Tag Archives: rick foster

News segments raise awareness of Extension and the work we do

As I mentioned in several articles in this Spotlight, the MSU Extension website continues to be an effective medium to get the word out to folks about our great programs. Another avenue excels at communicating about our organization and the fantastic work we do. ANR Communications is producing two-minute news segments focusing on our programs, research and major initiatives. Marketed under a series titled “Did You Know?” the segments began airing last month, directly before Tim Skubick’s public affairs program “Off the Record” on WKAR Channel 23.

The video segments were developed to raise the public’s awareness of Extension and all it does. In addition to appearing along with “Off the Record,” they are also posted online, providing us with additional exposure and opportunities for sharing.

ANR Communications multimedia production team leader Steve Evans said, “We’ve strategically placed these videos ahead of ‘Off the Record’ because we believe key decision makers and those in major agencies in multiple areas of government watch the show.”

The videos have focused on Firewise, which offers resources in home and community fire protection, and Stepping Stones, a program that provides urban youngsters with outdoor education experiences. Another video featured Extension educator Marilyn Thelen discussing the 2012 drought. Future videos will spotlight 4-H Discovery Camp and 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp. Another will highlight senior Extension educator Dennis Pennington discussing the feasibility of using marginal lands for energy crop production.

Steve co-produces the videos with video producer and director Kraig Ehm. If you have a story you’d like to submit for consideration, send your ideas to Steve at evansst@msu.edu or Kraig at ehm@msu.edu.

View the videos here.

Another venue that features work of MSUE colleagues is the Greening of the Great Lakes, a website and radio feature hosted by retired MSU Professor Kirk Heinze. Kirk recently hosted Rick Foster, W.K. Kellogg Chair in Food, Society and Sustainability and former director of MSUE’s Greening Michigan Institute. You can read and hear the interview with Rick on the MSU initiative to foster development of the metropolitan food system and related industries in Detroit.

Kirk’s radio productions are broadcast on Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on News/Talk 760 WJR. He often highlights innovations underway by MSUE scientists and educators.

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Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership increases our capacity to reach out

Here in Michigan State University Extension, we often seek to work in partnership with other organizations to better serve our clients. The newly created Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership is a great example of reaching out beyond the confines of our organization to bring knowledge to Michigan residents in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

Spearheaded by MSU Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) with support from District 3 coordinator Patrick Cudney, former Greening Michigan Institute (GMI) director Rick Foster and current interim GMI director Dave Ivan, the partnership brings together six different organizations to leverage resources: MSU Extension, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC),the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG), MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC)and the NLEA. MSU Extension’s efforts to bring these organizations together made the partnership a reality.

The MEDC, MSU Extension and the NWMCOG provide funding for the partnership. The partnership will enhance services to agriculture-related businesses such as product development, marketing, business plans, financing, education and training, and farm production and distribution.

“This partnership continues MSU Extension’s proud history of supporting Michigan’s agriculture industry by helping entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value products in the agriculture, natural resources and bio-economy sectors,” said Patrick Cudney, who also serves as NLEA Board member.

Andy Hayes, an MSU Extension GMI economic development educator, who works for MSU Extension within the NLEA partnership as the alliance’s president, played a key role in the partnership’s formation.

“We’re thrilled with this new effort,” said Andy, “In typical northwest Michigan fashion, several organizations combined resources to offer much better services with a far broader reach than any individual organization could have provided on their own.”

In the past, MSU Extension had one person doing this type of work covering four counties. Through the partnership, we now have an agriculture team of three covering 11 counties. The team includes Wendy Wieland, MSU Extension program instructor in the GMI and MSU Product Center innovation counselor; Annie Shetler, MI-SBTDC business consultant; and Susan Cocciarelli, NWMCOG Northwest Michigan Agriculture and Food System Sector Alliance coordinator.

creation of the Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership July 2012

Left to right :Tom Coon, MSU Extension director; Susan Cocciarelli, NWMCOG Northwest Michigan Agriculture and Food System Sector Alliance coordinator; Elaine Wood, NWMCOG CEO; Wendy Wieland, MSU Extension program instructor and MSU Product Center innovation counselor; Annie Shetler, SBTDC business consultant; Brenda Reau, Extension educator representing the MSU Product Center; and Mary Rogers, MI-SBTDC regional director, announce the creation of the Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership July 2012. Photo credit: NWMCOG

Wendy’s reassignment will allow her full engagement in the partnership. In her role, she helps people who have an idea to take to market to help develop that product. She provides a front door to entrepreneurs who can take advantage of expertise on campus around food safety, packaging and marketing research. She’ll work in coordination with Ms. Shetler and Ms. Cocciarelli to meet agriculture entrepreneurs’ needs across the spectrum of business development, expansion and marketing.

Through collaboration, this new partnership expands our methods and our capacity to reach out to Michigan residents to meet their needs.

View this video on the partnership:

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Thanks, Rick!

Members of the Greening Michigan Institute (GMI) received a final note from Dr. Rick Foster this week as he prepares to return to his faculty position and focus his leadership on Michigan State University’s program aimed at developing food, water and energy systems for 21st century metropolitan areas. The program, termed MetroFoodsPlus, was announced in a Detroit press conference yesterday, presented jointly by MSU President LouAnna K. Simon and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. We have been fortunate to benefit from Dr. Foster’s leadership over the past two years, during which he has served as the director of GMI. As one of our four institute directors, he helped to give definition to a concept that we created as part of our restructuring. He came to us with a tremendous background of leadership experience, having served in a variety of roles, ranging from high school agriscience teacher to vice president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Rick’s leadership has helped to create a sense of unity and joint purpose among educators working in programs that had been only distantly connected in our previous organizational structure. He embraced the notion that what holds these programs together – from community development to family financial management to community food systems to natural resources stewardship – is a focus on equipping Michigan’s families, communities and industries to adopt practices that ensure sustainability of not only our natural assets but also our communities and families as well.

I’ve personally benefited tremendously from Rick’s generosity with his time and insights, and I’ve had many in GMI share their appreciation for his positive outlook and affirming support for group-generated suggestions and programs. GMI has innovated in a number of ways and we’ve all benefited from their new ways of approaching everything from revenue generation to creating reality around the concept of food hubs.

We will miss Rick’s leadership as he turns his full attention to MetroFoodsPlus, but we’ll also continue to benefit from his deep understanding of MSU Extension and integrate our strengths into this bold effort to join Michigan’s agricultural heritage and industrial innovation history with the challenges and opportunities resting in Michigan’s urban centers. Rick will retain a faculty appointment in MSUE and will especially connect frequently with the community food systems work group within GMI. I’ll always deeply appreciate Rick’s willingness to help us create this new, 21st century version of MSU Extension. Thanks, Rick, and good luck in your MetroFoodsPlus efforts!

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NCR-SARE meeting creates opportunity to see positive impact of sustainable agriculture in Detroit

The annual fall meeting for the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Program (PDP) and Administrative Council (AC) took place Nov. 15–18, 2010, in Detroit, Mich.

 SARE’s mission is to strengthen rural communities, increase farmer and rancher profitability, and improve the environment by supporting research and education. NCR-SARE consists of 12 North Central Region states, and each state in the region was represented at the meeting.

 Dr. Dale Mutch, Michigan State University Extension specialist and senior district Extension educator, and Dr. Dean Baas, visiting research associate at the KBS (Kellogg Biological Station) and Extension Land & Water Unit, are co-coordinators of the Michigan NCR-SARE PDP Program. Tom Rorabaugh, retired MSUE County Extension Director and educator, is assistant coordinator. Drs. Mutch and Baas, and Tom Rorabaugh, with assistance from a planning committee from NCR-SARE, developed an educational program for the meeting built around the work being done with sustainable agriculture in Detroit. The meeting presented an opportunity to not only share national and internationally known speakers doing great work in sustainable agriculture, but to also take participants directly to places in Detroit where sustainable agriculture is being put into practice.

 On Tuesday morning, Dr. Mike Hamm, C.S. Mott Sustainable Agriculture Chair, made a presentation about the future of sustainable agriculture highlighting the outstanding programs his C. S. Mott group is doing in Michigan.

 Also that morning, Mike Score, an MSUE educator currently on leave of absence, spoke to the group about Hantz Farms, an urban agriculture initiative in Detroit that would be part of a tour that afternoon.

 In addition to the business meeting and presentations, the group took a bus tour on Tuesday afternoon that highlighted Detroit urban agriculture. Tour stops included Detroit’s Eastern Market, Earthworks Urban Farm, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Hantz Farms’ project sites, a Greening of Detroit greenhouse and Hacienda Mexican Foods. On the tour, participants met some high-energy people putting as much as 80 hours a week into these urban projects – people who are passionate about sustainable agriculture. Participants could see firsthand the empty buildings and the blight of the city, and then see alongside that the positive work being done through sustainable agriculture.

 Four Michigan farmers joined the PDP/AC group for lunch and the bus tour. Henry Miller, St. Joseph County; Pam Bosserd, Calhoun County; Chris Bardenhagen, Leelanau County; and John Simmons, Lapeer County; interacted with the group before and after the tour of Detroit.

 On Wednesday, Dr. Rick Foster, MSUE institute director for the Greening Michigan Initiative and W. K. Kellogg Endowed Chair and professor, spoke to the group highlighting the restructuring of MSUE, climate change, dependence on energy and food production.

 Also on Wednesday, Dr. Julie Doll, outreach coordinator for Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), facilitated a session on adapting NCR-SARE programs to the changing land-grant system.

 NCR-SARE state coordinators met on Monday and Tuesday to share and increase their knowledge of NCR-SARE state initiatives, discuss outcomes of the Local Foods Regional Training Program, share concerns related to the impact of the current budget and the economy on their PDP programs, and address other issues.

 State coordinators met with AC members on Wednesday to get to know more about each other and about NCR-SARE programs and to set future directions for NCR-SARE. They also discussed a range of topics including diversity efforts, committees and grants.

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Land-grant leadership in the 21st century

At an early stage in our Michigan State University Extension redesign process, I had the opportunity to ask President Simon to share her vision for what our change process should achieve. She told me that she expected to create a model for Cooperative Extension that is relevant to and addresses the needs of Michigan in the 21st century. That vision has been at the center of my thoughts as we have gone through this process. That she chose the word “create” has been especially significant for me. To create suggests that we really are making something new and not just adjusting what we’ve been. It’s a more radical concept of change and suggests that we’re doing much more than “moving the chairs around on the deck (of a sinking ship).” It also calls for a new culture in MSUE, refocusing us on program delivery in ways that we would adopt if we were just creating Extension in today’s times with today’s technologies and today’s understanding of organizations.

 Just as the clients our Product Center innovation counselors serve are going through the start-up phases of their enterprises, we in MSUE are going through the startup phase of an enterprise. The main difference is that ours is an enterprise with many years of experience and insight and achievement that can inform our change process. But we really are feeling many of the uncertainties and anxieties that go along with an individual or team going through the process of creating a new business, farming operation, community organization or family.

 I heard a somewhat similar perspective on our role in the 21st century at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) meeting in Dallas, Texas, this week. Dr. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University (twice), and former president of other land-grant and private universities, spoke about the role of land-grant universities in the 21st century. The motivation for his address was the fact that in 2012, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the passage and signing of the Morrill Act that engaged the federal government in the experiment that pioneers in Michigan had begun seven years earlier. President Gee spoke to the importance of access for all and economic development at the farm and business level in the case that was made for creating land-grant colleges and universities in 1862. Like President Simon, he pointed out that those needs are still great in our communities, our nation and the world, and he challenged the U.S. to recommit itself to this great land-grant university experiment into the future. He called for legislation that would reenact the original Morrill Act. What a provocative idea! Although the words he used are slightly different from President Simon’s, President Gee’s intent was clearly in the direction of creating the land grants anew, rather than simply perpetuating them as they were at their outset. A recommitment should accomplish more than perpetuating. It should achieve a new model for access to university resources and should address the big economic opportunities of our times.

 At another session at APLU, our own Dr. Rick Foster, Greening Michigan Institute director, was asked what land-grant universities need most in order to address the most challenging aspects of America’s economic revitalization. His answer was not what audience members expected. He said that the singular most important asset for a university was to have a president who could articulate and lead towards a vision that propels land-grant universities to create new economic opportunities and enhance the quality of life. Some of those visions will take decades to achieve. But if other land-grant universities have leaders like MSU and OSU, I think we can all succeed in creating something new that will have lasting impacts on the people we serve across the nation.


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Institute Day will be key feature of FEC10

October 20 will be a key day for all Michigan State University Extension personnel. You’ll spend the day working with others assigned to your institute and learn even more about your new workgroups. Julie Chapin, Dawn Contreras, Rick Foster and Wendy Powers are developing plans to ensure that this is a valuable day packed with useful information.

Also, I recommend that you consider preparing for FEC10 by engaging through social media (for example, discussion boards on the FEC10 Facebook fan page) and taking advantage of professional development opportunities available in advance of the conference. You can see a list of suggested trainings and activities at the end of my official FEC10 welcome letter.

 You only have a few more days to register for FEC10. Sign up now!

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