Tag Archives: george silva

Congratulations to MSU Extension distinguished staff

Congratulations to Philip Schwallier, George Silva and Lois Wolfson, who received the 2018 Distinguished Academic Staff Award from Michigan State University. What do they all have in common? They have Extension appointments, and they are making a difference statewide and nationwide. Read more about each person and their work in MSU Today.

The Distinguished Academic Staff Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of those professionals who serve MSU in advising, curriculum development, outreach, extension, research and teaching. Up to four Distinguished Academic Staff Awards are given annually. These awards provide universitywide recognition and reward to outstanding individuals with careers demonstrating long-term excellence and exceptional contributions to MSU.

On February 6, MSU Extension held a reception to honor Phil, George and Lois at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center where we heard from their nominators, Amy Irish-Brown, Ron Bates and Jo Latimore, respectively. A huge thanks to everyone who attended the reception and who participated in putting it together. Please join me in congratulating Phil, George and Lois.

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Tools for employees having controversial conversations surrounding GMOs

corn field

According to a Pew Research Center report, “the way Americans eat has become a source of potential social, economic and political friction as people follow personal preferences reflecting their beliefs about how foods connect with their health and ailments.”

As Michigan State University’s (MSU) connection with Michigan residents, MSU Extension professionals are increasingly engaged in conversations about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But in a survey conducted by our program evaluation specialist Cheryl Eschbach, only 37 percent of Extension survey respondents felt capable of replying to GMO-related questions with science-based information, and only 1 percent felt extremely capable.

Recognizing a need, Ron Bates, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) director, brought together a cross-institute committee to develop a training for MSU Extension professionals. The result was a two-day training, “Getting your GMO Questions Answered 101,” offered January 8-9, 2018. MSU faculty and Extension professionals shared presentations on research and technology as well as communicating with clientele about GMOs with over 100 Extension staff members.

“It was a really great workshop,” Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator Jeannine Schweihofer said. “I think it helped me to hear viewpoints from different aspects and concerns that people have about GMOs. Getting the right information out there so people have it is really important.”

“The GMO workshop increased my understanding, and that will help me to confidently answer consumer questions about GMO foods that arise during my food safety programs,” MSU Extension health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich said.

Ron Goldy, MSU Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator and event committee chair, felt the event was successful in opening up dialogue and providing tools to talk to MSU Extension clientele, especially during the interactive activities.

This workshop was designed to be the first of many opportunities to provide MSU Extension professionals with resources and to open up dialogues.

“We’re hoping that people from other institutes will take the idea back, and that institute will develop a program with their clientele’s concerns in mind,” Ron said. “There will be further trainings within AABI, and we’re trying to figure that out as well. As soon as we hear back from the event evaluations, we’ll decide on the next steps.”

Additionally, the committee is working on creating an online space to make the documents and presentations from the workshop available to all Extension employees.

I would like to thank the team of people who made the event possible: Ron Bates, Betsy Braid, Erin Carter, Julia Darnton, James DeDecker, Mary Dunckel, Cheryl Eschbach, Theodore Ferris, Elizabeth Ferry, Ron Goldy, Rebecca Grumet, Courtney Hollender, Rebecca Krans, Joyce McGarry, George Silva, Lisa Treiber, Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler. I’d also like to thank all of the speakers and presenters throughout the event.

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Educators shine at NACAA conference

A group of seven of our Michigan State University Extension educators attended the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM/PIC) July 20‒24 in Mobile, Alabama. Attendees included Phil Durst, Tom Guthrie, Phil Kaatz, Stan Moore, George Silva, Mike Staton and Nancy Thelen.

“The AM/PIC provides a wide variety of educational and networking opportunities from which we learn and are inspired,” said Phil Durst, senior Extension educator and president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (the Michigan affiliate of the NACAA). “This is also a great team-building time.”

Phil let us know that the conference offered 65 seminars on a variety of agricultural topics and super seminars provided opportunity for in-depth study of topics such as climate science and agriculture, farm business transfer, and soil health and cover crops. Educators went on more than 20 tours that focused on agricultural enterprises, resource management, business and local attractions. An exhibit featuring more than 100 professional posters provided a glimpse of a wide variety of research and educational projects. Dr. Dana Chandler of Tuskegee University provided the keynote address on the role of George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Thomas Monroe Campbell, all of Tuskegee, in pioneering Extension work.

As in years past, many of our colleagues received awards, presented or were involved in other ways.

Nancy Thelen received the Distinguished Service Award that encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional Extension from NACAA members with more than 10 years of service. She also was the national winner of the Agricultural Awareness and Appreciation Award. In addition, she presented two posters at the conference about Breakfast on the Farm.

Mike Staton was a national finalist for a published photo. A team consisting of Ned Birkey, Dan Rajzer, Marilyn Thelen, Dan Rossman, Bruce MacKellar and Mike Staton were national finalists in the “Search for Excellence in Crop Production.” Mike had the opportunity to present the work at the meeting.

The Extension Dairy Team was a national winner for a promotional piece, the 2013/14 Dairy Programs booklet. The team includes Stan Moore, Kathy Lee, Phil Durst, Frank Wardynski, Faith Cullens and Craig Thomas.

Stan Moore and Phil Durst were national finalists for an audio recording, their “Dairy Moosings” podcasts.

Tom Guthrie and Phil Durst served as voting delegates.

Congratulations to all!

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Fall Extension Conference 2012 – Thanks!

Another Fall Extension Conference has come and gone, and I want to send my thanks out to all who helped make it a valuable and productive experience. I’m always overwhelmed by FEC as it approaches, worried not so much about how things will work – we have great colleagues who worry about that for us and their worry produces a well-run and cost-efficient conference – but more about how to make the most of this opportunity. In my comments on Monday and Tuesday, I tried to convey how grateful I am for the work this organization does and the people who work so hard to make it successful. I’m never satisfied that I’ve fully expressed how much this organization means to me and to Michigan. You are awesome, and I take great pleasure in each day that I get to work with you to help people improve their lives. You teach me a great deal. I hope you found the conference to be as nourishing (not only in food) as I did. And I thank you for being part of it.

The organizing team – Betsy Braid, Megghan Honke and Doug Brahee as co-chairs, and Julie Chapin, Dawn Contreras, Dave Ivan and Wendy Powers as steering committee members deserve many thanks and credit for making this as productive and meaningful as it was. I would also like to offer a special thanks to George Silva and Marilyn Thelen for helping develop the cross-institute session.

Watch your inbox for a survey to provide feedback on FEC 2012.

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Extension educator receives farm bureau award

Michigan State University senior Extension educator George Silva will receive the Eaton County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award at the bureau’s annual meeting on Aug. 23. The award is presented annually to an individual who has contributed exemplary service to the agriculture community.

Dr. Silva was promoted to senior Extension educator in 2010. He’s worked as an Extension educator in Eaton County for 12 years where he implements integrated crop and nutrient management educational and applied research programs on corn, soybean, wheat, vegetables and specialty crops. Among many other responsibilities, he’s also contributed his expertise as an innovation counselor for the MSU Product Center and as coordinator of the Eaton County Master Gardener and Junior Master Gardener programs. In addition to Eaton County, he has Extension responsibilities in Barry, Ingham and Livingston counties.

Dr. Silva joined MSU in 1986 as a research specialist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. He became an Extension educator in Ingham County in 1996 and acting county Extension director for Eaton County in 2009.

No stranger to awards, Dr. Silva received the 2007 Eaton County Farm Bureau Educator of the Year Award, numerous National Association of County Agricultural Agents communication awards and an MAEA Presidential Citation in 2007, among others.

Congratulations, George!

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CV-CAT will help Extension educators integrate climate change into programs

Excuse the pun, but climate change is a hot topic. Increasingly, our stakeholders and our funding partners look to Michigan State University Extension as a trusted source of information on how to slow down, adapt to and communicate about the changing climate. The long-term impacts of climate change and the shorter term effects of climate variability vary widely, ranging from changes in precipitation, pests, water and air quality to storm water runoff, forest ecology and species migration. And, as we’re all aware, the topic can be controversial. That’s why Julie Doll, MSU Kellogg Biological Station Long-term Ecological Research Program outreach and education coordinator, and Claire Layman, public policy education specialist in the Greening Michigan Institute, embarked on a listening tour to discover what one group of stakeholders – those involved in field crop agriculture – thought MSU Extension should do to help farmers prepare for the changing physical and policy climates.

 Julie and Claire brought their focus group results to field crop educators in March 2011. They paired delivery of the focus group results with a workshop on climate science, led by Dr. Jeff Andresen, state climatologist and associate professor in MSU’s Department of Geography. At the conclusion of the two-day workshop, participants came to agreement that MSU Extension should increase the climate literacy of its educators and their clients.

 As a result, the Climate Variability and Change Action Team (CV-CAT) formed with members across all of our institutes and from other Extension affiliates. Current members of the team include Julie and Claire; Dr. Andresen; Jake DeDecker and Brian Wibby, Children and Youth Institute; Becky Henne and Brenda Long, Health and Nutrition Institute; Chuck Pistis, Sea Grant; and Dennis Pennington, George Silva and Marilyn Thelen, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute.

 The CV-CAT has sponsored three fact sheets available at the MSU Extension Bookstore: (Greenhouse Gas Basics, Field Crop Agriculture and Climate Change and Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Change). In addition, they are co-hosting a face-to-face session at Fall Extension Conference on climate and water. Panelists and individual speakers will provide overviews of the water and climate systems, lead a discussion on how climate variability and change may affect Michigan communities, land systems and agriculture, and consider how to find common ground on this politically polarizing topic. Read the summary for the FEC11 session, “Climate and Water: Implications for MSU Extension Programs,” here. The live face-to-face session takes place Oct. 12 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

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Discovering optimists from a war-torn country

Earlier this summer, I had the honor of addressing a group of scholars from Iraq. They were faculty members from several Iraqi universities here for several months on a Fulbright-sponsored program to learn from each other and with Michigan State University colleagues about how to create universities anew from within a nation that has been the focus of strife for decades. Dr. Frank Fear, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was one of several MSU administrators who helped to create and conduct the extended study group throughout the summer, and he invited Dr. David Schweikhardt, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics, and me to give an overview of the land-grant university system. My part was to explain the cooperative Extension system and how we conduct Extension in Michigan. It was an engaging conversation with the Iraqi participants, some of whom are from agricultural disciplines and some of whom are from engineering disciplines.

 Dr. George Silva, senior Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, took the group on a tour to learn about agricultural practices in the Lansing area in late July, and from all accounts they were enthused to get out of meeting rooms and into the real world where they could learn directly about agricultural practices in Michigan. George wowed them with his thoroughness and hospitality.

 I had some follow-up conversations with several Iraqi colleagues and particularly with Dr. Sardar Sardari, professor of poultry science at the University of Salahaddin in Erbil in northern Iraq. Dr. Sardari is working to establish a cooperative Extension program at his institution that would help to bridge applied research to the needs of farmers in northern Iraq. Dr. Sardari and I met for lunch one Friday to discuss some of his ideas about building Extension into his home college, the College of Agriculture, and I was overwhelmed by his enthusiasm, his positive outlook and his profound gratitude for the opportunity to learn and to build something anew. I was humbled to realize that as difficult as the past two years of restructuring and budget reductions have been for us, our challenges pale in comparison with what he and his colleagues face. His guiding perspective is based on the faith that out of considerable destruction and disorder, the human spirit that we all share, when bonded together in common purpose, can create tremendous results. And when that common purpose is centered on extending information and understanding in a way that helps people to improve their lives, the world is transformed, one person, one family, one farm, one business, one community at a time.

 It was rejuvenating for me to spend time with Dr. Sardari and his colleagues, to be reminded of how profound our mission is and how that mission can overcome tremendous challenges in transforming lives. After our lunch, I walked with Dr. Sardari through a construction zone on Harrison Street in East Lansing to show how to get to the Islamic Center for the Friday prayer service. The walk was a poignant one for me. The disruption of a street closed for construction with sidewalks broken and crumbling was of no consequence compared to the faith that drew him to prayers. I realized that broken concrete and disrupted traffic were the norm for the life he has experienced over the past decade. As I returned to my office, I was imbued with new hope and determination for his country and for ours. The positive outlook, persistent faith and commitment to serve I witnessed can help each of us as we continue in our process of remaking MSU Extension.

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Step II and Step III promotions approved by MSU

The Michigan State University Provost’s Office has approved promotions of 10 Extension academic staff members to Step II and five to Step III. Step II is awarded after successful completion of a three-year and six-year portfolio review process, and is analogous to the promotion to associate professor rank for faculty. For individuals appointed in the MSUE Continuing Employment (CE) system, Step II also comes with award of CE status. Step III is awarded to Extension academic staff members who have demonstrated excellence and scholarly achievement in their work as Extension professionals over a sustained period. Those who are awarded Step III achieve “senior” status, analogous to achievement of the professor rank among faculty, and their titles are changed by addition of the senior modifier to the title of educator, program leader or specialist.

 Individuals who were successful in the Step II process this year include:

  • Janis Brinn, Children and Youth Institute
  • Kittie Butcher, Children and Youth Institute
  • Ryan Coffey, Greening Michigan Institute
  • Elizabeth Ferry, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
  • Andrew Hayes, Greening Michigan Institute
  • Glenda Kilpatrick, Children and Youth Institute
  • Betty Jo Nash, Children and Youth Institute
  • Nikki Rothwell, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
  • Brad Slaughter, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
  • Dixie Ward, Greening Michigan Institute

 Those who were promoted to senior status this year include:

  • Phil Durst, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
  • Kathy Lee, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
  • Amy Irish-Brown, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
  • George Silva, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
  • Jane Herbert, Greening Michigan Institute

 Congratulations to all for this significant achievement. You can learn more about the Step II and Step III processes in our Administrative Handbook at Step I, Step II and Step III Promotions.

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MSUE educators key in identifying invasive pest

Recently, Michigan received the bad news that another invasive pest has arrived in our state – the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The unwelcome guest feeds on fruits, vegetables, corn, soybeans and much more. It is difficult to control with insecticides and is a smelly nuisance that clusters on and in homes when the weather turns cold.

 Michigan State University Extension staff members as well as employees of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and other agencies are vigilant about identifying and mitigating the effects of any new pests that enter our borders.

 An MSU student collected the first specimen in Berrien County for a class project. It was his instructor in the course, MSUE educator Duke Elsner, who identified the bug as one of concern. Dr. Elsner submitted it to the USDA for further verification. A resident in Eaton County brought the second specimen to his local Extension office to MSUE educator George Silva, who sent it to MSU Diagnostic Services. There, entomologist Howard Russell identified it as a brown marmorated stink bug and forwarded it to APHIS for confirmation.

 MSU entomology specialists are gathering information and writing research proposals to address the issues this new pest will create.

 If you are curious about this pest, learn more from this fact sheet developed by entomologist Chris DiFonzo along with Howard Russell.

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MSUE shines at NACAA Conference

A bunch of Michigan State University Extension folks who are members of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) have made us proud by earning honors from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA). All were invited to attend the NACAA Communications Award Luncheon on Tuesday, July 13, during the NACAA Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference in Tulsa, Okla.

This year, Michigan stands out in the limelight in having four national finalists – Robert Sirrine, Mike Staton, Kevin Gould and Phil Durst. And one of our own, Stan Moore, Antrim County Extension educator, took on the presidency of the NACAA at the conference. That’s right – he’s President of the National Association.

Two members of our Extension staff earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award. The award is for agents with more than 10 years of experience, and it often recognizes a lifetime of service. For the past 10 years, Roberta Dow, district water quality educator, has trained AmeriCorps members who then conduct Home*A*Systs that help Michigan residents identify their risks to water quality and provide ways to lower those risks. For the past 14 years, Bruce MacKellar has provided expertise to southwestern Michigan growers concerning emerging field crop insect and disease control issues.

 Kendra Wills, Kent County Extension land use educator, was honored with the NACAA Achievement Award given to young agents with less than ten years of experience. Kendra’s work largely involves getting urban and rural citizens engaged in addressing urban sprawl. She has been successful in preserving a vast amount of prime and unique farmland in the county.

 Dr. J Robert Sirrine, Leelanau County Extension educator, is a national NACAA category award winner, receiving a plaque and a prize of $500 for a published photo and caption. The photo, which depicts Rob with two hops growers, was published in the June 2009 issue of Michigan Farmer Magazine. See it at http://magissues.farmprogress.com/mif/MF06Jun09/mif001.pdf.

Dr. Sirrine also was a regional finalist in the publication category for “Sustainable Hop Production in the Great Lakes Region.” He was the lead author along with authors Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Erin Lizotte, Dr. Ron Goldy, Steve Marquie, and Diane Brown-Rytlewski. The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore (formerly called the Bulletin Office) at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3083.

Phil Kaatz, Lapeer County Extension educator, was a regional finalist in the program promotional piece category for work on a brochure promoting the MSU Extension Thumb Ag Team and their efforts to promote regional programming. Phil says that it was really a team effort with Fran Adelaja working collaboratively with him on the piece with the help of the other educators in the brochure to produce the final product. The team members in addition to Phil were Jeannine Grobbel Schweihofer, David Pratt, Steve Poindexter, Martin Nagelkirk, Craig Thomas, Dennis Stein, Bob Tritten, Mark Seamon, Bob Battel and Emily Sneller.

 

George Silva, Eaton County Extension field crops and horticulture educator, was regional finalist for the Communication Awards website competition. George won the honors for his work on the official website for the Soybean 2010 project located at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/soybean2010/. Soybean 2010 project is a collaborative, research, education and communication effort at improving Michigan soybean yield and profitability. The partners include Michigan soybean growers, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Agribusiness Association, Michigan Farm Bureau and MSUE.

Mark Seamon, Saginaw County Extension bioeconomy innovation counselor and regional innovation counselor, was regional finalist in the fact sheet category for “Fueling the Future: Potential Biomass Crops for Michigan.” The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3077. And by the way, this fact sheet written by Mark is part of a series of five bioeconomy fact sheets, each by a different author, available at the MSUE Bookstore.

Mike Staton, Allegan County Extension senior agricultural educator, won the National Search for Excellence in Crop Production Award. Mike led a cooperative effort to plan, promote, conduct and evaluate educational meetings designed to help soybean growers identify and overcome the barriers to producing higher-yielding and more profitable soybeans. The programs reached more than 1,500 producers and agronomists and produced projected financial impacts of more than $2.1 million dollars. The other MSU Extension educators cooperating on this project were Ned Birkey, Emily Sneller, Marilyn Thelen, Bruce MacKellar, Bill Robb and Dennis Pennington.

Kevin Gould, Ionia County Extension educator, was the National Search for Excellence award winner in Livestock Production. He led a program that developed a pre-conditioning and marketing system to add value to beef calves in Michigan.

Phil Durst, Oscoda County Extension dairy educator, was recognized as a national finalist for Professional Excellence for the Beginning, Young and Small Farmer Programming Award. Each month, Phil meets with 40 to 50 young dairy producers who are part of two YSD (Young, Savvy and into Dairy) groups in northeastern Michigan. Through Facebook, it is an international group of young people in dairy.

Tom Dudek reported that the weather in Tulsa was – well, very Tulsa-like for the middle of July:  hot (95° F) and humid (heat index = 115). I got the impression they were pleased to escape back to Michigan’s more moderate conditions, but they definitely came back with a lot of hardware in their luggage. The Michigan Association of Extension Agents received a certificate for fourth place in increased membership, with 8 new members added last year.

We are very proud of our colleagues in NACAA and the work that they do in our state. Their innovations and hard work really set a model for what we hope to achieve even more widely in our new organizational design. Thanks for giving us great examples to highlight and learn from!

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