Tag Archives: anr communications

MSU Christmas tree resources abound

If you’re a procrastinator and you haven’t purchased your Christmas tree yet or even if you’ve had it up and decorated for weeks, you’ll want to listen to a conversation on WKAR. Kirk Heinze, host of Greening of the Great Lakes, interviews Bert Cregg, Michigan State University Extension specialist and associate professor of horticulture and forestry, on how to pick out, care for and dispose of a live Christmas tree: http://www.mlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/11/michigans_christmas_tree_indus.html

(After clicking on the above link, scroll down for the link to the conversation.)

Dr. Cregg mentions that many people have never had a real Christmas tree. To allay their doubts and fears, he and his team have developed programs and educational resources. One such resource is an MSU Extension article on first-time tree buying by Dr. Cregg and senior Extension educator Jill O’Donnell:


Scroll down on the same page to find more articles, a Michigan Fresh fact sheet Michigan Christmas Trees (written by Jill O’Donnell, Bert Cregg and Extension educator Erin Lizotte) and videos produced by Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications on selecting and caring for your tree.

Here’s a link to 14 new 15-second videos produced by ANR Communications giving species-specific information regarding Christmas trees: http://bit.ly/1ORVlc4. Retailers can use QR codes that link to the videos on tree tags to help consumers optimize tree quality and longevity.

In addition to educating the public, MSU Extension and AgBioResearch specialists and scientists are busy doing research that will assist growers with fertilization management. They’re also working with genetic selection, finding and identifying the species and types of trees that adapt best to Michigan growing conditions.

Watch this ANR Communications-produced video on Christmas tree research, part of the Did You Know? video series:

The video will be shown on WKAR on the following dates and times:

  • WKAR HD: Sat., Dec. 19, 4:57 p.m.
  • WKAR HD: Mon., Dec. 21, 12:27 a.m.
  • WKAR HD: Tues., Dec. 22, 10:57 p.m.
  • WKAR CRT (Create): Tues., Dec. 22, 3:56 p.m.

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Statewide MSU Extension and ABR Issue ID survey deadline extended

As of today, approximately two-thirds of the district focus group sessions identifying community needs and issues have taken place. Participation has been high and the preliminary feedback has been very positive. There are a few focus groups still scheduled for November, but most of the remaining sessions will take place in January.

Back in August, we asked assistance from all Michigan State University Extension staff to help promote our online Issue Identification (Issue ID) Survey, which we launched in September. As you know, the survey is designed to collect input from Michigan residents 18 years and older. Like the information collected through the district focus group sessions, this input will be used to shape future MSU Extension educational programming and MSU AgBioResearch research.

Earlier this month, we released multiple language versions of the survey. It is now currently available online not only in English but also in Spanish. In addition, it’s available in hard-copy form in English, Spanish and Arabic. Originally, the survey deadline was set at Nov. 15; however, we’ve decided to extend that deadline to Jan. 31, 2016, in part, to promote the multiple language versions but also to increase input from others throughout the state as well, making sure we collect data from a broad audience.

We know you’ve done your part, because responses from the survey are continuing to come in. However, we ask that you continue to promote the survey. Some ideas to further promote the survey follow:


  • Share on Listservs: Share information about the survey with Listservs and include it in your communication. Include the link to this MSU Extension article about the survey.
  • Share with partners and friends: Identify organizations that can help MSU Extension reach target audiences who might not already be receiving information from MSU Extension. Often, partner organizations and friends are happy to help push the survey to their contacts.
  • Share the link directly to the survey when appropriate: msue.edu/focus
  • Share through your email: Add this sentence to your Outlook signature and embed the link: Take the MSU Extension and AgBioResearch Survey to Sharpen Our Focus.
  • Share through social media: Look for messages you can share on the MSU Extension Facebook and Twitter Also, please encourage partner organizations to use their social media accounts to help spread the word about the survey.
  • Share with media contacts: While Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications is pushing out information about the survey to print, digital, radio and television media, you are encouraged to share with any personal media contacts. That extra push may result in more media placements.
  • Share the Issue ID handout provided on SharePoint: You can find it located in the Survey Promotional Materials folder by going to MSUE All Staff ‒ FEC Action Teams ‒ Issues Identification Team ‒ Survey Promotional Materials.

We’ll all look forward to seeing the results of our efforts!

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We need your help promoting the MSUE Issue ID Survey

We need assistance from all Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff to help promote our online Issue Identification Survey scheduled to launch Sept. 14. The survey, which will remain open until Nov. 14, is designed to collect input from Michigan residents 18 years and older. This input will be used to shape future MSU Extension educational programming and MSU AgBioResearch research. This survey is not designed for staff to fill out, but you will have several opportunities to give input into the process including a chance to review the information collected from the survey participants in your work groups to shape future work plans. Now, however, we need everyone’s help to promote the survey.

Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications will promote the survey online through the MSU Extension website on our homepage, on county pages, through digests and in general throughout our Web presence. ANR Communications will also seek press coverage and will look for other media opportunities to gain coverage for the survey. However, press releases distributed from local MSU Extension offices have a better chance of being printed in local newspapers. That’s why we need all MSU Extension staff to begin planning to distribute press releases to local print and broadcast media. Also, post information on locally controlled county Web pages and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, promote the survey to program participants 18 years and older at meetings, events and programs; print the link on agendas and programs; and consider passing out business or index cards with the link information in the office, at meetings or during programs.

To assist in your promotion efforts, ANR Communications will produce templates for print, broadcast and social media that you can use to help promote the survey. These will be sent out to staff members in the coming weeks along with the Web address for the survey.

Unfortunately, youth under the age of 18 cannot fill out the survey due to regulations related to parental approval with online survey taking. However, MSU Extension does value youth input and district coordinators are encouraged to invite youth to the district focus group sessions. The Issue Identification Task Force will also be working with Dr. Julie Chapin and the Children and Youth Institute work teams to ensure youth are engaged in the work group and team portion of the process in early 2016.

We want good survey return rates! To produce a survey report for each county we need a viable sample, which means at least 30 surveys from that county. Of course, we want many more than 30 per county, but we need at least that for any one county. We ask educators and district coordinators to promote the survey in all the counties they serve. A survey report website has been created that will allow district coordinators and others to monitor the survey numbers and pull county specific reports after the minimum number of surveys are reached. Once the survey is closed, this survey report website will be open to staff as well.

In addition to your promoting the survey and creating awareness in the community, we’ve created incentives. People who complete the survey can register for a drawing to win one of three prizes: first prize ‒ two tickets to an MSU Men’s Basketball game; second prize ‒ a basket of Michigan products; and third prize ‒ a $75 gift certificate to www.shop.msu.edu.

Please do your part to help us make our Issue Identification Survey a success!

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MSU Extension promotional materials win awards

Two projects from Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications recently received Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) awards. The ACE Critique and Awards program recognizes individuals and teams for excellence in communication and technology skills.

The Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch 2013-2014 Legislative Report won gold in the Special Report category. This report recounts impact stories, data factoids as well as funding information presented with pie charts and infographics, pulling it all together in an attractive, easy-to-read format that we can share with stakeholders.

The project was managed by Sean Corp, editor with ANR Communications, but also featured the writing, design and editing of Natasha Berryman, James Dau, Jane L. DePriest, Soundarya Sri Raja Kalidindi, Holly Whetstone, Katie Gervasi, Nichole Hersch, Mariah Montenegro, Mindy Maxwell Tape, Paula Sheynerman, Beth Stuever, Jamie Wilson, Patricia Adams and Marian Reiter.

The report received a perfect score, showing just how hard our team worked on this project.

One of the judges included, “This report is an excellent example of how an organization should communicate its products and services to a diverse audience. The pictures were vivid and high-quality, and portrayed racial, age, and ethnic diversity. The copy was also very informative, detailed and thorough.”

Additionally, the MSU Extension Catalog of Programs and Services won the silver award in the Single Marketing Item category.

Quite a few of you may already be familiar with the catalog – each work team contributed to the content on its programming – but if you haven’t seen the finished product, you can take a look at it online. Sean Corp managed the project, with editing by Rebecca McKee and design by Alicia Burnell.

Both of these publications are great tools to help illustrate our work to potential partners and current contacts alike. If you aren’t sure what is happening outside of your work team, you can read simple descriptions of programming and their impacts. If you need some support materials to describe your own programming, you will find it in easily digestible statements that you can share with the people you interact with.

Congratulations on these two award-winning projects!

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MSU Extension staff member named CANR Staffer of the Month

Alicia Burnell, Michigan State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications graphic artist, has received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Advisory Committee March 2015 Staffer of the Month award.

The award goes to a member of the CANR support staff who has done something special or noteworthy within his or her college or unit.

Two of her colleagues from ANR Communications nominated Alicia: graphic artist Marian Reiter and former communications manager Michelle Lavra. They recognized her for her design skills, as well as her quiet confidence that comes through to her clients and colleagues and leaves no doubt that she’ll get the job done.

Congratulations to Alicia and thanks to Michelle and Marian for nominating her.

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MSU Extension website reached 10 million page views

Last Thursday, we received word from our colleagues at Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Technology Services and ANR Communications that the Michigan State University Extension website had rolled over 10 million page views. That’s quite an accomplishment considering the site only launched April 18, 2012, and every year the traffic continues to increase. The site received approximately 1.85 million page views in year one, 3.64 million in year two and we are already at 4.63 million page views so far this year, still about a month away from our three-year anniversary.

When you submit content to our website (including articles, events, county pages, fact sheets and more), you are adding more opportunities for Michigan residents and individuals from across the globe to benefit from your expertise. You continue to impress our readers, and many are becoming return visitors with the help of digests and social media.

This is a truly amazing accomplishment made possible only because of the content you all create, and the forward-thinking ideas you bring to the table to utilize the website as an outreach tool. This passion for outreach has always been at the heart of MSU Extension, and now we have a website that can help us achieve our mission in the 21st century.

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Farm Bill website building momentum

One of the projects that Michigan State University Extension educators have been working on has been in response to the Agricultural Act of 2014 – commonly called the 2014 Farm Bill – that was signed in early 2014. It is quite different from what farmers and landowners were accustomed to in former farm bills, so our educators and campus specialists from the Farm Information Resource Management (FIRM) Team are working together to provide farmers with information to navigate Farm Bill programs.

Although there may be similarities to past farm bills, it is very important that farmers begin to learn as much as they can before deciding on what program is best suited for their current situation. Farmers can find answers by checking out the Farm Bill page full of resources, important dates, email newsletters and upcoming educational events hosted throughout Michigan.  Each farm location and each farmer’s individual needs vary, therefore, choosing which programs are a good fit will depend on farm-specific variables.

Adam Kantrovich, an Extension educator for the southwest region of the FIRM team, manages the website for this project. He shared the stats of this program page with me, saying that the Farm Bill page is the Number 1 program on the MSU Extension website. From Dec. 12, 2014, to Jan. 11, 2015, the pages have had more than 4,300 visits. We hope to continue to see success with the program as we move forward.

Please feel free to explore MSU Extension’s Farm Bill page, and share it with those in your network who would be interested.

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N:15 ‒ ANR Communication creates news in 15 seconds

In today’s fast-paced and constantly connected world of smartphones, social media and more, we have to stay competitive if we want to attract people to our material as they scroll over multiple news items a day. Michigan State University Extension is well known throughout the state in the agriculture community and among people in the older population, who are more likely to rely on traditional news delivery. But how can we make sure that we’re catching the eye of the younger generation who want information now?

Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications is working to create 15-second videos that will offer a quick-pitch delivery of relevant news. These videos could work either as an introduction, to entice viewers to watch a longer video or to read an article, or as a full explanation of a concept, such as in “How to Convert Grams of Sugar into Teaspoons.

Kraig Ehm and Katie Gervasi, who lead the project, have created a few short videos based on content they already have. They’ve found that they can film an entire recipe in 15 seconds, as they did on this video:

The possibilities are endless!

Check out the ANR N:15 YouTube Channel to see the videos created so far, and stay tuned for more to come!

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MSU Extension Bookstore transition

This week during the Michigan State University Extension webinar update, Doug Brinklow, director of ANR Communications, addressed some of the rumors that have been circulating about the upcoming transition of the MSU Extension Bookstore. No, the bookstore will not be going away, but we are going to be making some improvements.

Later this year, the MSU Extension Bookstore will move from our current platform to shop.msu.edu, which is part of University Stores. University Stores already successfully runs a retail operation through online, phone and face-to-face interactions and also handles product storage and fulfillment with a dedicated staff. They are PCI compliant, which means they maintain a high set of security standards to protect credit card information of purchasers and can make the necessary updates to keep our material easy to purchase or download.

This decision did not come easily. ANR Communications, ANR Technology Services and MSU Extension staff members spent months investigating options to ensure we can retain an easy-to-use system that is positioned for growth. Rather than spending time and money to reinvent the wheel within our current system, the group agreed that the resources available through shop.msu.edu will help us become more efficient.

With this big of a change, there were obviously a few questions for us to clear up. Here are the highlights:

  • The MSU Extension Bookstore will remain open until shortly before the switch to shop.msu.edu.
  • Extension county office discount pricing will be retained.
  • We will still have the ability to publish online-only documents through shop.msu.edu.
  • You will still be able to pick up bookstore items from campus, but they will now be located at Angell Building, 166 Service Rd., East Lansing, MI 48824.
  • All stakeholders/customers will be informed of all steps that need to be taken to begin using the bookstore through shop.msu.edu.

Michelle Lavra, who supervises the communication production team and the video/multimedia team in ANR Communications, will maintain the bookstore relationship with shop.msu.edu. We are on track to meet our goal of transitioning by October 1, 2014, and we will provide more details by mid-September.

As with any transition, we know that there will be wrinkles along the way. We appreciate your help in making this transition as smooth as possible by bringing any issues to the attention of ANR Communications so we can iron them out immediately.

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MAFI reflects confidence in Michigan food and agriculture industry

Leaders in Michigan’s food and agriculture industry are feeling positive about food and agriculture in Michigan. The results of the recent Michigan Agriculture and Food Index (MAFI) reflect their optimistic outlook. In addition, their confidence in our state’s economy overall is climbing.

Twice a year since April 2013, staff members at the Michigan State University Product Center Food-Ag-Bio have sent questionnaires to leaders chosen to give their opinions about the current business climate in the food and agriculture industry. These leaders, members of the Food and Agriculture Roundtable, are made up of farmers, food processors and people who run agribusinesses.

The results of the surveys are used to create the MAFI. A score of 100 is considered neutral on the index’s rating system. Ratings above 100 are considered positive and ratings below 100 are considered negative. Since the index’s inception in 2013, the ratings have never been negative. In addition, ratings on the state of Michigan’s overall economy have grown from 115 in April 2013 to 120 in January 2014 to 133 in April 2014. More than 70 percent of those surveyed are positive about Michigan’s economy.

The index also showed respondents ratings of the state of the food and agriculture system, which showed a steady confidence on all three surveys with indexes of 147, 146 and 145 for each survey, respectively. In addition, respondents generally believe that sales will increase, and the investment index increased 8.4 percent from January to April. The employment index remains unchanged from January.

The index helps Michigan State University Extension educators and specialists to better understand the needs of the industry and determine how our efforts influence conditions.

Check out this article and video from WILX, which features Gov. Rick Snyder; Dr. Chris Peterson, director of the Product Center; and Betsy Braid, Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications educational program coordinator: http://www.wilx.com/home/headlines/State-Agriculture-Business-Booming-268187132.html

Read more on the MAFI in the executive summary: http://expeng.anr.msu.edu/uploads/files/42/MI%20Food%20and%20Ag%20Roundtable%20results%207-18.pdf

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