Tag Archives: paul gross

Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Grandparents University, scheduled for June 24–26, provides an opportunity for 8- to 12-year-olds to experience life on the Michigan State University campus. They get to live on campus, eat where the college students eat and even take classes. An added enhancement is that they do it all with their grandparent or favorite adult. Besides sparking an interest in potential future Spartans, the event brings alumni back to campus, providing an intergenerational experience that creates a connection between the participants and MSU.

More than 1,000 participants from 35 states and Canada attended the 2013 Grandparents University. A post-event survey reflected extremely positive reviews.

Kathryn Reed, assistant director of alumni relations and special events in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, invited me to encourage you to be a part of this unique experience by lending your expertise to presenting a session. Many who take part say that participating in Grandparents University is one of their favorite activities. It’s one of those experiences that you’ve heard about – the kind that after it’s over, people overwhelmingly say they get back more than they give.

You’ll also gain professional experience. It’s an opportunity to hone teaching skills and materials, to learn public opinion on the topic you cover and to think about your subject from a different standpoint due to the diversity of the participants.

Last year, Extension educator Laurie Rivetto presented a financial management session and pronounced it “a ton of fun.”

Laurie normally works with youth using the MSU Extension 4-H-created Spartan Dollars and Cents budgeting simulation. The Grandparents University session allowed her to use the simulation with both adults and children.

“Although my target audience is usually youth, this session had the additional outcome that the adults got a lot out of it, too, “said Laurie.

The adults found it challenging in the simulation to have to stick with a limited budget. Many remarked that it helped them to relate to different budget scenarios that others might be grappling with. For example, some found they could not afford to purchase health care insurance within the budget and a discussion took place about the challenges of this arrangement.

Laurie also said that taking part in Grandparents University gave her a different perspective.

“It was neat to be a part of a program that involved so many different departments and units, including Extension, at the University. It was a great team effort,” she said.

This year Extension educator Frank Cox will join Laurie in presenting Spartan Dollars and Sense. They’ll also present the Wonderful World of Work in which the generations will learn from each other about work.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event.

Grandparents University 2011 participants take part in one of the many sessions offered at the Michigan State University annual event. Courtesy of Grandparents University.

If you decide to present, you’ll need to target your 90-minute session to the 8- to 12-year-old audience, making sure that what you present is a fun, interactive, hands-on lesson that holds kids’ interest. You don’t have to be limited to the classroom. You can conduct your session in a lab, on the farm or another location. Need more than 90 minutes? You can sign up for two 90-minute sessions, given as Part I and Part II. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Why not just adapt a program or outreach effort you currently teach?

Interested? Contact Kathryn at 355-0284 or at kreed@msu.edu by November 7. (The deadline has recently been extended.) When you do, please let her know the following:

  •  The name of the session leader
  • Session title
  • A short description that can be included in promotional materials (3 to 5 sentences long)
  • The number of people the session can accommodate (Sessions are as small as 10 people and as large as 200. The average is about 25.)
  • The name of the person coordinating
  • If a specific classroom or lab is required
  • If there is a day or time during these three days when the session cannot be led (if known)

Last year, in addition to Laurie, Extension educators Jed Jaworski, Georgia Peterson, Dixie Sandborn and Jessica Wright participated. Charles Gould, Paul Gross, Dennis Pennington and Mark Seamon have participated for years but were unable to present in 2013. These four have already committed for 2014.

Others who have presented in the past include Laura Allen, Bindu Bhakta, Constance Costner, Dale Elsoff, Andrea Grix, Vanessa Holmes, Betsy Knox, LuAnne Kozma, Cyndi Mark, Emily Proctor, Kama Ross, Erica Tobe and Sheila Urban Smith.

By the way, several faculty members on campus have used their Grandparents University sessions in grant applications when an outreach or other similar component is required.

Comments Off on Grandparents University – a professional and personal opportunity

Filed under Events

New online tool available to assist farmers

As we continue to seek ways to innovate and to serve broader audiences through technology, it’s great to have an example to illustrate what can be done. Online applications need to do more than just present information in a static way. They need to engage users to analyze information and help to make decisions. A team of folks from Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) and the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) has released an online tool that does all of that and more. The purpose of their new “app” is to help farmers in Michigan and the Midwest region decide which cover crops are best for them. MSUE developers aim to increase Michigan (and regional) cover crop adoption by providing information and decision-making help necessary for farmers to successfully use cover crops. The tool, developed by MSUE for each MCCC member state and province, provides farmers with information and choices specific to their states or provinces. Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are available in the current version, while Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario will be added as their development is completed.

 The cover crop selector tool allows the user to input a variety of information including his or her state, county, cash crop information, field information and desired cover crop benefits. Designed to be user friendly, it has a dynamic interface that allows users to immediately see how their input changes their cover crop options. A user can generate an information sheet for a selected cover crop that provides additional information and references relevant to application within the state or province.

 The tool development drew on state-specific knowledge from cover crop experts and stakeholders including farmers, researchers, Extension educators, agribusiness representatives and government agencies, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and state departments of agriculture. Dale Mutch, Dean Baas and Victoria Ackroyd are leading the MCCC decision tool project through MSUE. On the Michigan development team from MSU and MSUE were Christina Curell, Tim Dietz, Paul Gross, Tim Harrigan, Rich Leep, Todd Martin, Vicki Morrone, Mathieu Ngouajio, Dan Rajzer, Karen Renner, Dan Rossman, Sieg Snapp, Erin Taylor and Kurt Thelen.

 For Michigan, the next phase is to develop the cover crop decision tool for vegetable producers. This regional project received funding from a NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant in partnership with the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), MSU Project GREEEN and Great Lakes Regional Water Program grants. For more information, contact Dean Baas at baasdean@msu.edu or 269-671-2412, ext. 260.

 Download the cover crop selector tool at http://mccc.msu.edu/SelectorTool/2011CCSelectorTool.pdf. Or you can go to it directly at http://mcccdev.anr.msu.edu/. Even if you don’t have anything to do with crops or agriculture, I think it’s useful to explore applications like this and think of ways you and your work team can develop decision tools for clients you serve.

1 Comment

Filed under Technology