Tag Archives: college of human medicine

Singing loudly for MSU Extension

In January, I posted about creative interventions and singing/spreading the word about the incredible work that you do and how that can help you to achieve your goals, open new paths of opportunity and enable us to do even more to serve people throughout Michigan. I wanted to share with you several opportunities that President Lou Anna K. Simon and I had to “sing” about the work we’re doing at MSU.

On March 2, President Lou Anna K. Simon testified in front of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee about the work that Michigan State University (MSU) is doing in all aspects of its mission. She highlighted the importance of the land-grant mission in talking about MSU’s response to Flint. Through the efforts of MSU Extension, the College of Human Medicine, the College of Nursing and the College of Education, Spartans have been serving Flint for over 100 years.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon testifies to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon testifies to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.

“If we can’t literally be everywhere, we have the assets to deploy anywhere in Michigan thanks to what we already have embedded and our close relationships with community leaders. And driven by that big land-grant heart, we are trusted knowledge partners dedicated to working with people to build the human and intellectual infrastructure they need to be successful,” President Simon said.

On March 3, I was interviewed by President Simon and MSU athletics director Mark Hollis on our efforts in Flint. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, you can click on this link here. Athletics director Hollis recognized that MSU Extension is often known for our work with agriculture but gave me a chance to talk about the full range of Extension’s outreach and our four institutes. We have 600 people all over the state ‒ talented, passionate, well-educated ‒ and some have been there for over 30 years making a difference.

President Simon asked me to share about how 4-H is more than just a program for youth from rural towns. I talked about how we provide 4-H programs to urban youth and engage them in the sciences, the arts, careers and entrepreneurship, leadership, mentoring and more. Data show that youth that are involved in 4-H are more likely to go to and graduate from college. It’s also extremely important that we have these clubs so that when a crisis occurs, we can address the crisis within our already-formed groups. 25,000 adult volunteers bringing the community together around our young people. Youth need these mentors who are good role models in their lives.

Far too many still don’t know about MSU Extension. I hope we can use our many successes in agriculture to expand our communication about all our programming. President Simon said that she thinks of us as an adaptive technology – that we adapt our services to the needs and research available at the time. She’s right, and it’s important that we keep “singing” about who we are and all that we do around the state.

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Filed under 4-H, Accomplishments, Children and Youth, communication, strategic connections, Uncategorized

Welcome to 2016, my fellow MSU Extension Spartans!

Welcome to 2016! I am thrilled to get a chance to highlight everything I’m learning about the amazing work that you are doing here in Michigan. I am looking forward to the chance to meet you and getting to know you. I would like to invite you to get to know a little bit more about me by checking out my About Me page.

This is another month to be proud of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the work that we do across the state. At Issues Identification listening sessions in Hancock, Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie, we heard again about the appreciation Michigan residents have for you and the expertise you bring to their families, businesses and communities.

In Flint last Thursday, the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a new collaboration between Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center, was announced that will further focus attention and resources on Flint and children who have been impacted by toxic levels of lead in the water system. In the coming weeks and months, your MSU Extension colleagues will be doing even more along with partners from the Genesee County Health Department, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the College of Human Medicine at MSU. To read more about this initiative in Flint, you can read my previous blog post.

Of course, this week more than 600 of our teammates have also been providing breastfeeding education; helping families, farms and those with new product ideas to navigate difficult financial terrain; and opening doors to new learning opportunities for kids ranging from horsemanship and raising crops and animals to civic engagement and leadership. There is much to be proud of. We will continue to support, communicate and celebrate all that we do and have traditionally done at every opportunity.

We can also use our history, relationships, knowledge and expertise to develop new ideas, approaches and opportunities that are required of us in the 21st century. When my girls were small (Amanda and Rebecca are now 25 and 20, respectively), I struggled with a common issue experienced by nearly all parents with small children: how to keep them safe while traversing parking lots. Our rule was that once they got out of the car, they had to keep one hand on the vehicle until they held my hand, then we would walk hand-in-hand to our destination.

But kids are kids. They would be excited about where we were going or who we were meeting and would sometimes drop my hand and take off. My (I think fairly typical) response would be to yell sharply and run after them, which meant we would end up at our destination across the parking lot with crying kids and a grumpy Dad. No fun.

Then we discovered a solution and we can thank the Beatles. Our new rule became this: if you take your hand away from Dad’s hand, he will sing the chorus from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as loudly as he can right there in the parking lot (“I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your hand”). The moment you reattach your hand to his, he will stop. Sounds crazy, but it worked. Not only did it accomplish safety in the parking lot, but there was no more crying and grumpiness. (Hint: If this does not work on the first attempt, you are not singing loudly enough to completely embarrass them.)

Try it. Find your voice. As you tackle your responsibilities this week, think about the challenges you face in helping our friends, neighbors and constituents through the work that you do and consider whether an unusual solution like “singing in the parking lot” will help. Creative interventions and singing/spreading the word about the incredible work that you do can help you to achieve your goals, open new paths of opportunity and enable us to do even more to serve people throughout Michigan. Take a risk, f it does not work the first time, perhaps you are not singing loudly enough!

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Filed under Accomplishments, Children and Youth, issue identification, Partnerships

How we will help our community in Flint

As a father myself, I was concerned by news of lead seeping into the water in Flint and its devastating health effects on children. Often, when people refer to Extension, they call us “boots on the ground,” and sure enough, our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition professionals have been working closely with the Genesee County health department, local agencies, hospitals and health professionals, and colleagues from MSU ever since the lead issue was uncovered.

In Flint last Thursday, the Pediatric Public Health Initiative was announced that will further focus attention and resources on Flint and children there who have been affected by toxic levels of lead in the water system. This collaboration brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography and education, and includes the Genesee County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the MSU College of Human Medicine and MSU Extension.

Photo of announcement by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative to a room filled with partners, media and government officials.

Announcement by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

What can MSU Extension do to help? We cannot reverse the damage, but we can use evidenced-based research to help Flint residents lessen the effects over time.

We can teach families how to prepare meals that help block the body’s ability to absorb lead. MSU Extension nutrition staff members have worked together with the Hurley Medical Center and the MSU College of Human Medicine to provide nutrition education. That includes developing and sharing recipes that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C. We’ve been sharing these recipes through our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education classes, as well as demonstrations at the Flint Farmers Market. MSU Extension is hiring additional staff to help childcare providers assess their facilities and improve practices related to nutrition, especially in those parts of the city where lead exposure is the highest.

We can also help families learn effective parenting strategies that promote social and emotional skills and early childhood literacy. MSU Extension’s early childhood education team will teach parents and caregivers about how to best protect their children from lead exposure in the home and how to combat the side effects through effective child development strategies. Research has long indicated that high-quality early childhood education and increased parenting capacity, is one of the best strategies to offset adverse childhood experiences and to promote school readiness. MSU Extension’s early childhood programs focus on school readiness for children from birth to age 8 by promoting social and emotional skills, early literacy, and science and math skills, and by teaching effective parenting strategies.

Research indicates that high-quality early childhood experiences, parenting education and good nutrition are critical measures we can implement today to offset damage and increase children’s likeliness of school success. Our MSU Extension colleagues are working to provide those educational experiences, and in the coming weeks and months, they will be doing even more alongside our partners in the initiative.

Want to know more about what’s going on in Flint and the Pediatric Public Health Initiative? Below are some articles that you might find interesting in learning more about the situation in Flint and our collaborative efforts surrounding it.

Efforts Will Monitor Flint Kids’ Health

Pediatrician to Lead Fight against Flint Lead Poisoning

Generation of Flint Kids with Lead in Blood May Not See Effects for Years​

New Public Health Initiative Announced in Flint

Flint Organizations Announce Pediatric Public Health Initiative

MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital to Work Together on Flint Water Crisis Study

Flint Combats Lead-Contaminated Water Effects on Child Development


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Filed under Children and Youth, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Parenting, Partnerships, Social and emotional health, Uncategorized, Youth development

MSU makes a healthy investment in Flint

On Tuesday this week, Deanna East, coordinator for District 9, and I were invited to attend an announcement in Flint that featured Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon; Marsha Rappley, dean of the College of Human Medicine; Neal Hegarty, vice president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; and Mike Brown, emergency financial manager of the city of Flint. Together, they announced a new initiative by the MSU College of Human Medicine that not only will double the number of medical students who complete the third and fourth years of their medical education in Flint area hospitals and clinics, but also will hire new faculty and assign them to the Flint “campus” for research and outreach services. MSU has pioneered a model of developing strong teams focused on particular health research needs with the development of a team of faculty who focus on Parkinson’s disease at the Grand Rapids campus. The plan is to repeat this in Flint, partnered with the area hospitals, and with a large investment from the C.S. Mott Foundation, perhaps narrowing down to two groups, each focused on a particular area. The area of health science research they plan to pursue is yet to be determined, because the college wants to engage the Flint community in helping to identify the needs that they feel need to be addressed.

 This kind of investment is exciting for any community. For the Flint community, it’s even more valuable as the area continues to rebound from the severe hardships they have encountered following a dramatic decline in manufacturing jobs in the area. Over the past decade, the only job sector in the area experiencing growth was the health services arena. A research enterprise based in Flint will only help to further accelerate that kind of growth.

 So why were Deanna and I invited to attend? We are fortunate to have a medical dean in Dean Rappley who understands the value of having professional educators and paraprofessionals embedded in the community to help translate research findings into practice – by consumers and by health professionals. And she realizes that MSU Extension is well equipped to serve as a key partner in that translation. Where this takes us is uncertain, but it really helps to reinforce the importance of our Health and Nutrition Institute in positioning us to help do what we do in Extension – translate research into practice. And with these kinds of investments at the university level, we are even better positioned to attract new investments in Extension to help us realize our mission in this area as well.

 There’s a lot to be done yet, much to be determined, but MSUE is invited to be at the table as the College of Human Medicine works to understand how they can have an impact in Flint and greater Genesee County. And we are ready.

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Filed under health