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MSU Extension staff members receive NAE4-HA national awards

At the Galaxy IV Conference Sept 16‒20 in Pittsburgh, Pa., two Michigan State University Extension staff members received National Association of Extension 4-H Agents national awards.

Extension program instructor Jan Wendland received the National Meritorious Service Award, a national award for staff members with 15 years of service in 4-H youth work. Recipients must previously have won the National Distinguished Service Award prior to being nominated.

Jan has been a 4-H volunteer for 50 years. She started working for MSU Extension in 1984 as a program assistant, eventually becoming program coordinator. Aside from encouraging volunteers and youth to attend training workshops and events, Jan has accomplishments ranging from event planning to hosting training sessions. Jan planned, organized and chaperoned three bus trips of more than 200 youth to participate in Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, D.C. Through Jan’s leadership, many young people have experienced state exchanges. As part of The Academic Success Science work team, Jan has helped plan, organize and teach sessions at the Michigan 4-H Science Camp statewide science workshop for the last three years.

During her 4-H career, Jan has written and received several grants. One particular grant she worked on helped develop a 4-H in-school and after-school club with a focus on gardening, community service and entrepreneurship.

Recently, Jan helped 4-H youth in Saginaw County promote a community service project, raising poultry and donations for the Saginaw East Side Soup Kitchen.

Her commitment to quality 4-H programing has had an impact with many young people in Saginaw County.

Extension educator Betty Jo Nash received the National Achievement in Service Award, a national award for staff members with 3 to 7 years of service in 4-H youth work. Applicants are evaluated on professional attitude, improvement and accomplishments as well as personal attitudes and interests, community involvement and special honors received.

Betty Jo worked as the 4-H Extension educator in Cass County from 2005 through 2007, and in Ingham County from 2008 to the present. Betty Jo has played an integral role in helping the county 4-H program transition through staff downsizing.

She has had responsibility for overall program management and financial oversight for up to 60 clubs and committees, administering the volunteer selection process for new volunteers and maintaining current records on more than 300 volunteers per year, as well as communicating with club leaders and members.

She has helped recruit and secure funding for 4-H members to attend 4-H educational opportunities. She has also had responsibility for maintaining the local 4-H website and worked on a number of local educational initiatives.

Most recently, Betty Jo is a member of the Life Skills work team within the Academic Success area of the Children and Youth Institute. She has provided leadership to one of the major undertakings of the work team, authoring the work team’s educational curriculum.

Every five years, the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) sponsors and provides leadership for a Galaxy Conference for the Cooperative Extension System. The conference invites participation from all JCEP organizations, the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and other partners critical to the Extension mission.

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Kent County 4-H’er joins the Revolution of Responsibility

In a recent Spotlight article, I talked about the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility, National 4‑H Council’s movement for positive change, challenging kids to make a difference and take responsibility for community problems and issues.

 Nate Seese, a 4-H’er from Byron Center in Kent County, is taking on responsibility in a big way right in his own community. Nate raises and shows sheep and hogs as a 4-H project. Usually, a 4-H’er involved in this type of project would auction off the animals at fair and then keep the profits. But Nate saw a need to help hungry people in his community and stepped up to do something about it. He put together a buying group consisting of local business owners and community members to buy the animals at auction. The group lets Nate keep the animals so he can donate the meat to the Buist Community Assistance Center, a local food pantry. After taking the animals to Byron Center Meats (the company donates its time and services to process the meat), Nate was able to donate 500 pounds of lamb and pork to the center this year.

 Nate says, “4-H has taught me that we can’t just sit back and wait for somebody to take the lead. We have to take the lead if we want to make a change.”

 Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development is also taking the lead in the revolution, developing responsible leaders for the future.

 Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications staff members Kraig Ehm, Steve Evans and Michelle Lavra created a video featuring Nate’s story. View the video:

 The video was shared at the 2011 NAE4-HA (National Association of Extension 4-H Agents) Conference held Oct. 24–28 in Nebraska. The video will be posted on the National 4-H Revolution of Responsibility site.

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Cross-cultural exchange impacts Michigan youth

Approximately 6,000 Michigan children in grades K–6 participated in the 2010 Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China. Of that number, seventy art pieces were selected to send to China as a gift to the children of China in Shandong Province. Chinese children sent 120 art pieces to Michigan to conclude the exchange.

 You can view the 2010 Michigan children’s artwork sent to China on the 4-H website at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/michart10/index.htm.

 For the exchange, Michigan and Chinese children are asked to create “visual letters” (paintings or drawings) of something important in their lives that they would like to share with children of the same age living halfway around the world. Visual letters become the means to communicate across language barriers. The themes and desire for connection are similar regardless of country and culture.

 Educators working with 5,067 Michigan children in 24 counties reported that 98 percent of the children increased awareness that art communicates ideas, feelings and stories as a result of their participation in this program. And 100 percent of the children gained new knowledge about China, increased awareness that there are similarities between themselves and Chinese children and expressed a desire to learn more about the children and their country.

 An exhibit funded by the MSU Asian Studies Center currently at the MSU Museum displays select pieces of Chinese children’s artwork from the 2010 exchange. The museum anticipates around 12,500 visitors for the duration of the exhibit, which runs Feb. 1 to March 31, 2011. For more information, visit http://museum.msu.edu/Exhibitions/Current/4-H_Children_Art_Exchange_with_China.html.

 Jan Brinn, Michigan State University Extension 4-H educator in Allegan County, and Betsy Knox, 4-H program leader and coordinator for the Michigan 4-H Art Exchange, co-presented a seminar “Global Education Through Art” at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) 2010 conference Oct 24–28 in Phoenix, Ariz. The seminar focused on the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange.

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Grice wins diversity award

Congratulations to Sherry Grice! Sherry, 4-H youth development educator in Calhoun County, received the 2009 Diversity Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA). Sherry won North Central Regional diversity award earlier this year, but was completely surprised when she received the national award during the NAE4-HA national meeting Oct. 25-29 in Rochester, NY.

When Sherry began her career with MSU Extension in 1979, first as a program assistant and later as an educator, Calhoun County had a very traditional club program with no minority involvement. Today, 13 percent of the county’s 4-H enrollment consists of minority youth—that’s a full 3 percent more than the minority population of the county. Much of that can be attributed to Sherry’s ability to cultivate, train and motivate culturally diverse volunteer leaders. And she brings that expertise to the entire 4-H team.

Rita Klavinksi, Calhoun CED, put it best in her letter of recommendation: “Sherry has provided exemplary service to the youth of Calhoun County, particularly those at risk of failure due to social and economic factors. She has been a leader with Michigan 4-H Youth Development’s efforts to effectively serve under-represented and at-risk populations statewide.”

Please join me in congratulating Sherry for winning this prestigious award.

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