Tag Archives: kettunen center

Save the date for the 4-H Reunion

Mark your calendars for the Michigan 4-H Retirees Reunion May 10-11, 2018, at the beautiful Kettunen Center in Tustin. Who is invited? Educational staff, specialists, program leaders, clerical staff, county Extension directors and others who are retired and worked with 4-H.

“Catch up with friends and colleagues. Learn new things, have fun and get the current updates on what is happening with the organization,” Cyndi Mark, former Michigan State University Children, Youth, Families and Communities coordinating program leader, said.

For those who are traveling a long distance or who want to come early, there will be lodging available Wednesday, May 9.

More information and the registration link will be sent out after January 2018. Registration deadline is May 1, 2018.

“The committee has been planning this for a while, and we think you will have a great time!” Cyndi said.

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Making a difference in MSU Extension District 6: Recap of the state council visit

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel north to District 6 along with our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch State Council. Shari Spoelman, district coordinator, and the crew in MSU Extension District 6 worked hard to give us a great overview of the programming, research and outreach going on in the district, and arranged for us to spend time with the people they serve.

For those of you who are new to Extension or unfamiliar with the council, we have members from all over the state who serve as a liaison between us and our county councils, field station advisory groups, and state agencies and organizations. The members come from various backgrounds: commodity group leaders, county commissioners, 4-H volunteers and farmers. We even have a meteorologist. The more they know about the work we do and the difference we make around the state, the better they can share the Extension story with our local and state decision-makers.

We began our trip with a chance to see the Kettunen Center, a conference facility owned by the Michigan 4-H Foundation. We heard about how 4-H and Extension use the center to connect with youth and volunteers. Chris Gentry, Kettunen Center director, provided us with a tour. We heard from Sara Keinath, youth development educator, and Jake Stieg, 4-H program coordinator, on the work they do with 4-H such as Mock Interview Day and 4-H Winterfest.

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Next, we traveled to B & B Farms, owned by Dan and Bonnie Blackledge, and heard about how MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center has helped them grow and market their canola seed and oil products. Jerry Lindquist, grazing and field crops educator, met us there to talk more about the relationships that MSU Extension has with specialty crop growers.

Dan and Kathy Blackledge talk about working with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center to grow and market their canola products. Everyone stands by their house and barn.

Dan and Kathy Blackledge talk about working with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center to grow and market their canola products.

Afterward, we visited Hidden Hills Dairy with Kathy Lee, senior dairy educator, and saw modern technology and the results of MSU Extension input at work on the farm.

State council members tour below the milking parlor where the machines send the milk.

State council members tour the milk machines below the milking parlor at Hidden Hills Dairy.

We ended the day in downtown Cadillac with Marcus Peccia, the city manager, and Carla Filkins, the mayor, to hear about their partnership with the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction; MSU Extension and the Michigan Municipal League to create a successful placemaking plan. Marcus gave us a tour to see some of the new efforts to make downtown Cadillac a place for the community to gather as part of the Heritage Plaza PlacePlan. We saw the new amphitheater, the outdoor fireplace, the park and the future location of the Cadillac farmers market.

State Council members and administrators pose for a group photograph in downtown Cadillac.

State Council members and administrators in downtown Cadillac.

On Wednesday, Jill O’Donnell, a senior agriculture and agribusiness educator who has worked with the Michigan Christmas tree industry for over 32 years, joined us as we visited the Dutchman Tree Farm in Manton. We met with Steve VanderWeide, the owner, as he shared about farm operations and his connection with MSU Extension. We learned about the soil, tree growth process and market changes that characterize this area of the state.

Next we met up with Erin Lizotte, integrated pest management educator, at Arlene Hops to learn about hops as a re-emerging specialty crop in Michigan and MSU Extension’s efforts to provide research and support. Brian Tennis from the Michigan Hop Alliance answered questions about growing hops as well as the importance of having Extension as a valuable resource in moving forward.

State Council members stand in a hops field and listen to Erin Lizotte talk about Michigan hops.

State Council members get a chance to hear from Erin Lizotte about hop growing in Michigan.

We ended our tour at the Lake City Research Center with Jason Rowntree, Kable Thurlow and Jerry for a tour of the center and a chance to learn more about their research on forage-based livestock, potato production and bioenergy crop production. Jason is an MSU faculty member and Kable is a beef educator who conduct research and outreach at the center.

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Many council members expressed how important it was to learn more about the work we’re doing in this area of the state. It was an extremely successful trip, and I’d like to send a huge “Thank you!” out to everyone who made our visit possible.

You know, the most meaningful part for me is when we meet community members and hear how MSU Extension made a difference in their lives. Nothing beats that.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, Economic development, Parks, Partnerships

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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4-H retiree reunion set for May

I can’t believe it’s nearly time for the Michigan State University Extension 4-H retiree reunion. Every three years, a group of MSU Extension 4-H retirees meets for a retreat at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich. The 2014 event will take place May 15‒16. If you’ve worked for MSU Extension 4-H, take this opportunity for socializing and learning what’s new in Extension. Invitees include all county and state staff affiliated with 4-H during their careers: Extension agents and educators; county directors with 4-H responsibilities; support staff members; program assistants, associates and coordinators; on-campus specialists; program leaders; regional supervisors and others. A letter with more details will be sent this spring. In the meantime, please contact Larry Johnson at johns153@msu.edu for more information. Save the dates!

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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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Extension educators help renew Kettunen Center’s Christmas Tree Arboretum

You may recall Christmas 2011 when the Christmas Tree Arboretum at Kettunen Center supplied the star attraction of the Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit that year – a beautiful Norway spruce.  Other large trees were removed from the arboretum for the center’s holiday celebration. In addition, Kettunen Center maintenance director Steve Neuman removed many trees that were getting too big for the site as well as any remaining trees damaged by deer and the harsh winter weather.

 The Norway spruce that once grew at Kettunen Center stands proudly as the main attraction at of the Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit during the Christmas 2011 season. Photo credit: Jill O’Donnell


The Norway spruce that once grew at Kettunen Center stands proudly as the main attraction at of the Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit during the Christmas 2011 season. Photo credit: Jill O’Donnell

An arboretum without trees is a sad sight. However, the situation didn’t last long. Mr. Neuman continued the site cleanup by removing the stump from that huge Norway spruce and did some grading to make the area more accessible. Michigan State University senior Extension educator Jill O’Donnell drew up a plan.

Jill secured donations of trees from Dutchman Tree Farms, Northern Pines Nursery and Needlefast Evergreens and delivered them to the center. Jill and MSU Extension educator Erin Lizotte did the work of mapping and planting the new trees – 19 in all.

The arboretum now exhibits ten different varieties of trees including four species of true fir, four species of spruce as well as white pine and Douglas firs.

This fall, a soil test will determine the adjustment of the pH and result in a nutrient plan. This winter, cages will be put around the trees to prevent damage from deer and rabbits. Pruning will begin next year. Jill will oversee the project.

Next time you visit Kettunen Center, check out the Christmas Tree Arboretum and enjoy the results of their efforts.

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Filed under Agriculture

Mentors and mentees find community of peers at 4-H Mentoring Weekend

Many of us had parents or other adults in our lives who made a difference. We had someone we could count on for wise advice and a listening ear – maybe an older sibling, a teacher or a 4-H leader. Often kids may be searching for guidance and support but they lack strong role models. That’s where 4-H Youth Mentoring comes in. The program matches caring individuals with young people to provide support, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples.

For the sixth year, an event took place that helps to strengthen the youth mentoring community across Michigan. More than 90 participants congregated at Kettunen Center in Tustin July 19‒21 to take part in 4-H Mentoring Weekend. Michigan State University Extension 4-H mentoring educator Scott Lakin and Extension program instructor Dequindre Bell co-chaired the event under the leadership of campus staff Lisa Bottomley, senior Extension specialist, and Molly Frendo, associate program leader.

Senior Extension educator Barb Duvall and Extension educator Frank Cox led mentors and mentees from around the state in activities focused on financial literacy at this camp-style weekend themed “Making Cents for Life.”

In addition, participants explored conservation education, science literacy, service learning and healthy living. Mentoring partners strengthened their relationships through fun and interactive activities both indoors and outdoors, taking advantage of Kettunen Center’s beautiful setting on Center Lake.

Other Extension staff members who helped out with the event included Danielle Abrams, Kea Boyd, Barb Brow, Jessica Cotton, Lizz Duran, Susan Fenton, Derrick Harrison, Lisa Kelley, Jennifer Lasslett, Aaron Lawrence, Kim Lewis, Anetria Rhodes, B’Onko Sadler, Edward Scott, Katie Sosin, Barb Steele and Scott Victor.

Besides the learning and the fun, 4-H Mentoring Weekend provides both mentors and mentored youth with a community of peers who share their experiences.

To get an idea of the exciting atmosphere at the event, watch the following kid-produced video from the 4-H Mentoring Weekend Press Corp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-wnodtXCYg&feature=youtu.be

All I can say is “Jell-O Wars!”

Find photos of the event on Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/michigan4hyouthmentoring.

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Extension staff members receive MAE4-HYS Distinguished Service awards at the CYI Spring Conference

Kettunen Center in Tustin set the scene for this year’s Michigan State University Extension Children and Youth Institute Spring Conference May 8‒10. The weather was sunny and warm and everything was in bloom.

flowering tree

Photo credit: Michelle Lavra

Staff members attended and gave sessions on topics such as being financially accountable, creating public value statements and keeping competitive events educational.

flowers by birdbath

Photo credit: Michelle Lavra

Several staff members received awards at the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) Recognition Banquet. A reception honoring the award recipients followed the banquet.

In the space we have here, I don’t have room to mention all of the awards but I do want to single out the Distinguished Service Awards.

 Dorothy Munn and Sue Stapleton both received the MAE4-HYS Distinguished Service Award. The award is the highest state honor that 4-H staff can obtain through the MAE4-HYS. The award is given to current MAE4-HYS members who have at least 6 years of employment in Extension 4-H Youth Development, including some statewide involvement in coordinating events, programming or both, and who have proven evidence of positive change resulting from their work.

Extension educator Dorothy Munn became MSU Extension 4-H educator in Ogemaw County in 1998. Two years ago, Dorothy became a 4-H supervisor and coach for staff in four counties and took on an assignment with the Academic Success Science Team.

purple flower

Photo credit: Michelle Lavra

Dorothy administered and directed a four-year, $500,000 Title 5 Juvenile Justice grant, which provided expanded 4-H after-school and summer programming in three communities. With Dorothy’s support, 15 staff members collaborated with numerous entities including schools, municipalities, the health department, libraries and the Department of Human Services.

Throughout her Extension career, Dorothy has been involved in 4-H international programming, serving on the 4-H global education committee, teaching the Polish exchange session at Exploration Days and coordinating a 4-H trip to Poland. To highlight 4-H’s international programs, Dorothy coordinated an evening of culture that drew 70 people.

She has been the 4-H state awards coordinator for the North Region for many years, been on the North Central 4-H camp planning team since 1998 and served in nearly every role including treasurer, secretary and camp director. She has designed and taught a myriad of trainings for teens including instruction for camp counselors, teen leaders and club officers.

4-H program coordinator Sue Stapleton began her career in 4-H in 1986. Sue turned the 4-H Discovery Day at Springfield Oaks Activity Center into an expo that highlights many of the 4-H clubs in Oakland County. Thousands of youth have attended this event.

She served as Oakland County’s CCA at 4-H Exploration Days. She is one of the architects of Oakland County’s 4-H Horse Camp, attended by 60 to 75 youth annually.

Sue has become an expert in starting every kind of animal 4-H club. She was instrumental in getting a 4-H club involved in educating citizens on the benefits of raising chickens, perhaps leading to the city of Ferndale allowing chickens to be raised in city limits.

For many years, she trained each 4-H volunteer personally. Sue has covered almost every possible topic in her trainings. She has given many clinics on how to write county and state awards, and how to train officers as well.

Congratulations to both of you!

Dorothy Munn (left) and Sue Stapleton receive the MAE4-HYS Distinguished Service Award

Dorothy Munn (left) and Sue Stapleton receive the MAE4-HYS Distinguished Service Award May 8. 2013, at Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich. Photo credit: Les Thomas.

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Professional environmental and outdoor education association recognizes MSUE contributors

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) honored several Michigan State University Extension colleagues from our Greening Michigan Institute’s Natural Resources Literacy and Leadership (NRLL) signature program at the statewide professional educators’ association annual conference Oct. 13 at Michigan 4-H Foundation’s Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich.

Steve Stewart, MSUE senior Sea Grant educator from southeast Michigan, received the 2012 William B. Stapp Award, which recognizes statewide, career-long commitment to environmental education. Nominators noted Steve’s national and international leadership in Great Lakes education and his commitment to developing science-based systems of teacher and volunteer professional development. Steve felt honored by the award particularly as he was able to meet and learn from William Stapp early in his career.

Andrea Grix received the 2012 Julian Smith Outdoor Education Award, named for the MSU faculty member known as the father of the international field of outdoor education. The award goes to one individual who has made outstanding contributions to outdoor education in Michigan and who exemplifies the best in the field of outdoor education. The individual must demonstrate a lifetime of devoted service with at least 10 years of that service in Michigan. Andrea serves as program manager for the Michigan 4-H Foundation at the Kettunen Center and provides leadership for state youth and adult conservation education. She serves as the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council program coordinator and as a resource person for state-level Michigan 4-H Environmental & Outdoor Education programs. She assists with 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, and she has served on the MAEOE Board.

Bindu Bhakta, MSUE Oakland County educator, received the Recognition Award, for an individual who has made significant contributions to the fields of environmental and outdoor education. Oakland County Parks (OCP), a significant programming partner of MSUE, nominated Bindu for this award. OCP noted Bindu’s leadership impacts through the Michigan Conservation Stewards program, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership program and other watershed-based educational partnerships.

David Holt, an MSUE conservation steward, received the 2012 Volunteer Service Award. David volunteers tirelessly with Oakland County Parks. Using his MSUE volunteer development background, and building on more than 15 years of volunteer experience of his own, he spent more than 30 hours monitoring grassland birds at Highland Oaks Park during 2011 and 2012. His field work has improved park natural resources management of these birds.

Two teachers from the MSUE-sponsored Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative received Appreciation Awards. Rebecca Heckman of Inland Lakes Schools and Brian Matchett of Alcona Community Schools bring real-world stewardship learning to students through partnerships with conservation organizations, resource agencies and businesses. Brian is a 4-H alumnus of the Michigan 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp for teen leadership, and he has served as a staff member.

Congratulations to this group for their professional impacts throughout the state, within the Great Lakes region and with international circles for their work in Natural Resources Literacy and Leadership!

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Kettunen Center tree becomes Christmas celebrity

When a simple evergreen tree was planted near Cadillac, no one knew it was destined for fame 50 years later. The planting of the Norway spruce celebrated the opening of Kettunen Center, the leader training facility and conference center owned and operated by the Michigan 4-H Foundation. The tree spent its life making the grounds of the Kettunen Center more beautiful. But the stately 60-foot tree was starting to overgrow its space. At the same time, the Detroit 300 Conservancy was searching statewide for a special tree to be the star attraction of the 2011 Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Magic-Detroit festivities. The Michigan Christmas Tree Association supported the search efforts and found the tree with the help of the Michigan State University Extension Christmas Tree Area of Expertise Team.

Harvested on Halloween, the tree traveled to its new home, Campus Martius Park, Nov. 2. After more than a week of preparation, the tree was ready Nov. 18 for the tree lighting ceremony and festivities, presented by DTE Energy Foundation. The tree reigned over the festivities at the Woodward Fountain next to the ice rink.

View photos of the tree from its harvest at Kettunen Center to its transformation into a Christmas beauty by visiting the Campus Martius Park Facebook page.

Read more here.

View this video of the tree being put into place in Detroit.

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