Tag Archives: mark hansen

Check out these new MSU Extension bulletins

Several new bulletins are now available in the Michigan State University Extension Bookstore. All are produced by Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications. All three are available as free PDF downloads. E3203 Wildfires

 Protect Your Great Lakes Shoreline Home From Wildfires (E3203) is written by Mark F. Hansen, Extension educator-on-call emeritus and consultant emeritus. The bulletin, part of the Wildfire Series, gives tips to incorporate preventative practices such as providing a defensible space to reduce the chances your shoreline home will catch fire in the event of a wildfire. E3198 Rebuilding an Eroding Bank

Rebuilding an Eroding Bank on an Inland Lake: A Comparison of Traditional and Prefabricated Encapsulated Soil Lifts (E3198) is written by Jane Herbert, senior Extension water resource educator, and Gina Frasson-Hudson, Extension research assistant. It was edited by Rebecca McKee, editor, and designed by Alicia Burnell, graphic designer, both of ANR Communications. Shoreline contractors as well as shoreline property owners will benefit from this bulletin, which compares the traditional method of “hardening” eroding shorelines using rock riprap and vertical seawalls with a more natural erosion control measure, such as an encapsulated soil lift. E3200 Rotational grazing

Rotational Grazing for Michigan Horses (E3200) was written by Tom Guthrie, Extension statewide equine educator; Karen Waite, equine Extension specialist; and Kim Cassida, forage specialist in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. It was edited by Rebecca McKee and designed by Alicia Burnell. The bulletin describes what a rotational grazing system is and helps horse owners and managers decide whether a system is right for them, their land and their horses.

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Deford Dazzlers take 10th place at rocket national finals, earn right to take part in NASA student launch

In a past Spotlight, I told you about the Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team, the Tuscola County 4-H’ers who scored well enough in the Team America Rocketry Challenge to take part in the national finals May 11-12 in Virginia.

I’m pleased to report the team finished 10th in the national competition, earning a $2,000 grant to fund the 2012-13 rocket season.

The event wasn’t just about flying rockets. Before the competition, the team attended a congressional breakfast at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. across from the Capitol. They had the opportunity to present the rocket, showing and explaining a cross-section of the engine and payload section from a prototype to top executives from the Aerospace Industries Association, a sponsor of the contest; engineers from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon; congressional aides; journalists; and officials from the Department of Defense.

The team members got the chance to get to know the members of other teams who attended the breakfast and reception. Instead of seeing each other as competitors, team members shared tips for success with members of other teams.

Said Mark Hansen, volunteer team mentor, “It was nothing like that of a typical competition. There was a spirit of camaraderie and friendship that was very endearing.”

At the competition, the Dazzlers lived up to their name, dazzling the competition with their near perfect first flight, which now holds the field record for Best Score at national finals. This put them in the lead of the top 24 teams given a chance to fly again. Strong winds affected most everyone’s score the second time around as it did the Dazzlers.’ Still they ended up in 10th place.

Mark said, “I can’t emphasize enough how important this event has been in their lives. The entire process of engineering, working as a team and setting these lofty goals has helped them grow, mature, hone their academic skills, discover their talents and made them better human beings.”

The team’s 10th place win made them eligible to participate in the Student Launch Initiative, the NASA-sponsored program that challenges youth to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level.

Mark will attend a NASA advanced rocketry workshop in July in Huntsville, Ala. Upon his return, the team will begin the raw engineering and data gathering to design their rocket.

Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team

The Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team members pose with their trophy for finishing 10th at the Team America Rocket Challenge national finals May 12, 2012, in Virginia. Team members are in green. Behind them are industry leaders. Team members left to right: Catherine Gordon, Chrysler Parrish, Dustyn Parrish, Peter Hansen, William Webster and Christopher Hansen.
Photo courtesy of Gene Feveryear

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Why we care about measuring impacts

As we have formulated logic models and work plans to articulate the focus of our programs, we often find ourselves trying to summarize the importance of the work we do. Often the easiest measures are ones that measure importance in a way that may tell us how many people use our programs or how frequently people contact us for our services. For example, we know that our Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development programs reach 11 percent of the youth in our state. That’s good to know, and even more valuable is knowing whether that percentage is increasing or decreasing. Certainly, an increase in the percent of youth reached is indicative of how broad our reach is and how effective our programs are at recruiting and retaining participants and the volunteers who serve them. Yet, as education professionals, we want to know more than just who showed up. We really don’t know how lives are changed by simply recording the number of participants. We need to know and we need to be able to report on what difference our programs made to those participants.

 In today’s story about the Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team, it’s pretty cool to celebrate what those youth accomplished, and ranking 10th in the nation is nothing to take lightly. But how will that rocketry experience affect the Dazzlers when they are adults? And what outcomes would we want to see? In 4-H, we say that we want to help prepare youth to be competent, confident, connected, caring, contributing adults. How do we measure that, and how do we determine the role that 4-H played in their development? Those are really difficult questions to answer, and scholars spend entire careers trying to find ways to measure those impacts. We’re fortunate to have colleagues at MSU and at land-grant universities across the country who help us make those measurements. Those long-term impacts are the most challenging to measure. If a Dazzler from 2012 ends up as head of NASA, do we take credit for that? Of course not. Yet, I don’t think anyone would deny that our program had an impact on that youth’s education and career choices that resulted in appointment as NASA director. What if another Dazzler ends up farming in Tuscola County? Do we say the 4-H experience had no impact on their educational and career choices? Of course not. Every experience a youth encounters has an impact on their future trajectory. What the youth learned from rocketry probably will have a lot of relevance to operating agricultural equipment in the 21st century. But that youth has gained much more than a deep understanding of physics and chemistry. He or she has learned how to work with others on a team, has learned how to appreciate the skills of others, has learned how to communicate effectively with peers and with adults.

 I’m really happy for the Dazzlers – nothing is more exhilarating than watching a rocket take off successfully, disappear into the sky, and then reappear with parachute fully deployed. And to do it so successfully is simply awesome. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for them and for the adults like Mark Hansen who help them with their projects. I’m confident that they are more likely to be competent, confident, connected, caring and contributing adults as a result of their efforts. I look forward to the day that we’ll know what contributions those Dazzlers make as adults to test the confidence I have in their experiences. And I appreciate all efforts that my MSUE colleagues make to measure even the short-term impacts of our programs so that we can show the value of our work to others. And I appreciate all efforts that my MSUE colleagues make to expand our reach to serve even more than 11 percent of the youth in Michigan. They all need experiences like the Dazzlers’ to ensure Michigan’s future success.

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It really is rocket science for Tuscola County 4-H club

The Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team members proved to be true rocket scientists. On Feb. 28, this 4-H club from the Tuscola County town of Deford competed against nearly 700 teams from across the U.S. in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), the world’s largest rocket contest, sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR).

 Across the country, youth rocket teams compete in qualifying flights in the presence of two official timekeepers and a NAR official. Unlike many other competitions, model rocket contestants are scored from low to high. The 100 lowest-scoring teams earn the right to compete in the TARC in Virginia May 11–12. The Deford Dazzlers’ rocket scored well enough to earn the team a trip to the national event.

 Team members work together creating the rockets, doing all of their own design and construction work. They researched the principles of rocketry and the laws of physics. Mark Hansen, volunteer team mentor, teaches the Dazzlers the mathematics behind it. Mark’s wife, Patricia, as the “rocket mom,” helps Mark balance the details of communication and scheduling. But the kids ultimately make all of their own decisions, using RocSim software to help them design their prototypes.

 The TARC winning team will earn the chance to compete in an international competition at the Paris Air Show, sponsored by NATO Air Force. The top TARC teams receive an invitation to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where they will participate in a three-day educational series on advanced rocketry design. They’ll also receive funds to build an ultra-rocket to specific design specs and return to Virginia where NASA, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, will take the teams out on a destroyer, and launch and retrieve their rockets over the ocean. The winning team will meet the President at the White House.

 Two high schoolers and four middle schoolers (five boys and one girl) comprise the six Deford Dazzlers 4‑H Rocket Team, making the Dazzlers one of the younger teams in the TARC competition. Team members include Catherine Gordon, Christopher Hansen, Peter Hansen, Chrysler Parrish, Dustyn Parrish and William Webster.

 Melissa Payk, Michigan State University Extension educator, called the Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team “… an all-volunteer 4-H club that is totally geeked about science in all its variations – metal working, computers, chemistry, physics, small engines, biology, environmental science, small animals, and, of course, rocketry – they do it all.”

 “We are all about science, and our hope is to inspire some of these kids to go into science technology, engineering or mathematics careers. I’m already seeing some change in the rocketry team. Some of them really didn’t think they had any talent for math or science prior to getting involved in rocketry,” Mark Hansen said. “Now, my wife and I hear comments such as, ‘I could be an engineer. I could be a chemist. I could work for NASA.’ That’s the goal – to help them believe they could be the next generation of scientists. There are very, very few opportunities in the sciences in our area.”

 Mark added, “Getting involved in 4-H and having Melissa Payk, Heather Middleton (Extension program instructor), the Extension office staff, and (4-H) Council get behind me and support me in my dreams for youth sciences has been amazing. I cannot say enough good things about the Tuscola County MSU Extension Office staff and our council. I am blessed to be a part of the program.”

For more information about the Team America Rocket Challenge, visit http://www.rocketcontest.org/.

Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team

Members of the Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team with their competition rocket pose April 13, 2012, at the MSU Extension Tuscola County benefit fundraiser at the Moose Lodge in Caro, Mich. Back row: Peter Hansen, Dustyn Parrish, William Webster, Christopher Hansen. Front row: Catherine Gordon, Chrysler Parrish.
Photo by Mark Hansen.

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Federal grants extend MSU Extension Firewise efforts

Each year between 8,000 and 10,000 wildfires occur in Michigan. These include forest fires, brush fires and grass fires that damage homes, property and public facilities. Michigan State University Extension has been actively engaged in providing wildfire prevention education since 2002 when former MSU Extension emergency management specialist Mark Hansen collaborated with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to pilot the Firewise Communities Program in southern Michigan.

 As Mark was able to obtain additional funding through USDA Forest Service and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grants, Firewise programming was expanded to the Upper Peninsula, northern Lower Peninsula and select Lake Michigan shoreline counties in southwestern and central Michigan. Since 2002, MSU Extension has received more than $1 million in federal grants to support the Firewise program.

 Though Mark officially retired from MSU Extension in December 2007, he agreed to remain as Firewise project director until June 30, 2011. At that time, Extension educator Elaine Bush assumed leadership duties for the statewide program in addition to providing Firewise educational programming in the northwest Lower Peninsula. Joining Elaine in providing Firewise programming are MSU Extension educators Mike Schira, Dave Andersen, Beth Clawson, Russ Kidd and Dennis McClure. Elaine, Dennis and Mike also applied to their respective counties for Title III funding that has provided each of them with a part-time staff person, greatly expanding their ability to provide local programming.

 The Firewise Project continues to expand. Over the past year, the Firewise team has reached more than 6 million listeners, viewers, program participants and local decision makers in Extension programs and media efforts. You can learn more about Firewise by signing up for the online session being offered during Fall Extension Conference by Elaine Bush and Paul Kollmeyer, MDNR state Firewise liaison.

 You can read about the national Firewise Communities Program here: http://www.firewise.org/ The staff in Agriculture and Natural Resources Technology Services recently redesigned the MSU Firewise website (http://firewise.msu.edu/). Continue to check the site for current information.

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MSUE staff assist subdivision in earning Firewise status

Au Sable River Estates, a subdivision near St. Helen and only a few miles from last year’s large wildfire on the Meridian boundary, has received the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Community status.

 A Firewise model community is typically a subdivision in which residents have recognized that wildfire is a significant threat to their homes, property and safety, and have made the effort to make changes that will reduce or prevent the impact of a wildfire. To qualify as a Firewise Communities/USA recognition site, a community must complete a community assessment and create an action plan, form a Firewise Board, hold a Firewise Day event and invest a minimum of $2 per capita in a local wildfire mitigation project. (Volunteer hours, equipment use, time contributed by agency fire staff and grant funding can be included.) They must submit an application to the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities/USA Program for national recognition.

 Michigan State University Extension staff members Dennis McClure, district Firewise educator, and Phillip Secord, district Firewise field assistant, were instrumental in introducing the Firewise program to the Au Sable River Estates subdivision residents and bringing them together with the local township public safety officer, county commissioner and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment personnel. MSUE staff members were also available to the subdivision residents for guidance in their quest and assisted them in preparing, writing and implementing their plan. Phil made the initial contact and served as the liaison with them. Dennis served primarily in the administrative role. Mark Hansen is the MSUE State Firewise program director.

 The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters.

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