Tag Archives: cooperative extension system

Diana Fair accepts award on behalf of MSU Extension Dining With Diabetes program

Earlier this month, Diana Fair, an educator in the Michigan State University Extension Health and Nutrition Institute, accepted the Priester Award for her own and her colleagues’ work with the Dining With Diabetes program. The award was presented while Diana was attending the National Health Outreach Conference in Atlanta, GA.

According to the conference website, “The Jeanne M. Priester Award honors the accomplishments and contributions of Jeanne M. Priester to the Cooperative Extension System. Priester was a leader in advancing health education within the Cooperative Extension System during her tenure at the United States Department of Agriculture.

“The purpose of the award is to honor Extension programs that are positively impacting the health of people across the United States, and that are providing the leadership to expand Extension’s capacity to effectively implement health programs. The Priester Award recognizes county, state and national health education programs that are sound and innovative.”

Dining With Diabetes received this national award because of the program’s positive impact on people with diabetes across the country. Extension professionals reach out to individuals with diabetes and their families to show them practical, research-based ways to manage diabetes. As a member of the National Extension Dining with Diabetes work team, Diana was the representative from MSU Extension. The work team is currently composed of over eighteen land grant universities including Michigan State University, the goal of this group is to promote and provide research-based diabetes education across the country.

Congratulations to Diana and those providing Dining With Diabetes programming across the state!

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Celebrating the past by telling the stories of those we serve

The year 1914 was a momentous one in the history of the United States and the world, one whose impacts still resonate today. The Panama Canal opened for business as an important conduit of commerce, contributing to the development of global economic connectivity. The Model T assembly line opened in Dearborn, Michigan, signaling a large step in manufacturing technology. Norman Borlaug, an agriculturalist and humanist whose work led to the “Green Revolution,” was born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa. A Serbian assassin took the lives of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and Duchess Sophie, initiating the series of conflicts that became “The Great War.”

In Washington, D.C., Congress and President Woodrow Wilson established the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve System and they even declared Mother’s Day an official federal holiday. President Wilson spent much of the year trying to keep the United States out of the conflicts that were escalating in Europe. But among all of those activities, there was one more piece of legislation that passed that is particularly important to us, the Smith-Lever Act. On May 8, President Wilson signed this legislation authored by a Georgia senator (Hoke Smith) and a South Carolina congressional representative (Asbury Lever), creating the Cooperative Extension System. Like the Panama Canal, the Ford production line along the Rouge River and the contributions of science to feeding the world’s people, the Cooperative Extension System remains in existence today. More importantly, it continues to address the needs of families, farms, businesses and communities by helping them to apply knowledge from the latest scientific research to the challenges they face each day.

In the year ahead, we want to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate our legacy – 100 years of Cooperative Extension in Michigan – and the future that we will create from that legacy. In some respects, a moment like this gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the many Extension professionals who have preceded us and given us an organization that is unique in the way it translates the assets of a great university into practical knowledge that changes people’s lives. It also gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the people we and our predecessors have served. In trying to find ways to celebrate our legacy while projecting that legacy forward, I would like to suggest a special project that we could carry out in 2014.

Quite simply, the point of the project would be to focus on the stories of the people we serve today as a way of telling the story of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. I will be sharing more details about the project on our MSU Extension webinar on Monday, Dec. 16. I encourage you to join us for that webinar so we can benefit from your thoughts and insights about how we can conduct this project. I will also welcome volunteers who are eager to help us carry out this project. As we prepare for 2014, let’s consider this the beginning of a year of celebration that can help extend knowledge and appreciation for our 100 years of service to the people of Michigan.

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MSU Extension staff members receive NAE4-HA national awards

At the Galaxy IV Conference Sept 16‒20 in Pittsburgh, Pa., two Michigan State University Extension staff members received National Association of Extension 4-H Agents national awards.

Extension program instructor Jan Wendland received the National Meritorious Service Award, a national award for staff members with 15 years of service in 4-H youth work. Recipients must previously have won the National Distinguished Service Award prior to being nominated.

Jan has been a 4-H volunteer for 50 years. She started working for MSU Extension in 1984 as a program assistant, eventually becoming program coordinator. Aside from encouraging volunteers and youth to attend training workshops and events, Jan has accomplishments ranging from event planning to hosting training sessions. Jan planned, organized and chaperoned three bus trips of more than 200 youth to participate in Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, D.C. Through Jan’s leadership, many young people have experienced state exchanges. As part of The Academic Success Science work team, Jan has helped plan, organize and teach sessions at the Michigan 4-H Science Camp statewide science workshop for the last three years.

During her 4-H career, Jan has written and received several grants. One particular grant she worked on helped develop a 4-H in-school and after-school club with a focus on gardening, community service and entrepreneurship.

Recently, Jan helped 4-H youth in Saginaw County promote a community service project, raising poultry and donations for the Saginaw East Side Soup Kitchen.

Her commitment to quality 4-H programing has had an impact with many young people in Saginaw County.

Extension educator Betty Jo Nash received the National Achievement in Service Award, a national award for staff members with 3 to 7 years of service in 4-H youth work. Applicants are evaluated on professional attitude, improvement and accomplishments as well as personal attitudes and interests, community involvement and special honors received.

Betty Jo worked as the 4-H Extension educator in Cass County from 2005 through 2007, and in Ingham County from 2008 to the present. Betty Jo has played an integral role in helping the county 4-H program transition through staff downsizing.

She has had responsibility for overall program management and financial oversight for up to 60 clubs and committees, administering the volunteer selection process for new volunteers and maintaining current records on more than 300 volunteers per year, as well as communicating with club leaders and members.

She has helped recruit and secure funding for 4-H members to attend 4-H educational opportunities. She has also had responsibility for maintaining the local 4-H website and worked on a number of local educational initiatives.

Most recently, Betty Jo is a member of the Life Skills work team within the Academic Success area of the Children and Youth Institute. She has provided leadership to one of the major undertakings of the work team, authoring the work team’s educational curriculum.

Every five years, the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) sponsors and provides leadership for a Galaxy Conference for the Cooperative Extension System. The conference invites participation from all JCEP organizations, the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and other partners critical to the Extension mission.

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Starting a new century

On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation that extended the land-grant university concept beyond university campuses to reach into communities across the United States. That legislation is one that created the Cooperative Extension System (CES) as a partnership between the federal government, state governments and county governments. That legislation continues today as the key authorization legislation for the work of Michigan State University Extension. The legislation, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, carries the names of its two primary sponsors, Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia and Representative A.F. Lever of South Carolina. The act’s stated purpose was “. . . to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy, and to encourage the application of the same, there may be continued or inaugurated in connection with the college of colleges in each State, Territory, or possession . . .”

The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), which serves as the governing body of the land-grant university Cooperative Extension System, has commissioned an ad hoc committee to plan celebrations of the Smith-Lever Centennial in 2014. At the Galaxy IV Conference in Pittsburgh last week, several sessions and a reception took place to launch the year-long celebration. Some of the highlights of the national celebration can be found at the 100 Years of Extension website and will include a Capitol Hill Reception in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 5 (hosted by Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan). This is scheduled to occur at the conclusion of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) Conference so that citizen delegates to that conference can celebrate the centennial with senators, representatives, congressional staff, administration officials and stakeholders of the national CES network. Then on Thursday, May 8, ECOP will host a convocation of speakers to celebrate the history of Cooperative Extension and to articulate visions for the next century of Cooperative Extension. You can also follow the celebration on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Extension100Years

Although it’s great to have celebrations in our nation’s capital, it seems just as important to celebrate the centennial of Smith-Lever at the state and county levels as well. With that in mind, I’d like to invite your thoughts on how we might celebrate this milestone event. I’m particularly interested in highlighting some of the history of Cooperative Extension in Michigan with our future vision for MSU Extension in the next century. Please take some time to reflect on how we might celebrate Smith-Lever locally and statewide in the first five months of 2014. Share your thoughts with others, and if you’d like to share them more widely, please do so through my blog. Thanks for giving this some thought and for sharing your great ideas with the rest of us. I welcome recommendations from staff, retirees and stakeholders!

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Discovering optimists from a war-torn country

Earlier this summer, I had the honor of addressing a group of scholars from Iraq. They were faculty members from several Iraqi universities here for several months on a Fulbright-sponsored program to learn from each other and with Michigan State University colleagues about how to create universities anew from within a nation that has been the focus of strife for decades. Dr. Frank Fear, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was one of several MSU administrators who helped to create and conduct the extended study group throughout the summer, and he invited Dr. David Schweikhardt, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics, and me to give an overview of the land-grant university system. My part was to explain the cooperative Extension system and how we conduct Extension in Michigan. It was an engaging conversation with the Iraqi participants, some of whom are from agricultural disciplines and some of whom are from engineering disciplines.

 Dr. George Silva, senior Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, took the group on a tour to learn about agricultural practices in the Lansing area in late July, and from all accounts they were enthused to get out of meeting rooms and into the real world where they could learn directly about agricultural practices in Michigan. George wowed them with his thoroughness and hospitality.

 I had some follow-up conversations with several Iraqi colleagues and particularly with Dr. Sardar Sardari, professor of poultry science at the University of Salahaddin in Erbil in northern Iraq. Dr. Sardari is working to establish a cooperative Extension program at his institution that would help to bridge applied research to the needs of farmers in northern Iraq. Dr. Sardari and I met for lunch one Friday to discuss some of his ideas about building Extension into his home college, the College of Agriculture, and I was overwhelmed by his enthusiasm, his positive outlook and his profound gratitude for the opportunity to learn and to build something anew. I was humbled to realize that as difficult as the past two years of restructuring and budget reductions have been for us, our challenges pale in comparison with what he and his colleagues face. His guiding perspective is based on the faith that out of considerable destruction and disorder, the human spirit that we all share, when bonded together in common purpose, can create tremendous results. And when that common purpose is centered on extending information and understanding in a way that helps people to improve their lives, the world is transformed, one person, one family, one farm, one business, one community at a time.

 It was rejuvenating for me to spend time with Dr. Sardari and his colleagues, to be reminded of how profound our mission is and how that mission can overcome tremendous challenges in transforming lives. After our lunch, I walked with Dr. Sardari through a construction zone on Harrison Street in East Lansing to show how to get to the Islamic Center for the Friday prayer service. The walk was a poignant one for me. The disruption of a street closed for construction with sidewalks broken and crumbling was of no consequence compared to the faith that drew him to prayers. I realized that broken concrete and disrupted traffic were the norm for the life he has experienced over the past decade. As I returned to my office, I was imbued with new hope and determination for his country and for ours. The positive outlook, persistent faith and commitment to serve I witnessed can help each of us as we continue in our process of remaking MSU Extension.

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