Tag Archives: bill knudson

Extension connects on ballot issues

In an article in last week’s Spotlight, I drew your attention to Bulletin GE 49, written by Michigan State University Extension specialist Claire Layman. The bulletin supplies non-partisan objective information allowing Michigan residents to make informed decisions on the six proposals appearing on the ballot Nov. 6.

Besides writing the bulletin, Claire was busy using technology to educate further about the proposals. With help from ANR Communications multimedia production team leader Steve Evans, Claire led two Adobe Connect sessions on campus with leading experts on the ballot issues. On Oct. 22, the group hosted fora, reaching out to four locations: Harrisville, Lawrence, Sault Ste. Marie and Wayne. On Oct. 24, the fora involved five locations: Clinton Township, Flint, Hastings, Houghton and Traverse City.

Attendees read over the bulletin and watched three pre-recorded video interviews with policy experts who covered both sides of the proposal issues. Afterward, they asked questions of the experts through Adobe Connect.

Experts included MSU Extension specialist and professor of economics Eric Scorsone, professor in the MSU School of Human Resources and Labor Relations Peter Berg, marketing economist in the MSU Product Center Bill Knudson and senior associate director of the Land Policy Institute Mark Wyckoff.

A total of 149 people participated in the fora with the most attending at Harrisville in Alcona County with 53 participants.

Extension educators hosting the forums included Darren Bagley, Ann Chastain, Terry Gibb, Ginger Hentz, Brad Neumann, Julie Pioch, Bethany Prykucki, Mike Schira, Bonnie Witchner-Zoia and Richard Wooten. Terry Gibb helped write Bulletin GE 49 and helped to organize the overall registration.

In addition, Extension specialist Georgia Peterson helped out by wrangling questions as they came in one evening from the four live sites. She quickly figured out the best method to do so within Adobe Connect.

Organizations that partnered with us in this endeavor included the League of Women Voters, the Lake Superior State University Political Science Club, the Northwest Council of Michigan Governments and the District 13 Extension Council. Partner organizations served to recruit and market the forums, and served as table facilitators at small group discussions.

Claire reports that all evaluations have not been tabulated yet but those that have come in so far have been generally very positive. In Alcona County, 82 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Because of tonight’s event, I am better informed to make decisions on Michigan’s proposals in the upcoming election.” One hundred percent of Alcona County respondents agreed or strongly agreed that events such as the fora are valuable for our democracy, and 79 percent of them agreed or strongly agreed that they’d like to be a part of similar events.

Associate professor Luke Reese has been instrumental in leading us in the use of Adobe Connect technology. He continues to offer monthly online workshops and is largely responsible for our organizational competency in Adobe Connect meetings and webinars.

Thanks to Claire for making innovative use of technology and to Luke and Steve for continuing to teach, lead and support us in technology efforts. And thanks to our Extension educators for hosting and our partners for their contribution to the events.

We have further signs that people look to us when they want to make informed decisions based on expert opinion. As of Oct. 31, we had more than 400 page views for the forum event listings and nearly 1,400 page views on Extension educator Terry Gibb’s article “November Ballot Issues Could Mean Changes for Michigan Residents.”

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Making It in Michigan Conference opportunity for food and agricultural entrepreneurs

One of the themes of the year for Michigan has been that there is tremendous opportunity for economic development in food processing and other value-added activities that build on Michigan’s unique and diverse agricultural economy. It began with a white paper produced by Drs. Bill Knudson, Steven Miller and Chris Peterson of the Michigan State University Product Center, which caught the attention of Governor Rick Snyder and his administration. That led to an industry summit in April that focused attention on steps that could enhance development of new enterprises and expansion of existing ones in the food sector. The MSU Product Center already sponsors an important event that promotes opportunities for food businesses in Michigan, the Making It in Michigan conference. The conference takes place Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Please help spread the word about this extremely important event.

 The conference targets food and agricultural entrepreneurs who are just starting out as well as those well established in the food industry. The event offers educational sessions and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their products in front of hundreds of buyers at the Marketplace Trade Show. Attendees who have an idea that they may want to develop and take to market have direct access to MSU Product Center team members.

 The MSU Product Center was established in spring 2003 with funds from AgBioResearch and Michigan State University Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors. Project GREEEN also provides funding.

Chris Peterson, Nowlin Chair for Consumer-Responsive Agriculture in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU, is the center’s director. Watch the following video in which Chris talks about the services that the Product Center offers, which range from developing an idea to testing the product to sustaining and growing the product’s sales.

In this following video, Scott Below, owner of LOL Ventures, talks about how the Product Center and Mark Thomas, innovation counselor for the Product Center, gave him the “straight scoop” about improving his business.

 The Making It in Michigan Conference is the ideal event for those looking for resources for their food and agricultural businesses or who have products that they want to showcase.

 Westborn Market is sponsoring a competition for vendors to win a year’s worth of shelf space at their stores. Watch the following video for details.

 Read more about the Making It in Michigan Conference here.

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