Tag Archives: mike kovacic

Education policymakers on MSU Extension resources: The FHE team goes to the Capitol

On Friday, May 20, representatives from 15 state legislative offices attended a coffee and donuts informational session at the state Capitol. The session was held by the Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) team to educate the group about the post-foreclosure toolkits that Michigan State University (MSU) Extension provides. Toolkits were also distributed to all offices to advertise the effective and impactful resources that MSU Extension produces for families and individuals starting over after home foreclosure.

In a brainstorming and planning meeting between a few members of the FHE team and Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, the team discussed reaching out to legislators to market the “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit. Eric, having previous experience working in the Legislature, suggested hosting an event to draw attention to the new resource. He shared that often state departments hold educational sessions to provide legislators and their staff members with timely resources and information.

The FHE team wanted to not only share the MSU Extension resource with the legislators and their staff members, but also educate them that they could use it to support constituents who call their offices with questions about personal financial recovery. Team members received the approval of Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations for the college of agriculture and natural resources; Dave Ivan, their institute director; and MSU. They also secured the support of Sen. Darwin Booher, who co-sponsored the event. Then the planning began. Jean Lakin, Sarah Carter, Erica Tobe, Eric Walcott, Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson and Mike Kovacic contributed to the planning of the event.

The event consisted of a short, half-hour presentation to legislators and their staff members, followed by a brief question-and-answer period. Each legislative office, whether or not an office representative attended the event, received a packet. The packet included MSU Extension FHE team information (including infographics of the results of their programs, a team roster and current program offerings), district foreclosure data (for offices that RSVP’d to the event), a free “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit and marketing kicker cards to promote the resource in their communities. Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson, Eric Walcott, LaShawn Brown, Beth Martinéz, Brenda Long, Erica Tobe, Mike Kovacic and Jinnifer Ortquist attended to host and answer questions.

The “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit is a research-based, resource guide for residents who have experienced foreclosure, housing instability or both. It was designed to provide an educational support after traditional foreclosure counseling services end as a way to rebuild financial standing. Eight stand-alone units address core financial concepts (budgeting, credit and debt management, exploring housing options and more). One unit addresses emotional recovery after foreclosure and stress-management skill building. Visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/mimoneyhealth/startingover to access the resource. The material will be available soon in Spanish, and a series of noncredit online courses will be available to participants statewide.

“Staff members that I spoke with were very receptive of the material, interested in the information, and appreciated that it was free for the general public to use.” Erica said. “I think promoting this toolkit to legislators in the manner that we did was a good way to be accountable for the funds that we have received to support our work in this programming area, and provide them with useful information that they can use with the residents in their districts. In addition, it was a great way to market MSU Extension, and the work of our FHE team. We had several staff members attend the event, and they were able to connect with their respective legislative offices, and create connections for future programming opportunities! The legislative staff members that we spoke with were very excited to see the information presented and seemed to appreciate the short, succinct manner that we presented the material. I think most participants left the presentation understanding how they can use the information in the future and appreciated the applicability of the resource.”

If you have any questions about this event or the materials, please feel free to contact Erica Tobe, MSU Extension specialist, at tobee@msu.edu or Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, at walcott3@msu.edu.

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Filed under Financial education

MSU Extension association reps attend Public Issues Leadership Development Conference

Each year, our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension associations choose a representative to attend the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference held in Washington, D.C. This year, April 10 through April 13, a large Extension crew attended. MSU Extension educators Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and me.

On Monday, we took part in several sessions focused on the conference theme ‒ Innovation: The Story of Extension. One thought that I really want to share is that MSU Extension is an agency that helps people across the lifespan from the cradle to the grave. We have an impact on our communities and our neighbors throughout their lives. It is such a powerful imprint that we are privileged to impart. Through our work, we as individuals and as an organization leave our legacies in the communities that we serve.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet with our senators and congressional representatives, and their staff members and thank them for their continuing support of MSU Extension. MSU Extension receives federal funding through the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 that established the Cooperative Extension Service, and every year we say, “thank you,” and share the great work that we do because of their investment.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler, Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Gary Peters.

Denise Aungst, Wayne Beyea, Karen Fifield, Frank Gublo, Christine Heverly, Gail Innis, Stan Moore and Garret Ziegler joined Mike Kovacic, Katie Nicpon and Jeff Dwyer with Senator Gary Peters.

A final important highlight for me personally was the opportunity to get to know my MSU Extension colleagues and learn about the work that you’re doing and the outstanding impact that you’re making. In a world where we’re wearing so many hats and sometimes only see the faces of those we share offices with, it is so important to have opportunities to meet each other and get to know each other from all over the state.

 

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Filed under Conferences, strategic connections

CARET is not a vegetable

What is CARET? It is the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and its members are advocates for land-grant agricultural programs in research, extension and teaching. They represent Michigan State University (MSU) with county officials and state legislators, and advocate for us on a federal level. Our three CARET representatives are Glenn Preston, Char Wenham and Doug Lewis.

Glenn is a dairy farmer, Char is a business development consultant, and Doug is an attorney and the director of Student Legal Services at the University of Michigan. What do they all have in common? MSU Extension has been an active and meaningful part of their lives. They want to carry their message to our leaders and decision makers at the local, state and federal levels.

Last week, I attended the CARET Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. with our CARET representatives and had the chance to meet with our Congressional offices. Dr. George Smith, associate director of AgBioResearch, and Dr. Mike Kovacic, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources director of stakeholder relations, were the other members of our group. The highlight of our time in Washington, D.C. was visiting our congressional representatives and sharing about the work that is going on at MSU. We also had a chance to spend time with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters. These visits provide an opportunity to remind them of the work that we do, and learn from them about concerns and opportunities that we may be poised to address.

Meeting with Senator Stabenow at Good Morning Michigan, March 17. From left to right: Jeff Dwyer, Mike Kovacic, Char Wenham, Senator Stabenow, Doug Lewis, George Smith and Glenn Preston.

Meeting with Senator Stabenow at Good Morning Michigan, March 8. From left to right: Jeff Dwyer, Mike Kovacic, Char Wenham, Senator Stabenow, Doug Lewis, George Smith and Glenn Preston. Photo courtesy of Senator Stabenow.

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Filed under strategic connections

Expect to Connect: Please send in your stories

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is an organization built upon relationships. With that in mind, we created the strategic connections initiative Expect to Connect. The initiative is built on the premise that every member of our MSU Extension team has responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with legislators, stakeholders and media in his or her community and throughout the state.

Following the momentum of the rollout of the initiative at Fall Extension Conference (FEC), we want to feature your strategic connections success stories in this Spotlight. We want you to tell us about the strategic connections you’ve made, relationships you’ve built and partnerships you’ve developed. We also want to know how these connections have had an impact on your work, on your programming, on the overall organization or on all three. Please send your stories to Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director of operations, at cudney@msu.edu, and encourage your peers to submit theirs. You don’t need to be a professional writer. We’ll help you tell your story. Just send us your story of approximately 250 words, and we can work with you from there.

To kick off the monthly Expect to Connect articles, this first introductory story will focus on the FEC workshop-on-the-move “Developing Strategic Connections” led by Mike Kovacic, MSU Extension outreach specialist. After learning about the Expect to Connect tools on the first day of FEC, participants got a chance to put their knowledge to work in downtown Lansing.

Over 25 MSU Extension staff members had an opportunity to tour the historic state Capitol and meet with lobbyists and legislators to learn more about how MSU Extension voices can be heard in state government. Nancy Vriebel and Scott Jones from Senate Appropriations Chair David Hildenbrand’s office shared insights on the importance of connecting with legislators and other stakeholders on a regular basis.

“We’re here to serve you,” Nancy Vriebel told the group. “We want to hear from you, in your words, how you are working with our constituents.”

The participants were treated to a special visit by Sen. Goeff Hansen along with his policy advisor Peter Wills who discussed key issues and the importance of citizen input as part of the overall policy process. Finally, workshop attendees connected with members of the Michigan House of Representatives to discuss individual programming efforts and the impact MSU Extension has on the lives of constituents.

Two of our colleagues talked about the experience:

“Meeting with legislators was the best part, especially the one-on-one with the representatives serving my work area,” Extension educator Jim Isleib, educator said. “Don’t be intimidated about meeting legislators. They will benefit from knowing you too.”

Extension educator Zelda Felix-Mottley said, “The representatives and senators want to hear from constituents. They are engaging and interested in what you have to say. Our legislators want to put a face to MSU Extension ‒ that’s your face with your Extension story.”

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Filed under Partnerships

Staff and leadership learn how to work with elected officials

Just recently, Michigan State University Extension colleagues Roxanne Turner, Phil Tocco, Holly Tiret, Ann Chastain and Bethany Prykucki, along with Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Katie Frey from the Director’s Office and I had the good fortune to attend the Public Issues Leadership Development conference in Washington, D.C. April 12‒15. This conference is hosted by the Joint Council of Extension Professionals.

We went to meetings, trainings and programs as part of the conference, which provided invaluable experience about how to communicate with elected officials. During our time in Washington D.C., we met with several elected officials and legislative aids, where we could put our skills to use in practicing good communication and advocating effectively for MSU Extension. I was very proud to see how each of our educators explained the great work they do for the Michigan citizens they work with. As a group, we also met Sen. Debbie Stabenow from Michigan, who is already a great supporter of MSU Extension.

Having strong, effective relationships with our elected officials is crucial for their continued support of MSU Extension. This program was a great step in helping some of our staff members learn the best way to get involved.

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Filed under Conferences

Representing MSU Extension and AgBioResearch to the state Senate

Last week, members of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch administration had the opportunity to testify before the Michigan Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the Michigan House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. We were lucky to be able to state our case to both committees, highlighting MSU Extension programming and our impacts on the state.

The reason we testify in front of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee every year after the governor’s budget proposal comes out is to ensure that the state Congress will understand our impact when they consider voting for or against the proposal. This year’s budget proposal recommended that we receive a 2 percent increase in funding – this is great news, and a whole tenth of a percent higher than the rest of higher education. This year, we also testified before the Agriculture Committee, and a big thank you to Mike Kovacic for opening that door for us with that committee.

George Smith, associate director of AgBioResearch, and I testified before the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee at Central Michigan University. I was part of the team that testified for the House Agriculture Committee in Lansing; others included Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations; Doug Buhler, director of AgBioResearch; and John Baker, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine; with an assist from Kelly Millenbah, associate dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Our testimonies to the committees were very well received – they were very interested in hearing about the very great work that you are all doing. In this case, I’m just the messenger, whereas you are all out there doing the work, and thank you all for having such great stories to tell. There will be another opportunity to testify in front of the Michigan House of Representatives Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee next month. We anticipate that it will be just as successful.

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Filed under Agriculture, Leadership

Our state appropriation for FY 2013 is (nearly) set

I’m still adjusting to the notion of writing articles with this headline in June rather than in September or October. For the second year in a row, the Michigan Legislature has completed the appropriations process for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2012, by the first week of June. What a welcome change this has been!

 And unlike last year’s budget, in which we received a 15-percent reduction in funding, this time we’re targeted to receive a 3-percent budget increase in state funding. The size of the increase is welcome, but even more important is that it’s an INCREASE and not a DECREASE. It’s been a few years since we’ve been able to say that.

 The Conference Committee for the Omnibus Education Budget completed negotiations on the higher education portion of the budget last Thursday evening (May 31), and the House of Representatives quickly approved the compromise on June 1. The Michigan Senate provided their approval on Tuesday morning, June 5. So now all that remains is for the governor to sign the legislation, and then we will know for certain that our funding for next year will grow by 3 percent. There are some requirements in the legislation that call for us to report on outputs and impacts of our programs, which our new reporting system should help us to fulfill. This is right in line with our goal of providing greater accountability through our redesign process. And the increase is primarily targeted at development of a strategic initiative on growing food and agriculture sectors in the state’s economy, something that cuts across all four of our program institutes.

 As is always the case with a process like this, many people deserve credit and thanks for their roles in achieving this outcome. Within Michigan State University, many of you and other colleagues have helped to tell our story effectively to legislators. I’d like to highlight the role of Dr. Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, for his leadership in working with the MSU Governmental Affairs office and with legislative leaders and staff to address the concerns and questions that were raised throughout the process and to keep us all focused on the outcome we achieved. Given that we began the process with an Executive Budget proposal that had no increase for MSU Extension and AgBioResearch, coming out with a 3-percent increase is an outstanding achievement. Mike was our coach and captain in the campaign that produced this outcome. MSU vice president for governmental affairs Mark Burnham and his colleagues David Bertram and Monique Field also provided great assistance and guidance.

 Many legislators also deserve credit for their roles in this process. We especially benefited from Senators Tonya Schuitmaker, Howard Walker, Darwin Booher, Roger Kahn and John Moolenaar, and Representatives Chuck Moss, Al Pscholka and Amanda Price. They and other legislators deserve thanks and appreciation from our stakeholders who spoke out in support of our programs.

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Filed under Budget