Tag Archives: gail innis

Let’s talk about gratitude

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I wanted to take a moment to share some great Michigan State University (MSU) Extension resources on gratitude.

Pumpkins in a field.

Photo by tinah at Morguefile.com.


Health and nutrition educator Shannon Lindquist writes that people who practice gratitude are more proactive in taking care of their physical and mental health, exercise on a regular basis, make healthy food choices, make and keep yearly health appointments, develop positive coping methods for stress, and have a sense of happiness and optimism. Those sound like great benefits to me.

What are ways that we can show gratitude? Children and youth educator Makena Schultz lists seven ways to practice gratitude in her article “‘Tis the Season of Giving Thanks: Why Gratitude Is Important in Leadership.” She describes creating a gratitude letter, a gratitude list or journal, or a gratitude jar; engaging with a gratitude partner or in grateful contemplation; and making a gratitude visit to a deserving person. Learn more about leadership and gratitude by reading her article.

Photo of a table set with Thanksgiving dinner: squash, mashed potatos, ham, desert and flowers.

Photo by earl53 at Morgueufile.com.

Health and nutrition educator Tracie Abram encourages people to “slow down and notice the foods you are eating and how your body communicates and reacts to the food.” She also shares to “cultivate gratitude for the simple things and you will see more positives. You can be that person who helps create a joyful food memory for another by sharing your love for food and a grateful attitude.” She shares more about how to cultivate a food gratitude attitude in her article “Cultivate a Food Gratitude Attitude.”

Mother a daughter sit and look at pond.

Photo by Scott Liddle at Morguefile.com

Gail Innis, health and nutrition educator, shares the importance of modeling thankfulness and gratitude with your children. Gail encourages us to discuss with our kids the gifts that they received from a family member and have them draw a picture or write a note to thank them. Make a phone call to a long-distance relative with your child to say thank you. Volunteer with your children in local charitable events. Tell and read stories about generous people, characters or events. Take time each day to talk about at least one thing you each are grateful for. Gail includes more in her article about teaching an attitude of gratitude to young children.

I am grateful for my wife; my daughters; my dog, Cocoa; and our home in the U.P. I’m also grateful to work with all of you to further the mission of MSU Extension and the opportunity to make a difference in Michigan. What are you thankful for? Let’s remember as we continue forward in the month all the blessings we have in our lives.

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Filed under Health and Nutrition, Social and emotional health

MSU Extension association reps attend Public Issues Leadership Development Conference

Each year, our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension associations choose a representative to attend the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference held in Washington, D.C. This year, April 10 through April 13, a large Extension crew attended. MSU Extension educators Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and me.

On Monday, we took part in several sessions focused on the conference theme ‒ Innovation: The Story of Extension. One thought that I really want to share is that MSU Extension is an agency that helps people across the lifespan from the cradle to the grave. We have an impact on our communities and our neighbors throughout their lives. It is such a powerful imprint that we are privileged to impart. Through our work, we as individuals and as an organization leave our legacies in the communities that we serve.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet with our senators and congressional representatives, and their staff members and thank them for their continuing support of MSU Extension. MSU Extension receives federal funding through the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 that established the Cooperative Extension Service, and every year we say, “thank you,” and share the great work that we do because of their investment.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler, Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Gary Peters.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Gary Peters.

A final important highlight for me personally was the opportunity to get to know my MSU Extension colleagues and learn about the work that you’re doing and the outstanding impact that you’re making. In a world where we’re wearing so many hats and sometimes only see the faces of those we share offices with, it is so important to have opportunities to meet each other and get to know each other from all over the state.


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Filed under Conferences, strategic connections

Strategic Connections in Saginaw – Maria Millet

This is the second in our series of articles about how our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension colleagues are connecting with stakeholders, if you have a story that you’d like to share, send an email to Katie Nicpon at freykath@anr.msu.edu. We hope these stories will honor the efforts you are making, encourage you, and give you ideas on the strategic partnerships and connections that are in your area.

This month, I’d like to highlight the strategic connections and partnerships that MSU Extension program assistant Maria Millet is making in Saginaw County. Maria took on MSU Extension’s Early Childhood program and implemented the new 8-week parent workshop Building Early Emotional Skills (BEES). MSU Extension educator Gail Innis shared that Maria had a plan for making new contacts, rebuilding existing partnerships and staying open to possibilities. In the past year, she has developed relationships with multiple individuals and agencies that are helping unite Extension’s BEES program with interested participants.

Because of Maria’s efforts, agencies such as Early Head Start and Head Start offered space for Building Early Emotional Skills classes. Health Delivery Inc., the Saginaw Housing Commission and the Housing Resource Center are recruiting participants for upcoming classes they will be hosting together.

The Commission on Aging partners with Maria and MSU Extension. They agreed to aid BEES by providing supervised activities for the children of parents who are attending the series. Maria partners with Foster Grandparents, and individuals over the age of 55 who qualify are eligible to provide supervision for the children.

Maria also built a unique partnership with Dawn of a New Day. This local coffee shop provides catering services weekly for one of Maria’s parenting series. Dawn of a New Day also provided a connection that allowed her to bring WNEM TV 5 to MSU Extension on the day of the program’s open house. The local TV coverage allowed them to air on the morning show about every 15 minutes over a 2-hour period.

From agencies partnering to provide space and recruit participants, to catering and TV spotlight, Maria’s strategic connection building has caused the BEES program to flourish.

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Filed under Accomplishments, Children and Youth, Parenting, Partnerships, strategic connections

MSU Extension staff members receive NEAFCS awards

Many of our fellow Michigan State University Extension colleagues received awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual session Nov. 5 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Individual awards:

Joyce McGarry won a Continued Excellence Award, which goes to an NEAFCS member of at least 12 years. It recognizes active involvement in professional improvement programs, promotion of professional development and leadership. This is the highest honor awarded to NEAFCS members. Joyce has worked for MSU Extension for 17 years, concentrating in the areas of nutrition and food safety programming. She supervises nutrition staff in seven counties and provides leadership as co-chair of the Nutrition Physical Activity Work Team in the Health and Nutrition Institute.

Gail Innis and Brenda Long both won Michigan and National Distinguished Service awards. The award is given to members of 10 years or more. It recognizes Extension family and consumer science educators for leadership, outstanding programs, and personal and professional growth. Gail began working for MSU Extension as a program associate in 1991. She describes her current position as educator in both the Children and Youth Institute and the Health and Nutrition Institute as “the best of both worlds” where she can draw on the resources of both to serve families across the lifespan. Brenda is a senior Extension educator and has been based in Ionia County since 2002. Her programming focuses on health, financial capacity and homeownership education.

Brenda also received two national awards for health insurance education, collaborating with eleven state partners. She took third place for the Florence Hall Award, which recognizes NEAFCS members who have been alert in recognizing emerging issues or new concerns and interests of families or individuals and have planned and implemented programs that benefit families or individuals. She took first place for the Marketing Package Award for an outstanding marketing package promoting a program pertinent to family and consumer sciences issues.

Lisa Treiber won a national and Michigan Clean and Healthy Families and Communities Award. The award honors outstanding educational programming efforts that utilize any of the American Cleaning Institute’s educational materials in the areas of food safety, emergency preparedness or response, safe and effective use of cleaning products, and others.

Team awards:

Teresa Clark-Jones, Gail Innis, Carolyn Penniman, Suzanne Pish and Holly Tiret took third place nationally and second place regionally and in Michigan for the Early Childhood Child Care Training Award for the “RELAX: Alternatives to Anger for Parents and Caregivers Workshop.” The award recognizes outstanding childcare professional training that addresses the needs of young children. Over 600 participants have taken this workshop throughout Michigan and in West Virginia and Texas.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Bill Hendrian, Jean Lakin, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Pam Sarlitto, Beth Waitrovich, Chris Venema, (all NEAFCS Members), Jim Buxton, Moses Cantu, Angela Miles Griffin, Lauren Hale, Khurram Imam, Sharon Jeffery, Scott Matteson, Vivian Washington and Rob Weber (all non-MEAFCS Members) won a national, regional and Michigan Extension Housing Outreach Award for “Michigan State University Extension Housing Programs 2013-14.” The award recognizes programming that enhances housing outreach to communities and special needs families.

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Filed under Awards

Study while you work: Colleagues who can do it all

Fifteen Michigan State University Extension academic staff members have made use of the tuition assistance program initiated in 2007 to help them complete a master’s degree while working for MSU Extension. In October 2006, MSUE changed the criteria for employment as an MSUE academic staff member (educator, specialist or program leader) to include a minimum educational requirement of a master’s degree. Staff members already employed by MSUE who did not have a master’s degree were not required to complete a degree, but MSUE initiated a tuition benefit program for those who decided they did want to complete a master’s degree while working full time for MSUE. Staff members are free to choose any accredited institution and graduate program that aligns with their role with MSUE, and many have found online or hybrid online and face-to-face programs that adapted to their work and family responsibilities. The first graduates completed their degrees in 2009, and we still have colleagues making use of the program. Listed below are those taking part in the program, grouped by the year in which they have or will complete degrees:

2009: Lisa Bottomley, Kendra Moyses, Jodi Schulz

2010: Beth Clawson, Diane Smith, Donna Turner, Janice Zerbe

2011: Laura Anderson, Eileen Haraminac, Rebecca Henne, Gail Innis, Stephanie Marino, Jackelyn Martin

2012: Janis Brinn, Kendra Wills

For more information on the tuition benefit program, please contact MSUE HR manager Nancy Axtell. You can find more information on the program in our administrative handbook at http://www.msue.msu.edu/objects/content_revision/download.cfm/revision_id.595847/workspace_id.282708/Tuition%20Asst%20Procedures_01_2011.doc/

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Filed under professional development

1st MSUE cohort in human development and family studies graduates

The first cohort of Michigan State University Extension staff members to graduate together with Master of Science degrees in human development and family studies: community services attended a reception for graduates at Cowles House April 26 at the invitation of President LouAnna K. Simon. This was the first time MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) offered this degree targeted at MSUE staff. Previous participants in this online degree program from MSUE completed as individual students without the benefit of the cohort experience.

 As a cohort, the women started as a group and finished together, connecting during the learning process through face-to-face and online meetings, and phone conferences.

 Said Extension educator Becky Henne, “I truly enjoyed the experience that much more because of the cohort design.”

 The group made the commitment to work hard to get their master’s degrees while working full time, and they did it in an area that will have great benefit to MSUE and the Children and Youth Institute. I’m told they did some pretty incredible work for their capstone projects that will bring great benefits back to our organization.

 The group included eight members: Laura Anderson, Kristina Bowers (former MSUE student intern), Andrea Caron, Eileen Haraminac, Becky Henne, Gail Innis, Lisa Myers and Michelle Warczinsky.

MSUE cohort graduates with Dr. Simon

MSUE first cohort members attend reception at Cowles House with President Simon. (Left to right) Shelly Warczinsky, Lisa Myers, Becky Henne, Eileen Haraminac, Dr. Simon, Andrea Caron, Laura Anderson and Gail Innis.

 This online degree was an important collaboration between the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and MSUE. Dr. Barbara Ames directs all of the graduate majors within that department. Many faculty members within HDFS contributed to this major. Retired Extension specialist and professor Joanne Keith and Health and Nutrition Institute director Dawn Contreras, whose overall role was advisor to the cohort, also taught courses.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Sanilac County parents in good hands

Gail Innis, Michigan State University Extension educator, is making a difference in Sanilac County. Despite county and state budget cuts, Gail continues to provide parenting education programs with support from local collaborators like the Department of Human Resources and the Child Abuse Prevention Council. She has been involved with the successful implementation of these programs since 1990. Gail and her staff follow Sanilac County families for three years providing positive parenting messages and assistance. While working in Extension, Gail obtained a bachelor’s degree and is continuing her education by working toward a master’s. Katherine Hale, Southeast Region Extension educator, shared her appreciation for Gail’s persistence with me and it struck me as another great example of MSUE folks persevering through challenging times by simply doing what we can do – carry on with the programs that help people to improve their lives, regardless of our circumstances and uncertainty. Thanks for being yet another inspiring model for your colleagues, Gail!

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Filed under Parenting