Tag Archives: erica ciupak

ANR Tech Services gets kudos for helping at the local level

I received an email last week from Joanne Davidhizar, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, that really made my day. Joanne sent her note on behalf of her colleagues in the MSUE Berrien County Office. She took the opportunity to sing praises for the work of the ANR Tech Services team in helping to convert their entire office over to be part of the ANR IT network. Previously the office had been served by Berrien County with IT support, and through the new MoA we have with Berrien County, it made more sense to switch over to the MSU system. Brian Hoort, acting as point person for ANR Tech Services, helped by first determining the services and functionality needed in the office. He then engaged colleagues Suporn Teng and Mike Walters in developing a plan, and then helped the Berrien County staff to purchase the right equipment and get it set up with the ANR system. Brian and the team helped with the conversion to the new network arrangement and continued to provide support through the Help Desk.

Joanne reports that they’ve been operating in the new system for seven months and “couldn’t be happier. At every opportunity, I urge educators from other counties to consider setting up as Berrien MSUE has done starting with a conversation with ANR Tech.”

Some additional comments from Deb Barrett help to explain the functionality they’ve achieved: “Webinar access is a piece of cake and I rarely have trouble with accessibility. Our previous system was so blocked that it prevented staff and our clientele from accessing and utilizing many online tools and resources that we can now easily access – thank you!

“The scanner, faxing and file share capabilities have been easy to use and work well. I appreciate and am relieved to know that files are backed up at MSU. The leap to wireless has allowed me to be more mobile and work from various locations with colleagues across the state while still accessing some of the information that I need. Now that I have had the opportunity to use SharePoint regularly, I appreciate its purpose and have found it quite handy for working with work group documents where our work group members stretch from corner to corner of the state, including the U.P.”

Those are the kinds of testimonials we like to hear! Thanks to Joanne, Deb and their colleagues for sharing their thoughts, and thanks especially to Brian and his colleagues in ANR Tech Services for making the system work. Remember to call upon them through the Help Desk or by calling 517-355-3776 if you need tech support.

Erica Ciupak, director of ANR Tech Services, joined me on the biweekly MSUE Update webinar this Monday, Sept. 17, with information on hardware purchases and service agreements. She also mentioned how to access support from her staff. You may want to review that portion of the webinar if you weren’t able to log in to the live session.

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Help us keep the new website’s soft launch from having a rough landing

If you listened to my April 2 webinar and read the email that went out immediately following its conclusion, you know that we’ve launched a temporary site for our new MSU Extension website.

 I know I sound like a broken record, but please DO NOT share this site with others or bookmark it. It’s just a temporary location for everyone to see and the URL will change to our standard msue.msu.edu when it is formally launched.

 My thanks to ANR Technology Services (who developed the framework) and ANR Communications (the folks who are populating the site). They’ve done a great job.

 But I want to stress again that the site would not be possible without the work of our educators and specialists who identified the more than 80 categories that make up the site’s structure. They provided category descriptions and identified programs and resources. They’ve been delivering volumes of new content to the site every month.

 You’ll notice that since this site is temporary, certain features (like the search feature) are not functioning yet. Not to worry. We intend to have the search feature up and running in the final product. When I say “final,” I don’t mean static. This will be a dynamic website. We’ll regularly add up-to-date information from knowledgeable sources – our educators and specialists – that will keep bringing people back to the site. I’m confident reliable content coupled with ease of use will make this site one that’s visited often.

 Please share your ideas and information for the site with ANR Communications by April 16. Let ANR Communications know if there are any broken links or inaccuracies (such as in county contact information) or if you have questions or suggestions about the information that the site contains.

 Please send changes and comments to your institute’s representative within ANR Communications:

 Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute: Beth Stuever
Children and Youth Institute: Michelle Lavra
Greening Michigan Institute: Sean Corp
Health and Nutrition Institute: Katie Alexander

 You may also submit feedback or changes to this ANR Communications department email address.

 The site will close from April 16 to 23 for final adjustments. It will go live April 24. I hope that you are as pleased as I am about the outcome of all the work and looking forward to the positive comments from the folks who visit.

 I want to call out once again our colleagues from ANR Tech services and ANR Communications who helped keep us moving along: Dennis Bond, Kim Maida, along with Director Erica Ciupak from ANR TS and Sean Corp, Katie Alexander, Kathy Raphael, Marian Reiter, Beth Stuever, Michelle Lavra, Steve Evans, Laura Probyn, Fran Adelaja, and Mindy Pratt (whose name I missed on Monday) from ANR Communications, along with former Director Ruth Borger and Interim Director Kris Hynes. Thanks to all of you for keeping us moving forward!

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Events management system to launch in new year

In my last posting of 2011, I listed a lot of broad groupings of individuals whose work this past year was extremely valuable to our progress. One of those broad groupings was the Organizational Development Team, and that team includes the interim director of ANR Communications Kris Hynes and ANR Technology Services director Erica Ciupak. I’d like to highlight some of the work that came out of those two operations last year and that we’re pleased to see launch early this year.

 As we anticipated reductions in support staff positions both on campus and off campus, we realized we would need to provide a more sophisticated system for managing events online by a wider array of staff and faculty. We have called upon our ANR Communications and ANR Technology Services to help develop just such a system. The new events management system will become available to all in late January. It will be a great online resource for planning your events, with features like tips and tricks from professional event planners, various templates, online registration and other resources. The initial version will have a full array of features, but we plan to add even broader service applications to the software as we learn from using it in the months ahead.

 Megghan Honke and Betsy Braid, who work in events management for ANR Communications, gave an in-depth overview of the new system, including all of its features, during the Dec. 19 webinar. I encourage anyone who wasn’t able to be a part of the webinar to listen to it. The new events management system will be a great asset for Michigan State University Extension in the new year and into the future.

 I wanted to thank those that helped create the system, including Megghan and Betsy, who brought a lot of great ideas to the table, and a special thanks to Jim Brija and Bob Kriegel with ANR Technology Services who did the painstaking work of building the site from the ground up and helped make those ideas a reality.

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MSU Extension Wayne County moves to new locations

Kudos go to the Michigan State University Extension Wayne County staff for their rapid response in moving their offices from their historic downtown Detroit location on Temple Street. Staff members have been busy with the big job of moving all this week and should be settled in by the first week of October. Staff are moving into smaller, community-based offices to better connect to people and neighborhoods.

 Wayne County MSU Extension staff will continue to work out of the 4-H Community Center on the eastside of Detroit and the western Wayne County location in Wayne on Venoy Road. The Venoy Road location will become the new main MSU Extension office. Some MSUE staff will be working out of the MSU office at YouthVille, Detroit; and the MSU Tollgate Education Center, Novi. New MSUE offices will be established with Focus Hope, Detroit, and in a storefront in Lincoln Park. In 2012, an MSU Extension office will also be established in Eastern Market, Detroit.

 Marie Ruemenapp, District 11 coordinator, and Richard Wooten, Extension educator, are coordinating the move. Staff members at the Temple Street location have spent the last few weeks cleaning, packing and organizing. It’s quite a huge undertaking – they received their “moving notice” in late August! – but I’m confident that the MSU Extension Wayne County staff is up to the challenge. And Erica Ciupak, ANR Technology Services director, and her staff have been really helpful in making sure that the Wayne County staff are still connected to our central IT system from their neighborhood-based offices. Thanks go out to all who have pulled off a major miracle in getting this done! They really are an inspiration for all of us.

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Michigan State eXtension shines nationally

Michigan State University Extension came off a winner at the 2011 National CoP (Communities of Practice) Workshop in Louisville, Ky., June 29, earning both a team award and an individual award for work with eXtension, the nationwide collaborative web presence for Cooperative Extension.

 The Institutional Teams from MSU and the University of Missouri received the first ever Be Grow Create awards for outstanding work in advocating for and integrating eXtension into their respective institutions. The award recognizes outstanding teams for planning, creativity, organized activities, web conference attendance, director interaction and institutional engagement.

 Team members are Wayne Beyea, Ruth Borger, Erica Ciupak, Kathe Hale, Michelle Rodgers, Chris Skelly, Lela Vandenberg and Liz Wells. Glenn Pape and Erica Tobe were also team members the first year the team was organized in 2009.

 The Institutional Team, known as the I-Team, has made significant strides in the two years since its inception. Most notable are the increases in eXtension IDs, Ask an Expert (AaE) resolved questions and CoP membership. An eXtension ID allows an educator or specialist to contribute to eXtension by answering questions or collaborating with CoPs. Given the strength and commitment of the team’s members and their ongoing effort to promote eXtension involvement, these increases should continue.

 Lela Vandenberg, senior MSU Extension specialist, was one of three recipients of eXtension’s first Be Grow Create Outstanding Institutional Team Member award. The award recognizes her responsiveness and engagement with MSU on behalf of eXtension, her role in institutional team development and sustainability, and eXtension advocacy.

 As chair, Lela has been the driving force behind the eXtension I-Team. She created a series of how-to handouts that have been shared widely. Her online AaE experiential training has dramatically increased staff involvement. More than 150 people have taken the hands-on course. After training, staff members feel competent and excited to answer questions on AaE.

 Lela has shown herself to be a tremendous advocate for eXtension. She’s presented at professional association meetings and statewide conferences to introduce eXtension to the MSUE community, encouraging participation. Lela has worked with the marketing and promoting subcommittee to recruit faculty and staff involvement. Through her leadership, MSU eXtension IDs have gone from 30 in 2008 to 223 in the first six months of 2011.

 The I-Team with Lela at the helm is helping to carry out two of the principles of our redesign – increasing responsiveness and adopting emerging technologies. Clearly, we are doing both with eXtension and winning awards in the process.

 Read more about the I-Team’s win here: http://about.extension.org/2011/07/03/michigan-state-missouri-honored-as-outstanding-institutional-teams/

 Read more about Lela’s win here: http://about.extension.org/2011/07/03/hunnings-hurt-vandenberg-honored-with-be-grow-create-awards/

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New online tool helps push MSU Extension to get information to farmers, stakeholders

Earlier this week, creators of MSU Extension News for Agriculture celebrated a “soft launch” to members of the Ag and Agribusiness Institute (AABI). The March 7, 2011, announcement that this new website is now live was one giant step toward ensuring that Michigan State University Extension remains relevant and visible in the 21st century.

The site gives farmers and others interested in agriculture access to the newest information and research from MSUE in one convenient, online location. It helps break down those county and regional borders we’ve talked so much about, and allows our faculty and staff members to spread their expertise throughout the state.

Wendy Powers, AABI director, said it best. “Even though we may have a livestock specialist in central Michigan, someone in northern Michigan might need their expertise,” she said. “By having educators contribute articles and share their knowledge on the Internet, MSU Extension can make sure that all farmers in the state have access, immediately, to information that is of vital importance to the success of their operations.”

It took many hands to pull this off – especially because it went from concept to launch in only five months. Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications joined forces with Integrated Pest Management folks with CATAlert expertise to perfect the concept and then worked with ANR Technology Services to create the site. Most importantly, a task force of 25 educators, specialists and faculty members weighed in on the process to ensure it meets clients’ needs. And let’s not forget the more than 160 AABI members, faculty and educators who will contribute to the site every month.

The next step is to finish a mobile version of the site (set to be available by April 15) and then create a comprehensive database so information can be pushed out via e-mail and, eventually, text message. For that, I owe a debt of thanks to the ANRTS team, led by Erica Ciupak. They continue to lead the way in helping us to adopt new technologies and use them to deliver to a broader audience with the latest information and expertise.

It’s an exciting process that moves us forward in how we communicate timely information with our key audiences. I encourage you to visit the site and send any suggestions for improvement to Beth Stuever. The team will continue to tweak the site over time. It plans to announce it statewide once the search box begins working (something that we rely on Google “spiders” to get rolling) and the mobile site is near completion. Thanks to Joy Landis, from the IPM team, Dennis Bond in ANRTS, Wendy, Beth and the entire AABI, ANR Communications Team and IPM team for helping to transform us and the way we serve our stakeholders!

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FEC10 now in progress

As I write this, our Michigan State University Extension first-ever virtual fall conference is still in progress. We have another full day of concurrent sessions waiting for us today. I have received some great feedback about the online format, most of it positive, and all of it constructive. We’ve had record-breaking attendance. We’ve also had some technological glitches, which certainly are frustrating, but also come with the pledge to “learn by doing.” I’ve been overwhelmed by the examples I’ve seen of colleagues simply adapting and moving on with their presentations, just as they would if they were using a slide projector and the bulb blew out during their presentation. We have some pretty cool performers among us!

 Some people have been able to attend who have never before experienced our Fall Extension Conference because they were not able to travel to the conference site.

 There is a wealth of information being shared. I wish I could attend all of the sessions – and fortunately we can attend them “after the fact” by viewing the recorded session. Remember if you watch a recording that you can’t raise your hand or enter a question on the chat. Believe me, I’ve tried.

 District Day gave us a chance to meet and network in person. And the institute directors did a fantastic job yesterday guiding their institute members through some really important discussions about our logic models and their implementation. And don’t forget the fun activities offered up by the Inspiration Committee. Have you shared photos on the Facebook page, looked for Sparty on the Fall Extension Conference site, joined in discussion in the virtual lounge or taken part in the scavenger hunt? I’m still seeking a Twitter coach who specializes in introverts.

 I’m looking forward to Friday when we can view posters and find out who won the fun diversions. Associate director Steve Lovejoy will provide a wrap-up to the week – be prepared to share your reactions during that session AND in the survey that you’ll receive in the days ahead to help us learn what we can improve on as we apply this immersion experience to program planning for stakeholders and for fellow Extension professionals.

 Thanks to the many people who worked behind the scenes to make this virtual conference a success. Earlier this week, Associate director Michelle Rodgers observed that a year ago and even six months ago, we couldn’t have done this. We wouldn’t have had the Information Technology infrastructure nor the skills for so many of our staff to present programs on-line or to participate in on-line sessions. Many have contributed to our preparations, and particularly the FEC10 planning committee, our organizational development team (whom you met in the lead-in to Monday afternoon’s awards session), and particularly our ANR Information Technology staff, led by Erica Ciupak, and represented especially by Luke Reese and our ANR Communications staff, led by Ruth Borger, and represented especially by Megghan Honke, and our professional development staff, Kathy Foerster and Lela Vandenberg. We don’t have our IT infrastructure fully implemented yet, but based on what we’ve experienced so far, I’m really looking forward to what ANR IT has in the plans for us. Thanks to so many for helping to get us ready for this!

 As I said in my opening comments on Monday, borrowing from Jim Collins (Good to Great), we’re not looking for these technological skills and assets to create the changes that we need to implement, but we certainly hope that they can accelerate the changes that we are putting into place!

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