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Extension educators connect with federal decision-makers in DC

Julie Crick, Jodi Schulz and Holly Tiret traveled to Washington, D.C., the second week of July, to visit with legislators and staff of national agencies and to attend the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) North Central Region session.

Julie, Jodi and Holly shared their Michigan State University (MSU) Extension stories with Reps. Dan Kildee and John Moolenaar, as well as with staff members of Rep. Justin Amash, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters.

Holly Tiret, Jodi Schulz and Julie Crick pose for a picture with Representative Dan Kildee.

Holly Tiret, Jodi Schulz and Julie Crick met with Rep. Dan Kildee. Photo courtesy of Rep. Kildee’s office.

Julie is an MSU Extension educator who specializes in leadership and educational programming expertise in natural resources with a focus on forest stewardship. Jodi serves statewide in areas of youth development and is a 4-H educator. Holly is an Extension educator who focuses on social-emotional health and well-being across the life span.

“We were able to speak about how our own personal passions transfer into the work we do in our areas of specialization and ultimately make an impact on those we program with in communities,” Jodi said.

“We were really focusing on programs we do locally (and) offered statewide,” Holly said. “(We talked) about how we work together to cross program and combine efforts to best meet the communities’ educational needs.”

Julie, Jodi and Holly shared that they felt prepared and empowered by MSU Extension’s encouragement to make strategic connections and because of the Expect to Connect materials on the Organizational Development Team website.

“Many thanks to everyone who worked on those!” Julie said.

During their time in Washington, D.C., they also visited with agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union, the Embassy of Tribal Nations and the Immigration Policy Center.

NELD is a professional development opportunity to strengthen leadership and effectiveness of Extension staff members. Each year, Extension administrators across the country are asked to identify emerging leaders who are working on a critical issue or will be assigned one in the future. These individuals are nominated to participate in the NELD North Central professional development opportunity. NELD hosts four sessions a year. The session in Washington, D.C., focused on leading in a shared-power world.

Holly said that the team took away significant information on themes of leadership from this conference such as the importance of relationship building, believing in yourself and public service, and inspiring your team.

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An exciting opportunity

By Patrick I. Cudney

A Michigan native, I grew up in the Traverse City area and attended Benzie County Central schools, graduating from Benzie Central High School. I attended Central Michigan University where I received a bachelor’s degree in community recreation and park administration as well as a Master of Science degree in administration. I have a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of our state and enjoy her abundant natural resources. My wife, Abigail, and I have three children, McKenna (18), John Patrick (9) and Kate (5).

Patrick Cudney will become MSU Extension associate director of operations on Sept. 1, 2014.

Patrick Cudney will become Michigan State University Extension associate director of operations on September 1, 2014. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi, July 2014.

My history with Michigan State University Extension began in 1996 when I became a 4-H youth agent assigned to Kalkaska County. A short time later, I became the county Extension director of Benzie County, making me at age 27, the youngest county Extension director in the state. Three years later, I became regional director of the MSU Extension north region. This gave me the opportunity to help direct the work of more than 150 Extension and county faculty and staff members in a 21-county region of northern lower Michigan. With the MSU Extension restructure in July 2010, I became district coordinator for District 3, serving nine counties in northwest lower Michigan. I’ll continue in this role until I take on the exciting opportunity in serving as associate director of operations in September.

In this new role, I’ll have the opportunity to oversee logistical and business operations for our organization, including supervising the field-based leadership team as well as providing leadership for the organizational development units of MSU Extension including budget planning and management, human resources, professional development, communications and marketing, program reporting and evaluation, diversity, technology and other essential program support.

I’m a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP), the Extension professional’s fraternity. I’ve been honored to receive the ESP Meritorious Service Award and the ESP Administrative Leadership Award.

I’ve participated in the North Central NELD (National Extension Leadership Development) program in 2001-02 and then served on the NELD planning committee in the 2003-04 program years. I was a member of the inaugural graduating class of the LEAD21 (Leadership for the 21st Century) national land-grant leadership development program in 2005-06.

My education and experience has led me to an interest in community engagement in public-policy decision-making and the science of public administration. I plan to put that education and experience to work with all of you, as we reach out to Michiganians across the state to meet the needs of individuals, families, communities, businesses and industries. It is the content-rich, research-based educational programs that make Extension truly effective and unique, and it is only through meaningful partnerships that we are able to provide our greatest impacts.

I am truly honored to be able to serve the state and MSU Extension in this new role. We are all stewards of this proud organization during the time we serve, and it is all of our responsibility to do our part to ensure it remains an essential and integral part of the fabric of communities across the state.

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Extension colleagues take part in leadership session

Several of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues took part in a session of the North Central National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) workshop held in Chicago Jan. 23–26. The session, “Understanding Our Roles as Leaders,” was the first of four sessions scheduled for 2013 exploring leadership and facilitated by the University of Minnesota Extension.

NELD’s mission is “to build leaders in Cooperative Extension at all levels and provide them with the vision, courage, and tools to lead in a changing world.”

The program helps the participant to develop leadership skills on a personal level and then use those skills to improve the effectiveness of extension programming.

The first session, an intense introduction to leadership, included developing facilitation skills and techniques, and working on team and consensus building.

Each participant did a self-assessment of emotional intelligence, which evaluated the leadership style each feels most comfortable using. In times of stress, people default to this style. When facing a difficult situation, people are less likely to use the leadership style they tend to be weak in. The program concentrates on getting participants to strengthen the weak areas so they have a variety of strengths to use in various situations.

Each participant also developed a personal philosophy of leadership and a plan of work in the leadership field to learn and implement in the upcoming year.

Participant Kelley Hiemstra, MSU Extension District 4 coordinator, had this to say about the experience: “The first session of NELD was fantastic. I look forward to the entire program and I am sure that it will assist me in my leadership roles.”

Besides Kelley, other participants from MSU Extension included Extension educators Eileen Haraminac, Erin Lizotte, Kendra Moyses and Kendra Wills.

Each are assigned to core groups of four to continue the work between sessions and act as mentors and coaches to each other. Each group consists of Extension employees from North Central Region states.

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