Tag Archives: molina foundation

Update on Flint

MSU Extension is right in the middle of the efforts to reach the people of Flint with the resources they need. Our response there shows how nimble and responsive our team is in times of crisis. For example, HNI and CYI teams have developed fact sheets on how to Fight Lead With Nutrition and Fight Lead Affects With Learning and Play. These resources, and others, are not only valuable in Flint, but also in other areas of the state that have high lead levels.

In addition to these and other very specific lead-related resources, your colleagues have modified other programming to fit the needs of residents as they deal with lead exposure.

Some highlights of what your colleagues accomplished in January alone follow. MSU Extension has helped more than 2,100 people through programs, participation in events and partnerships.

Jennifer Skornicka and her team put on a 4-H information display at a Family Fun Night and Lead Testing event at Eisenhower Elementary that reached 400 young people and 285 adults. At this event, families received Molina Foundation books and the new Nutrition & Lead recipe information booklets. These booklets have become an important resource, and we’ve distributed more than 6,000 copies to 23 organizations that will further distribute of them. Hurley Children’s Hospital has an additional 2,500 booklets to distribute to their patients. Julia Darnton, Terry McLean and Erin Powell are working with ongoing programs in growing and accessing healthy food.

Photo of a Cooking demonstration at the Eastern Market using ingredients that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin D.

Cooking demonstration at the Eastern Market using ingredients that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

102 people have attended food and nutrition demonstrations featuring recipes that block lead absorption at the Flint Farmers’ Market. These are in addition to many other programs designed to meet needs in the community.

Because all eyes are on Flint and our work there, we’ve been getting a lot of attention from MSU President Simon and others. In her February 10, 2016, State of the University speech, President Simon was very complimentary about the work of MSU Extension in Flint. Everything we do to help the people of Flint elevates our reputation throughout the state and on campus. People are becoming aware of the importance of having Extension folks rooted in the communities that they serve. Every day is a reminder for me of how fortunate I am to be part of the MSU Extension team.

You might be wondering how you can help and what resources we have developed. You also might be getting calls from concerned residents in your communities. Links to several important resources for you and anyone else who is concerned about Flint and about nutrition and the water in their own communities follow.

  • Fight Lead Exposure The new MSU Extension page with links to MSU Extension news articles and educational resources about lead.
  • MSU Pediatric Public Health Fund  This MSU fund will support a new effort to find and evaluate interventions for the children of Flint affected by lead exposure.
  • Flint Volunteer Reception Center The center is designed as a central point of contact for all volunteers and those needing volunteers in Flint.

When people call your office looking for a place to get their drinking water tested, direct them to the county health department first. (The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides a Local Health Department Map.) If the health department doesn’t offer that service, callers can order a water test kit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for $18 by calling 517-335-8184.

To learn more about Flint and what people are coming together to achieve there, visit one of the pages listed here:

Comments Off on Update on Flint

Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Flint Water, Food, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition

Partnership with the Molina Foundation builds literacy in Michigan

For the past few years, the Molina Foundation and Michigan State University Extension have been working to place books in the hands of children living in low-income situations and enhance literacy levels of Michigan’s children. Since 2011, the Molina Foundation has donated and MSU Extension has distributed about 250,000 books to Michigan children.

This past summer, MSU Extension educators and program coordinators received 30,000 new children’s books to give to Michigan children. They handed out the books at community events, elementary school open houses, Project FRESH, outreach programs for children in migrant camps, county fairs, Operation: Military Kids events, summer camps and more, reaching thousands of children with the gift of free books.

This type of program gives children access to age-appropriate books that they otherwise may not have had.

One MSU Extension staff member said, “Many of the individuals who received the books were quite emotional when told the books were theirs to keep and they were free. That had never happened for them before. And more than a few little ones said they never had a storybook before and couldn’t wait to start reading. They obviously had a love for books, just hadn’t had too many opportunities to hold one.”

MSU Extension staff members who provided leadership for this effort include Jodi Schulz, Bay County educator; Jodi Wrzesinski, Bay County 4-H program coordinator; Theresa Silm, Clinton County educator; and Carrie Shrier, Livingston County educator.

The Molina Foundation received a key partner award at Fall Extension Conference this year for its continued work with MSU Extension and dedication to improving literacy in Michigan.

Comments Off on Partnership with the Molina Foundation builds literacy in Michigan

Filed under Children and Youth, Impacts

Book give-aways continue to help the cause of literacy

The early childhood literacy targeted program, part of our “I Know MI Numbers” initiative, aims to boost pre-reading skills needed to help children to be reading at grade level by the third grade. This goal received a big boost due to the efforts of two organizations: The Molina Foundation (part of Molina Healthcare) and First Book. Earlier this year, the Molina Foundation offered to donate up to 50,000 books to Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development for distribution mostly in the southeastern part of the state. This effort kicked off with an event early in March, which I wrote about in an earlier Spotlight article (March 10, 2011).

In June, the Molina Foundation hooked us up with First Book, who offered to donate up to 500,000 books to Michigan through Michigan 4-H and our continuing partnership with the Molina Foundation. Retired Extension associate director and former State 4-H Leader Cheri Booth coordinated both the Molina and First Book book give-aways, with the latest one culminating in the distribution yesterday and today of 100,000 books for Michigan organizations that serve youth who are in need and another 340,000 books being shipped to youth organizations all over the country. Volunteers who helped distribute the books came from several organizations and even included MSU senior associate provost June Youatt. Among everything else, Cheri arranged for donated warehouse space in Delhi Township and for the direct delivery of books to the 4-H program in Lansing’s Southside Community Center and to a “Reading in the Park” Extension event in St. Johns.

The Lansing State Journal picked up the story and interviewed Michelle Lavra, MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources communications manager, about the program. Read the article here.

Retired MSUE associate director Cheri Booth and senior associate provost June Youatt help load books

Retired MSUE associate director Cheri Booth and senior associate provost June Youatt help load books destined for local youth Aug. 10, 2011, at the Delta Township distribution warehouse. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Julie Chapin helps out at book give-away

MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute director Julie Chapin hands a box of books to a Molina Healthcare volunteer. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Kids choose free books at give-away.

Kids were eager to choose their two free books at Lansing’s Southside Community Center Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

A child chooses a book at the book give-away.

A child tries to decide which two books to choose at the book-giveaway at Lansing’s Southside Community Center Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

A child shows off her free books from the book give-away.

A child shows off her free books at Lansing’s Southside Community Center Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Dad shows his son a book on dinosaurs.

A father helps his young son choose a book about dinosaurs at the Reading in the Park event in St. Johns on Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Toddler enjoys her new book

This toddler shows her excitement about one of her new books obtained at the Reading in the Park event in St. Johns Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Young 4-H'er chooses a book

This future 4-H’er takes his time choosing his books at the Reading in the Park event in St. Johns Aug. 10, 2011. Photo by Michelle Lavra.

Comments Off on Book give-aways continue to help the cause of literacy

Filed under 4-H

‘I Know MI Numbers’ to improve Michigan’s future

Since its founding, Michigan State University Extension has, in all areas of endeavor, led Michigan residents forward by improving their lives. Today, Michigan residents face crucial issues that affect their quality of life including rising levels of obesity, low achievement in science literacy, threats to water quality, children unprepared for school, and cities and townships facing bankruptcy in a tenuous economic recovery.

 MSUE’s “I Know MI Numbers” (pronounced “I know my numbers”) initiative will inspire residents to be active participants in understanding the “numbers” that translate into healthier living, productive and sustainable agriculture, a cleaner environment, educational achievement and good local government. Our final goal is a state that is thriving and successful.

 We’ll execute five programs over the next six to nine months through the “I Know MI Numbers” initiative. The programs relate to areas highlighted as priorities in Gov. Rick Snyder’s dashboard, which measures Michigan’s performance relative to other states and relative to our past in order to be able to measure improvements. This idea of keeping track by numbers is familiar to us in Extension as we continuously seek to measure the impact of our work in numbers and in stories. By focusing on five key areas in an intense effort, we intend to make a difference, demonstrating that we take the dashboard seriously, we take our mission seriously in helping Michigan to improve, and we hold ourselves accountable.

 As you all know, this is not the only work we’ll be doing over the next six months. Rather, these projects help to draw attention to the impact and relevance of our programs. We will feature other work that is underway, such as our work in community food systems, that will be showing impacts over a longer time horizon. The projects we’re featuring now are ones that help us to show our ability to respond and achieve impacts in a short time.

 The programs include:

 Agriculture that Protects Michigan’s Waters

The first bill that Gov. Snyder signed into law was the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program legislation. In signing it, he called attention to the importance of agriculture in Michigan’s economic recovery and the innovation of Michigan agriculturalists in taking on responsibility for practices that protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources. Water is a tremendous resource in Michigan for agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and recreation. Clean and safe water resources are crucial to our quality of life and a bright economic future. And water quality is one of the 21 metrics on the governor’s dashboard. MSU Extension staff members will work with farmers to educate them about and help them to implement practices that reduce the flow of nutrients and pesticides to the water supply. MSU Extension will implement educational programs during the growing season and measure the impacts so that by the end of the growing season, we can collect measurable outcome data that directly correspond to improved water quality.

 Reducing Adult Obesity

Obesity leads to chronic disease and affects quality of life. Educational programming can help people change their behavior and in doing so can improve their own health. Our science-based education program aims to reduce the BMI (Body Mass Index) of individuals in Genesee and Saginaw counties, where obesity levels are the highest in the state. Working with faith-based organizations, worksites and through its existing programming, MSU Extension will lead nutrition education classes with an increased emphasis on obesity reduction. Our goal is to reach 8,000 people before the end of the year, changing behaviors and improving health, and demonstrating to participants and to decision makers if significant changes have been achieved.

 Helping our Cities and Towns Succeed

MSU Extension educators, working with partners from the legal and financial sectors, are providing the educational foundation for local officials to use tools provided by the governor and Legislature to address the fiscal crisis, improving the quality of service and reducing the cost of government. Extension staff members will provide workshops and trainings on topics such as the new emergency financial manager law, legal contracts, health care management, turnaround plans, local finance, local government cooperation and consolidation, school law and finance, and municipal bankruptcy.

 Increasing Early Childhood Literacy

More than a third of children enter kindergarten without the skills needed to benefit from the instruction they receive. MSU Extension is partnering with the Molina Foundation to distribute 50,000 books across Michigan. Combined with other learning resources that will be included, parents and caregivers will have the resources they need to better prepare young children for success in school and life. Supporting literacy education is how MSU Extension will help our youngest citizens to be reading at grade level by the third grade.

 Improving Science Literacy

MSU Extension has a long history of providing science education in a nonformal setting that uses an experiential, learn-by-doing method. Since science literacy for school-aged youth in Michigan is below the national average, we plan to help rectify the situation by supporting teachers across Michigan with resources, experiments and lesson plans around three science focus areas: biology (animal and veterinary sciences), plant sciences and environmental sciences (including bioenergy). MSU Extension will provide resource packets to teachers along with training in how to incorporate the resources into their classroom lessons. The materials will align with Michigan Science Education Standards by grade. MSUE staff members will coordinate 4‑H Science Blast and National 4-H Youth Science Day events across Michigan.

 Staff members are hard at work making these programs a reality. We expect initial results to be reported as early as fall 2011.

 View the video below on the “I Know MI Numbers” campaign produced by Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications. It will play on virtually any browser and will also play on most IPhone and Android smart phones. Its narrator is not the most charismatic speaker, but I hope he gets the point across that we mean business when it comes to making a difference in Michigan.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book give-away promotes reading

It’s not every day that our programs attract the attention of three different Detroit area television stations. And last Wednesday, March 2 was no ordinary day. For one thing, it was the 107th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss). To celebrate his birthday and to kick off March Is Reading Month, the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Ready, Set, Read! Program began distribution of an assortment of 1,000 books to children in Wayne County. The collection is part of a donation of 50,000 books by the Molina Foundation, located in Torrance, Calif., and founded in 2004 by Dr. Martha Molina Bernadett. The give-aways took place at three Detroit locations: Bates Academy, All Saints Neighborhood Center and the 4-H Community Center. At each location, Wayne County commissioners read President Obama’s children’s book, “Of Thee I Sing.” Even Sparty was on hand to celebrate.

 According to Edward Scott, MSUE Wayne County educator, attendance at the 4-H Community Center was twice what they had expected with 123 kids and 15 to 20 adults attending. Said Edward, “Commissioner Bernard Parker, who did the reading at the center, was blown away by the number of people who showed up.”

 Each commissioner received a copy of the book they read with signatures of all of the kids in attendance as a thank you, along with a 4-H coffee mug and a certificate.

 Edward remarked, “Even high school-aged kids showed up. There was a mad dash to get the books – the kids were that excited. This really shatters the popular perception that kids aren’t interested in reading.”

 Many of the books featured science-based topics. National 4-H’s goal is to engage one million new young people in science programs by 2013. As part of that goal, MSUE 4-H is focusing on science literacy among children.

 View the video below created by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications video unit. It features children at Bates Academy, enjoying their books. It also includes comments from Edward, school staff members and Irma Clark-Coleman, Wayne County commissioner.

Comments Off on Book give-away promotes reading

Filed under 4-H