Tag Archives: bruce haas

10 facts about MSU and eXtension you didn’t know

Chris Geith, CEO to the eXtension Foundation, provided me with some exciting news and information about eXtension. The mission of eXtension is to help Cooperative Extension System professionals increase their measurable local impact by helping them accomplish their work more effectively using an online constellation of people, resources and tools. Michigan State University Extension has a long and active history with eXtension and continues to partner with this great initiative. Here are 10 facts about our involvement with eXtension that you didn’t know.

  1. In 2015, 2,446 questions from Michigan residents were answered using the Ask an Expert system.
  1. 167 MSU Extension specialists, educators and volunteers helped to answer these 2,446 questions through Ask an Expert.
  1. eXtension also has two communities of practice led by MSU: All About Blueberries, led by Extension educator Mark Longstroth, and Community Planning and Zoning ‒ Land Use Planning, led by Extension educator Glenn Pape.
  1. For the Land Use Planning Community of Practice, MSU Extension and eXtension are partnering to pilot a third-party service to see if we can increase the usefulness of content and potentially generate new revenue sources together.
  1. This pilot partnership is not out of the ordinary; MSU Extension has a history of building new models with eXtension – such as MyHorseUniversity, which continues to have a strong relationship with the HorseQuest community of practice.
  1. Three members of the newly formed i-Three Issue Corps are from MSU: Mariel Borgman, Kaitlin Wojciak and Garret Zeigler. They are contributing to the Michigan Supply Chain Wizards that will address key issues in food systems and climate.
  1. MSU Extension also has almost 40 online courses available through the eXtension Campus/Moodle Because of MSU’s premium membership with eXtension, there are several important benefits available to MSU Extension staff.
  1. Recently awarded to MSU Extension, the $1.48 million New Technologies in Ag Extension grant includes instructional design by Gwyn Shelle, administrative support provided by Angela Jernstadt, with Chris Geith serving as the primary investigator.
  1. Gwyn is also a recipient of one of nine Innovation grants eXtension awarded last year out of almost 50 proposals submitted. Gwyn and Katie Ockert are presented at the National eXtension annual conference that takes place in San Antonio, Texas, March 22‒
  1. Bruce Haas served a critical role as a key advisor to the i-Three Issue Corps in the new “boot camp” at the event.

Thanks to Chris for welcoming me and sharing such great news from eXtension.

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Stats you can use to show our impact

Last week, I wrote about the testimonies we have been making to encourage our state legislators to understand the value of Michigan State University Extension. While the administration may be taking on the more overarching conversations on the state level, the strategic communications that you all have on a day-to-day basis across the state are truly essential and can help us all make an even bigger impact. One of the tools that can help prepare you for those conversations is the 2013-2014 Legislative Report.

To prepare this annual report, our colleagues in Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications, the communications staff in AgBioResearch, with help from Jean Schueller, Mary Weinzweig, Bruce Haas, Steve Miller and Brenda Reau, pull our data from the Michigan Planning and Reporting System (MI PRS). It is then transformed into impact stories, data factoids as well as funding information presented with pie charts and infographics. The joint report from Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch is then shared with our partners and also posted online.

This report can help facilitate some of the conversations you have with 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.

Furthermore, the graphics describing our impacts in the beginning of the report can be useful to illustrate the impacts with more than just numbers, and the colorful presentation makes it friendlier to a broad range of audiences.

You can download a PDF of this and previous year’s reports on our website.

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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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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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MSU Extension OD team members considered on cutting edge

Michigan State University Extension was well-represented at the inaugural conference of the National Association of Extension Program & Staff Development Professionals (NAEPSDP) Dec. 6–8 in Atlanta. All seven of the MSU Extension staff members who attended the conference offered presentations: Cheryl Peters, Alan Pilkenton, Dionardo Pizaña, Michelle Rodgers, Beth Stuever, Lela Vandenberg and Bonnie Zoia.

 The theme of the conference was change.

 Dionardo conducted a 2 1/2-hour capstone session, “Navigating Your Emotions Through Change” that generated deep reflection, discussion and a lot of applause, as well as rave reviews from those who attended.

 Other sessions included:

  • Clicking to Successful Engagement with MSU Extension News (Stuever)
  • Facilitative Leadership Development (Zoia and Vandenberg)
  • Virtual vs. In-person Professional Development: Comparing Outcomes From Two Annual Extension Conferences (Peters, Rodgers and Vandenberg)
  • Tools and Training for Collaborating & Educating Online: eXtension, SharePoint, Adobe Connect (Pilkenton and Vandenberg)
  • Doing a Tough Thing Well…Re-building Trust at MSUE (Rodgers)
  • Utilizing an Assessment of Evaluation Competencies to Support Extension Professionals (Peters, Rodgers and Bruce Haas [research and development])

 “Hearing the stories of other states’ efforts to restructure and deal with shrinking budgets helped us realize that we’re not alone and that similar processes have been going on in Extension systems throughout the country,” said Lela.

 MSU Extension associate director Michelle Rodgers remarked that it’s been one of her goals to have the great work that MSUE is doing to be recognized by our peers. She recalled that she was delighted to have a couple of participants come up to her and share the sentiment: “Thanks for Michigan sharing these sessions…clearly Extension in Michigan is on the cutting edge.”

 Dr. Rodgers said, “This was a great time for members of the organizational development team to participate in scholarly activities around their area of specialization. Presentations were grounded in research and evaluation and modeled the scholarly work that we believe can occur across every part of our organization. MSUE has benefitted greatly from the synergy of efforts created through the teamwork of those in organizational development (OD). I was personally very proud of our MSUE OD team members.”

 Visit the association’s Facebook page to view photos and comments.

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Behind-the-scenes work critical to MSUE’s future

March is known for Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week, changing weather, first day of spring, paczki, spring break, mud and wrapping up the winter meeting schedule. But in the world of Bruce Haas, planning and reporting specialist, March is federal report month. Each year, on the last day of March (today), Bruce, together with Val Osowski, MSU AgBioResearch communications manager, submits the joint accomplishment report for Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), our federal partner, indicating the impact of our $8 million federal investment in Smith-Lever funds and $5.5 million in Hatch funds. And, each year, behind the scenes, Bruce reads through the Extension Information System (EIS) reports, gathers impact information related to the reporting categories, and works with the business office to document salaries and programs on federal dollars to bring the MSUE content to the report.

In addition, March is an important month for me in meeting with legislators and testifying at Michigan House and Senate hearings that often demand 24-hour response reports related to specific legislative requests. Bruce frequently comes up with details I didn’t realize we had to help address those requests. For the most part, his work goes unseen and unheralded – yet it is critical to helping us live up to our goal of being more accountable to decision makers at all levels.

 This spring, in addition to preparing the federal reports and helping to address state requests for details, Bruce has been leading our efforts to move into a new online system, the Michigan Planning and Reporting System (MI PRS). Over the last year, Bruce has worked with Deb Mault, ANR Technology Services information technologist, and the team of folks in the New England Planning and Reporting Consortium from whom we purchased the software to create a system that works for Michigan. Over the past two months, Bruce has traveled around the state and conducted 19 hands-on training sessions for 283 participants. No one looks forward to April Fool’s day more than Bruce! Please join me in thanking Bruce for his valuable contributions, transparent to many in the organization, yet critical to ensuring our future!

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