Last week, four Michigan State University (MSU) Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) volunteers traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual CARET meeting and to meet with each of our Michigan congressional offices.
Have you met our CARET representatives? Char Wenham and Saturnino “Nino” Rodriguez come from education backgrounds – serving first as teachers, then as administrators, and continuing to serve in various education capacities today. Doug Lewis is the director of student legal services for the University of Michigan and is the president of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Glenn Preston is a dairy farmer who owns Preston Farms in Quincy.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, each of our CARET representatives paired up with someone from MSU for their visits. They thanked our U.S. senators and representatives for their support, and shared stories of how Extension and AgBioResearch makes a difference in their communities.
“For me, the significance of the trip is being able to talk about the importance of Michigan State’s responsibilities that are land-grant related and different from any of the other universities in the state,” Char said. “As a volunteer, it is also a wonderful experience to travel, make congressional visits, and get to know the people who make our Extension and AgBioResearch so successful. Everyone that I talked to was positive about MSU, the land-grant mission, and the specific work of MSU Extension and AgBioResearch in their areas.”
Our CARET representatives serve as a liaison between district councils, field station advisory groups, and state agencies and organizations. They help to facilitate a two-way relationship, between MSU and our partners and stakeholders. They learn about us and share information about us, and they share information about their communities with us.
What is CARET? It is the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and its members are advocates for land-grant agricultural programs in research, extension and teaching. They represent Michigan State University (MSU) with county officials and state legislators, and advocate for us on a federal level. Our three CARET representatives are Glenn Preston, Char Wenham and Doug Lewis.
Glenn is a dairy farmer, Char is a business development consultant, and Doug is an attorney and the director of Student Legal Services at the University of Michigan. What do they all have in common? MSU Extension has been an active and meaningful part of their lives. They want to carry their message to our leaders and decision makers at the local, state and federal levels.
Last week, I attended the CARET Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. with our CARET representatives and had the chance to meet with our Congressional offices. Dr. George Smith, associate director of AgBioResearch, and Dr. Mike Kovacic, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources director of stakeholder relations, were the other members of our group. The highlight of our time in Washington, D.C. was visiting our congressional representatives and sharing about the work that is going on at MSU. We also had a chance to spend time with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters. These visits provide an opportunity to remind them of the work that we do, and learn from them about concerns and opportunities that we may be poised to address.
Meeting with Senator Stabenow at Good Morning Michigan, March 8. From left to right: Jeff Dwyer, Mike Kovacic, Char Wenham, Senator Stabenow, Doug Lewis, George Smith and Glenn Preston. Photo courtesy of Senator Stabenow.
One of the things that I’ve been impressed with in coming back is the astounding jump Michigan State University Extension has made in technology. Facebook and YouTube are now included in the many methods we use to promote Extension and to do our job of educating.
During Extension’s centennial year, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications is producing videos that highlight the individual stories of people who have a unique story to tell about Extension. (Dr. Coon mentioned this in a previous blog “What Does MSU Extension Mean to You?” in which he gave the link to the testimonial of MSU student Danielle Bott.)
In case you missed them, three new videos are up. In one video, Doug Lewis,a Washtenaw County 4-H volunteer, talks about the impact Michigan 4-H Youth Development has on our youth. I watched this one over the weekend, and my heart was literally pounding with emotion!
In addition, listen to MSU Extension nutrition and food safety educator Joyce McGarry, talk about the importance Extension had throughout her life, culminating in her becoming an Extension staff member.
And finally, Rep. Roger Victory: when he isn’t representing the 88th District in Michigan’s House of Representatives, he runs Victory Farms in Ottawa County. With the guidance of MSU Extension agents, he started his farm at a very young age, and has since then worked with MSU Extension to facilitate the guidance of other farmers to keep our farm economy thriving.
Watch all four videos by going to the MSU Extension YouTube page.
Check Facebook and YouTube for additional videos as well as the latest information from Extension.
Thanks to ANR Communications social media manager Paula Sheynerman for producing the videos as well as her colleagues Jamie Wilson and Dave Ellis who assisted.