Tag Archives: jeannine schweihofer

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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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, communication, Events, Farming, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, professional development, Resources

Michigan Fresh has even more to offer

In a March 27 Spotlight, I mentioned how our Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh program educates on fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals as well as food safety, food storage, food preservation and gardening. In addition to this long list of important subjects, the Michigan Fresh work team is also busy on many other projects.

Extension educator Eileen Haraminac took over the coordination of the Michigan Fresh team upon Kathe Hale’s retirement.

Extension educator Joyce McGarry is busy heading up new fact sheet development. The team consists of Mary Dunckel, Michelle Jarvie, Ronald E. Kinnunen, Amanda Knox, Laurie Messing, Jeannie Nichols, Jeannine Schweihofer and Rob Weber. Team members arecompiling information on meats: pork, lamb, poultry, beef and fish. In the future, they will compile information for fact sheets on dairy products. Michigan Fresh fact sheets have been available at many of the farmers markets throughout the state as well as online. The fact sheets are also available in Arabic and Spanish. Find them on the Michigan Fresh website: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh

Other future fact sheets will focus on Michigan chestnuts (Erin Lizotte, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute) and growing hops (Greening Michigan Institute Extension educator Rob Sirrine).

Extension program instructor Stephanie Bruno heads up the team that’s developing recipe cards. The team consists of Jennifer Berkey, Becky Henne and Connie Kurple. These new recipe cards will be distributed at several farmers markets to encourage consumers to purchase Michigan-grown food to use as simple ingredients.

 Kristine Hahn and Eileen Haraminac as well as Sean Corp and other MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications staff are collaborating with the Eastern Market Corporation to promote a new product ‒ Michigan Fresh Frozen fruits and vegetables. The group is working on recipe cards to be distributed at Detroit Eastern Market and through the Peaches & Greens mobile produce trucks. The cards will promote both the Michigan Fresh program and the new Eastern Market Corporation Michigan Fresh Frozen products.

Eileen said, “We want to encourage people to choose nutrient-packed frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh are unavailable. Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing are processed at their peak ripeness ‒ time when, as a general rule, they are most nutrient packed.

Extension associate program leader Becky Henne heads up the social media team. Team members are busy working to build a smartphone app and to develop additional videos. They hope to have the app ready to roll out for the 2015 season. This group is working with Dr. Dru Montri, executive director of Michigan Farmers Market Association; Colleen Matts, farm to institution outreach specialist with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems; and Dr. Norm Lownds, curator of the 4-H Children’s Garden. Additional team members from both the Health and Nutrition Institute and the Greening Michigan Institute include Julie Darnton, Joanne Davidhizar, Dawn Earnesty, Kristine Hahn, Sheilah Hebert, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills.

Dr. Cheryl Peters, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills have been working with the Michigan Fresh team to develop a common evaluation tool for Michigan Fresh cooking demonstrations offered at the Detroit Eastern Market and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. These cooking demonstrations benefit the promotion of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and videos. The free, public demonstrations are designed to inspire people to purchase and consume more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. The evaluation tool will gather information from cooking demonstration observers. Recipes used in the cooking demonstrations come from the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With coordination from Extension educator Terry McLean, MSU Extension will staff a kiosk at the Flint Farmers Market this spring.

Michigan Fresh is a great collaboration not only between our own institutes but between local organizations and farmers markets as well.

If you are interested in promoting the Michigan Fresh campaign materials at your community farmers market, please contact Eileen Haraminac (haramin2@anr.msu.edu) for more information.

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Breakfast on the Farm once again a hit

The first Breakfast on the Farm of the season boasted a record attendance of more than 3,000 June 15 at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, St. Clair County.

A Breakfast on the Farm attendee at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich., June 15, 2013.

A Breakfast on the Farm attendee gets up close and personal at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich., June 15, 2013. Photo credit: Nancy Thelen

Attendees enjoyed a pancake breakfast and self-guided farm tours. They also saw how the farm uses solar energy to supply electricity to the barns.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston and his wife, Charlotte, attended and enjoyed visiting with our Michigan State University Extension staff and spouses.

(Left to right) MSU CANR Dean Fred Poston, Charlotte Poston, MSU Extension staff members Jeannine Schweihofer and Ashley Kuschel enjoy Breakfast on the Farm June 15, 2013.

(Left to right) MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston, Charlotte Poston, MSU meat quality Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer and MSU Extension Breakfast on the Farm program coordinator Ashley Kuschel enjoy Breakfast on the Farm June 15, 2013, at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich. Photo credit: Ted Ferris.

More than a dozen Extension educators and staff members assisted during the event. Thanks to all who made it a great event! I look forward to attending the next one on July 13 in Ottawa County.

Find a Breakfast on the Farm near you at http://www.breakfastonthefarm.com/find_a_breakfast

The Great Lakes Edition of the Times Herald featured an article on the event. A video includes farm owners Jim and Pam Reid and Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer. Read the article and view the video here.

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Specialist plays important role in Vets to Ag, MSU Meat Lab

In last week’s Spotlight, I talked about the role two Michigan State University Extension educators played in the Vets to Ag program when they taught ServSafe as part of the meat-processing session. Another important role in the Vets to Ag Program is played by Sarah Wells, academic specialist in the MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Department of Animal Science.

As facility coordinator of the MSU Meat Laboratory, Sarah taught several lectures in the six-week course and was involved in coordinating the cutting and processing sessions in which the vets received hands-on experience. Meat lab manager Jennifer Dominguez and assistant manager Ryan Varner assisted with the lab components.

View this WLNS video about the program and one veteran’s reaction.

In addition, to her part in the Vets to Ag program, Sarah also has been busy contributing to other MSU Extension activities. She coordinated the Michigan Meat Association’s pre-convention workshop on jerky at the lab earlier this month as part of ANR Week. She and Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer taught the Michigan Meat Association members who participated in the workshop. Sarah arranged for Dr. Jeff Sindelar, an MSU alumnus, Extension meat specialist and associate professor in meat science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, to teach part of the jerky workshop as well. She also held a fermented sausage-making workshop this past summer that meat processors from around the state attended.

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MSU Extension News educates on current issues

You may have heard the recent controversy about “pink slime,” or LFTB (lean, finely textured beef). Our own Michigan State University Extension News published an article by Jeannine Schweihofer, Extension educator, and Sarah Wells, outreach specialist in the Department of Animal Science, that gives consumers the facts about LFTB, which have been misrepresented in the media. This is a great example of how MSU Extension News produces timely unbiased information about current important issues based on expert knowledge and research. Of course, we’ve been doing that for more than 100 years. We’re just doing it through today’s technology.

 Read the article at http://news.msue.msu.edu/news/article/pink_slime_is_not_really_pink_slime.

 Read more articles at MSU Extension News at http://news.msue.msu.edu/news/home.

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Extension educator earns MCA Young Member of the Year Award

Jeannine Schweihofer, Michigan State University Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator, and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, was one of four individuals recognized for their contributions and dedication to the beef industry during the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association’s (MCA) Summer Round-Up July 8-9 in Mount Pleasant.

 Jeannine received the “Young Member of the Year” award. Previously she served as the livestock Extension educator for the Thumb and Saginaw Valley areas, working mainly with beef feedlots. Jeannine and husband Ryan work on the family farm, raising crops and beef cattle.

Young Member of the Year Jeannine Schweihofer

Jeannine Schweihofer (right) receives the MCA Young Member of the Year award presented by Dale Oeschger, Michigan Cattlemen’s Association. Photo courtesy of Michigan Cattlemen’s Association.

 Jeannine began her affiliation with Extension as a 4-H member showing steers. She went on to earn a bachelor’s in animal science and while on campus was a member of the MSU meat and livestock judging teams.

 Jeannine feels that farming and raising beef cattle help her with her Extension programming because she experiences many of the same challenges that producers do. And being part of the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association helps as well.

 Jeannine explains, “MCA is another opportunity for me to interact with fellow cattlemen and cattlewomen and hear their successes and frustrations. That networking helps me build research ideas and Extension programming needs.”

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RFID technology used to benefit consumers, producers

A few years ago, when bovine tuberculosis was causing concern as it spread through cattle, Michigan State University researchers used radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that allowed cattle to be tracked, thus keeping tabs on the disease. Michigan led the country in mandating RFID ear tags to track the movement of cattle.

 Today MSU researchers are using their expertise to take that same RFID system and use it in creative ways that benefit both the consumer and the producer.

 MSU Department of Animal Science associate professor and MSU Extension beef specialist Dan Buskirk, MSU Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer, and Department of Animal Science assistant professor and MSU Extension beef specialist Jason Rowntree are working on developing a local model for beef production using the RFID system. Partnering with MSU Culinary Services, a department of MSU Residential and Hospitality Services, the three Extension professionals and their teams are behind the process that allows the serving of MSU-raised and processed beef at cafeterias and restaurants on the MSU campus. The cattle come from the MSU Purebred Beef Cow-Calf Teaching and Research Center and the MSU Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Center.

 The pilot project takes advantage of RFID technology to track the animals. Eventually, the teams hope to develop a system in which the RFID code from each cow is transferred to a barcode on the final package of beef that you’d find in your grocery store freezer. Shoppers could then scan the code using a kiosk or smart phone. In an instant, the consumer would learn where that particular cut of meat came from and how the animal was raised. The researchers are working on perfecting the process, which is made more complicated by the volume of packages that can come from one single cow.

 Rather than “Where’s the beef?” today’s consumer’s cry is usually “Where did this beef come from?” More and more, savvy consumers want to know whether the food they will prepare for their families is locally grown and whether it’s local or not, some want to know what farming practices were used. Expanding the traceability of meat could create new opportunities for consumers interested in buying locally and knowing how the animals supplying their meat were raised. It allows producers to communicate information to consumers instantly and more widely, and in doing so perhaps achieve a higher value-added price for the product.

 At the time RFID tags were required on cattle in Michigan, there was considerable controversy and opposition to the move. Yet Dan and the team have taken what started out as something viewed negatively by some producers into an opportunity to add value to their product through use of technology.

 The Associated Press picked up the story, and it has been getting quite a bit of attention. Click here to read the Associated Press article as it appears in the Washington Post. The story includes photos. That’s a pretty effective way of showing what’s new about MSUE!

Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications produced the following related videos:

In this video, Dan Buskirk explains RFID tracking:

This video features the MSU Local Beef Initiative making MSU-raised beef available in MSU cafeterias:



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