Tag Archives: FEC

Upload your photos for Fall Extension Conference

Celebrate your team, event and programming by uploading photos at http://events.anr.msu.edu/FECPhotos/ for our annual Michigan State University Fall Extension Conference. You may submit as many photos as you like of your various teams, programs and activities. For each photo, you’ll be asked for some information (institute, county, event name, names of staff pictured in photo, program focus). If you are submitting photos of programming, please ensure that you have a signed photo release for any individuals in the image, especially if those individuals are youth.

Reach out to your team members and co-workers (everyone wants to know before a photo is posted), find a photo or take a team selfie, take a minute or two and answer the questions and submit, it’s just that easy! Please submit photos by September 1 so we can be sure to include them in the slideshow.

In an organization as large as ours, spread out throughout the state and with new faces every year, we have a great opportunity to get to know each other once a year when we all come together at Fall Extension Conference. In brainstorming ways that we can enhance this time for getting to know each other, we came up with an idea for a silent slide show to showcase our Extension teams and the work you’re doing. We want to feature work teams, districts, clusters, county offices, events, programs ‒ any group of Extension folks coming together. This will allow us to get to know the faces and programs of our educators, associates, instructors and coordinators as well as our county support staff we may not have a chance to meet at the conference.

We hope that this encourages everyone to mix, mingle and take this great opportunity to get to know each other better at this year’s Fall Extension Conference.

Any questions? Contact Betsy Braid at braidbet@anr.msu.edu.

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Filed under Conferences, Fall Extension Conference

Fall Extension Conference: Thanks and congratulations!

Everyone’s talking about this year’s Fall Extension Conference that took place Oct. 13-14 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the campus of Michigan State University. It was chock-full of interesting and educational seminars.

We even had the pleasure of listening to the Michigan State University Drumline perform before the banquet and some got a chance to network with Sparty.

The Michigan State University Drumline performs at the 2015 Fall Extension Conference, Oct. 13, 2015, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Michigan.

The Michigan State University Drumline performs at the 2015 Fall Extension Conference, Oct. 13, 2015, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Michigan. Photo credit: Betty Blase.

Various awards are given out at FEC including the John A. Hannah Award for Program Excellence, the Key Partner Awards, the Epsilon Sigma Phi Friends of Extension Award, the Diversity and Multiculturalism Award, the Gordon Guyer Cross-Institute Team Award, the Innovative Technology Award, the Institute Team Award, the Staff Meritorious Service Awards and the Outstanding Service to MSU Extension Award as well as other notable awards and recognitions of service. Congratulations to all of those worthy recipients! Read about this year’s award winners here.

Sparty (on the left) and Kraig Ehm, MSUE ANR Communications video producer/director

Sparty (on the left) and Kraig Ehm, MSUE ANR Communications video producer/director, flex their muscles at the Fall Extension Conference held at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich., Oct. 13, 2015.

I’d like to acknowledge all of the many people who presented. Please read their biographies here.

Thanks to all those who did preparation behind the scenes and worked during and even after the event to make this a fantastic FEC! You are great!

Zoom videos of the presentations from Tuesday morning and session materials will be posted to the Fall Extension Conference website next week.

Please mark your calendars for the next Fall Extension Conference, October 24-26, 2016.

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference

Action teams are gearing up to work

After the “Building a Colorful Future” presentation at the 2014 Fall Extension Conference, Margaret Bethel, Patrick Cudney and I decided to create three action teams that would convene in 2015. During the postpresentation discussion at the conference and in the months since, Michigan State University Extension staff have made some great suggestions about where the organization could grow. With your help, we’re well on our way toward implementing many of those suggestions. Members of the action teams have been named, and all three teams will have their first meetings in the next few months.

  • Strategic Connections & Communications Team – Patrick Cudney is chairing this team, which will meet February 6. They will determine the best practices for strategic communications for MSU Extension employees, update existing communications tools and develop new ones to help us all build and maintain our strategic connections.
  • Issues Identification Team – Chair Maggie Bethel will convene this team on February 23. They will work to frame the issue identification process that we will use with the district councils in the future. The process will help us pinpoint the issues that are important to the communities we serve and identify how MSU Extension can be involved in addressing them.
  • Team Member Accountability and Performance Feedback Team – Julie Chapin is chairing this team, which will meet in April. They will work to improve our performance review structure and will discuss the role peer feedback should play in those reviews.

We will keep you up to date on the teams’ progress over time. Thank you again to everyone who has provided feedback and support with this process!

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference

Building a colorful future

Back at the 2014 Fall Extension Conference, Margaret Bethel, Patrick Cudney and I laid out plans to improve our organizational culture in Michigan State University Extension. We received the results of the Denison Model, saw where there were weaknesses and asked you all where you thought improvements could be made. Using all of that information, the entire administrative team determined our recommendations for what we should do in the next year to try to reach those goals and add more color to our wheel.

We have already started many of the initiatives we set out to, and some are still in the planning phases. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions and creating smart goals, I thought it would be wise for us to revisit the goals we set at Fall Extension Conference, and see how far we’ve come. I will continue to update this page as we move forward with these initiatives, to help us all keep track of our progress.

Planning Processes

  • An action team is forming to address the issue identification process.

Reporting Processes

  • We won’t scrap the reporting system but will continue to work on simplifying and improving it.


Program Planning

Campus-Field Interaction

  • Specialists with significant assignments with Extension will be expected to be involved on a team.
  • Administration and IDs will continue to visit with faculty and department chairs on engagement opportunities.


  • We will be adding District 14, and counties that are impacted by the change have received communications about the district realignment.
  • District coordinator position for District 14 – The position has been posted and closes Jan. 11.
  • Internship program for district coordinators – The application information was sent out on Jan. 6; applications are due Jan. 19.
  • An action team has been formed to develop MSU Extension strategic connections and communications plans. We received a strong response following fall conference, and the committee convenes for their first working meeting on Feb. 6. Learn about some of the resources we already have to support your strategic communications.


Performance Evaluation

  • An action team is being formed to look at issues of accountability and effective strategies for providing team feedback on individual performance reviews.

The action teams listed above had a huge turnout rate, and the chairs of those teams are already starting to get their teams together to come up with solutions to these important issues. We will continue to update you all on the progress we are making during the next year, and hope that you will continue to be involved in building a more colorful future. Happy New Year!

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Filed under Colorful Future, Fall Extension Conference

Including a local initiative in your plan of work

At the 2014 Michigan State University Extension Fall Extension Conference, we introduced the concept of including a local initiative in an educator’s plan of work. This would allow the opportunity to respond to or address a programming topic or issue that:

  1. The educator has expertise in or has knowledge and skills in that he or she would like to further develop but it may not be a priority in the work team plan or,
  2. Is a local programmatic need that is not directly being addressed in a work team plan, and
  3. Provides time to respond to local needs, or develops local strategic relationships and constituent interactions.

These types of initiative are an excellent way for Extension educators to engage in local programming in the county where they are housed to demonstrate the value of Extension to the local community and bring visibility to the work of MSU Extension staff.

As expected, this topic has created a lot of interest across the state. We want to take this opportunity to continue to clarify the intent of the local initiative option in individual plans.

The expectation is that staff will reserve 80 to 100 percent of their programming time for planned activities in conjunction with their institute and team(s) and corresponding plans. Up to 20 percent is available to use in planning for individual local initiatives. Prior to developing a plan for the individual local initiative, it is expected that staff will have a discussion with their institute director (ID) and the appropriate district coordinator (DC) to ensure the proposed initiative aligns with the overall mission of MSU Extension and is in alignment with the individual’s identified role in the organization. Some key points to keep in mind when considering a local initiative for your plan are:

  • The proposed initiative must be in alignment with the overall mission of MSU Extension.
  • Plans and initiatives must be discussed with and approved by the institute director and the district coordinator. If you are not sure where to begin and need ideas, remember DCs are an excellent resource due to their local vantage points. They can provide suggestions to you for initiatives that are in need of addressing.
  • Staff is expected and will be responsible to report at the end of the year what they accomplished with this allocation of time.

We will continue to work toward full implementation of this concept of plan of work flexibility between team and local program planning for our next cycle of plan development. In the meantime, if you have an opportunity you would like to pursue during this program year or find you need to alter your plan to give attention to an important local issue, please do not hesitate to discuss this with your ID or DC. Please send any questions you might have to your DC or ID and we will put together an FAQ to update and share periodically in this Spotlight or a webinar. We will also work toward a full set of guidelines to include in next year’s plan of work instructions.

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Filed under Conferences, Fall Extension Conference

Districts are changing and MSU Extension educators take charge

As we talked about at this year’s Fall Extension Conference and earlier this week on the director’s webinar, Michigan State University Extension will be creating a new district in northern Michigan in early 2015. Districts 3 and 4 will be split to create District 14. District 3 will consist of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Manistee counties. District 14 will consist of Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Montmorency, Otsego and Presque Isle counties, and District 4 will be made up of Alcona, Arenac, Crawford, Iosco, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Roscommon counties.

The job for the new coordinator for district 14 has been posted, and details can be found on the Michigan State University Job Portal (number 0549).

In addition, we have multiple interim district coordinators who have started their positions in the past few months to deal with shifting responsibilities within the organization.

As of Oct. 1, Richard Wooten is interim district coordinator for District 11, which includes Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Richard most recently served as an MSU Extension educator focusing on land use planning and urban development and revitalization. He was involved with the government and public policy work group of MSU Extension and also previously served as the MSU Extension ombudsman. He brings years of experience and will serve alongside Marie Ruemenapp and newly appointed intern district coordinator Edward Scott, who will continue his role as an Extension educator while serving part-time as intern district coordinator.

In District 3, Jennifer Berkey has been named the interim coordinator. She assumed the role of managing Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Manistee counties on Oct. 1 to replace Patrick Cudney, who was named MSU Extension associate director of operations. Jennifer was most recently an MSU Extension educator focusing on food safety, nutrition and physical activity.

And last but not least, Julie Pioch has been named interim district coordinator for district 13, which consists of Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties. Pioch assumed the role Nov. 3 after two decades of experience with MSU Extension. She replaces Ginger Hentz, who will retire at the end of 2014. Julie was most recently an MSU Extension educator focusing on land use planning, government/public policy, and leadership and community development. In her 20-year career with MSU Extension, she has worked in multiple areas, including community and economic development, natural resources, food systems and entrepreneur development.

We are very excited about all of the individuals who have stepped up to help us coordinate our outreach efforts in these three districts, as well as the individual that will take on district 14 in the upcoming year. Congratulations!

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Filed under Accomplishments

Telling your Extension story

Last week, we talked about your “Home Team” and the importance of having a connected team at the county level. We stressed meeting regularly for discussion and sharing about your work and issues of common importance. This week, I want to give you a local agenda item for your next (or perhaps, first) meeting.

Do you as a staff have at least three strong stories (at any point in time) that really explain the value that Michigan State University Extension brings to the local county? These stories should not just tell about a program and the number of people who attended it, but should reflect ongoing work within the community to address a particular issue or concern. How did research-based information make a difference? What role did MSU Extension play in facilitating a process of identifying the issue, bringing people together, gathering information and encouraging action? Can you document the impact? These stories may have been part of the county report the district coordinator shared or will share in the future, but they are also important to have handy as examples when talking with policymakers at the state and federal level, the media and more.

Identifying such stories should be a regular part of staff meetings. Update these stories frequently to keep them fresh, and be sure you can represent the entire Extension program portfolio from the county you are based in. Show commissioners in your county you are grateful for the base funding they provide MSU Extension for supporting your operating budgets, your space and more. They are very important partners to us! These are strategic connections we all need to make!

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference