Tag Archives: children and youth

MSU Extension Spotlight Raise Your Hand for Michigan 4-H!

As you have likely seen, Michigan 4-H is again this year participating in the Raise Your Hand campaign, which seeks to engage 4-H alums and supporters.

With deep roots in our state and across the country, 4-H has been serving youth for more than 100 years. This key program provides kids with the opportunity to learn by doing, grow from failure and develop the skills they need to handle whatever life throws their way. No one knows this better than 4-H friends and alumni who have experienced these programs firsthand. That is why 4-H alums and anyone who supports 4-H are being asked to Raise Your Hand for 4-H.

Whether you are a program alum or not, as part of our Michigan State University Extension family, I know you will all join me in showing your support of 4-H and raising your hand. By doing so, you’ll be paying it forward to the next generation of 4-H’ers and helping to bring the 4-H experience to additional kids in our state. Every friend and alumni hand raised between now and May 15 will count as a vote for the state of your choice (vote for Michigan!), with cash prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 available to the top three states. Even if you have previously raised your hand for 4-H, please do so again this year, as the competition counts each hand raised!

Please join me in empowering kids across Michigan by raising your hand for 4-H and helping to provide youth with 4-H hands-on learning that teaches them responsibility, compassion, respect and the value of hard work. Together we can grow the next generation of true leaders!

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth

Making a difference in MSU Extension District 6: Recap of the state council visit

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel north to District 6 along with our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch State Council. Shari Spoelman, district coordinator, and the crew in MSU Extension District 6 worked hard to give us a great overview of the programming, research and outreach going on in the district, and arranged for us to spend time with the people they serve.

For those of you who are new to Extension or unfamiliar with the council, we have members from all over the state who serve as a liaison between us and our county councils, field station advisory groups, and state agencies and organizations. The members come from various backgrounds: commodity group leaders, county commissioners, 4-H volunteers and farmers. We even have a meteorologist. The more they know about the work we do and the difference we make around the state, the better they can share the Extension story with our local and state decision-makers.

We began our trip with a chance to see the Kettunen Center, a conference facility owned by the Michigan 4-H Foundation. We heard about how 4-H and Extension use the center to connect with youth and volunteers. Chris Gentry, Kettunen Center director, provided us with a tour. We heard from Sara Keinath, youth development educator, and Jake Stieg, 4-H program coordinator, on the work they do with 4-H such as Mock Interview Day and 4-H Winterfest.

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Next, we traveled to B & B Farms, owned by Dan and Bonnie Blackledge, and heard about how MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center has helped them grow and market their canola seed and oil products. Jerry Lindquist, grazing and field crops educator, met us there to talk more about the relationships that MSU Extension has with specialty crop growers.

Dan and Kathy Blackledge talk about working with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center to grow and market their canola products. Everyone stands by their house and barn.

Dan and Kathy Blackledge talk about working with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center to grow and market their canola products.

Afterward, we visited Hidden Hills Dairy with Kathy Lee, senior dairy educator, and saw modern technology and the results of MSU Extension input at work on the farm.

State council members tour below the milking parlor where the machines send the milk.

State council members tour the milk machines below the milking parlor at Hidden Hills Dairy.

We ended the day in downtown Cadillac with Marcus Peccia, the city manager, and Carla Filkins, the mayor, to hear about their partnership with the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction; MSU Extension and the Michigan Municipal League to create a successful placemaking plan. Marcus gave us a tour to see some of the new efforts to make downtown Cadillac a place for the community to gather as part of the Heritage Plaza PlacePlan. We saw the new amphitheater, the outdoor fireplace, the park and the future location of the Cadillac farmers market.

State Council members and administrators pose for a group photograph in downtown Cadillac.

State Council members and administrators in downtown Cadillac.

On Wednesday, Jill O’Donnell, a senior agriculture and agribusiness educator who has worked with the Michigan Christmas tree industry for over 32 years, joined us as we visited the Dutchman Tree Farm in Manton. We met with Steve VanderWeide, the owner, as he shared about farm operations and his connection with MSU Extension. We learned about the soil, tree growth process and market changes that characterize this area of the state.

Next we met up with Erin Lizotte, integrated pest management educator, at Arlene Hops to learn about hops as a re-emerging specialty crop in Michigan and MSU Extension’s efforts to provide research and support. Brian Tennis from the Michigan Hop Alliance answered questions about growing hops as well as the importance of having Extension as a valuable resource in moving forward.

State Council members stand in a hops field and listen to Erin Lizotte talk about Michigan hops.

State Council members get a chance to hear from Erin Lizotte about hop growing in Michigan.

We ended our tour at the Lake City Research Center with Jason Rowntree, Kable Thurlow and Jerry for a tour of the center and a chance to learn more about their research on forage-based livestock, potato production and bioenergy crop production. Jason is an MSU faculty member and Kable is a beef educator who conduct research and outreach at the center.

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Many council members expressed how important it was to learn more about the work we’re doing in this area of the state. It was an extremely successful trip, and I’d like to send a huge “Thank you!” out to everyone who made our visit possible.

You know, the most meaningful part for me is when we meet community members and hear how MSU Extension made a difference in their lives. Nothing beats that.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, Economic development, Parks, Partnerships

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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Filed under 4-H

National Mentoring Resource Center website to feature MSU Extension Mentor Training Toolkit

Our Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development educators recently created Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit to assist mentoring program staff in delivering interactive, evidence-based training. The Capacity Building team is responsible for pulling together this curriculum, specifically Lisa Bottomley, senior mentoring specialist; Christine (Sisung) Heverly, 4-H program coordinator; Jillian Tremonti, Extension program worker; Anna Elden Brady, Extension program worker; and Molly Frendo, who was an associate program leader during her time at MSU Extension.

While releasing the curriculum is already a success on its own, the curriculum is also going to be featured as a recommended resource on the National Mentoring Resource Center website, after Lisa and Molly successfully presented it at the 2014 National Mentoring Summit and it passed the Board’s review.

Michael Garringer, director of knowledge management at the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), welcomed the contributions, saying, “I want to express my appreciation for your submission of this great resource. I’m really impressed with the quality and design of the training content and am happy that listing it on the NMRC will help practitioners around the country learn about and access the materials.”

The entire curriculum contains 56 activities divided into five modules: Cultural Competency; Building the Mentoring Relationship; Communication; Setting Boundaries and Youth Development.

The following Ready to Go units are available individually through University Stores:

Congratulations to the Capacity Building team on finishing this curriculum and making an important connection with the National Mentoring Resource Center!

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Filed under curriculum