Tag Archives: culture

Action teams are gearing up to work

After the “Building a Colorful Future” presentation at the 2014 Fall Extension Conference, Margaret Bethel, Patrick Cudney and I decided to create three action teams that would convene in 2015. During the postpresentation discussion at the conference and in the months since, Michigan State University Extension staff have made some great suggestions about where the organization could grow. With your help, we’re well on our way toward implementing many of those suggestions. Members of the action teams have been named, and all three teams will have their first meetings in the next few months.

  • Strategic Connections & Communications Team – Patrick Cudney is chairing this team, which will meet February 6. They will determine the best practices for strategic communications for MSU Extension employees, update existing communications tools and develop new ones to help us all build and maintain our strategic connections.
  • Issues Identification Team – Chair Maggie Bethel will convene this team on February 23. They will work to frame the issue identification process that we will use with the district councils in the future. The process will help us pinpoint the issues that are important to the communities we serve and identify how MSU Extension can be involved in addressing them.
  • Team Member Accountability and Performance Feedback Team – Julie Chapin is chairing this team, which will meet in April. They will work to improve our performance review structure and will discuss the role peer feedback should play in those reviews.

We will keep you up to date on the teams’ progress over time. Thank you again to everyone who has provided feedback and support with this process!

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference

Results unveiled for organizational culture assessment

Last week, I attended the North Central Cooperative Extension Association (NCCEA) Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. A highlight of the conference was the unveiling of the results of the 2014 Extension North Central Regional Organizational Culture Assessment led by the Ohio State University. Michigan State University Extension participated in completing survey forms last July, and I am proud to report that we had a 47 percent response rate to the questionnaire. If you recall from this Monday’s webinar, Dr. Keith Smith, director of Ohio State Extension, will come and give a report on Michigan’s individualized assessment at Fall Extension Conference. I am really looking forward to sharing that with all of you.

Denison Consulting is the group that worked with the Ohio State University to do the survey. They define organizational culture as “… a collection of shared beliefs, values, meanings, and behaviors that a group has adopted over time; as a way to survive and succeed.” Or simply put: “the way things are done around here”.

I believe that with this report and our listening posts now being conducted, we will identify clear focus areas we can work on for making improvements in our organization. That work will require the efforts of all of us to make MSU Extension the best organization it can be.

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference

Life of Lake Superior Youth Program continues to educate with “workshops on the move”

Eleven years ago, Michigan State University Extension developed the format for the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program. And eleven years later, it continues to maintain enhanced new programming each year.

 The Life of Lake Superior Youth Program brings children, aged 9 to 14, and adults together to explore their community and appreciate the opportunities that exist nearby in the arts, natural resources, history, culture, recreation and careers, which have relevance for children living along the Lake Superior shoreline. The option to have a parent or grandparent participate with their children in every activity is one of the distinctive features of the program. This year, 51 youth participated along with 15 parents/grandparents.

 Presented by MSU Extension in Alger County, the 2011 program took place on four days and four different sites in July. A series of “workshops on the move” included:

 July 7: Attendees received sailing instructions then sailed in Munising Bay. Staff members from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, part of the National Park Service, gave a demonstration in the Bayshore Marina in Munising on personal flotation devices.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay, July 7, 2011. Photo by Alana Herzog.

Park rangers demonstrate personal flotation devices.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore chief ranger T.C. Colyer, assisted by park ranger Bill Smith, demonstrates personal flotation devices to participants of the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program, July 7, 2011, at Bayshore Marina. Photo by Birch Smith.

 July 13: Participants learned about geomorphology (which I’m told is the study of landforms), sport fishing and logging at Kingston Plains and Kingston Lake. As part of the fishing experience, Ron Kinnunen, Sea Grant senior district Extension educator, brought a collection of aquatic invasive specimens. He talked about fish anatomy while dissecting a Lake Superior whitefish. Kids were particularly enthralled with a large stuffed and mounted Asian Carp that he brought along. Incidentally, Ron helped design the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program at its onset and has contributed every year by teaching something related to his current Sea Grant research.

 July 19: Attendees helped plant 5,000 native wildflower plugs as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s work to restore native plants at Grand Island National Recreation Area. At another site, one of the island resident’s summer home, youth went on an exploration hike and did card loom weaving, incorporating birch bark, leaves, grasses and driftwood.

 July 27: Participants paddled a 24-foot voyageur canoe in Munising Bay, learned about the area’s history at the Alger Heritage Museum, did a re-enactment skit at the fur traders’ cabin and watched a blacksmith demonstration.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe on Munising Bay, July 27, 2011. Photo by Jude Holloway.

 The event closed with an evening family fish boil celebration at the Alger Heritage Center, July 27.

 Healthy meals and snacks are part of each day of the program. Vicki Ballas, MSU Extension SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) program associate, designed the “Captain Nutrition” component. In the past, healthy meals and snacks were always a critical part of the program. But when Vicki joined the Alger County staff, her creativity and interest in kids and nutrition, led to making the meal something the kids would be involved in preparing. All foods served are those that youth easily could teach their families to make at home. And before each meal or snack time, Vicki teaches them what they are preparing, including all food groups and making half their plates fruits and vegetables. The Captain Nutrition component of the last three years has truly enhanced the overall program.

 Since 2000, MSU Extension has partnered with more than 35 community services and their professional and technical staff to deliver unique workshops each summer. About 40 adult volunteers annually provide their services as presenters, mentors or community partners. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service actively participate in program planning as well as hosting Life of Lake Superior activities.

 Joan Vinette, MSU Extension educator in Alger County, attributes the program’s success to its dedicated volunteers and collaborators.

 Joan says, “It takes an intense effort to bring together all the logistics. But the rewards are in watching kids (together with peers or a parent or grandparent) enjoying outdoor learning at different venues that highlight natural features unique to Alger County. Youth get to experience recreational opportunities, scientific research, economics, cultural heritage and art that influence life along the shore of Lake Superior.”

 Visit the Life of Lake Superior Facebook page to view many more photos and some videos.

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Filed under Youth development

Have you taken the cultural competency series yet?

Developing Multicultural Competencies From the Inside Out: Skills for Lifelong Learning. It’s a long title, and it addresses a key topic.

Inside MSU Extension, we often refer to this as the cultural competency series. It’s a sequence of five, two-day workshops that focus on embracing cultural differences in society. And it’s one of the most important workshops you can take. Several staff members have already gone through the training, including Michelle Rodgers, MSUE associate director of operations. Even with all her experience, Michelle is the first to say that the series challenged her to think about, and more fully understand and value, experiences that are different from her own. In fact, she hopes to incorporate a multicultural-leadership approach in both personal and organization settings using practices and tools that are sensitive and effective with many populations – an aspiration we share throughout MSUE.

The great thing about this series is that it’s grounded in an underlying principle that diversity is not simply a process of learning about others. It begins with learning about yourself—your own cultural identity, beliefs, biases, worldviews and attitudes about differences. That provides a framework to define cultural competency in your environment and to assess cultural competency at four levels—personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural.

If you have not taken this course yet, I encourage you to consider it. And look around you to see if there are some community partners you think would benefit from it as well. Here’s a look at the schedule for the next series. All sessions will take place in Battle Creek, Mich.

  • August 19-20, 2009 Building Foundations for Growth and Change
  • October 27-28, 2009, Exploring Identity, Oppression and Privilege
  • December 9-10, 2009, Developing Authentic Relationships across Difference
  • February 23-24, 2010, Exploring Transformational Leadership and Multicultural Change
  • April 6-7, 2010, Moving Toward Sustainable Multicultural Change

The series costs $800, with a tuition break to $500 for MSU Extension staff members. That’s $50 per day for staff members. And it includes meals! Three credit hours of undergraduate or graduate credit are available, too. You can register here.

If you have any questions about the series, contact Dionardo Pizaña or Karen Pace. They have done an excellent job putting together a great series that can benefit us all.

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Filed under Conferences, Leadership, professional development