Tag Archives: msue news for ag

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

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, love, and laughter.

Cloth napkin with acorn tree napkin holder and a card that says "Thankful."


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You’re making our numbers go up

A few weeks ago in Spotlight, I mentioned the May 21 Michigan State University Extension Update webinar and Beth Stuever’s presentation on our new MSU Extension website and the pilot News for Ag and News for MSUE websites that preceded our current site. Beth discussed statistics from a survey of Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute staff members who worked on the MSUE News for Ag website.

 You may not find statistics interesting, but it may interest you to know that you have a direct hand in controlling them. The fact is that your involvement in the website is responsible for an increase in hits on the site. Your input is absolutely essential. Your expertise and knowledge make up the heart of the website.

 In a survey completed in November 2011, 45 percent of AABI educators said that their writing skills improved since writing for the site. More than half admitted to becoming more familiar with online technology through working on the site. You’ve gone beyond your comfort zones and reached out to learn something new.

 Sixty-one percent of respondents believe that the website has helped media relations efforts. We have been getting more phone calls from local media and seeing more visits to the website from the media. Sixty-three percent of the AABI educators said the website has increased our visibility with stakeholders.

 Though some AABI members may believe they were wasting valuable time writing articles, in reality that time is never wasted. We are getting your knowledge and expertise out to Michigan residents, and we’re enhancing our reputation. We’re getting involved more quickly in national issues.

 So keep writing those stories. Your efforts are appreciated, and they are making a difference.

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‘If you see your stuff being used somewhere else…’

“…be sure to let us know.” It was with those words that Beth Stuever, communications manager for ANR Communications, ended her presentation on the May 21 Michigan State University Extension Update Webinar this week. Beth had finished presenting some data on the characteristics of users who are coming to the MSUE web site and the pilot News for Ag, News for MSUE web sites that preceded our current site. In our efforts to present our information in a more accessible, more timely way and in a way that shows the impacts of our work, we have leaned heavily on the professional expertise of Beth and her colleagues in ANR Communications. One of the lessons they have taught us is that it’s not enough to write a good piece, click on “Send” and assume our job is done. Actually, even an excellent communications product needs to be promoted – through social media, through traditional press releases and through the old-fashioned tool of “word of mouth.” The beauty of using electronic media as part of our communications tool kit is that we can quickly link it to other avenues that people may be following to capture information and insights. The ANR Communications folks are expert at making sure that our communications get linked into the main thoroughfares of information flow and get to the people who most need them and can be most influenced by our communications. I still feel like a novice at this, but I’m deeply appreciative of the expertise that our ANR Communications colleagues bring to our team. You can hear all of Beth’s presentation on the recording of this week’s webinar, beginning at the 9-minute mark at https://connect.msu.edu/p3ldt5ef9ji/. Thanks to ANR Communications for their help in making us better!

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What’s new about MSUE? Many are finding out at the MSUE News for Ag site

Michigan State University Extension has been helping people by bringing them the knowledge of MSU for a long time now, and the number of people we are reaching through technology has grown tremendously since we introduced MSU Extension News for Agriculture.

 The online tool helps us get the newest information and research from MSUE to farmers and stakeholders. And they get that information in one convenient, online location. Through the website, faculty and staff members can share their expertise with anyone in the state. They are not limited by county or regional borders.

 The numbers are up, and they don’t lie. In just three months, we have had nearly 40,000 visits to MSUE News for Ag and more than 120,000 page views.

 Our readership increases monthly. From Apr. 26 to May 26, we had more than 25,000 visits, and more than 70,000 pages viewed. We average 834 visitors per day, and the average visitor views 2.8 pages per visit and spends about 2.21 minutes on the site.

  • Visits are split almost equally between first-time visitors (48 percent) and return visitors (52 percent).
  • Weekends are slower than weekdays, but with an average total of 1,131 visitors for Saturday and Sunday (combined) over the last three weekends, weekend traffic is significant – and seems to be growing.
  • In general, Thursday and Friday have the most page views – usually more than 1,000 per day. We’re not sure why this spike occurs, because we are posting new material daily.

Thirty-two percent of our visitors are referred to us from another site. Twenty-one percent are driven to our site via various search engines. This is particularly good news because that means we are ranking higher in search engine results.

 The statistics show that this online tool is proving to be a positive form of communicating knowledge to Michigan residents. Find it at news.msue.msu.edu.

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