Tag Archives: kristine hahn

Michigan State Fair a huge success for Extension and the CANR

By Patrick Cudney

Many of our colleagues spent this Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 4‒7, at the Michigan State Fair at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We can all be proud of the work being done to enhance the Michigan State University Extension presence in southeastern Michigan. More than 112,000 visitors attended the fair this year, so the event created the opportunity to build awareness of our programs to a huge audience. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources was fully engaged with us in the marketing effort.

Julie Chapin, Children and Youth Institute director, and I attended a VIP pre-opening event, which gave us a firsthand look at our giant 60-foot by 40-foot exhibit space that was free to MSU Extension. Credit for obtaining the free space goes to Debra (“Debbie”) Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator, who has been coordinating a 4-H presence at other expos at the Suburban Collection Showplace since 2005. This is the first year we’ve had a coordinated presence from all of Extension. Debbie helped us to build on the base that she created through her previous work at the fair.

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich

Michigan State University Extension staff contributed to the success of the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich:
Front row (left to right): Fran Adelaja, MSU Extension specialist; Debra Morgan, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Margaret Stockert, MSU Extension 4-H support – Oakland County; Glenda Weiss, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator – Wayne County
Back row: Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director; Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director; Alan Jaros, MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm director; Karen Craig, MSU Tollgate Conference Center coordinator; Jason Scott, MSUE 4-H program coordinator – Oakland County; Jake DeDecker, MSU Extension children and youth associate state leader; Mary Blumka, 4-H program coordinator- Oakland County.
Photo credit: Lou Waldock, Waldock Tree Farm

Debbie said, “In 2014, I was invited to the press conference where Oakland County and District 11 were offered space at the 2014 Michigan State Fair. When I was invited in 2015, I asked if we could have a larger space to include all of MSU Extension and they said ‘absolutely – what do you need?’ It is a win-win situation and the folks with the Michigan State Fair and Suburban Collection Showplace have been super accommodating and so easy to work with. I believe we have created a mutually beneficial relationship and a great opportunity to showcase all the services MSU Extension has to offer to the public.”

She added that when Extension educator Alan Jaros, who is director of the MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm just miles down the road from the Suburban Collection Showcase, attended the press conference with her this year, she knew then we were going to do something bigger and better this year.

Tollgate is Extension’s 160-acre learning laboratory visited annually by 12,000 people who explore food systems, agriculture and horticulture, and experience a greater connection to our natural resources.

“With Tollgate’s strong roots in Novi and the surrounding area, our partners and the local community have come to expect high-quality, unbiased, research-based and interactive educational opportunities from MSU Extension. When we were approached to have a stronger presence at the fair, it was an obvious chance to build a greater awareness of MSU Extension’s impact beyond Tollgate,” said Alan.

The fair provides the perfect opportunity for our 4-H youth to showcase their projects and apply for the scholarships offered to youth exhibitors. In fact, this year scholarships totaled $40,000.

It would be impossible to list everyone involved in our success. The following people were involved in coordinating the event. Besides Alan and Debbie, they included Fran Adelaja, Megghan Honke, Betsy Braid, Mindy Tape, Jake DeDecker, Kristine Hahn, Kristi Evans and Mary Wilson.

Others contributing to the event’s success included Beth Stuever, Kittie Butcher, Carol Lenchek, Mary Gerstenberger, Margaret Stockert, Glenda Weiss, Karen Craig, Jason Scott, Ed Scott and Mary Blumka.

In addition, approximately 80 staff and volunteers signed up to help set up, tear down and work the booth throughout the weekend. It really was a team effort!

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery

Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, tests his skill at hoverball archery as Julie Chapin, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director, looks on at the Michigan State Fair that took place Sept. 4‒7, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich.
Photo credit: Debra Morgan.

The large space was well utilized by each institute. The Children and Youth Institute supplied hands-on activities including crafts, hoverball archery (yep, I tried it, it’s fun), the 4-H Commodity Carnival interactive game, Legos, an early childhood sensory table and the 4-H Life Skills Wheel. 4-H Tech Wizards provided Rockets to the Rescue. The Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Master Gardeners presented Smart Gardening daily, and the Health and Nutrition Institute provided information and a nutrition and health wheel game. Greening Michigan staffed a resource table with information on foreclosure counseling, Sea Grant and the Michigan Fresh program.

I appreciate all of your efforts in moving our organization visibility forward. This is an excellent example of how MSU Extension can improve our engagement and understanding of the work we do in fulfilling our mission. Strategic connections at the finest!

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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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Reaching consumers where they shop: MSUE launches new presence at Eastern Market

One of the striking things about the growth of farmers markets and interest in locally grown and produced foods is how closely those movements align with some core programmatic strengths of Michigan State University Extension. Consumers at farmers markets are interested in nutrition, food safety, gardening and even small business success. We offer programs intended to help consumers better understand how to ensure a nutritious diet; how to use, preserve and prepare food safely; how to grow productive (and colorful) plants in gardens; and how to develop a business that starts with growing things and creating added value by processing them.

A year ago, that realization struck me as I visited the City Market in Kansas City, Missouri. (I was taking my own field trip at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.) It was not a market day, so I was poking around in the resident shops at the market and some of the vacant public places. I came across a very simple sign that pointed to a small kiosk that University of Missouri Extension staffed on market days and the logic of what they were doing struck me as one of those “why didn’t we think of that” moments. I inquired a bit more from colleagues at Missouri, and they shared that nutrition education staff and volunteers attended the kiosk on market days and used it as a platform for educating consumers about nutrition choices they can make with their purchases at the market.

University of Missouri Extension kiosk in Kansas City, Missouri.

University of Missouri Extension kiosk in Kansas City, Missouri.

I made a few inquiries back here about the idea and learned that we have had Master Gardener volunteers attend some farmers markets to educate consumers about gardening, particularly in Oakland County, led by environmental science educator Carol Lenchek.

A team quickly formed in District 11 to apply the concept of the kiosk to the Detroit Eastern Market as a pilot from which we could learn about providing programming at farmers markets. Extension educator Eileen Haraminac has provided leadership for the team that developed a plan for and purchased a moveable kiosk that we now use as a base for offering information to market consumers. On July 10, we launched the kiosk, located at the north entrance to Shed 2, the open-air marketplace where vendors sell at the Tuesday markets. Of the 3,000 consumers who came to the market that day, Eileen estimates that more than 10 percent stopped by the kiosk for information, and they quickly filled her sign-up sheet for food preservation classes. Eileen has coordinated staffing the kiosk with MSUE staff and volunteers who have expertise in nutrition and food safety.

Extension educator Kristine Hahn has led recruitment of volunteers with expertise in gardening to serve at the kiosk. She anticipates using the kiosk as a platform to demonstrate skills and information useful to gardeners.

Eventually the kiosk may be useful in recruiting clients of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio and in sharing other information from MSUE. The launch of the Michigan Fresh campaign, which provides up-to-date bulletins of interest to growers and consumers of fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables, complements the physical presence that the kiosk provides us at Eastern Market.

MSU Extension educators Eileen Haraminac (left) and Kristine Hahn

MSU Extension educators Eileen Haraminac (left) and Kristine Hahn pose in front of the MSU Extension kiosk in the Detroit Eastern Market July 2012.

Eileen, Kristine and their colleagues and volunteers also staff the kiosk on Saturdays at Eastern Market, days at which tens of thousands of consumers descend on the market. That’s a pretty bold approach for a pilot project meant to explore how we can effectively connect with consumers at farmers markets. I’m not sure that a kiosk is needed at every market, but what the experience at Eastern Market has shown us already is that consumers welcome the information we have available for them there, and vendors appreciate being able to refer customers to our staff and volunteers. Each market presents a unique opportunity to reach residents with our programs. It’s overwhelming to think of serving every farmers market in the state. Yet at locations as large as Eastern Market or as small as the Wednesday markets in Manistique, market consumers find it helpful to have access to their cooperative Extension system as they shop.

I want to thank Eileen, Kristine and the many others who have helped to develop, test and pilot this idea we borrowed from our colleagues in Missouri. It’s been a tremendous effort, and as you can see , they’ve made us look really good at the market!

MSU Extension educators educate consumers

MSU Extension educators educate consumers at the MSU Extension kiosk at the Detroit Eastern Market July 2012.

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Hahn kicks off the Metro gardening season with radio interview

Kristine Hahn, Michigan State University Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, helped to kick off the spring garden season with an interview on WDET radio on March 3. Her interview addressed some of the exciting developments in community gardening in Detroit and some of the challenges folks face when planning and managing a community garden. What was amazing was to realize that the number of gardens has grown from 80 to more than 1,800 over the past five years. You can listen to excerpts of her interview here:

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