Tag Archives: dennis pennington

Wheat Field Day at the SVREC

On June 15, the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center (SVREC) hosted Wheat Field Day. The SVREC is one of 13 outlying research centers operated by Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch and MSU Extension. During Wheat Field Day, 185 people attended to learn about new varieties, disease management, weed control, nutrient management and sprayer application technology.

The Michigan Wheat Program board announced its commitment to provide $700,000 in support over the next five years to assist MSU in purchasing additional acreage for wheat research. The commitment allows MSU to purchase 150 acres adjacent to the current bean and sugar beet research farm in Frankenmuth. The funding will solidify the land resources to conduct research to further improve the yield, profitability and environmental sustainability of wheat in Michigan cropping systems. It will also allow dedicated crop rotation trials with other key agricultural crops.

The Michigan Wheat Program board of directors presents a check to Michigan State University during the announcement of their donation.

The Michigan Wheat Program board of directors presents a check to Michigan State University during the announcement of their donation of $700,000 over the next 5 years to assist MSU in adding additional land to the Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center in Frankenmuth. The land will be utilized for dedicated wheat research for years to come. Those in photo left to right: Paul Horny, Ray VanDriessche, Jim Kells, Joe Cramer, Doug Buhler, Carl Sparks, Frank Vyskocil, Art Loeffler, Bill Hunt, Dean Kantola, Dave Milligan and Sally McConnachie.

During the event, Marty Chilvers, assistant professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and Martin Nagelkirk, senior MSU Extension wheat and crops educator, led a significant discussion about stripe rust because of the unprecedented high infection level in Michigan. Eric Olson, assistant professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, presented other key topics addressing various management practices.

Dennis Pennington, senior MSU Extension educator and wheat systems specialist, conducted a sprayer demonstration with six nozzle configurations designed to provide the best coverage of fungicides for head scab control.

“The field day is a great partnership between MSU researchers, MSU Extension staff, AgBioResearch staff and the Michigan Wheat Committee,” he said.

I’d like to send a huge thanks to our colleagues that put together the successful event. We look forward to the future of the research and extension at the SVREC with the continued support of our partners.

Comments Off on Wheat Field Day at the SVREC

Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Partnerships

Senior educator earns Charles Eastin Award

Yesterday, the Agriculture Council of America awarded our very own Dennis Pennington, Michigan State University Extension senior educator from Barry County, the Charles Eastin Award for involvement in agriculture advocacy. Dennis received the award at the Celebration of Agriculture Dinner held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., on National Ag Day.

The Charles Eastin Award highlights individuals who advocate for agriculture awareness, as well as accurate communications between rural and urban audiences. It is named after Charles “Charlie” Eastin, whose “passion and dedication will continue to inspire those who work on behalf of promoting a greater understanding between rural and urban folk” according to the National Ag Day website.

Dennis was surprised to learn that he had been nominated for this award, and he is very proud of the work that led him to receive it.

“I have leveraged partnerships between MSU Extension, Farm Bureau, 4-H and FFA in my community to help teach kids and adults about agriculture and food production. I would not have been able to achieve this without the strong support of volunteers and kids in each of these organizations. They are what keeps my passion ignited,” he said.

Rachelle Lehman from the Barry County Farm Bureau nominated him, citing his willingness to communicate with the public about agriculture through educational efforts at the fair, Ag Awareness Day and online informative videos. For example, the videos he produced with the Hastings FFA students reached thousands of viewers, spreading research-based facts about agriculture to new and expanding audiences.

Our work advocating for agriculture awareness is never done, and it’s individuals like Dennis who inspire us to do more. Congratulations, Dennis!

Comments Off on Senior educator earns Charles Eastin Award

Filed under Awards

Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute candidates to address question in public seminars

The search committee for the new Agriculture and Agribusiness (AABI) director, which includes Julie Chapin, Chris DiFonzo, Tom Guthrie, Mike Krauch, Dennis Pennington and search chair Jim Kells, has announced that the search has narrowed to two exceptional candidates: Dr. Ron Bates and Dr. Larry Gut.

As part of the selection process, the two candidates have been asked to address the following question in a 30- to 40-minute public seminar: “Share your vision for AABI and the strategy for implementing that vision.”

The schedule for the public seminars follows:

Monday, January 26
Dr. Larry Gut
10-11 a.m.: Public Seminar ‒ “The MSU Extension Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute in 2020 and How We Will Get There” (Auditorium, MSU Pavilion)
11-11:45 a.m.: Open Roundtable (Classroom A, MSU Pavilion)

Tuesday, February 3
Dr. Ron Bates
10-11 a.m.: Public Seminar ‒ “Making Our Best Better, Driving Progress in Michigan Agriculture” (Auditorium, MSU Pavilion)
11-11:45 a.m.: Open Roundtable (Classroom A, MSU Pavilion)

Feedback from all who attend the presentations at the MSU Pavilion and those who watch the recorded video presentations will be sought and appreciated. Please RSVP to attend the seminar.

Comments Off on Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute candidates to address question in public seminars

Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness

Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Grandparents University, scheduled for June 24–26, provides an opportunity for 8- to 12-year-olds to experience life on the Michigan State University campus. They get to live on campus, eat where the college students eat and even take classes. An added enhancement is that they do it all with their grandparent or favorite adult. Besides sparking an interest in potential future Spartans, the event brings alumni back to campus, providing an intergenerational experience that creates a connection between the participants and MSU.

More than 1,000 participants from 35 states and Canada attended the 2013 Grandparents University. A post-event survey reflected extremely positive reviews.

Kathryn Reed, assistant director of alumni relations and special events in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, invited me to encourage you to be a part of this unique experience by lending your expertise to presenting a session. Many who take part say that participating in Grandparents University is one of their favorite activities. It’s one of those experiences that you’ve heard about – the kind that after it’s over, people overwhelmingly say they get back more than they give.

You’ll also gain professional experience. It’s an opportunity to hone teaching skills and materials, to learn public opinion on the topic you cover and to think about your subject from a different standpoint due to the diversity of the participants.

Last year, Extension educator Laurie Rivetto presented a financial management session and pronounced it “a ton of fun.”

Laurie normally works with youth using the MSU Extension 4-H-created Spartan Dollars and Cents budgeting simulation. The Grandparents University session allowed her to use the simulation with both adults and children.

“Although my target audience is usually youth, this session had the additional outcome that the adults got a lot out of it, too, “said Laurie.

The adults found it challenging in the simulation to have to stick with a limited budget. Many remarked that it helped them to relate to different budget scenarios that others might be grappling with. For example, some found they could not afford to purchase health care insurance within the budget and a discussion took place about the challenges of this arrangement.

Laurie also said that taking part in Grandparents University gave her a different perspective.

“It was neat to be a part of a program that involved so many different departments and units, including Extension, at the University. It was a great team effort,” she said.

This year Extension educator Frank Cox will join Laurie in presenting Spartan Dollars and Sense. They’ll also present the Wonderful World of Work in which the generations will learn from each other about work.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event. Courtesy of Grandparents University.

If you decide to present, you’ll need to target your 90-minute session to the 8- to 12-year-old audience, making sure that what you present is a fun, interactive, hands-on lesson that holds kids’ interest. You don’t have to be limited to the classroom. You can conduct your session in a lab, on the farm or another location. Need more than 90 minutes? You can sign up for two 90-minute sessions, given as Part I and Part II. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Why not just adapt a program or outreach effort you currently teach?

Interested? Contact Kathryn at 355-0284 or at kreed@msu.edu by November 7. (The deadline has recently been extended.) When you do, please let her know the following:

  •  The name of the session leader
  • Session title
  • A short description that can be included in promotional materials (3 to 5 sentences long)
  • The number of people the session can accommodate (Sessions are as small as 10 people and as large as 200. The average is about 25.)
  • The name of the person coordinating
  • If a specific classroom or lab is required
  • If there is a day or time during these three days when the session cannot be led (if known)

Last year, in addition to Laurie, Extension educators Jed Jaworski, Georgia Peterson, Dixie Sandborn and Jessica Wright participated. Charles Gould, Paul Gross, Dennis Pennington and Mark Seamon have participated for years but were unable to present in 2013. These four have already committed for 2014.

Others who have presented in the past include Laura Allen, Bindu Bhakta, Constance Costner, Dale Elsoff, Andrea Grix, Vanessa Holmes, Betsy Knox, LuAnne Kozma, Cyndi Mark, Emily Proctor, Kama Ross, Erica Tobe and Sheila Urban Smith.

By the way, several faculty members on campus have used their Grandparents University sessions in grant applications when an outreach or other similar component is required.

Comments Off on Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Filed under Events

News segments raise awareness of Extension and the work we do

As I mentioned in several articles in this Spotlight, the MSU Extension website continues to be an effective medium to get the word out to folks about our great programs. Another avenue excels at communicating about our organization and the fantastic work we do. ANR Communications is producing two-minute news segments focusing on our programs, research and major initiatives. Marketed under a series titled “Did You Know?” the segments began airing last month, directly before Tim Skubick’s public affairs program “Off the Record” on WKAR Channel 23.

The video segments were developed to raise the public’s awareness of Extension and all it does. In addition to appearing along with “Off the Record,” they are also posted online, providing us with additional exposure and opportunities for sharing.

ANR Communications multimedia production team leader Steve Evans said, “We’ve strategically placed these videos ahead of ‘Off the Record’ because we believe key decision makers and those in major agencies in multiple areas of government watch the show.”

The videos have focused on Firewise, which offers resources in home and community fire protection, and Stepping Stones, a program that provides urban youngsters with outdoor education experiences. Another video featured Extension educator Marilyn Thelen discussing the 2012 drought. Future videos will spotlight 4-H Discovery Camp and 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp. Another will highlight senior Extension educator Dennis Pennington discussing the feasibility of using marginal lands for energy crop production.

Steve co-produces the videos with video producer and director Kraig Ehm. If you have a story you’d like to submit for consideration, send your ideas to Steve at evansst@msu.edu or Kraig at ehm@msu.edu.

View the videos here.

Another venue that features work of MSUE colleagues is the Greening of the Great Lakes, a website and radio feature hosted by retired MSU Professor Kirk Heinze. Kirk recently hosted Rick Foster, W.K. Kellogg Chair in Food, Society and Sustainability and former director of MSUE’s Greening Michigan Institute. You can read and hear the interview with Rick on the MSU initiative to foster development of the metropolitan food system and related industries in Detroit.

Kirk’s radio productions are broadcast on Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on News/Talk 760 WJR. He often highlights innovations underway by MSUE scientists and educators.

Comments Off on News segments raise awareness of Extension and the work we do

Filed under Media

MSU Extension staff member receives CANR Staffer of the Month award

Congratulations to Keri Morris, administrative assistant in the Michigan State University Extension Business Office. Keri is the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Advisory Committee June 2012 Staffer of the Month.

The award goes to a member of the CANR support staff who has done something special or noteworthy within their unit or college.

Dale Mutch, Dennis Pennington and Dean Baas of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute nominated Keri for her positive attitude, dedication and proactive approach that prevents problems before they occur.

Thanks to Keri for doing terrific work and to Dale, Dennis and Dean for putting Keri forward for this recognition.

Comments Off on MSU Extension staff member receives CANR Staffer of the Month award

Filed under Awards

Step III promotions approved by MSU, letters of intent for 2012-13 review due July 1

The Michigan State University Provost’s Office has approved promotions of five Extension academic staff members to Step III status. Step III is awarded to Extension academic staff members who have demonstrated excellence and scholarly achievement in their work as Extension professionals over a sustained period. Those who are awarded Step III are promoted to “senior” status and their titles are changed by addition of the senior modifier to the title of educator, program leader or specialist. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding senior Extension educators and specialists:

Lisa Bottomley, Children and Youth Institute
Lisa has built a solid reputation as a mentoring expert not only within Michigan but also across the nation, bringing distinction to MSU Extension. Through her work, she networks with scholars and practitioners throughout the country. Major funders such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation have recognized her work, a testament to the quality of her scholarship.

Deb Barrett, Children and Youth Institute
Deb provides excellent leadership in a diverse county. She demonstrated impact through parent evaluations during the We Can Ride Club program. Program assessments indicated systemic change within the New Buffalo School District leading to healthier food choices and activities for students. This program is an excellent example of success and impacts through collaboration. Deb has facilitated significant changes in the overall Berrien County 4-H program, leading to increases in volunteerism and better club accountability and management. Deb implemented new worm farming entrepreneurship curricula, leading to successful worm growing and sales by the clubs.

Martin Nagelkirk, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
Martin is the state’s lead person in MSU Extension for the wheat industry. He uses a wide variety of educational methods while evaluating his efforts and showing impact in significant ways through practice changes and economic increases for the industries he serves. His educational efforts include field research plots, classroom education, demonstrations, newsletters, articles, electronic mailing lists and one-on-one contacts. A tremendous facilitator, Martin works behind the scenes in programs such as the wheat referendum to accomplish many tasks in his Extension role. He works to share his published research results in plant pathology journals with the industry in both written and electronic media. His abilities to maintain funding for his wheat field plots and other activities in the Thumb Ag Research and Education (TARE) project are a result of sustained funding from agribusiness and the wheat industry, which see his work as critical.

Dennis Pennington, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
Dennis has become a recognized leader in the bioenergy field, establishing excellent connections within Michigan, the North Central region and nationally. Dennis shows clear evidence for excellence in scholarship including the development of bulletins, fact sheets, education programs and Web pages. Dennis is and will continue to be a major factor in MSUE’s ability to serve the growing bioenergy industry, developing research programs and educational materials to help farmers decide to grow and market bioenergy crops and building capacity through training programs for Extension educators to help develop this growing sector.

William Shane, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
William is an outstanding researcher in peach breeding. He has contributed to fruit Integrated Pest Management areas with the development of the Enviroweather system while staying in tune with his peers via professional meetings and conferences. William’s research program demonstrates commitment to the area and expertise in the field with patents generated as new varieties are developed. His strengths lie in the research-based aspects of his work as he has made significant contributions to the advancement of the scientific base of his field. His unique position of both research and Extension education provide the opportunity for enhancing the quality, effectiveness and stability of the fruit industry in southwest Michigan and securing the role of MSU Extension at the cutting edge of horticulture education and practice.

 This leads perfectly into our next announcement. Between now and July 1, we are accepting letters of intent for 2012-2013 review. To be considered for the 2012-2013 Step III Review Process, a letter of intent, which includes names and contact information of potential assessors, is due July 1, 2012, with final portfolios due electronically to your institute director with a copy to your district coordinator and Nancy Axtell by Oct. 1, 2012. You can learn more about Step III and all these processes in the Administrative Handbook at Step I, Step II and Step III Promotions.

Comments Off on Step III promotions approved by MSU, letters of intent for 2012-13 review due July 1

Filed under Uncategorized