Tag Archives: national association of county agricultural agents

NACAA awards recognize Extension educators on all levels

Congratulations to our National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) state, regional and national award winners! The NACAA is a professional Extension organization geared toward agriculture, horticulture, forestry, natural resources, 4-H youth development, community development, administration, aquaculture and Sea Grant educators. The award recipients have been announced and will receive recognition at the Future Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference July 24‒28 in Little Rock, Arkansas. This year, our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension colleagues will take home a large number of awards.

Frank Gublo, MSU Extension educator specializing in sustaining community prosperity and serving in the Thumb region, is a national winner for the 2016 Achievement Award.

James Isleib, MSU Extension educator in crop production and food and animal systems in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.), received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award.

James DeDecker, MSU Extension educator specializing in specialty field crops and bioenergy and serving northeast lower Michigan, is a regional winner in the Audio Recording Award category.

Phillip Durst, MSU Extension senior educator specializing in food and animal systems in northeast and central Michigan, is a state winner in the Computer Generated Graphics Presentation award category and national winner in the Search for Excellence in Farm and Ranch Financial Management category.

Erwin Elsner, MSU Extension small fruit and consumer horticulture educator based in Grand Traverse County, is a national winner in the Fact Sheet category.

Stan Moore, MSU Extension senior dairy educator serving northwest lower Michigan and the eastern U.P., is a state winner in the Feature Story category and national winner in the Personal Column category.

Heidi Wollaeger, MSU Extension educator focusing on horticulture in floriculture and nursery crop production and pest management in southwest Michigan, led a collaboration to submit and win national finalist for the Learning Module, regional winner for the Newsletter and national winner for the Publication categories. Her teammates were Raymond Cloyd from Kansas State University; Roberto Lopez and Erik Runkle, both faculty members from the MSU Department of Horticulture; and David Smitley from the MSU Department of Entomology.

Joanne Davidhizar, MSU Extension educator focused on agriculture, product development and business management, received a regional win for the Program Promotional Piece Award.

Phillip Tocco, MSU Extension educator in food safety and animal systems, was selected as state winner in the Published Photo and Caption category.

Please join me in congratulating all of our award winners!

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Educators shine at NACAA conference

A group of seven of our Michigan State University Extension educators attended the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM/PIC) July 20‒24 in Mobile, Alabama. Attendees included Phil Durst, Tom Guthrie, Phil Kaatz, Stan Moore, George Silva, Mike Staton and Nancy Thelen.

“The AM/PIC provides a wide variety of educational and networking opportunities from which we learn and are inspired,” said Phil Durst, senior Extension educator and president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (the Michigan affiliate of the NACAA). “This is also a great team-building time.”

Phil let us know that the conference offered 65 seminars on a variety of agricultural topics and super seminars provided opportunity for in-depth study of topics such as climate science and agriculture, farm business transfer, and soil health and cover crops. Educators went on more than 20 tours that focused on agricultural enterprises, resource management, business and local attractions. An exhibit featuring more than 100 professional posters provided a glimpse of a wide variety of research and educational projects. Dr. Dana Chandler of Tuskegee University provided the keynote address on the role of George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Thomas Monroe Campbell, all of Tuskegee, in pioneering Extension work.

As in years past, many of our colleagues received awards, presented or were involved in other ways.

Nancy Thelen received the Distinguished Service Award that encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional Extension from NACAA members with more than 10 years of service. She also was the national winner of the Agricultural Awareness and Appreciation Award. In addition, she presented two posters at the conference about Breakfast on the Farm.

Mike Staton was a national finalist for a published photo. A team consisting of Ned Birkey, Dan Rajzer, Marilyn Thelen, Dan Rossman, Bruce MacKellar and Mike Staton were national finalists in the “Search for Excellence in Crop Production.” Mike had the opportunity to present the work at the meeting.

The Extension Dairy Team was a national winner for a promotional piece, the 2013/14 Dairy Programs booklet. The team includes Stan Moore, Kathy Lee, Phil Durst, Frank Wardynski, Faith Cullens and Craig Thomas.

Stan Moore and Phil Durst were national finalists for an audio recording, their “Dairy Moosings” podcasts.

Tom Guthrie and Phil Durst served as voting delegates.

Congratulations to all!

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AABI group are NACAA national finalists

I recently heard from James DeDecker, Michigan State University Extension educator. He wanted to share that Ned Birkey, Bruce Mackellar, Dan Rajzer, Dan Rossman, Mike Staton and Marilyn Thelen were selected as national finalists in the 2014 National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Search for Excellence competition Crop Production category. Bruce is an Extension educator and Dan Rossman, Mike and Marilyn are senior Extension educators, all in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute. Ned Birkey and Dan Rajzer are MSU Extension retirees now working for the Michigan Soy Promotion Committee.

 James said, “The group’s program focused on reducing soybean harvest losses and is just one example of the high-quality, impactful outreach that MAEA (Michigan Association of Extension Agents) members deliver every day. Well done everyone!”

 Congratulations to all!

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Six Extension educators receive Step III promotions

The Michigan State University Provost’s Office has approved promotions of six Extension academic staff members to Step III status. Step III is awarded to Extension academic staff members who have demonstrated excellence and scholarly achievement in their work as Extension professionals over a sustained period. Those who are awarded Step III are promoted to “senior” status and their titles are changed by addition of the senior modifier to the title of educator, program leader or specialist. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding senior Extension educators.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Greening Michigan Institute

Teresa provides home ownership education in Washtenaw County and is certified to provide foreclosure prevention and intervention as well as post-purchase education. She wrote and updated the content for the credit section of the MI Money Health website. Teresa has provided train the trainer programs for the RELAX: Alternatives to Anger Program statewide and assisted in creating the evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness and impact of the program. She co-authored a USDA CSREES-NIFA Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant that awarded Washtenaw County MSU Extension $240,000 to create a coalition in a school district to build a sense of community. She is an excellent collaborator as demonstrated through her membership on numerous county coalitions. She has taken on key leadership roles with the Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS). She is active in professional organizations and has received numerous honors and awards.

Barbara Duvall, Children and Youth Institute

Barb has excelled in collaboration both within MSU Extension and with outside organizations. A peer reviewer of state and national curricula in the area of youth financial literacy, she has also co-authored a National 4-H career exploration curriculum. She also authored a 1-year follow-up evaluation for the 4-H Millionaires program, based on a tool created by colleagues at The Ohio State University Extension. Her involvement in the 4-H Kids Club afterschool program helped it to win a National 4-H Program of Distinction Award as well as the Family Strengthening Award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She served as teacher and facilitator as well as researcher for the 4-H Natural Helpers program, developing an evaluation tool and compiling the evaluation results into a summary report that captured program impact over the course of 18 years and reached more than 400 youth. Barb has been recognized by her peers at not only the state level but also the national level when she was selected for the National Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

Gerald May, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute

Gerald has accomplished many quality Extension programs and initiatives within the pork industry in Michigan. He uses a variety of educational delivery methods. He has developed a state and national reputation in the area of site selection for animal production systems and management of air emission from those operations. Recently, he has provided leadership for the climate variability and change action team activities. He has participated in many state, regional and national pork-related educational training meetings, conferences and tours. He is involved in GAAMPS (generally accepted agricultural and management practices) efforts and is a teaching resource for many in-service training efforts. He received the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) President’s Citation and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Achievement Award.

Stanley Moore, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute

Stan has state, national and international recognition in his area of responsibility in the dairy industry. He also is gaining a reputation as an expert in agriculture human resources (HR) management. His efforts in HR management have connected him with Hispanic labor support agencies allowing him to incorporate the connections into his programming. In addition, Stan has taken the initiative to learn Spanish to serve those audiences. He uses a wide range of methods to deliver his educational efforts. An effective teacher, he is able to reach both youth and adult audiences. He has taken leadership within the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Ag Business work group for Extension’s agriculture labor education. As an active member of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA), he has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award in 2008 and various awards for his communication efforts. Stan is perhaps recognized most for his roles as regional director, national vice president, president-elect and finally president of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA). Stan has worked with small and large producers, giving leadership to the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference from 2003 to 2010 and watching it grow from 300 to 700 participants.

Kurt Schindler, Greening Michigan Institute

Recognized statewide as the go-to person for land use information in Michigan, Kurt has taken on key roles in the development of curricula and materials. He teaches sessions for the Michigan Prosperity Initiative and maintains the land use page for MSU Extension. He has authored or co-authored numerous publications in the MSU Extension Land Use Series. He was part of the team that developed Citizen Planner throughout Michigan and has taught Citizen Planner for many years. He is an active member of the eXtension Community of Practice Land Use Planning team. Kurt provided technical assistance and cooperated in a research project with the Victor Institute to develop the Wexford County master plan. Kurt has offered programs in a wide variety of formats, incorporating experiential learning activities and humor. He has provided leadership as co-chair to the Government and Public Policy work group in the Greening Michigan Institute and the Land Use AoE team. He received his American Institute Certified Planner credential in 2009. Kurt has received the MSU Extension Director’s Meritorious Service Award and the Raymond Vlasin Award for Program Excellence. He also received the prestigious Michigan Association of Planning Outstanding Professional Planner of the Year award in 2010.

Nancy Victorson, Children and Youth Institute

As the result of an America’s Promise initiative, Nancy conducted a community youth needs survey in individual schools. As the outcome, a community teen center was developed. Now known as the Luce County Community Resource and Recreation Center run by a youth-adult board, the teen center has been sustained by the community for 16 years through grants and donations. Nancy is involved in statewide grant programs through AmeriCorps, such as 4-H Club Read and 4-H Peer Mentoring/Service Learning. She has secured more than $116,000 in grants to support positive youth development programs. She engaged youth in program planning and teaching through the 4-H Natural Helpers program. She established and maintained an active Extension Council. Through her efforts in international exchanges, she has provided opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to interact with and learn from each other. Intentional in her programming to introduce cultural experiences to youth, leaders and community members, she coordinated international exchange programs, developed an innovative global education experience through a Culture Fest and co-authored a new 4-H global education curriculum. Her effective collaboration with multiple partners over time has resulted in quality programming in the counties she serves and statewide.

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Senior Extension educator receives Michigan Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award

Fresh off a holiday where we note why we are thankful and approaching another where we attempt to put in perspective what truly matters, it’s never been a better time to talk about one of Michigan State University Extension’s best and brightest – Natalie Rector.

Natalie, senior MSU Extension educator specializing in manure nutrient management, was honored with Michigan Farm Bureau’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award at MFB’s recent annual meeting. The award is one of many Natalie, who retired Oct. 1, has received in her career, including the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award in 1994 and a Distinguished Academic Staff Award from MSU in 2004. The accolades she has received are too numerous to count, and her impact on Extension and on behalf of Extension is nearly impossible to put into words.

However, Wayne Wood, president of MFB, might have come close when he described Natalie’s contributions as “extraordinary and unrivaled.”

She has been an educator and an innovator since she started her career with Extension in 1983, first as a field crops agent and then crossing over into manure nutrient management education. She has had a profound impact on the thousands of farmers throughout Michigan she has helped, the hundreds of colleagues she has worked alongside of and the many who view her as a mentor. She’s been an inspiration for me and a great example of what makes Extension professionals special.

Visit the MFB website to read an article about Natalie’s award and to view a photo of her receiving it from MFB Vice President Mike Fusilier: http://www.michfb.com/annual/index/96/2652.

In addition, read this Battle Creek Enquirer article.

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Extension educators and specialists receive awards at 2012 NACAA conference

Many Michigan State University Extension educators and specialists received awards at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference July 15–19 in Charleston, S.C.

Extension educators in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Kevin Gould and Phil Kaatz earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award that encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional Extension for members with more than ten years of service.

Kevin Gould has served 19 years with Extension, starting in 1993 as an agricultural educator in the Thumb. The following year, he accepted a regional livestock position in western Michigan. Kevin is a leader in the industry, serving on the state cattlemen’s board and state bull evaluation. He is current president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) and co-chair of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Livestock Systems Subcommittee.

Serving 12 years with Extension, Phil Kaatz’s programming focus includes the Michigan Thumb Ag Research and Education (TARE) Program and statewide forage responsibilities for alfalfa and corn silage production. He’s recently been involved in TARE field trials and the Michigan Forage and Grazing Conference. The TARE trials are a unique partnership between field crop producers, agribusinesses and commodity groups.

 Rob Sirrine and Phillip Tocco each received the NACAA Achievement Award in recognition of excellence in Extension service and educational programs given to educators with less than ten years of service.

Dr. J. Robert Sirrine, Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, provides leadership for community food system efforts in northwest lower Michigan, holds statewide leadership responsibilities for hops production and provides expertise in other areas, including  entrepreneurial and value-added agriculture and organic production. He serves as the chair of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network and is affiliated with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.

Phillip Tocco, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, serves as secretary of the MAEA and president of his local agricultural council. He has served as a member of the MSU Product Center’s Ag Innovation Counselor network. He has been involved in creating a number of community-based initiatives, including coordinating community gardens at homeless shelters and creating gardening classes to develop capacity among people living in low-income situations to meet their fresh food needs.

Extension educator Erin Lizotte, district horticulturist and Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station coordinator Nikki Rothwell, Extension specialist Cheryl Peters and Rob Sirrine were national finalists for the “Search for Excellence in Young, Beginner or Small Farmers/Ranchers” for the Northwest Michigan New FARM (Farmer Assistance and Resource Management) Program, which assists beginning farmers.

Many of our colleagues won communications awards.

Rob Sirrine was a national winner for the website hops.msu.edu on small scale hops production in the Great Lakes Region. The site was built with collaboration from Mallory Fournier, Joy Landis and Annette Kleinschmit. It offers information on every aspect of hops production a potential grower would need to make a decision to enter into this new market.

Senior Extension dairy and beef educator Phillip Durst was a regional winner for a computer-generated graphics presentation “Breakfast on the Farm at Circle K Farms.” Phil put the presentation together with quotes from Breakfast on the Farm attendees and photos taken by Mindy Stokoszynkski.

Rob Sirrine was a regional winner for a feature story “The Good Earth: Carbon and Agriculture.” The article is an introduction to soils and carbon in agricultural production. It appeared in “Edible Grande Traverse,” a community food system/agriculture magazine for northwest lower Michigan.

Phil Tocco was a regional winner for a video presentation “Chlorine as a Sanitizer.” The video is part of his series “Agrifood Safety Minute.”

Martin L. Nagelkirk, senior Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, was a state winner for a fact sheet “Winter Wheat.” The document serves as a reference to understanding industry trends and to identifying lessons learned or particular challenges.

Phil Kaatz was a state winner for a publication “TARE: Thumb Ag Research & Education 2011 Field Trials.” Other authors included Robert Battel, Martin Nagelkirk and Dennis Stein. An advisory board consisting of producers, agribusiness and Extension personnel provide oversight for the project. The Extension educators and other technicians were responsible for all phases of producing the crops included in the trials.

Congratulations to everyone!

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Extension educator receives farm bureau award

Michigan State University senior Extension educator George Silva will receive the Eaton County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award at the bureau’s annual meeting on Aug. 23. The award is presented annually to an individual who has contributed exemplary service to the agriculture community.

Dr. Silva was promoted to senior Extension educator in 2010. He’s worked as an Extension educator in Eaton County for 12 years where he implements integrated crop and nutrient management educational and applied research programs on corn, soybean, wheat, vegetables and specialty crops. Among many other responsibilities, he’s also contributed his expertise as an innovation counselor for the MSU Product Center and as coordinator of the Eaton County Master Gardener and Junior Master Gardener programs. In addition to Eaton County, he has Extension responsibilities in Barry, Ingham and Livingston counties.

Dr. Silva joined MSU in 1986 as a research specialist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. He became an Extension educator in Ingham County in 1996 and acting county Extension director for Eaton County in 2009.

No stranger to awards, Dr. Silva received the 2007 Eaton County Farm Bureau Educator of the Year Award, numerous National Association of County Agricultural Agents communication awards and an MAEA Presidential Citation in 2007, among others.

Congratulations, George!

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Reaching consumers where they shop: MSUE launches new presence at Eastern Market

One of the striking things about the growth of farmers markets and interest in locally grown and produced foods is how closely those movements align with some core programmatic strengths of Michigan State University Extension. Consumers at farmers markets are interested in nutrition, food safety, gardening and even small business success. We offer programs intended to help consumers better understand how to ensure a nutritious diet; how to use, preserve and prepare food safely; how to grow productive (and colorful) plants in gardens; and how to develop a business that starts with growing things and creating added value by processing them.

A year ago, that realization struck me as I visited the City Market in Kansas City, Missouri. (I was taking my own field trip at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.) It was not a market day, so I was poking around in the resident shops at the market and some of the vacant public places. I came across a very simple sign that pointed to a small kiosk that University of Missouri Extension staffed on market days and the logic of what they were doing struck me as one of those “why didn’t we think of that” moments. I inquired a bit more from colleagues at Missouri, and they shared that nutrition education staff and volunteers attended the kiosk on market days and used it as a platform for educating consumers about nutrition choices they can make with their purchases at the market.

University of Missouri Extension kiosk in Kansas City, Missouri.

University of Missouri Extension kiosk in Kansas City, Missouri.

I made a few inquiries back here about the idea and learned that we have had Master Gardener volunteers attend some farmers markets to educate consumers about gardening, particularly in Oakland County, led by environmental science educator Carol Lenchek.

A team quickly formed in District 11 to apply the concept of the kiosk to the Detroit Eastern Market as a pilot from which we could learn about providing programming at farmers markets. Extension educator Eileen Haraminac has provided leadership for the team that developed a plan for and purchased a moveable kiosk that we now use as a base for offering information to market consumers. On July 10, we launched the kiosk, located at the north entrance to Shed 2, the open-air marketplace where vendors sell at the Tuesday markets. Of the 3,000 consumers who came to the market that day, Eileen estimates that more than 10 percent stopped by the kiosk for information, and they quickly filled her sign-up sheet for food preservation classes. Eileen has coordinated staffing the kiosk with MSUE staff and volunteers who have expertise in nutrition and food safety.

Extension educator Kristine Hahn has led recruitment of volunteers with expertise in gardening to serve at the kiosk. She anticipates using the kiosk as a platform to demonstrate skills and information useful to gardeners.

Eventually the kiosk may be useful in recruiting clients of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio and in sharing other information from MSUE. The launch of the Michigan Fresh campaign, which provides up-to-date bulletins of interest to growers and consumers of fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables, complements the physical presence that the kiosk provides us at Eastern Market.

MSU Extension educators Eileen Haraminac (left) and Kristine Hahn

MSU Extension educators Eileen Haraminac (left) and Kristine Hahn pose in front of the MSU Extension kiosk in the Detroit Eastern Market July 2012.

Eileen, Kristine and their colleagues and volunteers also staff the kiosk on Saturdays at Eastern Market, days at which tens of thousands of consumers descend on the market. That’s a pretty bold approach for a pilot project meant to explore how we can effectively connect with consumers at farmers markets. I’m not sure that a kiosk is needed at every market, but what the experience at Eastern Market has shown us already is that consumers welcome the information we have available for them there, and vendors appreciate being able to refer customers to our staff and volunteers. Each market presents a unique opportunity to reach residents with our programs. It’s overwhelming to think of serving every farmers market in the state. Yet at locations as large as Eastern Market or as small as the Wednesday markets in Manistique, market consumers find it helpful to have access to their cooperative Extension system as they shop.

I want to thank Eileen, Kristine and the many others who have helped to develop, test and pilot this idea we borrowed from our colleagues in Missouri. It’s been a tremendous effort, and as you can see , they’ve made us look really good at the market!

MSU Extension educators educate consumers

MSU Extension educators educate consumers at the MSU Extension kiosk at the Detroit Eastern Market July 2012.

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Extension educators and specialists receive awards at NACAA conference

Two weeks ago in an Aug. 11 Spotlight article, I told you about the tremendous involvement of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues in the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) and their Annual Meeting and Professional Conference. I promised you that I would describe the awards that were presented to these MSU Extension professionals at the conference Aug. 7–11 in Overland, Kan., and although it’s a week later than planned, I’m making good on that promise.

 Two Extension educators in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award for educators with more than ten years of service: Robert Bricault, Extension educator in Washtenaw County, and Warren Schauer, Extension educator in the Upper Peninsula.

 During 19 years in Extension, Robert Bricault served as an educator in consumer and commercial horticulture, and natural resources in southeastern Michigan. Bob worked to reduce phosphorus impacts on local rivers through a soil-testing initiative and helped develop an educational resource notebook on the emerald ash borer for each county in Michigan. He provides specialized training in diagnosing landscape problems.

 As business management educator, Warren Schauer served most of his 32-year Extension career delivering farm financial management and agricultural educational programs to clientele in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Michigan. Significant programming includes farm financial analysis, business planning, estate planning, livestock marketing and wind energy programs. Warren has also been involved in the Agriculture for Tomorrow Conference, Annie’s Project, U.P. Youth Market Livestock recordkeeping project, Bay de Noc Gardening Conference, Master Gardener, and farm financial management seminars in the Ukraine, Africa and the eastern Caribbean.

 Tom Guthrie, Extension educator in Jackson County, received the NACAA Achievement Award given to educators with less than ten years of service. As a member of the MSU Extension Pork Area of Expertise team, Tom is responsible for developing statewide accessibility to swine management educational programming, which also includes environmental issues. Tom’s major educational programming initiatives include swine production management, utilization of Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) in swine rations, environmental sustainability of pork operations and pork industry assurance programs. Tom also works with youth pork producers across the state.

 National finalists for “Search for Excellence in Crop Production” for “Sustainable Hops Production in the Great Lakes Region” were Robert Sirrine, Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute; Erin Lizotte, agriculture and agribusiness Extension educator at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station (NWMHRS); and Nikki Rothwell, district horticulturalist and NWMHRS coordinator. Through the program, the group of educators strives toward the goal of providing potential hops growers with an accurate assessment of the costs, challenges and opportunities for small-scale hops production in the Great Lakes Region by providing science-based growing and marketing information. The program has made significant progress toward this goal through grant-funded on-farm research, brewer surveys, educational programming, field days, and marketing and outreach. A significant investment in program evaluations has served to ensure that programming efforts remain relevant and timely. Results demonstrate increased knowledge in hops production and processing, and confidence in growing and marketing hops. Small-scale hops production has and will continue to provide economic development opportunities in Michigan and the surrounding Great Lakes Region. 

 Robert Sirrine; Cheryl Peters, Extension specialist; Nikki Rothwell; Erin Lizotte; Stan Moore, Extension educator; and Duke Elsner, Extension educator; were state winners for “Search for Excellence in Young, Beginner, or Small Farmers/Ranchers” for “Northwest Michigan New FARM Program.” It’s becoming harder for young people to enter and stay in the farming profession due to lack of farm transfers, the decline of traditional processing markets, residential development, increasing land costs and other financial difficulties. The Northwest Michigan New FARM (Farmer Assistance and Resource Management) Program is designed to assist beginning farmers, increase economic viability, maintain and enhance environmental stewardship and conserve northwestern Michigan’s rural character. Forty beginning farmers from northwestern Michigan’s five-county area were selected to participate in this comprehensive two-year program. A series of eleven workshops and four educational trips will educate these young farmers with the ultimate goal of a future of viable and sustainable agriculture in northwestern Michigan.

 Tom Dudek, senior Extension educator, and Charles Gould, Extension educator, were poster presentations finalists for “Determining Nutrient Removal Rates for Selected Herbaceous Perennial Crops.” Data generated from the study presented will be used by growers to comply with Michigan’s Right to Farm guidelines with respect to phosphorus applications to their farms.

 Duke Elsner and Mogens Nielsen, MSU adjunct curator, were poster presentations finalists for “Encouraging Citizen Science Activity to Obtain Data on Butterfly Distribution in Michigan.” Mogens’ book “Michigan Butterflies & Skippers” (E2675) was first published in 1999. Although he gathered information through many decades of personal study and examination of museum specimens, county distribution data appeared to be incomplete. Readers were asked to become “citizen scientists” and examine their personal collections in an effort to gain complete and accurate county distribution data. The data collected from this process was extensive enough to remove one species from the “special concern” list in the state.

 Many of our colleagues won communications awards.

 Phil Durst, Extension dairy educator, was state winner and regional finalist for an audio recording. Phil wrote the “Dairy Moosings” podcasts, which were reviewed by researchers. Phil and Stan Moore recorded, edited and produced the podcasts. You can find them on the MSU Dairy Team website at http://dairyteam.msu.edu/. The podcasts are published in Libsyn (http://dairymoosings.libsyn.com/webpage) in a library of Dairy Moosings podcasts and are available for RSS feeds. The podcasts, “Bovine Leukosis Virus: More Bark Than Bite?” and “High Production and Reproduction: Do the Two Mix?” present current dairy management research information in an interesting and adaptable format, accessible when and where producers want it.

 Robert Sirrine and Annette Kleinschmit, Leelanau County Extension administrative assistant, were state winners for a program promotional piece. Twenty promotional pieces were displayed at area Extension offices, grocery stores and other locales to promote the 2010 Hops Field Day and Tour. The event was also publicized on a weekly radio program and sent out via email and mail in a monthly agriculture newsletter. As a result of this promotion and marketing, 53 participants enrolled in the session.

 Duke Elsner was a state winner for a feature story that appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Field crop production is often overlooked in the Grand Traverse Bay region where most media coverage focuses on cherry and wine grape production. In the summer of 2010, it became clear that the region’s field corn crop was going to be at record-setting levels. Duke called attention to this agricultural achievement by preparing a feature article about the types of corn grown in the country, the numerous uses for corn and the significance of corn production in the local area.

 Extension educators Diane Brown-Rytlewski and Bruce Mackellar were state winners and national finalists for a team newsletter that is distributed to commercial fruit, vegetable and field crop growers in Berrien County and other parts of southwestern Michigan. Copies are printed and mailed to a list of more than 500 subscribers, and the publication is also available via email or at the Extension office. Created three to four times per year, the newsletter provides timely meeting notifications and other information pertinent to growers and others involved with commercial crop production.

 Dennis Pennington, Extension educator, was state winner and regional finalist for a bioenergy website, developed to address a key gap in delivering information to farmers and Extension educators. Existing MSU bioenergy websites focused on current research and grants but did not include general information about what bioenergy is, what the potential crops are, and how these crops can be processed into energy. This site conveys this general information as well as current results from applied research, national policy objectives, economics of production and links to external resources. The site is also used to share speaker presentations from various events. Visit the website at http://bioenergy.msu.edu/.

 Erin Lizotte, Nikki Rothwell and Extension educators Phil Tocco and Jane Herbert were state winners and regional finalists for a learning module. As farmers continue to struggle with GAPs (good agricultural practices) and new food safety standards, it has become necessary to train growers step by step about food safety. A Web series was launched designed to get growers one step closer to GAP certification. A compilation of fact sheets, video clips and a GAP Manual Template were bundled on a CD (the learning module), and a graphical user interface was developed to guide producers with a limited access to the Web.

 Phil Tocco was a state winner for a video recording, which is part of the Web series described above.

 Phil Tocco and Jane Herbert were state winners for a fact sheet. Food safety has become a significant issue among produce growers in Michigan. Of particular concern has been the lack of a uniform action threshold among auditing agencies concerning irrigation water quality. Working with water quality educators and specialists in Michigan, the food safety Extension group vetted two standards in use within the U.S. relating to irrigation water, then wrote a fact sheet to aid growers in adopting a standard. Drafted in August of 2010, the factsheet has been distributed online and in various grower meetings to at least 150 individuals.

 Congratulations to all of our winners! Our colleagues in NACAA do a great job of modeling creativity, innovation and teamwork.

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Agriculture/Agribusiness Institute well represented at NACAA

I had the privilege of attending the Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM/PIC) of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) in Overland Park, Kan., this week. It was a great conference for all attendees but particularly rewarding for me to see the tremendous involvement of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues in the association and conference. The Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) is the Michigan affiliate of NACAA. I’d like to share a few big impressions I came home with: 

  • Our colleagues are leaders! Our own Stan Moore, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) Extension educator, has served as president of the national association for the past year, presided over the entire conference with great class and demonstrated a great example of servant leadership throughout the conference. In addition, Charles Gould and Dennis Pennington provided leadership for an astounding amount of professional development opportunities on bioenergy research and Extension programming (two field tours, four luncheon seminars, ten other seminars and the unveiling of a new curriculum on bioenergy). They worked with colleagues from other states in the North Central region and received a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support their efforts.
  • Our colleagues excel in their work! MSUE professionals came away with awards for distinguished service, leadership and presentations, which I will describe in greater detail in next week’s MSUE Spotlight.
  • Our colleagues are serious! Everywhere I went, I encountered our colleagues engaged in intense discussions, trying to learn more about their craft and sharing their insights with colleagues from across the country.
  • We have some incredible 4-H youth from Marquette County! At the annual 4-H Talent Revue on Monday evening, 11 different acts were presented by 4-H youth from across the country, and the lead-off act was the Goldmine Sisters, Gentian and RiLee Waller, 4-H youth from Marquette County. They performed two bluesy numbers, singing, and playing guitar and mountain dulcimer (first time I’ve heard one of those on a blues number!). Their second song was one they had written about 4-H called “Count on Us,” and they had the crowd singing along with them. We need to get a recording of them performing that on the National 4-H Council’s Join the Revolution of Responsibilitywebsite! Click on this YouTube link to hear the sisters play “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Count on Us” at the 2010 Exploration Days Talent Show.

 Especially at times like this, it’s tempting to scale back on investments in professional development. And for certain, we are reducing our expenditures in this to some extent. But the trip to NACAA’s AM/PIC was all I needed to remind me how critical it is to remain invested at some level in professional development. It keeps us up to date on knowledge and skills and gives us a chance to venture into new areas that we need to address as we help Michigan face the challenges and opportunities ahead. And it’s also great to see how exceptional our colleagues are on a national platform. Congratulations to all who participated! They were Oz-some.

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