Tag Archives: michelle lavra

MSU Extension staff member named CANR Staffer of the Month

Alicia Burnell, Michigan State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications graphic artist, has received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Advisory Committee March 2015 Staffer of the Month award.

The award goes to a member of the CANR support staff who has done something special or noteworthy within his or her college or unit.

Two of her colleagues from ANR Communications nominated Alicia: graphic artist Marian Reiter and former communications manager Michelle Lavra. They recognized her for her design skills, as well as her quiet confidence that comes through to her clients and colleagues and leaves no doubt that she’ll get the job done.

Congratulations to Alicia and thanks to Michelle and Marian for nominating her.

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Kudos and suggestions from the civil rights auditors

As you know, Michigan State University Extension recently took part in a U. S. Department of Agriculture civil rights audit. They occur once every four or five years. I’ve been involved in four of these – twice as a regional director and now twice as director of Extension – the last time was in 2004.

I’m very proud of the work we are doing to demographically reach target audiences. We are reaching the audiences in close demographic comparison in categories of race and gender. You may be surprised by some of the data. For example, of youth participants in the Children and Youth Institute, only 9 percent live on farms. This differs from the popular perception that 4-H only serves farm youth. The data shows that we meet people where the need is great with health and nutrition information as well as financial and money management.

The auditors were thrilled with the way we presented the data. I’d like to thank the many staff involved in helping to gather the data and put it into an understandable format. They include Nancy Axtell, Jessica Nakfour, Jean Schueller, Bruce Haas, Cheryl Peters, Olga Santiago, Kathy Raphael, Mary Wilson, Gloria Ellerhorst, Emily Proctor, Christi Sovis, Doug Brinklow, Michelle Lavra, Marian Reiter, Beth Stuever, Julie Chapin, Dave Ivan, Dawn Contreras, Paul Putnam, Jim Lucas, Pat Cudney, Kelley Hiemstra, Michael Krauch, Shari Spoelman, Don Lehman, Betty Blase, Deanna East, Joe Bixler, Marie Ruemenapp, Matt Shane and Ginger Hentz. Without your hard work for months in advance of this review, we could not have done it.

The auditors took all of that data and examined it. They also went out into the field to get more information from you. They were pleased with everyone’s availability to meet with the reviewers and with the helpfulness of the staff in giving them access to our information – as I am!

They combined the data and the information to give us feedback on a few things we can work on.

In working with people, we need to diversify our overall employment makeup throughout the organization as well as work to integrate and diversify membership within 4-H clubs and broaden the programming we’re doing with female farm operators. We need to expand our nutrition programming to include demonstrated outreach with other agencies.

Consistency is something that came up in several areas. We need to be consistent in demonstrating the work we do in each county through data, and train staff in the method for collecting that data. We need to update our race/ethnicity/gender data collection forms to include the recommended way to collect race and ethnicity data. We need to use the statement concerning accommodations consistently and ensure consistency with regard to civil rights training.

We need to ensure that brochures and other promotional pieces have pictorial displays of diverse populations. I know this is something that we’ve strived to do and we will continue to focus on it.

In addition, we need to revise our Civil Rights Plan and education to include the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended.

The auditors had many good things to say about our accomplishments. They praised our work with Tribal Communities as well as the work we’re doing with prisons. They believe that our work translating program documents and brochures and making them available in Spanish, Arabic and Braille is outstanding. They haven’t seen as much of that in other states. They believe we have great outreach through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-ED) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). They believe we have strong nutrition programming at the grass roots level.

Please be sure to review the August 4 MSU Extension webinar to view the charts and graphs that we put together for the audit. Viewing them will help you get a better picture of where we stand in our efforts. We’ve worked hard to pull together a lot of information for the audit. This information is not just something that was used for the audits; we can also use this information in many other ways. View the webinar here: https://connect.msu.edu/p4bz0fut3rj/

Also, please keep checking back to the MSU Extension Civil Rights site for additional materials that will be added: http://od.msue.msu.edu/civil_rights_diversity_multiculturalism.

Once again, thank you, everyone, for all of your hard work in making the USDA audit a powerful learning experience for all of us!

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Teams work together to attain ACE awards, present at conference

Many of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues will attend the Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) Conference in Portland, Oregon, June 24-27. And once again, many will be presented with ACE awards they have received.

A team from Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications and ANR Technology Services received a silver award in the website category for our own MSU Extension website. Winners include Dennis Bond, Sean Corp, Michelle Lavra and Beth Stuever.

A silver award for a marketing communications campaign went to a team who worked together on the Smart Gardening Initiative. The team included Joy Landis, Mallory Fournier, Rebecca Finneran and Mary Wilson. The recipients developed a process for the Consumer Horticulture team to market Smart Gardening advice and expertise to reach a large number of Michigan gardeners. Additional staff who lend their expertise, time and effort to Smart Gardening include MSU Extension educators Bob Bricault, Diane Brown, Hal Hudson, Rebecca Krans and Gretchen Voyle. Entomology Professor Dave Smitley has also helped build the basis for the initiative.

A bronze award for a marketing communications campaign with a budget of $1,000 or more went to the team of Sean Corp, Katie Gervasi, Mariah Montenegro, Mindy Pratt, Paula Sheynerman and Beth Stuever, all of ANR Communications. The team won for “Extending the Reach of Michigan State University Extension.”

Congratulations to all winners!

In addition, a team from ANR Communications will be presenting at the conference. Sean Corp, Katie Gervasi, Mindy Pratt, Paula Sheynerman and Beth Stuever will present “Promoting Extension: They Come for the News: They Stay for the Programming” Wednesday, June 25 at 4:15 p.m.

Also, the Smart Gardening team of Joy Landis, Mallory Fournier, Rebecca Finneran and Mary Wilson will present “How a Message Campaign Produced a Team to Deliver Smart Gardening to a Smart Audience” Wednesday, June 25 at 11 a.m.

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MSU Extension staff member is CANR Staffer of the Month

Rebecca (“Becky”) Hulbert, Michigan State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications administrative assistant, has received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Advisory Committee June 2014 Staffer of the Month award.

The award goes to a member of the CANR support staff who has done something special or noteworthy within his or her college or unit.

Communications manager in ANR Communications Michelle Lavra nominated Becky for, among other things, her willingness to jump in and help, taking on both big and small tasks in stride.

Congratulations to Becky and thanks to Michelle for nominating her.

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Staff members give 4-H website new look

If you visited the Michigan 4-H Youth Development website lately, you were greeted with a colorful interface. If you’ve been to the site before, you’ll notice a change – a redesign of the graphics and styles. Although web features and content did not change, they’re enhanced by the redesign.

The Michigan 4-H home page before redesign

The Michigan 4-H home page before redesign

The new look and feel was a collaborative effort that began in August 2013 between Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Technology Services and ANR Communications. At that time, the 4-H Web Team consisted of ANR Technology Services information technologist and manager of web services Dennis Bond, communications manager in ANR Communications Michelle Lavra, ANR Communications technical writer Mariah Montenegro and ANR Communications graphic artist Marian Reiter.

Besides redesigning the site, the 4-H Web Team completed the goal of realigning 4-H site content and Michigan State University Extension 4-H site content so that topic, program, event, news and resource information flow more consistently between sites.

ANR Technology Services provided the bulk of the work of designing and building the new look and feel. Pablo Contreras, then the ANR Technology Services web designer, worked on the design of the new 4-H website from August to October 2013, providing design revisions as needed. ANR Communications approved the design on Dec.13, 2013. Ken Villapando, an ANR Technology Services student employee, began implementing the new site on Jan. 10 and completed his work Feb. 3. Dennis provided functionality changes and oversight during this process, launching the new design on Feb. 7.

The new Michigan 4-H home page after redesign

The new Michigan 4-H home page after redesign

The 4-H Web Team currently includes Dennis, Marian and Mariah, and additionally Jamie Wilson and Beth Stuever, both communications managers in ANR Communications. Kayci Reava of ANR Technology Services became web designer in early January.

The 4-H Web Team meets weekly and is instrumental in the continued development of the website. Over the next few weeks, ANR Technology Services and the 4-H Web Team will continue to make changes to the design to ensure the highest possible quality.

Visit the site and get a look at the team’s hard work: http://4h.msue.msu.edu/

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4-H’er realizes dream of giving back

In a recent Spotlight article, I told you about Mattea Antrup, a 10-year-old 4-H’er who sold her hog, which she raised through the 4-H program, to donate money to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Mattea felt compelled to step up with this act of generosity after an accident left her spending 7 weeks in a near full-body cast. Mattea was in and out of the Grand Rapids hospital often and during that time she noticed other young patients ‒ some who never left the hospital. Mattea decided that she would donate the money from one of two hogs she would sell at the Ottawa County Youth Fair. With this decision, Mattea joined the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility: a nationwide movement of young people making positive impacts in the community.

On Oct. 7, Mattea’s dream was realized when she gave DeVos Children’s Hospital a check for $6654.96. Her donation will go to patient families for gas cards to attend appointments, food vouchers, a burn patient scholarship camp, grants and other things to make the patients’ and families’ lives a little easier.

Katie Gervasi, editor in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications, wrote a Michigan 4-H Today story about Mattea and traveled out to the hospital to witness Mattea’s donation and take a few photos.

Katie heard from Dawnel Antrup, Mattea’s mom, who was grateful that Katie wrote the story about Mattea’s journey through a difficult situation.

Ms. Antrup said, “Thank you for recognizing her passion to give back to others that maybe are struggling more than her. You captured the story beautifully. The Antrup family is very appreciative of your hard work in capturing even the smallest details. Thanks Tons!”

Michelle Lavra, ANR Communications manager and Katie’s supervisor at the time said, “Katie did a great job on this story. Not only is it a nice example of the Revolution of Responsibility stories Katie and Mariah (Montenegro, ANR Communications technical writer) routinely write, it is also a nice example of the difference 4-H’ers like Mattea are making in their communities. And it’s certainly nice to get a great testimonial like the one Katie received from Mattea’s mom.”

As we discussed at Fall Extension Conference this week, we have some incredible stories to tell about the work we do. This is one of those stories. And it also illustrates how much our ANR Communications colleagues help us to tell those stories and to get them out to a broader audience. Thanks, Katie!

Read the story Katie wrote about Mattea here: http://4h.msue.msu.edu/today/4_h_pig_raises_more_than_6000_for_helen_devos_childrens_hospital
The story was picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and distributed across the country from North Carolina to Texas. Read the AP story here:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/MI_MAGNANIMOUS_MATTEA_MIOL-?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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One-year-old performs beyond expectations

Our new Michigan State University Extension website is one year old today! With your help, the site has done extremely well. The latest statistics taken April 15 reveal we’ve had 1.8 million pageviews on the site!

The website’s beginnings go back to fall 2010 when Dr. Wendy Powers, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, challenged Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications to build on the success of the CAT (Crop Advisory Team) Alerts that entomology specialist Joy Landis and her team had produced so successfully.

Joy; Dennis Bond, web administrator for ANR Technology Services; and communications manager Beth Stuever made quick work of creating and launching News for Ag in March 2011. Faculty and staff members shared their practical knowledge in Internet articles. The site gave farmers and others in agriculture access to the latest information and research.

Dr. Powers said, “Our intent was to demonstrate how this would work and the impact if might have. Fortunately, the site now reflects the breadth of MSUE by including all of the institutes.”

Eventually, educators and specialists from all four institutes lent their expertise and the MSU Extension website was born on April 18, 2012 – one year ago today.

You may recall that during Fall Extension Conference in October 2012, we hit the million mark for pageviews. The number of people who are engaging on our pages grows steadily. This last week produced some new high numbers. Our current lows are as big as the past highs! When we began this process, we considered 2,500 pageviews in a week an outstanding result. The highest day ever in News for Ag was in March 2012 with slightly more than 2,200 visits. The portal averaged about 6,000 visits PER YEAR. Now, we get more than twice that almost every day. In fact, in the last 30 days, more than 100,600 people have visited the site. Collectively, they have viewed 220,695 pages. And about 29,000 people come back to our site EVERY DAY.

To compare ourselves to other Extension services, Iowa State in the last 30 days had 587,402 pageviews, while we had 210,616. In a year’s time, we have grown to have almost half as many as they have. Keep in mind, they have a more mature site that includes ALL their events and all their 4-H information. We also have three times as many pageviews during the last 30 days as Kansas State Extension, and two-thirds as many as the Ohio State University Extension and as North Dakota State University Extension Service – all sites that have been around longer and are considered more mature than our site.

Extension specialist Cindy Straus worked hard on gathering these statistics and putting them into a format we could understand. Thanks, Cindy!

And really, the website is only part of the story. Articles that appear on the site are often picked up by traditional and digital media, thereby extending the value of every article written and helping us reach more people with pertinent education.

We’re making some great progress, partly because we have great content. However, we need more content to attract people to our website. Extension educators, reach out to faculty – whether they are Extension specialists or not – and offer them the opportunity to get more visibility for the work they are doing through MSU Extension website articles.

The MSU Extension web team includes Dennis, Sean Corp, Michelle Lavra, Laura Probyn, Marian Reiter, Cindy Straus and Beth Stuever.

A team of posters regularly upload or “post” articles that educators and specialists submit (hence, the term “poster”).

Beth said, “The posters are our front lines in working with educators and specialists to ensure high-quality, timely information is added daily.”

These posters include Mindy Maxwell Pratt (poster team coordinator), Sean Corp, Sandra Ennes, Mallory Fournier (under the supervision of Joy) and Katie Gervasi.

Thanks to all of these staff members and to all of you who are writing the articles and lending your expertise to the site. You’re making our numbers go up! You’re bringing a lot of attention to our programs that we wouldn’t have been getting without the new website.

Watch this week’s webinar at https://connect.msu.edu/p14evbgs7ij (at 50:39) to find out more.

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