Tag Archives: betsy knox

Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Grandparents University, scheduled for June 24–26, provides an opportunity for 8- to 12-year-olds to experience life on the Michigan State University campus. They get to live on campus, eat where the college students eat and even take classes. An added enhancement is that they do it all with their grandparent or favorite adult. Besides sparking an interest in potential future Spartans, the event brings alumni back to campus, providing an intergenerational experience that creates a connection between the participants and MSU.

More than 1,000 participants from 35 states and Canada attended the 2013 Grandparents University. A post-event survey reflected extremely positive reviews.

Kathryn Reed, assistant director of alumni relations and special events in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, invited me to encourage you to be a part of this unique experience by lending your expertise to presenting a session. Many who take part say that participating in Grandparents University is one of their favorite activities. It’s one of those experiences that you’ve heard about – the kind that after it’s over, people overwhelmingly say they get back more than they give.

You’ll also gain professional experience. It’s an opportunity to hone teaching skills and materials, to learn public opinion on the topic you cover and to think about your subject from a different standpoint due to the diversity of the participants.

Last year, Extension educator Laurie Rivetto presented a financial management session and pronounced it “a ton of fun.”

Laurie normally works with youth using the MSU Extension 4-H-created Spartan Dollars and Cents budgeting simulation. The Grandparents University session allowed her to use the simulation with both adults and children.

“Although my target audience is usually youth, this session had the additional outcome that the adults got a lot out of it, too, “said Laurie.

The adults found it challenging in the simulation to have to stick with a limited budget. Many remarked that it helped them to relate to different budget scenarios that others might be grappling with. For example, some found they could not afford to purchase health care insurance within the budget and a discussion took place about the challenges of this arrangement.

Laurie also said that taking part in Grandparents University gave her a different perspective.

“It was neat to be a part of a program that involved so many different departments and units, including Extension, at the University. It was a great team effort,” she said.

This year Extension educator Frank Cox will join Laurie in presenting Spartan Dollars and Sense. They’ll also present the Wonderful World of Work in which the generations will learn from each other about work.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event. Courtesy of Grandparents University.

If you decide to present, you’ll need to target your 90-minute session to the 8- to 12-year-old audience, making sure that what you present is a fun, interactive, hands-on lesson that holds kids’ interest. You don’t have to be limited to the classroom. You can conduct your session in a lab, on the farm or another location. Need more than 90 minutes? You can sign up for two 90-minute sessions, given as Part I and Part II. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Why not just adapt a program or outreach effort you currently teach?

Interested? Contact Kathryn at 355-0284 or at kreed@msu.edu by November 7. (The deadline has recently been extended.) When you do, please let her know the following:

  •  The name of the session leader
  • Session title
  • A short description that can be included in promotional materials (3 to 5 sentences long)
  • The number of people the session can accommodate (Sessions are as small as 10 people and as large as 200. The average is about 25.)
  • The name of the person coordinating
  • If a specific classroom or lab is required
  • If there is a day or time during these three days when the session cannot be led (if known)

Last year, in addition to Laurie, Extension educators Jed Jaworski, Georgia Peterson, Dixie Sandborn and Jessica Wright participated. Charles Gould, Paul Gross, Dennis Pennington and Mark Seamon have participated for years but were unable to present in 2013. These four have already committed for 2014.

Others who have presented in the past include Laura Allen, Bindu Bhakta, Constance Costner, Dale Elsoff, Andrea Grix, Vanessa Holmes, Betsy Knox, LuAnne Kozma, Cyndi Mark, Emily Proctor, Kama Ross, Erica Tobe and Sheila Urban Smith.

By the way, several faculty members on campus have used their Grandparents University sessions in grant applications when an outreach or other similar component is required.

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Retirees honored at reception

Each year at a luncheon, Michigan State University recognizes faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year. MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) co-host a reception prior to the luncheon at the Kellogg Center. This year, the event took place April 2.

As I do every year, I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree.

 Extension educator William (“Bill”) J. Carpenter began his career in MSU Extension in 1981 as county Extension director for Luce County. He later became county Extension director for Berrien, Iosco and Montcalm counties. He also served for a year as the district coordinator in District 4 before serving as an MSU Extension educator in the district in MSU Extension’s Greening Michigan Institute. Early in his career, Bill took a leave of absence to serve for a year as a senior Extension advisor in Armenia working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). He did exceptional work in community and economic development, particularly in land-use planning, working with nonprofit groups and building capacity in organizations and people.

Kenneth R. Geuns served as Extension specialist for livestock youth programs from 1978 to 2012. From 1984 through 1986, he also served as the coordinator of livestock programs in the Institute of Agricultural Technology. From 2007 through 2012, he served as the faculty coordinator of the MSU Purebred Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center. He taught courses in the Department of Animal Science, coached the collegiate livestock judging teams at MSU and served as faculty advisor to the MSU Block and Bridle Club. He received the Block and Bridle Club Honored Portrait Award, the Michigan Pork Producers Distinguished Service Award, the National FFA Honorary American FFA Degree and Outstanding Specialist awards from MSU Extension and the Michigan Association of Extension Agents. Other awards include the Black Hawk College Outstanding Alumni Award and Agriculture Merit Award, the Michigan Association of FFA Honorary Degree and Honorary Membership awards, and the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff Colleague Award and Team Effort Award.

 Gary L. Heilig has been an Extension Ingham County horticulture agent for 34 years. He has provided commercial and consumer horticulture programming for primarily the residents of Ingham County but he reached consumers around the state through his extensive live and taped television broadcasts. Gary is well known and highly respected for using multiple methods of teaching such as radio and television, video, online classes, audio files and fact sheets. He has provided relevant, substantive, well-developed, responsive educational programs throughout his career. He was part of the MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Team, which received the eXtension Working Differently in Extension Award for the creation of the Gardening in Michigan Web site. He also received a Communication Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and was a co-author of the original Master Gardener Manual.

Extension educator Linda Huyck began her work with MSU Extension in 1998 as a Montcalm County home economist. She secured funding to grow the Senior Project FRESH (Farm Resources Expanding and Supporting Health) programs in Gratiot and Montcalm counties, helped to develop the Family Living curriculum for Spectrum Health and updated the Building Better Bodies curriculum for volunteers in nutrition education in Gratiot County. In addition, she helped to plan the first ever Tri-FCS (Family and Consumer Science) Association conference for three family and consumer science professional organizations. Linda recently held a joint appointment in MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute and Greening Michigan Institute, specializing in food safety and financial literacy education. Her exceptional work focused on family capacity building, reaching hundreds of people and establishing mentorship programs. She received national recognition numerous times from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) including the Distinguished Service Award, Regional Educational Technology Award, State Community Partnership Team Award, State Financial Management Award and the State Impact on Youth and Family Award.

Children and youth program leader Elizabeth (“Betsy”) McPherson Knox served as an Ionia County home economics educator and 4-H youth agent before moving to campus as an associate program leader and then program leader. Betsy wrote, developed and used a variety of curricula for the performing and visual arts, and the promotion of global, cultural and international understanding. She has also worked in the area of 4-H environmental and outdoor education and more recently in leadership and civic engagement. She has coordinated more than 1,750 4-H Exploration Days sessions in nearly 25 years on campus. She’s received recognition on numerous occasions including the John A. Hannah Award for Excellence for leading the Chengdu China Dance Troupe Project. Over time, this stellar program resulted in more than 11 different cross-cultural programs with China and reached more than 300,000 Michigan youth. The ongoing 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China is one of those programs.

In 1988, Extension educator Michael McFadden joined MSU Extension as an agricultural agent for Gladwin and Isabella counties. In 1994, he became an Extension dairy educator for Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties. He provided educational programing, problem solving and applied research in a variety of agriculture and animal agriculture areas throughout his career. Highly respected by colleagues, advisory groups and the producers with whom he worked for his exceptional competency in a wide variety of areas, Michael was well known for developing meaningful professional relationships with producers and others in the community. He specialized in conducting farm research to solve local problems. The community routinely sought him out as a valuable source of credible, relevant timely information. He found it important to reach underserved farmers and their families, and included the entire farm family when appropriate.

Senior Extension educator Norman (“Norm”) L. Myers began his career as a county agriculture Extension agent in 1982, serving for two years in Montcalm County. He then moved to Newaygo and Muskegon counties for five years, and in 1989, he became county Extension director for Oceana County. In 2009, Mr. Myers earned the advanced title of senior Extension educator. At the time of his retirement, he was serving as a regional vegetable educator in MSU Extension’s Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI). Norm was an active leader in animal and plant production, particularly in the areas of vegetables and Christmas trees. He developed strong working relationships and did significant work on behalf of many commodity groups. He developed the annual Oceana Asparagus Day, which has grown into the largest educational program for asparagus growers in North America. He assisted in advancing the Tom-Cast disease forecasting system and PCR testing of aster yellows infectivity as important pest management tools in asparagus and carrots. He demonstrated and promoted petiole sap nitrogen testing as a means of reducing nitrogen use and costs in carrots, and he promoted higher density asparagus planting as a means for increasing asparagus yields. He received numerous awards including MSU Extension’s Diversity and Pluralism Award, the Michigan Vegetable Council’s Master Farmer Associate Award, the National Association of County Agricultural Agent’s Distinguished Service Award for Excellence and the Michigan Christmas Tree Association’s President’s Award.

Throughout her 31 years in MSU Extension, senior Extension educator Natalie Rector has reached hundreds of farmers in south central Michigan as a widely respected crop agent. In that role, she helped producers coordinate the Innovative Farmers of South Central Michigan, conducting demonstration plots and on-farm tours. As MSU Extension’s manure nutrient management field specialist, she helped livestock and crop producers work together to make efficient and conscientious use of animal waste as fertilizer. Natalie worked with state officials to develop the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). She conducted research and outreach focused on helping farmers utilize manure in an economical and environmentally friendly manner. Her work helped farmers save money while conscientiously taking advantage of valuable resources. She has been a team player within Michigan as well as across the Midwest as coordinator of a 10-state grant project to bring Extension faculty and staff together on manure management issues. She has received numerous awards. Most recently, the Michigan Farm Bureau named her the recipient of the organization’s 2012 Distinguished Service to Agriculture (DSA) Award. She was also the 2004 MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award recipient and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Pork Producers Association. Since retiring, Natalie has joined the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan as research coordinator.

Extension educator Carol A. Rosinski joined MSU Extension as a home economist in 1994, serving Cheboygan County. She later became an Extension family development agent in that same county. Her focus on programs affecting youth and families at risk through the Cheboygan County Juvenile Court proved innovative and successful. She continually evaluated her programs through data collection to make improvements and increase effectiveness. Her work empowered young people and parents, and strengthened families by providing needed services, activities and training. She effectively collaborated with area counseling agencies, law enforcement agencies, school personnel and administrators, Community Mental Health personnel and Probate Court judges. Carol developed and managed a collaborative program, the Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy, a successful partnership day treatment program between MSU Extension and the Cheboygan County Family Court. This treatment program served youth at risk of being placed out of their homes and assigned to residential placements. Parents and youth learned life-changing skills such as developing positive relationships as well as addressing drug abuse and violent behavior. Carol served as director, juvenile officer, case manager and licensed social worker for all young people ordered to the program.

Extension educator Patricia Waugh began her work with MSU Extension as a Lapeer County 4-H program assistant. She left MSU for a short time to work as a Head Start teacher and parent educator, and to coordinate the volunteer services for McLaren Hospice. She then rejoined Extension where she coordinated the Lapeer County 4-H youth program and served as a resource for positive youth development to others in the county. Patricia showed outstanding dedication and commitment to the youth and families of Michigan throughout her career. Adult volunteers and youth members often expressed their support and confidence in her leadership. She forged many collaborative efforts in the county she served as well as in neighboring counties. She received recognition for her work often throughout her career including a nomination for Lapeer Chamber of Commerce Female Citizen of the Year in 2009. Other professional awards included the Michigan Distinguished Service Award, the Team Effort Award for 4-H Afterschool, the Presidential Citation for the Club Read Program, the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) Presidential award, the MAE4-HYS Team Award for Take the Day on Diversity Program and the 4-H International Award.

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Encourage outstanding 4-H’ers to attend National 4-H Congress

Michigan State University Extension 4-H staff members and volunteers, please encourage outstanding 4-H’ers ages 14 to 19 to attend the 2012 National 4-H Congress. This leadership, citizenship and community-service event takes place Nov. 23–27 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga. I’ve been serving on the governing committee for this event and know it’s a great opportunity, and I’ve heard many participants state that it is the highlight of all of their experiences in 4-H. Although this might seem relevant only to Children and Youth Institute staff, I’d encourage anyone who knows an older 4-H youth who would benefit from this experience to call it to their attention.

Young people from across the U.S. will come together to attend workshops about leadership development, character education, agriculture, cultural awareness and diversity education, workforce preparation, environmental stewardship, science and technology literacy, and communication-skills development.

Participants will take part in an international dinner and dance, and visit the Atlanta History Center. They may choose to tour Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, CNN, the Carter Presidential Library and the Martin Luther King Center. The congress features some of the nation’s most outstanding community leaders, speakers and educators.

Betsy Knox, Extension program leader, is the overall event coordinator. Extension educator Frank Cox serves as onsite coordinator, and Extension educator Roxanne Turner serves as onsite chaperone.

Chelsea Carls, Branch County 4-H member, 2011 National 4-H Congress delegate and member of the 2011 4-H Congress Leadership Team, had this to say about the experience, “I believe that the skills I have gained from being both a delegate and a leader at National 4-H Congress will help me make a change in my community and influence others to do the same.”

The cost is $1,175 per participant. This covers the delegate’s round-trip airfare to Atlanta, registration fee, lodging, meals, a shirt and a group photo. Delegates will also want to bring about $100 for luggage fees, meals to and from Atlanta, and souvenirs.

County 4-H staff members must send a County Reservation and Deposit Form to the event’s logistics coordinator Priscilla Martin by July 18 to let her know the number of delegate reservations she’ll need to save. Contact Priscilla at 517-432-7635 or pjmartin@msu.edu for a form or retrieve it from the ANR SharePoint site under “MSUE,” “Preparing Michigan’s Children and Youth,” “Leadership/Civic Engagement,” then “Documents” and finally “National 4-H Congress.” You’ll find the form in both Word and PDF format. For more information, contact Priscilla.

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Cross-cultural exchange impacts Michigan youth

Approximately 6,000 Michigan children in grades K–6 participated in the 2010 Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China. Of that number, seventy art pieces were selected to send to China as a gift to the children of China in Shandong Province. Chinese children sent 120 art pieces to Michigan to conclude the exchange.

 You can view the 2010 Michigan children’s artwork sent to China on the 4-H website at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/michart10/index.htm.

 For the exchange, Michigan and Chinese children are asked to create “visual letters” (paintings or drawings) of something important in their lives that they would like to share with children of the same age living halfway around the world. Visual letters become the means to communicate across language barriers. The themes and desire for connection are similar regardless of country and culture.

 Educators working with 5,067 Michigan children in 24 counties reported that 98 percent of the children increased awareness that art communicates ideas, feelings and stories as a result of their participation in this program. And 100 percent of the children gained new knowledge about China, increased awareness that there are similarities between themselves and Chinese children and expressed a desire to learn more about the children and their country.

 An exhibit funded by the MSU Asian Studies Center currently at the MSU Museum displays select pieces of Chinese children’s artwork from the 2010 exchange. The museum anticipates around 12,500 visitors for the duration of the exhibit, which runs Feb. 1 to March 31, 2011. For more information, visit http://museum.msu.edu/Exhibitions/Current/4-H_Children_Art_Exchange_with_China.html.

 Jan Brinn, Michigan State University Extension 4-H educator in Allegan County, and Betsy Knox, 4-H program leader and coordinator for the Michigan 4-H Art Exchange, co-presented a seminar “Global Education Through Art” at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) 2010 conference Oct 24–28 in Phoenix, Ariz. The seminar focused on the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange.

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Two curriculum products now available

Two great curriculum products are now available. Youth Take the Stage: An Introduction to Interactive Theatre was developed by Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development led by project coordinator Betsy Knox. This new curriculum is a guide for adults on leading six hours of training with middle and high school age youth on being part of an issue- based interactive theater experience. Instructions for forming a post-training performance troupe are part of the curriculum. Youth are taught important life skills such as self-esteem, teamwork, empathy, problem solving and decision making. If you want to work with youth in interactive theater – even if you have no prior theater experience – this guide is for you. You can download the curriculum at the 4-H Performing Arts Page at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/perfarts.html.

More 4-H curriculum can be found at the 4-H Educational Materials page at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/cyf/youth/guide4h/index.html. 4-H has a profusion of materials on topics from animals to science and technology available to download from this Web page.

  In this fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever for parents to spend quality time with their children. Another problem that parents face is getting their kids to make healthy food choices and to stay physically active. The recently revised Family Book Bag allows families to have fun reading together and at the same time learn about healthy eating and physical fitness. The bag is used by educators and designed to go home with a different child each week. It includes resources for educators such as an overview of the book bag, a parent letter, tips on how to set up a book bag program, incentive ideas and more. It also includes materials for families such as a Family Tip Sheet with information on making healthy food choices, being more physically active and reading with children. Five children’s books that reinforce positive food and physical activity choices are included in the bag. Families also receive eight family recipe cards. Order your Family Book Bag at the MSUE Bookstore (formerly called the Bulletin Office) at http://bookstore.msue.msu.edu/.

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