be Ag Expo without the opportunity to taste the traditional free dairy store ice cream or to hold a baby chick.

I don’t have the space to cover everything that our Extension staff presented or exhibited at Ag Expo. If you want to talk about your exhibit or presentation, feel free to let us know in the comments below this article.

Thanks to all of our staff who made the event a successful educational opportunity! Whether you worked out front or behind the scenes, we appreciate you!

 

 

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Governor praises and challenges Michigan agriculture at Ag Expo

On Tuesday at the Ag Expo VIP Breakfast, I had at the privilege of sharing the podium with Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon as well as Dr. Chris Peterson, director of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio.

Gov. Snyder praised agriculture as a steadying force but challenged leaders of agriculture to keep it growing into the future. His top priority is working to develop and keep a growing skilled work force in agriculture and other trades. He also highlighted the food safety innovation done here at MSU.

Read more about what the governor said in this news release from Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/gov._snyder_challenges_mich._ag_leaders_to_take_leadership_role_in_world_fo

Dr. Peterson announced the results from the latest Michigan Agriculture and Food Index (MAFI), which show that leaders in the food and agriculture industry remain optimistic about their businesses and Michigan’s economy.

Read more about the MAFI results in this ANR Communications release: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/michigan_state_university_food_and_ag_leaders_hopeful_about_industry_state

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Do your part at Ag Expo

Ag Expo, Michigan’s largest outdoor farm show, runs July 22‒24 on the Michigan State University campus. It’s a great opportunity to educate the public about the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and MSU Extension.

Why not take the opportunity to be part of the action? We hope that many of you will be involved in delivering educational programs at the Expo. Whether you are teaching or not, you can participate as a volunteer in helping to make this unique event a success. Consider signing up to volunteer, and now is a great time to add your name to the list of workers. You can help with youth activities in the CANR Tent, staff the on-site information stations, count cars or serve as a safety monitor for demonstrations. Besides having a great time, you’ll receive a free T-shirt and meal ticket.

Volunteers must be 15 years old or older. You may have a high school student at home who by mid-July may be looking for a way to spend time. This would be a fantastic opportunity for him or her to serve the community and practice leadership skills.

Choose from two shifts on each day of the event:

Tuesday, July 22

7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

11:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 23

7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

11:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 24

7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

11:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Interested? Contact Jennifer DeClerg at declergj@anr.msu.edu by July 14. Include your T-shirt size, cell phone number, shift(s) you would like to work, and the area you would like to volunteer in. Every effort will be made to accommodate your request.

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Simple but smart

Many people tend their gardens and care for their lawns but not everyone knows how to approach these tasks in an environmentally friendly fashion that can save money. Michigan State University Extension educators and specialists are doing their part to make sure that folks become knowledgeable about earth-friendly, research-based lawn-care and gardening techniques through the Smart Gardening initiative.

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Judy Workman (right) of Oakland County helps a client

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Judy Workman (right) of Oakland County helps a client learn about using native plants in the landscape at the Cottage and Lakefront Living Show in Novi on February, 21, 2013. (Photo: Rebecca Finneran)

According to Extension educator Rebecca Finneran, it all started when MSU professor of entomology David Smitley said to her, “Rebecca, the commercial green industry folks are doing a great job of implementing MSUE research to help be better stewards of the environment but not homeowners ‒ why not?”

Rebecca realized that the message needed to be reinforced with home gardeners. Rebecca and the consumer horticulture team members’ desire to reach home gardeners about getting smart about the environment launched the Smart Gardening initiative. Throughout this campaign, the message of smart gardening comes across in everything they do.

Besides Rebecca and Dr. Smitley, other members of the Smart Gardening team include Bob Bricault, Mallory Fournier, Mary Gerstenberger, Gary Heilig (retired), Hal Hudson, Joy Landis, Carol Lenchek, Beth Stuever, Gretchen Voyle, Linda Whitlock and Mary Wilson.

The team’s directed outreach focuses on three simple messages: smart soils, smart lawns and smart plants. That’s it. Simple but smart.

The smart gardening team along with Master Gardener volunteers got out their smart messages to the public at Ag Expo and at home and garden shows in Novi and Grand Rapids that reached approximately 45,000 people. The educators delivered 16 mini-seminars at the two shows.

MSU Extension horticulture educator Mary Wilson (left) shares gardening expertise

MSU Extension horticulture educator Mary Wilson (left) shares gardening expertise Feb. 21, 2013, at the Cottage and Lakefront Living Show in Novi, Mich. This was just one of a series of 16 Smart Gardening lectures provided by MSU Extension staffers at two public shows in winter 2013. (Photo: Rebecca Finneran)

The Gardening in Michigan website redesign produced the Smart Gardening website where folks could not only access fact sheets and watch videos, but also leave their live questions in an “Ask an Expert” box. The team distributes electronic fact sheets across the state to all of the district coordinators who in turn give them to local leaders such as county commissioners who place them in e-newsletters.

The team and volunteers have had thousands of discussions with clients and have distributed nearly 32,000 Smart Gardening tip sheets. They’ve continuously reinforced the smart gardening message through public outreach, conferences, classes, seminars, media work, websites and day-to-day discussions. And of course, it’s all research-based.

Going forward, the team is collaborating with the Ohio State University Extension to pool resources to create an even stronger impact.

A Smart Gardening Conference will take place Sept. 14 in Marquette. Read more here.

The Smart Gardening initiative connects people to the tools they need to care for their lawns and gardens while protecting the earth and saving money as well.

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Linda Dodge of Kent County directs a client

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Linda Dodge of Kent County directs a client to learn more about reducing the use of phosphorous in her lawn March 1, 2013, at the West Michigan Home and Garden Show in Grand Rapids. (Photo: Rebecca Finneran)

 

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Governor and new index show confidence in agriculture

At the annual Ag Expo breakfast July 16, Gov. Rick Snyder expressed his confidence in Michigan’s agriculture industry. The first Michigan Agriculture and Food Index (MAFI) was released at the Expo. The index shows that food and agriculture leaders share that confidence. Results from the index came from an MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio survey of 100 members of the Food and Agriculture Roundtable. The roundtable consists of farmers, leaders of agribusiness firms and food processors.

The roundtable and the index are just two elements in our efforts to be more responsive to the needs of our stakeholders and more accountable to decision makers in the way we respond. The Food and Agriculture Roundtable members will be polled twice annually to gauge their perceptions of the business climate for food and agriculture in Michigan. Although we are not suggesting that Michigan State University gets credit for when the index is up or should be blamed when the index is down, we ARE suggesting that the index should help us focus on the issues that might be the cause of a decline in the index and track how our efforts might influence those conditions.

Over the past 8 years, we’ve relied on one figure more than any other to characterize the strength of the food and agriculture industries in the state: the Product Center’s estimate of the total economic impact of the food and agriculture sector. In 2006, the Product Center estimated the total economic impact of the sector at $60.1 billion. In 2009, that impact had grown to $71.3 billion and by 2012, the estimate was up to $91.4 billion. That information will continue to be important – and the fact that this measure has been increasing reflects some of the same patterns that are reflected in the positive outlook this new index has documented. MSU Extension is one of the key funding sources for the work of the Product Center, along with MSU AgBioResearch, and the research coming from the Product Center helps us to better understand the needs of an important industry that we serve.

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What’s Now? What’s Next?

Following Gov. Rick Snyder’s speech at Ag Expo July 16, the first session in the statewide series “What’s Now? What’s Next?” took place. In this town-hall-style event, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) dean Fred Poston, AgBioResearch director Doug Buhler, associate dean and director of academic and student affairs for the CANR Kelly Millenbah and I will connect with folks across Michigan to hear from them about how the CANR, AgBioResearch and Michigan State University Extension can move Michigan forward through research, education and outreach.

Visit the What’s Now? What’s Next? Web page for a list of dates and locations. Click on an event to register. Registration is requested but not required. I’ve had a number of MSU Extension colleagues ask if it is appropriate for them to attend these sessions. It’s certainly not required for MSUE staff to attend, but the meetings are open to all and I would encourage those who are interested to participate. Dean Poston will be a speaker at Fall Extension Conference, but you are likely to hear more about what is happening in the academic programs and research of the CANR at the What’s Now? What’s Next? sessions.

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MSU Extension staff members educate at Ag Expo

Visitors to Ag Expo take a break from the heat.

Visitors to Ag Expo take a break from the heat. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

It was another hot one! Just like last year and the year before that, Michigan State University Extension staff members braved the 90-plus degree heat and high humidity July 16‒18 at the 2013 Ag Expo on the MSU campus. Although attendance was down from last year (total attendance was 12,600), and the heat even prompted some visitors to stop and find a shady place to rest during the event, our staff members kept up the task at hand – delivering research-based education and promoting our programs.

At the Crop and Soil Science Corner, attendees learned about energy crops and biomass pelletization, and the soil practices that impact soil health.

In the Mortality Management Tent, visitors heard experts talk about work directed at minimizing environmental impacts of animal agriculture including manure and mortality composting (with daily demonstrations), air quality management and on-farm water use.

At the Information Station, the MSU Extension Bookstore offered selected educational publications at no charge along with MSU Extension bookmarks and tote bags. The tent also contained publications for purchase and sample publications and DVDs on a wide variety of topics that people could purchase online. In addition, randomly selected visitors took an MSU Extension Bookstore survey. Upon completion of the survey, these attendees received a book as a thank-you.

Michigan State University Extension staff members Joyce McGarry (green shirt) and Beth Jabin (white shirt), interact with Ag Expo attendees

Michigan State University Extension staff members Joyce McGarry (green shirt) and Beth Jabin (white shirt), interact with Ag Expo attendees at the Health and Nutrition Institute Booth. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Dawn Contreras.

Staff members gave a tour of the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center.

Our staff educated through demonstrations and displays in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Tent.

Extension staff members presented sessions on gardening in containers, starting a successful cottage food industry and growing tomatoes.

At the combined MSU Extension and AgBioResearch area, visitors received educational information about the two organizations. They learned the locations of MSU Extension county offices and AgBioResearch research centers. They picked up brochures and some fun giveaways for both adults and kids.

Attendees learned about healthy eating at the Health and Nutrition Institute’s display, which featured visual models to help visitors better understand nutrition. Examples included a one-pound replica of human fat and a display showing the amount of hidden sugar and fat in commonly consumed items. Visitors viewed jars containing jellybeans, which demonstrated the amount of bacteria that grows on food when it’s left out for extended periods, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

Jars with jellybeans demonstrate the amount of bacteria that grows on food

Jars with jellybeans demonstrate the amount of bacteria that grows on food when it’s left out for extended periods, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. The jars were part of the Michigan State University Extension Health and Nutrition Institute display at Ag Expo July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Dawn Contreras

The Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) area featured Breakfast on the Farm and agriculture literacy. Topic areas included dairy and crop progress, soil conservation, Michigan agriculture, animal well-being and the cow as a natural recycler. Visitors practiced milking a wooden dairy cow. A display featured food items made in Michigan; another showed Michigan’s number-one national ranking for the production of blueberries, sour cherries, pickling cucumbers and 12 floriculture crops. Children and adults enjoyed making butter by shaking containers of whipping cream until they had butter and buttermilk. The AABI area also included a display on irrigation management.

Plenty of activities in the tent commanded the attention of young visitors. The Children and Youth Institute display area featured the Commodity Carnival game in which young people learned how weather and commodity prices affect profit when selling livestock. Kids also spun a life-skills wheel, where they learned more about the four cornerstones of 4-H (head, heart, hands and health) and won prizes. The early childhood education team promoted early childhood literacy and gave away books donated by the Molina Foundation.

MSU Extension got the message out about smart gardening. Master Gardener volunteers and MSU Extension staff members found that Ag Expo was the perfect place to discuss how home gardeners can be good stewards of the environment while growing gardens and lawns.

Michigan State University Extension educator Sara Keinath explains the 4-H life-skills wheel to two young attendees of Ag Expo.

Michigan State University Extension educator Sara Keinath explains the 4-H life-skills wheel to two young attendees of Ag Expo. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Visitors to the CANR tent contributed $1,727 to support CANR scholarships and enjoyed complimentary ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store.

Other exhibitors in the CANR Tent included the national agricultural fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho, the CANR Alumni Association, the CANR Office of Academic and Student Affairs, the College of Veterinary Medicine, Firewise, the Institute of Water Research, Kettunen Center, Michigan FFA, the Michigan Nut Growers Association, Michigan Pork, My Horse University and Michigan Equine News, the MSU Product Center and MSU Surplus and Recycling,

Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Marianna Foster (right) gives attendees tips on smart gardening at Ag Expo.

Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Marianna Foster (right) gives attendees tips on smart gardening at Ag Expo. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Since our staff did so much, I’ve probably left something out. If you’d like to mention your display or presentation or anything else about Ag Expo, please let us know about it in the comments section for this article.

Thanks to all who helped out at Ag Expo whether out front or behind the scenes.

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