Tag Archives: anr technology services

New design makes MSU Extension site mobile friendly

According to stats from Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Technology Services, more than 35 percent of the traffic to the Michigan State University Extension site in 2014 was from mobile or tablet devices. Additionally, more and more of our users are now purchasing “smart” devices for day-to-day use, so it is likely that those numbers will continue to rise.

In an effort to accommodate the needs of all of our clients, ANR Technology Services has re-designed the MSU Extension website to be “responsive” to whatever device they use. That means that the website will determine, based on the size of the screen, how to display itself to make it as easy to navigate as possible. It will be just as easy to find what you’re looking for on a smart phone as it is on a desktop.

“A responsive website will help to ensure that MSU Extension experts and information remain available across the wide spectrum of mobile devices and screen sizes,” said Dennis Bond, web manager. “This type of website has been a goal of ours for some time now, and I’m very proud of our website development team for their superb design and implementation.”

This re-design was a long time in the making, and it goes a long way to help us be as accessible as possible, all while maintaining Michigan State University’s branding standards. Our website is a great place to highlight your effort and programming, and continued improvements will make it even easier to showcase. Great job, everyone!

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MSU prof inducted into Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

Dr. Paul Rieke was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, on June 8. He was honored for his service to the golf industry through his teaching, research and extension activities while at Michigan State University.

Paul is the father of Phil Rieke, information technologist in Agriculture and Natural Resources Technology Services.

“He spent a lot of time helping people around the state in the turf industry and made many friends in the process, including former MSU turf program students,” said Phil about his dad.

Dr. Rieke is an MSU professor emeritus whose work included an Extension appointment. He was affiliated with MSU since 1960 and served six years as leader of the MSU Turfgrass Team. He helped develop the MSU Hancock Turfgrass Research Center and was involved in the indoor turfgrass project at the Silverdome for the 1994 World Cup. He’s generally regarded throughout the nation and the world as the authority on turfgrass soils and nutrition.

You can read more about Dr. Rieke’s many accomplishments as well as about the ceremony and the others inducted that day on this Professional Golf Association Web page: http://www.michiganpgagolf.com/michigan-golf-hall-of-fame-inducts-four-at-ferris-state/

By the way, another of the inductees, Becky Iverson, is an MSU graduate.

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Teams work together to attain ACE awards, present at conference

Many of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues will attend the Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) Conference in Portland, Oregon, June 24-27. And once again, many will be presented with ACE awards they have received.

A team from Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications and ANR Technology Services received a silver award in the website category for our own MSU Extension website. Winners include Dennis Bond, Sean Corp, Michelle Lavra and Beth Stuever.

A silver award for a marketing communications campaign went to a team who worked together on the Smart Gardening Initiative. The team included Joy Landis, Mallory Fournier, Rebecca Finneran and Mary Wilson. The recipients developed a process for the Consumer Horticulture team to market Smart Gardening advice and expertise to reach a large number of Michigan gardeners. Additional staff who lend their expertise, time and effort to Smart Gardening include MSU Extension educators Bob Bricault, Diane Brown, Hal Hudson, Rebecca Krans and Gretchen Voyle. Entomology Professor Dave Smitley has also helped build the basis for the initiative.

A bronze award for a marketing communications campaign with a budget of $1,000 or more went to the team of Sean Corp, Katie Gervasi, Mariah Montenegro, Mindy Pratt, Paula Sheynerman and Beth Stuever, all of ANR Communications. The team won for “Extending the Reach of Michigan State University Extension.”

Congratulations to all winners!

In addition, a team from ANR Communications will be presenting at the conference. Sean Corp, Katie Gervasi, Mindy Pratt, Paula Sheynerman and Beth Stuever will present “Promoting Extension: They Come for the News: They Stay for the Programming” Wednesday, June 25 at 4:15 p.m.

Also, the Smart Gardening team of Joy Landis, Mallory Fournier, Rebecca Finneran and Mary Wilson will present “How a Message Campaign Produced a Team to Deliver Smart Gardening to a Smart Audience” Wednesday, June 25 at 11 a.m.

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Staff members give 4-H website new look

If you visited the Michigan 4-H Youth Development website lately, you were greeted with a colorful interface. If you’ve been to the site before, you’ll notice a change – a redesign of the graphics and styles. Although web features and content did not change, they’re enhanced by the redesign.

The Michigan 4-H home page before redesign

The Michigan 4-H home page before redesign

The new look and feel was a collaborative effort that began in August 2013 between Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Technology Services and ANR Communications. At that time, the 4-H Web Team consisted of ANR Technology Services information technologist and manager of web services Dennis Bond, communications manager in ANR Communications Michelle Lavra, ANR Communications technical writer Mariah Montenegro and ANR Communications graphic artist Marian Reiter.

Besides redesigning the site, the 4-H Web Team completed the goal of realigning 4-H site content and Michigan State University Extension 4-H site content so that topic, program, event, news and resource information flow more consistently between sites.

ANR Technology Services provided the bulk of the work of designing and building the new look and feel. Pablo Contreras, then the ANR Technology Services web designer, worked on the design of the new 4-H website from August to October 2013, providing design revisions as needed. ANR Communications approved the design on Dec.13, 2013. Ken Villapando, an ANR Technology Services student employee, began implementing the new site on Jan. 10 and completed his work Feb. 3. Dennis provided functionality changes and oversight during this process, launching the new design on Feb. 7.

The new Michigan 4-H home page after redesign

The new Michigan 4-H home page after redesign

The 4-H Web Team currently includes Dennis, Marian and Mariah, and additionally Jamie Wilson and Beth Stuever, both communications managers in ANR Communications. Kayci Reava of ANR Technology Services became web designer in early January.

The 4-H Web Team meets weekly and is instrumental in the continued development of the website. Over the next few weeks, ANR Technology Services and the 4-H Web Team will continue to make changes to the design to ensure the highest possible quality.

Visit the site and get a look at the team’s hard work: http://4h.msue.msu.edu/

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New features added to Events Management System

The next time you log in to the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Events Management System, you’re likely to notice several changes and exciting new features. Staff members in ANR Event Services and ANR Technology Services have been hard at work developing and adding new features to increase the functionality and capabilities of the system.

The most noticeable change is the creation of a new dashboard. When you log in to the events management system, you will see your event listing. From this event listing, your event title will direct you to the dashboard. This new dashboard provides a summary of your event as well as access to all the necessary links for managing and running your event in one easy-to-find place.

In addition, the events management system now has quotas. You have the ability to set minimum and maximum attendance numbers on the entire event, on a registration process or on a registration input. This new functionality includes a waitlist component so once you reach your quota, your participants will be able to be placed on a waitlist for a possible opening. Visit the “Events Planning Resources” section of the ANR Communications website to watch a pre-recorded training session and learn how to set up quotas on your event.

The counts report also has expanded field options to make it more robust. These customizable reports can now include cost and financial information, such as the registration cost, balance due, amount paid, credits and late fees. In addition, you can now add the notes field on a counts report.

The team is also hard at work developing the duplicate event feature and it should be released before the first of the year.

If you have any questions regarding the system and these new features, or if you want to know how to implement them for your next event, please contact ANR Event Services at events@anr.msu.edu or 517-353-3175.

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Events management hits $1 million mark

Robert (Bob) Kriegel, systems analyst in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Technology Services, has been busy. At the request of Dr. Suzanne Lang, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) associate dean of faculty and administrative affairs, he’s preparing a PowerPoint presentation on the ANR Events Management System and future directions. He shared with me a couple of the metrics he gathered during his analysis for that presentation, and I will share some of that with you now.

As you may have guessed, results of his analysis clearly illustrate the seasonality of Michigan State University Extension event-based programming, with both registrations and revenue peaking in mid- to late winter. You may not be aware though that over the last business quarter, gross monthly revenue is growing at a year-to-year rate of 2 to 3.8 times, so system usage is expanding at a rapid pace.

The events management system has been up and running since March 2012. Nearly 500 events have been created in the system, and more than 300 staff members have accounts in the system. This includes events and staff in MSU Extension, the CANR and AgBioResearch. I’m happy to report that Bob’s analysis shows that on Oct. 11, the events management system passed the $1 million mark for gross revenue, reached in less than 20 months.

Thanks, Bob, for sharing the data, and to the whole team (both ANR Technology Services and ANR Events Management Services) for making this a reality! Thanks also to the faculty and staff members in MSU Extension, the CANR and AgBioResearch who are using the system to manage their events!

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Speaking of MSUE News…

Our MSUE Web site, driven largely by our news articles and events postings, hit an all-time record earlier this week. On Monday, March 11, we had 3,403 unique visitors to our Web site. That surpassed the previous record of 3,383 set on January 29, 2013. Thanks to Dennis Bond, web administrator for ANR Technology Services, for keeping us informed of these landmarks. And thanks to all who contribute content for the Web site. Content is what brings readers to our site – even librarians from law schools!

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MSUE Events Management System is working

Michigan State University Extension took on an initiative several years ago to develop an events management information system that would make it possible for someone to organize and manage a workshop, field day, training or other educational event in a way that economizes on staff time. We wanted something that was adaptable to the variety of programs we offer and that would allow participants to register online and pay their registration fee online if they desired. We wanted something that would mesh well with our financial system so that revenue would be allocated to the correct MSU account and expenses would be paid directly by MSU using funds in the designated account.

Colleagues in ANR Technology Services, particularly Bob Kriegel and Jim Brija, and in ANR Communications, particularly Megghan Honke, Betsy Braid and Katie Gallagher, have led the process of designing and implementing this system. The system went “live” in March 2012. In order to meet that target date, we agreed to start with a simplified system and then add functions and specialized applications as we gained experience with the system. I am pleased to report that, although the system is still being refined and further developed, and although challenges still need to be overcome, the system is working and MSUE staff are adopting it with greater frequency as their solution for helping to manage the business side of our educational program events.

From the beginning of April 2012 to Jan. 15, 2013, we had 117 events entered into the system. We served 3,589 participants in programs who registered in the system. And what’s particularly encouraging is that as we’ve attempted to balance the tension between statewide program priorities and more centralized support services with local program delivery, I see some sign that we’re managing that balance well. From these 117 events, we had people from every one of Michigan’s 83 counties enroll in the system. That even includes Schoolcraft County, where we currently do not have a partnership with the county nor an office nor staff in the county.

We have more improvements to make in the system, and as demand increases, we’re working to expand our staff dedicated to events management so it works as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If you’ve used the system already, I hope you’ve let folks know about your experience. If you had challenges, please let the staff in ANR Communications know so they can address those in the system. If you’ve found it to be helpful, please let your colleagues know. The more we use this, the more we can make it relevant and efficient for all of our events management needs. Thanks to those who have helped to make this a reality and to those who have been pioneers in using the system. We CAN make the best better, and we’ll continue to work on this system with the 4-H motto as our driving principle.

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Extension partners with Expo Board to present Great Lakes Expo

We’ve been looking for new ways to reach out to audiences but sometimes the old, familiar ways work best. What’s especially helpful is when our stakeholders all come together at one location and over a few days to make it easy for us to reach them.

Senior Michigan State University Extension educator Roger Betz makes a point as he presents an educational session on the Farm Bill

Senior Michigan State University Extension educator Roger Betz makes a point as he presents an educational session on the Farm Bill at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo Dec. 6, 2012, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Photo credit: Beth Stuever

The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo is taking place this week, Dec. 4–6 in Grand Rapids, Mich., at the Devos Place Convention Center. Once again, our colleagues are providing expertise through educational sessions at the Expo, promoting Michigan State University Extension in the best way we can – by delivering sound, unbiased and research-based information in effective presentations and demonstrations.

Extension, AgBioResearch, ANR Technology Services, EnviroWeather, the Product Center and the Rogers Reserve provide booths to further the educational offerings. In addition, our MSU Extension colleagues staff a booth offering educational bulletins for sale in the lobby. Sales are quite successful.

Dave Smith, executive director of the Michigan Vegetable Council and one of the organizers of the event had this to say, “We think the Expo is the premier show in North America for specialty crop growers and farm marketers. More than 4,000 attend, with a third coming from outside Michigan. MSU Extension plans the education program, which this year offered 68 sessions and workshops over three days covering a wide range of production, marketing and general interest topics.”

Extension educator Mark Longstroth believes the Expo is a great way for potential growers to learn about the business.

“I get calls from people who want to start a fruit or vegetable farm. I always recommend they attend the Great Lakes Expo to get a true picture of the industry,” said Mark.

Michigan State University Extension educator Curtis Talley Jr. leads an educational session on disaster planning

Michigan State University Extension educator Curtis Talley Jr. leads an educational session on disaster planning at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo Dec. 6, 2012, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Photo credit: Beth Stuever

I believe MSU Extension associate director Dr. Steve Lovejoy would agree that it’s a great place for both new and experienced producers.

“The Great Lakes Expo is again a major opportunity for producers to discover new management practices, learn the results of MSU research projects and trials, and communicate with their peers about the 2012 crop,” he said.

Dr. Lovejoy has attended the event this week and gained insights from visiting with growers and industry representatives who serve specialty crop producers.

 “While the frost damage to tree fruit orchards was a topic of conversation, growers are increasingly optimistic about the 2013 crop year. This week of educational opportunities and trade show provide a valuable venue to make decisions about how to move forward. Anticipation of a large crop in 2013 is in the air. Let us hope Mother Nature cooperates,” he said.

MSU Extension educators and specialists design the educational sessions with growers in mind. The sessions feature experts and practitioners from Michigan and across the nation. Sessions cover everything from specific crops to timely topics such as labor, irrigation and food safety. Farm market sessions feature a bus tour of Michigan farm markets and a roundtable discussion. Some areas include sessions on using social media to grow agricultural businesses.

The Expo gives educators and specialists an opportunity to interact with a large number of growers, sharing expertise or just creating an important connection.

Extension educators and specialists put together the sessions and line up the speakers through their strong connections with industry leaders across the country. The Expo benefits from the positive relationship between MSU Extension and the Expo Board.

“The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo is a unique partnership between MSU and the various specialty crop industries,” said senior Extension educator Amy Irish-Brown. “The Expo registration cost is offset by the trade show. It would be difficult for Extension to pull off something of this caliber without the trade show and the joint effort with the Expo Board.

“All parties involved in the Expo planning benefit – MSU, MSU Extension, the Expo Board, the exhibitors and the producers who attend,” she said.

Nearly 400 exhibitors take part in the trade show involving 4 acres of exhibit space. The variety of exhibits attracts attendees interested in diverse topics.

I’d like to acknowledge all of our colleagues who help to make the event a success but the list would be quite lengthy and it would be too easy to leave someone out. Check out this brochure to get a list of your colleagues and others who participated and to get an idea of the scope of the event: http://glexpo.com/docs/brochure2012.pdf

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MSU Extension website passes million mark

Sometimes it takes years to see our hard work pay off and often success is difficult to measure. I’m happy to tell you about one example where it didn’t take long to see the results of our efforts backed up by the numbers. Our newly created Michigan State University Extension website recently passed the million mark. As of November 14, the site has had 1,018,340 page views since April 18 when ANR Technology Services finished developing the framework and ANR Communications launched it. The number represents the number of times someone accesses the site. This amount in a seven-month period exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Your MSU Extension News articles are the most popular content – nearly half of all page views. Each Extension staff member creates two articles a month contributing to the diversity and expertise on the site. Obviously, your hard work is paying off. We are reaching a vast amount of people, sharing our knowledge through technology.

In our Nov. 5 MSUE webinar, we began a discussion on ways to ensure the quality of story content and to keep story ideas coming. Be sure to listen to the upcoming Nov. 19 webinar when we’ll go over some of those ideas.

Thanks to Extension educators and specialists who write the stories and to the ANR Communications staff and others who edit the stories and post them on the site. Thanks to ANR Technology Services, continually involved in the development of the site and working with us on goals to improve the site in a number of areas.

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