Tag Archives: norm myers

Retirees honored at reception

Each year at a luncheon, Michigan State University recognizes faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year. MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) co-host a reception prior to the luncheon at the Kellogg Center. This year, the event took place April 2.

As I do every year, I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree.

 Extension educator William (“Bill”) J. Carpenter began his career in MSU Extension in 1981 as county Extension director for Luce County. He later became county Extension director for Berrien, Iosco and Montcalm counties. He also served for a year as the district coordinator in District 4 before serving as an MSU Extension educator in the district in MSU Extension’s Greening Michigan Institute. Early in his career, Bill took a leave of absence to serve for a year as a senior Extension advisor in Armenia working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). He did exceptional work in community and economic development, particularly in land-use planning, working with nonprofit groups and building capacity in organizations and people.

Kenneth R. Geuns served as Extension specialist for livestock youth programs from 1978 to 2012. From 1984 through 1986, he also served as the coordinator of livestock programs in the Institute of Agricultural Technology. From 2007 through 2012, he served as the faculty coordinator of the MSU Purebred Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center. He taught courses in the Department of Animal Science, coached the collegiate livestock judging teams at MSU and served as faculty advisor to the MSU Block and Bridle Club. He received the Block and Bridle Club Honored Portrait Award, the Michigan Pork Producers Distinguished Service Award, the National FFA Honorary American FFA Degree and Outstanding Specialist awards from MSU Extension and the Michigan Association of Extension Agents. Other awards include the Black Hawk College Outstanding Alumni Award and Agriculture Merit Award, the Michigan Association of FFA Honorary Degree and Honorary Membership awards, and the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff Colleague Award and Team Effort Award.

 Gary L. Heilig has been an Extension Ingham County horticulture agent for 34 years. He has provided commercial and consumer horticulture programming for primarily the residents of Ingham County but he reached consumers around the state through his extensive live and taped television broadcasts. Gary is well known and highly respected for using multiple methods of teaching such as radio and television, video, online classes, audio files and fact sheets. He has provided relevant, substantive, well-developed, responsive educational programs throughout his career. He was part of the MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Team, which received the eXtension Working Differently in Extension Award for the creation of the Gardening in Michigan Web site. He also received a Communication Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and was a co-author of the original Master Gardener Manual.

Extension educator Linda Huyck began her work with MSU Extension in 1998 as a Montcalm County home economist. She secured funding to grow the Senior Project FRESH (Farm Resources Expanding and Supporting Health) programs in Gratiot and Montcalm counties, helped to develop the Family Living curriculum for Spectrum Health and updated the Building Better Bodies curriculum for volunteers in nutrition education in Gratiot County. In addition, she helped to plan the first ever Tri-FCS (Family and Consumer Science) Association conference for three family and consumer science professional organizations. Linda recently held a joint appointment in MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute and Greening Michigan Institute, specializing in food safety and financial literacy education. Her exceptional work focused on family capacity building, reaching hundreds of people and establishing mentorship programs. She received national recognition numerous times from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) including the Distinguished Service Award, Regional Educational Technology Award, State Community Partnership Team Award, State Financial Management Award and the State Impact on Youth and Family Award.

Children and youth program leader Elizabeth (“Betsy”) McPherson Knox served as an Ionia County home economics educator and 4-H youth agent before moving to campus as an associate program leader and then program leader. Betsy wrote, developed and used a variety of curricula for the performing and visual arts, and the promotion of global, cultural and international understanding. She has also worked in the area of 4-H environmental and outdoor education and more recently in leadership and civic engagement. She has coordinated more than 1,750 4-H Exploration Days sessions in nearly 25 years on campus. She’s received recognition on numerous occasions including the John A. Hannah Award for Excellence for leading the Chengdu China Dance Troupe Project. Over time, this stellar program resulted in more than 11 different cross-cultural programs with China and reached more than 300,000 Michigan youth. The ongoing 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China is one of those programs.

In 1988, Extension educator Michael McFadden joined MSU Extension as an agricultural agent for Gladwin and Isabella counties. In 1994, he became an Extension dairy educator for Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties. He provided educational programing, problem solving and applied research in a variety of agriculture and animal agriculture areas throughout his career. Highly respected by colleagues, advisory groups and the producers with whom he worked for his exceptional competency in a wide variety of areas, Michael was well known for developing meaningful professional relationships with producers and others in the community. He specialized in conducting farm research to solve local problems. The community routinely sought him out as a valuable source of credible, relevant timely information. He found it important to reach underserved farmers and their families, and included the entire farm family when appropriate.

Senior Extension educator Norman (“Norm”) L. Myers began his career as a county agriculture Extension agent in 1982, serving for two years in Montcalm County. He then moved to Newaygo and Muskegon counties for five years, and in 1989, he became county Extension director for Oceana County. In 2009, Mr. Myers earned the advanced title of senior Extension educator. At the time of his retirement, he was serving as a regional vegetable educator in MSU Extension’s Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI). Norm was an active leader in animal and plant production, particularly in the areas of vegetables and Christmas trees. He developed strong working relationships and did significant work on behalf of many commodity groups. He developed the annual Oceana Asparagus Day, which has grown into the largest educational program for asparagus growers in North America. He assisted in advancing the Tom-Cast disease forecasting system and PCR testing of aster yellows infectivity as important pest management tools in asparagus and carrots. He demonstrated and promoted petiole sap nitrogen testing as a means of reducing nitrogen use and costs in carrots, and he promoted higher density asparagus planting as a means for increasing asparagus yields. He received numerous awards including MSU Extension’s Diversity and Pluralism Award, the Michigan Vegetable Council’s Master Farmer Associate Award, the National Association of County Agricultural Agent’s Distinguished Service Award for Excellence and the Michigan Christmas Tree Association’s President’s Award.

Throughout her 31 years in MSU Extension, senior Extension educator Natalie Rector has reached hundreds of farmers in south central Michigan as a widely respected crop agent. In that role, she helped producers coordinate the Innovative Farmers of South Central Michigan, conducting demonstration plots and on-farm tours. As MSU Extension’s manure nutrient management field specialist, she helped livestock and crop producers work together to make efficient and conscientious use of animal waste as fertilizer. Natalie worked with state officials to develop the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). She conducted research and outreach focused on helping farmers utilize manure in an economical and environmentally friendly manner. Her work helped farmers save money while conscientiously taking advantage of valuable resources. She has been a team player within Michigan as well as across the Midwest as coordinator of a 10-state grant project to bring Extension faculty and staff together on manure management issues. She has received numerous awards. Most recently, the Michigan Farm Bureau named her the recipient of the organization’s 2012 Distinguished Service to Agriculture (DSA) Award. She was also the 2004 MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award recipient and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Pork Producers Association. Since retiring, Natalie has joined the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan as research coordinator.

Extension educator Carol A. Rosinski joined MSU Extension as a home economist in 1994, serving Cheboygan County. She later became an Extension family development agent in that same county. Her focus on programs affecting youth and families at risk through the Cheboygan County Juvenile Court proved innovative and successful. She continually evaluated her programs through data collection to make improvements and increase effectiveness. Her work empowered young people and parents, and strengthened families by providing needed services, activities and training. She effectively collaborated with area counseling agencies, law enforcement agencies, school personnel and administrators, Community Mental Health personnel and Probate Court judges. Carol developed and managed a collaborative program, the Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy, a successful partnership day treatment program between MSU Extension and the Cheboygan County Family Court. This treatment program served youth at risk of being placed out of their homes and assigned to residential placements. Parents and youth learned life-changing skills such as developing positive relationships as well as addressing drug abuse and violent behavior. Carol served as director, juvenile officer, case manager and licensed social worker for all young people ordered to the program.

Extension educator Patricia Waugh began her work with MSU Extension as a Lapeer County 4-H program assistant. She left MSU for a short time to work as a Head Start teacher and parent educator, and to coordinate the volunteer services for McLaren Hospice. She then rejoined Extension where she coordinated the Lapeer County 4-H youth program and served as a resource for positive youth development to others in the county. Patricia showed outstanding dedication and commitment to the youth and families of Michigan throughout her career. Adult volunteers and youth members often expressed their support and confidence in her leadership. She forged many collaborative efforts in the county she served as well as in neighboring counties. She received recognition for her work often throughout her career including a nomination for Lapeer Chamber of Commerce Female Citizen of the Year in 2009. Other professional awards included the Michigan Distinguished Service Award, the Team Effort Award for 4-H Afterschool, the Presidential Citation for the Club Read Program, the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) Presidential award, the MAE4-HYS Team Award for Take the Day on Diversity Program and the 4-H International Award.

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MSUE’s help leads to community leadership and award

Michigan’s Great Outdoors, a five-county tourism promotion group that includes Lake, Manistee, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana counties, received the 2011 Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration in the category of education/training at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism March 21 in Kalamazoo. The group was an outgrowth of the Newaygo County Michigan State University Extension Community Assessment Team (CAT) and then a regional Tourism Assistance Project (TAP) with Don Holecek, formerly with MSU’s Travel, Tourism and Recreation Resource Center. The former county Extension directors instrumental in the success of Michigan Great Outdoors were Norm Myers, Oceana County; Elaine Bush, Manistee County; Connie Theunick (retired), Lake County; Jim Breinling (retired) and Mira Danilovich, Mason County; and Kathryn Cummings, Newaygo County.

 According to Kathryn, now District 5 coordinator, “Although no more Extension educators are active with the group since restructuring began last year, that’s a kind of testament to the group’s stability!”

 Sarah Nicholls, associate professor from the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS), spoke immediately after the awards luncheon on behalf of MSU’s Travel, Tourism and Recreation Resource Center. Dan McCole, assistant professor and MSUE Tourism Specialist from CARRS, provided MSU’s annual forecast for the coming tourism season.

 Thanks to Don Holecek for the help and leadership in getting this started. Anytime we can help get something started and gradually move the community into the lead role and no longer require our direct management, that’s a success. And if it comes out an award winner, it’s a success with highly valued impacts!

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MSUE funding on the ballot – in 1928!

Norm Myers, Mason CED, surprised me a few weeks ago with a gem from his county archives-a booklet written by Carl Hemstreet, long-since retired agricultural agent for Oceana County. How We Won It details a challenge to the funding for Extension in Oceana County back in 1928.

In October 1927 the board of supervisors approved a budget to continue the agriculture agent’s position for another year and add a home economics agent. Then, in June 1928, some influential contrarians on the board (Mr. Hemstreet refers to them as “Bolshevistic members”) decided to let the entire county vote on whether or not to fund Extension.

Between July 1928 and the September primary election, Mr. Hemstreet worked with stakeholders from throughout the county to get the message out about Extension’s impact on agricultural development and home economics. The booklet contains a collection of letters, newspaper articles and public-information sessions that comprised the education campaign about Extension. Not surprisingly, many stakeholder groups assisted in the educational efforts, including the county’s Farm Bureau members.

It’s as if Mr. Hemstreet took a page right out of our playbook. He includes a report on a public-information session that invited people to “come and discuss such questions as ‘What makes for prosperity in our community?'” One stakeholder letter says, “County agent work is one of the good things in life that we will pay for whether we get it or not. The State College pays $1,800 of the agent’s salary. Wayne County pays 49% of the state taxes. Therefore Wayne County pays almost as much of your agent’s salary as does Oceana County.” Another letter mentions leveraging funds, much like we do in our conversations with legislators: “From my connection on the County Farm Bureau Board, I know it to be a fact that the State and Federal Government puts in at least $1.50 to each $1.00 the county puts in.”

It’s especially noteworthy to recognize that the campaign took place from July 20 to the day before the election, September 4-a prime time for farmers to be working in their fields and orchards. Yet they, and many other residents, attended the information sessions.

The vote was successful. It passed in 15 of the county’s 16 townships with a total of 1,700 votes for funding the agriculture agent and 809 against. However, there was some additional suspense when the board revealed that this was only an advisory vote-voters had to wait until the October board meeting to find out whether or not the supervisors would approve the appropriation.

Not only was the funding approved, it also led to the formation of one of the organization’s first advisory committees.

In the current climate regarding our state budget, and following challenges we had in several counties last year with county funding for MSUE, it’s somehow reassuring to know that what we’re experiencing has been a part of the Extension heritage for most of its existence. And it’s even more reassuring to know that through the many challenges to Extension’s existence, Michigan residents have continued to show that they support use of their tax dollars to provide the educational programming that we conduct.

My thanks go out to Norm for sharing this wonderful piece from his archives. The dedication of Mr. Hemstreet’s report is “to the County Agricultural Agents of Michigan – may they never need it.” What a dreamer!

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