Tag Archives: michigan state

Extension educator participates in panel at CARET/AHS Joint Meeting

Suzanne Pish sits with two other panel members.

MSU Extension educator Suzanne Pish with other panel members at the 2018 CARET/AHS conference.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator Suzanne Pish was asked to participate on a panel at the annual Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET)/AHS Joint Meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 5, and share about MSU Extension’s work with farm stress management. The panel was put together because farm families across the nation have come into the spotlight because of a rise in suicides. Psychologist Dr. Michael Rosmann, featured in an article in The Guardian in December 2017, “On the Ground: Reporting From All Corners of America – Why Are America’s Farmers Killing Themselves in Record Numbers?”, was invited to speak about farm-related stress at the meeting and Suzanne was part of the  panel to respond after his talk.

During her time on the panel, Suzanne shared about MSU Extension’s response to the rise in struggling Michigan farm families. Adam Kantrovich, Roger Betz and Suzanne developed a workshop. They also worked with Beth Stuever, Tom Cummins and others from ANR Communications and Marketing to develop a fact sheet and a video. The initial workshop was specially designed for people who work with agricultural producers and farm families who want to know more about managing farm-related stress and learn ways to approach and communicate with those in need.

Additionally, they designed Weathering the Storm: How to Handle Stress on the Farm to help farm families gain a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of chronic stress and cultivate a more productive mindset. The MSU Extension online, self-paced course allows participants to access this information in a comfortable setting at their own convenience.

Suzanne was asked to participate because MSU Extension was recognized as an organization who got involved from the beginning of this emerging issue.

“I hope other Extension services across the country took away the importance of having agricultural educators and family and consumer science educators teaming up to provide this education,” Suzanne said.

Our ability to respond to emerging issues and emergencies in our state make us relevant and essential. I think we are uniquely positioned to provide a national example of how Extension can meet people where they are. At FEC Detroit, you may remember that I discussed the Emergent Issues Incentive Program, an opportunity for cross-institute teams to receive funding to quickly respond to urgent issues in the communities they serve. You can apply for these grants using this link: https://events.anr.msu.edu/msuedirgrant/


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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Conferences, health, Health and Nutrition, Impacts

Tools for employees having controversial conversations surrounding GMOs

corn field

According to a Pew Research Center report, “the way Americans eat has become a source of potential social, economic and political friction as people follow personal preferences reflecting their beliefs about how foods connect with their health and ailments.”

As Michigan State University’s (MSU) connection with Michigan residents, MSU Extension professionals are increasingly engaged in conversations about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But in a survey conducted by our program evaluation specialist Cheryl Eschbach, only 37 percent of Extension survey respondents felt capable of replying to GMO-related questions with science-based information, and only 1 percent felt extremely capable.

Recognizing a need, Ron Bates, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) director, brought together a cross-institute committee to develop a training for MSU Extension professionals. The result was a two-day training, “Getting your GMO Questions Answered 101,” offered January 8-9, 2018. MSU faculty and Extension professionals shared presentations on research and technology as well as communicating with clientele about GMOs with over 100 Extension staff members.

“It was a really great workshop,” Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator Jeannine Schweihofer said. “I think it helped me to hear viewpoints from different aspects and concerns that people have about GMOs. Getting the right information out there so people have it is really important.”

“The GMO workshop increased my understanding, and that will help me to confidently answer consumer questions about GMO foods that arise during my food safety programs,” MSU Extension health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich said.

Ron Goldy, MSU Extension agriculture and agribusiness educator and event committee chair, felt the event was successful in opening up dialogue and providing tools to talk to MSU Extension clientele, especially during the interactive activities.

This workshop was designed to be the first of many opportunities to provide MSU Extension professionals with resources and to open up dialogues.

“We’re hoping that people from other institutes will take the idea back, and that institute will develop a program with their clientele’s concerns in mind,” Ron said. “There will be further trainings within AABI, and we’re trying to figure that out as well. As soon as we hear back from the event evaluations, we’ll decide on the next steps.”

Additionally, the committee is working on creating an online space to make the documents and presentations from the workshop available to all Extension employees.

I would like to thank the team of people who made the event possible: Ron Bates, Betsy Braid, Erin Carter, Julia Darnton, James DeDecker, Mary Dunckel, Cheryl Eschbach, Theodore Ferris, Elizabeth Ferry, Ron Goldy, Rebecca Grumet, Courtney Hollender, Rebecca Krans, Joyce McGarry, George Silva, Lisa Treiber, Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler. I’d also like to thank all of the speakers and presenters throughout the event.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, communication, Events, Farming, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, professional development, Resources

4-H program coordinator receives rabbit breeders award for service

Headshot of Glenda Weiss.Please join me in congratulating Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H program coordinator Glenda Weiss who received the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) Distinguished Service Award Nov. 27. Glenda received the award because of her years of service and outstanding impact on rabbit and cavy programs as well as the industry.

Glenda has been a member of the ARBA for 20 years and has used many of her skills and abilities to serve. She has:

  • Served 13 years as the Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Youth Association adviser.
  • Served on the State 4-H Rabbit and Cavy Show committee, organizing the scholarship auction for over 10 years, where she raised more than $25,000.
  • Worked with more than 100 youth over 16 years to coach and train them to be ARBA judges and registrars.
  • Served 21 years as a club leader for Lapeer County’s Busy Beavers 4-H Club for which she was the founding leader.
  • Served as the Lapeer County fair’s rabbit superintendent for 19 years.

Josh Humphries, ARBA president, presented the award to Glenda at the Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Association fall show at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education. Glenda was delighted that joining him was David Moll, ARBA district director, who was a member of her judging and breed identification teams as a youth. Isn’t it so fulfilling when our work comes full circle?

I’ve only listed a few contributions that she has made – so make sure you congratulate Glenda and take a moment to hear about all the other ways she’s had an impact on youth and the rabbit industry.

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Filed under 4-H, Accomplishments, Awards, Children and Youth

Save the date for the 4-H Reunion

Mark your calendars for the Michigan 4-H Retirees Reunion May 10-11, 2018, at the beautiful Kettunen Center in Tustin. Who is invited? Educational staff, specialists, program leaders, clerical staff, county Extension directors and others who are retired and worked with 4-H.

“Catch up with friends and colleagues. Learn new things, have fun and get the current updates on what is happening with the organization,” Cyndi Mark, former Michigan State University Children, Youth, Families and Communities coordinating program leader, said.

For those who are traveling a long distance or who want to come early, there will be lodging available Wednesday, May 9.

More information and the registration link will be sent out after January 2018. Registration deadline is May 1, 2018.

“The committee has been planning this for a while, and we think you will have a great time!” Cyndi said.

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Filed under 4-H, Retirees

Celebrating Graduates and 10 Years of Great Lakes Leadership Academy

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Great Lakes Leadership Academy (GLLA) graduation and 10-year anniversary celebration. First, I’d like to congratulate all of the graduates of the program, especially our very own Imelda Galdamez, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator.

“The Great Lakes Leadership Academy has helped me believe in the power of leading from love, leading authentically through conflicts, trusting the process of change and working collaboratively across differences,” Imelda said. “As GLLA’s states on their website, ‘The value of people working together is greater than the sum of what they can accomplish alone. When power is shared and diverse voices are heard, solutions are more likely to benefit the community as a whole.’”

I’ve heard nothing but good things from the more than 400 participants like Imelda who continue to live GLLA’s mission statement by promoting positive change, economic vitality and resource conservation, and enhancing the quality of life in Michigan by encouraging leadership for the common good.

The GLLA began with the aid of a planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It allowed the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), MSU Extension and Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (now AgBioResearch) to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders who represented communities and the food system, agriculture, manufacturing, natural resources and environmental sectors of the economy to collaborate on the elements of a leadership training program. The result was a program that presents leadership concepts in the context of current issues and brings together current leaders in government, nonprofits and industry to broaden their perspectives about key sustainability issues and consider how leadership for the common good can influence Michigan’s future.

I was thrilled when MSU CANR Dean Ron Hendrick asked that we move the management of GLLA to MSU Extension. GLLA has been developing and empowering leaders since its first cohort was formed in 2007, so it is a perfect fit with the work we do through the leadership and civic engagement work team within the Greening Michigan Institute.

We’re looking forward to welcoming GLLA into the MSU Extension family and the ability to shape the direction of developing and empowering Michigan leaders for the next 10 years and beyond.

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Filed under Leadership

Let’s celebrate! And take some photos while we’re at it

The 2017 Fall Extension Conference (FEC) planning committee members have made exciting plans for our Tuesday evening Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Celebration and are thrilled that it will take place at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. That evening, we will celebrate with our Key Partner awardees and special guests, and enjoy activities together.

This one-of-a-kind event will feature:

  • A networking reception and on-field activities.
  • A special appearance by former Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson.
  • The MSU Extension awards presentation.
  • Praise for 100 Years of MSU Extension in Detroit from MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

We will also enjoy a unique performance called “The Al McKenzie Orchestra Performs a Motown Revue.” The show, featuring Detroit-based talent, will consist of songs by the Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, Mary Wilson, Edwin Star, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and many other Motown acts. To learn more about the selection of artists participating in the evening’s musical entertainment, visit https://www.amacrecords.com/, or to hear a sampling of music by  Al McKenzie, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRPXw98TlrI.

And don’t forget to share a photo. At FEC, you will be able to share digital photos throughout the conference using a smartphone in two ways:

  • Send the photo as an attachment to FECdetroit@gmail.com. (You do not need the Instagram app for this option, just email.)
  • Post it to your own Instagram account with the hashtag #FECdetroit in the caption.

You’ll be able to view all the digital photos at www.instagram.com/FECdetroit. (You do not need the Instagram app for this, just a web browser.)

Several instant cameras will be available for use. They are similar to the old-style Polaroid cameras that take photos and print instantly. You can display any instant photos you want to share on a photo wall that will be set up in the Woodward Ballroom.

Looking forward to celebrating and seeing you next week!

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference

Grandparents University: Why it’s important and how you can get involved

Have you heard about Grandparents University? It is the largest intergenerational program in the nation, Michigan State University (MSU) alumni are invited to bring their grandchildren to campus for a three-day summer camp where they choose from almost 200 sessions. Each year, Grandparents University serves over 1,300 guests. This year, 632 adults and 678 youth participated in the program, which took place June 27–29.

Grandparents University is an important collaboration and MSU Extension has been involved since the beginning. Grandparents University started 12 years ago when Kathryn Reed, MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources alumni relations director, and Mike Steger, former MSU College of Natural Science faculty member, learned about the program from Oklahoma State University.

“It began because it was a great way to showcase majors and bring alumni back to campus,” Kathryn said. “Extension helped bring in meaningful programming since the beginning.”

This year, we had five colleagues from MSU Extension host sessions, and here are their experiences:

2017 was the sixth year the MSU Beef Cattle Teaching & Research Center participated in Grandparents University. Daniel Buskirk, MSU associate professor and beef Extension specialist, led the session on beef cattle.

“We begin with an ‘entrance exam’ and then explore the MSU Beef Center in search of answers,” Daniel said. “The kids love learning about what cows eat, what a bull weighs and seeing young calves. The grandparents like learning about the science involved in beef production, animal care and the origin of beef cuts.”

Georgia Peterson, MSU Extension specialist, took students to MSU’s Sanford Natural Area, located along the Red Cedar River for her Exploring Our Forests session.

“We discussed the most common tree species found there, along with other plants and animals that call it home,” Georgia said. “As we walked the trails of this forest, the kids were especially interested in finding plants (including trees) that have special features, like the sassafras with its ‘mitten’ leaves and fragrant stems.”

Laurie Rivetto, MSU Extension educator, led two sessions of Spartan Dollars and Cents where 28 youth and 24 grandparents engaged in several activities such as Needs vs. Wants, the Allowance Game and M&M Budgeting. At the end of each 90-minute session, youth created a Spend/Save/Share/Invest bank.

“It was a great group, and youth and adults commented on how interactive and fun the sessions were and how much they learned,” Laurie said. “The program really encouraged conversation between the grandparents and youth. The participants were involved in engaging in a needs and wants continuum where they stand on a line based on how much they feel an item is a need or a want. Having two different generations participate leads to some different perspectives on what needs and wants are.”

Visit the Grandparents University website to see the recap video from 2017 that features Laurie’s Needs vs. Wants activity toward the end of the video.

Michelle Neff, MSU Extension educator, has been involved with Grandparents University for the past three years. This year, she led a new yoga and mindfulness session for youth and grandparents.

“I really enjoy teaching this audience because the grandparents and students are very eager to learn. It is also cool to see youth and adults come from all over the country and state to attend this event,” said Michelle.

Dixie Sandborn, MSU Extension specialist, shared that during her Chocolate Culture and Creativity session, grandparents and grandchildren sample chocolates from around the world and make their own chocolate treats.

“Participants loved how hands-on and interactive it was. They also learn interesting facts and the science behind chocolate,” Dixie said. “For example, 200 cacao beans could once buy a turkey. During World War II, the Germans created an exploding, chocolate-covered, thin steel bomb, designed to blow up 7 seconds after a piece was broken off. People who eat chocolate one to three times per month live longer. The flowers of the cacao tree are only pollinated by tiny gnats.”

Amy Carnahan, director of Grandparents University as well as of the President’s Graduate Receptions, spoke to us about the importance of having Extension staff members host sessions.

“We love having new classes every year and we usually hope for 20 percent of classes that are new and different,” Amy said. “I’ve found that Extension has been amazing for us.”

Are you interested in hosting a few sessions at Grandparents University next year? The 2018 event is scheduled for June 26–28. The MSU Alumni Association will cover travel expenses for your participation and will also provide $10 per participant for supplies for your session. If you have any questions or want to learn more about hosting sessions, contact Amy at carnah10@msu.edu.

Don’t need any more information and are ready to sign up? Visit the Grandparents University Instructor Registration page.

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Filed under Children and Youth, Partnerships