Tag Archives: dan rossman

Educators shine at NACAA conference

A group of seven of our Michigan State University Extension educators attended the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM/PIC) July 20‒24 in Mobile, Alabama. Attendees included Phil Durst, Tom Guthrie, Phil Kaatz, Stan Moore, George Silva, Mike Staton and Nancy Thelen.

“The AM/PIC provides a wide variety of educational and networking opportunities from which we learn and are inspired,” said Phil Durst, senior Extension educator and president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (the Michigan affiliate of the NACAA). “This is also a great team-building time.”

Phil let us know that the conference offered 65 seminars on a variety of agricultural topics and super seminars provided opportunity for in-depth study of topics such as climate science and agriculture, farm business transfer, and soil health and cover crops. Educators went on more than 20 tours that focused on agricultural enterprises, resource management, business and local attractions. An exhibit featuring more than 100 professional posters provided a glimpse of a wide variety of research and educational projects. Dr. Dana Chandler of Tuskegee University provided the keynote address on the role of George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Thomas Monroe Campbell, all of Tuskegee, in pioneering Extension work.

As in years past, many of our colleagues received awards, presented or were involved in other ways.

Nancy Thelen received the Distinguished Service Award that encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional Extension from NACAA members with more than 10 years of service. She also was the national winner of the Agricultural Awareness and Appreciation Award. In addition, she presented two posters at the conference about Breakfast on the Farm.

Mike Staton was a national finalist for a published photo. A team consisting of Ned Birkey, Dan Rajzer, Marilyn Thelen, Dan Rossman, Bruce MacKellar and Mike Staton were national finalists in the “Search for Excellence in Crop Production.” Mike had the opportunity to present the work at the meeting.

The Extension Dairy Team was a national winner for a promotional piece, the 2013/14 Dairy Programs booklet. The team includes Stan Moore, Kathy Lee, Phil Durst, Frank Wardynski, Faith Cullens and Craig Thomas.

Stan Moore and Phil Durst were national finalists for an audio recording, their “Dairy Moosings” podcasts.

Tom Guthrie and Phil Durst served as voting delegates.

Congratulations to all!

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AABI group are NACAA national finalists

I recently heard from James DeDecker, Michigan State University Extension educator. He wanted to share that Ned Birkey, Bruce Mackellar, Dan Rajzer, Dan Rossman, Mike Staton and Marilyn Thelen were selected as national finalists in the 2014 National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Search for Excellence competition Crop Production category. Bruce is an Extension educator and Dan Rossman, Mike and Marilyn are senior Extension educators, all in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute. Ned Birkey and Dan Rajzer are MSU Extension retirees now working for the Michigan Soy Promotion Committee.

 James said, “The group’s program focused on reducing soybean harvest losses and is just one example of the high-quality, impactful outreach that MAEA (Michigan Association of Extension Agents) members deliver every day. Well done everyone!”

 Congratulations to all!

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Gratiot voters make it clear: They want Extension in their county

Voters in Gratiot County were asked this week if they were willing to tax themselves to fund having Extension offered in their county. In recent years, Gratiot County commissioners have funded their partnership with Michigan State University Extension through property taxes authorized under Public Act 88. This funding mechanism is unique in that it allows the County Commission to levy a property tax without requiring approval of the public. Aside from the base property tax millage allowed in the Michigan Constitution for funding county government, all other special millages for county governmental functions require approval of a majority of voters. Earlier this year, the Gratiot County Board decided they would prefer to use the normal millage process to ensure that voters have a say in whether they are levied this tax or not.

The millage that voters considered in Tuesday’s election was for 0.5 mills and was for funding the county economic development corporation as well as for funding the county share of MSU Extension costs in the county. When the ballots were tallied late Tuesday night, the results were very conclusive: 2372 voters in support of the millage and 605 against it. That means that 79.7 percent of the voters were in favor of the millage. Most millage votes are much closer than this, so the fact that the approval was so overwhelming is a good indication that the folks in Gratiot County are serious about the partnership they have with MSU Extension. And that’s good news for us, because we are just as serious about the partnership and we look forward to building on that strength in the years ahead.

Thanks to District 8 coordinator Don Lehman, and the staff in our Gratiot County office: Dan Rossman, Matthew Newman, Jerry May, Lori Malik and (recently retired) Gladys Jerome. Patty Macha, a 4-H leader and volunteer, Brian Gardner, fair manager, and Don Schurr, executive director of Greater Gratiot Development, Inc., led a committed group of volunteers that all contributed to an effort to inform voters about the work we do in Gratiot County. Thanks to all who helped, and congratulations on a tremendous outcome!

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MSU Extension continues to assist with drought-related issues

In last week’s Spotlight, I talked about our nimble response to addressing social-emotional health issues brought on by reaction to drought and severe weather.

Though some areas have had a little rain in the past week, the weather situation is still dire. Our staffers are continuing to do a terrific job of providing counsel and writing articles to help farmers and others respond to drought conditions. This has included everything from dealing with drought-related depression to the potential for spider mite infestation to keeping blueberries irrigated.

As you are working with folks, please direct them to some new resources that we have created on the MSU Extension website in response to the drought. For information about current drought and heat stresses, click on “Agriculture,” and then click on “Drought Resources” or “Animal Heat Stress Management Resources” in the far right column. Both pages aim at giving drought-related resources to people who need them.

Another new communication tool is a handy-dandy card that can be used to lead people to our MSU Extension website. This card has links to the new drought-related resources pages. You can find the card in SharePoint. To access it, log in and go to the documents section in the “MSUE All Staff” section. The card is titled “Drought Resources Info Card 7-30-12.” I encourage you to print it out to get the word out at fairs, trade shows or anywhere you communicate with people. I know that I will.

Folks across institutes and work groups are working hard and sharing ideas that make a difference. MSU Extension educator Marilyn Thelen and senior Extension educator Dan Rossman lead the field crop work group with our response to the drought. I appreciate their aggressive but thoughtful approach.

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New online tool available to assist farmers

As we continue to seek ways to innovate and to serve broader audiences through technology, it’s great to have an example to illustrate what can be done. Online applications need to do more than just present information in a static way. They need to engage users to analyze information and help to make decisions. A team of folks from Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) and the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) has released an online tool that does all of that and more. The purpose of their new “app” is to help farmers in Michigan and the Midwest region decide which cover crops are best for them. MSUE developers aim to increase Michigan (and regional) cover crop adoption by providing information and decision-making help necessary for farmers to successfully use cover crops. The tool, developed by MSUE for each MCCC member state and province, provides farmers with information and choices specific to their states or provinces. Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are available in the current version, while Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario will be added as their development is completed.

 The cover crop selector tool allows the user to input a variety of information including his or her state, county, cash crop information, field information and desired cover crop benefits. Designed to be user friendly, it has a dynamic interface that allows users to immediately see how their input changes their cover crop options. A user can generate an information sheet for a selected cover crop that provides additional information and references relevant to application within the state or province.

 The tool development drew on state-specific knowledge from cover crop experts and stakeholders including farmers, researchers, Extension educators, agribusiness representatives and government agencies, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and state departments of agriculture. Dale Mutch, Dean Baas and Victoria Ackroyd are leading the MCCC decision tool project through MSUE. On the Michigan development team from MSU and MSUE were Christina Curell, Tim Dietz, Paul Gross, Tim Harrigan, Rich Leep, Todd Martin, Vicki Morrone, Mathieu Ngouajio, Dan Rajzer, Karen Renner, Dan Rossman, Sieg Snapp, Erin Taylor and Kurt Thelen.

 For Michigan, the next phase is to develop the cover crop decision tool for vegetable producers. This regional project received funding from a NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant in partnership with the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), MSU Project GREEEN and Great Lakes Regional Water Program grants. For more information, contact Dean Baas at baasdean@msu.edu or 269-671-2412, ext. 260.

 Download the cover crop selector tool at http://mccc.msu.edu/SelectorTool/2011CCSelectorTool.pdf. Or you can go to it directly at http://mcccdev.anr.msu.edu/. Even if you don’t have anything to do with crops or agriculture, I think it’s useful to explore applications like this and think of ways you and your work team can develop decision tools for clients you serve.

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Promotions announced for five Extension professionals

In our second year of reviewing Michigan State University Extension professionals for promotion to senior status, we are pleased to announce five colleagues who will be awarded senior status as of July 1, 2010. They include:

 Lela Vandenberg, senior Extension specialist
Dan Rossman, senior Extension educator
Judy Ratkos, senior program leader
Tom Schneider, senior Extension educator
Hannah Stevens, senior Extension educator

 You may recall the inaugural announcement of promotions last July, in which 11 colleagues were promoted. Promotion to senior status is an opportunity to recognize excellent employees for their scholarly work while encouraging them to continue to excel in their Extension assignments. I think of it as being analogous to promotion from associate professor to professor for ranked faculty. The dossiers of candidates are reviewed by a committee of peers, which included Julie Chapin, Chuck Pistis, Dawn Contreras, Dale Mutch and Dean Solomon this year. I’m grateful for the time and effort they gave to providing their input and to professionals from around the nation who provided external reviews of the candidates’ dossiers.

 Individuals who are interested in being considered for promotion in 2011 should indicate their interest with a letter of intent due to their Institute Director by July 1. Michelle Rodgers has provided instructions to District Coordinators and Institute Directors and will distribute a message to all MSUE employees in the next week with more details on the process for 2011.

 Congratulations to our newest group of senior Extension professionals, and thanks to them for pursuing their careers with MSU Extension!

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