Tag Archives: environment

M4-HYCC testifies before Senate committee

We talk often about how our Michigan State UniversityExtension4-H Youth Development Program creates the leaders of tomorrow. But often, 4-H’ers don’t wait till they’re all grown up to use those leadership skills to make a difference. That was obvious when a group of 19 members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council (M4-HYCC) gave a presentation before the Michigan Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes on April 24.

The council is a leadership and confidence-building opportunity for teens who get a chance to explore solutions to environmental issues and provide a voice in state government public policy-making. Each year, members of M4-HYCC select and research a current environmental issue that affects the entire state. They spend about three months researching, which includes interviewing people, listening to presentations, and studying books and articles on the issue. The research concludes with a presentation before the state Senate.

Members of the M4-HYCC , a Michigan Senate Committee and a staff member pose for a photo after the council testified before the committee April 24, 2014, in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson

Members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council and the Michigan Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes as well as a staff member pose for a photo after the council testified before the committee on improving the regulations related to home heating oil storage tanks April 24, 2014, in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson

This year, the group’s research and presentation focused on home heating oil tanks. The council recommended expanding the regulations of PA 207 to include a broader jurisdiction over the tanks. It suggested that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) be given the ability to ticket inadequate home heating oil tanks and supporting structures. It also suggested that education and training in proper inspection and fuel tank maintenance for fuel distributors be enhanced.

The senators expressed appreciation for all the hard work the 4-H’ers put into the project. They were impressed and spent time talking individually with them after the hearing ended.

“I thought the senators seemed surprised that home heating oil tanks in Michigan are largely unregulated,” said Extension educator Darren Bagley who coordinates the program.

The teen council members have been responsible for influencing the legislature in the past. In 2008, their testimony helped pass Senate Bill 152 and 362, which reduces the amounts of phosphorus permitted in dishwasher and laundry detergents. In 2003, their recommendations led to an introduction of a bill that directed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to include special information about marine fuel spills in its boating safety course. Members also testified for a bill introduced in 2000 that promoted the development of the Michigan heritage water trail program. The bill was passed in 2002.

4-H member Dakota Hewlett, an MSU freshman who has been with the council since he was 13, provided leadership. Mallory Ramelis from Mackinac County took leadership for the presentation, and Samantha Ellison from Tuscola County took leadership for the paper.

Extension educator Insa Raymond acted as advisor, and Sam Owens (Midland County) and Paula Ramelis (Mackinac County) served as volunteer advisors.

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Filed under 4-H

MSU Extension named to Hall of Fame

Before last month, I didn’t even know that Michigan has an Environmental Hall of Fame. I was chagrined to be ignorant about it, but I learned last Thursday that it has only been in existence for a year or two.

On May 9 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan State University Extension, along with one other organization and three individuals were inducted into the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame. MSU Extension was inducted into the hall for “providing environmental education to the people of Michigan.” MSU Extension is credited with helping to make Michigan’s environment a cleaner and healthier place to live. I’d like to think we’ve helped it be a more economically successful state as well, building on the natural assets that we share.

The Muskegon Environmental Research and Education Society formed the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame in 2012. The society is in the process of raising funds for a new Education Center at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve in North Muskegon. The completed center will house an exhibit featuring Hall of Fame members.

Other inductees last week included former Governor William Milliken, Dr. Howard Tanner, former president of the Muskegon Conservation Club Fred Wilder and the Huron Pines organization.

It was heartening to hear someone else recognize the long record of service our programs have provided and the impacts they have on participants. Our work in coastal communities through the Michigan Sea Grant partnership with the University of Michigan; our programs on forest, fish and wildlife management; our work in natural resource-based tourism; our 4-H Youth Conservation Council; our partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission ‒ all are examples of the contributions we’ve made to science-based resource management and utilization. For all who have contributed to these and similar programs in the past and present, and will continue to contribute in the future, this award belongs to you. You can view a nice plaque in room 108 Agriculture Hall.  Thanks to Ron Brown for sharing his photographs from the event.


Michigan State University Extension Director Tom Coon spoke of his appreciation for the honor bestowed on MSU Extension

On May 9, 2013, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Michigan State University Extension Director Tom Coon spoke of his appreciation for the honor bestowed on MSU Extension in recognition of their long-standing commitment to educational programming that supports stewardship of Michigan’s natural heritage. Photo credit: Ron Brown


One feature that made the induction ceremony particularly notable for me personally was that Dr. Howard Tanner, former director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and former director of natural resources at MSU, was inducted for his individual achievements. Dr. Tanner has been recognized widely for his contributions to conservation in Michigan, credited, along with Dr. Wayne Tody, for the introduction of Pacific salmon species to the Great Lakes in the 1960s, which has generated a recreational fishery currently valued at more than $4 billion in total economic impact. But there’s more to Dr. Tanner’s conservation legacy, and I hope to read his telling of those stories in book form in the near future. Dr. Tanner has had a long affiliation with my home department, Fisheries and Wildlife, so it was a special treat to share the evening with him.

2013 inductees to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame included (left to right) former Gov. William Milliken (represented by his son Bill Milliken), Dr. Howard Tanner, Mr. Fred Wilder, Huron Pines organization (represented by Brad Jensen) and Michigan State University Extension (represented by Director Thomas Coon).

On May 9, 2013, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., 2013 inductees to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame included (left to right) former Gov. William Milliken (represented by his son Bill Milliken), Dr. Howard Tanner, Mr. Fred Wilder, Huron Pines organization (represented by Brad Jensen) and Michigan State University Extension (represented by Director Thomas Coon). Photo credit: Ron Brown


Filed under Awards

Buy real, buy local and make this a real Michigan Christmas

You can help both the local economy and the environment this year by purchasing Michigan-grown Christmas trees and poinsettias.

 Michigan ranks third among the states in Christmas tree production and seventh in poinsettia production. Buying locally grown trees and plants not only gives a boost to our local economy but it helps the environment as well. You may be under the impression that it’s better for the environment to purchase an artificial tree than to chop down a real one. But artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins. Natural trees are renewable and recyclable, and poinsettias can be easily composted.

 A USDA grant is funding a new marketing campaign called “Make It a Real Michigan Christmas” that promotes buying real Christmas trees and poinsettias from local growers. Visit realmichiganchristmas.com for loads of information on everything from caring for trees and poinsettias to finding a local tree retailer to learning how trees and plants boost your mood.

 Michigan State University associate professor in the departments of Horticulture and Forestry Bert Cregg talked with Kirk Heinze on “Greening of the Great Lakes” about the campaign and about Christmas tree production in Michigan. Tune in to find out not only about the industry but also how to choose and care for your tree.

 The show will air at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on WJIM-1240 AM in Lansing, WNEM-1250 AM in Saginaw, WMMI-830 AM in Mount Pleasant and WKLQ-1490 AM in Muskegon. It will also air at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on WJRW-1340 AM in Grand Rapids and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on WJR-760 AM in Detroit.

 You can also click here to listen online at any time or to read more about it.

 Visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Association website for more information about buying and caring for trees.

 Michigan is such a beautiful place, it practically sells itself. Promoting the combination of locally grown poinsettias and Christmas trees is like Pure Michigan times two.

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Kids use garbage to learn and serve

Deb Gierke, Schoolcraft County Michigan State University Extension program instructor, knows a lot about garbage. In fact, kids at the CloverKid College summer day camp have crowned her the Garbage Goddess – complete with a cardboard crown and throne. 

Says Deb, “It’s not a title I aspired to, but I’ve earned it.”

 Deb has worked with garbage – and kids – for years. She was able to take that expertise and use it to get kids involved in social entrepreneuring.

 Last January, a Social Entrepreneurship 4-H Participation Fee Grant helped to cover her attendance at a 4-H Citizenship, Leadership and Service conference at Kettunen Center. At the conference, participants learned how to identify social issues and find resources to address those issues. Deb was already working with youth on recycling issues and the conference added to her enthusiasm and gave her more ideas to work with.

 With her help and the help of adult and teen volunteers during 4-H school enrichment at Emerald Elementary and CloverKid College day-camp programming, 350 area youth successfully completed the 6-Rs Activity Series: Be Respectful, Responsible and Resourceful, and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Each member who participated received an “I R a StaR” award.

 Classroom and camp participants collected trash, weighed it and charted their collection totals. They then prepared the garbage for recycling or reuse by cleaning and sorting it.

 Deb notes that the youth themselves noticed that people generate a lot of garbage, but there are not a lot of recycling options in the Upper Peninsula. The kids decided to convert the trash they collected into treasure. Under the kids’ creative hands, a pop can tab became a pet snake, a toilet paper roll became a decorative hair tie and old jeans became backpacks. The youth took part in a “Trash Fash” activity in which they converted paper, plastic and fabric recyclables into fashion T-shirts and hats. The young people became entrepreneurs, creating a business called R&R (Recycle and Reuse) Creations and selling their transformed trash at the school and the day camp.

 All proceeds from the sales went to two local organizations: Project Backpack, which outfits at-risk youth with school bags filled with all the necessary supplies, and the Voices for Youth transitional living home.

 In addition, teen counselors in the summer camp created community awareness by developing a brochure that identified local recycling options. Information about local recyclers was also distributed in Friday school-to-home folders at the elementary school, on the free public television channel and in the local paper. The information distribution made people aware of local recycling centers and consequently brought them more business.

 Youth learned about respecting the environment, managing a business, helping the community and each other while having fun at the same time. They successfully integrated entrepreneurship with service learning and the results benefited the kids as well as the community. And according to Deb, both she and the kids continue to learn.

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Filed under Entrepreneurial

MSU Exension team annual reports win awards

Lovejoy, Steveby Steve Lovejoy, associate direct of programming for MSU Extension

As MSU Extension faces a major budget crisis, an important criterion for our future is our ability to tell the story of all the great educational programs we conduct, and all the assistance we provide to individuals, families, businesses and communities. One important venue for creating and delivering knowledge has been our area of expertise Teams. Over the past three years, teams have been asked to increase the reporting of the impacts of their educational initiatives, including quantitative measures of behavioral changes. Teams submit calendar-year reports that are due the following spring (be sure to log in to the portal before clicking that link). Teams are also being asked to develop logic models for their program area in order to clearly state the stakeholder need, the outputs and the desired changes or impacts. One manifestation of this increase in reporting has been more complete annual reports from each team. We hope that teams use this process not only as a reporting tool but also as an effective planning tool for their programming. Congratulations to all the teams for a job well done!

We recently finished the evaluation of the annual reports for 2008 and I am pleased to announce the Teams that won awards for their 2008 annual reports.
Best Annual Report: Land Use Team
Best Reporting of Quantitative Measures: Animal Agriculture and the Environment Team
Best Effort at Promoting Diversity: Christmas Tree Team
Most Improved: Consumer Horticulture Team

Each of these awards, in addition to the prestige and bragging rights, carries a financial reward that is added to the team’s base budget. Please join me in congratulating these four teams for their extraordinary efforts.

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Filed under Agriculture, Awards, Budget, Farming, Guest bloggers, Land use, Uncategorized

Ag Expo=education, education, education

As someone who knows more about fish than cattle, Ag Expo has always managed to teach me a thing or two about production agriculture. This year, expo visitors have the potential to learn more than ever thanks to a plethora of educational sessions hosted by our own MSU Extension educators and specialists.

Highlights include a session that will earn equine owners a good horsekeeping seal of approval, a special event that will introduce livestock producers to some profitable environmental options and a discussion about crop marketing by our own Jim Hilker.

Spread the word! Make sure the farmers in your area join us July 21-23. And, if you use the popular social networking site twitter, be sure to look for tweets with the event hashtag: #AgExpo.

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Filed under ag expo, Agriculture

Let summer begin!

It’s only Memorial Weekend, but it already seems like summer is in full swing! Our educators, specialists and faculty are planning many events. Here’s just a smattering of the MSUE-sponsored events that will be taking place on campus:

What have you got going on this summer? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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Filed under 4-H, Agriculture, Conferences, Farming, natural resources