Tag Archives: detroit

Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference in Detroit

Each spring, educators from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension with support from MSU AgBioResearch and the Michigan Brewers Guild host the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference. For the first time, this year the conference was held in downtown Detroit. March 2-3, over 300 agricultural producers, processors, vendors, brewers and others attended, coming from 15 states and multiple countries. The conference offered both basic and advanced sessions for hop growers, and a barley session and malting tour for both growers and brewers.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, stands at the front of the room at a podium giving a presentation to a ballroom filled with seats and participants.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, addresses a near capacity crowd at the 3rd annual Great Lakes Hop & Barley Conference in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Rob Sirrine.

The conference incorporated elements that are unique to the area. For example, Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Corporation, described Detroit’s increasing demand for local food and craft beer. Another Detroit highlight for participants was the evening reception held at the Detroit Beer Company. Participants left rave reviews of the location and the experiences that they had.

The conference is an important way to support all of the participants in the growing craft beverage industry. According to the national Brewers Association, Michigan ranks sixth in the United States in the number of craft breweries, and the industry creates an economic impact of $1.8 million. MSU Extension is proud of our educators who are at the forefront of education and working with this evolving industry.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Speaking of our educators, we’d like to send a huge thank you to the conference planning committee, made up of Ashley McFarland, Erin Lizotte and Rob Sirrine, and Scott Graham from the Michigan Brewers Guild. Also, thank you to MSU Events Management (Betsy Braid and Megghan Honke) and MSU county-based staff members Annette Kleinschmit and Michelle Coleman, who helped behind the scenes.

As soon as it’s posted, I’ll link to Rob, Ashley and Erin’s news article about the conference so that you can read more about all of the opportunities that participants had, the tours and the speakers.

Comments Off on Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference in Detroit

Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Conferences, Farming, Hop & Barley

Associate district coordinator named for District 11

Ed Scott, an Extension educator who was MSU Extension’s first district coordinator intern, has been named associate district 11 coordinator, effective June 1.

In his newly created role, Ed will be assisting Richard Wooten, the district 11 coordinator. District 11 includes some of the most densely populated parts of the state (including Detroit), and we have known that extra support was needed in that area for some time. Ed will assist Richard with building relationships; procuring resources; coaching, mentoring and supporting educators with their programming efforts; and acting as a resource for project team leaders and institute directors.

As MSU Extension’s first district coordinator intern, Ed helped us determine how a district coordinator intern can best serve the organization and laid the groundwork for future interns. His internship experience and his work creating innovative programming in urban settings, make him a great fit for this new position.

Ed shared that he is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue building relationships with the multitude of partners in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Thank you for your continued service, Ed, and congratulations on the new position!

Comments Off on Associate district coordinator named for District 11

Filed under Uncategorized

Planting for the future of Detroit

Former Michigan State University Extension educator Mike Score recently reached a milestone in a project he has helped lead for more than four years.  Mike took a leave of absence from MSU Extension in December, 2009 in order to provide leadership to a project established to develop agricultural enterprises in Detroit. Mike joined Detroit resident and entrepreneur John Hantz to help lead the formation of Hantz Farms, now called Hantz Woodlands.

The milestone Hantz Woodlands achieved was a community event held on Saturday, May 17. The organization hosted more than 1,000 volunteers who helped to plant hardwood trees on more than 20 acres of abandoned properties on Detroit’s east side. It’s hard to imagine a more long-term investment than planting an oak or other hardwood seedling, but that’s just what they did. 

I had the good fortune of visiting with Mike a few weeks before their tree planting event and he gave me a tour of the properties that Hantz Woodlands has purchased. I was able to witness the tremendous efforts Mike and his team had already made to prepare the properties for planting. The volume of brush and trash that had been removed was overwhelming. And the vistas it opened turned what some might call a blighted landscape into a landscape that provides something simple but important: visual connectivity between neighbors.

Congratulations to Mike and his colleagues at Hantz Woodlands.  I’m confident they will continue to engage effectively with their neighbors to strengthen prosperity and security in Michigan’s largest city. And they’re creating a model that could be emulated in other communities, both large and small.

You can read more about the tree planting from this news article and this opinion piece.


Filed under Uncategorized

Extension educators help renew Kettunen Center’s Christmas Tree Arboretum

You may recall Christmas 2011 when the Christmas Tree Arboretum at Kettunen Center supplied the star attraction of the Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit that year – a beautiful Norway spruce.  Other large trees were removed from the arboretum for the center’s holiday celebration. In addition, Kettunen Center maintenance director Steve Neuman removed many trees that were getting too big for the site as well as any remaining trees damaged by deer and the harsh winter weather.

 The Norway spruce that once grew at Kettunen Center stands proudly as the main attraction at of the Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit during the Christmas 2011 season. Photo credit: Jill O’Donnell

The Norway spruce that once grew at Kettunen Center stands proudly as the main attraction at of the Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit during the Christmas 2011 season. Photo credit: Jill O’Donnell

An arboretum without trees is a sad sight. However, the situation didn’t last long. Mr. Neuman continued the site cleanup by removing the stump from that huge Norway spruce and did some grading to make the area more accessible. Michigan State University senior Extension educator Jill O’Donnell drew up a plan.

Jill secured donations of trees from Dutchman Tree Farms, Northern Pines Nursery and Needlefast Evergreens and delivered them to the center. Jill and MSU Extension educator Erin Lizotte did the work of mapping and planting the new trees – 19 in all.

The arboretum now exhibits ten different varieties of trees including four species of true fir, four species of spruce as well as white pine and Douglas firs.

This fall, a soil test will determine the adjustment of the pH and result in a nutrient plan. This winter, cages will be put around the trees to prevent damage from deer and rabbits. Pruning will begin next year. Jill will oversee the project.

Next time you visit Kettunen Center, check out the Christmas Tree Arboretum and enjoy the results of their efforts.

Comments Off on Extension educators help renew Kettunen Center’s Christmas Tree Arboretum

Filed under Agriculture

Extension specialist and financial expert achieves rock star status

The recent news that Detroit would be filing for bankruptcy made headlines not only in Michigan but around the country. Gov. Rick Snyder approved a request from emergency manager Kevyn Orr to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The city filed on July 18.

Kudos go out to Dr. Eric Scorsone, Michigan State University Extension specialist, for his diligence in working with the media to explain the Detroit bankruptcy issue. Within 24 hours of the bankruptcy being announced, Dr. Scorsone spoke to about 20 media outlets on four continents.

In the “It’s Just Politics” segment on Michigan Radio July 19, producer and co-host Zoe Clark called Dr. Scorsone the Mick Jagger of “muni” (municipal) finance. You can listen here.

Many national news agencies such as NBC sought Dr. Scorsone’s reaction to the bankruptcy. We’re grateful to Dr. Scorsone for his expertise and his willingness to step out and communicate to the public about these complicated financial issues. And he’s probably going to be doing this for a while, given the complexity of such a large municipal bankruptcy filing.

Comments Off on Extension specialist and financial expert achieves rock star status

Filed under Financial education

Thanks, Rick!

Members of the Greening Michigan Institute (GMI) received a final note from Dr. Rick Foster this week as he prepares to return to his faculty position and focus his leadership on Michigan State University’s program aimed at developing food, water and energy systems for 21st century metropolitan areas. The program, termed MetroFoodsPlus, was announced in a Detroit press conference yesterday, presented jointly by MSU President LouAnna K. Simon and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. We have been fortunate to benefit from Dr. Foster’s leadership over the past two years, during which he has served as the director of GMI. As one of our four institute directors, he helped to give definition to a concept that we created as part of our restructuring. He came to us with a tremendous background of leadership experience, having served in a variety of roles, ranging from high school agriscience teacher to vice president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Rick’s leadership has helped to create a sense of unity and joint purpose among educators working in programs that had been only distantly connected in our previous organizational structure. He embraced the notion that what holds these programs together – from community development to family financial management to community food systems to natural resources stewardship – is a focus on equipping Michigan’s families, communities and industries to adopt practices that ensure sustainability of not only our natural assets but also our communities and families as well.

I’ve personally benefited tremendously from Rick’s generosity with his time and insights, and I’ve had many in GMI share their appreciation for his positive outlook and affirming support for group-generated suggestions and programs. GMI has innovated in a number of ways and we’ve all benefited from their new ways of approaching everything from revenue generation to creating reality around the concept of food hubs.

We will miss Rick’s leadership as he turns his full attention to MetroFoodsPlus, but we’ll also continue to benefit from his deep understanding of MSU Extension and integrate our strengths into this bold effort to join Michigan’s agricultural heritage and industrial innovation history with the challenges and opportunities resting in Michigan’s urban centers. Rick will retain a faculty appointment in MSUE and will especially connect frequently with the community food systems work group within GMI. I’ll always deeply appreciate Rick’s willingness to help us create this new, 21st century version of MSU Extension. Thanks, Rick, and good luck in your MetroFoodsPlus efforts!

Comments Off on Thanks, Rick!

Filed under Food

Extension educator to present at Natural Resources Commission meeting

Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant (MSG) Extension educator, has been invited to present at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) Parks Advisory Committee meeting today (Aug. 11) at the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health in Lansing. The NRC is a seven-member public body whose members are appointed by the governor and subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioner Hurley Coleman chairs the committee. Kelley Smith, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) acting natural resources deputy, and Jim Dexter, MDNR acting fisheries chief, invited Mary to present the Detroit River fish consumption communications project after learning about it at the Lake Erie Citizens Fishery Advisory Council meeting earlier this year. Mary will have an opportunity to talk to the commission about her work in the Detroit area that focuses on communicating fish advisory information to fish consumers.

 In 2007, MSG requested proposals for projects addressing issues of importance in AOCs (areas of concern). As a result, Dr. Donna Kashian, assistant professor at Wayne State University, was funded for a three-year project to explore the causes, consequences and correctives of fish contamination in the Detroit River. Mary helped Donna identify local stakeholders and invited them to participate in the project. Prior to the first stakeholder meeting in 2009, some of Donna’s students conducted a survey of people fishing along the Detroit River. The survey revealed that people were either not aware of fish consumption advisories (FCAs), did not understand them or did not believe them. At the first stakeholder meeting, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) requested assistance in developing new ways of communicating the advisories. As a result, a subcommittee was formed and began developing a strategy for improving access to, and communication of, the advisories. Subcommittee members included Michigan State University Extension natural resources educator Gary Williams and representatives from Friends of the Detroit River, MDNR Fisheries, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Wayne County Department of Public Health, Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion and the Detroit Recreation Department.

 Previously, FCAs were communicated through a lengthy statewide booklet that was distributed at the point-of-sale when fishing licenses were purchased. Due to budget constraints, booklets are now only available on the Web. The booklet was also technical, could be confusing and is often viewed as very negative. The subcommittee wanted the new materials to be a positive piece that provided information about the healthy benefits of eating fish and balanced that with the need to include cautionary fish consumption information. This was a significant change in communication strategy. The subcommittee developed brochures, signage, fliers and outreach activities, and the MDCH has since updated their website and other materials using this positive strategy. The MDCH has also received two grants through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to expand the program to areas throughout the state.

 Find more information about Michigan’s fish consumption advisories at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-54783_54784_54785—,00.html.

 Find more information on the FCA project at http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/fisheries/detroit-river-fish-consumption-advisory.html.

Comments Off on Extension educator to present at Natural Resources Commission meeting

Filed under natural resources

$185k in 23 days

Dr. Julie Chapin, director of the Children and Youth Institute, received notification yesterday that MSU Extension is being awarded a grant for $185,000 from the New York Life Foundation (NYLF) and the National 4-H Council. The grant is part of the Metro Youth in Governance Project funded by NYLF, intended to start new 4-H clubs in the Detroit area, expand the number of youth from underserved neighborhoods in community engagement activities, increase the number of volunteers working with youth in metro Detroit and provide opportunities for youth from these clubs to participate in the Citizenship Washington Focus program at the National 4-H Conference Center. Detroit is one of four cities to receive this funding.

 We always welcome grants that help us achieve our goal of expanding the number of youth we serve, and this one is no exception. What is really remarkable about it to me is that we learned about the opportunity on May 23. The grant was due by June 13, three weeks after we first learned of the opportunity. Dr. Chapin was notified that the grant had been awarded to us late yesterday, June 15. So in the course of 23 days, Dr. Chapin and the team from District 11, consisting of Sandra Griffin, Laurie Rivetto and Tom Schneider, pulled this proposal together and were successful in taking advantage of this opportunity. Cheryl Howell, executive director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation, provided critical assistance in pulling together the proposal as well. The past 23 days haven’t exactly been calm and bucolic around MSU Extension, so this team’s ability to focus and put their best work forward on very short notice is remarkable. As to their success – a nice final endorsement to what we already knew about our team.

 Thanks to the entire team who responded so quickly and so well to this great opportunity and for helping to show how MSUE is ready to respond quickly to ensure that we’re bringing resources to bear on Michigan’s critical needs.




Comments Off on $185k in 23 days

Filed under 4-H

Extension, nursing researcher team up to battle obesity

Michigan State University Extension and a researcher in the College of Nursing are teaming up after being awarded $3.3 million to fund a program that helps low-income obese mothers improve their lives with healthier eating and reduced stress.

The new intervention program, Mothers in Motion, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to improve health by teaching overweight or obese mothers how to eat well, be active and how to deal with stress. Researcher Dr. Mei-Wei Chang will partner with two community-based programs: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and MSU Extension.

“To have a broad impact on obesity in our state, these partners have joined forces to address the underlying issues that cause weight gain in our target audience of young, low-income, overweight and obese mothers,” Chang said.

It is a great collaboration between Extension and the nursing college, and tackles one of the state’s most pressing problems. And the results from the program will be shared statewide and nationwide to help mothers in other cities and other states as they battle obesity.

The study will enroll 465 young, low-income, overweight or obese mothers 18 to 39 years old from four local WIC programs in the city of Detroit; and Calhoun, Genesee and Jackson counties. Educational interactive DVDs will be distributed, and Extension educators will lead phone discussions during which participants encourage each other’s progress.

Once Mothers in Motion has been studied in Michigan, the program will be disseminated nationally through WIC, MSU Extension and other community-based programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity.

The five-year study is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health. It builds on findings of a previous NIH grant that enrolled 129 participants in a 10-week intervention.


Comments Off on Extension, nursing researcher team up to battle obesity

Filed under health

Hahn kicks off the Metro gardening season with radio interview

Kristine Hahn, Michigan State University Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, helped to kick off the spring garden season with an interview on WDET radio on March 3. Her interview addressed some of the exciting developments in community gardening in Detroit and some of the challenges folks face when planning and managing a community garden. What was amazing was to realize that the number of gardens has grown from 80 to more than 1,800 over the past five years. You can listen to excerpts of her interview here:

Comments Off on Hahn kicks off the Metro gardening season with radio interview

Filed under Greening Michigan