Tag Archives: AmeriCorps

MSU Extension hosts FoodCorps service members, supports farm-to-school program

Childhood hunger and childhood obesity may seem to be opposite problems, but both may be caused by a lack of healthy food. Schools may be just the place to help prevent both problems.

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who collaborate with communities to make schools a healthier place for kids to eat, learn and grow. FoodCorps aims to let all children know what healthy food is, where it comes from and how it keeps them healthy. In the process of helping children, FoodCorps service members gain experience for future careers in the food and health services.

In this new program year, FoodCorps has 205 service members placed with over 500 schools in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Michigan is one of those states.

Michigan State University Extension in Grand Traverse County is a local FoodCorps Michigan service site. Our organization hosts FoodCorps service member Mikaela Taylor who along with Stephanie Cumper, hosted by the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities (formerly the Michigan Land Use Institute), is busy building partnerships with food service workers, farmers, school administrators, teachers, parents and community members. They are using a team approach to support farm-to-school programming in Grand Traverse and Benzie counties.

MSU Extension Health and Nutrition Institute educator Sarah Eichberger serves as the site supervisor for Mikaela at the Traverse City FoodCorps service site. FoodCorps service members have been in Traverse City since the founding of the program five years ago. This is the first year that Groundworks and MSU Extension Grand Traverse County are working jointly to host and provide leadership to service members.

The two service members and their service sites took part in the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, partnering with the Father Fred Foundation to organize a garden restoration project that will provide the Father Fred food pantry in Traverse City with fresh local produce.

In addition, MSU Extension hosts a FoodCorps service site in Chippewa County. MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute educator Michelle Walk supervises FoodCorps service member Jeannette Cushway.

Terry McLean, MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute educator has served as the host site supervisor for the FoodCorps Michigan program on behalf of the Community Food Systems work team since 2013.

Terry says that the FoodCorps National Service Program touches all of the core work areas of MSU Extension through teaching school-aged children about healthy food, encouraging healthy eating habits, assisting in development of school gardens and sourcing healthy food for school cafeterias.

In addition, FoodCorps service members get back what they give.

“As service members perform a year of paid public service alongside educators and community leaders in high-need schools across Michigan communities, leadership skills emerge, preparing them for a range of future careers in education, food and health services,” Terry said.

Read this MSU Extension News article by Sarah Eichberger, which tells more about the work of FoodCorps and the two service members working in Grand Traverse and Benzie counties: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/northwest_michigan_welcomes_two_new_foodcorps_service_members

Also read this MSU Extension News article by Terry McLean, which gives a great overview of FoodCorps as well as FoodCorps Michigan: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/foodcorps_michigan_cultivating_healthy_kids_through_healthy_school_diets

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Kent County 4-H and Bethany Christian Services partner for MLK Day of Service

Every year, Americans come together on or near the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to serve others.

A volunteer makes a blanket at the “Live in Laughter & Warm the Heart” Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service event on Jan. 18, 2014

A volunteer makes a blanket at the “Live in Laughter & Warm the Heart” Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service event on Jan. 18, 2014, at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Mich. The event was a partnership between MSU Extension and Bethany Christian Services.
Photo credit: Kristi Bowers

This year, Michigan State University Extension Kent County 4-H partnered with Bethany Christian Services in a Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service event on Jan. 18 at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Mich. The two organizations hosted more than 125 volunteers who made 75 fleece blankets during the “Live in Laughter & Warm the Heart” community service project. The blankets were donated to Project Linus, a nonprofit organization. Project Linus’ mission is to provide love and a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through gifts of blankets created by volunteers.

The volunteers also created joke booklets – some in Spanish – to accompany the blankets.

The materials were purchased through a mini-grant that was awarded by the Michigan Community Service Commission and through 4-H participation fees. Bethany Christian Services provided lunch for the volunteers.

Local AmeriCorps members and sororities came to support the event. Mentor-mentee matches from Bethany Christian Services as well as some Kent County 4-H members participated.

Kristi Bowers, MSU Extension Kent County 4-H program coordinator, worked with Janine Thomas of Bethany Christian Services to organize the event.

“This is the second event that we have collaborated on. I’ve had lots of fun working with Bethany Christian Services staff. I love their positive energy!” Kristi said.


Kristi Bowers, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Kent County 4-H program coordinator, poses with an MSU blanket

Kristi Bowers, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Kent County 4-H program coordinator, poses with an MSU blanket made at the “Live in Laughter & Warm the Heart” Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service event on Jan. 18, 2014, at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Mich. The event was a partnership between MSU Extension and Bethany Christian Services.
Photo credit: Janine Thomas

Glenda Kilpatrick, MSU Extension Kent County educator and Kristi’s supervisor said, “I am very pleased that Kristi has developed a new partner for the Kent MSUE 4-H program and has developed such a meaningful service opportunity in the community.”

View this WoodTV8 video that features Kristi talking about the event: http://www.woodtv.com/news/local/grand-rapids/local-volunteers-support-project-linus

Thanks for your leadership, Kristi and Glenda!

Many of you organized or took part in MLK Day of Service projects across the state. Click on the comments under this story to tell us about your project.

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Extension staff member wins national technology award

Many of our Michigan State University Extension staff members are busy earning advanced degrees while continuing to work full-time for our organization. MSU Extension 4-H associate program leader Molly Frendo has not only been pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology (EPET) at the MSU College of Education, she has also won a national award while balancing both worlds. Molly has been selected to receive the National University Technology Network (NUTN) 2013 Student Recognition Award.

NUTN is a consortium of higher education institutions that provides a networking and professional development arena for the advancement of teaching and learning. The NUTN Student Recognition Award recognizes students whose use of distance learning has been both exemplary and impactful in providing opportunities for personal and professional advancement. Molly received the award because of her use of technology in contributing to her work and in advancing her own goals personally.

MSU faculty members Punya Mishra and Leigh Graves Wolf nominated Molly for the award, which she’ll receive Sept. 17 in Albuquerque, N.M., at Network 2013, the NUTN annual conference.

Molly has been at the forefront of advancing technology in Extension, lending her expertise in the area of volunteer management and administration.

She helped create a virtual community of AmeriCorps volunteers through Moodle. She’s led and co-led a variety of workshops on technology on topics such as creating effective and engaging webinars, facilitating effective conference calls and using social networking in a professional manner. More recently, the topics have included using virtual communities to support volunteer retention and using technology to build capacity in volunteer administration. Additionally, she was the closing keynote speaker for the 2013 National Extension Conference on Volunteerism, where the title of her speech was “Finding your Sense of Adventure: Technology and the 21st Century Volunteer.”

In addition, she used MSUE-developed curriculum to teach Grand Valley State University undergraduate social work students about setting appropriate boundaries on- and offline. She was a project manager for the recently published 4-H mentoring curriculum Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit. She also helped launch 4-H Tech Wizards in Michigan.

Active in eXtension, she’s co-facilitated online professional development on both the Learn and Campus sides of the Internet-based collaborative environment. She co-leads the eXtension Community of Practice focused on volunteer administration. She serves on the 2014 National eXtension conference committee, the MSUE I-Team (eXtension Institutional Team) committee and the I-Team website committee. She received an I-Team award last year at Fall Extension Conference for use of technology in programming.

Molly said, “My work here in Extension never was really meant to focus on technology (which is kind of the funny thing!), but I got started in the area of technology through running the AmeriCorps program and using Moodle to do an online community there. It was so successful that we thought about the ways that it could be helpful in other 4-H volunteer environments. In doing this work, we’ve been able to envision the role that technology can and should play on a wider level within the Cooperative Extension Service. There’s a lot of potential for us to innovate how we serve the public and partner together across the country – but the skill set to do that effectively is a new one and we’re working on equipping everyone to do it well. I’ve really enjoyed my work in this area; it’s what prompted me to begin my Ph.D. in this area to be more prepared to serve Extension on a broad level.”

Congratulations, Molly! And thanks for sharing your innovative spirit with MSUE!

Read more here: http://edwp.educ.msu.edu/news/2013/phd-student-wins-national-recognition/

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Six Extension educators receive Step III promotions

The Michigan State University Provost’s Office has approved promotions of six Extension academic staff members to Step III status. Step III is awarded to Extension academic staff members who have demonstrated excellence and scholarly achievement in their work as Extension professionals over a sustained period. Those who are awarded Step III are promoted to “senior” status and their titles are changed by addition of the senior modifier to the title of educator, program leader or specialist. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding senior Extension educators.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Greening Michigan Institute

Teresa provides home ownership education in Washtenaw County and is certified to provide foreclosure prevention and intervention as well as post-purchase education. She wrote and updated the content for the credit section of the MI Money Health website. Teresa has provided train the trainer programs for the RELAX: Alternatives to Anger Program statewide and assisted in creating the evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness and impact of the program. She co-authored a USDA CSREES-NIFA Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant that awarded Washtenaw County MSU Extension $240,000 to create a coalition in a school district to build a sense of community. She is an excellent collaborator as demonstrated through her membership on numerous county coalitions. She has taken on key leadership roles with the Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS). She is active in professional organizations and has received numerous honors and awards.

Barbara Duvall, Children and Youth Institute

Barb has excelled in collaboration both within MSU Extension and with outside organizations. A peer reviewer of state and national curricula in the area of youth financial literacy, she has also co-authored a National 4-H career exploration curriculum. She also authored a 1-year follow-up evaluation for the 4-H Millionaires program, based on a tool created by colleagues at The Ohio State University Extension. Her involvement in the 4-H Kids Club afterschool program helped it to win a National 4-H Program of Distinction Award as well as the Family Strengthening Award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She served as teacher and facilitator as well as researcher for the 4-H Natural Helpers program, developing an evaluation tool and compiling the evaluation results into a summary report that captured program impact over the course of 18 years and reached more than 400 youth. Barb has been recognized by her peers at not only the state level but also the national level when she was selected for the National Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

Gerald May, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute

Gerald has accomplished many quality Extension programs and initiatives within the pork industry in Michigan. He uses a variety of educational delivery methods. He has developed a state and national reputation in the area of site selection for animal production systems and management of air emission from those operations. Recently, he has provided leadership for the climate variability and change action team activities. He has participated in many state, regional and national pork-related educational training meetings, conferences and tours. He is involved in GAAMPS (generally accepted agricultural and management practices) efforts and is a teaching resource for many in-service training efforts. He received the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) President’s Citation and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Achievement Award.

Stanley Moore, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute

Stan has state, national and international recognition in his area of responsibility in the dairy industry. He also is gaining a reputation as an expert in agriculture human resources (HR) management. His efforts in HR management have connected him with Hispanic labor support agencies allowing him to incorporate the connections into his programming. In addition, Stan has taken the initiative to learn Spanish to serve those audiences. He uses a wide range of methods to deliver his educational efforts. An effective teacher, he is able to reach both youth and adult audiences. He has taken leadership within the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Ag Business work group for Extension’s agriculture labor education. As an active member of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA), he has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award in 2008 and various awards for his communication efforts. Stan is perhaps recognized most for his roles as regional director, national vice president, president-elect and finally president of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA). Stan has worked with small and large producers, giving leadership to the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference from 2003 to 2010 and watching it grow from 300 to 700 participants.

Kurt Schindler, Greening Michigan Institute

Recognized statewide as the go-to person for land use information in Michigan, Kurt has taken on key roles in the development of curricula and materials. He teaches sessions for the Michigan Prosperity Initiative and maintains the land use page for MSU Extension. He has authored or co-authored numerous publications in the MSU Extension Land Use Series. He was part of the team that developed Citizen Planner throughout Michigan and has taught Citizen Planner for many years. He is an active member of the eXtension Community of Practice Land Use Planning team. Kurt provided technical assistance and cooperated in a research project with the Victor Institute to develop the Wexford County master plan. Kurt has offered programs in a wide variety of formats, incorporating experiential learning activities and humor. He has provided leadership as co-chair to the Government and Public Policy work group in the Greening Michigan Institute and the Land Use AoE team. He received his American Institute Certified Planner credential in 2009. Kurt has received the MSU Extension Director’s Meritorious Service Award and the Raymond Vlasin Award for Program Excellence. He also received the prestigious Michigan Association of Planning Outstanding Professional Planner of the Year award in 2010.

Nancy Victorson, Children and Youth Institute

As the result of an America’s Promise initiative, Nancy conducted a community youth needs survey in individual schools. As the outcome, a community teen center was developed. Now known as the Luce County Community Resource and Recreation Center run by a youth-adult board, the teen center has been sustained by the community for 16 years through grants and donations. Nancy is involved in statewide grant programs through AmeriCorps, such as 4-H Club Read and 4-H Peer Mentoring/Service Learning. She has secured more than $116,000 in grants to support positive youth development programs. She engaged youth in program planning and teaching through the 4-H Natural Helpers program. She established and maintained an active Extension Council. Through her efforts in international exchanges, she has provided opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to interact with and learn from each other. Intentional in her programming to introduce cultural experiences to youth, leaders and community members, she coordinated international exchange programs, developed an innovative global education experience through a Culture Fest and co-authored a new 4-H global education curriculum. Her effective collaboration with multiple partners over time has resulted in quality programming in the counties she serves and statewide.

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New mentoring curriculum is ready to go

One of the things that people in our organization do best is to realize there’s a need and then take the steps to fill that need.

Back in 2009, Michigan State University Extension 4-H staff realized that they lacked existing processes to help new mentoring staff and AmeriCorps members gain skills and resources for mentor training. A search for current hands-on mentoring training materials came up empty. The team decided to create a curriculum to meet the need.

The result, Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit (4H1642PDF),provides mentoring professionals with a customizable mentor-training curriculum, support for using the curriculum and a toolkit to ensure that all mentors in planned youth mentoring programs have access to evidence-based training.

Led by MSU Extension 4-H senior mentoring specialist Lisa Bottomley, project director for the curriculum, the team includes project managers Molly Frendo, 4-H associate program leader; Anna EldenBrady, former 4-H program worker; Christine Sisung, 4-H program coordinator; and Jillian Tremonti, former 4-H program worker.

Numerous lead authors and contributors made the curriculum possible. They include MSU Extension professionals as well as partners from other organizations such as the Department of Human Services and Alma College.

The team piloted the curriculum at professional development trainings in 2010 and 2011. Peer reviewers made up of mentoring and other youth development professionals with related content-area expertise critiqued the activities. Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications staff edited and designed the final product, completed in October.

Lisa and Molly recently attended the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference Oct. 21-25 in Orlando, Fla. They had the opportunity to share one of the five modules of the curriculum with attendees.

Lisa said, “The new mentoring curriculum was very well received and participants showed enthusiasm for utilizing it as both a volunteer and staff training development tool. Though we designed it to train mentors, it’s proven to be an effective tool to train any youth-serving volunteers.”
Extension educator Scott Lakin found the curriculum to be an excellent resource.

Scott said, “As a new educator, I was able to easily plan a complete, two-evening training for volunteers wanting to become 4-H Tech Wizards Mentors. The training menu examples gave me a framework to adjust for our local needs and the organization of activities by modules ensured I covered all the basics with the new group. Each activity was thoroughly explained in a consistent format, making them easy to refer to during the training and giving me plenty of ways to extend the activity if there was extra time.”

Scott recognizes the versatility of the product.

“I can see this training curriculum being an excellent resource for our mentoring programs, a supplement to our other volunteer training programs and a great product for other organizations to take advantage of for their programs,” Scott said.

You can find the toolkit in the MSU Extension Bookstore as a downloadable PDF. View the free introduction and cover pages to get an idea of the scope of the curriculum.

MSU Extension staff members can purchase a PDF file of the entire curriculum at half price. To make this purchase, you must first log in to the MSUE Bookstore site and create a user profile (if you don’t already have one). You can also log in using a county email and password. Please note, this special offer is only for the full curriculum, not the individual unit modules. The product number for the half-price item is 4H1642PDFMSUE. You can find it by searching for that number or by entering the title.

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MSU Extension educators counsel struggling homeowners

A perfect storm of “job losses, increasing monthly mortgage payments, and property value depreciation, among other factors, have made Michigan the center of the foreclosure crisis,” according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

 The effects of foreclosure threaten the dream of homeownership for many, ruin credit and push families into crisis very quickly, reducing their quality of life and putting them at risk of homelessness. Children forced to move due to a foreclosure run the risk of being uprooted from their schools and isolated from friends.

 Besides having personal ramifications, foreclosure affects communities through abandoned housing, declines in neighborhood property values and an increase in the cost of city services. A single foreclosed property can be a high cost to taxpayers while the cost of foreclosure counseling is low in comparison.

 An Urban Institute report, published January 2012, demonstrated significant positive effects of financial counseling. Counseled homeowners were more likely to receive more affordable loan modifications, cure serious delinquencies, remain current on their loans and avoid foreclosure completions altogether.

 Michigan State University Extension staff members are working to help Michigan residents keep their homes in these uncertain economic times. In Ionia County, Brenda Long, Extension educator; Jim Buxton, Extension program worker; and Vicki Newcomb, Michigan Foreclosure AmeriCorps Program member; counsel struggling homeowners. The foreclosure education and intervention is available at no cost to distressed homeowners.

 In 2011, MSU Extension Ionia County served 115 homeowner households with one-on-one foreclosure mitigation education and counseling. Out of those homeowner households, 36 percent were able to keep their mortgages current, keep to a repayment plan or receive a modification cure. Only 16 percent foreclosed.

 Preventative measures can prevent financial problems before they lead to foreclosure. Open to anyone interested, the MSU Extension Pre-Purchase Home Buyer Education Program served 20 households in Ionia County in 2011. Most had already chosen their homes to purchase and were referred by local lenders for education prior to closing on their mortgage loans. Education focused on closing, budgeting, and keeping and maintaining the home.

 MSU Extension educators Chris Venema in Lapeer County, Jean Lakin in Macomb County and Terry Clark-Jones in Washtenaw County coordinate similar housing education programs.

 MSU Extension also offers an online homebuyer education course available statewide at ehomeamerica.org/msue.

 The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has been a key partner of MSU Extension since 1990. Because our housing counselors are MSHDA certified, we receive support, local partnerships and opportunities for revenue.

 MSU Extension is also a HUD-approved organization statewide. The mission of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.

 Thanks to our MSU Extension colleagues who are helping people to improve their lives by reducing the risk of mortgage foreclosure through financial counseling and education.

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MSUE staff member is Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member of the Month

Kristy Oosterhouse was named Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member of the Month. She splits her time between the Michigan State University Extension Eaton County Office and the MSU campus. In Eaton County, Kristy runs STOMP 4-H Youth Mentoring under the guidance of Jenny O’Neal, Extension educator. Kristy and Jenny also recently assumed responsibility for Ingham County’s mentoring program as well in an effort to save it from closing. On campus, Kristy is under the guidance of Molly Frendo, MSUE associate program leader, and Lisa Bottomley, Extension specialist. Her service on campus includes 4-H Mentoring Weekend, the 4-H Guided Adventures curriculum and the 4-H Mentor Training curriculum. Kristy served as a member with the 4-H Mentor Michigan Initiative AmeriCorps program; she now is serving her second year of service with the new Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps.

According to Molly, “Kristy has been one of our super star members over the past two years and we have been very blessed to have her as an integral part of our team.”

Click here to read about more about Kristy.

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Filed under 4-H, Mentoring