Tag Archives: I Know MI Numbers

I Know MI Numbers health and wellness project wins health care award

The health and wellness project of the Michigan State University Extension I Know MI Numbers initiative won an Innovations in Health Care Award April 30 at the Lansing Champion of Hope Tribute Dinner. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and its partners sponsor the awards.

The project won first place in the category that recognizes projects that promote knowing the four health indicators of Gov. Snyder’s 4 x 4 plan: body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar.

The team knew the project was a finalist but did not know it won first place until it was announced at the dinner. They received a plaque and $1,000.

The MSU Extension I Know MI Numbers initiative focused on five key areas relating to Gov. Rick’s Snyder’s dashboard, which provides an assessment of the state’s performance in key areas including education, health and wellness, financial health, infrastructure, talent, public safety, and energy and environment.

In the health and wellness area, our I Know MI Numbers project focused on healthy weight in residents of Saginaw and Genesee counties. It examined the effectiveness of nutrition education programs to address healthy eating, physical activity and health indices in adults. Participants attended a weekly series of classes emphasizing behavioral goals and strategies associated with healthy weight. Data analysis showed statistically significant changes related to several health behaviors and indices.

MSU Extension educators Dawn Earnesty and Christy Rivette accepted the award. They also presented a poster on the project. Legislators, health care providers, managed care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, the Michigan Department of Community Health staff members and the business community attended the dinner.

In addition to Dawn and Christy, the I Know MI Numbers health and wellness team includes Dr. Dawn Contreras, Sheilah Hebert, Lynette Kaiser, Margaret Lashore, Freda McNair, Cathy Newkirk, Dr. Olga Santiago, Kris Swartzendruber, Donna Taylor, Lisa Treiber, Christina Warner and Teressa Young.

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Book give-aways continue to help the cause of literacy

The early childhood literacy targeted program, part of our “I Know MI Numbers” initiative, aims to boost pre-reading skills needed to help children to be reading at grade level by the third grade. This goal received a big boost due to the efforts of two organizations: The Molina Foundation (part of Molina Healthcare) and First Book. Earlier this year, the Molina Foundation offered to donate up to 50,000 books to Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development for distribution mostly in the southeastern part of the state. This effort kicked off with an event early in March, which I wrote about in an earlier Spotlight article (March 10, 2011).

In June, the Molina Foundation hooked us up with First Book, who offered to donate up to 500,000 books to Michigan through Michigan 4-H and our continuing partnership with the Molina Foundation. Retired Extension associate director and former State 4-H Leader Cheri Booth coordinated both the Molina and First Book book give-aways, with the latest one culminating in the distribution yesterday and today of 100,000 books for Michigan organizations that serve youth who are in need and another 340,000 books being shipped to youth organizations all over the country. Volunteers who helped distribute the books came from several organizations and even included MSU senior associate provost June Youatt. Among everything else, Cheri arranged for donated warehouse space in Delhi Township and for the direct delivery of books to the 4-H program in Lansing’s Southside Community Center and to a “Reading in the Park” Extension event in St. Johns.

The Lansing State Journal picked up the story and interviewed Michelle Lavra, MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources communications manager, about the program. Read the article here.

Retired MSUE associate director Cheri Booth and senior associate provost June Youatt help load books

Retired MSUE associate director Cheri Booth and senior associate provost June Youatt help load books destined for local youth Aug. 10, 2011, at the Delta Township distribution warehouse. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Julie Chapin helps out at book give-away

MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director Julie Chapin hands a box of books to a Molina Healthcare volunteer. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Kids choose free books at give-away.

Kids were eager to choose their two free books at Lansing’s Southside Community Center Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

A child chooses a book at the book give-away.

A child tries to decide which two books to choose at the book-giveaway at Lansing’s Southside Community Center Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

A child shows off her free books from the book give-away.

A child shows off her free books at Lansing’s Southside Community Center Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Dad shows his son a book on dinosaurs.

A father helps his young son choose a book about dinosaurs at the Reading in the Park event in St. Johns on Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Toddler enjoys her new book

This toddler shows her excitement about one of her new books obtained at the Reading in the Park event in St. Johns Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Young 4-H'er chooses a book

This future 4-H’er takes his time choosing his books at the Reading in the Park event in St. Johns Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

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Allegan County 4-H promotes science literacy, 4-H at Science Blast

Improving science literacy is one of the goals of the Michigan State University Extension “I Know MI Numbers” initiative. 4-H Science Blasts, held throughout the state, are part of the effort designed to help improve science scores in a state where science literacy for school-aged youth is below the national average. The blasts also help 4-H to reach the goal of engaging one million new young people in science programs by 2013.

 MSU Extension’s Allegan County 4-H Youth Development was a part of one of this summer’s Maranda’s Park Parties held July 28, 2011, at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. The 4-H area included a 4-H Science Blast with four stations of learning and fun for the 4,900 individuals attending the event.

 MSU Extension educator Jan Brinn incorporated the 4-H Science Blast into the park party to meet the goals of the I Know MI Numbers initiative and National 4-H by educating youth in science. The 4-H area reached more than 900 youth who not only learned about science and 4‑H but had fun too.

 The Science Blast included four stations that covered the areas of animal science, plant science, engineering and technology, and environmental science. Youth met a cow up close and personal, took part in 4-H beef science activities, made butterflies using the 4-H “Project Butterfly Wings” curriculum, pollinated flowers using corn meal and made red bean necklaces. They enjoyed watching the TEAM ROCK Robotics 4-H robot pick up balloons made by Giggles the Clown. They even learned about worm farming from a young 4-H’er. Attendees also were able to proudly wear Science Blast tattoos.

 Jan is excited about the success of the event. “With the large number in attendance, TV cameras and wonderful 4-H volunteers helping in the 4-H area it was very successful. 4-H was promoted, youth educated in science and everyone had fun as well,” she said.


4-H leader Robyn Wixom

4-H leader Robyn Wixom (center) introduces attendees to Peggy the Cow at the 4-H Science Blast July 28, 2011, at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Peggy was a great conversation starter that got kids interested and asking questions about animal science. Photo by Janis Brin.

4-H leader Roxanne Henley

4-H leader Roxanne Henley teaches two attendees how to make bean necklaces and butterflies at the 4-H Science Blast July 28, 2011, at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Photo by Janis Brin.

Team Rock robot

Team ROCK 4-H member demonstrates the Robot 2000 to attentive participants at the 4-H Science Blast July 28, 2011, at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Photo by Janis Brin.

Attendees show off Science Blast tattoos

Attendees proudly show their “Science Blast” tattoos at the 4-H Science Blast July 28, 2011, at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Photo by Janis Brin.


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I Know MI Numbers featured at Ag Expo

As you know, Michigan State University Extension is implementing the I Know MI Numbers initiative, focusing on five targeted programs among many identified as critical to the state’s future on Gov. Rick Snyder’s dashboard. MSU Extension staff members educated the public about each issue in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources tent and the MSU Extension Bookstore tent at Ag ExpoJuly 19–21. In temperatures in the 90s with humidity that led to heat indexes in the 100s, our dedicated staff soldiered on to encourage attendees to improve their quality of life.

MSU Extension Bookstore tent

MSU Extension Bookstore tent

At the MSU Extension Bookstore tent, Ag Expo attendees could purchase soil test kits. The kits make it easy for gardeners to get quick results and information when they send in their soil samples through Extension to the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Lab. Mary Wilson, MSU Extension consumer horticulture educator and state coordinator of the MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, was on hand in the CANR tent to explain the process. Using the soil test results, gardeners can more accurately determine the amount of fertilizers and herbicides to use – lessening the chance of overuse. This would reduce runoff, improving water quality – a goal of the I Know MI Numbers targeted program: Agriculture That Protects Michigan’s Waters. We’d like to see Michigan’s water index moving higher than 88, on a scale of 100. (If you missed getting a soil test kit, you can still get one at the MSU Extension Bookstore at bookstore.msue.msu.edu.) Staff involved with the water quality initiative staffed a display at the CANR tent as well. And during Ag Expo, many demonstrations throughout the three-day event focused on agriculture that improves water quality. We have nearly 60 programs or events throughout the state that focus on key water-quality issues.

Agriculture That Protects Michigan's Waters

Agriculture That Protects Michigan's Waters exhibit. Photo by Katie Alexander.

In the CANR tent, Extension staff members measured visitors’ height and weight to help them determine their BMI (body mass index). Staff members were ready to talk nutrition and healthy habits with attendees. Reducing adult obesity is a targeted program that aims at reaching 8,000 people across the state to make healthy changes in their behavior. In Genesee and Saginaw counties, 35 adult obesity prevention/reduction classes reach hundreds of adults with information to help them improve their BMI.

Reducing adult obesity

Reducing adult obesity exhibit. Photo by Katie Alexander.

Helping Our Cities and Towns Succeed aims at helping local officials address the fiscal crisis and reduce the cost of government. Michigan residents attending Ag Expo could determine their local fiscal health number (by checking a chart on the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website, created by MSUE) and compare it to other communities. They then placed a colored tack on a map that represented one of three categories: neutral, watch or stress. The goal of this targeted program is to have all communities fall in the neutral category, a number between zero and four. Extension is partnering with the governor and the Michigan Department of Treasury to educate Michigan residents about fiscal health.

Helping Our Cities and Towns Succeed

Helping Our Cities and Towns Succeed exhibit. Photo by Katie Alexander.

Increasing early childhood literacy focuses on Michigan children entering kindergarten with the skills they need in order to be reading at grade level by the third grade. In the CANR tent, a children’s story hour took place every hour. After listening to the story, a child could choose a free book to take home. MSU Extension has held five events since June in which children and parents focused on developing pre-reading skills. And we’ll be distributing up to 500,000 books donated by First Book to youth living in low-income situations.

Increasing Early Childhood Literacy

Increasing Early Childhood Literacy exhibit. Photo by Katie Alexander

MSU Extension is helping to improve science literacy by supporting teachers with resources, experiments and lesson plans that align with Michigan Science Education standards and coordinating 4-H Science Blast and 4-H National Youth Science Day. Kids who attended Ag Expo participated in two water-quality science experiments and the Fashion-a-Fish project activity to improve their own science literacy.

Improving Science Literacy

Improving Science Literacy exhibit. Photo by Katie Alexander.

Thanks to all who participated in making it possible to get the word out about the I Know MI Numbers initiative at Ag Expo.

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MSU Extension educators pass financial knowledge, MSUE awareness on to municipal clerks

Michigan State University Extension is working to increase the financial literacy of Michigan residents. To that end, Extension educators trained Michigan municipal clerks to use their civic involvement to pass the knowledge and awareness of Extension’s support on.

At the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks conference June 22 and 23 at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire in June, MSU Extension staff members educated clerks, whose traditional responsibilities have changed with the times and the demands on local government. Wanda Repke, MSU Extension educator, and Anne Lilla, MSU Extension financial and housing education coordinator, presented a session, “MSU Extension Programs to Help Residents in These Trying Times,” and provided an educational display.

Participants received a brief overview of Extension’s history and ways that it transforms lives, addresses state problems and enhances state assets. The clerks learned that Extension, through the Greening Michigan Institute (GMI), is educating people about home ownership, foreclosure prevention and money management. They were invited to take the Financial Health Index Survey designed by Dr. Lisa D. Cook, MSU assistant professor in the James Madison College and the Department of Economics. The clerks were also encouraged to add a link on their municipal websites to www.mimoneyhealth.org, a Web-based education site developed by the Extension GMI Financial, Housing and Energy Education work team.

Clerk participants engaged in active learning and tested their knowledge about credit and money by taking a credit pre-test using the TurningPoint audience response system and playing a credit vocabulary game.

This is just one part of our effort to help cities and towns succeed financially by educating local government and is the featured program for the GMI in the I Know MI Numbers campaign.

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Through Toyota 4-H2O grant, Michigan 4-H Youth Development continues to educate kids experientially

For the fourth year, Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development has received a Toyota 4-H2O grant. The $65,000 grant is divided between two areas: $50,000 goes to continue the yearlong 4-H2O projects in Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties along with a cluster of counties in northeastern Michigan. The remaining $15,000 supports the 2011 4-H National Youth Science Day activities that will take place throughout the state Oct. 1–8.

Oakland County puts the Toyota 4-H2O grant money to work with “I pledge my hands to larger service,” a campaign focused on involving elementary through high school-aged youth in water issues and water-related cleanup efforts. Youth also learn about water issues hands-on when they attend the 4-H2O Eco-Challenge summer weeklong camp at Indian Springs Metropark in August.

In Washtenaw County, the Huron River Watershed Council partners with MSU Extension to teach students about community-based water resources such as the Huron, Detroit, Ottawa-Stony and Raisin watersheds. The kids test the quality of the water and learn how their daily actions can have an effect on that quality.

In Wayne County, the grant allows students in the Detroit area schools to continue to engage in the Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) “School Ship” cruises. Students study curriculum in the classroom that prepares them for the cruise. On the boat, students visit stations that involve them in learning about life on board.

Through Toyota 4-H2O, the Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service give students in northeastern Michigan a chance to participate in shipboard learning experiences. Students will conduct water quality tests from Lake Huron, the Ocqueoc River and the Trout River. MSU Extension staff members prepare teachers who in turn teach the students.

The grant allows kids the opportunity to learn science using a hands-on approach and relate what they learn to real-world experiences. It also gives them a taste of career options that they previously may not have known existed.

This is just another great example of how we are effectively carrying out our I Know MI Numbers science literacy initiative, providing science education in a non-formal setting using an experiential, learn-by-doing method and sharing it with teachers in formal school settings.

The Toyota 4-H20 Project is funded by a grant from Toyota to National 4-H Council and the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

To read more about 4-H Youth Development and the Toyota 4-H2O grant, click here.

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4-H’ers learn STEM through hands-on ROV experience

Improving science literacy is one of Michigan State University Extension’s targeted programs, part of the “I Know MI Numbers” initiative. It’s also a goal of National 4-H. To address increased demand for science and technology professionals, 4-H is working nationwide to reach a bold goal of engaging one million new young people in science programs by 2013.

 To help meet that goal, forty-two 4-H Exploration Days participants from Delta and Schoolcraft counties took part in the building and testing of remote operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum in Muskegon prior to arriving on the MSU campus. A committee of youth planned the Exploration Days side trip and selected the ROV as an activity that they felt had educational value and would interest their peers and help them gain knowledge.

 Youth explored and learned about the physics of buoyancy and balance while working in groups of four to design and build their own ROVs. Once they had their vehicles constructed, the groups tested their ROVs in large water tanks and maneuvered them via remote control to move forward and back, make left and right turns, and dive and surface just like real submarines.

4-H members test ROV

A group of 4-H members tests the ROV they designed and created in a large water tank at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum in Muskegon. Photo by David Radloff

 Delta County Extension educator Dave Radloff explained that the goal was to encourage youth to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) topics and gain a better understanding through hands-on experiences.

 In addition to the ROV class, participants also spent the night in the USS Silversides, a World War II submarine, where they slept in the same berths as the brave men who once served our country.

 Delta County 4-H Exploration Days participants also explored marketing and communication, and the use of technology by selling, writing and recording radio commercials to raise funds for the trip. The 27 Delta County 4-H members attending Exploration Days this year created 109 radio commercials. A local radio station, Mix106, graciously donated the airtime to make this 4‑H project possible.


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MSUE educates farmers, gardeners and others at Ag Expo

Every year, Michigan State University Extension plays a huge role in Ag Expo. This year, besides offering educational presentations and demonstrations featuring the expertise of our educators, specialists and faculty, MSU Extension will have a strong presence in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) tent.

 We’ll be occupying a section of the tent that features the “I Know MI Numbers” initiative. We’ll be using this opportunity to get the message out about our targeted programs: educating farmers to protect Michigan waters, reducing adult obesity, helping our cities and towns succeed, increasing early childhood literacy and improving science literacy.

 MSUE Master Gardeners will also be staffing an “Ask a Master Gardener” booth to answer horticulture questions.

 As you walk the grounds, you’ll discover the MSU Extension Bookstore tent. They will have many publications to choose from – some for sale and some at no cost. You can purchase soil test kits at this tent as well.

 Sponsored by CANR, Ag Expo runs July 19–21.

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MSUE: Not a one-size-fits-all organization

Sometimes I hear comments from people who are trying to understand our emphasis on statewide programming and I realize they misunderstand our intentions. For example, some complain that we are arranging our programs and staffing plan into a one-size-fits-all collection in which the same programs are provided identically in every community, whether any particular program is needed in that community or not. It is true that we want residents from any community in the state to access the expertise of our staff and faculty associated with any particular program, whether staff who have that expertise are available in their county or elsewhere in the state. At the same time, we realize that demand for some programs is likely to be greater in some counties than in others. The demand for expertise in apple or cherry production is not uniformly distributed across the state, and we don’t expect the demand to be the same in Alpena County as it is in Newaygo County. Expertise in mentoring youth at risk of entering the juvenile justice system is available in any county, but we don’t insist that every county make use of the program equally. We simply want our county partners to know that the programs and expertise are available if they wish to engage with our staff and faculty.

 As we continue to communicate Michigan State University Extension’s mission in our new structure and program emphasis, we need to find ways to help decision makers and potential clients understand that what we make available is available throughout the state, but that we respond to demand for our programs rather than setting quotas of engagement that are uniform across the state.

 We have made this point recently with our “I Know MI Numbers” campaign, and particularly the Health and Nutrition Institute’s target program on adult obesity. In this, we have targeted the adult populations in Genesee and Saginaw counties, because those counties have the highest rate of obesity in the state. It’s not that we are not addressing those needs elsewhere, we are. But we are making a targeted effort in those counties as a means to document the full range of impacts our programs can have on a community level. We may emphasize impacts in other communities as we advance the “I Know MI Numbers” campaign beyond its first six months.

 We don’t have an entomologist like Extension educator Duke Elsner in Huron County and we won’t. He’s in Grand Traverse BECAUSE his expertise is needed for viticulturists and northwest Michigan is one of Michigan’s key areas for wine grape production. Although there has been some interest in vineyard production in the Thumb area, it’s not likely to reach the demand that Duke experiences in northwest lower Michigan for some time.

 Similarly, Steve Poindexter, senior Extension educator who specializes in sugar beet production, is located in the heart of sugar beet country, in Saginaw County. We wouldn’t place him in Houghton County, where sugar is only produced in maple trees. In other situations, we have educators who provide statewide coverage for crops that are truly grown throughout the state. Jill O’Donnell addresses the needs of Christmas tree producers from her office in Wexford County, whether the producer is in Jackson, Benzie or Mackinac County. That she is in Wexford in no way restricts her programming to only address the needs of Wexford County producers.

 I suspect many of you can cite other examples that illustrate how our statewide programs actually are delivered in very location-specific ways in response to demand in those areas. It would be great to collect a sampling of other examples by sharing them as a comment on my blog site.

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Training provided to newly elected county commissioners

As part of the I Know MI Numbers initiative, Michigan State University Extension educators, specialists and faculty are helping our cities and towns succeed. MSUE has been doing this kind of work for years. In fact, we have been providing training for newly elected county commissioners since 1968. The MSUE State and Local Government Area of Expertise Team (now known as the Public Policy Work Group) in the Greening Michigan Institute most recently continued the tradition by providing six workshops in Big Rapids, Grayling, Kalamazoo, Novi, Frankenmuth and Escanaba in November and December last year.

Why is it important that we train county commissioners?

From maintaining records of property ownership to issuing marriage licenses to collecting and distributing taxes to providing a functional and effective justice system, county government is responsible for handling a diverse array of functions for Michigan residents. Every two years, the citizens elect county commissioners to develop policy and provide financial oversight to all aspects of county government. The role of a county commissioner is well defined by statute; however, understanding the relationships between the county board and other elected officials and department heads is very complicated. We are training commissioners so that they understand their roles within the complex system of county government.

There are 687 county commissioners in the state. Two hundred twenty-seven commissioners attended the workshops, which highlighted key aspects of county government as well as the roles and responsibilities of county boards of commissioners.

Evaluations showed that the training improved commissioners’ understanding of county finance and the structure and function of county government, and that they are now more aware of resources available to them as commissioners. Commissioners who attended previous trainings stated that this most recent team and curriculum update was the best they had seen.

 The team spent several months updating the curriculum and used a variety of teaching methods to present the material including lectures, group work and polling the audience throughout the lessons with the Turning Point audience response system.

 Team members who worked on the program include John Amrhein, Nicole Bradshaw, Claire Layman, Julie Pioch and Mark Skidmore. Follow-up trainings on effective leadership and budget and finance also included Eric Scorsone and Howard Wetters.

 After more than 40 years, we continue to connect with county commissioners, and they continue to depend on us for training of new commissioners.

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