Each year, Michigan State University honors faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year at a luncheon. Previous retirees are invited to the luncheon as well, so it fills the Big 10 room at Kellogg Center. We celebrated many careers at the luncheon held this week on April 10, and as always, we co-host a reception at the Kellogg Center with the Michigan State chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP). It was a full room, and it was great to see the newly retired as well as those who have worked for MSUE previously. As I do every year, I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree with you here in the Spotlight. When we have a large number of retirees, as we do this year, I like to spread them over several editions of the Spotlight, so I’ll feature half today and the other half next week.
Cheryl (“Cheri”) Booth; state leader for 4-H Youth Development; interim associate director of Extension for Children, Youth and Families; and co-director of MSU Families and Communities Together (FACT) Coalition; joined MSU Extension in 1979 as a home economist. She served in various capacities and in 2001, she began leading 4-H Youth Development, the state’s largest youth development program in terms of both youth participants and volunteers. Dr. Booth has received numerous awards including the Epsilon Sigma Phi’s Administrative Leadership Award, the MSU Extension Diversity Award, the Governor’s Minuteman Award and the Distinguished Service Awards from both the Michigan and National Associations of Extension Home Economists. She was inducted into the Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society in 2004 and into the Outstanding Youth Women of America in 1998.
Mirjana Bulatovic-Danilovich, Extension educator, began her career with MSU Extension as a district educator specializing in orchard production management, tree and nut-tree fruit production, and marketing. As a highly successful educator in the area of fruit production, Dr. Bulatovic-Danilovich was instrumental in addressing the concerns and challenges of commercial and individual growers. She provided technical expertise around the USAID international program for Serbian fruit production, and she has successfully incorporated their growing approaches within Michigan.
Claudette K. Byers, Extension educator, started working as an MSU Extension program assistant in Newaygo County in 1996, working on a school nutrition 4-H grant. In 2006, she became an Extension educator, delivering the Better Kid Care Program to seven counties in western Michigan. In her last year with Extension, she served as Extension educator, supervising the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) as well as life skills programs for at-risk teens in Newaygo County. Claudette was masterful at managing and understanding complex granting processes and procedures. As an early adapter of technology, she incorporated it in many aspects of her programs and diligently documented and evaluated program effectiveness and outcomes. She taught very successful resource management, anger management and life skills trainings throughout her career and especially enjoyed her work with alternative education students.
Roberta L. Dow, district Extension educator, began working for MSU Extension in 1995 as the northern district water quality educator. As a water quality educator, Dr. Dow has developed materials and provided agricultural and residential-oriented programming for the Michigan Water Stewardship Program. She taught groundwater technicians, volunteers, educators, farmers and homeowners and worked with grant groups. Dr. Dow has won numerous awards, including the John A. Hannah Award for Program Excellence, the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Achievement Award and Distinguished Service Award, the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) President’s Citation, an NACAA Public Relations in Daily Efforts Award and the 2011 Northwest Michigan Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award. She also was the 2005 NACAA Public Relations in Daily Efforts national finalist, the 2006 NACAA Communications Award publication regional finalist and the 2009 NACAA Communications Award bound-book national finalist.
Kathryn (“Kathy”) Stuever Foerster, senior program leader, joined MSU Extension in October of 1976 as a home economist in Alcona County and later served in that role in Branch and Calhoun counties. Kathy also served as Calhoun County Extension director, Extension council coordinator, program support coordinator, professional development program leader and interim family consumer sciences state leader. She has received numerous awards including the John Hannah Award for Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) housing program and Distinguished Service and Continuing Excellence from MAEHE/NAEHE. Awards also included the Guiding Star from the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, a national Epsilon Sigma Phi team award, a Commitment to Youth Award from the W K Kellogg Foundation and a Champion for Children Award from the Calhoun County Coordinating Council.
Michael (“Mike”) Jensen, county Extension director, joined MSU Extension in 1986 as an Extension 4-H youth agent in Washtenaw County. He also served as an associate program leader, an Extension special reporting tech and a county Extension director in Baraga, Clare, Gladwin, Lake and Schoolcraft counties. While with MSU Extension, Mike helped research and refine the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) development and incorporated new technologies and social marketing to keep the community and partners connected to the process. Mike is currently the county Extension director, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida in Sebring, Fla.
Patricia (“Pat”) Joyce, Extension educator, started working at MSU Extension in 1997 as a Kent County Extension educator, where she taught first-time homeownership and financial management classes. In 1999, she became the Food and Nutrition Program (FNP) regional coordinator in the West Central Region, serving 15 counties. In 2006, she became the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regional coordinator in the Central Region, serving 17 counties. In 2011, she became an Extension educator in the Improving Health and Nutrition Institute, working in Disease Prevention and Management (DPM) and Food Safety (FS). In 2000, she received the Florence Hall Award. In 2011, she received the Doris Wetters Travel Fellowship to participate in the Epsilon Sigma Phi-sponsored rural development study tour to Ireland. With the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, she was successful in creating an employer-assisted, down-payment housing program. In her role as SNAP regional coordinator, she helped identify match opportunities that generated more than $1 million.
Allen Krizek, coordinator, joined MSU Extension in 1975 as an area Extension horticulture agent for Lapeer, Macomb and St. Clair counties. From 1980 to 1996, he served as the Eaton County Extension director. In 1996, Dr. Krizek became the Extension liaison for the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program, in which he and district staff coordinated the educational program for groundwater technicians and AmeriCorps members. He and his colleagues also developed educational materials that promoted nutrient and pest management practices that are protective of water resources for both agricultural and residential audiences. Dr. Krizek has received numerous awards, including the Epsilon Sigma Phi Administrative Leadership Award, the Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture and the 2010 regional Entomology Educational Project Award for the educational bulletin “Grape *A* Syst: Michigan Grape Grower Sustainability Assessment and Risk Reduction Tool.”
Ira J. Krupp, Extension dairy educator, joined MSU Extension in 1981 as an Extension agricultural agent in Ottawa County. In 1995, he became Extension dairy agent in western Michigan and in 2005, he became an Extension dairy educator in southwestern Michigan. Ira has received numerous awards, such as the 1993 Epsilon Sigma Phi Extension Team Award for work on milk and dairy beef quality assurance programming. He received several national communication awards from the NACAA, including an award for developing a learning module, a video presentation on alfalfa production, and a second award for developing a fact sheet on using poultry litter as a protein supplement in dairy heifer rations. He was also a past recipient of the John A. Hannah Award and the 1988 Dow Study Tour Award. In 2005, Dairy Farmers of America presented Ira with the “Friend of Dairy Farmers Award” for 25 years of service to the dairy industry of western Michigan.
LaVerne Andrew (“Andy”) Norman, Extension educator, joined MSU in 1972 as an Extension horticulture agent in Genesee County. In 1974, he became an Extension agriculture and resource development agent and moved to Benzie County. In 1982, he became Benzie County Extension director. In 1995, Andy was instrumental in working with Dr. Clifford Jump, then director of the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT), to develop an IAT certificate program in applied plant science to be offered in northwestern Michigan at four colleges. Andy has coordinated the program since its inception. He received the NACAA Distinguished Service Award in 2001. He also received awards from Northwest Michigan (2004) and Benzie-Manistee (1999) fruit growers along with numerous other professional and community awards.
Janet Seitz, Extension educator, began her career with MSU Extension as an Extension home economist in Jackson. During her tenure, she served on three statewide assignments: statewide leadership development for Extension homemakers, statewide coordinator for homebuyer education for first-time homebuyers and statewide coordinator for the ServSafe education program. Janet provided vital leadership for MSU Extension’s food safety team for many years while also managing the Jackson County office as county Extension director, a role she assumed in 2002. In 2008, she began organizing a statewide effort to make ServSafe training available throughout Michigan. She received numerous awards throughout her career, but most recently, extremely special to her was receiving the Extension Meritorious Service Award in October 2011.
Hannah S. Stevens, senior Extension educator, joined MSU Extension in 1981 as an Extension horticultural agent in Macomb County. In 1992, she became an Extension agricultural and natural resources agent and in 2010, achieved senior Extension educator status. Throughout her career, she developed and implemented meaningful educational programs to meet the diverse agricultural and horticultural interests of all residents of Macomb County. Her work as an innovation counselor with the MSU Product Center allowed her the opportunity to take part in an Ireland Rural Development Study Tour, where she gained experience in alternative enterprise development. Since 2005, she has counseled more than 200 food businesses and assisted in the start-up or launch of dozens of new enterprises. She has received numerous awards and honors including the President’s Citation and Distinguished Service Award both from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents and, on multiple occasions, the National Association of Counties Achievement Award.
Kathy Surratt, 4-H youth agent, joined MSU Extension in 1978 as an Extension 4-H youth program assistant in Monroe County. Kathy became the Extension 4-H youth agent in Barry County in 1981 and worked in this position for 30 years. She was responsible for managing, developing and maintaining an MSU Extension 4-H program of 56 clubs and more than 900 members. She has received numerous awards, including the Michigan State University Diversity Award, Michigan 4-H Distinguished Service Award and the National 4-H Distinguished Service Award. She also received a Presidential Citation from the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth staff and an Exceptional Performance Award.
Van Virgil Varner, district Extension educator, joined MSU Extension in June 1978 as an Extension crops agent in Huron County. In 1981, he became the Gratiot County Extension director. He was a chair of the Greater Gratiot Development Organization, assisted the Gratiot County Renaissance Zones and helped found the Leadership Committee for a Countywide Strategic Plan resulting in the start of the Gratiot County Community Foundation. In March 1998, he served as the district farm management educator in southeastern Michigan until his retirement. He also served as the interim county Extension director of Livingston County for 18 months. Van has received numerous awards including the Extension Team Award for the Food System Economic Partnership, the NACAA Distinguished Service Award and an Extension Team Award for Gratiot County Extension.