It’s that time of year again! It’s officially December and that means that most of you have either already purchased a tree for the holidays or you are planning to do so in the next few weeks. Wherever you are in the tree-buying game, you might be wise to check out the multiple resources created by Michigan State University Extension on the topics of how to choose, care for and dispose of Christmas trees successfully.
A great place to start would be “Choosing the Right Christmas Tree” by Bert Cregg and Jill O’Donnell. If you aren’t sure what type of tree to get, they’ve put together a comprehensive guide about what types of Christmas trees are available in Michigan, as well as different tips on how to care for them.
Other helpful and timely MSU Extension articles by the duo include “Water Is the Essential Ingredient in Keeping Your Farm-Grown Christmas Tree Fresh” and “Living Christmas Trees: Another Real Tree Option.”
Also, if you want to learn about Christmas tree care in just a few seconds, they’ve worked with Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications to put together a collection of videos explaining it in the following playlist:
(Check out the rest of the playlist here)
In addition, visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Association website for information on where to buy trees as well as other helpful tips.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving and no one should be checking their email, I thought I would make this week’s Spotlight a little shorter and send it today, so that you can all get to your families and celebrations.
You are all amazing, and the following highlighted articles are receiving tremendous hits – 1,403 in the last 30 days! This is just a small sampling, and many others have had a lot of success as well. A lot of you have used this holiday as a launching point to create informative and timely articles on the Michigan State University Extension website. Here’s a sampling of the articles I’ve seen!
To make sure you’re safe in the kitchen while preparing such a huge meal, make sure you follow these tips to keep safe from kitchen fires. And if you haven’t properly thawed your turkey yet, you might want to cook it frozen. Also, did you know that cooking stuffing inside the turkey might not be the safest way to cook it? Learn more in the video below:
You may have kids home this week that are very excited about Thanksgiving and the holiday season beginning, and you can help them appreciate it more by explaining why we eat cranberries at Thanksgiving, or by teaching them to appreciate the science behind mashed potatoes and gravy.
I know that some of you will be starting your holiday shopping this weekend, so look to your colleagues for advice on choosing the right Christmas tree and keeping that tree fresh through the holiday season. You might also want to create a budget for your Christmas presents so that you don’t break the bank and learn more about the return policies for stores where you’ll be buying presents before you camp out for Black Friday deals.
After this weekend is over, don’t forget about food safety. Throw out any remaining leftovers to keep your family safe. You may also consider inviting friends and neighbors to partake in your festivities while the food is still fresh, to help those struggling with hunger in your community.
I am thankful for all of you and the excellent education and service you provide for the people of the state of Michigan. Have safe travels and food preparation! Happy Thanksgiving!
When I visited with a friend near my home in Williamston, Mich., on Dec. 19, I came away inspired and overwhelmed by his generosity. Our sons are both involved in scouting and we were both working at the local Food Bank, preparing and delivering food and gift packages for families in our community. I learned that he spent the previous day working there, too. On the surface it may not seem noteworthy that he put in two successive days with a charitable organization. However, he has been unemployed since last January. You can imagine the kinds of challenges he and his family have faced over the past year. Even though his wife is still employed, any family that loses one income for nearly a year is bound to be under considerable stress. Yet there he was, giving his time to make sure that others in our community would have food for their families.
Our society often focuses on financial transactions and financial contributions as measures of generosity. We tend to overlook and undervalue the contributions that people make with their unmonetized time and talents. I’m as guilty as anyone—over the past few weeks I’ve sent and received the usual “end-of-year” solicitations for monetary gifts to our programs and the charities that support our programs, but I didn’t send out a solicitation for volunteers to give of their time, intellect and skills. Every year we prepare a simple report for legislators and other decision-makers that spells out the monetary value of the leveraging we achieve with the appropriations we are granted, but we don’t report the value of the 4-H, Master Gardener, agricultural research and other volunteers who help to make our programs successful. We generate reports on the monetary value of gifts that are given to MSU Extension, 4-H, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and other entities, but we don’t compare the number of volunteer hours we generate to those of other units at Michigan State University.
Our programs are greatly enhanced by the work of thousands of volunteers. I, for one, need to do a better job of telling that story to those we work with and report to. Under Michigan’s current economic condition, it is even more important for us to demonstrate the value of MSUE by documenting not only the numbers, but also the lasting impacts of the volunteers who invest their time and talents in our mission. There are few measures more telling of our impacts than the scope and scale of investments that others make in the mission of MSUE. As we continue through our redesign process—and particularly our revisions to program planning and reporting—we need to keep this in mind: the most valuable gifts people give are those that are direct and personal, whether it is their time, money, thoughts or actions. I have my friend to thank for helping me to understand this in a deeper and more lasting way. And I know that his life’s work for others is something he will continue to invest, whether he receives compensation for it or not.
I want to thank all of the MSUE staff, faculty members, educators, volunteers and program participants for the contributions they make to MSUE’s mission, whether it is their time and talents or other resources. We’ve had a challenging year, but our challenges pale in comparison with those experienced by so many of our fellow Michigan residents. Thanks to all for investing in Michigan and in MSU Extension. I wish us all well in the new year.
Holiday weekends like the one we are entering tend to create their own whirlwind of activities. Many families, like mine, will be travelling—some for long distances. Others will spend hours and hours preparing elaborate and well-appreciated feasts. We simply replace the hectic life of our work with hectic life of a feast and celebration. At some point during the craziness, this really is a time when we can benefit from a little down time, time to relax, time to reflect, time to simply rest our bodies, minds and spirits. My goal is to find some time to do just that this weekend. I hope each of you can do the same in your own way.
Have a thankful holiday.