Tag Archives: mark seamon

Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Grandparents University, scheduled for June 24–26, provides an opportunity for 8- to 12-year-olds to experience life on the Michigan State University campus. They get to live on campus, eat where the college students eat and even take classes. An added enhancement is that they do it all with their grandparent or favorite adult. Besides sparking an interest in potential future Spartans, the event brings alumni back to campus, providing an intergenerational experience that creates a connection between the participants and MSU.

More than 1,000 participants from 35 states and Canada attended the 2013 Grandparents University. A post-event survey reflected extremely positive reviews.

Kathryn Reed, assistant director of alumni relations and special events in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, invited me to encourage you to be a part of this unique experience by lending your expertise to presenting a session. Many who take part say that participating in Grandparents University is one of their favorite activities. It’s one of those experiences that you’ve heard about – the kind that after it’s over, people overwhelmingly say they get back more than they give.

You’ll also gain professional experience. It’s an opportunity to hone teaching skills and materials, to learn public opinion on the topic you cover and to think about your subject from a different standpoint due to the diversity of the participants.

Last year, Extension educator Laurie Rivetto presented a financial management session and pronounced it “a ton of fun.”

Laurie normally works with youth using the MSU Extension 4-H-created Spartan Dollars and Cents budgeting simulation. The Grandparents University session allowed her to use the simulation with both adults and children.

“Although my target audience is usually youth, this session had the additional outcome that the adults got a lot out of it, too, “said Laurie.

The adults found it challenging in the simulation to have to stick with a limited budget. Many remarked that it helped them to relate to different budget scenarios that others might be grappling with. For example, some found they could not afford to purchase health care insurance within the budget and a discussion took place about the challenges of this arrangement.

Laurie also said that taking part in Grandparents University gave her a different perspective.

“It was neat to be a part of a program that involved so many different departments and units, including Extension, at the University. It was a great team effort,” she said.

This year Extension educator Frank Cox will join Laurie in presenting Spartan Dollars and Sense. They’ll also present the Wonderful World of Work in which the generations will learn from each other about work.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event. Courtesy of Grandparents University.

If you decide to present, you’ll need to target your 90-minute session to the 8- to 12-year-old audience, making sure that what you present is a fun, interactive, hands-on lesson that holds kids’ interest. You don’t have to be limited to the classroom. You can conduct your session in a lab, on the farm or another location. Need more than 90 minutes? You can sign up for two 90-minute sessions, given as Part I and Part II. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Why not just adapt a program or outreach effort you currently teach?

Interested? Contact Kathryn at 355-0284 or at kreed@msu.edu by November 7. (The deadline has recently been extended.) When you do, please let her know the following:

  •  The name of the session leader
  • Session title
  • A short description that can be included in promotional materials (3 to 5 sentences long)
  • The number of people the session can accommodate (Sessions are as small as 10 people and as large as 200. The average is about 25.)
  • The name of the person coordinating
  • If a specific classroom or lab is required
  • If there is a day or time during these three days when the session cannot be led (if known)

Last year, in addition to Laurie, Extension educators Jed Jaworski, Georgia Peterson, Dixie Sandborn and Jessica Wright participated. Charles Gould, Paul Gross, Dennis Pennington and Mark Seamon have participated for years but were unable to present in 2013. These four have already committed for 2014.

Others who have presented in the past include Laura Allen, Bindu Bhakta, Constance Costner, Dale Elsoff, Andrea Grix, Vanessa Holmes, Betsy Knox, LuAnne Kozma, Cyndi Mark, Emily Proctor, Kama Ross, Erica Tobe and Sheila Urban Smith.

By the way, several faculty members on campus have used their Grandparents University sessions in grant applications when an outreach or other similar component is required.

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MSUE shines at NACAA Conference

A bunch of Michigan State University Extension folks who are members of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) have made us proud by earning honors from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA). All were invited to attend the NACAA Communications Award Luncheon on Tuesday, July 13, during the NACAA Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference in Tulsa, Okla.

This year, Michigan stands out in the limelight in having four national finalists – Robert Sirrine, Mike Staton, Kevin Gould and Phil Durst. And one of our own, Stan Moore, Antrim County Extension educator, took on the presidency of the NACAA at the conference. That’s right – he’s President of the National Association.

Two members of our Extension staff earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award. The award is for agents with more than 10 years of experience, and it often recognizes a lifetime of service. For the past 10 years, Roberta Dow, district water quality educator, has trained AmeriCorps members who then conduct Home*A*Systs that help Michigan residents identify their risks to water quality and provide ways to lower those risks. For the past 14 years, Bruce MacKellar has provided expertise to southwestern Michigan growers concerning emerging field crop insect and disease control issues.

 Kendra Wills, Kent County Extension land use educator, was honored with the NACAA Achievement Award given to young agents with less than ten years of experience. Kendra’s work largely involves getting urban and rural citizens engaged in addressing urban sprawl. She has been successful in preserving a vast amount of prime and unique farmland in the county.

 Dr. J Robert Sirrine, Leelanau County Extension educator, is a national NACAA category award winner, receiving a plaque and a prize of $500 for a published photo and caption. The photo, which depicts Rob with two hops growers, was published in the June 2009 issue of Michigan Farmer Magazine. See it at http://magissues.farmprogress.com/mif/MF06Jun09/mif001.pdf.

Dr. Sirrine also was a regional finalist in the publication category for “Sustainable Hop Production in the Great Lakes Region.” He was the lead author along with authors Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Erin Lizotte, Dr. Ron Goldy, Steve Marquie, and Diane Brown-Rytlewski. The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore (formerly called the Bulletin Office) at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3083.

Phil Kaatz, Lapeer County Extension educator, was a regional finalist in the program promotional piece category for work on a brochure promoting the MSU Extension Thumb Ag Team and their efforts to promote regional programming. Phil says that it was really a team effort with Fran Adelaja working collaboratively with him on the piece with the help of the other educators in the brochure to produce the final product. The team members in addition to Phil were Jeannine Grobbel Schweihofer, David Pratt, Steve Poindexter, Martin Nagelkirk, Craig Thomas, Dennis Stein, Bob Tritten, Mark Seamon, Bob Battel and Emily Sneller.

 

George Silva, Eaton County Extension field crops and horticulture educator, was regional finalist for the Communication Awards website competition. George won the honors for his work on the official website for the Soybean 2010 project located at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/soybean2010/. Soybean 2010 project is a collaborative, research, education and communication effort at improving Michigan soybean yield and profitability. The partners include Michigan soybean growers, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Agribusiness Association, Michigan Farm Bureau and MSUE.

Mark Seamon, Saginaw County Extension bioeconomy innovation counselor and regional innovation counselor, was regional finalist in the fact sheet category for “Fueling the Future: Potential Biomass Crops for Michigan.” The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3077. And by the way, this fact sheet written by Mark is part of a series of five bioeconomy fact sheets, each by a different author, available at the MSUE Bookstore.

Mike Staton, Allegan County Extension senior agricultural educator, won the National Search for Excellence in Crop Production Award. Mike led a cooperative effort to plan, promote, conduct and evaluate educational meetings designed to help soybean growers identify and overcome the barriers to producing higher-yielding and more profitable soybeans. The programs reached more than 1,500 producers and agronomists and produced projected financial impacts of more than $2.1 million dollars. The other MSU Extension educators cooperating on this project were Ned Birkey, Emily Sneller, Marilyn Thelen, Bruce MacKellar, Bill Robb and Dennis Pennington.

Kevin Gould, Ionia County Extension educator, was the National Search for Excellence award winner in Livestock Production. He led a program that developed a pre-conditioning and marketing system to add value to beef calves in Michigan.

Phil Durst, Oscoda County Extension dairy educator, was recognized as a national finalist for Professional Excellence for the Beginning, Young and Small Farmer Programming Award. Each month, Phil meets with 40 to 50 young dairy producers who are part of two YSD (Young, Savvy and into Dairy) groups in northeastern Michigan. Through Facebook, it is an international group of young people in dairy.

Tom Dudek reported that the weather in Tulsa was – well, very Tulsa-like for the middle of July:  hot (95° F) and humid (heat index = 115). I got the impression they were pleased to escape back to Michigan’s more moderate conditions, but they definitely came back with a lot of hardware in their luggage. The Michigan Association of Extension Agents received a certificate for fourth place in increased membership, with 8 new members added last year.

We are very proud of our colleagues in NACAA and the work that they do in our state. Their innovations and hard work really set a model for what we hope to achieve even more widely in our new organizational design. Thanks for giving us great examples to highlight and learn from!

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