Tag Archives: master gardener

Congratulations to our 2017 Distinguished Academic Staff Award winners

Tuesday we celebrated our Distinguished Academic Staff (DSA) Award winners, Jordan Burroughs and Terry McLean. The DSA honors the outstanding achievements of professionals who serve Michigan State University (MSU) in advising, curriculum development, outreach, extension, research and teaching. Up to four DSA awards are given annually, and these awards provide university wide recognition and reward to individuals with outstanding careers that demonstrate long-term excellence.

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Jordan Burroughs and her family. Photo credit: MSU Extension Communications Team.

Jordan, an outreach specialist in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, works closely with the wildlife community of interest in Michigan and has created innovative and effective education and stakeholder support programs. She is also the nation’s first Boone and Crockett Club Extension specialist and is known for the Gourmet Gone Wild and Catch and Cook programs, which she helped to develop and expand.

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Jeff Dwyer, Terry McLean and her family. Photo credit: MSU Extension Communications Team.

Terry is a community food systems educator based in MSU Extension District 9. During the Flint water emergency, Terry mobilized MSU resources to respond to community needs through collaborating with partners and colleagues. She is also a founding member of edible flint, a community gardening and urban ag network that helps revitalize communities and improve access to healthy food and revitalization. Lastly, Terry has provided leadership and training opportunities for the Genesee Master Gardener Volunteer Program for 13 years.

Read more about Jordan and Terry, as well as the other award winners, in MSU’s 2017 Distinguished Academic Staff Awards press release. Congratulations again to Jordan and Terry, and thank you for your service.

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Honoring our Master Gardener volunteers

On Friday, June 17, Michigan State University Extension hosted a dinner in Grand Rapids to honor 344 Extension Master Gardener Program volunteers from 31 counties with over 1,000 volunteer hours of service. MSU Extension also created a gold Extension Master Gardener name badge for each volunteer to show our appreciation for his or her service.

“These volunteers are the heart of the Master Gardener Program in Michigan,” said Mary Wilson, state coordinator and MSU Extension educator. “Their contribution to improving the lives of others and Michigan communities through horticulture is simply astounding.”

When you combine all the service hours from these individuals, it totals 17,333 weeks or 333 years of service. What an outstanding contribution to the people in our state! Thank you to our Master Gardener volunteers for your work with MSU Extension to serve Michigan residents.

I encourage us all to take a moment to reach out to a volunteer that you know and send them a quick thank-you note.

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MSU Extension staff members educate at Ag Expo

Visitors to Ag Expo take a break from the heat.

Visitors to Ag Expo take a break from the heat. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

It was another hot one! Just like last year and the year before that, Michigan State University Extension staff members braved the 90-plus degree heat and high humidity July 16‒18 at the 2013 Ag Expo on the MSU campus. Although attendance was down from last year (total attendance was 12,600), and the heat even prompted some visitors to stop and find a shady place to rest during the event, our staff members kept up the task at hand – delivering research-based education and promoting our programs.

At the Crop and Soil Science Corner, attendees learned about energy crops and biomass pelletization, and the soil practices that impact soil health.

In the Mortality Management Tent, visitors heard experts talk about work directed at minimizing environmental impacts of animal agriculture including manure and mortality composting (with daily demonstrations), air quality management and on-farm water use.

At the Information Station, the MSU Extension Bookstore offered selected educational publications at no charge along with MSU Extension bookmarks and tote bags. The tent also contained publications for purchase and sample publications and DVDs on a wide variety of topics that people could purchase online. In addition, randomly selected visitors took an MSU Extension Bookstore survey. Upon completion of the survey, these attendees received a book as a thank-you.

Michigan State University Extension staff members Joyce McGarry (green shirt) and Beth Jabin (white shirt), interact with Ag Expo attendees

Michigan State University Extension staff members Joyce McGarry (green shirt) and Beth Jabin (white shirt), interact with Ag Expo attendees at the Health and Nutrition Institute Booth. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Dawn Contreras.

Staff members gave a tour of the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center.

Our staff educated through demonstrations and displays in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Tent.

Extension staff members presented sessions on gardening in containers, starting a successful cottage food industry and growing tomatoes.

At the combined MSU Extension and AgBioResearch area, visitors received educational information about the two organizations. They learned the locations of MSU Extension county offices and AgBioResearch research centers. They picked up brochures and some fun giveaways for both adults and kids.

Attendees learned about healthy eating at the Health and Nutrition Institute’s display, which featured visual models to help visitors better understand nutrition. Examples included a one-pound replica of human fat and a display showing the amount of hidden sugar and fat in commonly consumed items. Visitors viewed jars containing jellybeans, which demonstrated the amount of bacteria that grows on food when it’s left out for extended periods, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

Jars with jellybeans demonstrate the amount of bacteria that grows on food

Jars with jellybeans demonstrate the amount of bacteria that grows on food when it’s left out for extended periods, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. The jars were part of the Michigan State University Extension Health and Nutrition Institute display at Ag Expo July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Dawn Contreras

The Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) area featured Breakfast on the Farm and agriculture literacy. Topic areas included dairy and crop progress, soil conservation, Michigan agriculture, animal well-being and the cow as a natural recycler. Visitors practiced milking a wooden dairy cow. A display featured food items made in Michigan; another showed Michigan’s number-one national ranking for the production of blueberries, sour cherries, pickling cucumbers and 12 floriculture crops. Children and adults enjoyed making butter by shaking containers of whipping cream until they had butter and buttermilk. The AABI area also included a display on irrigation management.

Plenty of activities in the tent commanded the attention of young visitors. The Children and Youth Institute display area featured the Commodity Carnival game in which young people learned how weather and commodity prices affect profit when selling livestock. Kids also spun a life-skills wheel, where they learned more about the four cornerstones of 4-H (head, heart, hands and health) and won prizes. The early childhood education team promoted early childhood literacy and gave away books donated by the Molina Foundation.

MSU Extension got the message out about smart gardening. Master Gardener volunteers and MSU Extension staff members found that Ag Expo was the perfect place to discuss how home gardeners can be good stewards of the environment while growing gardens and lawns.

Michigan State University Extension educator Sara Keinath explains the 4-H life-skills wheel to two young attendees of Ag Expo.

Michigan State University Extension educator Sara Keinath explains the 4-H life-skills wheel to two young attendees of Ag Expo. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Visitors to the CANR tent contributed $1,727 to support CANR scholarships and enjoyed complimentary ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store.

Other exhibitors in the CANR Tent included the national agricultural fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho, the CANR Alumni Association, the CANR Office of Academic and Student Affairs, the College of Veterinary Medicine, Firewise, the Institute of Water Research, Kettunen Center, Michigan FFA, the Michigan Nut Growers Association, Michigan Pork, My Horse University and Michigan Equine News, the MSU Product Center and MSU Surplus and Recycling,

Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Marianna Foster (right) gives attendees tips on smart gardening at Ag Expo.

Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Marianna Foster (right) gives attendees tips on smart gardening at Ag Expo. The event took place July 16‒18, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Since our staff did so much, I’ve probably left something out. If you’d like to mention your display or presentation or anything else about Ag Expo, please let us know about it in the comments section for this article.

Thanks to all who helped out at Ag Expo whether out front or behind the scenes.

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MSUE Consumer Hort Team wins eXtension award

With reduced budgets and staff and increased programmatic responsibilities, Michigan State University Extension staff must maximize limited time and resources to meet growing demands. With those challenges in mind, the MSUE Consumer Horticulture Team faced the daunting task of delivering science-based, environmentally sound information to more than 8 million gardeners. With a firm grasp of the importance of technology and a collaborative spirit, they not only met their responsibilities but also won an award for their efforts.

The consumer hort team along with Bindu Bhakta will receive the eXtension Working Differently in Extension Award Oct. 2 at the National eXtension Conference in Oklahoma City. The team consists of Bob Bricault, Rebecca Finneran, Gary Heilig, Hal Hudson, Gretchen Voyle, Linda Whitlock and Mary Wilson.

Senior Extension specialist Lela Vandenberg nominated the team for the award, which recognizes the team’s engagement with clientele, co-workers and others in new and different ways and the demonstrable impacts made. It provides an opportunity to show how the team works online and within a learning network.

In 2010, the team launched the “Gardening in Michigan”website as a platform to offer a variety of online classes and resources. The website now serves thousands of people. In early 2011, the team decided to add an Ask an Expert (AaE) widget to the website’s front page. But before they put up the widget, they would need experts to answer the questions. The team worked with the MSUE eXtension Institutional Team to develop an AaE training process suited for advanced Master Gardeners. Fifteen Master Gardener volunteers were recruited and trained online in Adobe Connect, allowing the launch of the AaE widget in June 2011. Through the widget, the team answered more than 700 questions in 13 months.

But the team did not stop with the widget. Thinking a statewide hotline to answer gardeners’ questions a good idea, they used technology to link existing county hotlines together under one toll free number to provide the service 24/7 to all counties. Having the hotline required more training for more volunteers. The training established uniformity and quality control. Within one year, calls increased by one thousand, and the hotline has served clients from 80 percent of Michigan’s 84 counties. I wrote about the hotline in a previous Spotlight.

You’ve also heard me talk about the new soil test self-mailers in a previous Spotlight. The team created the kits provided with a postage-paid return mailer consumers can purchase online from the MSU Extension Bookstore. The consumer mails the soil sample in to the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Lab. Once the folks at the lab analyze the sample, the consumer receives an email with results and access to an interactive website, which provides customized fertilizer calculations, instructions on correct application and links to AaE and additional resources on the Gardening in Michigan website.

Additionally, the team redesigned the Master Gardener program to reduce volunteer management time and create a statewide, easy-to-replicate program integrating a hybrid in-person and electronic delivery method. These efforts will lead to greater focus upon the educational products, which translate to more trained Master Gardeners and increased involvement of those volunteers in local community development projects.

 When asked about the team, Lela said, “MSUE’s Consumer Horticulture Team is an inspiration to all of the MSUE work teams and a model for working smarter with reduced resources. They have risen to the challenge when faced with cuts in budget and personnel, and creatively implemented transformational change in the way we satisfy the educational and informational needs of Michigan gardeners. The team deserves this award!” I couldn’t agree more. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their leadership in helping to transform MSU Extension.

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Extension educator receives farm bureau award

Michigan State University senior Extension educator George Silva will receive the Eaton County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award at the bureau’s annual meeting on Aug. 23. The award is presented annually to an individual who has contributed exemplary service to the agriculture community.

Dr. Silva was promoted to senior Extension educator in 2010. He’s worked as an Extension educator in Eaton County for 12 years where he implements integrated crop and nutrient management educational and applied research programs on corn, soybean, wheat, vegetables and specialty crops. Among many other responsibilities, he’s also contributed his expertise as an innovation counselor for the MSU Product Center and as coordinator of the Eaton County Master Gardener and Junior Master Gardener programs. In addition to Eaton County, he has Extension responsibilities in Barry, Ingham and Livingston counties.

Dr. Silva joined MSU in 1986 as a research specialist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. He became an Extension educator in Ingham County in 1996 and acting county Extension director for Eaton County in 2009.

No stranger to awards, Dr. Silva received the 2007 Eaton County Farm Bureau Educator of the Year Award, numerous National Association of County Agricultural Agents communication awards and an MAEA Presidential Citation in 2007, among others.

Congratulations, George!

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Extension educators and specialists educate Ag Expo visitors

This year’s Ag Expo July 17-19 offered a prime example of MSUE doing what it does best, helping people solve problems and meet real-life challenges.

Despite the extreme heat, this year’s Ag Expo boasted the highest attendance in 10 years –18,250 people showed up for the annual event. They met with close to 250 commercial exhibitors, and of course, demonstrations and educational sessions presented by our educators and specialists.

Extension had a real and meaningful presence at the show. In the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) tent, MSUE staff members and volunteers offered visitors a slice of our popular Breakfast on the Farm program. Our Master Gardeners and consumer horticulture educators talked about growing and preserving that great Michigan produce. Other presentations and displays featured Firewise, the Product Center, members of the Farm Information Resources Management Team, AgrAbility, 4-H Youth Development and information about food safety. (Read my June 28 Spotlight article for more details.)

MSUE’s representation wasn’t confined to one location. Ag Expo visitors could find MSU Extension Bookstore publications and Michigan Fresh fact sheets in another tent while AABI educators and specialists were on hand to answer farmers’ questions about dealing with the drought. Others offered a biodiesel processing demonstration.

Off site, our staff members were involved in hosting demonstrations on mortality composting and field tillage.

As usual, I hesitate to make a list of people to thank for their participation because of the possibility that I’ll leave someone or something out. If I missed mentioning your program or area, please feel free to mention it by leaving a comment under this article on my blog.

 

Extension educator Gretchen Voyle speaks to an attentive audience at Ag Expo about protecting tomatoes from four major diseases

Extension educator Gretchen Voyle speaks to an attentive audience at Ag Expo about protecting tomatoes from disease. The event took place July 17-19, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich.

 

A standing-room-only crowd listens to a session at Ag Expo in the CANR Tent July 2012, East Lansing, Mich.

A standing-room-only crowd listens to a session at Ag Expo in the CANR Tent July 2012, in East Lansing, Mich.

 

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MSUE educators honored as distinguished academic staff

Two Michigan State University Extension educators received MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Awards at the annual University Awards Convocation Feb. 14 at the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center. The awards presentation followed President Lou Anna K. Simon’s Founders’ Day Address and discussion of the 2012 State of the University report. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources honored the awardees with a reception prior to the ceremony in the atrium of Agriculture Hall.

 The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of academic specialists and MSU Extension academic staff members who serve the university in advising, curriculum development, outreach, extension, research and teaching.

 Roger A. Betz, senior Extension educator, is the person Michigan agricultural producers go to for help in all things financial. Since 1990, Roger has served as district Extension farm management educator, using a variety of educational methods to effectively disseminate knowledge. Roger is dedicated to assisting farmers to successfully manage their operations through sound financial practices. Roger has worked face to face with several hundred farm families to make sound business decisions that assist them in managing their tax obligations. These decisions lead to growth of the farm businesses and contribute to economic growth at the local and state levels.

Roger Betz

Roger Betz, senior Extension educator, received an MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award on Feb. 14, 2012.

 He’s used the University of Minnesota’s FINPACK financial management software to help more than 600 Michigan farms manage their finances. He created and developed a worksheet to supplement FINPACK’s financial analysis, which was incorporated into this nationally used software.

 Roger has provided leadership and coordination for the TelFarm accounting program. His work with TelFarm producers not only benefits the farm families but also provides valuable research data for MSU. He developed several electronic tools designed to help producers make very complex decisions about whether to take part in various USDA programs.

 For 18 years, Roger has conducted two, full-day financial training sessions a year for Extension educators. He also developed and taught an intensive three-year training program to build his fellow Extension educators capacity and confidence in working with producers in financial and farm management.

 Roger is an innovator and effective leader who is passionate about helping both farmers and co-workers. And if anyone ever doubted that, they would have been convinced by the four farm families who attended the ceremonies on Tuesday because he has meant so much to them.

 Lela L. Vandenberg, senior Extension specialist, has served MSU Extension for the past 18 years.

 Lela formed MSU Extension’s LeadNet team, a professional development group composed of multiple teams collaborating to develop curricula and materials, conduct workshops and encourage leadership development in strategic planning, conflict resolution and team building. Several of these curricula were adopted by other organizations and in other states.

Lela Vandenberg

Lela Vandenberg, senior Extension educator, received an MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award on Feb. 14, 2012.

 In 2009, Lela assisted the integration of MSU Extension into eXtension, the nationwide collaborative Web presence for Cooperative Extension. As team chair of the MSU eXtension Institutional Team, she promoted and implemented this new technology, ultimately changing how technology is used within Extension.

 She created a training process that helped us successfully conduct two virtual Fall Extension Conferences, the first of which was a weeklong conference attended by more than 600 staff with more than 100 online meetings. She took the lead in developing an extensive training process to orient staff to use Adobe Connect Pro to teach, collaborate and assist online conference training.

 As part of a team who worked intensely to engage MSU Extension horticulture staff in “Ask an Expert” training and use, Lela was instrumental in expanding horticulture information to residents across the state. She helped design and coordinate numerous online “Ask an Expert” training sessions for staff and Master Gardener volunteers.

 Simply put, she’s a leader in leadership. Her contagious enthusiasm encourages others to get involved and take the lead. We’ve known that around MSUE and perhaps we’ve taken it for granted. What’s been fun to see is how others around the country have discovered the wonderful colleague we have in Lela.

 Congratulations to both of you!

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