Tag Archives: Retirees

Saying goodbye to our MSU Extension retirees

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is a large organization. We couldn’t have the impact that we do without our program assistants, program instructors, program coordinators and support staff. This year, we’re saying goodbye to members of our organization that have helped us in so many ways. Next week on May 16, the MSU Awards Convocation will honor awardees, staff members who have met key milestones for service and those who retired this past year. It will take place at the Big 10 Room in the Kellogg Center at 4:30 p.m. I would like to take a moment to honor our Extension colleagues who are retiring this year:

  • Judith Lentz Bishop, Extension financial transaction assistant, MSU Extension Business Office
  • Diane Miner, administrative support, Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center
  • Susan Monroe, Extension financial transaction assistant, MSU Extension Business Office
  • Suzanne Ridge, administrative support, Natural Features Inventory
  • Anna Tran, Extension program assistant in health and nutrition
  • Denise Trayser, Extension nutrition program instructor

I would like to encourage you to take a moment and think about how you have worked with our retiring staff members and to send them a note thanking them. In our busy work, sometimes we forget to thank those that we serve alongside of in meeting the needs of our communities.

Farewell, have a wonderful retirement, and don’t be a stranger!

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Extension retirees recognized, continued

In last week’s Spotlight, I shared some brief information about nine of our 17 new Michigan State University Extension retirees. As promised, here are the other eight.

Extension educator Roberta Osborne began her career with MSU Extension in 1980. She has served 15 counties as agricultural agent, dairy and livestock agent, county Extension director and agriculture educator. She worked extensively with nutrient management planning, training programs and research with crops and animals. She was responsible for planning and delivering holistic programs in all aspects of dairy production, including funding, nutrition, sustainability research and techniques to improve quality. In recognition of her contributions to the dairy industry, she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi State Team Award in Sanilac in 1986. In addition to her dairy management work, she specialized in livestock with an environmental focus. She provided small ruminant education and researched parasite management practices. She co-chaired the manure team, where she established training programs for Extension agents and producers. She also worked on water sustainability research and farmland preservation and management, winning Branch County Farm Bureau recognition for her work in writing the farmland preservation ordinance for Branch County and creating a land use plan for the entire county that saved $20,000.

Senior district Extension educator Charles Pistis was selected to be the first Sea Grant agent for southwestern Michigan in 1977. In 1994, he was appointed the Ottawa County Extension director, holding that position until 2007, when he was appointed the Michigan Sea Grant Extension state program coordinator. He provided planning, implementation and evaluation of Sea Grant Extension programs educating citizens, communities, businesses, public officials and organizations on critical issues such as coastal zoning, marina management, fisheries, shoreline erosion and pollution. He also provided leadership for the Sea Grant team in fish contaminants, aquatic nuisance species, sport fisheries, charter fisheries, recreational boating and marinas. He led several initiatives to adapt, slow and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, establish Michigan bottomland preserves, expand Michigan’s commercial fishing industry and provide water safety education. He has received many awards such as the Michigan Boating Industries Association Lighthouse Award in 2008 and 2004. He received the MSU Extension Distinguished Staff Award in 2002, and the MSU Cooperative Extension Service Director’s Award for Excellence in Performance in 1986. He received several Michigan Council of Extension Associations Awards for Program Excellence for his Coast Watch and rip tides research and education programs.

In 1990, Extension educator Mary Robb began her career with Extension as home economist for Montcalm and Ionia counties. Contributions include “Building Blocks,”a newsletter for families, and Foster Grandparents that involved 75 grandparents working with children. She collaborated with other educators to reach inner-city students through after-school programs establishing community forums to identify family needs and challenges. She became the Kent County leadership and community development educator and collaborated with the Kent County Health Department and Grand Rapids Public Schools to develop the School Health Project and the Families in Touch program. As the county Extension director for community and leadership development in Muskegon County, she established the value and relevance of Extension; she oversaw professional development, established herself as a county expert in group facilitation, and connected with local organizations to collaborate and provide funding for programs. She worked with the MSU Agricultural Product Center to deliver workshops for businesses and designed the Product Center curriculum, reaching more than 100 entrepreneurs. She was awarded the Government Encouraging Entrepreneurs Awardfrom the Chamber of Commerce of the West Shore Governmental Affairs Committee.

Extension educator Warren Schauer served for 32 years in Extension, creating and implementing programming focused on financial analysis, farm business succession and estate planning, and youth market livestock record keeping. He was involved in Telfarm accounting as well as in Annie’s Project that strengthened women’s roles in farm enterprises. He also served as an agricultural innovation counselor. He was responsible for collaborating and organizing effective educational efforts such as Bay de Noc beef producer feeder cattle marketing and the Bay de Noc Garden Conference, as well as dairy, wind energy and bioenergy programs. He communicated with the community through his weekly news column and monthly radio program, reaching northeastern Lower Michigan, the Upper Peninsula and Delta County. He was also widely involved in international Extension efforts, such as his collaboration with the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs in Mozambique and his work in the Ukraine, teaching farm management principles, business skills, credit and accounting. He also participated in the Caribbean agricultural Extension project in St. Lucia, collaborating with local universities and agencies to establish extension demonstration districts, develop farm management accounting materials and provide training. In 2011, he received the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Distinguished Service Award serving over 10 years, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the Growing UP Ag Association in 2008 and the President’s Citation from the Michigan Association of Agricultural Agents in 1985.

Extension educator Sheryl Schrot joined Extension in 1989 as a 4-H Youth Development educator in Menominee County. She provided direction and leadership to the 4-H program through planning, organizing, implementing and evaluating youth development programs according to the needs of the county. She developed the vision and brought several agencies together to create the Bay Area Summer Enrichment Camp (BASEC), which provided weeklong sessions on visual and performing arts as well as environmental education. She received the 1994 Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) Team Award for BASEC. She also participated in the 4-H Camp Molinare to provide overnight camping experiences for children living in low-income situations. She worked with public schools to develop a conservation curriculum and to create after-school programs. She also coordinated 4-H international exchanges with Mexico, Japan and Poland, and received the 2001 Michigan 4-H International Award. Her awards include Distinguished Service Awards from the MAE4-HYS and the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff in 1995 and 2004, respectively.

Extension specialist Cynthia Straus began her 32 years of service to Extension as Alpena Extension home economist, later serving as associate program leader and Extension specialist for technology services. Other notable accomplishments include her leadership development programs and her collaboration with Canadian Extension, the Michigan Sea Grant program and regional staff members to organize the International Water Conference for which she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Pal Project Award in 1986. She received the same award in 1990 for her work with the Water Quality Grant. Also in 1990, she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Extension Team Award for her work in family and community leadership. She helped to develop food safety education and the materials database as a result of the national Grant for Food Safety Education. Awarded the presidency of the Agriculture Network Information Collaborative (AgNIC) organization, her technology work had a vast impact, beginning with her home maintenance and repair database, her implementation of the MSU Extension portal, and her role in organizing publications and education pieces into an accessible, digital format.

Extension educator Mary Swiderski worked with Extension 4-H from 1985 to 1990 and became a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed) educator in 1994. She taught healthy eating, nutrition, cooking and budgeting, especially for families living in low-income situations. Fifty to 60 people per year benefited from her nutrition programs. Her most notable accomplishments were a result of her creation of the Wellness Coalition, which brought together Michigan Extension, the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mackinac Straits Hospital, St. Ignace schools and the North Country Hiking Trail. Working with the coalition, she participated in implementing programs to improve the health of youth and their families by preventing weight problems and chronic health issues. The coalition reached out to schools to implement wellness policies and to create healthier menus as well as vending machines and fund-raisers. To promote physical and emotional well-being, the coalition set up programs such as Get Movin’ in May and Walk with the Principal to encourage physical activity, healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. Additionally, she was responsible for putting together 20 television shows used in local schools. The shows emphasized healthy recipes, food safety tips and physical fitness activities. Additionally, she was named the 2011 Child Advocate of the Year by Mackinac County for her work as the Mackinac County child protection coordinator and her work with the Child Protection Roundtable.

In 1995, Extension educator Craig Thomas, came to Extension with a wealth of experience with Extension programs, agriculture and agribusiness from previous positions in California, Florida and Wisconsin. He became the dairy Extension educator for Huron, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac and Tuscola counties, conducting education programs for agribusinesses, financial institutions, dairy producers and the public. His programs specialized in dairy production technologies and computerized accounting systems, financial planning and economics, and milking parlor management and design. He worked with dozens of dairy farms across the state to educate on performing budget analysis to assist them in obtaining financing for dairy expansions and modernizations, and to reduce costs. These efforts brought millions of dollars of new investments in dairy production facilities in Michigan. He received the John Hannah Award for Program Excellence in 2011 for his collaboration with now retired Extension educator Fred Hinkley on the 18-year program Agriculture Market Update. This agricultural marketing program reached out to crop, dairy and livestock farmers and other agriculture professionals, providing them with commodity marketing education.

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Extension retirees recognized

The Faculty and Academic Staff Retirement Luncheon took place April 8 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The luncheon recognizes faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year. Michigan State University Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi co-host a reception prior to the luncheon. I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree. We had 17 new retirees, so I’ll feature nine this week and the other eight in next week’s Spotlight.

Alternate: Steve Lovejoy, Renee Applegate, Mary Robb, Chuck Pistis, and Brenda Reau at the retiree reception hosted by MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi, April 8, 2014. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi

Left to Right: Michigan State University Extension associate director Steve Lovejoy, retirees Renee Applegate, Mary Robb and Chuck Pistis, and MSU Product Center associate director and past president of Epsilon Sigma Phi Brenda Reau at the retiree reception hosted by MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi, April 8, 2014, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Katie Gervasi

Extension educator Renee Applegate started out as an MSU Extension 4-H program assistant in 1982, later serving as a 4-H youth agent in Gratiot and Jackson counties and as the Michigan international exchange coordinator. As Gratiot County 4-H youth development educator, she had responsibilities for numerous 4-H clubs, members and leaders as well as for school programs. She served on the Child Advocacy Board, the Youth Advisory Council of the Gratiot County Community Foundation, the 4-H Environmental Education Programming Committee and the 4-H International Programming Committee. She was involved in teaching for numerous 4-H programs and workshops such as 4-H Exploration Days and the Pork Quality Assurance Plus Youth Education Program in addition to her educational collaboration with Jackson County Public Schools. As the state international exchange coordinator, she was responsible for coordinating Michigan and regional programs to Belize, Jamaica, Mexico, Poland, Australia and Finland. She increased the overall outreach of the exchange program and engagement of host families and youth. Through her work, more than 300 Michigan youth and 600 international youth experienced travel through the 4-H exchange program. In 2008, she was awarded the 4-H Extension Presidential Citation.

Extension specialist Douglas Brahee served as the regional director of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) from 1990 through 2010 and served as interim district coordinator for District 1 until his retirement. He has enhanced MSU Extension through his servant leadership, work ethic, compassion, organizational commitment, teamwork and dedication to grow and expand the outreach of Extension in the U.P. He worked closely with Extension colleagues, local offices, Native American communities, county directors, county boards and commissioners as well as government officials to plan, develop, deliver and manage effective programming, structuring and development of Extension outreach in the U.P. He also worked closely with the Native American communities with the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) to provide essential training and to build strong relationships. His important contributions to Extension include development and implementation of a volunteer system, his work on grants for program funding, and his work on civil rights and improvement.

Extension educator Ned Birkey began his career in 1989 as agricultural agent for Newaygo County and in 1992 transferred to Monroe County. In 2007, he became the Monroe, Wayne and Washtenaw district Extension educator. An excellent educator, he assessed the needs of local farmers and developed effective programs using a variety of teaching techniques to meet clientele needs and provide effective leadership. He managed the Michigan Soybean Yield Contest as part of the Soybean 2010 Project and served as chair of the Karst Committee of Monroe County. He was an MSU Product Center ag innovation counselor, a member of the Wheat 2000 Project and president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) in 2008. He was also committed to engaging the community with local farmers and began organizing farm tours in 1994 for Congressman John Dingell. He received many awards throughout his career, including the 2009 Excellence in Extension Award from the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee in addition to his presentations and awards at many National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) conferences.

In 1973,Extension educator Michael Erdman worked on a purebred farm at MSU as a beef cattle fitter and from 1973 to 1975 as the senior chemist at the Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center. He began his career with Extension in 1989 as the Menominee County Extension director. He was a valuable educator in Menominee County for 21 years. A highlight of his career was his work with the Dairy Team and his participation in and development of an effective dairy management program across the U.P. In addition, as a microbiologist, he planned, developed and instructed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and ServSafe training and workshops in various locations for the appropriate training and certification of restaurant owners and food service managers throughout the U.P. He completed the Eating Right Is Basic series with county fourth graders in the food safety and agriculture class to reach out to county youth. During the Extension restructuring process, he became the District 1 coordinator and was able to secure funding for all nine counties in the district by working with department heads, administrators, controllers and comptrollers, clerks, treasurers and county commissioners to keep all offices open.

Extension educator Sherry Grice devoted 34 years to MSU Extension 4-H in Calhoun County where she has had a profound impact on the youth, volunteers and community. Each year, she reached more than 900 young people through club work and 1,000 through special interest programming. She oversaw the six-week Creative and Expressive Arts Program, enrolling 60 to 70 children each year. Much of her work focused on minorities and programs to encourage young people from families living in low-income situations to participate in 4-H and to pursue continuing education after high school. She was involved in many key initiatives such as Calhoun County Communities that Care (Title V Delinquency Prevention Program), the Kellogg Youth Initiative Partnerships (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), the National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century, Community Partners for Albion’s Youth and the Albion Positive Youth Development Task Force. She also provided leadership for more than 350 volunteer leaders yearly through recruitment, training, management, assistance and motivation. During her tenure, minority youth enrollment increased to 13 percent and the participation of culturally diverse volunteer leaders also increased. In recognition of her work, she received the 2009 North Central Regional Diversity Award and the 2009 Diversity Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NEA4-HA). She also received the American Association of University Women Educational Equity Award in 2003 as well as recognition from the Albion Multi-Cultural Hall of Fame.

Extension educator Katherine Hale began working with MSU Extension in 1987, conducting needs assessments, facilitating community work groups and planning committees, and writing grants. In her 17 years as Extension educator for family and consumer sciences, she provided health, nutrition and child development education and raised funding for programs through community collaboration, contracts and grants. For six years, she was the county Extension director in St. Clair County, collaborating with community organizations; developing, promoting and marketing MSU Extension programs; and helping establish programs for local Project Fresh markets and Food and Farm Trails tourism. As the special projects southeast region educator, she worked in grant writing, conducted program evaluations, and coordinated special health projects and media. Her notable accomplishments include implementation of the Macomb Food Collaborative now serving Macomb as a nonprofit organization as well as the annual All About Food conference serving more than 200 people, including farmers, food service organizations, health educators, gardeners and food connoisseurs.

Extension educator Russell Kidd served as a district Extension forestry agent, organizing and leading educational programs for a variety of audiences such as private forest landowners, Christmas tree growers, maple syrup producers, loggers, and Master Gardeners and 4-H groups over 20 counties. He served as county Extension director in Oscoda, Crawford and Roscommon counties, assuming larger administrative and leadership roles while maintaining his involvement in educational programming and training. He established a 30-year relationship with the maple syrup industry, and for his contributions, he has been made an honorary life member of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. He was an integral participant in education programs such as Ties to the Land, forest health programming, gypsy moth intervention and logger education. He was often sought out for his expertise in forest health across northern Michigan. Additionally, he worked with the Michigan Sustainable Forestry Education program to train loggers and industry foresters about green certification programs so they could comply with government mandates. During his participation, his team raised more than $2 million to advance the outreach of the program.

Extension educator Margaret Lashore has served Extension in the Saginaw Bay area and Bay County since 1986. Her leadership and dedication directed Extension efforts to educate the community about personal health management and quality of life, offering financial management and home ownership classes as well as nutrition education, and establishing the Bay Area Housing Corporation through her role as chairperson of the Housing Task Force. In October 2005, her role expanded to work with creating and managing the statewide system for reporting and evaluating the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed), Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Breastfeeding Initiative (BFI) programs and educator training. She also established and worked with ANR programmers to develop the Activity Report Online and the BFI Reporting System that report data to the Michigan Department of Human Services monthly and to the Food Stamp Nutrition Education and Administrative Reporting System annually to continue Extension federally funded programs. She has received numerous awards from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS), such as the Florence Hall Award in 2009, the Continued Excellence Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Service award in 2000.

 Since 1980, senior Extension educator Dale Mutch has served in many capacities in MSU Extension. He has been an agricultural agent; district and state field crop integrated pest management coordinator; senior district Extension educator specialist; and coordinator, consultant and professor for the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. His career has focused on low-input and organic farming systems, and his applied research emphasized projects with farmer advisory teams. He has also served on the NorthCentral Region ‒ Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education(NCR-SARE) Administrative Council, participated in the Technical Committee and Producer Grants Program and was Michigan’s sustainable agriculture state coordinator for NCR-SARE in 2007. As a result of his research, He has authored or co-authored more than 30 papers, published or presented in professional settings. In 2004, he was chosen for the 2004 Distinguished Staff Award for his work with farmers, university scientists and Extension agents to design, conduct and publish research helping producers operate farms that are environmentally and economically sustainable. He received two NACAA Communications Awards(2000 and 2008) for his MSU Extension bulletins and the Friend of Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance Award in 2004. He remains a reviewer for NCR-SARE grants and is helping to coordinate the National Cover Crops and Soil Health meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Sketches of an MSUE Retiree in Portland (Oregon)

F.X. Rosica, former county Extension director in St. Clair County, made news in Portland, Oregon, recently and it triggered a Google alert for Michigan State University Extension. Mr. Rosica was featured in a news article in The Oregonian for sketches he has made of passengers on Portland’s public transit system. Some marketing folks for the transit system discovered his pastime, and now they are featuring the sketches in their promotions of the transit system. Mr. Rosica’s career with MSU Extension was included as part of his biographic sketch and the reporter included a link to our website.

I’m always impressed by the diverse interests of Extension professionals and the variety of paths we follow through our lives. Some of you may remember Mr. Rosica – I never had the good fortune to meet him – and I thought it would be fun to share this story as another in a series featuring MSUE’s retirees. Thanks to Frank Fear, professor emeritus and former senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, for finding the article and sharing it with me.

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Retirees honored at reception

Each year at a luncheon, Michigan State University recognizes faculty and academic staff who have retired in the past year. MSU Extension and Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) co-host a reception prior to the luncheon at the Kellogg Center. This year, the event took place April 2.

As I do every year, I’d like to share some brief information about each retiree.

 Extension educator William (“Bill”) J. Carpenter began his career in MSU Extension in 1981 as county Extension director for Luce County. He later became county Extension director for Berrien, Iosco and Montcalm counties. He also served for a year as the district coordinator in District 4 before serving as an MSU Extension educator in the district in MSU Extension’s Greening Michigan Institute. Early in his career, Bill took a leave of absence to serve for a year as a senior Extension advisor in Armenia working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). He did exceptional work in community and economic development, particularly in land-use planning, working with nonprofit groups and building capacity in organizations and people.

Kenneth R. Geuns served as Extension specialist for livestock youth programs from 1978 to 2012. From 1984 through 1986, he also served as the coordinator of livestock programs in the Institute of Agricultural Technology. From 2007 through 2012, he served as the faculty coordinator of the MSU Purebred Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center. He taught courses in the Department of Animal Science, coached the collegiate livestock judging teams at MSU and served as faculty advisor to the MSU Block and Bridle Club. He received the Block and Bridle Club Honored Portrait Award, the Michigan Pork Producers Distinguished Service Award, the National FFA Honorary American FFA Degree and Outstanding Specialist awards from MSU Extension and the Michigan Association of Extension Agents. Other awards include the Black Hawk College Outstanding Alumni Award and Agriculture Merit Award, the Michigan Association of FFA Honorary Degree and Honorary Membership awards, and the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff Colleague Award and Team Effort Award.

 Gary L. Heilig has been an Extension Ingham County horticulture agent for 34 years. He has provided commercial and consumer horticulture programming for primarily the residents of Ingham County but he reached consumers around the state through his extensive live and taped television broadcasts. Gary is well known and highly respected for using multiple methods of teaching such as radio and television, video, online classes, audio files and fact sheets. He has provided relevant, substantive, well-developed, responsive educational programs throughout his career. He was part of the MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Team, which received the eXtension Working Differently in Extension Award for the creation of the Gardening in Michigan Web site. He also received a Communication Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and was a co-author of the original Master Gardener Manual.

Extension educator Linda Huyck began her work with MSU Extension in 1998 as a Montcalm County home economist. She secured funding to grow the Senior Project FRESH (Farm Resources Expanding and Supporting Health) programs in Gratiot and Montcalm counties, helped to develop the Family Living curriculum for Spectrum Health and updated the Building Better Bodies curriculum for volunteers in nutrition education in Gratiot County. In addition, she helped to plan the first ever Tri-FCS (Family and Consumer Science) Association conference for three family and consumer science professional organizations. Linda recently held a joint appointment in MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute and Greening Michigan Institute, specializing in food safety and financial literacy education. Her exceptional work focused on family capacity building, reaching hundreds of people and establishing mentorship programs. She received national recognition numerous times from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) including the Distinguished Service Award, Regional Educational Technology Award, State Community Partnership Team Award, State Financial Management Award and the State Impact on Youth and Family Award.

Children and youth program leader Elizabeth (“Betsy”) McPherson Knox served as an Ionia County home economics educator and 4-H youth agent before moving to campus as an associate program leader and then program leader. Betsy wrote, developed and used a variety of curricula for the performing and visual arts, and the promotion of global, cultural and international understanding. She has also worked in the area of 4-H environmental and outdoor education and more recently in leadership and civic engagement. She has coordinated more than 1,750 4-H Exploration Days sessions in nearly 25 years on campus. She’s received recognition on numerous occasions including the John A. Hannah Award for Excellence for leading the Chengdu China Dance Troupe Project. Over time, this stellar program resulted in more than 11 different cross-cultural programs with China and reached more than 300,000 Michigan youth. The ongoing 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China is one of those programs.

In 1988, Extension educator Michael McFadden joined MSU Extension as an agricultural agent for Gladwin and Isabella counties. In 1994, he became an Extension dairy educator for Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties. He provided educational programing, problem solving and applied research in a variety of agriculture and animal agriculture areas throughout his career. Highly respected by colleagues, advisory groups and the producers with whom he worked for his exceptional competency in a wide variety of areas, Michael was well known for developing meaningful professional relationships with producers and others in the community. He specialized in conducting farm research to solve local problems. The community routinely sought him out as a valuable source of credible, relevant timely information. He found it important to reach underserved farmers and their families, and included the entire farm family when appropriate.

Senior Extension educator Norman (“Norm”) L. Myers began his career as a county agriculture Extension agent in 1982, serving for two years in Montcalm County. He then moved to Newaygo and Muskegon counties for five years, and in 1989, he became county Extension director for Oceana County. In 2009, Mr. Myers earned the advanced title of senior Extension educator. At the time of his retirement, he was serving as a regional vegetable educator in MSU Extension’s Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI). Norm was an active leader in animal and plant production, particularly in the areas of vegetables and Christmas trees. He developed strong working relationships and did significant work on behalf of many commodity groups. He developed the annual Oceana Asparagus Day, which has grown into the largest educational program for asparagus growers in North America. He assisted in advancing the Tom-Cast disease forecasting system and PCR testing of aster yellows infectivity as important pest management tools in asparagus and carrots. He demonstrated and promoted petiole sap nitrogen testing as a means of reducing nitrogen use and costs in carrots, and he promoted higher density asparagus planting as a means for increasing asparagus yields. He received numerous awards including MSU Extension’s Diversity and Pluralism Award, the Michigan Vegetable Council’s Master Farmer Associate Award, the National Association of County Agricultural Agent’s Distinguished Service Award for Excellence and the Michigan Christmas Tree Association’s President’s Award.

Throughout her 31 years in MSU Extension, senior Extension educator Natalie Rector has reached hundreds of farmers in south central Michigan as a widely respected crop agent. In that role, she helped producers coordinate the Innovative Farmers of South Central Michigan, conducting demonstration plots and on-farm tours. As MSU Extension’s manure nutrient management field specialist, she helped livestock and crop producers work together to make efficient and conscientious use of animal waste as fertilizer. Natalie worked with state officials to develop the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). She conducted research and outreach focused on helping farmers utilize manure in an economical and environmentally friendly manner. Her work helped farmers save money while conscientiously taking advantage of valuable resources. She has been a team player within Michigan as well as across the Midwest as coordinator of a 10-state grant project to bring Extension faculty and staff together on manure management issues. She has received numerous awards. Most recently, the Michigan Farm Bureau named her the recipient of the organization’s 2012 Distinguished Service to Agriculture (DSA) Award. She was also the 2004 MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award recipient and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Pork Producers Association. Since retiring, Natalie has joined the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan as research coordinator.

Extension educator Carol A. Rosinski joined MSU Extension as a home economist in 1994, serving Cheboygan County. She later became an Extension family development agent in that same county. Her focus on programs affecting youth and families at risk through the Cheboygan County Juvenile Court proved innovative and successful. She continually evaluated her programs through data collection to make improvements and increase effectiveness. Her work empowered young people and parents, and strengthened families by providing needed services, activities and training. She effectively collaborated with area counseling agencies, law enforcement agencies, school personnel and administrators, Community Mental Health personnel and Probate Court judges. Carol developed and managed a collaborative program, the Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy, a successful partnership day treatment program between MSU Extension and the Cheboygan County Family Court. This treatment program served youth at risk of being placed out of their homes and assigned to residential placements. Parents and youth learned life-changing skills such as developing positive relationships as well as addressing drug abuse and violent behavior. Carol served as director, juvenile officer, case manager and licensed social worker for all young people ordered to the program.

Extension educator Patricia Waugh began her work with MSU Extension as a Lapeer County 4-H program assistant. She left MSU for a short time to work as a Head Start teacher and parent educator, and to coordinate the volunteer services for McLaren Hospice. She then rejoined Extension where she coordinated the Lapeer County 4-H youth program and served as a resource for positive youth development to others in the county. Patricia showed outstanding dedication and commitment to the youth and families of Michigan throughout her career. Adult volunteers and youth members often expressed their support and confidence in her leadership. She forged many collaborative efforts in the county she served as well as in neighboring counties. She received recognition for her work often throughout her career including a nomination for Lapeer Chamber of Commerce Female Citizen of the Year in 2009. Other professional awards included the Michigan Distinguished Service Award, the Team Effort Award for 4-H Afterschool, the Presidential Citation for the Club Read Program, the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS) Presidential award, the MAE4-HYS Team Award for Take the Day on Diversity Program and the 4-H International Award.

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Footprints in the sand

One of the characteristics of so many Michigan State University Extension professionals is that they never seem willing to stop helping to make things better, helping people improve their lives. A great example of that is Gale Arent, who retired as associate director of MSUE in 2002. Immediately upon retiring, Gale was tapped by Jeff Armstrong, who was dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) to lead relationship-building with legislators and state administrative officials on behalf of MSUE and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (now MSU AgBioResearch). Gale helped us to establish a presence with decision makers at a time when our funding was being tossed around like a political football. Although no one expected him to accomplish a “time out,” Gale was successful in helping us overcome repeated “penalties” (executive proposals for significant budget cuts in our funding).

Having established a well-tuned process for engaging with decision makers, Gale once again retired from MSU in 2005 … and immediately went to work for the Michigan greenhouse industry. He helped them create a new organization, the Michigan Floriculture Growers Council (MFGC), and served as its executive director. As he had with CANR, Gale helped the MFGC build relationships with decision makers at the state and federal levels, educating those officials on the opportunities and challenges the industry faces, and seeking assistance to help the industry grow. The floriculture industry represents the fourth largest sector in Michigan’s burgeoning agriculture economy, and this kind of strategic leadership has helped the industry to remain strong in challenging times.

Gale’s connection with the floriculture industry goes back many years to his time as an Extension agent and then county Extension director in Kalamazoo County. He helped those in the industry build cooperatives for marketing their products and helped them learn about and adopt production practices to help improve the bottom line.

Gale is retiring once again, this time from his role as executive director of the MFGC. When I think of the record of contributions Gale has made throughout his career in Michigan, I am reminded of the posters, greeting cards and songs that draw the comparison between footprints found on a beach and the impacts a person leaves behind from a life’s work. Gale’s footprints can be found extensively across Michigan, and even though sand tends to erode from wind and rain, the impacts of his work are lasting, having changed the face of Michigan agriculture forever.

So now Gale and his wife, Fame, are moving to Florida, ostensibly for retirement. Gale stopped in the office to say farewell a few weeks ago, and I didn’t hear him say anything about slowing down. So I won’t be surprised to hear stories from our colleagues in Florida about this guy who showed up from Michigan in 2012 and immediately began to have an impact on agriculture and communities in Florida. We wish Fame and Gale well and look forward to hearing about more footprints in a warmer climate.

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Looking for MSU Extension retiree news

In this Spotlight, I highlight accomplishments and awards of Michigan State University Extension faculty and staff members and that includes retirees. If you know of a retiree – it can even be you! – who has recently won an award, been recognized for community or professional service, published a new book, started a new blog – anything that warrants a shout out in my blog, please send the information on to me. I’ll be happy to mention it here.

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Keeping up with retirees

We are very much a “people organization,” one that not only depends on resourceful, creative, bright and caring staff members, but one that excels in direct proportion to the emotional intelligence of the individuals who make up our staff and the culture of shared commitment and effort that makes us a team. Retirement presents challenges to any people organization – we lose frequent contact with former colleagues and collaborators, and over time, we lose track of where they live, what they’re doing, and whether they’re in good health or not. This MSUE Spotlight newsletter goes out to a group of retirees who have asked to be included in the mailings. It’s a small way of remaining connected, but it often leads to some very welcome messages from retirees that help me understand the history and wealth of our heritage even more.

In order to help me keep up with retirees – at least their email whereabouts – it would be great for individuals to either let me know directly by email or by responding on my blog about any changes they may wish to share. Even better, feel free to share information – and this includes news that may be of interest to others – with our Human Resources office. Julie Dansby does a great job of sending out notifications when we learn of a former colleague’s passing, not through MSUE Spotlight, but as a direct mailing to a listing that she keeps of current and former employees. Please send her any changes in email address and mailing address directly to msuehr@anr.msu.edu. And if you learn of one of your former colleagues passing away, please share that information with her as well so she can share that information more widely.

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More retirees recognized

You may recall last week’s Spotlight in which I gave brief information about some of the retirees honored at a luncheon given by Michigan State University April 10 and also honored at the reception we co-hosted with the Michigan State chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) at the Kellogg Center. Since we had quite a list, I decided to break them up into two separate editions. As promised, I share information about the rest of the retirees below.

 Gerard (“Gerry”) Adams, associate professor in the Department of Plant Pathology with additional appointments in MSU Extension and AgBioResearch, focused on mycology, diseases of nursery crops and forest pathology throughout his career. His research helped cast light upon the causes of Alder dieback and other important tree diseases. He engaged in U.S. Forest Service projects, investigating important forest pathogens in the Rocky Mountain areas, Alaska and Michigan. His work included research on the taxonomy of fungi that cause canker disease on a wide range of trees, resulting in his co-authoring a book on the taxonomy and morphology of Cytospora species. Gerry will continue his work in mycology at the University of Nebraska where his spouse, Heather, serves as a faculty member.

 David E. Andersen, regional land use educator, Alger County, joined MSU Extension as an SFI program agent, and in 1997, he became the county Extension director of Schoolcraft County. Early in his tenure in Schoolcraft County, he successfully facilitated the Community Assessment Process. He built strong relationships with the county commission, made numerous new partnerships with county agencies and organizations, and creatively found ways to build support and program staffing levels within the county. In his time with MSU Extension, David’s administrative abilities built a strong county team.

 Benjamin Bartlett, senior Extension educator, began his professional career with MSU in 1977 as the manager of the Upper Peninsula Experiment Station. He joined MSU Extension in 1983, serving as the U.P.’s dairy and livestock agent/educator for 28 years. Dr. Bartlett has received numerous awards, among them the ESP Visionary Leadership Award, the Outstanding Extension Educator Award, the American Sheep Industry Flock Guardian Award, the Growing UP Agriculture Association’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award and the Distinguished Extension Academic Staff Award.

 Sandra S. Batie joined the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics in 1993 as the first holder of the Elton R. Smith Professor in Food and Agricultural Policy. She specialized in environmental, natural resource and agricultural policy issues. She served on numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences Board of Agriculture and served as trustee and chair of Winrock International and of the International Rice Research Institute. She also served on the Board of Directors and as president of the American and Southern Economic associations. Dr. Batie was named a fellow in the American Agricultural Economics Association (now the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

 Stephen B. Fouch, county Extension director, joined MSU Extension in 1976 as a research technician for the district horticulture agent in Traverse City. He then served as the farm supervisor for the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, an MSUE agriculture agent and the county director of Benzie, Chippewa, Crawford and Mackinac counties. Stephen has received numerous awards, such as the NACAA Communication Award, the NACAA Public Relations in Daily Efforts Award and the Vanguard Award for Master Gardening Efforts at Kinross Correctional Facility. He has been acknowledged for recognition from the NW Farm Bureau and received an MAEA President’s Citation.

 John Grix, director of Kettunen Center, joined MSU Extension in July 1986 after spending five years working in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He started out as a county Extension 4-H youth agent and was appointed associate program leader and later director of the Kettunen Center. As the center’s director, he has overseen major renovations and additions to the facility that served to improve the center’s hospitality and learning services capacity. His leadership helped to define the center as a nationally recognized conference and meeting site. John served as president of the International Association of Conference Center Administrators (IACCA). Through that organization, he received the Certified Conference Center Professional designation – one of the first in this country. He also served as president of the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff (MAE4-HYS).

 Frederick (“Fred”) Hinkley, county Extension director, Ogemaw County, joined MSU Extension in 1974 in Van Buren County. He left Extension in 1981 but returned in 1994 to Sanilac County as a livestock agent as part of the animal initiative. He has served as the Extension resource agent in Sanilac and Huron counties, the program committee chair for the Regional Management Team, the county Extension director in Ogemaw County and the acting county Extension director of Oscoda County. Fred has received numerous awards including the John A. Hannah Award in 2011, the Regional Award for the “Milk Marketing Clubs” program and a team award for the Northern Michigan Grazing Conference.

 Marion E. Hubbard, Extension educator, started working at MSU Extension in 1990 as the Macomb County Extension home economist, where she managed the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Family Nutrition Program (FNP). In 1994, she moved to Wayne County as the Extension home economist. There, she continued to manage the EFNEP and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She has received numerous awards such as the National Coalition for Consumer Education Healthy Communities Recognition, Michigan Distinguished Service Award, Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) Marketing Package Award for the Wayne County Project FRESH and the MSU Extension Certificate of Achievement for the Facilitator Excellence Workshop.

 Maurice J. Kaercher, county Extension director, joined MSU Extension in 1983 as an agricultural Extension agent in Kalamazoo County and spent 20 years in Kalamazoo before relocating to St. Joseph County. In St. Joseph County, he served as a regional livestock educator and then county Extension director before retiring in May 2011. In 2008, he was the first to introduce “Annie’s Project” to Michigan. In 2003, he was recognized as Michigan Cattlemen’s Association member of the year. In 2005, Maurice received the Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Agriculture Extension Agents. In addition, both the St. Joseph Farm Bureau and Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau recognized him with the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 2009 and 2011. In 2011, he received the “Above and Beyond” award from the St. Joseph County 4-H program.

 Juan Marinez, MSU Extension program director, joined MSU Extension in 1973 as a program leader in special programs. He also served as a regional Extension supervisor for MSU Extension. From 1999 to 2002, he worked for Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman as the national program coordinator on farm workers and secured $20 million to farm workers who had been negatively affected by natural disasters, the first-ever available funds to go to farm worker assistance during a natural disaster. Most recently, Juan served as an assistant to the director where he was responsible for establishing a nationwide network of community-based, nonprofit organizations serving migrant/seasonal farm workers living in low-income situations. He established the first Hispanic farmer’s cooperative in Michigan. His research work on enumerating Hispanic farmers has had a positive impact on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistical Service census.

 Dennis McClure, county Extension director, started out with MSU Extension in 1986 as a 4-H program assistant in Montmorency County. He served as a county Extension director for 22 years and served as an Extension educator for Firewise and youth development. He helped to develop a community education youth group, implemented gypsy moth programming, helped to bring the nurse practitioner program to northern Michigan, and was an original member of the Small Farm Conference planning committee and a facilitation trainer. In 2010, Dennis assisted the AuSable River Estate Association in protecting homes from wildfires and in becoming Michigan’s first Firewise Model Community. He received numerous awards including a team award for the “Small Farm Conference” and the 4-H Presidential Award.

 Daniel B. Rajzer, county Extension director, joined MSU Extension in 1985 as an Extension agricultural agent in Van Buren County. In 1994, he became county Extension director (CED) in Cass County. As CED and Extension agricultural agent, Daniel developed educational programs designed to meet the local needs of agricultural producers with responsibility primarily in the field crops and livestock area. He also provided leadership in determining priority needs with stakeholders and helped to develop and implement meaningful programs. He has received numerous awards such as the Distinguished Service Award from the NACAA and the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the Cass County Farm Bureau. He completed the MSU Extension Mentoring Program in 2007 and was an MSU Extension Leadership Academy graduate in 2008.

 Susan B. Smalley, assistant professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, served in Extension from 1970 to 2007 as home economist, county director, regional supervisor, program leader and specialist. Beginning in home economics, she broadened her scope to encompass agriculture, finally focusing on sustainable food and agriculture, especially small farm business planning, marketing and management. She organized seminars for students interested in sustainable agriculture that helped lead to MSU’s Student Organic Farm. She taught classes and co-facilitated multicultural self-awareness workshops. She was a founder of Michigan Food and Farming Systems and the Michigan Farmers Market Association. She received the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award in 2003. Dr. Smalley helped coordinate annual U.S. Department of Agriculture sustainable agriculture research grants for nearly a decade. She co-authored evaluation studies of USDA sustainable agriculture projects in the North Central and Southern U.S. In 2007, she became director of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU, helping lay the groundwork for MSU’s new Center for Regional Food Systems.

 William (“Bill”) L. Steenwyk, Extension educator, joined MSU Extension in 1984 as a Barry County Extension agricultural agent. He has also served as the Extension agricultural agent in Kent and Ottawa counties, was the acting county Extension director in Kent County and became the county Extension director in Ionia County in 1997. He has worked as an Extension educator for vegetable crops since 2007. He also wrote a weekly newspaper Farm Talk column. He frequently represented agriculture and MSU Extension to western Michigan broadcast and print media, and appeared as a special guest on TV and radio talk shows. He has authored and reviewed a number of Extension bulletins. Bill won several awards in his time at MSU Extension, including the Outstanding Pesticide Applicator Training Program Award, the NACAA best slide presentation in soil science and the MAEA Presidential Citation.

 Vera J. Wiltse, MSU Extension educator, began her career with MSU Extension as an Extension educator in Isabella County, where she provided leadership for initiating the Horseback Riding for Handicappers program (now PEP, the Proud Equestrians Program,) and the Isabella County CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition. She also organized a committee to initiate 4-H programming for 5- to 8-year-olds before it was adopted statewide and shared the Michigan Barn and Farmstead Survey history initiative model in intergenerational knowledge transfer with many youth and adults. Vera has served as adjunct staff to the MSU Museum, and she was involved in international 4-H programs. In October 2010, she became a part of the MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute. She received the 1990 MSU Extension John Hannah Award for her work with the Michigan 4-H China Project and has also been recognized with the Michigan and National 4-H Distinguished Service awards, Michigan and National 4-H International Programming Award and the Outstanding Quality Program Award at the National 4-H International Coordinators Conference. In 2004, she was inducted into the 4-H Emerald Clover Society.

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Retirees recognized at reception

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.

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