Tag Archives: cindy straus

One-year-old performs beyond expectations

Our new Michigan State University Extension website is one year old today! With your help, the site has done extremely well. The latest statistics taken April 15 reveal we’ve had 1.8 million pageviews on the site!

The website’s beginnings go back to fall 2010 when Dr. Wendy Powers, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, challenged Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications to build on the success of the CAT (Crop Advisory Team) Alerts that entomology specialist Joy Landis and her team had produced so successfully.

Joy; Dennis Bond, web administrator for ANR Technology Services; and communications manager Beth Stuever made quick work of creating and launching News for Ag in March 2011. Faculty and staff members shared their practical knowledge in Internet articles. The site gave farmers and others in agriculture access to the latest information and research.

Dr. Powers said, “Our intent was to demonstrate how this would work and the impact if might have. Fortunately, the site now reflects the breadth of MSUE by including all of the institutes.”

Eventually, educators and specialists from all four institutes lent their expertise and the MSU Extension website was born on April 18, 2012 – one year ago today.

You may recall that during Fall Extension Conference in October 2012, we hit the million mark for pageviews. The number of people who are engaging on our pages grows steadily. This last week produced some new high numbers. Our current lows are as big as the past highs! When we began this process, we considered 2,500 pageviews in a week an outstanding result. The highest day ever in News for Ag was in March 2012 with slightly more than 2,200 visits. The portal averaged about 6,000 visits PER YEAR. Now, we get more than twice that almost every day. In fact, in the last 30 days, more than 100,600 people have visited the site. Collectively, they have viewed 220,695 pages. And about 29,000 people come back to our site EVERY DAY.

To compare ourselves to other Extension services, Iowa State in the last 30 days had 587,402 pageviews, while we had 210,616. In a year’s time, we have grown to have almost half as many as they have. Keep in mind, they have a more mature site that includes ALL their events and all their 4-H information. We also have three times as many pageviews during the last 30 days as Kansas State Extension, and two-thirds as many as the Ohio State University Extension and as North Dakota State University Extension Service – all sites that have been around longer and are considered more mature than our site.

Extension specialist Cindy Straus worked hard on gathering these statistics and putting them into a format we could understand. Thanks, Cindy!

And really, the website is only part of the story. Articles that appear on the site are often picked up by traditional and digital media, thereby extending the value of every article written and helping us reach more people with pertinent education.

We’re making some great progress, partly because we have great content. However, we need more content to attract people to our website. Extension educators, reach out to faculty – whether they are Extension specialists or not – and offer them the opportunity to get more visibility for the work they are doing through MSU Extension website articles.

The MSU Extension web team includes Dennis, Sean Corp, Michelle Lavra, Laura Probyn, Marian Reiter, Cindy Straus and Beth Stuever.

A team of posters regularly upload or “post” articles that educators and specialists submit (hence, the term “poster”).

Beth said, “The posters are our front lines in working with educators and specialists to ensure high-quality, timely information is added daily.”

These posters include Mindy Maxwell Pratt (poster team coordinator), Sean Corp, Sandra Ennes, Mallory Fournier (under the supervision of Joy) and Katie Gervasi.

Thanks to all of these staff members and to all of you who are writing the articles and lending your expertise to the site. You’re making our numbers go up! You’re bringing a lot of attention to our programs that we wouldn’t have been getting without the new website.

Watch this week’s webinar at https://connect.msu.edu/p14evbgs7ij (at 50:39) to find out more.

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Take opportunity to archive important documents

One of the more effective ways Michigan State University Extension has provided information in the past has been through publication of bulletins. A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of archiving materials that we have used in our work in my blog. Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections is the unit that receives and catalogs materials that need to be archived.

 Many of you may have a part in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week, which takes place on campus March 3–10. If you’re making the trip in to campus, Cindy Straus, Extension specialist, is happy to receive any material that you’d like to archive. All you need to do is drop it off at her office in 221 Agriculture Hall.

 To see the MSU Extension bulletins currently archived, view the historical publications listing at

http://web2.msue.msu.edu/Bulletins/Bulletin/PDF/Historical/finished_pubs/index.html. It’s kind of fun to just go through and read a bulletin from 1929! But certainly, bulletins don’t have to be that old to archive.

 Cindy says, “I am looking for bulletins with an F, Circular, Memoir or Special or Technical Bulletin listing on them or old E series as well. Along with the bulletins any newsletter series or special handouts created for programs no longer served should be housed with Archives at MSU.”

 So pick up those boxes and take them out to your vehicle now so you don’t forget to bring them to campus. Cindy will be waiting for you.

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History worth saving

With all the moves and changes in recent months, several county staff members have played an active part in saving Michigan State University Extension content information, and in doing so, filling in the blanks of our history from its beginning to the present. It’s important to chronicle and honor the traditions of our organization. With every period of change, there’s often wisdom to be found in the experiences of our predecessors. Whether we find those kernels of wisdom or not, we have a responsibility to preserve what records exist so that others can benefit from past experiences. Here are three examples of folks working hard to determine what to save and how to save it.

 In August, MSU Extension Allegan County downsized their office space. Betty Blase, District 7 coordinator, and Lynn Vecziedins, administrative assistant, contacted Cindy Straus, electronic information manager, to find out what they should do with the vast amount of information they faced with the downsize. A trip to their office revealed a well-organized and extensive array of bulletins, notebooks, programming materials and historical newspaper articles. These materials document how MSU Extension started in early 1917 when Allegan County’s first agricultural agent was hired. Included in their materials is a report from a summer intern who worked on food safety for support of the war work – that’s World War I. The materials included an extensive run of annual reports, many from the ’20s to the ’40s with photos of events. Allegan County staff members sorted the vast collection of files. Some files were sent to MSU Archives, and some will be scanned to be added to the MSU Extension historical bulletin collection.

 Soon after, MSU Extension Clare County also contacted Cindy about the same kind of downsizing, but they were facing loss of staff as well as space. Materials needed to be sorted so that what was kept provided support for the remaining staff. Michelle Neff, Extension educator, helped to sort and evaluate the materials, which included documents related to the tuberculosis work done in the early ’20s and ’30s and forestry work and research being done in conjunction with the district specialists in the ’50s and ’60s. It also included information on the PBB disaster in the ’70s in which cattle feed was contaminated with a fire retardant.

 Finally, Extension educator Mark Longstroth contacted Cindy with an extensive listing of historical fruit materials that supported research work started in southwestern Michigan. These files are now being sorted and scanned with many going to the MSU Archives, and some to the MSU Main Library collection, the MSUE historical bulletin collection or the Knowledge Repository.

 Bulletins uncovered in the three historical records projects include research reports written on the development of brome grass (1940s), energy management for dairy farms (1950s), small business development (1930s–60s), community zoning and management (1930s–80s), youth patterns for moving out of a county (1950s) and the list goes on.

 It is never too late to pass on files of newsletter series, program curriculum (written for and by MSU staff), audio, video, slide sets (all with complete materials), photos (dated and documented), and program support materials of any kind written by and for MSU staff and clientele. To see a list of MSUE bulletins that are already on file, go to http://web2.msue.msu.edu/Bulletins/Bulletin/PDF/Historical/finished_pubs/index.html.

 For more information on what you should be saving or sending to campus, contact Cindy Straus at strausc@msu.edu.

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