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Focus on Forages and the Future: The 2nd annual Ag Innovation Day

The second annual Michigan State University (MSU) Agriculture Innovation Day that took place at the MSU Lake City Research Center welcomed 230 guests. This year, the theme was Focus on Forages and the Future. The educational field day delivered a cutting-edge, in-depth look at critical topics such as forages, livestock and the future to help farmers meet growing producer demands. People came from across the state, the Midwest and Canada.

Shari Spoelman, MSU Extension District 6 coordinator, helped shuttle people back and forth from their cars, giving her the opportunity to interact with visitors.

“I talked with folks from Ohio, Indiana, Ontario and southern Michigan,” Shari said. “Some wanted to just explore the research center property. Others said they wanted to go to all the sessions. Some had certain things they were especially interested in like soil health or double-cropping. One man arrived with his grandkids – they said they came for something fun to do in the area.”

Throughout the afternoon, farmers had the opportunity to participate in nine sessions focused on topics such as alfalfa genetics, silage, double-cropping, dairy cattle monitoring, soil health, baleage, beef operations management and land regeneration.

MSU senior Extension educator Marilyn Thelen shared that producers from across the state attended her session “Expand Your Land Use With Double-Cropping.”

“The session generated a lot of discussion on how cover crops could be incorporated into various systems for feed or simply for cover,” Marilyn said.

You can find session handouts on the Speakers page.

In the evening, participants attended a reception and were able to hear from President Lou Anna K. Simon and Dean Ron Hendrick and connect with other leaders in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Attendees and staff got a chance to mingle with stakeholders and talk about emerging and trending topics in agriculture, including the grass-fed beef and sustainability research Dr. Jason Rowntree is involved with, and matters as important as how we talk about ‘climate change,’” Shari said.

MSU Agriculture Innovation Day rotates to various locations throughout the state to give farmers access to experts who can help them improve their businesses while maintaining environmentally sound practices on their farms. MSU hosted the first Ag Innovation Day on Aug. 24, 2016. The event is the vision brought about after Ag Expo was re-envisioned.

“Ag Innovation Day is the opportunity for farmers to get the most up-to-date information from MSU,” said John Mossner, farmer and MSU Extension and AgBioResearch State Council member. “It is focusing on sound research and science relating to the type of agriculture conducted at each research station. Having attended both events in the last two years, I am impressed with the effort that MSU Extension is doing to make it a meaningful day.”

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Ag Innovation Day focuses on soils

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Ron Bates, agriculture and agribusiness institute director for Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, sent a great event summary that I would like to share:

MSU Agriculture Innovation Day: Focus on Soils had a very successful inaugural launch August 24 at the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center. The planning committee, representing a broad spectrum of Michigan agriculture and MSU Extension faculty and educators, presented a great program that over 430 participants truly appreciated.

The MSU Extension Events Management staff did a tremendous job putting together the logistics for the day, ensuring the event ran smoothly. We were fortunate to have great volunteers from across MSU Extension as well as people from private industry. Our partners in the MSU Land Management Office provided important logistics assistance along with set-up and clean-up.

The terrific speakers for Focus on Soils provided important content along with ways to use their information in practice. Featuring U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and President Lou Anna K. Simon along with Dean Ron Hendrick, Dr. Doug Buhler and Dr. Jeff Dwyer for the lunch program was very well received.

A special feature of the lunch program honored the McCray family for 50 years of variety trial collaboration with MSU.

The event was successful due to the tremendous collaboration across our many partners.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I was delighted to attend the event and would like to send a huge “thank you” out to the Events Management team, the presenters, MSU and Extension staff members, the volunteers and all of the participants for a successful launch!

 

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Singing loudly for MSU Extension

In January, I posted about creative interventions and singing/spreading the word about the incredible work that you do and how that can help you to achieve your goals, open new paths of opportunity and enable us to do even more to serve people throughout Michigan. I wanted to share with you several opportunities that President Lou Anna K. Simon and I had to “sing” about the work we’re doing at MSU.

On March 2, President Lou Anna K. Simon testified in front of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee about the work that Michigan State University (MSU) is doing in all aspects of its mission. She highlighted the importance of the land-grant mission in talking about MSU’s response to Flint. Through the efforts of MSU Extension, the College of Human Medicine, the College of Nursing and the College of Education, Spartans have been serving Flint for over 100 years.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon testifies to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon testifies to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.

“If we can’t literally be everywhere, we have the assets to deploy anywhere in Michigan thanks to what we already have embedded and our close relationships with community leaders. And driven by that big land-grant heart, we are trusted knowledge partners dedicated to working with people to build the human and intellectual infrastructure they need to be successful,” President Simon said.

On March 3, I was interviewed by President Simon and MSU athletics director Mark Hollis on our efforts in Flint. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, you can click on this link here. Athletics director Hollis recognized that MSU Extension is often known for our work with agriculture but gave me a chance to talk about the full range of Extension’s outreach and our four institutes. We have 600 people all over the state ‒ talented, passionate, well-educated ‒ and some have been there for over 30 years making a difference.

President Simon asked me to share about how 4-H is more than just a program for youth from rural towns. I talked about how we provide 4-H programs to urban youth and engage them in the sciences, the arts, careers and entrepreneurship, leadership, mentoring and more. Data show that youth that are involved in 4-H are more likely to go to and graduate from college. It’s also extremely important that we have these clubs so that when a crisis occurs, we can address the crisis within our already-formed groups. 25,000 adult volunteers bringing the community together around our young people. Youth need these mentors who are good role models in their lives.

Far too many still don’t know about MSU Extension. I hope we can use our many successes in agriculture to expand our communication about all our programming. President Simon said that she thinks of us as an adaptive technology – that we adapt our services to the needs and research available at the time. She’s right, and it’s important that we keep “singing” about who we are and all that we do around the state.

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Governor praises and challenges Michigan agriculture at Ag Expo

On Tuesday at the Ag Expo VIP Breakfast, I had at the privilege of sharing the podium with Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon as well as Dr. Chris Peterson, director of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio.

Gov. Snyder praised agriculture as a steadying force but challenged leaders of agriculture to keep it growing into the future. His top priority is working to develop and keep a growing skilled work force in agriculture and other trades. He also highlighted the food safety innovation done here at MSU.

Read more about what the governor said in this news release from Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/gov._snyder_challenges_mich._ag_leaders_to_take_leadership_role_in_world_fo

Dr. Peterson announced the results from the latest Michigan Agriculture and Food Index (MAFI), which show that leaders in the food and agriculture industry remain optimistic about their businesses and Michigan’s economy.

Read more about the MAFI results in this ANR Communications release: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/michigan_state_university_food_and_ag_leaders_hopeful_about_industry_state

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ANR Week and ANR Week luncheon have lots to offer

Mark your calendars for Agriculture and Natural Resources Week (ANR) Week scheduled for March 1‒8. The event offers a wide variety of conferences and workshops. Some are still open for registration. Click here to check out a list of programs by subject area. Then click on each individual event to find out registration information.

On March 4, as part of ANR Week, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) invites you to attend the ANR Week Luncheon. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Fred Poston, dean of the CANR, will speak. Worthy recipients will be honored with the following awards: Distinguished Service, Outstanding Agriculture Educator, Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad, Distinguished Faculty, Alumni Service, Outstanding Young Alumnus and Outstanding Alumnus.

The luncheon takes place at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s not too late to register but hurry – the last day to register online is Feb. 28.

Register at http://events.anr.msu.edu/ANRWeekLuncheon14/

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Senior Extension educators receive distinguished university awards

Michigan State University senior Extension educators Jill O’Donnell and Dean Solomon each received Distinguished Academic Staff Awards Feb. 11 at the annual Founders Day and Awards Convocation in the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center. The awards presentation followed President Lou Anna K. Simon’s State of the University Address.

Jill O'Donnell, senior Michigan State University Extension educator, received a Distinguished Academic Staff award on Feb. 11, 2014.

Jill O’Donnell, senior Michigan State University Extension educator, received a Distinguished Academic Staff award on Feb. 11, 2014.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) honored the awardees with a reception in the Centennial Room of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center just prior to the Awards Convocation.

They are two of four academic staff who will receive the award this year.

Jill O’Donnell of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute is a nationally recognized expert in Christmas tree production with an emphasis on early pest identification and management. With Jill, it’s all about relationships. Because of Jill’s dedication to growers as well as her commitment to quality and sustainability, Christmas tree producers know that they can trust her to help them deal with significant issues in the industry. She does it all professionally, working with MSU researchers as well as specialists in other states. Her efforts have helped growers increase yields and reduce or even eliminate pesticide applications, leading to additional profits for the growers and benefits to the environment. Of course, all of her efforts are based on scientific research. With her involvement, Michigan remains a national leader in the Christmas tree industry.

Dean Solomon, senior Michigan State University Extension educator, received a Distinguished Academic Staff award on Feb. 11, 2014.

Dean Solomon, senior Michigan State University Extension educator, received a Distinguished Academic Staff award on Feb. 11, 2014.

Dean Solomon of the Greening Michigan Institute is another of our experts others rely on. He makes complicated issues involving land use policy and natural resource protection easy to understand and accessible to both landowners and local government officials. He plays a significant part in the Michigan Citizen Planner Program. The program offers land use education and training to locally appointed and elected planning officials throughout the state. He often teaches both the core and advanced sessions of the curriculum. Dean is sought out for his engaging and humorous teaching style. He is a highly respected leader both in our organization and in the national Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

Gary Parsons, academic specialist in the Department of Entomology, also received the Distinguished Academic Staff Award. Gary does not have an Extension appointment, but his work as manager of the Albert J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection assists the many Extension specialists on the faculty in entomology and many Extension educators who work on pest management issues.

Congratulations to all!

Read more in this MSU Today article: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/2014-distinguished-academic-staff-awards/

 

 

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CANR Extension specialist and professor receives outstanding faculty award

Mary Hausbeck, professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, was one of 10 faculty members who received William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty awards at the February 11 Founders Day and Awards Convocation in the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center following President Lou Anna K. Simon’s State of the University Address. Dr. Hausbeck is a plant pathologist who studies a variety of diseases and focuses on those that threaten Michigan’s vegetable and floricultural crops. There’s not a vegetable grower in Michigan who doesn’t know Dr. Hausbeck or benefit from her work. On top of managing a very productive research enterprise at MSU, she is noted for going to farms to better understand the field conditions that might affect the onset or progress of a plant disease outbreak.

Two other professors from the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources received the Outstanding Faculty award as well: Dave Douches, professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and Rick Horan, professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, And Resource Economics. Although Dr. Douches and Dr. Horan do not have Extension appointments, they make their expertise available to Extension professionals and stakeholders unselfishly. Dr. Douches is a potato breeder and Dr. Horan studies factors that influence public policy related to environmental and natural resource issues.

Read more about each awardee in this MSU Today article: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/2014-william-j-beal-outstanding-faculty-awards/

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MSU Extension: Relevant

What does it mean when we say that Michigan State University Extension is relevant? It begs the follow-up: relevant to what? President Lou Anna Simon addressed this in her presentation to the Women in Agribusiness Conference in Marlette, Mich., last Friday, Jan. 24. Her comments were more specific to what defines the research agenda for MSU faculty, but they apply to the Extension mission as well. She said that at MSU, we aspire to anticipate the challenges of the future and conduct research today so that we will have information and understanding we’ll need for addressing those future challenges. She also said that if we’ve done this well in the past, then we should be well positioned to address today’s challenges as well.

Ultimately, we intend for our MSU Extension programs to be relevant to the key challenges people are facing today. We also want to be mindful of likely future challenges so that we can be prepared to address those as they emerge.

But even with that philosophical vision, it’s impossible for us to be responsive to all challenges that people might face today and in the future. So our intention to be relevant must be constrained in some way. And the way we define those boundaries is by confining our work to areas for which we have access to the expertise of faculty and academic/Extension staff at MSU.

We are organized in a way that defines our relevance boundaries, specifically in the broad areas of expertise within our four program institutes: agriculture and agribusiness, child and youth development, community and natural resource development, and health and nutrition. So to ensure that our programs are relevant, we need to regularly check on current and emerging issues and remain informed about and engaged in research in these broad areas, with specific attention to issues in Michigan.

We have some great examples of recent efforts to be relevant: Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) work groups focused on animal and plant production and environmental quality were able to respond rapidly to the drought and hard-freeze conditions that emerged as a critical issue for agriculture in 2012.

The Finance and Housing work group members had been a small group focused on home ownership and other issues related to consumer financial literacy. They had built linkages to networks of educators and researchers at other land-grant universities and in other organizations committed to improving financial literacy. As a result, when Michigan homeowners and consumers encountered tremendous challenges during the financial crisis of 2008-2010, our colleagues were prepared to provide programming of critical need just as people needed it. Their efforts helped some clients retain ownership of their homes, and assisted others in recovering from foreclosure. The best way to be relevant is to be prepared. And both of these examples reinforce that lesson.

As we challenge ourselves to be relevant now and in the future, we are in a position to adopt more formalized and systematic ways of assessing needs for research and Extension programs. Some of that already occurs in the processes that each institute uses to develop their annual plans of work. Some of that occurs when faculty and other research specialists are invited to speak at conferences and webinars on emerging issues. Some of that occurs in discussions with program participants, through either structured dialogues or perhaps Turning Point or Web surveys. All of these audiences are important to include in the needs assessment process: educators, faculty, program instructors and associates, stakeholders, program participants, industry and community leaders, and elected officials. There is no single prescription that guides needs assessment for all programs. But as we continue to refine and improve our program planning, we need to challenge ourselves to be as systematic and unbiased as possible in determining what programs we should be developing for current and future needs.

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Agriculture Hall rededicated as Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture

On August 29, we had a large turnout of people for the rededication of Agriculture Hall as the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture. As I wrote in a previous Spotlight, the original Morrill Hall (named “Women’s Dormitory” when first built, and named Morrill Hall only in 1937) was recently torn down due to its deteriorating condition.

The renaming allows the name of Morrill to continue to be honored. Justin Smith Morrill was a U.S. Representative and then Senator who sponsored the Morrill Act, commonly known as the Land Grant Act, which established federal funding for public colleges and universities. Senator Morrill had a vision of providing education to working class families. Michigan State University is the pioneer land-grant institution, becoming a land-grant institution shortly after President Lincoln signed the act into law in 1862. You can view a replica of the act on display in the Kellogg Center on campus.

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 expanded the Morrill Act, creating a system in which the land-grant universities oversee our nationwide Extension system. Therefore, we are indebted to Justin Morrill for both the university and our MSU Extension organization.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon spoke to the crowd of about 150 that included current and former faculty and staff members and graduates of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). Included were about 40 members of the Morrill family who each received a brick of the original Morrill Hall engraved with the date of the dedication ceremony of the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture. Several lucky attendees won a raffle to receive commemorative bricks.

President Simon, CANR Dean Fred Poston and members of the Morrill family took part in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

If you walk past the original Morrill Hall site, you can’t help being surprised by the empty space where once stood a stately structure. President Simon announced that MSU will complete the construction of a plaza on the site, and the plaza will be named Morrill Plaza.

Read more here.

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Extension educator and Extension specialist receive distinguished university awards

Douglas A. Landis, Michigan State University Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology, received the Distinguished Faculty Award, and Jane M. Herbert, senior MSU Extension educator, received the Distinguished Academic Staff award Feb. 12 at the annual Awards Convocation in the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center. The awards presentation followed President Lou Ann K. Simon’s State of the University Address.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) honored the awardees with a reception in the Agriculture Hall Atrium just prior to the Awards Convocation.

Dr. Landis was one of 10 faculty honored for a comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, instruction and outreach. Dr. Landis has had joint funding from MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch throughout his service at MSU.

Douglas A. Landis, Michigan State University Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology, received the Distinguished Faculty Award Feb. 12, 2013.

Douglas A. Landis, Michigan State University Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology, received the Distinguished Faculty Award Feb. 12, 2013, at the annual Awards Convocation in the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center.

Dr. Landis came to MSU as an assistant professor in entomology 25 years ago. Since that time, he has strived to help people work with rather than against nature. He is author or co-author of numerous refereed research publications in wide-ranging journals as well as author or co-author of many book chapters. He is sought after as a keynote speaker on the topics of conservation biology and the redesign of agricultural landscapes. Dr. Landis has an outstanding granting record notable for its wide-ranging collaborations. He provides inter-disciplinary granting leadership at the highest levels of national competition.

As an international authority on the delivery of biocontrol services in agricultural landscapes, his contributions to a fundamental understanding of how landscape patterns structure insect abundance and distributions across entire watersheds has paved the way toward using this knowledge for pest management.

Beginning with his initial assignment of having extension responsibility for entomological aspects of field crops, Doug has done stellar work in outreach. In this work, Doug has always been dedicated to connecting with growers and
understanding their needs. He’s also been innovative in his approach, including the adoption of emerging technologies and helping us to continue improving Extension.

Doug has provided leadership to many collaborations over his career. He shaped the Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And he has been a member of the management team for the Long-Term Ecological Research program at the Kellogg Biological Station, a remarkable collaboration that began when Doug first arrived at MSU.

Jane Herbert was one of four people honored for the award that recognizes the outstanding achievements of academic specialists and MSU Extension academic staff members who serve the university in advising, curriculum development, outreach, extension, research and teaching.

Jane M. Herbert, senior Michigan State University Extension educator, received the Distinguished Academic Staff award Feb. 12, 2013

Jane M. Herbert, senior Michigan State University Extension educator, received the Distinguished Academic Staff award Feb. 12, 2013, at the annual Awards Convocation in the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center

Jane is a nationally recognized expert on inland lake management with an emphasis on natural shoreline landscaping and bioengineered shoreline erosion control.

She has been a major asset to Extension in the development, delivery and evaluation of regional and statewide water resource Extension programming since joining MSUE in 1996.

As a district water quality educator with the Extension Land and Water Unit at Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), she served the citizens of 17 southwest Michigan counties with innovative water resource programming. Now located at the Kalamazoo County MSU Extension office, she provides statewide leadership for water resource programming within the Greening Michigan Institute and serves as a water resource educator across Michigan.

She assumed a leadership role in the creation of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP), bringing together academia, industry representatives, regulatory agencies and nonprofits to develop and deliver innovative natural shoreline education. She also provides leadership for the development, delivery and evaluation of required continuing education for MNSP-certified contractors, including the creation of advanced bioengineering field construction experiences and training videos.

In collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, she led a multi-agency effort to develop a publication (MSUE Bulletin WQ60) to help large quantity water users and others understand the basis for Michigan’s new online Water Withdrawal Assessment Process – the mechanism by which Michigan complies with the Great Lakes Compact.

She has published in a variety of natural erosion control and landscape trade magazines, bringing national attention to the technical and community development model of Certified Natural Shoreline Professional (CNSP). She served as lead author and coordinating editor of the CNSP training curriculum, (MSUE Bulletin E3109), which received the 2012 Gold Award for a Long Publication from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

She has co-authored successful grants totaling nearly $1 million to develop and deliver water resource management programming.

Congratulations to Doug and to Jane!

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