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Congratulations to MAE4-HYS award winners

Congratulations to our 2016 Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) award winners! These awards were announced and received at the 2016 Children and Youth Institute (CYI) Retreat. In 2015, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension served 182,000 youth. The people mentioned below are just a handful of those making a difference in young people’s lives. The awards are a testament to the important work that our CYI colleagues are doing across the state.

Makena Schultz, MSU Extension leadership and civic engagement educator, received the Achievement Award. This award recognizes new 4-H staff members who have demonstrated excellence in the development and organization of their county 4-H Youth Development Programs. Makena received the award for her coordination of 4-H Capitol Experience, programs in reflections and failure resiliency, her lessons on teen facilitation, group decision-making, youth-adult partnerships, communications and conflict resolution as well as her development of new partnerships, and her collaboration in creating the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute.

Melissa Elischer, MSU Extension dairy youth educator, received the Presidential Citation. The award recognizes staff members for a specific program, topic or activity. Melissa works with MSU faculty and MSU Extension staff members, 4-H volunteers and stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate statewide programs that provide opportunities for youth to develop content knowledge and life skill development. Additionally, her work brings together MSU faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Animal Science, local volunteers and industry partners to bring growth and renewed energy to 4-H dairy events. Through her programs, bookmarks and dairy guide, she has been able to introduce and teach animal care and well-being to youth and adults across the state. Melissa also received the Scholarship for Personal and Professional Development, which she can use to travel in the U.S. or abroad to study youth work or use toward graduate tuition to facilitate growth in her Extension work.

Kristi Ayers, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator based in Kent County, received the Diversity Award, which recognizes staff for outstanding effort and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity in county and state 4-H youth work. Kristi has formed key partnerships with community agencies and schools serving youth in Grand Rapids. Through these partnerships, she has offered programs in Spanish as well as food and nutrition education in urban food desserts. She has supplied blankets and books to people who needed them. Through the 4-H embryology project, she has taught young people about the beginning of life.

Kathy Fischer and Dana Wawrzyniec won the Team Award. Based in Calhoun County, Kathy is a 4-H program coordinator, and Dana is a health and nutrition program instructor. Together, they worked with the local nonprofit Sprout Urban Farms to teach Calhoun County residents how to eat healthier. They developed a community space with a tool lending library, visited classrooms to teach about plant gardens and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and formed a partnership with the food service director. After learning about plants in the classroom, students were excited to see fresh produce as part of the lunch choice. Kathy also received the First Time Conference Scholarship to attend the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

The Partnership Award recognizes individuals or groups outside of MSU Extension who have made an outstanding contribution to MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. The following partners received the award:

1) Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer has supported the Clinton County 4-H Livestock sale for over 30 years. Troy Bancroft, his family and the company staff have a huge impact on the Clinton County 4-H and Youth Fair as financial supporters and sponsors and as volunteers, lending their time and resources. They also provide a space for board meetings, awards ceremonies and other events. The partnership between 4-H and Agro-Culture has been invaluable.

2) Fifth Third Michigan State Fair LLC and Suburban Collection Showplace benefits 4-H and our youth in many ways. It gives 4-H’ers an opportunity to showcase 4-H projects, learn life skills, and apply for and receive scholarships for their achievements. The junior fair board provides leadership development. The future opportunities are infinite, creating a mutually beneficial relationship with a fantastic opportunity to highlight the services of MSU Extension.

3) Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has been a longtime supporter of youth programming in Michigan. For more than 80 years, MMPA has partnered with MSU Extension to enhance and grow 4-H programming in dairy science and other animal science project areas. Contributions to the program have been extensive. They include annual funding through the 4-H Foundation, grant matches, start-up funds with continued support for a 4-H camp, personnel to assist at statewide dairy youth events, and the hosting of an annual youth career development and scholarship program at the Novi headquarters. Ken Nobis, Joe Diglio and Sheila Burkhardt, attending on behalf of MMPA, were honored during the program.

Tom Guthrie and Nicole Wethington each won the Colleague Award, which recognizes an individual within MSU Extension who has made an outstanding contribution to MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. Tom is a statewide Extension educator based in Jackson County. In 2015, Tom was a superhero who helped Jackson County overcome a health outbreak leading to a short quarantine of the barn at the fair. Tom helped in monitoring pig health, calling in experts, and communicating with superintendents and families, and staff worked as a team to minimize the impact to the fair, exhibitors and buyers. Nicole is an MSU Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed) program instructor in Crawford and Roscommon counties. She has taught 4-H day campers about germs and physical activity, trained aspiring chefs about food safety and the source of our food, and shared exotic fruits and vegetables. She has also trained staff and volunteers to deliver lessons on healthy choices.

Helen-Ann Cordes, a 4-H program coordinator in Alpena County, received the Communicator Award, which recognizes significant accomplishment in presenting 4-H to the general public, civic groups, 4-H groups or individuals through public information methods. Her use of technology, print and social media to educate and communicate with members, their families and volunteers has allowed her to reach people where they are. Video recorded trainings and updates for leaders also minimize the number of after-hours meetings necessary. Helen-Ann also uses these media to market 4-H to residents of Alpena County and certain programming to surrounding counties.

Julie Thelen received the MAE4-HYS Excellence in Camping Award, the National Excellence in Camping Award, the MAE4-HYS Programming Expertise Award in Animal Science and the National Excellence in Animal Science Programming Award. Julie is an MSU Extension 4-H livestock and veterinary science educator who develops, implements and evaluates statewide programs for youth. She received both the MAE4-HYS and National Excellence in Camping awards for her work expanding the livestock and veterinary science programs by introducing the 4-H Animal and Veterinary Science Camp. Julie received both state and national programming awards in animal science because of her focus on curriculum development, specifically bringing zoonotic disease education to the forefront of animal science and her development of 4-H club biosecurity and zoonotic lesson kits.

Glenda Weiss received the Urban Programming Award for partnering with local schools to offer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. She designed science activities shared at urban events and developed community center partnerships to hold craft events. She also partnered with Pingree Farms to provide youth with transportation to their farm where they learned about caring for farm animals.

Jodi Schulz, an MSU Extension educator focusing in capacity building and academic success, received the Michigan Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an individual’s career in 4-H. She is a model example of a 4-H staff member, a CYI educator and an MSU employee and has been over her 10-year career. Highlights of her contributions include the Life Skills Wheel, the creation of Michigan 4-H SPIN Clubs and her productive partnership with Bay City Public Schools.

The National Distinguished Service Award is one of the highest honors given at the national level. Staff must have 7 years of experience and have won the Michigan Distinguished Service Award to be eligible. This year, Betty Jo Krosnicki, MSU Extension educator in career education and workforce preparation, and Janelle Stewart, MSU Extension children and youth educator, received this prestigious award. Over the past 10 years, Betty Jo served in a number of capacities during her tenure as an MSU Extension educator, including county coordination, the Volunteerism Area of Expertise Team and workgroup roles on the Academic Success, Life Skills, and Career Education and Workforce Preparation teams. Janelle coordinates for Lenawee County, works on the Leadership/Civic Engagement work team, serves on the Advisory Resource Team and is a member on the Capitol Experience Steering Committee, the State Youth Leadership Council Advisory Committee and the Spectacular Steering Committee. She teaches classes in the leadership, citizenship, global education categories such as Youth/Adult Partnerships, Officer Training, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Teen Facilitation, Leadership, Running Effective Meetings and much more.

Bev Przystas received the National Meritorious Award, which recognizes professional attitude, professional improvement, professional accomplishments, personal attitudes, interests, community involvement and special honors received. Recipients must have more than 15 years of service. Bev has been the 4-H program assistant for Gladwin County for 37 years. Her passion for 4-H youth development has reached many youth, volunteers, her community and peers. Her ability to listen and to work with others has helped to bring positive outcomes to potentially negative situations. In her many accomplishments, she has shown teamwork, compassion and integrity.

Jan Brinn, an MSU Extension educator specializing in academic success, leadership, civic engagement and global and cultural education, received the National Excellence in Global Citizenship Award. The award recognizes those who strive to develop and/or conduct programs and/or projects that provide opportunities for youth to develop a world-view including a global perspective and the skills necessary for global citizenship and the development of appreciation for living in a global society. Jan’s work with the Michigan’s 4-H China Project has been positively influencing youth for over 25 years. More than 350,000 youth have participated in the Michigan 4-H China Project global citizenship programs in a variety of settings. Through the Art Exchange, Michigan children in grades K‒6, communicate and learn about China through creating visual letters to send to children in China.

The Rocky Award celebrates the moments when staff do something extraordinary. This year, the award was given to the group that attended the 4-H National Conference in Portland, Oregon: Jan Brinn, Sarah McKinney, Matt Newman, Roxanne Turner and Nancy Victorson. They received the award based on their successful and thorough exploration of Mount Hood.

Please join me in congratulating our MSU Extension colleagues for their work and their award recognition.

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MSU Extension holds successful fundraiser for Nepal earthquake victims

After two back-to-back devastating earthquakes hit Nepal in the past month, the Children and Youth Institute of Michigan State University Extension held a fundraiser for the victims during its Spring Conference, May 11-15. Extension educators Sara Keinath and Jan Brinn spearheaded the effort, which raised $562.36 during the short time the conference took place.

Sara Keinath, Extension Educator, during her stay in Nepal.

Sara Keinath, Extension Educator, during her stay in Nepal.

Sara, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal before starting her career with MSU Extension, said, “I lived in the far east of the country for 3 years, working with community forestry user groups. Because of my friends and family in the country, I have become very attuned to the news recently.”

Sara and Jan decided to coordinate a donation through Friends of Nepal. At the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff auction during the conference, Sara donated a few items from Nepal with the added bonus that whatever the final bid was, she would match in a donation to earthquake relief. After the second large earthquake happened on Tuesday, May 12 (during the conference), even more colleagues asked if they could add to that donation, which was an overwhelming support of the cause, and an amount of money that would make a large difference.

Jan also shared information about Nepal 4-H and their earthquake relief efforts, showing that 4-H’ers across the globe are helping with this cause. Such generosity should be commended, and thank you, Sara and Jan, for coordinating the effort!

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Mentors and mentees have fun and strengthen relationships at 4-H Mentoring Weekend

The 7th Annual 4-H Mentoring Weekend brought together mentors and mentees from throughout the state July 18‒20 at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan. The event boasted 73 participants representing both one-on-one and small group mentoring.

Staff and volunteers pose for a photo at the 7th Annual 4-H Mentoring Weekend

Staff and volunteers pose for a photo at the 7th Annual 4-H Mentoring Weekend that took place July 18‒20 at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan. Photo credit: Ronald Wells, 4-H Tech Wizards mentor

The theme of “Backpack to Adventure” allowed attendees to explore cultures throughout the world. Mentees included young people aged 11 to 19. The event provided a chance for mentors and mentees to participate together in various workshops and activities as well as enjoy the opportunities offered on the Kettunen Center grounds such as playing disc golf and exploring hiking trails.

Mentors and mentees chose from a wide variety of workshops including such activities as volleyball, looming, archery, basketball, solar model car building, fishing, swimming and canoeing. Attendees made their own salsa and healthy snacks, tie-dyed T-shirts, made superhero masks, edited their own videos and learned the basics of the Chinese Children’s Ribbon Dance. Some chose to test their skills and strength on “B’Onko’s Boot Camp Obstacle Course.” Some participated in “Messy Games” to develop life skills such as cooperation and problem solving. And of course, it wouldn’t be 4-H Mentoring Weekend without the popular Jell-O Wars.

A highlight of the weekend was Carnival Night, which included Nintendo Wii and board games, karaoke and a photo booth.

Participants also took part in a service project in which they made rubber band “Rainbow Loom” bracelets for military men and women. They also wrote short notes of thanks to them in appreciation for their service to our country.

Michigan State University senior Extension specialist Lisa Bottomley provided leadership for the event on behalf of the Capacity Building work group.

Staff, volunteers, mentors and mentees at the 7th Annual 4-H Mentoring Weekend

Staff, volunteers, mentors and mentees take a break from the fun at the 7th Annual 4-H Mentoring Weekend that took place July 18‒20 at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan. Photo credit: Lisa Bottomley

“The goal of the workshop is for mentees and mentors to have a fun weekend and strengthen their relationship while trying new things and learning together. We provide a mix of recreational and learning activities,” said Lisa.

Other members of the leadership team included program coordinator Susan Fenton (co-chair for the event), Extension educator Frank Cox (co-chair for the event), Extension educator Scott Lakin (past chair), program coordinator Dequindre Bell (past chair), and student worker Scott Victor, who worked on registration and other preparation for the event.

Extension educators Jan Brinn and Sara Keinath from the Leadership and Civic Engagement work group joined the Capacity Building work group to incorporate the world culture theme throughout the weekend and to lead small and large group sessions.

Other staff involved in planning and staffing the event included Extension educator Tom Long, and program coordinators Barb Brow, Lisa Kelley, Anetria Rhodes and Will Shemer as well as program worker Barb Steele and associate program leader B’Onko Sadler.

AmeriCorps members involved included Kerry Hochradel, LaTonya Terry, Joe Barczyk and MavaMarie Cooper.

Congratulations to all on a successful event!

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Sometimes the lesson learned is not in the lesson plan

In our roles at Michigan State University Extension, we might spend many hours preparing a presentation or workshop with specific objectives in mind expecting that participants will grasp the intended educational concept or skill. Sometimes, we have the unexpected pleasure of participants gaining even more than what we’ve planned for. That’s what happened at the 4-H Visual Arts and Crafts Workshop that took place at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich., Oct. 12-13. Surprisingly, it happened because of what most of us would consider an unfortunate situation.

 The hands-on aspect of visual arts makes it a good vehicle to teach life skills. The workshop participants (4-H volunteers aged 12 and up) learn to serve as role models when they’ll teach and help process these same activities, connecting the 4-H members they work with to life skills used in science, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Roma Fuller, 4-H Visual Arts and Crafts Workshop .

Roma Fuller, 4-H Visual Arts and Crafts Workshop participant, uses battery-operated light to work on her glass etching project when the power went out during the workshop that took place at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich., Oct. 12-13, 2014. Photo credit: Connie Lange

 However, when a transformer blew and the power went out for almost five hours, participants practiced some life skills not in the lesson plan that day. As participants continued to work on their projects in the dark, both staff and participants practiced resiliency, teamwork and patience. Kettunen Center staff members brought in candles and lanterns, and participants used their flashlights to finish their projects.  The planned hot meal was no longer possible, so Kettunen Center staff rose to the challenge, serving a cold-cut buffet with trimmings.

 Extension educator Connie Lange remarked, “Everyone worked together to make it successful so a challenging time is now a memory that makes us smile and proves the resourcefulness of 4-H people! The workshop is a true example of how 4-H people can work through just about anything!”

 Three work groups collaborated to plan this workshop including Leadership and Civic Engagement, Career Exploration/Workforce Preparation and Academic Success. Senior Extension educator Nancy Victorson chaired the workshop while Jan Brinn, Sara Keinath, Rebecca Krans, Connie Lange, Bev Przystas, Dave Radloff and Laurie Rivetto served on the committee. All committee members facilitated portions of the workshop and pitched in to make things work when the lights went out. Other staff members who taught were Catarina Edison and Cheryl Powell.

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Michigan 4-H’er presents at international conference on world hunger

Callie Beukema

MSU Extension 4-H member Callie Beukema displays her certificate for participating at the Global Youth Institute Oct 13-15, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Allegan County 4-H member Callie Beukema of the Globe Trotters 4-H Club was the first-ever student to represent Michigan at the Global Youth Institute (GYI) Oct. 13–15 in Des Moines, Iowa, during the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium. Callie was among the top students in the country selected to represent Michigan 4-H and her school, Calvary Schools of Holland. The symposium drew 1,400 people from 75 countries to discuss world hunger and food security issues.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug founded the World Food Prize to recognize and inspire great achievements in improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. The World Food Prize celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

At the GYI, students from 24 states and territories and four countries attended speeches by world-renowned leaders, presented their research and joined in hunger relief efforts. To be considered, students researched global food security issues in the country of their choice and wrote research papers on the topics. Selected students presented their papers to renowned experts and scientists at the conference.

Michigan State University Extension educator Jan Brinn mentored Callie in preparing for the event and writing the research paper. Callie presented a paper on the theme “The Millennium Goals: Agriculture to Trade,” focusing on food issues in Belize.

The experience sparked Callie’s interest in Belize as well as other cultures. She may participate in the 4-H Belize exchange in 2012 to experience firsthand what she had researched and possibly meet Jan’s Belizean 4-H exchange student contact. She’s also looking to pursue an international internship.

Participants also helped with a hands-on service project packaging meals for Outreach International, toured Syngenta Seeds Inc. in Slater, Iowa, and took part in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to experience the realities of global hunger and poverty.

Callie Beukema

MSU Extension 4-H member Callie Beukema presented at the Global Youth Institute Oct 13-15, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.


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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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Cross-cultural exchange impacts Michigan youth

Approximately 6,000 Michigan children in grades K–6 participated in the 2010 Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China. Of that number, seventy art pieces were selected to send to China as a gift to the children of China in Shandong Province. Chinese children sent 120 art pieces to Michigan to conclude the exchange.

 You can view the 2010 Michigan children’s artwork sent to China on the 4-H website at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/michart10/index.htm.

 For the exchange, Michigan and Chinese children are asked to create “visual letters” (paintings or drawings) of something important in their lives that they would like to share with children of the same age living halfway around the world. Visual letters become the means to communicate across language barriers. The themes and desire for connection are similar regardless of country and culture.

 Educators working with 5,067 Michigan children in 24 counties reported that 98 percent of the children increased awareness that art communicates ideas, feelings and stories as a result of their participation in this program. And 100 percent of the children gained new knowledge about China, increased awareness that there are similarities between themselves and Chinese children and expressed a desire to learn more about the children and their country.

 An exhibit funded by the MSU Asian Studies Center currently at the MSU Museum displays select pieces of Chinese children’s artwork from the 2010 exchange. The museum anticipates around 12,500 visitors for the duration of the exhibit, which runs Feb. 1 to March 31, 2011. For more information, visit http://museum.msu.edu/Exhibitions/Current/4-H_Children_Art_Exchange_with_China.html.

 Jan Brinn, Michigan State University Extension 4-H educator in Allegan County, and Betsy Knox, 4-H program leader and coordinator for the Michigan 4-H Art Exchange, co-presented a seminar “Global Education Through Art” at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) 2010 conference Oct 24–28 in Phoenix, Ariz. The seminar focused on the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange.

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