Tag Archives: cherry connection

Extension educator receives annual cherry promotion award

Michigan State University Extension educator Jennifer Berkey received the National Cherry Festival’s Very Cherry Promotion Annual Award Jan. 15 at the Cherry Marketing Institute luncheon, part of the annual Fruit Growers Orchard Show at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Mich. The National Cherry Festival Cherry Promotions Committee honored Jennifer with the award for her work as the National Cherry Festival director of the Cherry Connection event from 1999 to 2011.

“It is an honor to be receiving this award as it was my privilege to have worked with the cherry industry on their behalf for 12 years,” said Jennifer. “Increasing consumer’s knowledge about how cherries grow, the myriad of ways they can be used in foods along with how to integrate cherries into their everyday meals was the focus of this educational initiative, and it was a wonderful collaboration with MSU, the National Cherry Festival, growers and producers of cherry products.”

The National Cherry Festival’s Very Cherry Promotion Award was established in 1986. It is given to an individual, couple, group or business, which has demonstrated outstanding efforts in promotion and/or production in the world of cherries. Past winners have included the Grand Traverse Pie Company, Friske Orchards and James Bardenhagen, retired Leelanau County Extension director.

Congratulations, Jennifer!

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Coordinated teamwork leads to successful cherry event

July 4–8, the National Cherry Festival and Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) presented Cherry Connection. Attendees were invited to visit the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station (NWMHRS), part of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) operated by MSUE in Traverse City. Besides guided orchard tours, there were exhibits and samples of the newest cherry products and technology inside the station. Fun activities for the kids included a petting zoo, hands-on experiments, a poster-coloring contest and many other activities.

 Jennifer Berkey, MSUE Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties educator, says that more than 2,400 people attended Cherry Connection. In fact, they had a record turnout on Monday and Tuesday when more than 600 people attended each day. In a survey, 95 percent of participants stated they will purchase a locally produced cherry product in the near future. Ninety-eight percent stated that they learned a new fact about cherries or a new use for cherries. Attendees cited the orchard tour and cherry taste testing as favorite event activities. Looks like the staff met their goal of showing people where cherries come from while having a little fun along the way.

 You’ll learn some fun facts about cherries and about the Cherry Connection when you view this video from Northern Michigan’s Fox 32 News on the 9&10 News website: http://www.9and10news.com/category/story/?id=238899&cID=1.

 And says Dr. Nikki Rothwell, MSUE district horticulturalist and NWMHRS coordinator, after viewing the video, “We should recruit the 4-H kid to do our PR work!”

 4-H kids help out at the Cherry Connection each day. They bring their animals for the petting zoo, which this year included a horse, a steer, rabbits, chickens and llamas. They also sold dried and chocolate-covered cherries and cherry sodas. Barb Duvall, Leelanau County Extension educator, did a fantastic job of helping coordinate the kids and the petting zoo portion of the event.

 The Cherry Connection is a great example of coordinated teamwork involving the MAES, MSUE, 4-H, the cherry festival and the cherry industry.

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