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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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MSUE contributes to the award-winning Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT)

The Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) recently won two national awards. The application won the Outstanding Achievement Award for 2010 from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. It also was one of four innovations to receive the State Program Innovation Award from the Environmental Council of States.

 What’s the WWAT? The WWAT is an application designed to estimate the likely impact of a water withdrawal on nearby streams and rivers. Use of the WWAT is required of anyone proposing to make a new or increased large quantity withdrawal (more than 70 gallons per minute) from Michigan waters, including all groundwater and surface water sources, prior to beginning the withdrawal.

 Why the WWAT? In coordination with the signing of the Great Lakes Compact, Michigan and the other Great Lakes states were charged with the mission of developing a statewide program to manage and regulate new and expanding large water withdrawals. Michigan responded by enacting new laws, several of which called for the development and use of a Water Withdrawal Assessment Process to manage large quantity water withdrawals. Using science as the basis for policy development, a team of scientists and agency personnel developed the process to assist individuals in determining if their proposed large capacity water withdrawal will likely cause an adverse resource impact to a nearby river or stream.

 Who’s responsible for the WWAT? That’s a complex question since so many people and organizations worked together to make the WWAT a reality. A number of individuals were associated with the development and “roll out” of the WWAT including members of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and scientists from the University of Michigan and others. A Legislated Ground Water Advisory Committee worked on this effort for several years. Our own Michigan State University Institute of Water Research (IWR) has played a key role in several steps of the legislation and assessment process. Prior to the legislation on the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process being passed, Jon Bartholic, director of the IWR, provided testimony to the state Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Policy committee and worked with Senator Patty Birkholz’s committee on public hearings throughout the state. Jeremiah Asher, IWR, created the Web-based tool. Following the development of the tool, David Lusch, senior research specialist, MSU Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Science and IWR, and Jeremiah Asher were the two main presenters at a series of workshops throughout the state. Lois Wolfson and Ruth Kline-Robach, Michigan State University Extension state water quality coordinators, organized and evaluated the meetings.

 Lyndon Kelley, MSU Extension, and Steve Miller, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, organized and presented another series of workshops. Dave Hamilton and Frank Ruswick, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Paul Seelbach, Department of Natural Resources, provided outside assistance for these workshops

 In addition, MSU Extension educators were hard at work presenting other educational meetings and programs. Roberta Dow held a meeting on the WWAT as part of the MAEAP Phase I. Lyndon Kelley and Christina Curell presented WWAT information as part of four separate Extension education programs. Others who held meetings on the tool included Terry Gibb and Bindu Bhakta.

Jane Herbert, MSU Extension at Kellogg Biological Station, and Luke Reese, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at MSU, organized a webinar with David Lusch as the speaker.
Paul Seelbach, formerly with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Jane Herbert developed a bulletin of frequently asked questions (Extension Bulletin WQ60) concerning the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process, Considering Aquatic Ecosystems: The Basis for Michigan’s New Water Withdrawal Assessment Process.

So as you can see, it took a considerable team across multiple agencies and with a variety of expertise to make this award-winning process and application possible.

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MSUE shines at NACAA Conference

A bunch of Michigan State University Extension folks who are members of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) have made us proud by earning honors from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA). All were invited to attend the NACAA Communications Award Luncheon on Tuesday, July 13, during the NACAA Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference in Tulsa, Okla.

This year, Michigan stands out in the limelight in having four national finalists – Robert Sirrine, Mike Staton, Kevin Gould and Phil Durst. And one of our own, Stan Moore, Antrim County Extension educator, took on the presidency of the NACAA at the conference. That’s right – he’s President of the National Association.

Two members of our Extension staff earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award. The award is for agents with more than 10 years of experience, and it often recognizes a lifetime of service. For the past 10 years, Roberta Dow, district water quality educator, has trained AmeriCorps members who then conduct Home*A*Systs that help Michigan residents identify their risks to water quality and provide ways to lower those risks. For the past 14 years, Bruce MacKellar has provided expertise to southwestern Michigan growers concerning emerging field crop insect and disease control issues.

 Kendra Wills, Kent County Extension land use educator, was honored with the NACAA Achievement Award given to young agents with less than ten years of experience. Kendra’s work largely involves getting urban and rural citizens engaged in addressing urban sprawl. She has been successful in preserving a vast amount of prime and unique farmland in the county.

 Dr. J Robert Sirrine, Leelanau County Extension educator, is a national NACAA category award winner, receiving a plaque and a prize of $500 for a published photo and caption. The photo, which depicts Rob with two hops growers, was published in the June 2009 issue of Michigan Farmer Magazine. See it at http://magissues.farmprogress.com/mif/MF06Jun09/mif001.pdf.

Dr. Sirrine also was a regional finalist in the publication category for “Sustainable Hop Production in the Great Lakes Region.” He was the lead author along with authors Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Erin Lizotte, Dr. Ron Goldy, Steve Marquie, and Diane Brown-Rytlewski. The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore (formerly called the Bulletin Office) at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3083.

Phil Kaatz, Lapeer County Extension educator, was a regional finalist in the program promotional piece category for work on a brochure promoting the MSU Extension Thumb Ag Team and their efforts to promote regional programming. Phil says that it was really a team effort with Fran Adelaja working collaboratively with him on the piece with the help of the other educators in the brochure to produce the final product. The team members in addition to Phil were Jeannine Grobbel Schweihofer, David Pratt, Steve Poindexter, Martin Nagelkirk, Craig Thomas, Dennis Stein, Bob Tritten, Mark Seamon, Bob Battel and Emily Sneller.


George Silva, Eaton County Extension field crops and horticulture educator, was regional finalist for the Communication Awards website competition. George won the honors for his work on the official website for the Soybean 2010 project located at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/soybean2010/. Soybean 2010 project is a collaborative, research, education and communication effort at improving Michigan soybean yield and profitability. The partners include Michigan soybean growers, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Agribusiness Association, Michigan Farm Bureau and MSUE.

Mark Seamon, Saginaw County Extension bioeconomy innovation counselor and regional innovation counselor, was regional finalist in the fact sheet category for “Fueling the Future: Potential Biomass Crops for Michigan.” The bulletin can be purchased or downloaded as a PDF at the MSUE Bookstore at http://www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu/. Search for bulletin number E3077. And by the way, this fact sheet written by Mark is part of a series of five bioeconomy fact sheets, each by a different author, available at the MSUE Bookstore.

Mike Staton, Allegan County Extension senior agricultural educator, won the National Search for Excellence in Crop Production Award. Mike led a cooperative effort to plan, promote, conduct and evaluate educational meetings designed to help soybean growers identify and overcome the barriers to producing higher-yielding and more profitable soybeans. The programs reached more than 1,500 producers and agronomists and produced projected financial impacts of more than $2.1 million dollars. The other MSU Extension educators cooperating on this project were Ned Birkey, Emily Sneller, Marilyn Thelen, Bruce MacKellar, Bill Robb and Dennis Pennington.

Kevin Gould, Ionia County Extension educator, was the National Search for Excellence award winner in Livestock Production. He led a program that developed a pre-conditioning and marketing system to add value to beef calves in Michigan.

Phil Durst, Oscoda County Extension dairy educator, was recognized as a national finalist for Professional Excellence for the Beginning, Young and Small Farmer Programming Award. Each month, Phil meets with 40 to 50 young dairy producers who are part of two YSD (Young, Savvy and into Dairy) groups in northeastern Michigan. Through Facebook, it is an international group of young people in dairy.

Tom Dudek reported that the weather in Tulsa was – well, very Tulsa-like for the middle of July:  hot (95° F) and humid (heat index = 115). I got the impression they were pleased to escape back to Michigan’s more moderate conditions, but they definitely came back with a lot of hardware in their luggage. The Michigan Association of Extension Agents received a certificate for fourth place in increased membership, with 8 new members added last year.

We are very proud of our colleagues in NACAA and the work that they do in our state. Their innovations and hard work really set a model for what we hope to achieve even more widely in our new organizational design. Thanks for giving us great examples to highlight and learn from!

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