Tag Archives: department of animal science

Volunteer to promote literacy

There’s a terrific project that gets kids excited about reading through their natural love of animals. The Horse Tales Literacy Project (formerly the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation) pairs little readers up with horses. The kids read Walter Farley’s Little Black, A Pony to horses at the Michigan State University Horse Teaching and Research Center on Forest Road near the MSU campus.

In addition, the kids visit interactive activity stations where they learn about various horse-related subjects such as horse nutrition, and tack and equipment.

If you’re free Tuesday, May 20 from 8:30 to 11, you can volunteer for an opportunity to be a part of this event. Volunteers will either hold horses as the kids read to them or they will help coordinate the activity stations.

Karen Waite, senior academic specialist in the MSU Department of Animal Science and the Extension Children and Youth Institute, coordinates the Horse Tales Literacy Project at MSU. Karen works closely with farm manager Paula Hitzler and the Friends of the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center to make the magic happen.

Karen said, “This is a great way to spend part of a day. The young people are very excited about reading to the horses, and for many it is the first time they have ever been on a farm. It is fun for all involved, yet educational as well.”

You can get a good idea of the kids’ reaction to the project by watching this video and this slide show both produced by Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications. They document the time in 2010 when 135 first graders from Discovery Elementary in Williamston took part in the program. Kids from Discovery will be back again this year as they have every year.

If you think this is something you’d like to be a part of, contact Karen at kwaite@msu.edu. Just a few hours of your day will make a difference in a child’s life.

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Breakfast on the Farm hosts recognized as outstanding dairy farmers

MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year Gertie (left) and Geert (right) van den Goor from Goma Farms near Marlette received a citation from the Sanilac County Commission commending them for their Dairy Farmers of the Year award at a commission meeting on April 15, 2014, in Sandusky, Mich.

MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year Gertie (left) and Geert (right) van den Goor from Goma Farms near Marlette received a citation from the Sanilac County Commission commending them for their Dairy Farmers of the Year award at a commission meeting on April 15, 2014, in Sandusky, Mich.

I had an opportunity to see Gertie and Geert van den Goor commended by the Sanilac County Board of Commissioners on April 15 in Sandusky. They received the MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year Award from the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University. The award presentation took place on February 7 at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, and the Sanilac commissioners wanted to add their endorsement to the recognition.

Gertie and Geert are the owners and operators of Goma Farms near Marlette, Mich. They hosted more than 2,500 visitors to their farm in 2012 for Breakfast on the Farm. They began their operation in 1999 with 100 dairy cows and have grown their operation to 2,800 Holstein cows, 2,500 head of young stock and 34 employees today. More important, they are great ambassadors for agriculture and the dairy industry, and really nice people. It was heartening to see them recognized for their many contributions to their community and to the Michigan dairy industry.

Read more in this MSU Extension news article: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/sanilac_county_farm_named_msu_2014_dairy_farm_of_the_year

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Filed under Awards

Two MSUE all-stars honored at eXtension conference

A number of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues have been attending the fourth National eXtension Conference this week in Sacramento, California. Yesterday, two of our colleagues received honors for their contributions to the national effort to foster collaboration in the development of online resources to better serve our clients.

Michigan State University Extension director Tom Coon accepts the eXtension Champion Award on behalf of MSU senior Extension specialist Lela Vandenberg

Michigan State University Extension director Tom Coon accepts the eXtension Champion Award on behalf of MSU senior Extension specialist Lela Vandenberg at the National eXtension Conference March 26, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Lela Vandenberg was not able to attend the conference. Photo credit: C. Penniman.

Lela Vandenberg, senior leadership and professional development specialist, received the Champion award for her many contributions to the development and application of eXtension, the national web resource for Cooperative Extension. Lela has led the MSU Extension Institutional Team since 2012, and has been a key leader and facilitator for MSU Extension colleagues in understanding not only how eXtension can be a resource to assist them, but also how we can adapt and use technology to reach more people more effectively. Lela has been a leader at the national level as well, and is frequently invited to speak to and facilitate Extension colleagues at other institutions in the use of new technologies for Extension collaboration, learning and teaching. We’ve known of Lela’s many contributions because we’ve been the greatest beneficiaries of her insights and good will. What was especially exciting about the Champion award, the highest award given by eXtension, is that colleagues from across the nation recognize and appreciate her contributions and leadership. It’s an honor to have Lela as a colleague and a treat to be able to celebrate her achievements. Lela was not able to attend the conference this year, so I had the honor of receiving her award on her behalf, and it’s currently tucked in my suitcase, headed for Michigan. MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman was kind enough to take a photo of Lela’s award.

Karen Waite, senior academic specialist in the Department of Animal Science and the Children and Youth Institute, received the Community of Practice Individual Achievement Award. Karen was not able to attend the conference, so Betsy Greene, equine specialist at the University of Vermont and a collaborator with Karen on the HorseQuest eXtension Community of Practice, accepted her award on her behalf. Karen has made many contributions to the HorseQuest Community of Practice and has been a key leader in developing content relevant to the needs of youth and particularly youth leaders in equine programs. Together with animal science associate professor Christine Skelly, Karen has helped to create and expand the My Horse University online certificate program, which has benefited greatly from the collaboration of HorseQuest members.

Betsy Greene, University of Vermont Extension specialist and associate professor, accepted the "Community of Practice Individual Achievement Award" on behalf of  Michigan State University Extension specialist Karen Waite at the National eXtension Conference

Betsy Greene, University of Vermont Extension specialist and associate professor, accepted the “Community of Practice Individual Achievement Award” on behalf of Michigan State University Extension specialist Karen Waite at the National eXtension Conference March 26, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Karen Waite was not able to attend the conference.

Congratulations to both Lela and Karen for their recognition. And many thanks to both for being great leaders and innovators for MSU Extension! By the way, it was not at all surprising that the University of Delaware eXtension Institution Team received the Outstanding I-Team award at the ceremony yesterday. Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension (and former associate director of MSU Extension), made a point of building a strong I-team when she began her role at Delaware two years ago. No one at MSU Extension should be surprised that her team has skyrocketed in their contributions to and use of eXtension. Congratulations, Michelle!

All the awards will be posted to about.extension.org/blog within the next few days. They’ll also be announced in the April eXtension UPDATE next week.

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Extension specialist receives outstanding educator award

Michigan State University Extension specialist Karen Waite received the 2013 Equine Science Society Outstanding Educator Award at the society’s 23rd Symposium awards banquet in Ruidoso, New Mexico, on May 31.

The Equine Science Society presents the Outstanding Educator Award to a society member involved in teaching, extension or industry who has demonstrated excellence in the area of equine education to students or to persons in the industry. The award recognizes the development of programs that are exceptionally effective at disseminating research-based information in a manner that has an effect on the long-term well-being of horses, the horse industry or both.

Karen received two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from MSU and is currently working on a doctoral degree researching competitive equestrian activities through the theoretical framework of sports psychology. Karen started her MSU career in 1997 as a research assistant in Brian Nielsen’s lab. Dr. Nielsen is a professor in the Department of Animal Science and president of the Equine Science Society. In 2000, Karen became the equine Extension youth specialist. In 2008, she became the equine Extension specialist, overseeing both adult and youth equine-related programs.

Karen is a leader in integrating technology into educational programs targeted at the horse community. An active member of the eXtension HorseQuest Community of Practice, she lends her expertise as a curriculum writer, developer and expert for “Ask an Expert.” She is also an integral part of the My Horse University faculty, where she regularly presents webinars.

Congratulations, Karen!

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NPR broadcast highlights electronic traceability

In 2011, I wrote a Spotlight article on Michigan State University researchers using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track cattle. Michigan is the only state that requires electronic ear tags on cattle. The original purpose was to track the spread of tuberculosis. However, tracking can also assist the locavore who wants to know where that particular cut of meat comes from.

Listen to this broadcast that aired June 4 on NPR. It features MSU Department of Animal Science associate professor and Extension beef specialist Dan Buskirk. Dr. Buskirk explains the system that transferred the information from cattle ID tags to barcodes pinned to the carcasses. Butchers scanned the barcodes and printed new ones to go with the smaller pieces of meat they cut. The university’s food service used the meat to serve at campus cafeterias and restaurants. In a grocery store setting, shoppers could scan the bar code on a package of meat to find out the origin of the beef they will purchase. This gives producers the opportunity to add value to their product.

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Filed under Agriculture

Specialist plays important role in Vets to Ag, MSU Meat Lab

In last week’s Spotlight, I talked about the role two Michigan State University Extension educators played in the Vets to Ag program when they taught ServSafe as part of the meat-processing session. Another important role in the Vets to Ag Program is played by Sarah Wells, academic specialist in the MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Department of Animal Science.

As facility coordinator of the MSU Meat Laboratory, Sarah taught several lectures in the six-week course and was involved in coordinating the cutting and processing sessions in which the vets received hands-on experience. Meat lab manager Jennifer Dominguez and assistant manager Ryan Varner assisted with the lab components.

View this WLNS video about the program and one veteran’s reaction.

In addition, to her part in the Vets to Ag program, Sarah also has been busy contributing to other MSU Extension activities. She coordinated the Michigan Meat Association’s pre-convention workshop on jerky at the lab earlier this month as part of ANR Week. She and Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer taught the Michigan Meat Association members who participated in the workshop. Sarah arranged for Dr. Jeff Sindelar, an MSU alumnus, Extension meat specialist and associate professor in meat science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, to teach part of the jerky workshop as well. She also held a fermented sausage-making workshop this past summer that meat processors from around the state attended.

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New Laying Hen Research Facility dedicated

On Oct. 15, I had the opportunity to attend the dedication of the new Michigan State University Laying Hen Research Facility located at the Poultry Teaching and Research Center on Jolly Road.

Michigan legislation (PA 117), passed in 2009, phases out the use of conventional cages used in laying hen production during the next 10 years. MSU researchers will help determine what type of housing will be the most effective replacement. This work required a new facility, and the Michigan poultry industry brought together colleagues and competitors from other states to help create a unique, state-of-the-art facility that will facilitate research needed across the nation.

The facility will house a minimum of 6,000 laying hens in three different housing systems. The housing facility has 12 individual rooms with four rooms containing conventional housing, four rooms of enriched housing and four rooms of an aviary system. Researchers will access animal well-being in each system.

The poultry industry, including producers and companies that serve producers, has funded more than 80 percent of the costs of the facility’s construction. Investors include farms and companies from Michigan and across the nation.

Dr. Darrin Karcher, Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science, provided leadership for development and construction of the facility. He’ll be involved in many of the studies that will put the facility to work.

Dr. Wendy Powers-Schilling, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, said, “Having a facility that allows for production research to be at the forefront of industry challenges provides us the opportunity to develop solutions and identify preferred practices ahead of policy provisions. This facility, in particular, is designed to enhance consumer confidence in food production practices by integrating social, economic and environmental considerations.”

Thanks to Darrin and the many partners in the industry and to MSU leaders who helped to support the development of this innovative investment. It positions Michigan well for the future.

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Filed under Poultry