Tag Archives: fred poston

What’s happening with ‘What’s Now? What’s Next?’

As you know, a series of open forum-style meetings known as “What’s Now? What’s Next?” took place across the state. The meetings provided the people of Michigan a chance to talk to the leadership of the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dean Fred Poston, associate dean and director of academic affairs Kelly Millenbah, director of AgBioResearch Doug Buhler and Extension director Tom Coon hosted 14 meetings, spoke with nearly 500 people and traveled more than 1,400 miles, answering questions on various issues brought up by those in attendance. They listened carefully to their thoughts and concerns. It was a chance to answer questions and clear up some misconceptions about changes implemented as a result of budget cuts. Those questions and misconceptions were answered and explained on the spot. People have been asking me if the input gathered at those meetings will be used in the process of gathering stakeholder input. Yes, it already is being used as the thoughts, ideas and suggestions from the attending audiences have been part of an ongoing gathering of stakeholder input and will also be a valued part of any additional stakeholder input work done moving forward. I have begun to review the input from those sessions.

A wrap-up article was created and sent to all participants that provided an email address. We’ve posted the article to this link: http://www.canr.msu.edu/news/canr_leadership_wraps_up_state_tour

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ANR Week and ANR Week luncheon have lots to offer

Mark your calendars for Agriculture and Natural Resources Week (ANR) Week scheduled for March 1‒8. The event offers a wide variety of conferences and workshops. Some are still open for registration. Click here to check out a list of programs by subject area. Then click on each individual event to find out registration information.

On March 4, as part of ANR Week, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) invites you to attend the ANR Week Luncheon. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Fred Poston, dean of the CANR, will speak. Worthy recipients will be honored with the following awards: Distinguished Service, Outstanding Agriculture Educator, Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad, Distinguished Faculty, Alumni Service, Outstanding Young Alumnus and Outstanding Alumnus.

The luncheon takes place at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s not too late to register but hurry – the last day to register online is Feb. 28.

Register at http://events.anr.msu.edu/ANRWeekLuncheon14/

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Year’s end points to a promising 2014

When we mark our time in years, it seems as inappropriately scaled as documenting nutrition in units of feasts. Normally we don’t sit down to a meal with several varieties of meats, three different vegetable dishes and salads, four starches, and a smorgasbord of deserts. But that’s what many families have done over this holiday season. Compared with a holiday feast, the cold lunch we take to work on a Monday morning seems like an insignificant morsel, hardly worth considering. Yet by Monday noon, that morsel seems pretty important and filling. And by Monday afternoon, having consumed that meager lunch, we’re able to focus on whatever is important in our work life instead of being distracted by a growling stomach.

At the end of a year, the work that has happened over the course of the year, the events we’ve experienced, the insights we’ve gained, and the goals we’ve achieved are as overwhelming in reflection as the lingering effects of a holiday feast at bedtime. Rather than struggle to document the fullness of 2013, I’d like to select three memories that characterize the year for me. And just as memories of a delicious ham or those homemade noodles promise some fantastic meal creations from leftovers, these three memories give me reason to anticipate some outstanding opportunities for Michigan State University Extension in the New Year.

So among all that happened in 2013, I’d like to highlight these three events:

What’s Now? What’s Next?  Dean Fred Poston decided early on in his second tenure as Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), that it would be beneficial for the college and for our stakeholders to hold a series of town hall events around the state. As he opened each of the 13 sessions we held, he explained that having come through a tough time of budget reductions, restructuring and leadership changes, it was important for the college leaders to reconnect with people across the state who care about the role of the CANR in Michigan’s future. Dean Poston asked Senior Associate Dean and Director of MSU AgBioResearch Doug Buhler, CANR Associate Dean Kelly Millenbah, and me, as Director of MSU Extension to join him on a panel that would respond to questions and suggestions from people who attended these sessions.

There’s a great deal for us to learn from the What’s Now? What’s Next? (WNWN) sessions, and I’m sure Dean Poston will be communicating some of those insights in the new year. For me, the most striking message from these sessions was the simple fact that they happened.  In MSU Extension, we’re accustomed to the idea that university leaders should be engaged with the public and seek out public thoughts on our mission and how we carry out our mission.  And in the CANR, that’s a common understanding as well.  Yet at each event, participants consistently voiced their gratitude that we cared enough about what they thought to ask them to meet with us and to share their thoughts, frustrations, and appreciation for the work of MSU and the CANR.  When you hear people express gratitude for showing them respect, it’s clear to me that they haven’t always felt that respect from us. It also tells me that they acknowledge that this isn’t something that they expect to experience from other institutions of higher education in the state.

For the year 2014, the lesson of WNWN is that we must continue to engage with the people we serve, asking for their thoughts on needs and priorities, and sharing with them how we’ve succeeded and how we may have fallen short in our expectations. One way that we will show respect to the people we serve is by asking them to celebrate the Centennial of the Smith-Lever Act by sharing their stories with us, stories that tell of their lives, challenges and successes, and in their telling, shed some light on MSU Extension as well.

2. 21st Century Extension Professional. During Fall Extension Conference, we were fortunate to hear from Dr. Chuck Hibberd, Dean of Extension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who described a study he led on what skills and attributes will be needed for effective Cooperative Extension Professionals in the 21st Century. I know some of the participants in the conference thought we had erred by asking Dr. Hibberd to address the full conference, reasoning that most people are NOT involved in selecting candidates for open positions. But the lessons of the study go well beyond decisions we make about whom to hire, and extend to include our current colleagues. It is as helpful to ask the question “how well do our skill sets match these needs today” as it is to ask how we can recruit new employees with those skills.

For me, the greatest insight from the 21st Century Extension Professional study was in reflecting on what makes an Extension professional unique.  When you take all of the skills and attributes that were identified as being of greatest importance in the study, I still think you can summarize them in two traits of Extension professionals that I admire and that motivate me every day:  First, effective Extension professionals are innately curious, motivated to learn more about anything they encounter, and especially those topics related to their area of expertise.  Their curiosity positions them well to remain up to date in their subject, and to incorporate new scientific findings as they develop.  Second, effective Extension professionals are compelled to teach. There is an inner desire among Extension professionals to explain things to people.  Put them in a group where someone asks a question, and an Extension professional will be quick to offer an explanation or to engage someone in the group who has insights into the question to get their explanation out for all to learn.

In looking ahead for 2014, one of our great opportunities will be to ask how we can better serve our staff and faculty with professional development opportunities that will stretch their skill sets, increase their effectiveness, and ultimately feed those twin motivations of curiosity and pedagogy that help each of us to succeed.

3. An honoring ceremony for retired Congressman Dale Kildee. Following the closing session of Fall Extension Conference in October, I drove to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, where I had been invited to attend a ceremony held by the United Tribes of Michigan (UTM). The previous night we had honored Frank Ettawageshik, Executive Director of UTM with the prestigious Friend of Extension award from the Michigan Alpha Psi Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi in recognition of Frank’s support for our Building Strong Sovereign Nations program, and his leadership on the board of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy.

At the honoring ceremony in Mt. Pleasant, Frank was the first of many tribal leaders from Michigan who spoke of the contributions of Congressman Kildee on behalf of the sovereign rights of tribal members. Congressman Kildee became known in the Michigan Legislature and in the U.S. Congress as an expert and advocate for the rights of American Indian tribes within Michigan and the United States. It was a moving event to hear so many tribal leaders speak of his importance to the advances made in governance and economic development in Michigan’s tribes over the past 37 years.

What struck me most that night was to hear each leader speak to the value of the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver (MITW), a right established by legislation then-Michigan House member Kildee framed in the 1970’s and then led its passage in 1976. The MITW is “a program enacted by Public Act 174 of 1976, which waives the tuition costs for eligible Native Americans in public community colleges or universities within Michigan.”  Based on the high percentage of leaders in the ceremony who had used this benefit to achieve their own higher education goals, and given the success of tribal governments in creating new economic opportunities in their communities over the past 37 years, it seems clear that this single act of legislation has contributed greatly to enhanced prosperity for tribal members in Michigan.

I witnessed further evidence of tribal growth and transformation in a conference held in East Lansing in March, titled “A conversation about Michigan Indian Education and Michigan State University.”  Several of our MSU Extension colleagues participated in this conference, including Emily Proctor, Barb Smutek, and Dionardo Pizaña. Many of the participants in this conference were from a younger generation than those involved in the honoring ceremony for Congressman Kildee. Yet the impact of educational opportunity on the development of leadership among tribal communities was powerfully evident in the conversations that ensued at the conference.

Our popular culture sends mixed messages about the traditions and future of the descendants of North America’s native peoples. It’s difficult to find the positive outlook and promising future in our media that these two events showcased for me.  If you ever need a strong dose of hope for humanity and our country’s future, connecting with leaders in Michigan’s tribal communities will give you all you need.

For 2014, we have some great opportunities to build on programming that Emily, Barb, Dionardo, and other MSU Extension colleagues have pioneered with Michigan’s tribal communities.  Whether it is the workshops these three led on doing the work of Extension in tribal communities (they promise more in 2014), or programming partnerships with tribal governments in health and nutrition, tribal governance, and community food systems, we have tremendous opportunities to contribute further to the growth and development of Michigan’s tribal communities. And as we build on these opportunities, we will also challenge ourselves to address needs in other ethnically- and racially-distinct communities that have not been served as well by public institutions in the past. That challenge builds on the themes that have emerged from the What’s Now? What’s Next? town hall meetings and gives us tremendous opportunities to grow into the skills we all need to be effective Extension professionals in the 21st Century.

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Agriculture Hall rededicated as Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture

On August 29, we had a large turnout of people for the rededication of Agriculture Hall as the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture. As I wrote in a previous Spotlight, the original Morrill Hall (named “Women’s Dormitory” when first built, and named Morrill Hall only in 1937) was recently torn down due to its deteriorating condition.

The renaming allows the name of Morrill to continue to be honored. Justin Smith Morrill was a U.S. Representative and then Senator who sponsored the Morrill Act, commonly known as the Land Grant Act, which established federal funding for public colleges and universities. Senator Morrill had a vision of providing education to working class families. Michigan State University is the pioneer land-grant institution, becoming a land-grant institution shortly after President Lincoln signed the act into law in 1862. You can view a replica of the act on display in the Kellogg Center on campus.

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 expanded the Morrill Act, creating a system in which the land-grant universities oversee our nationwide Extension system. Therefore, we are indebted to Justin Morrill for both the university and our MSU Extension organization.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon spoke to the crowd of about 150 that included current and former faculty and staff members and graduates of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). Included were about 40 members of the Morrill family who each received a brick of the original Morrill Hall engraved with the date of the dedication ceremony of the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture. Several lucky attendees won a raffle to receive commemorative bricks.

President Simon, CANR Dean Fred Poston and members of the Morrill family took part in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

If you walk past the original Morrill Hall site, you can’t help being surprised by the empty space where once stood a stately structure. President Simon announced that MSU will complete the construction of a plaza on the site, and the plaza will be named Morrill Plaza.

Read more here.

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What’s Now? What’s Next?

Following Gov. Rick Snyder’s speech at Ag Expo July 16, the first session in the statewide series “What’s Now? What’s Next?” took place. In this town-hall-style event, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) dean Fred Poston, AgBioResearch director Doug Buhler, associate dean and director of academic and student affairs for the CANR Kelly Millenbah and I will connect with folks across Michigan to hear from them about how the CANR, AgBioResearch and Michigan State University Extension can move Michigan forward through research, education and outreach.

Visit the What’s Now? What’s Next? Web page for a list of dates and locations. Click on an event to register. Registration is requested but not required. I’ve had a number of MSU Extension colleagues ask if it is appropriate for them to attend these sessions. It’s certainly not required for MSUE staff to attend, but the meetings are open to all and I would encourage those who are interested to participate. Dean Poston will be a speaker at Fall Extension Conference, but you are likely to hear more about what is happening in the academic programs and research of the CANR at the What’s Now? What’s Next? sessions.

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If the name fits …

If you work on campus or have visited lately, you may have seen workers busy tearing down Morrill Hall on West Circle Drive. I’ve heard a variety of reactions to the process, from those who wax nostalgic about the passing of an era to those who see it as the removal of an embarrassing eyesore. I thought this reflective piece by Lindsay VanHulle in the Lansing State Journal captured the mixed feelings particularly well and from an alumna’s perspective.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 10, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Even though the building that originally served as a women’s residence hall will be gone, the name of Morrill will continue to be honored. In April, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees voted to rename our own Agriculture Hall the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture.

Justin Smith Morrill was a U.S. representative and U.S. senator from Vermont from the 1850s to the 1890s. We remember him most for the Morrill Act, commonly known as the Land Grant Act, which established federal funding for public colleges and universities. President Abraham Lincoln signed the act into law on July 2, 1862. You can find a replica of the original act framed on the wall outside the auditorium at the MSU Kellogg Center.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 10, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Senator Morrill’s vision of an institution of higher education dedicated to the sons (and daughters) of working class families, one that made the most recent advances in science available to farmers, families and laborers who could put those advances to work, sounded a great deal like the vision that created Michigan Agricultural College seven years earlier in East Lansing, Michigan. For that reason, we consider MSU as the “pioneer” land-grant institution, and it became Michigan’s land-grant institution shortly after President Lincoln signed the legislation.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 11, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Today, two more institutions in the state are part of the land-grant system, including Bay Mills Community College and Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, each established by their respective tribal sponsors, and incorporated into the land-grant system through a 1994 amendment to the Morrill Act.

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 expanded the Morrill Act, creating a nationwide Extension system overseen by the land-grant universities. Thus, the new name fits the Extension mission well. I know other Extension professionals across the country will recognize the connection between MSU Extension and Senator Morrill when they see my address.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 12, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston asks that we begin using the new building name immediately in all communications. However, you may continue to use any existing hard copy business cards, letterhead, stationery or envelopes with the current Agriculture Hall address until April 30, 2014.

A dedication will take place August 29 in the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture atrium.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 12, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.


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Breakfast on the Farm once again a hit

The first Breakfast on the Farm of the season boasted a record attendance of more than 3,000 June 15 at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, St. Clair County.

A Breakfast on the Farm attendee at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich., June 15, 2013.

A Breakfast on the Farm attendee gets up close and personal at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich., June 15, 2013. Photo credit: Nancy Thelen

Attendees enjoyed a pancake breakfast and self-guided farm tours. They also saw how the farm uses solar energy to supply electricity to the barns.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston and his wife, Charlotte, attended and enjoyed visiting with our Michigan State University Extension staff and spouses.

(Left to right) MSU CANR Dean Fred Poston, Charlotte Poston, MSU Extension staff members Jeannine Schweihofer and Ashley Kuschel enjoy Breakfast on the Farm June 15, 2013.

(Left to right) MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston, Charlotte Poston, MSU meat quality Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer and MSU Extension Breakfast on the Farm program coordinator Ashley Kuschel enjoy Breakfast on the Farm June 15, 2013, at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich. Photo credit: Ted Ferris.

More than a dozen Extension educators and staff members assisted during the event. Thanks to all who made it a great event! I look forward to attending the next one on July 13 in Ottawa County.

Find a Breakfast on the Farm near you at http://www.breakfastonthefarm.com/find_a_breakfast

The Great Lakes Edition of the Times Herald featured an article on the event. A video includes farm owners Jim and Pam Reid and Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer. Read the article and view the video here.

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CANR faculty and staff awards and achievements recognized

Fred Poston, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, hosted a reception on March 27 to recognize the many accomplishments and awards of CANR faculty and staff.

Michigan State University Extension staff members Anne Brooks, office assistant for MSU Extension on campus, and Debbie Clark, secretary in the Genesee County MSU Extension office, both received Outstanding Staff Awards from the CANR Staff Advisory Committee.

Gary Powell, weed science research assistant in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, also received the Outstanding Staff Award.

The CANR Outstanding Team Award went to the office professionals team in the Department of Entomology, including Linda Gallagher, Heather Lenartson-Kluge, Carolyn Devereaux, Brooke Gallagher, Courtneay Smith, Janet Eschbach and Barbara Stinnett.

You can read more about these award winners and review the list of awards, recognitions and milestones in the event program. The CANR Staff Advisory Committee sponsors the event.

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New CANR dean takes the helm

Just two days ago, Dr. Fred Poston began his appointment as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dr. Poston is no stranger to the role. He served as dean previously from 1991 to 1998. During that time, he advanced many changes, among them the creation of Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs) and the development of the Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management (PERM). He also guided the Revitalization of Animal Agriculture in Michigan Initiative (AAI).

Prior to stepping once again into the office of dean, Dr. Poston served as Michigan State University’s vice president for finance and operations.

As dean, Dr. Poston replaces interim dean Doug Buhler.

I’d like to thank Dr. Buhler for his steady leadership during a time of considerable challenges to our college and to Michigan State University Extension. Doug did a great job of building trust among faculty, academic staff, administrators and support staff. He helped to create a sense of optimism and directed us all to look forward to opportunities rather than to look back at challenges we had faced. And although he came to the interim dean role with considerable respect and appreciation for our mission in MSU Extension, I think it’s safe to say his appreciation grew even more during his tenure as interim dean.

And I’m honored to welcome Dr. Poston back to a role that he filled very well in the past and that has changed considerably since he left Agriculture Hall. He has changed as well – he comes to us as a vice president, and although the title does not come with him, the presence and experience that he had as vice president DOES come with him. The insights he has gained from that experience and the influence he had in that role will serve us extremely well in the months and years ahead.

For more on Dr. Poston, read his biography.

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Welcome to the new director of ANR Communications

Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications has a new director as of Dec. 10. Doug Brinklow comes to the role with more than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. He has held leadership roles at Dow Chemical with responsibilities in media, publications, brand strategy, product communications, advertising, marketing, video publications and social media. Recently, he was director of global marketing and communication and corporate advertising for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and communication advisor to the president of ADM’s global corn processing business.

Doug is coming home, so to speak, as he obtained his bachelor’s degree here at Michigan State University in agriculture and natural resources communications.

Doug is very excited about returning to his alma mater.

“I half expect the theme to ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ to break out when I walk the halls of the Ag building. I have nothing but great memories about my time here and now I get a chance to help keep everything moving forward for the university, college, MSU Extension and AgBioResearch. How cool is that?” Doug said.

He’s looking forward to working with staff and merging his corporate experiences within the university framework.

Doug said, “The people I’ve met during the interview process are great. So I feel like I’m starting out with a fine team in place. I will really enjoy learning more about the differences and similarities between the corporate world and business side of the academic world. I know I will be able to bring a fresh creative perspective to our objectives here, and I’m ready to dig in and start climbing the new-job learning curve. I’m energized and ready to go.”

With the departure of former ANR Communications director Ruth Borger in November 2011, Kris Hynes, senior associate to the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, generously took on the role of interim ANR Communications director. We appreciate Kris’ guidance and leadership during this past year.

As you may know, ANR Communications is now part of MSU Extension. I’ll be working closely with Doug in his role as we both work closely with CANR Dean Fred Poston and MSU AgBioResearch Director Steve Pueppke to get the word out to our stakeholders and the public about the difference our work makes in the lives of Michigan residents and communities.

Thank you, Kris, and welcome, Doug!

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