Tag Archives: expect to connect

4-H program coordinator attends Expect to Connect workshop and makes a strategic connection

Last year, Jessica Hufford, Michigan State University Extension 4-H program coordinator in Gladwin County, made and built a strategic connection while she attended the Fall Extension Conference (FEC) Expect to Connect workshop and Michigan Capitol visit in Lansing.

During the workshop, Jessica enjoyed learning about the process of government on a more personal basis.

“I learned that we must be very intentional about making those connections with our representatives in government,” Jessica said. “They have a lot of constituents they are responsible to and I can help them to better understand by reaching out and providing them with info.”

Workshop participants were encouraged to try to make an appointment so that they could visit their representatives or senators as part of the tour. When Jessica reached out to Rep. Joel Johnson’s office, his scheduler said that he would not be available during the time frame, but Jessica agreed to meet with his legislative assistant and drop off materials.

When Jessica went to the office, it turned out that Rep. Johnson and his wife were in the office, and Jessica had the opportunity to speak with both of them.

She was able to reconnect with Rep. Johnson at the county fair and also with his wife a few weeks later at another county event.

“The little bit that I can do to inform them on what I am doing to help youth in the county will help them,” Jessica said.

Rep. Johnson is a supporter of the youth in the county and is a long-time buyer at the livestock auction. His support of 4-H has helped to keep Extension programs going in his counties.

This is a great example of how to form strategic connections. Make time to connect with your government leaders in their offices, even if you only have a chance to talk to their legislative assistants. Also, attend community events to keep solidifying your connections.

I hope that Jessica’s story encouraged you about attending the workshop and showed what the beginning of relationships building can look like in your own county and district.

For the second year in a row at FEC, we will be offering the Expect to Connect workshop and Capitol visit. I encourage you to seriously consider attending this workshop to learn tools to embark on making your own strategic connections. Make sure you register for your spot before they are all filled.

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference, strategic connections

Extension educators connect with federal decision-makers in DC

Julie Crick, Jodi Schulz and Holly Tiret traveled to Washington, D.C., the second week of July, to visit with legislators and staff of national agencies and to attend the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) North Central Region session.

Julie, Jodi and Holly shared their Michigan State University (MSU) Extension stories with Reps. Dan Kildee and John Moolenaar, as well as with staff members of Rep. Justin Amash, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters.

Holly Tiret, Jodi Schulz and Julie Crick pose for a picture with Representative Dan Kildee.

Holly Tiret, Jodi Schulz and Julie Crick met with Rep. Dan Kildee. Photo courtesy of Rep. Kildee’s office.

Julie is an MSU Extension educator who specializes in leadership and educational programming expertise in natural resources with a focus on forest stewardship. Jodi serves statewide in areas of youth development and is a 4-H educator. Holly is an Extension educator who focuses on social-emotional health and well-being across the life span.

“We were able to speak about how our own personal passions transfer into the work we do in our areas of specialization and ultimately make an impact on those we program with in communities,” Jodi said.

“We were really focusing on programs we do locally (and) offered statewide,” Holly said. “(We talked) about how we work together to cross program and combine efforts to best meet the communities’ educational needs.”

Julie, Jodi and Holly shared that they felt prepared and empowered by MSU Extension’s encouragement to make strategic connections and because of the Expect to Connect materials on the Organizational Development Team website.

“Many thanks to everyone who worked on those!” Julie said.

During their time in Washington, D.C., they also visited with agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union, the Embassy of Tribal Nations and the Immigration Policy Center.

NELD is a professional development opportunity to strengthen leadership and effectiveness of Extension staff members. Each year, Extension administrators across the country are asked to identify emerging leaders who are working on a critical issue or will be assigned one in the future. These individuals are nominated to participate in the NELD North Central professional development opportunity. NELD hosts four sessions a year. The session in Washington, D.C., focused on leading in a shared-power world.

Holly said that the team took away significant information on themes of leadership from this conference such as the importance of relationship building, believing in yourself and public service, and inspiring your team.

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Filed under Conferences, strategic connections

Expect to Connect: Please send in your stories

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is an organization built upon relationships. With that in mind, we created the strategic connections initiative Expect to Connect. The initiative is built on the premise that every member of our MSU Extension team has responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with legislators, stakeholders and media in his or her community and throughout the state.

Following the momentum of the rollout of the initiative at Fall Extension Conference (FEC), we want to feature your strategic connections success stories in this Spotlight. We want you to tell us about the strategic connections you’ve made, relationships you’ve built and partnerships you’ve developed. We also want to know how these connections have had an impact on your work, on your programming, on the overall organization or on all three. Please send your stories to Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director of operations, at cudney@msu.edu, and encourage your peers to submit theirs. You don’t need to be a professional writer. We’ll help you tell your story. Just send us your story of approximately 250 words, and we can work with you from there.

To kick off the monthly Expect to Connect articles, this first introductory story will focus on the FEC workshop-on-the-move “Developing Strategic Connections” led by Mike Kovacic, MSU Extension outreach specialist. After learning about the Expect to Connect tools on the first day of FEC, participants got a chance to put their knowledge to work in downtown Lansing.

Over 25 MSU Extension staff members had an opportunity to tour the historic state Capitol and meet with lobbyists and legislators to learn more about how MSU Extension voices can be heard in state government. Nancy Vriebel and Scott Jones from Senate Appropriations Chair David Hildenbrand’s office shared insights on the importance of connecting with legislators and other stakeholders on a regular basis.

“We’re here to serve you,” Nancy Vriebel told the group. “We want to hear from you, in your words, how you are working with our constituents.”

The participants were treated to a special visit by Sen. Goeff Hansen along with his policy advisor Peter Wills who discussed key issues and the importance of citizen input as part of the overall policy process. Finally, workshop attendees connected with members of the Michigan House of Representatives to discuss individual programming efforts and the impact MSU Extension has on the lives of constituents.

Two of our colleagues talked about the experience:

“Meeting with legislators was the best part, especially the one-on-one with the representatives serving my work area,” Extension educator Jim Isleib, educator said. “Don’t be intimidated about meeting legislators. They will benefit from knowing you too.”

Extension educator Zelda Felix-Mottley said, “The representatives and senators want to hear from constituents. They are engaging and interested in what you have to say. Our legislators want to put a face to MSU Extension ‒ that’s your face with your Extension story.”

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Filed under Partnerships