Tag Archives: beth stuever

MSU Extension team responds to help families with farm stress

A person with a hat sits in a field with a combine in the background.

About a year ago, commodity prices fell, especially affecting dairy farmers. Michigan saw a rise in attempted suicides among farmers and farm families. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension responded by forming the Farm Stress team, made up of Suzanne Pish, Adam Kantrovich, Roger Betz, Tom Cummins and Beth Stuever, to create resources for educators and others who work with farmers and their families.

The team, with the assistance of ANR Communications and Marketing, put together a fact sheet and video for farmers and farm families so that our staff could have access to resources they could use in their programming and interaction. The team also put together two programs to help Extension educators and others who work with farmers and farm families. The first was a mental health first-aid training: a full-day, hands-on, certification course that can help those people working with farmers and farm families to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and emotional crisis. The second was a workshop designed for people who work with agriculture producers and farm families who want to know more about managing farm-related stress and ways to approach and communicate with those in need.

The team and the resources that they have produced are an example of how important it is that we work across institute or department lines, and that we mobilize to meet immediate needs of Michigan residents. We have our traditional programs that provide ongoing, stable service to our constituents, but we also can function in an emergency response role, just like we did in our response to the Flint water emergency.

Do you work with farmers, farm families or both? Do you have connections who do? You might want to take some time to watch the video about stress management for farmers and take a look at the other resources on our MSU Extension webpage devoted to farm stress. If you have any questions about the resources or the team’s work, feel free to reach out to Suzanne Pish.

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MSU Extension Communications Team cleans house for ACE awards

Congratulations to our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Communications Team! They will be given prestigious awards and recognition at the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) Annual Conference coming up in June in Memphis, Tennessee. The ACE Critique and Awards program recognizes individuals and teams for excellence in communication and technology skills.

The MSU Extension Communications Team will receive three gold awards.

They will receive a gold award in the special reports category for their work on the MSU Extension and AgBioResearch Legislative Report, coordinated by Sean Corp. Others on the Legislative Report team who contributed to writing, designing and editing included Patricia Adams, James Dau, Katie Gervasi, Nichole Hersch, Cindy Hudson, Marian Reiter, Beth Stuever, Mindy Tape, Jamie Wilson and Holly Whetstone.

In addition, the team of Nichole Hersch, Beth Stuever, Mindy Tape and Jamie Wilson will receive the gold award in the issues management category for their work on Avian Influenza Epidemic: Managing Tough Issues Across Multiple Audiences. Others contributing to the avian influenza project include Patricia Adams, Alicia Burnell, Kraig Ehm, Leslie Johnson, Rebecca McKee, Samantha Proud and Marian Reiter. As a bonus, the project also won an Outstanding Professional Skill award, given to the entry that rises to the top of all the gold award winners.

Beth Stuever will receive the ACE Pioneer Award, which recognizes communicators who demonstrate exceptional leadership as well as technical skills, and make significant contributions to ACE during their first 10 years of ACE membership. Beth received the award for her service in many leadership positions contributing to the excellence of the profession, actively presenting at multiple conferences and engaging with ACE Learning Communities. Additionally, Beth supported colleagues and team members in their engagement with ACE and provided resources for them to participate at the annual conference.

The MSU Extension Communications Team is also highly engaged in the conference itself ‒ presenting three sessions. Mindy Tape and Jamie Wilson will partner with Iowa State’s Egg Industry Center to offer a session on avian influenza regarding stakeholders, timelines and actions. Beth will partner with her former supervisor, former MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications director Ruth Borger (now the vice president of communications at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) to present a session on time management. Mindy and Tom Cummins will present a session on keys to increasing productivity.

We are extremely proud of our MSU Extension Communications Team and and how the caliber of their work and the work of others involved is being recognized at a national level. Please join me in congratulating them on their awards.

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Michigan State Fair a huge success for Extension and the CANR

By Patrick Cudney

Many of our colleagues spent this Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 4‒7, at the Michigan State Fair at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We can all be proud of the work being done to enhance the Michigan State University Extension presence in southeastern Michigan. More than 112,000 visitors attended the fair this year, so the event created the opportunity to build awareness of our programs to a huge audience. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources was fully engaged with us in the marketing effort.

Julie Chapin, Children and Youth Institute director, and I attended a VIP pre-opening event, which gave us a firsthand look at our giant 60-foot by 40-foot exhibit space that was free to MSU Extension. Credit for obtaining the free space goes to Debra (“Debbie”) Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator, who has been coordinating a 4-H presence at other expos at the Suburban Collection Showplace since 2005. This is the first year we’ve had a coordinated presence from all of Extension. Debbie helped us to build on the base that she created through her previous work at the fair.

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich:
Front row (left to right): Fran Adelaja, MSU Extension specialist; Debra Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Margaret Stockert, MSU Extension 4-H support – Oakland County; Glenda Weiss, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Wayne County
Back row: Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director; Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director; Alan Jaros, MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm director; Karen Craig, MSU Tollgate Conference Center coordinator; Jason Scott, MSUE 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Jake DeDecker, MSU Extension children and youth associate state leader; Mary Blumka, 4-H program coordinator- Oakland County.
Photo credit: Lou Waldock, Waldock Tree Farm

Debbie said, “In 2014, I was invited to the press conference where Oakland County and District 11 were offered space at the 2014 Michigan State Fair. When I was invited in 2015, I asked if we could have a larger space to include all of MSU Extension and they said ‘absolutely – what do you need?’ It is a win-win situation and the folks with the Michigan State Fair and Suburban Collection Showplace have been super accommodating and so easy to work with. I believe we have created a mutually beneficial relationship and a great opportunity to showcase all the services MSU Extension has to offer to the public.”

She added that when Extension educator Alan Jaros, who is director of the MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm just miles down the road from the Suburban Collection Showcase, attended the press conference with her this year, she knew then we were going to do something bigger and better this year.

Tollgate is Extension’s 160-acre learning laboratory visited annually by 12,000 people who explore food systems, agriculture and horticulture, and experience a greater connection to our natural resources.

“With Tollgate’s strong roots in Novi and the surrounding area, our partners and the local community have come to expect high-quality, unbiased, research-based and interactive educational opportunities from MSU Extension. When we were approached to have a stronger presence at the fair, it was an obvious chance to build a greater awareness of MSU Extension’s impact beyond Tollgate,” said Alan.

The fair provides the perfect opportunity for our 4-H youth to showcase their projects and apply for the scholarships offered to youth exhibitors. In fact, this year scholarships totaled $40,000.

It would be impossible to list everyone involved in our success. The following people were involved in coordinating the event. Besides Alan and Debbie, they included Fran Adelaja, Megghan Honke, Betsy Braid, Mindy Tape, Jake DeDecker, Kristine Hahn, Kristi Evans and Mary Wilson.

Others contributing to the event’s success included Beth Stuever, Kittie Butcher, Carol Lenchek, Mary Gerstenberger, Margaret Stockert, Glenda Weiss, Karen Craig, Jason Scott, Ed Scott and Mary Blumka.

In addition, approximately 80 staff and volunteers signed up to help set up, tear down and work the booth throughout the weekend. It really was a team effort!

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery as Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director, looks on at the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich.
Photo credit: Debra Morgan.

The large space was well utilized by each institute. The Children and Youth Institute supplied hands-on activities including crafts, hoverball archery (yep, I tried it, it’s fun), the 4-H Commodity Carnival interactive game, Legos, an early childhood sensory table and the 4-H Life Skills Wheel. 4-H Tech Wizards provided Rockets to the Rescue. The Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Master Gardeners presented Smart Gardening daily, and the Health and Nutrition Institute provided information and a nutrition and health wheel game. Greening Michigan staffed a resource table with information on foreclosure counseling, Sea Grant and the Michigan Fresh program.

I appreciate all of your efforts in moving our organization visibility forward. This is an excellent example of how MSU Extension can improve our engagement and understanding of the work we do in fulfilling our mission. Strategic connections at the finest!

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Kudos and suggestions from the civil rights auditors

As you know, Michigan State University Extension recently took part in a U. S. Department of Agriculture civil rights audit. They occur once every four or five years. I’ve been involved in four of these – twice as a regional director and now twice as director of Extension – the last time was in 2004.

I’m very proud of the work we are doing to demographically reach target audiences. We are reaching the audiences in close demographic comparison in categories of race and gender. You may be surprised by some of the data. For example, of youth participants in the Children and Youth Institute, only 9 percent live on farms. This differs from the popular perception that 4-H only serves farm youth. The data shows that we meet people where the need is great with health and nutrition information as well as financial and money management.

The auditors were thrilled with the way we presented the data. I’d like to thank the many staff involved in helping to gather the data and put it into an understandable format. They include Nancy Axtell, Jessica Nakfour, Jean Schueller, Bruce Haas, Cheryl Peters, Olga Santiago, Kathy Raphael, Mary Wilson, Gloria Ellerhorst, Emily Proctor, Christi Sovis, Doug Brinklow, Michelle Lavra, Marian Reiter, Beth Stuever, Julie Chapin, Dave Ivan, Dawn Contreras, Paul Putnam, Jim Lucas, Pat Cudney, Kelley Hiemstra, Michael Krauch, Shari Spoelman, Don Lehman, Betty Blase, Deanna East, Joe Bixler, Marie Ruemenapp, Matt Shane and Ginger Hentz. Without your hard work for months in advance of this review, we could not have done it.

The auditors took all of that data and examined it. They also went out into the field to get more information from you. They were pleased with everyone’s availability to meet with the reviewers and with the helpfulness of the staff in giving them access to our information – as I am!

They combined the data and the information to give us feedback on a few things we can work on.

In working with people, we need to diversify our overall employment makeup throughout the organization as well as work to integrate and diversify membership within 4-H clubs and broaden the programming we’re doing with female farm operators. We need to expand our nutrition programming to include demonstrated outreach with other agencies.

Consistency is something that came up in several areas. We need to be consistent in demonstrating the work we do in each county through data, and train staff in the method for collecting that data. We need to update our race/ethnicity/gender data collection forms to include the recommended way to collect race and ethnicity data. We need to use the statement concerning accommodations consistently and ensure consistency with regard to civil rights training.

We need to ensure that brochures and other promotional pieces have pictorial displays of diverse populations. I know this is something that we’ve strived to do and we will continue to focus on it.

In addition, we need to revise our Civil Rights Plan and education to include the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended.

The auditors had many good things to say about our accomplishments. They praised our work with Tribal Communities as well as the work we’re doing with prisons. They believe that our work translating program documents and brochures and making them available in Spanish, Arabic and Braille is outstanding. They haven’t seen as much of that in other states. They believe we have great outreach through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-ED) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). They believe we have strong nutrition programming at the grass roots level.

Please be sure to review the August 4 MSU Extension webinar to view the charts and graphs that we put together for the audit. Viewing them will help you get a better picture of where we stand in our efforts. We’ve worked hard to pull together a lot of information for the audit. This information is not just something that was used for the audits; we can also use this information in many other ways. View the webinar here: https://connect.msu.edu/p4bz0fut3rj/

Also, please keep checking back to the MSU Extension Civil Rights site for additional materials that will be added: http://od.msue.msu.edu/civil_rights_diversity_multiculturalism.

Once again, thank you, everyone, for all of your hard work in making the USDA audit a powerful learning experience for all of us!

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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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MSUE colleagues share their insights on working differently with technology

MSU Extension educator Holly Tiret, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman attended the National eXtension Conference

Left to right: MSU Extension educator Holly Tiret, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman attended the National eXtension Conference that ran from March 24 to 27, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

I was fortunate to attend the National eXtension Conference in Sacramento, California, this week, and was very pleased to see so many Michigan State University Extension colleagues there. Beth Stuever, communications manager, and Megghan Honke, event planner in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications, gave a whirlwind overview of the integration of the new MSU Extension website and ANR Event Services. Bert Cregg, associate professor of horticulture, showed how he has adapted social media to engage blog readers in the planning of a research project on tree transplanting. Extension educators Carolyn Penniman and Holly Tiret showed how the RELAX – Alternatives to Anger team has used technology to reach a broader audience. Extension Health and Nutrition Institute educator Linda Cronk assisted in the presentation of the recommendations from a national task force on health (co-led by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate dean and director Michelle Rodgers) to a national meeting of Extension directors and administrators. In addition, several MSU Extension colleagues who provide leadership to Communities of Practice attended for CoP program planning and development, including Extension specialist Dionardo Pizaña, program leader Bruce Haas and specialist Wayne Beyea. What I found most gratifying was to see how eXtension, which has been of great assistance to MSUE, benefits in so many ways from the contributions of MSUE colleagues. Thanks to all who attended and those who engaged through online and recorded presentations. We’re having an impact nationally thanks to these great efforts.

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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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