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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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Extension retirees recognized

The Faculty and Academic Staff Retirement Luncheon took place April 8 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The luncheon recognizes faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year. Michigan State University Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi co-host a reception prior to the luncheon. I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree. We had 17 new retirees, so I’ll feature nine this week and the other eight in next week’s Spotlight.

Alternate: Steve Lovejoy, Renee Applegate, Mary Robb, Chuck Pistis, and Brenda Reau at the retiree reception hosted by MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi, April 8, 2014. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi

Left to Right: Michigan State University Extension associate director Steve Lovejoy, retirees Renee Applegate, Mary Robb and Chuck Pistis, and MSU Product Center associate director and past president of Epsilon Sigma Phi Brenda Reau at the retiree reception hosted by MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi, April 8, 2014, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi

Extension educator Renee Applegate started out as an MSU Extension 4-H program assistant in 1982, later serving as a 4-H youth agent in Gratiot and Jackson counties and as the Michigan international exchange coordinator. As Gratiot County 4-H youth development educator, she had responsibilities for numerous 4-H clubs, members and leaders as well as for school programs. She served on the Child Advocacy Board, the Youth Advisory Council of the Gratiot County Community Foundation, the 4-H Environmental Education Programming Committee and the 4-H International Programming Committee. She was involved in teaching for numerous 4-H programs and workshops such as 4-H Exploration Days and the Pork Quality Assurance Plus Youth Education Program in addition to her educational collaboration with Jackson County Public Schools. As the state international exchange coordinator, she was responsible for coordinating Michigan and regional programs to Belize, Jamaica, Mexico, Poland, Australia and Finland. She increased the overall outreach of the exchange program and engagement of host families and youth. Through her work, more than 300 Michigan youth and 600 international youth experienced travel through the 4-H exchange program. In 2008, she was awarded the 4-H Extension Presidential Citation.

Extension specialist Douglas Brahee served as the regional director of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) from 1990 through 2010 and served as interim district coordinator for District 1 until his retirement. He has enhanced MSU Extension through his servant leadership, work ethic, compassion, organizational commitment, teamwork and dedication to grow and expand the outreach of Extension in the U.P. He worked closely with Extension colleagues, local offices, Native American communities, county directors, county boards and commissioners as well as government officials to plan, develop, deliver and manage effective programming, structuring and development of Extension outreach in the U.P. He also worked closely with the Native American communities with the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) to provide essential training and to build strong relationships. His important contributions to Extension include development and implementation of a volunteer system, his work on grants for program funding, and his work on civil rights and improvement.

Extension educator Ned Birkey began his career in 1989 as agricultural agent for Newaygo County and in 1992 transferred to Monroe County. In 2007, he became the Monroe, Wayne and Washtenaw district Extension educator. An excellent educator, he assessed the needs of local farmers and developed effective programs using a variety of teaching techniques to meet clientele needs and provide effective leadership. He managed the Michigan Soybean Yield Contest as part of the Soybean 2010 Project and served as chair of the Karst Committee of Monroe County. He was an MSU Product Center ag innovation counselor, a member of the Wheat 2000 Project and president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) in 2008. He was also committed to engaging the community with local farmers and began organizing farm tours in 1994 for Congressman John Dingell. He received many awards throughout his career, including the 2009 Excellence in Extension Award from the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee in addition to his presentations and awards at many National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) conferences.

In 1973,Extension educator Michael Erdman worked on a purebred farm at MSU as a beef cattle fitter and from 1973 to 1975 as the senior chemist at the Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center. He began his career with Extension in 1989 as the Menominee County Extension director. He was a valuable educator in Menominee County for 21 years. A highlight of his career was his work with the Dairy Team and his participation in and development of an effective dairy management program across the U.P. In addition, as a microbiologist, he planned, developed and instructed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and ServSafe training and workshops in various locations for the appropriate training and certification of restaurant owners and food service managers throughout the U.P. He completed the Eating Right Is Basic series with county fourth graders in the food safety and agriculture class to reach out to county youth. During the Extension restructuring process, he became the District 1 coordinator and was able to secure funding for all nine counties in the district by working with department heads, administrators, controllers and comptrollers, clerks, treasurers and county commissioners to keep all offices open.

Extension educator Sherry Grice devoted 34 years to MSU Extension 4-H in Calhoun County where she has had a profound impact on the youth, volunteers and community. Each year, she reached more than 900 young people through club work and 1,000 through special interest programming. She oversaw the six-week Creative and Expressive Arts Program, enrolling 60 to 70 children each year. Much of her work focused on minorities and programs to encourage young people from families living in low-income situations to participate in 4-H and to pursue continuing education after high school. She was involved in many key initiatives such as Calhoun County Communities that Care (Title V Delinquency Prevention Program), the Kellogg Youth Initiative Partnerships (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), the National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century, Community Partners for Albion’s Youth and the Albion Positive Youth Development Task Force. She also provided leadership for more than 350 volunteer leaders yearly through recruitment, training, management, assistance and motivation. During her tenure, minority youth enrollment increased to 13 percent and the participation of culturally diverse volunteer leaders also increased. In recognition of her work, she received the 2009 North Central Regional Diversity Award and the 2009 Diversity Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NEA4-HA). She also received the American Association of University Women Educational Equity Award in 2003 as well as recognition from the Albion Multi-Cultural Hall of Fame.

Extension educator Katherine Hale began working with MSU Extension in 1987, conducting needs assessments, facilitating community work groups and planning committees, and writing grants. In her 17 years as Extension educator for family and consumer sciences, she provided health, nutrition and child development education and raised funding for programs through community collaboration, contracts and grants. For six years, she was the county Extension director in St. Clair County, collaborating with community organizations; developing, promoting and marketing MSU Extension programs; and helping establish programs for local Project Fresh markets and Food and Farm Trails tourism. As the special projects southeast region educator, she worked in grant writing, conducted program evaluations, and coordinated special health projects and media. Her notable accomplishments include implementation of the Macomb Food Collaborative now serving Macomb as a nonprofit organization as well as the annual All About Food conference serving more than 200 people, including farmers, food service organizations, health educators, gardeners and food connoisseurs.

Extension educator Russell Kidd served as a district Extension forestry agent, organizing and leading educational programs for a variety of audiences such as private forest landowners, Christmas tree growers, maple syrup producers, loggers, and Master Gardeners and 4-H groups over 20 counties. He served as county Extension director in Oscoda, Crawford and Roscommon counties, assuming larger administrative and leadership roles while maintaining his involvement in educational programming and training. He established a 30-year relationship with the maple syrup industry, and for his contributions, he has been made an honorary life member of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. He was an integral participant in education programs such as Ties to the Land, forest health programming, gypsy moth intervention and logger education. He was often sought out for his expertise in forest health across northern Michigan. Additionally, he worked with the Michigan Sustainable Forestry Education program to train loggers and industry foresters about green certification programs so they could comply with government mandates. During his participation, his team raised more than $2 million to advance the outreach of the program.

Extension educator Margaret Lashore has served Extension in the Saginaw Bay area and Bay County since 1986. Her leadership and dedication directed Extension efforts to educate the community about personal health management and quality of life, offering financial management and home ownership classes as well as nutrition education, and establishing the Bay Area Housing Corporation through her role as chairperson of the Housing Task Force. In October 2005, her role expanded to work with creating and managing the statewide system for reporting and evaluating the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed), Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Breastfeeding Initiative (BFI) programs and educator training. She also established and worked with ANR programmers to develop the Activity Report Online and the BFI Reporting System that report data to the Michigan Department of Human Services monthly and to the Food Stamp Nutrition Education and Administrative Reporting System annually to continue Extension federally funded programs. She has received numerous awards from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS), such as the Florence Hall Award in 2009, the Continued Excellence Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Service award in 2000.

 Since 1980, senior Extension educator Dale Mutch has served in many capacities in MSU Extension. He has been an agricultural agent; district and state field crop integrated pest management coordinator; senior district Extension educator specialist; and coordinator, consultant and professor for the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. His career has focused on low-input and organic farming systems, and his applied research emphasized projects with farmer advisory teams. He has also served on the NorthCentral Region ‒ Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education(NCR-SARE) Administrative Council, participated in the Technical Committee and Producer Grants Program and was Michigan’s sustainable agriculture state coordinator for NCR-SARE in 2007. As a result of his research, He has authored or co-authored more than 30 papers, published or presented in professional settings. In 2004, he was chosen for the 2004 Distinguished Staff Award for his work with farmers, university scientists and Extension agents to design, conduct and publish research helping producers operate farms that are environmentally and economically sustainable. He received two NACAA Communications Awards(2000 and 2008) for his MSU Extension bulletins and the Friend of Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance Award in 2004. He remains a reviewer for NCR-SARE grants and is helping to coordinate the National Cover Crops and Soil Health meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

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MSUE shines at NACAA Conference

A bunch of Michigan State University Extension folks who are members of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) have made us proud by earning honors from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA). All were invited to attend the NACAA Communications Award Luncheon on Tuesday, July 13, during the NACAA Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference in Tulsa, Okla.

This year, Michigan stands out in the limelight in having four national finalists – Robert Sirrine, Mike Staton, Kevin Gould and Phil Durst. And one of our own, Stan Moore, Antrim County Extension educator, took on the presidency of the NACAA at the conference. That’s right – he’s President of the National Association.

Two members of our Extension staff earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award. The award is for agents with more than 10 years of experience, and it often recognizes a lifetime of service. For the past 10 years, Roberta Dow, district water quality educator, has trained AmeriCorps members who then conduct Home*A*Systs that help Michigan residents identify their risks to water quality and provide ways to lower those risks. For the past 14 years, Bruce MacKellar has provided expertise to southwestern Michigan growers concerning emerging field crop insect and disease control issues.

 Kendra Wills, Kent County Extension land use educator, was honored with the NACAA Achievement Award given to young agents with less than ten years of experience. Kendra’s work largely involves getting urban and rural citizens engaged in addressing urban sprawl. She has been successful in preserving a vast amount of prime and unique farmland in the county.

 Dr. J Robert Sirrine, Leelanau County Extension educator, is a national NACAA category award winner, receiving a plaque and a prize of $500 for a published photo and caption. The photo, which depicts Rob with two hops growers, was published in the June 2009 issue of Michigan Farmer Magazine. See it at http://magissues.farmprogress.com/mif/MF06Jun09/mif001.pdf.

Dr. Sirrine also was a regional finalist in the publication category for “Sustainable Hop Production in the Great Lakes Region.” He was the lead author along with authors Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Erin Lizotte, Dr. Ron Goldy, Steve Marquie, and Diane Brown-Rytlewski. The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore (formerly called the Bulletin Office) at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3083.

Phil Kaatz, Lapeer County Extension educator, was a regional finalist in the program promotional piece category for work on a brochure promoting the MSU Extension Thumb Ag Team and their efforts to promote regional programming. Phil says that it was really a team effort with Fran Adelaja working collaboratively with him on the piece with the help of the other educators in the brochure to produce the final product. The team members in addition to Phil were Jeannine Grobbel Schweihofer, David Pratt, Steve Poindexter, Martin Nagelkirk, Craig Thomas, Dennis Stein, Bob Tritten, Mark Seamon, Bob Battel and Emily Sneller.

 

George Silva, Eaton County Extension field crops and horticulture educator, was regional finalist for the Communication Awards website competition. George won the honors for his work on the official website for the Soybean 2010 project located at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/soybean2010/. Soybean 2010 project is a collaborative, research, education and communication effort at improving Michigan soybean yield and profitability. The partners include Michigan soybean growers, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Agribusiness Association, Michigan Farm Bureau and MSUE.

Mark Seamon, Saginaw County Extension bioeconomy innovation counselor and regional innovation counselor, was regional finalist in the fact sheet category for “Fueling the Future: Potential Biomass Crops for Michigan.” The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3077. And by the way, this fact sheet written by Mark is part of a series of five bioeconomy fact sheets, each by a different author, available at the MSUE Bookstore.

Mike Staton, Allegan County Extension senior agricultural educator, won the National Search for Excellence in Crop Production Award. Mike led a cooperative effort to plan, promote, conduct and evaluate educational meetings designed to help soybean growers identify and overcome the barriers to producing higher-yielding and more profitable soybeans. The programs reached more than 1,500 producers and agronomists and produced projected financial impacts of more than $2.1 million dollars. The other MSU Extension educators cooperating on this project were Ned Birkey, Emily Sneller, Marilyn Thelen, Bruce MacKellar, Bill Robb and Dennis Pennington.

Kevin Gould, Ionia County Extension educator, was the National Search for Excellence award winner in Livestock Production. He led a program that developed a pre-conditioning and marketing system to add value to beef calves in Michigan.

Phil Durst, Oscoda County Extension dairy educator, was recognized as a national finalist for Professional Excellence for the Beginning, Young and Small Farmer Programming Award. Each month, Phil meets with 40 to 50 young dairy producers who are part of two YSD (Young, Savvy and into Dairy) groups in northeastern Michigan. Through Facebook, it is an international group of young people in dairy.

Tom Dudek reported that the weather in Tulsa was – well, very Tulsa-like for the middle of July:  hot (95° F) and humid (heat index = 115). I got the impression they were pleased to escape back to Michigan’s more moderate conditions, but they definitely came back with a lot of hardware in their luggage. The Michigan Association of Extension Agents received a certificate for fourth place in increased membership, with 8 new members added last year.

We are very proud of our colleagues in NACAA and the work that they do in our state. Their innovations and hard work really set a model for what we hope to achieve even more widely in our new organizational design. Thanks for giving us great examples to highlight and learn from!

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