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Michigan State Fair a huge success for Extension and the CANR

By Patrick Cudney

Many of our colleagues spent this Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 4‒7, at the Michigan State Fair at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We can all be proud of the work being done to enhance the Michigan State University Extension presence in southeastern Michigan. More than 112,000 visitors attended the fair this year, so the event created the opportunity to build awareness of our programs to a huge audience. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources was fully engaged with us in the marketing effort.

Julie Chapin, Children and Youth Institute director, and I attended a VIP pre-opening event, which gave us a firsthand look at our giant 60-foot by 40-foot exhibit space that was free to MSU Extension. Credit for obtaining the free space goes to Debra (“Debbie”) Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator, who has been coordinating a 4-H presence at other expos at the Suburban Collection Showplace since 2005. This is the first year we’ve had a coordinated presence from all of Extension. Debbie helped us to build on the base that she created through her previous work at the fair.

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich:
Front row (left to right): Fran Adelaja, MSU Extension specialist; Debra Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Margaret Stockert, MSU Extension 4-H support – Oakland County; Glenda Weiss, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Wayne County
Back row: Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director; Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director; Alan Jaros, MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm director; Karen Craig, MSU Tollgate Conference Center coordinator; Jason Scott, MSUE 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Jake DeDecker, MSU Extension children and youth associate state leader; Mary Blumka, 4-H program coordinator- Oakland County.
Photo credit: Lou Waldock, Waldock Tree Farm

Debbie said, “In 2014, I was invited to the press conference where Oakland County and District 11 were offered space at the 2014 Michigan State Fair. When I was invited in 2015, I asked if we could have a larger space to include all of MSU Extension and they said ‘absolutely – what do you need?’ It is a win-win situation and the folks with the Michigan State Fair and Suburban Collection Showplace have been super accommodating and so easy to work with. I believe we have created a mutually beneficial relationship and a great opportunity to showcase all the services MSU Extension has to offer to the public.”

She added that when Extension educator Alan Jaros, who is director of the MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm just miles down the road from the Suburban Collection Showcase, attended the press conference with her this year, she knew then we were going to do something bigger and better this year.

Tollgate is Extension’s 160-acre learning laboratory visited annually by 12,000 people who explore food systems, agriculture and horticulture, and experience a greater connection to our natural resources.

“With Tollgate’s strong roots in Novi and the surrounding area, our partners and the local community have come to expect high-quality, unbiased, research-based and interactive educational opportunities from MSU Extension. When we were approached to have a stronger presence at the fair, it was an obvious chance to build a greater awareness of MSU Extension’s impact beyond Tollgate,” said Alan.

The fair provides the perfect opportunity for our 4-H youth to showcase their projects and apply for the scholarships offered to youth exhibitors. In fact, this year scholarships totaled $40,000.

It would be impossible to list everyone involved in our success. The following people were involved in coordinating the event. Besides Alan and Debbie, they included Fran Adelaja, Megghan Honke, Betsy Braid, Mindy Tape, Jake DeDecker, Kristine Hahn, Kristi Evans and Mary Wilson.

Others contributing to the event’s success included Beth Stuever, Kittie Butcher, Carol Lenchek, Mary Gerstenberger, Margaret Stockert, Glenda Weiss, Karen Craig, Jason Scott, Ed Scott and Mary Blumka.

In addition, approximately 80 staff and volunteers signed up to help set up, tear down and work the booth throughout the weekend. It really was a team effort!

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery as Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director, looks on at the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich.
Photo credit: Debra Morgan.

The large space was well utilized by each institute. The Children and Youth Institute supplied hands-on activities including crafts, hoverball archery (yep, I tried it, it’s fun), the 4-H Commodity Carnival interactive game, Legos, an early childhood sensory table and the 4-H Life Skills Wheel. 4-H Tech Wizards provided Rockets to the Rescue. The Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Master Gardeners presented Smart Gardening daily, and the Health and Nutrition Institute provided information and a nutrition and health wheel game. Greening Michigan staffed a resource table with information on foreclosure counseling, Sea Grant and the Michigan Fresh program.

I appreciate all of your efforts in moving our organization visibility forward. This is an excellent example of how MSU Extension can improve our engagement and understanding of the work we do in fulfilling our mission. Strategic connections at the finest!

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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!

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4-H Tech Wizards expand in Michigan

4-H Tech Wizards are up to new things in Michigan. Tech Wizards is a small-group mentoring program that matches professionals who work in the science, engineering and technology (SET) fields with youth.

4-H Tech Wizards strives to reduce and help prevent juvenile delinquency and school failure, and build supportive relationships as well as introduce mentees to opportunities within the SET fields. It also provides participants with meaningful opportunities to engage in service learning.

Michigan State University Extension in Macomb County will have three new 4-H Tech Wizards sites operating within a month of the start of the school year. The program began at Seminole Academy in June while meetings at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and the Detroit Arsenal in Warren will begin soon.

Extension educators Scott Lakin and Ed Scott and Extension program instructor Alex Boyd work together to make this a regional program.

“Functioning as a District 11 4-H Tech Wizards team has led to greater success in our mentor recruitment efforts. I have found that attending various events and specifically targeted organizational presentations is the most effective way to get individuals to start the volunteer application process,” Scott Lakin said.

Scott designed a display booth to showcase the project areas and technology available. Talking to the public at events led to contacts with numerous adults soon to be trained as 4-H Tech Wizards mentors in all three counties in the district – Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.

Extension program instructors Barb Brow and Susan Fenton continue to work to expand the program in Ottawa County. Kristy Oosterhouse, program aide,piloted the program in Eaton County and assists other counties in efforts to replicate this program. Extension educator Dorothy Munn has secured two AmeriCorps positions to start the program in northern Michigan.

Senior specialist Lisa Bottomley and associate program leader Molly Frendo provide support from the statewide perspective.

“We are really excited to see this program expand to serve new communities and reach new audiences,” said Lisa.

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