Tag Archives: children and youth institute

Joining 4-H and Alumni at the MSU Women’s Basketball Game

More than 4,500 4-H youth, their families, and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff members and their families attended the MSU Women’s Basketball game Jan. 22.

For the first time, Michigan 4-H alumni and the Michigan 4-H Foundation also hosted an event for 4-H alumni. More than 60 people from across the state attended the event and enjoyed food, coloring for kids, games, a Spartan Selfie Station, a visit from Sparty and general networking. We hope this is the first of many successful alumni events.

At halftime, 4-H’ers from Ingham, Macomb, Oakland and Saginaw counties made their way to the court. They were joined by Patrick Cudney, associate director of MSU Extension, and Julie Chapin, Children and Youth Institute director, as they proudly led the 4-H pledge:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country and my world.

Youth stand on the court with Julie Chapin and Patrick Cudney and lead the pledge.

Youth from Ingham, Macomb, Oakland and Saginaw counties lead the 4-H pledge with Julie Chapin and Patrick Cudney.

Thank you to everyone who came together to make the alumni event and the 4-H Day at the Breslin so successful!

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth

National recognition for Flint water emergency response

In the photograph, left to right, are Deanna East, associate state leader for health and nutrition; Dr. Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension director; Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator; Lynette Kaiser, MSU Extension health and nutrition program instructor; and Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of USDA NIFA.

In the photograph, left to right, are Deanna East, associate state leader for health and nutrition; Dr. Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension director; Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator; Lynette Kaiser, MSU Extension health and nutrition program instructor; and Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of USDA NIFA.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Michigan State University (MSU) Extension the Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership for our response to the Flint water emergency. The Abraham Lincoln Award is the most prestigious award presented by the secretary of agriculture. The Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership recognizes the exceptional contributions of USDA’s external partners in innovation, productivity and efficiency in program delivery and leverage federal funding to the benefit of USDA’s customers, the external partner and USDA.

MSU Extension received this honor for “successfully responding to stakeholder needs for information about combating the effects of lead exposure to Michigan communities by developing exceptional emergency response with limited staff, time, and budget.”

I had the opportunity to travel with Deanna East, Lynette Kaiser, Erin Powell to accept the award on behalf of our organization and everyone involved in the emergency response. The USDA Abraham Lincoln Honor Award ceremony and reception took place at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Although only three people traveled to D.C. to receive the award on Extension’s behalf, our efforts in Flint were carried out by a large group of committed and passionate staff members. Health and nutrition staff developed programming materials and efforts to address healthy eating to mitigate lead absorption. Children and youth staff worked closely with community partners to develop resources and programs to help parents promote activities that support cognitive development. Greening Michigan and agriculture and agribusiness staff provided gardening and accessing healthy food education and soil tests. And both MSU Extension Communications and ANR Creative helped produce the resources necessary to carry out their endeavors.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to honor all of our staff members that were part of this vital team at the Fall Extension Conference. Congratulations to the MSU Extension team on your 2016 USDA Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership.

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Filed under Awards, Flint Water, Uncategorized

Congratulations to MAE4-HYS award winners

Congratulations to our 2016 Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) award winners! These awards were announced and received at the 2016 Children and Youth Institute (CYI) Retreat. In 2015, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension served 182,000 youth. The people mentioned below are just a handful of those making a difference in young people’s lives. The awards are a testament to the important work that our CYI colleagues are doing across the state.

Makena Schultz, MSU Extension leadership and civic engagement educator, received the Achievement Award. This award recognizes new 4-H staff members who have demonstrated excellence in the development and organization of their county 4-H Youth Development Programs. Makena received the award for her coordination of 4-H Capitol Experience, programs in reflections and failure resiliency, her lessons on teen facilitation, group decision-making, youth-adult partnerships, communications and conflict resolution as well as her development of new partnerships, and her collaboration in creating the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute.

Melissa Elischer, MSU Extension dairy youth educator, received the Presidential Citation. The award recognizes staff members for a specific program, topic or activity. Melissa works with MSU faculty and MSU Extension staff members, 4-H volunteers and stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate statewide programs that provide opportunities for youth to develop content knowledge and life skill development. Additionally, her work brings together MSU faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Animal Science, local volunteers and industry partners to bring growth and renewed energy to 4-H dairy events. Through her programs, bookmarks and dairy guide, she has been able to introduce and teach animal care and well-being to youth and adults across the state. Melissa also received the Scholarship for Personal and Professional Development, which she can use to travel in the U.S. or abroad to study youth work or use toward graduate tuition to facilitate growth in her Extension work.

Kristi Ayers, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator based in Kent County, received the Diversity Award, which recognizes staff for outstanding effort and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity in county and state 4-H youth work. Kristi has formed key partnerships with community agencies and schools serving youth in Grand Rapids. Through these partnerships, she has offered programs in Spanish as well as food and nutrition education in urban food desserts. She has supplied blankets and books to people who needed them. Through the 4-H embryology project, she has taught young people about the beginning of life.

Kathy Fischer and Dana Wawrzyniec won the Team Award. Based in Calhoun County, Kathy is a 4-H program coordinator, and Dana is a health and nutrition program instructor. Together, they worked with the local nonprofit Sprout Urban Farms to teach Calhoun County residents how to eat healthier. They developed a community space with a tool lending library, visited classrooms to teach about plant gardens and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and formed a partnership with the food service director. After learning about plants in the classroom, students were excited to see fresh produce as part of the lunch choice. Kathy also received the First Time Conference Scholarship to attend the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

The Partnership Award recognizes individuals or groups outside of MSU Extension who have made an outstanding contribution to MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. The following partners received the award:

1) Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer has supported the Clinton County 4-H Livestock sale for over 30 years. Troy Bancroft, his family and the company staff have a huge impact on the Clinton County 4-H and Youth Fair as financial supporters and sponsors and as volunteers, lending their time and resources. They also provide a space for board meetings, awards ceremonies and other events. The partnership between 4-H and Agro-Culture has been invaluable.

2) Fifth Third Michigan State Fair LLC and Suburban Collection Showplace benefits 4-H and our youth in many ways. It gives 4-H’ers an opportunity to showcase 4-H projects, learn life skills, and apply for and receive scholarships for their achievements. The junior fair board provides leadership development. The future opportunities are infinite, creating a mutually beneficial relationship with a fantastic opportunity to highlight the services of MSU Extension.

3) Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has been a longtime supporter of youth programming in Michigan. For more than 80 years, MMPA has partnered with MSU Extension to enhance and grow 4-H programming in dairy science and other animal science project areas. Contributions to the program have been extensive. They include annual funding through the 4-H Foundation, grant matches, start-up funds with continued support for a 4-H camp, personnel to assist at statewide dairy youth events, and the hosting of an annual youth career development and scholarship program at the Novi headquarters. Ken Nobis, Joe Diglio and Sheila Burkhardt, attending on behalf of MMPA, were honored during the program.

Tom Guthrie and Nicole Wethington each won the Colleague Award, which recognizes an individual within MSU Extension who has made an outstanding contribution to MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. Tom is a statewide Extension educator based in Jackson County. In 2015, Tom was a superhero who helped Jackson County overcome a health outbreak leading to a short quarantine of the barn at the fair. Tom helped in monitoring pig health, calling in experts, and communicating with superintendents and families, and staff worked as a team to minimize the impact to the fair, exhibitors and buyers. Nicole is an MSU Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed) program instructor in Crawford and Roscommon counties. She has taught 4-H day campers about germs and physical activity, trained aspiring chefs about food safety and the source of our food, and shared exotic fruits and vegetables. She has also trained staff and volunteers to deliver lessons on healthy choices.

Helen-Ann Cordes, a 4-H program coordinator in Alpena County, received the Communicator Award, which recognizes significant accomplishment in presenting 4-H to the general public, civic groups, 4-H groups or individuals through public information methods. Her use of technology, print and social media to educate and communicate with members, their families and volunteers has allowed her to reach people where they are. Video recorded trainings and updates for leaders also minimize the number of after-hours meetings necessary. Helen-Ann also uses these media to market 4-H to residents of Alpena County and certain programming to surrounding counties.

Julie Thelen received the MAE4-HYS Excellence in Camping Award, the National Excellence in Camping Award, the MAE4-HYS Programming Expertise Award in Animal Science and the National Excellence in Animal Science Programming Award. Julie is an MSU Extension 4-H livestock and veterinary science educator who develops, implements and evaluates statewide programs for youth. She received both the MAE4-HYS and National Excellence in Camping awards for her work expanding the livestock and veterinary science programs by introducing the 4-H Animal and Veterinary Science Camp. Julie received both state and national programming awards in animal science because of her focus on curriculum development, specifically bringing zoonotic disease education to the forefront of animal science and her development of 4-H club biosecurity and zoonotic lesson kits.

Glenda Weiss received the Urban Programming Award for partnering with local schools to offer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. She designed science activities shared at urban events and developed community center partnerships to hold craft events. She also partnered with Pingree Farms to provide youth with transportation to their farm where they learned about caring for farm animals.

Jodi Schulz, an MSU Extension educator focusing in capacity building and academic success, received the Michigan Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an individual’s career in 4-H. She is a model example of a 4-H staff member, a CYI educator and an MSU employee and has been over her 10-year career. Highlights of her contributions include the Life Skills Wheel, the creation of Michigan 4-H SPIN Clubs and her productive partnership with Bay City Public Schools.

The National Distinguished Service Award is one of the highest honors given at the national level. Staff must have 7 years of experience and have won the Michigan Distinguished Service Award to be eligible. This year, Betty Jo Krosnicki, MSU Extension educator in career education and workforce preparation, and Janelle Stewart, MSU Extension children and youth educator, received this prestigious award. Over the past 10 years, Betty Jo served in a number of capacities during her tenure as an MSU Extension educator, including county coordination, the Volunteerism Area of Expertise Team and workgroup roles on the Academic Success, Life Skills, and Career Education and Workforce Preparation teams. Janelle coordinates for Lenawee County, works on the Leadership/Civic Engagement work team, serves on the Advisory Resource Team and is a member on the Capitol Experience Steering Committee, the State Youth Leadership Council Advisory Committee and the Spectacular Steering Committee. She teaches classes in the leadership, citizenship, global education categories such as Youth/Adult Partnerships, Officer Training, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Teen Facilitation, Leadership, Running Effective Meetings and much more.

Bev Przystas received the National Meritorious Award, which recognizes professional attitude, professional improvement, professional accomplishments, personal attitudes, interests, community involvement and special honors received. Recipients must have more than 15 years of service. Bev has been the 4-H program assistant for Gladwin County for 37 years. Her passion for 4-H youth development has reached many youth, volunteers, her community and peers. Her ability to listen and to work with others has helped to bring positive outcomes to potentially negative situations. In her many accomplishments, she has shown teamwork, compassion and integrity.

Jan Brinn, an MSU Extension educator specializing in academic success, leadership, civic engagement and global and cultural education, received the National Excellence in Global Citizenship Award. The award recognizes those who strive to develop and/or conduct programs and/or projects that provide opportunities for youth to develop a world-view including a global perspective and the skills necessary for global citizenship and the development of appreciation for living in a global society. Jan’s work with the Michigan’s 4-H China Project has been positively influencing youth for over 25 years. More than 350,000 youth have participated in the Michigan 4-H China Project global citizenship programs in a variety of settings. Through the Art Exchange, Michigan children in grades K‒6, communicate and learn about China through creating visual letters to send to children in China.

The Rocky Award celebrates the moments when staff do something extraordinary. This year, the award was given to the group that attended the 4-H National Conference in Portland, Oregon: Jan Brinn, Sarah McKinney, Matt Newman, Roxanne Turner and Nancy Victorson. They received the award based on their successful and thorough exploration of Mount Hood.

Please join me in congratulating our MSU Extension colleagues for their work and their award recognition.

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Filed under 4-H, Awards, Children and Youth

Thoughts on my second month as director

The focus on Flint in recent weeks and the need to address important nutrition, child development, public health and community infrastructure issues has given us the opportunity to remind folks that MSU Extension has been in Flint for 100 years. We will be there for the next 100 years, and can be an important part of developing and implementing solutions that change lives. Your colleagues are making a difference. Deanna East is helping to coordinate the Michigan State University response in Flint. Eric Scorsone and the recently announced MSU Extension Center for Local Government Finance and Policy are engaging local officials and testifying before the State Legislature. Erin Powell, Cathy Newkirk and many others are addressing nutrition issues on the ground. Terry McLean and the Edible Flint crew are working closely with the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and state officials to ensure that food is distributed in areas of greatest need. This is important work that underscores the breadth of our collective experience, the ability to respond quickly and the importance of partnerships that you have built over decades.

The critical role that MSU Extension is playing in Flint is replicated in every community throughout Michigan. But, seven weeks into my new job as part of your team, it is already clear that not enough people know who we are. Moreover, those who do know us well are not always familiar with the breadth and depth of MSU Extension programming. I met recently with an agricultural commodity CEO, for example, who indicated that labor force issues were among his biggest industry concerns. As we talked, it became clear that, although his interactions over many years had been primarily with our Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (for obvious reasons), many programs in the Greening Michigan, Children and Youth, and Health and Nutrition Institutes would be potentially valuable resources to him in recruiting and retaining valued employees.

We often use a slide when describing “Who is MSU Extension?” that includes the following bullets:

  • Faculty and Academic Staff on Campus
  • Extension Educators and Senior Extension Educators
  • 4-H Program Coordinators
  • Program Instructors, Program Associates, Program Assistants
  • Support Staff Members, on and off campus; MSU or county employees
  • Funded by County, State and Federal Resources

While these statements are accurate and descriptive, what if, instead, we said things like:

  • Unparalleled statewide health education delivery system.
  • Business start-up, tech transfer and product development expertise.
  • Serve schools statewide; capable of gathering more than 2,000 kids and their families for a single event.
  • Rapid response for agriculture, human health and other emergencies, such as the current Flint water crisis.
  • Future funding growth to come from building partnerships!

You can help me in at least two important ways.

  1. Don’t hesitate to tell people about the great work you do, and add in a bit about what your colleagues do in many areas across the entire state. If you aren’t aware of all MSU Extension programs, the website is a good place to start.
  2. Help us to find even more creative ways to describe what we do and outlets for sharing that information with the world. What descriptive statements would you add to this list to describe “Who is MSU Extension?”

Consider browsing through our public value statements occasionally to refresh your memory about how all of your colleagues’ work makes a difference in Michigan. We work for an amazing organization. By working together we can ensure that more people understand how we can help positively change their lives, communities and businesses.

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Filed under Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, Economic development, Financial education, Flint Water, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Resources, Youth development

Update on Flint

MSU Extension is right in the middle of the efforts to reach the people of Flint with the resources they need. Our response there shows how nimble and responsive our team is in times of crisis. For example, HNI and CYI teams have developed fact sheets on how to Fight Lead With Nutrition and Fight Lead Affects With Learning and Play. These resources, and others, are not only valuable in Flint, but also in other areas of the state that have high lead levels.

In addition to these and other very specific lead-related resources, your colleagues have modified other programming to fit the needs of residents as they deal with lead exposure.

Some highlights of what your colleagues accomplished in January alone follow. MSU Extension has helped more than 2,100 people through programs, participation in events and partnerships.

Jennifer Skornicka and her team put on a 4-H information display at a Family Fun Night and Lead Testing event at Eisenhower Elementary that reached 400 young people and 285 adults. At this event, families received Molina Foundation books and the new Nutrition & Lead recipe information booklets. These booklets have become an important resource, and we’ve distributed more than 6,000 copies to 23 organizations that will further distribute of them. Hurley Children’s Hospital has an additional 2,500 booklets to distribute to their patients. Julia Darnton, Terry McLean and Erin Powell are working with ongoing programs in growing and accessing healthy food.

Photo of a Cooking demonstration at the Eastern Market using ingredients that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin D.

Cooking demonstration at the Eastern Market using ingredients that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

102 people have attended food and nutrition demonstrations featuring recipes that block lead absorption at the Flint Farmers’ Market. These are in addition to many other programs designed to meet needs in the community.

Because all eyes are on Flint and our work there, we’ve been getting a lot of attention from MSU President Simon and others. In her February 10, 2016, State of the University speech, President Simon was very complimentary about the work of MSU Extension in Flint. Everything we do to help the people of Flint elevates our reputation throughout the state and on campus. People are becoming aware of the importance of having Extension folks rooted in the communities that they serve. Every day is a reminder for me of how fortunate I am to be part of the MSU Extension team.

You might be wondering how you can help and what resources we have developed. You also might be getting calls from concerned residents in your communities. Links to several important resources for you and anyone else who is concerned about Flint and about nutrition and the water in their own communities follow.

  • Fight Lead Exposure The new MSU Extension page with links to MSU Extension news articles and educational resources about lead.
  • MSU Pediatric Public Health Fund  This MSU fund will support a new effort to find and evaluate interventions for the children of Flint affected by lead exposure.
  • Flint Volunteer Reception Center The center is designed as a central point of contact for all volunteers and those needing volunteers in Flint.

When people call your office looking for a place to get their drinking water tested, direct them to the county health department first. (The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides a Local Health Department Map.) If the health department doesn’t offer that service, callers can order a water test kit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for $18 by calling 517-335-8184.

To learn more about Flint and what people are coming together to achieve there, visit one of the pages listed here:

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Flint Water, Food, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition

Southeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative Network recognizes Extension educators

I would like to share the recognition several of our staff received at the recent Southeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative Network meeting. Brandon Schroeder, Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute; Tracy D’Augustino, Extension educator in the Children and Youth Institute; Steve Stewart, senior Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute; and Justin Selden, program instructor in the Greening Michigan Institute; were all recognized by this group for their educational efforts.

The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative focuses on leveraging educational programs to develop knowledgeable and active stewards of the Great Lakes in the community. They collaborate with local organizations such as Michigan State University Extension to help students and teachers address important environmental issues in their communities. In the process, students learn academic content and practice the skills of problem-solving and citizenship. The work they are doing is raising awareness in communities and in young people, which will help protect our Great Lakes for years to come.

Please join me in congratulating them on their hard work and dedication to MSU Extension!

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Filed under Awards

4-H’ers learn about leadership and national issues in Washington DC

While some of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues and I were at the Public Issues Leadership Development conference April 12‒15, two 4-H’ers also traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent Michigan 4-H at the National 4-H Conference. with Jackelyn Martin, Extension educator. As founding members of the newly launched Michigan State 4-H Youth Leadership Council, Erin Washburn and Davis Fettes, both of Branch County, stepped outside of their comfort zones, met peers from across the U.S., honed their leadership skills and presented a youth perspective to a federal agency.

Youth at the conference are assigned to “roundtable” groups, designed to help members understand the issues that a specific federal agency is tackling and to allow them to give their youth-specific perspective to the issues. Both Michigan youth presented to the Smithsonian Waterways group to help provide their perspectives to the issue: “Through a youth perspective, we hope to increase understanding, take action, and make a difference in our own communities by offering tools and resources to formal and informal educators” around water conservation education. Participating in a diverse group composed of youth from across the U.S., the Michigan youth worked to understand perspectives of youth from parts of the country challenged by drought ‒ perspectives that they might otherwise only distantly understand from news reports.

Erin said, “(National 4-H Conference was an) eye-opener to what it’s really like across the nation. Connecting with others and coming together on one topic in two days, it was an experience that changed my view of things.”

When not busy preparing their presentation, youth listened to motivational speakers, attended workshops and met with U.S. senators and representatives on Capitol Hill. This was an exciting opportunity for our Michigan 4-H’ers to get real hands-on experience and encourage them to take leadership in their community.

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