Tag Archives: partnerships

Expect to Connect: Please send in your stories

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is an organization built upon relationships. With that in mind, we created the strategic connections initiative Expect to Connect. The initiative is built on the premise that every member of our MSU Extension team has responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with legislators, stakeholders and media in his or her community and throughout the state.

Following the momentum of the rollout of the initiative at Fall Extension Conference (FEC), we want to feature your strategic connections success stories in this Spotlight. We want you to tell us about the strategic connections you’ve made, relationships you’ve built and partnerships you’ve developed. We also want to know how these connections have had an impact on your work, on your programming, on the overall organization or on all three. Please send your stories to Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director of operations, at cudney@msu.edu, and encourage your peers to submit theirs. You don’t need to be a professional writer. We’ll help you tell your story. Just send us your story of approximately 250 words, and we can work with you from there.

To kick off the monthly Expect to Connect articles, this first introductory story will focus on the FEC workshop-on-the-move “Developing Strategic Connections” led by Mike Kovacic, MSU Extension outreach specialist. After learning about the Expect to Connect tools on the first day of FEC, participants got a chance to put their knowledge to work in downtown Lansing.

Over 25 MSU Extension staff members had an opportunity to tour the historic state Capitol and meet with lobbyists and legislators to learn more about how MSU Extension voices can be heard in state government. Nancy Vriebel and Scott Jones from Senate Appropriations Chair David Hildenbrand’s office shared insights on the importance of connecting with legislators and other stakeholders on a regular basis.

“We’re here to serve you,” Nancy Vriebel told the group. “We want to hear from you, in your words, how you are working with our constituents.”

The participants were treated to a special visit by Sen. Goeff Hansen along with his policy advisor Peter Wills who discussed key issues and the importance of citizen input as part of the overall policy process. Finally, workshop attendees connected with members of the Michigan House of Representatives to discuss individual programming efforts and the impact MSU Extension has on the lives of constituents.

Two of our colleagues talked about the experience:

“Meeting with legislators was the best part, especially the one-on-one with the representatives serving my work area,” Extension educator Jim Isleib, educator said. “Don’t be intimidated about meeting legislators. They will benefit from knowing you too.”

Extension educator Zelda Felix-Mottley said, “The representatives and senators want to hear from constituents. They are engaging and interested in what you have to say. Our legislators want to put a face to MSU Extension ‒ that’s your face with your Extension story.”

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Filed under Partnerships

MSU Extension works closely with award-winning teacher contributing to environmental education

One of the outstanding things about our organization is the way that our partnerships build capacity in community leaders.

 Bob Thomson, a Sanborn Elementary School teacher in Ossineke, Mich., who works closely with Michigan State University Extension, won a Chevrolet GREEN Educator Award. Through the award, Earth Force and the General Motors Foundation team up to reward educators who integrate quality environmental education into their schools. Bob works with Michigan Sea Grant, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 4‑H Youth Development and Huron Pines AmeriCorps program to guide his students in learning about the Thunder Bay watershed beyond the classroom.

 MSU Extension is connected with Bob Thomson’s work in three ways: 

  • The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI) initially supported Bob’s work. This is a regional collaborative network, part of a statewide place-based education programming network supported by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. Michigan Sea Grant, partnering with 4-H, facilitated the early planning discussions dating back to 2006 in establishing this regional northeastern Michigan network. Today, Sea Grant and 4-H continue to serve as leadership partners in facilitating the NE MI GLSI work in our region. 
  • The Toyota-supported 4-H2O Project, a water science and education initiative, supports Bob and his work. The Toyota 4-H2O Project is funded by a grant from Toyota to National 4-H Council and the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Sea Grant and 4-H partners locally, co-coordinating 4-H2O efforts with the help of Extension educators Sienna Suszek and Melanie Chiodini, Extension program associate Tammy Barrett and Extension program instructor Les Thomas. 
  • Sea Grant is a direct partner to Bob’s project, supporting Great Lakes fisheries and aquatic invasive species studies conducted with his class. Brandon Schroeder, Northeast Michigan District Sea Grant Extension educator, serves as a resource expert to his class and participates in several of their exploration field trips.

 Brandon shares about Sanborn’s place-based water science education partnership, “What’s most exciting is that MSUE has been able to directly support Bob’s class through different yet complementary angles, strategically bringing to the school partnership ‘table’ both 4-H Youth Development (focused on enhancing youth learning) teaming up with Michigan Sea Grant (fostering Great Lakes science education and engagement). This reflects another great example of collaboration between two MSU Extension programs and expertise, and Bob’s class has benefited greatly as a result!”

View this video featuring Bob’s class as one of several school projects of the NE MI GLSI:

 See the October 2011 edition of “Upwellings,” a quarterly Sea Grant publication, to read more about Bob and his relationship with Sea Grant. The newsletter featured his work as an exemplary model of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education programming. (See page 5.)

 Read this fact sheet for details about fifth and sixth grade students from Sanborn Elementary studying the Thunder Bay watershed through the help of these collaborations.

 These partnerships are great examples of how our work branches out, enabling others in the community to improve lives.

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Filed under Partnerships

Partnership with Michigan DNR and MSU Extension connects urban youth to state parks, outdoor recreation

A program created by a collaborative effort between Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gets kids outside in the great outdoors and actively developing skills in fishing, archery, orienteering, camping and just exploring nature. The Outdoor Education Skills Clinic, part of the DNR’s Urban Outreach Initiative, is a great way to give youth from urban neighborhoods the opportunity to explore our state parks and the world outdoors. And while the kids are learning, having fun and being active, adult volunteers are gaining mentoring skills resulting in more positive outcomes.

 The clinic is an 8-week-program that took place June 20 through Aug. 12, 2011, at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Proud Lake Recreation Area, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon State Park and Bay City State Recreation Area. Altogether 2,287 youth participated along with 391 adults.

 Gary Williams, Extension educator in Wayne County, coordinates the program. Gary reports that every youth and every adult leader who participated in evaluations indicated that they had a positive learning experience in the great outdoors. And both groups responded overwhelmingly that they would like to participate in additional outdoor activities.

 As far as future clinics go, Gary says he is “in the groove already, looking forward to next year and planning an additional site.”

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Filed under Youth development

Kent County MSUE partnership with local community center gets kids involved globally

Kent County Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development has a partnership with the Baxter Community Center Mizizi Maji Mentoring Program based in Grand Rapids. The Mizizi Maji (Swahili for “root water”) Mentoring Program provides area youth, ages 8 to 18, with adult mentors and a strong support system, helping them consciously take control of their lives, look toward the future and begin making good choices.

 This partnership resulted in an opportunity for nine youth to complete, “Money Moves,” the 4-H Youth Development financial literacy program.

 As a result of the youth participating in the Money Moves workshop and achieving a 3.0 GPA at their local school, they attended the 4-H Youth Development Exploration Days pre-college program this summer. At Exploration Days, the group took part in the session, “Global Citizens and the Global Village.” They learned about feeding the hungry world population and also experienced the excitement of spending time on a college campus.

 Sandra Springer, Extension educator, wrote and received a $1,575 grant from the Grand Rapids Foundation Youth Committee to pay the registration fee for nine youth to attend Exploration Days.

 Because of what they experienced at the Global Village session, the youth are planning an international dinner and presentation to the community. They also access the FreeRice website to continue their global experience through academic literacy. FreeRice is a nonprofit website run by the United Nations World Food Program. Participants access the site, answer academic questions and “fill a bowl” of rice that culminates in a monetary donation to provide rice for hungry people.

 In addition, to continue their global experience, some of the youth had the opportunity to travel to Toronto this summer. And also, through Baxter’s partnership with South Africa, youth who maintain a 3.0 GPA for three years in a row will be traveling to South Africa where they will live in local homes and visit rural and urban communities, and nature reserves. Wow! I need to meet these young people and catch some of excitement they’re generating through this program.

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Filed under 4-H

MSUE 4-H and partners use grant to develop leaders in racial healing

The staff of Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) are experts at working with partners to obtain results that benefit individual youth and ultimately the entire community. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched a five-year, $75 million initiative, “America Healing,” that aims to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and their families by promoting racial healing and eliminating barriers to opportunities. Sherry Grice, MSUE Calhoun County 4-H educator, was approached by the Albion Community Foundation director to assist in pursuing the W.K. Kellogg initiative with a grant proposal. The foundation called on Sherry to provide the leadership with Substance Abuse Prevention Services within the Albion community for the next three years if they were successful in obtaining the grant. Albion Community Foundation in partnership with Calhoun County MSUE 4-H Youth Development and Substance Abuse Prevention Services received a $120,000 grant for racial healing in the Albion community as part of W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s $75 million effort. The community partnership proposal was one of 119 chosen from among 925 grant proposals from across the nation

 Albion’s “America Healing” initiative will focus on developing the leadership skills of local youth as they examine the root causes of racial issues that they face. The youth will use a racial healing approach to develop solutions for the problems they experience. Youth will participate in key programming such as Folkpatterns, a cultural-heritage project; 4-H Exploration Days, a pre-college program that exposes young people to diversity from across the state; and PeaceJam Programs. PeaceJam involves a two-day workshop at Western Michigan University in which the youth work with a Nobel Peace Laureate on social justice issues. The youth then take what they have learned and implement a community service-learning project in their community.

 Hats off to Sherry for the terrific work that she and the youth are doing in Calhoun County.

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Filed under grants

They’re growing more than vegetables in Kalamazoo County

As you know, Michigan State University Extension excels at developing partnerships that impact communities. There’s a plot of land in Kalamazoo County that is growing community as well as vegetables. Humphrey Products and Kendall Electric provide the land that is tended by Kalamazoo County Master Gardener volunteers led by Linda Whitlock, MSUE Kalamazoo County horticulture educator. Humphrey Products also provides city water and a place for volunteers to park; the city of Portage provides partially mulched leaves and Kalamazoo County loaned the use of a tractor. The partnerships do not stop there. The Food Bank of South Central Michigan will pick up the fresh produce grown in the garden and deliver it to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, which has seen a large increase in the need for food. More than 15,000 pounds of fresh vegetables were collected from the garden last year to feed people who are in need. For more on the story, click on http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2010/06/kendall_electric_continues_gar.html

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Filed under Gardening, master gardener

Kids investigate Chinese art, food

We have some wonderful community-based programs and when programs work together in a cooperative effort, participants experience some fantastic learning and a lot of fun can occur. That was the case when Michigan 4-H Youth Development partnered with SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) in the Monroe County Youth Farm Stand Project. The Chinese artwork from the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China combined with nutrition education got kids in Monroe County interested and learning about Chinese culture and foods. Youth made a vegetable stir fry from fresh vegetables like those that they grow in their garden during the growing season. The lessons culminated with a tasting session using chop sticks and many of them bravely tasted new vegetables they had never tried before such as water chestnuts.

 Denise Reaume, 4-H program instructor, and Allen Russell, Youth Farm Stand Project volunteer, engaged the group with artwork from the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange that was produced by Chinese children. Thousands of Michigan children participate each year in this cross-cultural art exchange. 4-H’s partner is Shandong Province on the east coast of China. The exchange objectives are to learn about each other’s culture by exchanging “visual letters” (a painting or drawing). Check out our partner schools in China and our Michigan children’s artwork on display in China at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/michart08/images/china.htm

View the Michigan children’s artwork that was sent to China by clicking on the following link: http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/michart09/index.htm.

 For further information about the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange, contact Betsy Knox, 4‑H program leader, at knoxe@msu.edu.

 To find out about the Youth Farm Stand Project in Monroe County, contact Brenda Reau, Monroe County Extension director, at reau@msu.edu.

D. Reaume, Allen Russell share Chinese artwork

 Denise Reaume, 4-H Program Instructor shares Chinese artworkYouth making a vegetable stir fry


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Filed under 4-H, Food, Nutrition

MSUE to PROSPER with Penn State and Iowa State

by Michelle Rodgers

We have recently received word that Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) has been accepted as an expansion state for the Penn State and Iowa State University PROSPER Partnerships program. PROSPER stands for Promoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience. Many of you were introduced two years ago to the PROSPER program by Penn State faculty who provided a video teleconference. And over the last several months, several of you completed a survey from the PROSPER partners to assess our state’s readiness to come on board with this program. As a result of participating in the study, Christine Venema, Lapeer County Extension educator, was randomly selected from the survey respondents to receive $500 for professional development. The results of the survey and an interview process ultimately led to our selection as one of 10 expansion states!

So, what does this mean for MSUE? The Iowa/Penn State PROSPER program team will be providing information, education and technical support aimed at building capacity for implementation of evidence-based programming in general, as well as implementing the PROSPER Partnership Model. Funding for this effort is being provided through the PROSPER team grant with the National Institute on Drug Abuse within the National Institutes of Health. The ultimate goal is to help MSUE build capacity and infrastructure to implement evidence-based programming for families and youth. We are excited about the possibility of working with the Iowa and Penn State Prosper team as one of the expansion states beginning in March. This work will largely fall into the Preparing Michigan’s Children and Youth for the Future program institute.

We are currently seeking applicants within MSUE to serve in the PROSPER Partnerships state liaison position.  Please go to the following Web site to read the vacancy announcement:  http://web2.canr.msu.edu/personnel/vacancies.cfm. The application deadline is February 26, 2010.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Youth development

It’s winter meeting season for MSU Extension

When the temperature drops, our educators head inside for some good old-fashioned Extension education. Winter is the perfect time for many of our clients, especially farmers, to take a step back and learn about new research and programs from MSU Extension.

I know that the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference is coming up soon, the corn and bean research meetings are in full swing, and the 2010 Bean and Beet Symposium is just around the corner.

Are you conducting winter meetings? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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Filed under professional development, Uncategorized

Taking a closer look at FSEP

The Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) has been a key piece of our programming in southeast Michigan since its inception in 2005. This combined effort of five county government administrations, MSU Extension, and community groups has worked hard to put a face on local foods in that part of the state.

This article in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Extension (JOE) takes a critical look at FSEP and its role in the land-grant model. Special thanks to Brenda Reau, Monroe CED; Wynne Wright, associate professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; and Kathryn Colasanti, Graduate Research Assistant with the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems for doing the research and putting this information together.

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Filed under Agriculture, Economic development, Farming, Food