What is CARET? It is the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and its members are advocates for land-grant agricultural programs in research, extension and teaching. They represent Michigan State University (MSU) with county officials and state legislators, and advocate for us on a federal level. Our three CARET representatives are Glenn Preston, Char Wenham and Doug Lewis.
Glenn is a dairy farmer, Char is a business development consultant, and Doug is an attorney and the director of Student Legal Services at the University of Michigan. What do they all have in common? MSU Extension has been an active and meaningful part of their lives. They want to carry their message to our leaders and decision makers at the local, state and federal levels.
Last week, I attended the CARET Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. with our CARET representatives and had the chance to meet with our Congressional offices. Dr. George Smith, associate director of AgBioResearch, and Dr. Mike Kovacic, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources director of stakeholder relations, were the other members of our group. The highlight of our time in Washington, D.C. was visiting our congressional representatives and sharing about the work that is going on at MSU. We also had a chance to spend time with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters. These visits provide an opportunity to remind them of the work that we do, and learn from them about concerns and opportunities that we may be poised to address.
Meeting with Senator Stabenow at Good Morning Michigan, March 8. From left to right: Jeff Dwyer, Mike Kovacic, Char Wenham, Senator Stabenow, Doug Lewis, George Smith and Glenn Preston. Photo courtesy of Senator Stabenow.
Last week, members of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch administration had the opportunity to testify before the Michigan Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the Michigan House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. We were lucky to be able to state our case to both committees, highlighting MSU Extension programming and our impacts on the state.
The reason we testify in front of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee every year after the governor’s budget proposal comes out is to ensure that the state Congress will understand our impact when they consider voting for or against the proposal. This year’s budget proposal recommended that we receive a 2 percent increase in funding – this is great news, and a whole tenth of a percent higher than the rest of higher education. This year, we also testified before the Agriculture Committee, and a big thank you to Mike Kovacic for opening that door for us with that committee.
George Smith, associate director of AgBioResearch, and I testified before the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee at Central Michigan University. I was part of the team that testified for the House Agriculture Committee in Lansing; others included Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations; Doug Buhler, director of AgBioResearch; and John Baker, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine; with an assist from Kelly Millenbah, associate dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Our testimonies to the committees were very well received – they were very interested in hearing about the very great work that you are all doing. In this case, I’m just the messenger, whereas you are all out there doing the work, and thank you all for having such great stories to tell. There will be another opportunity to testify in front of the Michigan House of Representatives Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee next month. We anticipate that it will be just as successful.