Tag Archives: erica tobe

Education policymakers on MSU Extension resources: The FHE team goes to the Capitol

On Friday, May 20, representatives from 15 state legislative offices attended a coffee and donuts informational session at the state Capitol. The session was held by the Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) team to educate the group about the post-foreclosure toolkits that Michigan State University (MSU) Extension provides. Toolkits were also distributed to all offices to advertise the effective and impactful resources that MSU Extension produces for families and individuals starting over after home foreclosure.

In a brainstorming and planning meeting between a few members of the FHE team and Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, the team discussed reaching out to legislators to market the “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit. Eric, having previous experience working in the Legislature, suggested hosting an event to draw attention to the new resource. He shared that often state departments hold educational sessions to provide legislators and their staff members with timely resources and information.

The FHE team wanted to not only share the MSU Extension resource with the legislators and their staff members, but also educate them that they could use it to support constituents who call their offices with questions about personal financial recovery. Team members received the approval of Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations for the college of agriculture and natural resources; Dave Ivan, their institute director; and MSU. They also secured the support of Sen. Darwin Booher, who co-sponsored the event. Then the planning began. Jean Lakin, Sarah Carter, Erica Tobe, Eric Walcott, Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson and Mike Kovacic contributed to the planning of the event.

The event consisted of a short, half-hour presentation to legislators and their staff members, followed by a brief question-and-answer period. Each legislative office, whether or not an office representative attended the event, received a packet. The packet included MSU Extension FHE team information (including infographics of the results of their programs, a team roster and current program offerings), district foreclosure data (for offices that RSVP’d to the event), a free “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit and marketing kicker cards to promote the resource in their communities. Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson, Eric Walcott, LaShawn Brown, Beth Martinéz, Brenda Long, Erica Tobe, Mike Kovacic and Jinnifer Ortquist attended to host and answer questions.

The “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit is a research-based, resource guide for residents who have experienced foreclosure, housing instability or both. It was designed to provide an educational support after traditional foreclosure counseling services end as a way to rebuild financial standing. Eight stand-alone units address core financial concepts (budgeting, credit and debt management, exploring housing options and more). One unit addresses emotional recovery after foreclosure and stress-management skill building. Visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/mimoneyhealth/startingover to access the resource. The material will be available soon in Spanish, and a series of noncredit online courses will be available to participants statewide.

“Staff members that I spoke with were very receptive of the material, interested in the information, and appreciated that it was free for the general public to use.” Erica said. “I think promoting this toolkit to legislators in the manner that we did was a good way to be accountable for the funds that we have received to support our work in this programming area, and provide them with useful information that they can use with the residents in their districts. In addition, it was a great way to market MSU Extension, and the work of our FHE team. We had several staff members attend the event, and they were able to connect with their respective legislative offices, and create connections for future programming opportunities! The legislative staff members that we spoke with were very excited to see the information presented and seemed to appreciate the short, succinct manner that we presented the material. I think most participants left the presentation understanding how they can use the information in the future and appreciated the applicability of the resource.”

If you have any questions about this event or the materials, please feel free to contact Erica Tobe, MSU Extension specialist, at tobee@msu.edu or Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, at walcott3@msu.edu.

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Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Grandparents University, scheduled for June 24–26, provides an opportunity for 8- to 12-year-olds to experience life on the Michigan State University campus. They get to live on campus, eat where the college students eat and even take classes. An added enhancement is that they do it all with their grandparent or favorite adult. Besides sparking an interest in potential future Spartans, the event brings alumni back to campus, providing an intergenerational experience that creates a connection between the participants and MSU.

More than 1,000 participants from 35 states and Canada attended the 2013 Grandparents University. A post-event survey reflected extremely positive reviews.

Kathryn Reed, assistant director of alumni relations and special events in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, invited me to encourage you to be a part of this unique experience by lending your expertise to presenting a session. Many who take part say that participating in Grandparents University is one of their favorite activities. It’s one of those experiences that you’ve heard about – the kind that after it’s over, people overwhelmingly say they get back more than they give.

You’ll also gain professional experience. It’s an opportunity to hone teaching skills and materials, to learn public opinion on the topic you cover and to think about your subject from a different standpoint due to the diversity of the participants.

Last year, Extension educator Laurie Rivetto presented a financial management session and pronounced it “a ton of fun.”

Laurie normally works with youth using the MSU Extension 4-H-created Spartan Dollars and Cents budgeting simulation. The Grandparents University session allowed her to use the simulation with both adults and children.

“Although my target audience is usually youth, this session had the additional outcome that the adults got a lot out of it, too, “said Laurie.

The adults found it challenging in the simulation to have to stick with a limited budget. Many remarked that it helped them to relate to different budget scenarios that others might be grappling with. For example, some found they could not afford to purchase health care insurance within the budget and a discussion took place about the challenges of this arrangement.

Laurie also said that taking part in Grandparents University gave her a different perspective.

“It was neat to be a part of a program that involved so many different departments and units, including Extension, at the University. It was a great team effort,” she said.

This year Extension educator Frank Cox will join Laurie in presenting Spartan Dollars and Sense. They’ll also present the Wonderful World of Work in which the generations will learn from each other about work.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event. Courtesy of Grandparents University.

If you decide to present, you’ll need to target your 90-minute session to the 8- to 12-year-old audience, making sure that what you present is a fun, interactive, hands-on lesson that holds kids’ interest. You don’t have to be limited to the classroom. You can conduct your session in a lab, on the farm or another location. Need more than 90 minutes? You can sign up for two 90-minute sessions, given as Part I and Part II. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Why not just adapt a program or outreach effort you currently teach?

Interested? Contact Kathryn at 355-0284 or at kreed@msu.edu by November 7. (The deadline has recently been extended.) When you do, please let her know the following:

  •  The name of the session leader
  • Session title
  • A short description that can be included in promotional materials (3 to 5 sentences long)
  • The number of people the session can accommodate (Sessions are as small as 10 people and as large as 200. The average is about 25.)
  • The name of the person coordinating
  • If a specific classroom or lab is required
  • If there is a day or time during these three days when the session cannot be led (if known)

Last year, in addition to Laurie, Extension educators Jed Jaworski, Georgia Peterson, Dixie Sandborn and Jessica Wright participated. Charles Gould, Paul Gross, Dennis Pennington and Mark Seamon have participated for years but were unable to present in 2013. These four have already committed for 2014.

Others who have presented in the past include Laura Allen, Bindu Bhakta, Constance Costner, Dale Elsoff, Andrea Grix, Vanessa Holmes, Betsy Knox, LuAnne Kozma, Cyndi Mark, Emily Proctor, Kama Ross, Erica Tobe and Sheila Urban Smith.

By the way, several faculty members on campus have used their Grandparents University sessions in grant applications when an outreach or other similar component is required.

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Staff is right on the money ‒ and the media ‒ during Money Smart Week

Our Michigan State University Extension staff are shaking up the airwaves assisting people with financial issues during Money Smart Week.

A group of our colleagues staffed the phones and talked to about 60 people during the Fox 2 News Detroit morning show April 22 from 6:30 a.m. to noon. Participants included Extension educators Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Crouch, Jean Lakin and Wanda Roberts and Extension program instructors Pam Sarlitto and Khurram Imam.

Jean said, “The problems people called about are far too complicated to solve in a quick conversation. But educators were able to direct people to the correct professionals ‒ housing counselors, attorneys.”

In addition to answering the phones, each staff member appeared on air at least twice to discuss financial management questions with Murray Feldman, Fox 2 News.

Kelly Masters, a consultant who was hired by the Federal Reserve to coordinate Money Smart Week events in the Detroit Metro area, set up the opportunity. People from partner agencies also staffed the phone lines.

In this economy, people need all of the help they can get and that’s where MSU Extension comes in.

Jean said, “Our job isn’t done. Based on the volume of calls, financial issues are definitely something people are struggling with, and we’re here to help people work through those issues.”

In addition, MSU Extension educator Erica Tobe was one of four presenters April 20 at a special live broadcast presentation with WTVS, a Detroit PBS station. The show, presented in a lightning round/game show format to an overflowing audience, educates consumers on protecting, saving, managing and growing their money. It will air July 20 at 8 p.m.

Jean described both of these events as “out-of-the-box ways to promote financial literacy.”

It’s how our colleagues usually perform and the way we get things done – out of the box.

Educators throughout the state are doing similar programming, and I’m afraid to start mentioning them for fear I’ll forget someone. If you’re doing a Money Smart Week activity, please tell us about it in the comments below.

Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that was designed to help consumers manage their personal finances more effectively. It runs April 20–27. Events will take place throughout Metro Detroit, Michigan and the United States.

Listen to this Oakland County podcast on Money Smart Week featuring Wanda Roberts: http://www.oakgov.com/podcast/Pages/Episode.aspx?EpisodeId=194

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Extension staff members win NEAFCS awards, present at conference

Michigan State University Extension staff members won several awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) national conference in Columbus, Ohio, Sept 27. The Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) will recognize the educators at the membership meeting at Fall Extension Conference.

The Health and Nutrition Institute Food Safety Team was first place national winner and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety. The award recognizes outstanding educational programs conducted for families, school nutrition workers, food industry employees or managers, church workers preparing meals, home care providers, and other groups or individuals preparing or serving food.

The MSU Extension Food Safety Team received first place national winner award and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety at the NEAFCS national conference

The MSU Extension Food Safety Team received first place national winner award and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety at the NEAFCS national conference Sept. 27, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: Associate Dean of UNL Extension Kathleen Lodl, MSU Extension staff members Eileen Haraminac, Lisa Treiber, Joyce McGarry, Beth Waitrovich and Jeannie Nichols and NEAFCS President Amy Peterson [not present Christine Venema, Pat Joyce (retired), Jan Seitz (retired)].

 Evaluated on program objectives, program accomplishments, program impact and support materials, the team received a score of 98 out of a possible 100.

Jeannie Nichols led the team that includes Eileen Haraminac, Pat Joyce (retired), Joyce McGarry, Janet Rathke, Jan Seitz (retired), Lisa Treiber, Chris Venema and Beth Waitrovich.

The team applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant allowing them to provide statewide programming in 2011. They taught face-to-face workshops around the state and developed an online training at msue.anr.msu.edu/programs/cottage_food_law.

The workshops and online training taught Michigan residents about the new 2012 Cottage Food Law and the importance of food safety practices when preparing and selling cottage foods in Michigan.

Teresa Clark-Jones led the Financial and Home Ownership Education Team, made up of mostly Greening Michigan Institute members, that took third place in the Central Region for Communications – Internet Education Technology. The award recognizes excellence in Web-based programs or Web pages.

In addition to Teresa, team members include Connie Costner Borg, Dr. Lisa Cook, Kathy Hale, Jean Lakin, Wanda Repke and Erica Tobe.

The team created www.mimoneyhealth.org with education information related to financial literacy for the public to access. On the website, consumers can take the Financial Health Survey, in which each survey participant determines his or her financial health index score and receives resources to help increase the score.

Extension educator Carolyn Penniman won a Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest award presented by the NEAFCS. The award recognizes members for leadership, outstanding program efforts and personal and professional development.

Carolyn has been part of MSU Extension for more than 14 years, providing education in parenting education, food safety, training for foster and adoptive parents, and financial literacy. She’s participated in international Extension training and led the Poverty Reduction Initiative for Charlevoix and Emmet counties. She used a United Way grant to provide two poverty simulation workshops and develop a Money Mentor program.

Besides winning awards, MSU Extension staff members were busy presenting sessions at the conference, lending their expertise to their colleagues. Health and Nutrition Institute Extension educator Suzanne Pishpresented a session at the conference from RELAX: Alternatives to Anger, an anger management program for young people, parents and caregivers.

MSU Extension staff members presented on the Cottage Food Law at the NEAFCS national conference

MSU Extension staff members presented on the Cottage Food Law at the NEAFCS national conference Sept. 27, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: MSU Extension staff members Joyce McGarry, Rita Klavinski, Lisa Treiber, Jeannie Nichols and Beth Waitrovich. Photo credit: Eileen Haraminac.

In addition, Extension educators Joyce McGarry, Jeannie Nichols, Lisa Treiber and Beth Waitrovich of the Food Safety Team presented a session on the Cottage Food Law. Extension educator Rita Klavinski provided technology support at the conference.

Congratulations and thanks to all of our award winners and session presenters!

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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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MSUE’s Greening Michigan Institute Financial Ed Team participates in Michigan Money Summit

In the current economic situation, Michigan residents are struggling to rebuild lost assets and cope with less income. Michigan State University Extension financial education experts are stepping up to the challenge to assist people in dealing with this situation. MSUE offers assistance in many ways, among them financial classes on budgeting, home repair workshops and foreclosure prevention counseling.

 Increased public awareness of MSUE’s role will allow more residents to receive unbiased information and the education needed to aid in their economic recovery. With that in mind, Macomb County MSUE participated in the annual Michigan Money Summit Oct. 9 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts sponsored by WWJ, a major Detroit radio station. Members of the Greening Michigan Institute’s Financial Education Team decided that it was an excellent opportunity to highlight its strong community programs, university research and the new Michigan Money Health website.

Michigan State University Extension participates at WWJ Michigan Money Summit.

Michigan State University Extension participates at WWJ Michigan Money Summit.

 MSUE became an event sponsor at a cost of $4,000 paid through Community Reinvestment Act bank donations. Sponsorship resulted in 20 promotional radio announcements, inclusion on the WWJ Web page and event participation.

MSUE made arrangements for Dr. Lisa D. Cook, Michigan State University assistant professor in the Department of Economics and the James Madison College, to serve on a panel with David Sowerby, chief portfolio manager, Loomis Sayles, LLC, and Ken Ross, commissioner, Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. Dr. Cook presented her research paper, “The Financial and Economic Crises: Implications for Consumer Finance and for Households in Michigan” and took questions from WWJ television and radio talent Murray Feldman and the audience. The presentation and discussion were then played on radio throughout the day. MSUE educators staffed a table and distributed program brochures, flyers and materials to attendees.

Michigan Money summit panelists

David Sowerby, chief portfolio manager, Loomis Sayles, LLC; Dr. Lisa Cook, MSU assistant professor; and Ken Ross, commissioner, Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation; were panelists at the Michigan Money Summit.

MSUE’s participation in the WWJ Michigan Money Summit resulted in a demonstrated link between campus research and the community – a key mission of land-grant universities, higher visibility of MSUE staff members as macro- and micro-economic experts working to improve the financial stability of residents and a funding opportunity for MSUE in the area of statewide investor education. And it also helped me to realize what a great resource we have on campus in the person of Dr. Cook.

 Greening Michigan Institute educators who took part in the summit were Jean Lakin, Anne Lilla, Terry Clark-Jones, Kathe Hale, Connie Costner and Erica Tobe. Thanks to all for helping to move us forward in this high priority even as we continue to develop our plans for new programming in financial literacy!

 The Michigan Money Health website can be found at http://www.mimoneyhealth.com/. The Michigan Money Health Survey is currently at this site. Dr. Cook is continuing to collect data from the site. Staff members may contribute to her research by participating. In a few weeks, the site will also contain financial literacy content.

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NY Times story generates more discussion

I heard from several folks about the story in the New York Times Magazine about Alexandra Reau’s farming enterprise. Alexandra’s mom, Brenda, had contacted me with concerns about how the reporter described Alexandra’s colleagues in the youth farm stand project.  She has shared her thoughts as a comment to the blog story “Kids are the Future – and don’t forget it”. Just go to the bottom of the story and you can find Brenda’s comments there. Erica Tobe also provided some follow-up on the significance of the Prima Civitas Foundation’s investment in youth entrepreneurship and has entered that as a comment at the end of the story as well.  I invite you to make comments (like Tammy McLeod, blogger of Agrigirl did!) in response to Brenda’s or Erica’s comments.

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