Tag Archives: maggie bethel

Thanks to all of you!

As this is my last Spotlight, I thought I would spend a little time reviewing all that we (meaning ALL of us – and especially you) have accomplished in the last year or so. At the 2014 Fall Extension Conference, we set out to make some adjustments in Michigan State University Extension that we felt would help improve the organization. We set up a series of committees and task forces including strategic connections, issue identification, MI PRS (Michigan Extension Planning and Reporting System) improvement, mentoring and several more. It was great to see how many of you engaged in these committees and proved without a doubt how much you care for MSUE. I was also really pleased to see very thoughtful work that each of the teams in each institute put into strategic and staffing plans. These forward-looking documents, along with the information gathered through issue ID, will help guide MSUE toward that more “colorful future” that interim director Maggie Bethel asked us to move toward in fall 2014. As we have talked about, teams are an important part of MSUE and that is how we “get things done.”

One team that has proven to be invaluable to me has been the administrative team that also consists of the institute directors, district coordinators, and budget and human resources leadership, along with associate director of operations Patrick Cudney and me.. I can’t thank them enough for all of the work that they do on behalf of MSUE. Patrick, in particular, has been invaluable in helping me navigate through the many issues that face the Director’s Office and the organization.

Equally important has been the outstanding support that I have received from Terri Badgley, Julie Delgado and Katie Nicpon – the folks that really run the Director’s Office. Just saying thank you very much hardly approaches the deep appreciation I have for all that they have done for me. These three folks also provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all who visit the office here in the Morrill Hall of Agriculture – and this is the sense of welcome that radiates throughout all of MSUE.

It has been a real privilege to serve MSUE over the last 18 months, and this time has been one of the most rewarding of my 35-year career at MSU. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know more of you and learning more about what MSUE does across the state. I also know that I leave you in very good hands with the new interim director Jeff Dwyer, Patrick and the entire administrative team.

As I look ahead, what I see for MSUE is perhaps best paraphrased from a Timbuk3 song – “MSUE’s future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.” Best wishes for the future and thanks for all of your great work!

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Action teams are gearing up to work

After the “Building a Colorful Future” presentation at the 2014 Fall Extension Conference, Margaret Bethel, Patrick Cudney and I decided to create three action teams that would convene in 2015. During the postpresentation discussion at the conference and in the months since, Michigan State University Extension staff have made some great suggestions about where the organization could grow. With your help, we’re well on our way toward implementing many of those suggestions. Members of the action teams have been named, and all three teams will have their first meetings in the next few months.

  • Strategic Connections & Communications Team – Patrick Cudney is chairing this team, which will meet February 6. They will determine the best practices for strategic communications for MSU Extension employees, update existing communications tools and develop new ones to help us all build and maintain our strategic connections.
  • Issues Identification Team – Chair Maggie Bethel will convene this team on February 23. They will work to frame the issue identification process that we will use with the district councils in the future. The process will help us pinpoint the issues that are important to the communities we serve and identify how MSU Extension can be involved in addressing them.
  • Team Member Accountability and Performance Feedback Team – Julie Chapin is chairing this team, which will meet in April. They will work to improve our performance review structure and will discuss the role peer feedback should play in those reviews.

We will keep you up to date on the teams’ progress over time. Thank you again to everyone who has provided feedback and support with this process!

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Educators invited to serve on national teams

Four of our Michigan State University Extension educators from the Health and Nutrition Institute were recently honored with the invitation to join national teams, led by the Extension and Experiment Station committees on organization and policy. These committees act as the representative leadership and governing body of Cooperative Extension, and they provide guidance to issues affecting it. Cathy Newkirk was invited to serve on the national Health Literacy Action Team, Holly Tiret was invited to serve on the national Response Team for Positive Youth Development for Health Action Team, Linda Cronk was invited to serve on the Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Action Team and Sarah Eichberger was invited to serve on the Health Policy Issues Education Action Team.

Former MSU Extension director Maggie Bethel nominated them to take on these critical roles, and it was a large honor for them to be selected.

On their respective teams, Cathy, Linda and Sarah will work to connect with the broad-based effort “Healthy Food Systems, Healthy People” and, more importantly, make a difference for the individuals, families and communities Extension serves. The response team on which Holly was invited to serve will help respond to the ideas, materials and opportunities developed by the other action teams. These teams plan to position the research, Extension and academic programs functions of our universities for critical action against the health issues at hand.

Dawn Contreras, director of the Health and Nutrition Institute, reported that the process was very competitive. She noted that 11 out of the 12 states in the North Central Region nominated people for these committees, so Cathy, Linda, Holly and Sarah deserve a round of applause. Congratulations to our staff on this honor!

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Deadline for 4-H Emerald Clover Society member nominations is Jan. 31

What do Maggie Bethel, Cheri Booth, Julie Chapin, John Engler, Dean Kiesling, Theresa Silm, Debbie Stabenow and Vera Wiltse have in common? All are former 4-H members. And all are members of the 4-H Emerald Clover Society.

 The goal of the 4-H Emerald Clover Society is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate individuals who have had significant 4-H involvement as a youth and who have made significant contributions to their local, state and national communities. Nominee selection is based on evidence of three or more years of Michigan 4-H youth membership, professional and business achievement, leadership in community service and philanthropy, contributions to or impact on American society, and significant leadership and achievement as a 4‑H member.

 Do you know a former 4-H member, still living, who meets these criteria? If you do, why not nominate that person for membership in the society? The deadline to nominate is Jan. 31. Download a nomination packet at http://www.mi4hfdtn.org/ecs. Mail the completed form to the Michigan 4-H Foundation or submit by fax at 517-432-3310 or email to info@mi4hfdtn.org.

 Chosen 2012 inductees will be honored at the 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony on June 21 prior to the State 4-H Awards Celebration.

 For a list of current 4-H Emerald Clover Society members, visit the Emerald Clover Society website at http://www.mi4hfdtn.org/ecs/. You may recognize many more names as current or former Michigan State University Extension colleagues.

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What’s on your dashboard?

Governor Snyder presented his first State-of-the-State address last night, and delivered a message consistent with what he has said throughout his campaign and in the months following his election success: Michigan’s economy needs a boost, and the most immediate outcome that boost needs to generate is jobs.

 His speech was targeted more at the big ideas of where he intends to lead the state, but he did share a few more concrete examples to help illustrate his intention. One of those examples was the Michigan Dashboard – a quick way of documenting the metrics that he feels we need to improve. These are the metrics that will tell us whether his programs and other changes that the Legislature enacts are leading towards the creation of new jobs for Michigan residents.

 The metrics are organized in five categories: Economic Strength, Health and Education, Value for Government, Quality of Life and Public Safety. Among those five categories, 21 individual metrics are listed, and for each, data from the previous five years are given, and comparisons to other states are listed as well.

 The notion that government would be held accountable to a set of metrics isn’t entirely new. Six years ago, leadership in the Legislature determined that they wanted to use an accountability methodology based on the book “The Price of Government,” authored by David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson. Unfortunately, leadership in the House was more interested than leadership in the Senate, and the governor’s office seemed even less interested in that approach. Even so, at that time, my predecessor, Maggie Bethel, led the charge to show how Michigan State University Extension was able to deliver on the metrics of concern to legislators, and MSUE took the effort more seriously than any other organization inside or outside of state government. The impact papers that Maggie and her communications team generated were remarkable and have continued to influence the way we communicate about MSUE with decision makers.

 Governor Snyder’s approach may be more lasting, if for no other reason than the fact that it is originating from the Executive branch this time. Whether it lasts or not, I think it’s prudent for MSUE staff to once again ask ourselves how we contribute or can contribute to improving the metrics on the dashboard.

 For example, work our state and local government team conducts that assists local governments in finding ways to collaborate on services across jurisdictional lines should help to improve the metric on state and local government operating costs as a percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Work we do on nutrition education should help to improve on infant mortality, obesity in the population and college readiness. Our Greening Michigan teams can contribute to the clean and safe water resources water quality index. And there are others.

 We need to challenge ourselves to be able to show how our work is contributing to these metrics. They are not our only means of accountability, but they are among our important means of accountability. I challenge each of you to think about how your work and the productivity of your work team can contribute to one or more of these 21 metrics. Where appropriate, we need to build these into our logic models as metrics for measuring our program impacts.

 I’d like to hear from you with your ideas about MSUE contributing to these metrics. Before you hit the “reply” button and send your ideas just to me, please make a few more clicks by going to my blog and add your suggestions as comments to this posting so that others in MSUE, on your work team and outside of MSUE can read your thoughts as well.

 This is a time when we need to be able to once again rise to the challenge, and with the same confidence and boldness that Maggie demonstrated in 2005, speak clearly and demonstrate the value of MSUE for Michigan’s future.


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