Tag Archives: michelle rodgers

Taking on the #icebucketchallenge

Last week, Michelle Rodgers, the associate dean and director of Extension for the University of Delaware, nominated Patrick Cudney and me for the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) awareness. Before working with the University of Delaware, Michelle spent five years as associate director with us at Michigan State University Extension.

For those of you who don’t know, the Ice Bucket Challenge is an opportunity for individuals to raise money and awareness for ALS. The challenge is to dump an entire bucket of ice water on your head, nominate two to three additional individuals to do the same and then post the video on social media sites. The challenge was a great opportunity for us to get involved, and bring more awareness to the disease. We were excited to not only “take the plunge” in icy water but also make our contributions to this worthy organization.

I challenged Tom Coon, vice president, dean and director at Oklahoma State University (and previous director of MSU Extension), and Doug Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch, to take on the challenge next. Patrick challenged Ray Hammerschmidt, interim associate director of MSU Extension, and George Smith, associate director of MSU AgBioResearch. I am excited to see the future challenges!

Take a look at our Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS here:

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Two MSUE all-stars honored at eXtension conference

A number of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues have been attending the fourth National eXtension Conference this week in Sacramento, California. Yesterday, two of our colleagues received honors for their contributions to the national effort to foster collaboration in the development of online resources to better serve our clients.

Michigan State University Extension director Tom Coon accepts the eXtension Champion Award on behalf of MSU senior Extension specialist Lela Vandenberg

Michigan State University Extension director Tom Coon accepts the eXtension Champion Award on behalf of MSU senior Extension specialist Lela Vandenberg at the National eXtension Conference March 26, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Lela Vandenberg was not able to attend the conference. Photo credit: C. Penniman.

Lela Vandenberg, senior leadership and professional development specialist, received the Champion award for her many contributions to the development and application of eXtension, the national web resource for Cooperative Extension. Lela has led the MSU Extension Institutional Team since 2012, and has been a key leader and facilitator for MSU Extension colleagues in understanding not only how eXtension can be a resource to assist them, but also how we can adapt and use technology to reach more people more effectively. Lela has been a leader at the national level as well, and is frequently invited to speak to and facilitate Extension colleagues at other institutions in the use of new technologies for Extension collaboration, learning and teaching. We’ve known of Lela’s many contributions because we’ve been the greatest beneficiaries of her insights and good will. What was especially exciting about the Champion award, the highest award given by eXtension, is that colleagues from across the nation recognize and appreciate her contributions and leadership. It’s an honor to have Lela as a colleague and a treat to be able to celebrate her achievements. Lela was not able to attend the conference this year, so I had the honor of receiving her award on her behalf, and it’s currently tucked in my suitcase, headed for Michigan. MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman was kind enough to take a photo of Lela’s award.

Karen Waite, senior academic specialist in the Department of Animal Science and the Children and Youth Institute, received the Community of Practice Individual Achievement Award. Karen was not able to attend the conference, so Betsy Greene, equine specialist at the University of Vermont and a collaborator with Karen on the HorseQuest eXtension Community of Practice, accepted her award on her behalf. Karen has made many contributions to the HorseQuest Community of Practice and has been a key leader in developing content relevant to the needs of youth and particularly youth leaders in equine programs. Together with animal science associate professor Christine Skelly, Karen has helped to create and expand the My Horse University online certificate program, which has benefited greatly from the collaboration of HorseQuest members.

Betsy Greene, University of Vermont Extension specialist and associate professor, accepted the "Community of Practice Individual Achievement Award" on behalf of  Michigan State University Extension specialist Karen Waite at the National eXtension Conference

Betsy Greene, University of Vermont Extension specialist and associate professor, accepted the “Community of Practice Individual Achievement Award” on behalf of Michigan State University Extension specialist Karen Waite at the National eXtension Conference March 26, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Karen Waite was not able to attend the conference.

Congratulations to both Lela and Karen for their recognition. And many thanks to both for being great leaders and innovators for MSU Extension! By the way, it was not at all surprising that the University of Delaware eXtension Institution Team received the Outstanding I-Team award at the ceremony yesterday. Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension (and former associate director of MSU Extension), made a point of building a strong I-team when she began her role at Delaware two years ago. No one at MSU Extension should be surprised that her team has skyrocketed in their contributions to and use of eXtension. Congratulations, Michelle!

All the awards will be posted to about.extension.org/blog within the next few days. They’ll also be announced in the April eXtension UPDATE next week.

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MSUE colleagues share their insights on working differently with technology

MSU Extension educator Holly Tiret, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman attended the National eXtension Conference

Left to right: MSU Extension educator Holly Tiret, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman attended the National eXtension Conference that ran from March 24 to 27, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

I was fortunate to attend the National eXtension Conference in Sacramento, California, this week, and was very pleased to see so many Michigan State University Extension colleagues there. Beth Stuever, communications manager, and Megghan Honke, event planner in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications, gave a whirlwind overview of the integration of the new MSU Extension website and ANR Event Services. Bert Cregg, associate professor of horticulture, showed how he has adapted social media to engage blog readers in the planning of a research project on tree transplanting. Extension educators Carolyn Penniman and Holly Tiret showed how the RELAX – Alternatives to Anger team has used technology to reach a broader audience. Extension Health and Nutrition Institute educator Linda Cronk assisted in the presentation of the recommendations from a national task force on health (co-led by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate dean and director Michelle Rodgers) to a national meeting of Extension directors and administrators. In addition, several MSU Extension colleagues who provide leadership to Communities of Practice attended for CoP program planning and development, including Extension specialist Dionardo Pizaña, program leader Bruce Haas and specialist Wayne Beyea. What I found most gratifying was to see how eXtension, which has been of great assistance to MSUE, benefits in so many ways from the contributions of MSUE colleagues. Thanks to all who attended and those who engaged through online and recorded presentations. We’re having an impact nationally thanks to these great efforts.

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Extension specialist shares expertise at Delaware’s Extension conference

Michigan State University Extension evaluation specialist Cheryl Peters was invited as a guest speaker on evaluation for the annual Extension conference in Delaware. Michelle Rodgers, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension director and former MSU Extension associate director, shared some comments from conference participants about Cheryl’s presentation: “That was the best presentation ever about evaluation,” “She spoke at our level of understanding” and “Right on target.”

As much as we value Cheryl’s contributions here, it’s great to have her recognized and valued beyond MSU Extension. As long as she returns to Michigan!

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Working Differently in Extension – the rest of the story

In a recent Spotlight article, we lauded the Michigan State University Extension Consumer Horticulture Team as they received the Working Differently in Extension Award Oct. 2 at the National eXtension Conference in Oklahoma City. Read more about it here on the eXtension website.

I was thrilled – but not surprised – to see Michelle Rodgers receive a Working Differently in Extension Award. Michelle was recognized for her work in leading our I-team at MSUE as well as her leadership at the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. She was the first individual winner of the award. Read more about Michelle winning the award here on the eXtension website.

Michelle may be gone, but she’s not forgotten, and we STILL appreciate the leadership she gave us while at MSUE. And we STILL miss her!

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Farewell to a model Extension professional

Nearly five years ago, we were in the midst of a search process to hire the second of two associate directors for Michigan State University ExtensionDr. Steve Lovejoy had joined us from Purdue in 2006 as Associate Director for Programs and in 2007, our search for an Associate Director for Operations yielded an opportunity to hire a seasoned Extension professional from Penn State, Dr. Michelle Rodgers.  Over the past five years, I have been fortunate to work side-by-side with both of these colleagues as we sought to position MSUE to succeed in a challenging environment with great needs for our organization’s expertise and services.  During our restructuring process, we quickly realized that the lines we had drawn between programmatic responsibilities and operational responsibilities were too confining and we simply decided to work together as a team. We knew we would need to divide work responsibilities, but at times it might call on any one of us to take on operational or programmatic duties and we agreed that we would simply delegate the tasks as they presented themselves and as they matched with any particular individual’s skills and competencies.

The experience we have gained as a team has given each of us opportunities to stretch and develop skills that we might not have anticipated needing.  It’s been a rich experience for me and I think it has been for Michelle and Steve.  With those experiences, I knew that I was not likely to keep the team intact: both of my colleagues have great leadership skills and knowing that leadership opportunities open frequently in Cooperative Extension, I was certain that other institutions would be interested in benefiting from their leadership.

I was not surprised when Dr. Rodgers was recruited for and offered the opportunity to serve as Director of Cooperative Extension at the University of Delaware. She is a consummate Extension professional, with tremendous experience as an educator, a county extension director, and a regional director at Penn State and as an associate director at MSU.  As an organization and as a director’s office team, we have benefited tremendously from her experience, her insights and creativity, and her great work ethic.  She can manage an amazing number of projects at once, is determined to follow through on the essential details, and can conduct a difficult conversation with grace and respect.  She’s never satisfied with “good enough.” She always strives for doing what is “great.”

She has taught me a great deal about the mission of Cooperative Extension and the value that our programs can produce for farms, businesses, families and communities across the state.  We – all of MSU Extension – will miss her leadership and positive spirit. At the same time, I’m extremely pleased to know that another state’s Cooperative Extension program will benefit from her leadership. And I know that she will provide valuable leadership to Cooperative Extension across the nation.  We’ve been fortunate to work with her for five years and especially the challenging five years she has spent with us.

It seems incongruous to acknowledge the tremendous work that Michelle has provided us and yet to decide that we will not replace Michelle with a new person as Associate Director.  Her work was critical to our successful transformation, so how can we continue in our continued work without her or someone else in her role?  Quite simply, with the budget and staff reductions we’ve made over the past two years, I think we need to challenge ourselves in the administrative team to reevaluate what we need to achieve and how we will carry out our work with fewer resources. That should sound familiar, in that it is something we have communicated routinely during our adjustment to reduced budgets: we simply need to find ways to do the work we MUST get done, but with fewer employees. In some cases, that means we’ll do things differently. In other cases, it means we won’t do some of the things we have been doing with three in the Director’s office team.  And we’re far enough along in our change process that we OUGHT to be able to reduce some of the tasks we’ve felt a need to carry out as we worked together to plan and implement our changes. We’re not done changing, but hopefully the amount and pace of change will be reduced from what it has been in the past few years.

Michelle officially begins her role as Director at Delaware in April.  This week, she spent a few days at the annual national meeting of Extension Directors and Administrators, and fit in as the newest member of the Extension leadership team.  As she moves on to her new opportunities, I hope Michelle will always remember how much she meant to us as a Spartan and how much she contributed to not just saving our organization, but strengthening it during a very challenging time. Whatever she may face in Delaware, I am confident she will excel in leading them through the challenges they may face and prepare them to build on the opportunities that come their way.

Thanks, Michelle. You are a great model for all of us of what an Extension professional can do to help people improve their lives through education. We wish you easy sailing in Delaware!

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MSU Extension OD team members considered on cutting edge

Michigan State University Extension was well-represented at the inaugural conference of the National Association of Extension Program & Staff Development Professionals (NAEPSDP) Dec. 6–8 in Atlanta. All seven of the MSU Extension staff members who attended the conference offered presentations: Cheryl Peters, Alan Pilkenton, Dionardo Pizaña, Michelle Rodgers, Beth Stuever, Lela Vandenberg and Bonnie Zoia.

 The theme of the conference was change.

 Dionardo conducted a 2 1/2-hour capstone session, “Navigating Your Emotions Through Change” that generated deep reflection, discussion and a lot of applause, as well as rave reviews from those who attended.

 Other sessions included:

  • Clicking to Successful Engagement with MSU Extension News (Stuever)
  • Facilitative Leadership Development (Zoia and Vandenberg)
  • Virtual vs. In-person Professional Development: Comparing Outcomes From Two Annual Extension Conferences (Peters, Rodgers and Vandenberg)
  • Tools and Training for Collaborating & Educating Online: eXtension, SharePoint, Adobe Connect (Pilkenton and Vandenberg)
  • Doing a Tough Thing Well…Re-building Trust at MSUE (Rodgers)
  • Utilizing an Assessment of Evaluation Competencies to Support Extension Professionals (Peters, Rodgers and Bruce Haas [research and development])

 “Hearing the stories of other states’ efforts to restructure and deal with shrinking budgets helped us realize that we’re not alone and that similar processes have been going on in Extension systems throughout the country,” said Lela.

 MSU Extension associate director Michelle Rodgers remarked that it’s been one of her goals to have the great work that MSUE is doing to be recognized by our peers. She recalled that she was delighted to have a couple of participants come up to her and share the sentiment: “Thanks for Michigan sharing these sessions…clearly Extension in Michigan is on the cutting edge.”

 Dr. Rodgers said, “This was a great time for members of the organizational development team to participate in scholarly activities around their area of specialization. Presentations were grounded in research and evaluation and modeled the scholarly work that we believe can occur across every part of our organization. MSUE has benefitted greatly from the synergy of efforts created through the teamwork of those in organizational development (OD). I was personally very proud of our MSUE OD team members.”

 Visit the association’s Facebook page to view photos and comments.

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Director’s office staff member is CANR Staffer of the Month

Congratulations to Judy Lentz Bishop, a member of the support staff in the director’s office, who is the November College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Staff Advisory Committee 2011 Staffer of the Month.

 Michigan State University Extension associate director Michelle Rodgers nominated Judy for doing an amazing job in all aspects of her work but particularly for her ability to maintain composure in stressful situations in the face of technology glitches. I would add that she’s always willing to help us find the humor in our work frustrations.

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

 Congratulations, Judy, and thanks for all that you do for MSUE!

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Managing your operating budget

One of the changes that Michigan State University Extension staff members in county offices are facing this year is in how they manage and pay for their operating expenses, including travel costs, purchase of program-related materials, photocopying, cell phone fees and others. On Monday’s biweekly Director’s webinar, Annette Tijerina and Michelle Rodgers explained the process involved in obtaining a purchasing card that is tied to individual operating accounts. We will be providing online training opportunities for use of the purchasing cards and other procedures associated with managing individual operating accounts.

 One online resource is already available, from our Fall Extension Conference recordings. On Thursday, Oct. 20, Linda Huyck and the Finance, Housing and Energy work team provided a training session called “Budgeting (Not) for Dummies” on budget planning that is as relevant for operating accounts as it is for family financial management. I really liked the way Linda set the stage for the webinar by saying that with regards to budgets “you need to know where you’re headed” with your budget. In other words, if you have a fixed amount of money available for your operating account, it is important to prioritize the costs that are most important to cover and to understand the difference between your operating “needs” and operating “wants.” Linda provided an example of a spending plan for family budget management, and I imagine that some individuals may have already developed their versions of a spending plan for their operating accounts. If you have a model you’re willing to share, please share it on my blog.

 One of the unique challenges of a budget such as your operating budget is that it receives funding INTO the account once per year, not once every two weeks or once monthly like a family budget. So it’s not just a matter of planning a monthly budget, but rather a year-long budget, and then tracking it carefully to make sure the funds for “needs” in June are still available in June and the funds aren’t completely spent in January.

 We will have many other tools available to help learn how to manage these accounts, but I thought it was helpful to point to something already available from our colleagues to get started on the planning process.

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Thanks for a great Fall Extension Conference!

Michigan State University Fall Extension Conference 2011 has come and gone. Integrating both the in-person and the virtual portions proved to be an exciting opportunity for all to gather and learn. As we attended educational sessions, institute sessions, association meetings, work team meetings and yes, even some individual meetings with colleagues we hadn’t seen in a while, we learned from the presenters and we learned from each other.

 The able and consistent effort of the Fall Extension Conference Team created a successful event. This year, those participating as members of the planning team were Betty Blase, Doug Brahee, Betsy Braid, Molly Frendo, Megghan Honke, Dave Ivan, Shannon Lindquist, Cheryl Peters, Alan Pilkenton, Luke Reese, Michelle Rodgers and Lela Vandenberg. Each contributed in his or her own way, from serving as MC of our lively events to providing support and logistics for our hosts and presenters to working behind the scenes to bring you a conference full of opportunity. A gigantic MSU Extension Sparty thank-you to all of them for their effort and creativity!

 Thanks to Julie Pioch, our MC for the important and meaningful Key Partner Awards Banquet. We appreciate and applaud the many others who made the entire conference run so smoothly. In addition, a special thank-you to the Organizational Development Team who reviewed all of the applications for individual educational sessions, selected those that would be presented and worked directly with the presenters in preparation for delivery as needed. It was an immense task as they reviewed nearly 100 applications.

 Thanks for a job well done! Go right through….

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