Tag Archives: rob sirrine

Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference in Detroit

Each spring, educators from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension with support from MSU AgBioResearch and the Michigan Brewers Guild host the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference. For the first time, this year the conference was held in downtown Detroit. March 2-3, over 300 agricultural producers, processors, vendors, brewers and others attended, coming from 15 states and multiple countries. The conference offered both basic and advanced sessions for hop growers, and a barley session and malting tour for both growers and brewers.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, stands at the front of the room at a podium giving a presentation to a ballroom filled with seats and participants.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, addresses a near capacity crowd at the 3rd annual Great Lakes Hop & Barley Conference in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Rob Sirrine.

The conference incorporated elements that are unique to the area. For example, Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Corporation, described Detroit’s increasing demand for local food and craft beer. Another Detroit highlight for participants was the evening reception held at the Detroit Beer Company. Participants left rave reviews of the location and the experiences that they had.

The conference is an important way to support all of the participants in the growing craft beverage industry. According to the national Brewers Association, Michigan ranks sixth in the United States in the number of craft breweries, and the industry creates an economic impact of $1.8 million. MSU Extension is proud of our educators who are at the forefront of education and working with this evolving industry.

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Speaking of our educators, we’d like to send a huge thank you to the conference planning committee, made up of Ashley McFarland, Erin Lizotte and Rob Sirrine, and Scott Graham from the Michigan Brewers Guild. Also, thank you to MSU Events Management (Betsy Braid and Megghan Honke) and MSU county-based staff members Annette Kleinschmit and Michelle Coleman, who helped behind the scenes.

As soon as it’s posted, I’ll link to Rob, Ashley and Erin’s news article about the conference so that you can read more about all of the opportunities that participants had, the tours and the speakers.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Conferences, Farming, Hop & Barley

MSU Extension helps Michigan hop into craft beer

I was privileged to be one of the approximately 340 people to attend the second annual Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference March 16‒17 in Traverse City. The conference was sponsored by Michigan State University and the Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG). Prominent speakers from around the country and the university provided sessions on horticultural practices, pest and disease control, harvest and post-harvest practices, nutrient management and much more. The conference also included expert panels featuring producers, industry representatives and brewers. This year, attendees also had the opportunity to go on a tour of MI LOCAL, Michigan’s newest and largest hop operation with 200 acres planted in 2015 that will be ready for harvest this coming fall.

MSU Extension has collaborated with the MBG on nearly every hop and barley educational program that we have developed over the last eight years. Our close working relationship with the MBG has really been instrumental in connecting hop and barley producers with brewers. The director of the MBG, Scott Graham, received the Friend of Extension Award at the 2015 Fall Extension Conference for his efforts; we are light-years ahead of where we would have been without this excellent working relationship.

MSU Extension educator Rob Sirrine provides statewide leadership for hop research, education and outreach in collaboration with other staff members. MSU Extension hosts multiple educational programs throughout the year and the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference is the main highlight. Rob also represents Extension on the newly formed Hop Growers of America Best Practices Advisory Committee. MSU Extension educator Erin Lizotte provides her integrated pest management expertise. She coordinates the Great Lakes Hop Working Group that she formed with Rob two years ago. The group is composed of educators, researchers and other industry professionals that share information to benefit growers in their region. Dr. Mary Hausbeck, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and her graduate student Doug Higgins have been working to develop downy mildew control strategies over the last two years, and Dr. Bernie Zandstra, MSU professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, will be researching weed control options in the upcoming year.

MSU Extension educator Ashley McFarland has provided statewide leadership for malting barley research, education and outreach for the past three years. Projects have included collaboration with many field crop Extension personnel throughout the state in an attempt to support this reemerging crop in response to the burgeoning craft beverage industry. In addition to variety and management trials, the program also connects farmers with entrepreneurs in the newly developed craft malting market. Ashley is supported by Christian Kapp, MSU crop research technician at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. Ashley also serves on the National Barley Improvement Committee.

In Michigan, the craft beer industry is relatively young, but it is experiencing tremendous growth and making its mark nationally. According to the Michigan Brewers Guild, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. We are competitive on a national scale, but it’s also important to recognize the impact to Michigan residents. Data released by the Brewers Association show that in 2014, craft brewing in Michigan was responsible for 14,773 full-time jobs and $571.6 million in wages, and it contributed $1.85 billion in economic impact to our state. The Brewers Association reports that national growth of small and independent brewers continues to rise. As the craft industry grows, there will be an increased need for research-based resources and opportunities where MSU Extension can partner with the industry to facilitate its growth.

 

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Filed under Agriculture and Agribusiness, Conferences, Economic development, Entrepreneurial, Events

Promoting a vibrant local agriculture community

With the intention of promoting and building a vibrant local agriculture community, the 2015 Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference hosted more than 1,000 attendees this past weekend in Traverse City. Two former Michigan State University Extension staff members, Jack Middleton and Dave Glenn, started this event approximately 18 years ago as a grazing conference in Otsego County. Both have since retired, but the conference continued to grow throughout the years. It now fills the largest venue in northern Michigan, the Grand Traverse Resort. The conference now has its own independent planning committee, but many MSU Extension staff members serve, including Stan Moore, Rob Sirrine, Barb Smutek and Wendy Wieland, as well as Susan Cocciarelli from the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems .

Associate director of operations Patrick Cudney and Greening Michigan Institute director Dave Ivan both attended the event, and both were proud of how far the program has come.

“The northern Michigan Small Farm Conference is a wonderful example of Extension work at its finest,” said Patrick. “MSU Extension was there at the beginning to meet the needs of the small farm grazing community by working with producers to identify their needs, bringing research-based education to the community and planning and hosting the event. Over time, the conference has evolved to the point where Extension no longer is needed to be the sole event planner; rather we are at the table, with many partners to plan the event.”

Additionally, many Michigan State University (Extension and otherwise) staff members taught sessions this year, including Julie Avery (MSUE), Jude Barry (MSU CRFS), Noel Bielaczyc (MSU CRFS), George Bird (MSU), Vicki Morrone (MSU CRFS), Rich Pirog (MSU CRFS), Jason Rowntree (MSU), Rob Sirrine (MSUE), Collin Thompson, (MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center) and Michelle Walk (MSUE). In this way, our university was able to add value by offering our research-based educational content to meet growers’ needs even while we no longer host the event.

Patrick went on to say, “In essence, we built capacity and leadership, we support and partner, and we expand our mission of improving the lives of others by applying research-based knowledge to critical issues, needs and opportunities. Being there Saturday, I reflected upon where this conference has been, where it is today, and where it will go in the future and I was again reminded of the importance of our work and very proud to be part of this organization.”

Congratulations and thank you to all of our team, past and present, for your part in making the conference the success it is.

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Michigan Fresh has even more to offer

In a March 27 Spotlight, I mentioned how our Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh program educates on fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals as well as food safety, food storage, food preservation and gardening. In addition to this long list of important subjects, the Michigan Fresh work team is also busy on many other projects.

Extension educator Eileen Haraminac took over the coordination of the Michigan Fresh team upon Kathe Hale’s retirement.

Extension educator Joyce McGarry is busy heading up new fact sheet development. The team consists of Mary Dunckel, Michelle Jarvie, Ronald E. Kinnunen, Amanda Knox, Laurie Messing, Jeannie Nichols, Jeannine Schweihofer and Rob Weber. Team members arecompiling information on meats: pork, lamb, poultry, beef and fish. In the future, they will compile information for fact sheets on dairy products. Michigan Fresh fact sheets have been available at many of the farmers markets throughout the state as well as online. The fact sheets are also available in Arabic and Spanish. Find them on the Michigan Fresh website: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh

Other future fact sheets will focus on Michigan chestnuts (Erin Lizotte, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute) and growing hops (Greening Michigan Institute Extension educator Rob Sirrine).

Extension program instructor Stephanie Bruno heads up the team that’s developing recipe cards. The team consists of Jennifer Berkey, Becky Henne and Connie Kurple. These new recipe cards will be distributed at several farmers markets to encourage consumers to purchase Michigan-grown food to use as simple ingredients.

 Kristine Hahn and Eileen Haraminac as well as Sean Corp and other MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications staff are collaborating with the Eastern Market Corporation to promote a new product ‒ Michigan Fresh Frozen fruits and vegetables. The group is working on recipe cards to be distributed at Detroit Eastern Market and through the Peaches & Greens mobile produce trucks. The cards will promote both the Michigan Fresh program and the new Eastern Market Corporation Michigan Fresh Frozen products.

Eileen said, “We want to encourage people to choose nutrient-packed frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh are unavailable. Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing are processed at their peak ripeness ‒ time when, as a general rule, they are most nutrient packed.

Extension associate program leader Becky Henne heads up the social media team. Team members are busy working to build a smartphone app and to develop additional videos. They hope to have the app ready to roll out for the 2015 season. This group is working with Dr. Dru Montri, executive director of Michigan Farmers Market Association; Colleen Matts, farm to institution outreach specialist with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems; and Dr. Norm Lownds, curator of the 4-H Children’s Garden. Additional team members from both the Health and Nutrition Institute and the Greening Michigan Institute include Julie Darnton, Joanne Davidhizar, Dawn Earnesty, Kristine Hahn, Sheilah Hebert, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills.

Dr. Cheryl Peters, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills have been working with the Michigan Fresh team to develop a common evaluation tool for Michigan Fresh cooking demonstrations offered at the Detroit Eastern Market and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. These cooking demonstrations benefit the promotion of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and videos. The free, public demonstrations are designed to inspire people to purchase and consume more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. The evaluation tool will gather information from cooking demonstration observers. Recipes used in the cooking demonstrations come from the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With coordination from Extension educator Terry McLean, MSU Extension will staff a kiosk at the Flint Farmers Market this spring.

Michigan Fresh is a great collaboration not only between our own institutes but between local organizations and farmers markets as well.

If you are interested in promoting the Michigan Fresh campaign materials at your community farmers market, please contact Eileen Haraminac (haramin2@anr.msu.edu) for more information.

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Extension staff member receives agriculture award

Michigan State University Extension program instructor and MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio innovation counselor Wendy Wieland received the Food and Farming Network Chapman Award for leadership in building a robust community food system in northwestern Michigan. She received the award Jan. 31 at the sixth annual Food and Farming Summit in Traverse City.

The Chapman Award is named after John Chapman better known as Johnny Appleseed. The inscription on the award reads “The 2014 Chapman award ‒ Given each year to the person that shows unerring dedication, enduring fortitude, and embodies the exceptional pioneering spirit that is remaking American agriculture right here in Northwest Michigan.”

“Wendy fits that bill precisely,” said Bill Palladino, senior policy specialist at the Michigan Land Use Institute, who organized the summit along with Extension educator Rob Sirrine, chair of the Food and Farming Network that sponsors the award.

Wendy served as co-chair of this year’s Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, which coincided with the Food and Farming Summit. The conference had a record attendance of more than 1,000 individuals. It originated as an MSU Extension‒led grazing conference and has grown in both scope and size ever since. Now, a collective of MSU Extension staff and community partners conducts the conference. It receives sponsorship support from Extension, the MSU Product Center, the C.S. Mott Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at MSU, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and a whole host of other regional and statewide sponsors.

 Congratulations, Wendy!

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Extension educators and specialists receive awards at 2012 NACAA conference

Many Michigan State University Extension educators and specialists received awards at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference July 15–19 in Charleston, S.C.

Extension educators in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Kevin Gould and Phil Kaatz earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award that encourages and recognizes excellence in the field of professional Extension for members with more than ten years of service.

Kevin Gould has served 19 years with Extension, starting in 1993 as an agricultural educator in the Thumb. The following year, he accepted a regional livestock position in western Michigan. Kevin is a leader in the industry, serving on the state cattlemen’s board and state bull evaluation. He is current president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) and co-chair of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Livestock Systems Subcommittee.

Serving 12 years with Extension, Phil Kaatz’s programming focus includes the Michigan Thumb Ag Research and Education (TARE) Program and statewide forage responsibilities for alfalfa and corn silage production. He’s recently been involved in TARE field trials and the Michigan Forage and Grazing Conference. The TARE trials are a unique partnership between field crop producers, agribusinesses and commodity groups.

 Rob Sirrine and Phillip Tocco each received the NACAA Achievement Award in recognition of excellence in Extension service and educational programs given to educators with less than ten years of service.

Dr. J. Robert Sirrine, Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, provides leadership for community food system efforts in northwest lower Michigan, holds statewide leadership responsibilities for hops production and provides expertise in other areas, including  entrepreneurial and value-added agriculture and organic production. He serves as the chair of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network and is affiliated with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.

Phillip Tocco, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, serves as secretary of the MAEA and president of his local agricultural council. He has served as a member of the MSU Product Center’s Ag Innovation Counselor network. He has been involved in creating a number of community-based initiatives, including coordinating community gardens at homeless shelters and creating gardening classes to develop capacity among people living in low-income situations to meet their fresh food needs.

Extension educator Erin Lizotte, district horticulturist and Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station coordinator Nikki Rothwell, Extension specialist Cheryl Peters and Rob Sirrine were national finalists for the “Search for Excellence in Young, Beginner or Small Farmers/Ranchers” for the Northwest Michigan New FARM (Farmer Assistance and Resource Management) Program, which assists beginning farmers.

Many of our colleagues won communications awards.

Rob Sirrine was a national winner for the website hops.msu.edu on small scale hops production in the Great Lakes Region. The site was built with collaboration from Mallory Fournier, Joy Landis and Annette Kleinschmit. It offers information on every aspect of hops production a potential grower would need to make a decision to enter into this new market.

Senior Extension dairy and beef educator Phillip Durst was a regional winner for a computer-generated graphics presentation “Breakfast on the Farm at Circle K Farms.” Phil put the presentation together with quotes from Breakfast on the Farm attendees and photos taken by Mindy Stokoszynkski.

Rob Sirrine was a regional winner for a feature story “The Good Earth: Carbon and Agriculture.” The article is an introduction to soils and carbon in agricultural production. It appeared in “Edible Grande Traverse,” a community food system/agriculture magazine for northwest lower Michigan.

Phil Tocco was a regional winner for a video presentation “Chlorine as a Sanitizer.” The video is part of his series “Agrifood Safety Minute.”

Martin L. Nagelkirk, senior Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, was a state winner for a fact sheet “Winter Wheat.” The document serves as a reference to understanding industry trends and to identifying lessons learned or particular challenges.

Phil Kaatz was a state winner for a publication “TARE: Thumb Ag Research & Education 2011 Field Trials.” Other authors included Robert Battel, Martin Nagelkirk and Dennis Stein. An advisory board consisting of producers, agribusiness and Extension personnel provide oversight for the project. The Extension educators and other technicians were responsible for all phases of producing the crops included in the trials.

Congratulations to everyone!

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Solomon and McCauley receive awards and accolades for their work in communities

Within one week, two of our colleagues in northern lower Michigan were recognized for the work they do as Michigan State University Extension employees and as valued citizens in their communities. Dean Solomon, senior educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, received Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA). NLEA is a collaborative organization, which provides resources that help entrepreneurs and communities to create and retain jobs in the counties of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet. Dean was recognized for his service on the NLEA Board and his assistance with multiple NLEA projects. NLEA noted that Dean’s facilitation skills have been especially helpful in navigating often contentious issues related to natural resource based enterprises. His New Economy programs have equipped decision makers to work towards a balance between “place” and “jobs” that is so critical to Michigan’s emerging economy of the future.

 Dean was surprised to learn of his award at the annual NLEA luncheon held on May 4 at Boyne Mountain resort. Other than Dean’s recognition, my second favorite part of the NLEA luncheon was the opening. The Petoskey High School Marching Band had all 500 participants on their feet. And what I especially liked about the band was their steel drum corps. I’ve only seen one other high school band with steel drums and it was in the Caribbean. The eight Petoskey drummers transported me to memories of warm breezes and flowered shirts.

 Ranae McCauley, Extension program instructor in Kalkaska County, was recognized a week earlier by Athena Grand Traverse. She received the Athena award, which is based on efforts to advance women in leadership roles, along with professional excellence and community service. Ranae currently serves on several projects in MSUE including development efforts for the local food system along with Extension educator Rob Sirrine and the leading of two-county human services collaborative through our Kalkaska County office. Her tireless efforts in contributing to the Traverse Bay Area Poverty Reduction Initiative were highlighted in her nomination for the Athena award. She was described as “a cheerleader and challenger to the community for all things related to children, families and schools.” That is a GREAT honor for anyone, and we are fortunate to have Ranae representing MSUE in her efforts. You can read more about Ranae’s award at http://record-eagle.com/local/x1537355958/McCauley-tabbed-for-Athena-Award.

 Congratulations to both Dean and Ranae for their recognitions and thanks to both for devoting so much of their efforts to people and communities in northern Michigan. We’re proud to call you colleagues and proud to have MSUE affiliated with your achievements. Thanks!

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