When avian influenza began to devastate the poultry industry, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development took precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease and canceled all poultry shows and exhibitions in the state. The timing, just before fair season, couldn’t have been worse in the minds of thousands of disappointed 4-H members who had worked hard all year preparing for the fair, planning to show their poultry and take part in poultry competitions. Michigan State University Extension acted quickly to find alternative ways that youth could still participate in poultry-related activities at the fair. Even in the absence of live birds, the learning continued. In addition, the alternative learning experience prevented the spread of avian influenza, enabling the 4-H’ers to be part of the solution.
Check out this Detroit Free Press article covering poultry exhibits and activities at the Northwestern Michigan Fair in Traverse City, Michigan. It includes photos and a video featuring 4-H members and MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator Karin Stevens: http://www.freep.com/story/news/columnists/john-carlisle/2015/08/22/poultry-show-uses-fake-birds/32203499/
What’s special about our Michigan State University Extension colleagues? When they see a need, they work together across institutes and across disciplines to get that need met.
It all began when the Salvation Army in Lenawee County distributed whole, frozen chickens and turkeys that had been donated from the 4-H fair sale to people who needed them. Janelle Stewart, Lenawee County Extension 4-H educator in the Children and Youth Institute, noticed that the recipients of the poultry needed instruction in thawing and preparing them. Janelle contacted health and nutrition Extension educator and food safety team member Jeannie Nichols about producing an educational fact sheet on poultry preparation that could be distributed at the Salvation Army food bank.
Health and Nutrition Institute food safety team members agreed that creating the fact sheet would be a worthwhile project that would meet a need in the Lenawee County community and in others. Jeannie and Extension educator Joyce McGarry developed a document that focused not only on chicken and turkey but on duck, goose and other game birds as well.
Other food safety team members, Extension educators Lisa Treiber and Beth Waitrovich, reviewed the fact sheet and sent it to ANR Communications for editing.
“How to Handle Poultry and Tips on Cutting Up a Whole Bird” resulted from the desire to help others, the creativity and vision to see multiple possibilities, and the willingness to work across institutes and disciplines. Find the fact sheet in the Safe Food & Water area of the Food and Health section of the MSU Extension Web site. You may have your own use for the fact sheet in your community.
Raising chickens in the backyard is becoming a popular activity. And as you can guess, people who are attempting the venture are in need of some professional guidance. Michigan State University Extension specialist Darrin Karcher recently taught a class on raising backyard poultry at the MSUAA’s (MSU Alumni Association’s) Lifelong Education Evening College. The Evening College offers personal enrichment courses to MSU alumni and members of the community. The September 2011 issue of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Currents magazine featured the class in the article “Backyard Egg-stravaganza.” CASE is an international association of educational institutions.
More than 30 people took the course that included three weeknight lectures and a field trip to the MSU Poultry Research and Teaching Center. The class was one of the most popular of the semester.
Last year, Darrin received the Poultry Science Association’s Early Achievement Award for Extension. He co-authored the MSU Extension bulletin E3136, “Suggestions for Ordinances Allowing Backyard Poultry” along with Paul Wylie, retired Extension educator, and R.M. “Mick” Fulton, avian pathologist with the MSU Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. You can download the bulletin as a free PDF at the MSU Extension Bookstore: http://bookstore.msue.msu.edu/.