Tag Archives: st. clair county

Strategic connections take time: Reflections from D10

Andy Northrop, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator, works with communities statewide to create and maintain sustainable communities using tourism and economic development. He is the chair of the tourism team for our Greening Michigan Institute (GMI), and he is also on the government and public policy work team. Andy has built connections over the past two years by consistent networking and needs assessment in the communities where he serves.

“I have a personal passion for social change and sustainability,” Andy said. He also gives credit to his GMI colleagues and their programming for building trust in communities around the state through their track record of facilitating the rebirth of rural communities. “I have learned that strategic connections and anticipated outcomes take significant time,” he reflected. “Although we want to see change today, being patient and confident success will come is all part of the process.”

In St. Clair County, in MSU Extension District 10, Andy built a relationship with the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance (EDA) and The Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce. The EDA and the Chamber of Commerce became partners in hosting the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference in 2016. Their collaboration on the conference brought together planning agencies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, private investors, nonprofits, educational professionals, and a number of partners and interested citizens in seeing Port Huron’s rebirth and vision for fostering a culture to support entrepreneurs. The conference drew 138 people, who traveled from two countries, five states, 27 counties and 58 communities.

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Andy, like many of you, works to create connections across the state as well. He has developed key partnerships with Region 6 of Gov. Snyder’s Prosperity Initiative (RPI 6), which comprises seven counties across MSU Extension Districts 9 and 10. One key partner in RPI 6 is Genesee County Planning, which has been instrumental in strengthening our relationship by employing GMI’s tourism team to deliver four First Impressions: Assessing Your Community for Tourism (FIT) programs during 2017.

FIT, officially offered in 2017 for the first time, assesses communities through the eyes of first-time visitors. Four teams of four educators from GMI will conduct unannounced assessments as tourists to four communities across RPI 6 during the spring and summer of 2017 and work directly with their community leadership teams to strengthen their rural tourism industry potential.

This program was adapted to Michigan by modeling from program partnerships with five Northeast Central for Rural Development land-grant universities. It will be the first of its kind to be offered under Extension in partnership with a prosperity initiative.

The four successful communities will also receive state funding from RPI 6 to implement the suggested results from assessments. In 2017, the program is already serving as a cross-workgroup program within GMI. The tourism team envisions this being a cross-institute/Extension-wide program where experts across all four institutes can be tapped to move rural community tourism development forward.

“Overall, these partnerships have positioned GMI and other institutes as reputable partners in areas related to business and economic development, sustainable tourism and placemaking,” Andy said.

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Filed under Economic development, Entrepreneurial, Greening Michigan, Leadership

Video highlights St. Clair County Breakfast on the Farm

In last week’s Spotlight, I mentioned the success of the St. Clair County Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) at the Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, Mich. June 15. Michigan State University Extension St. Clair County put out a video that gives a clear picture of just how many people it takes to put on the event.

Ashley Kuschel, MSU Extension Breakfast on the Farm coordinator, said, “Around 300 people volunteered, making the event a huge success!”

Ashley works with Nancy Thelen, MSU Extension agriculture literacy educator, to put on all of the BOTF events.

BOTF is not just about eating a delicious breakfast. The event gives consumers an opportunity to learn about agriculture. They learn how farmers use technology to produce the food they enjoy. They can see firsthand how producers take good care of the animals to produce a healthy product for the consumer.

View the video below.  You may recognize many familiar faces.

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Filed under Events

St. Clair County garden teaches and feeds the hungry

It’s a tough dilemma. People are convicted of crimes that would normally result in a fine and court costs. Unfortunately, they don’t have the money for either. One judge in St. Clair County wanted to solve the problem by instituting more community service opportunities. The result? A community garden that will teach gardening techniques and feed the hungry—all while allowing people to complete their community service.

The garden came to fruition thanks to Liane Allen, 4-H program assistant in St. Clair County. Liane worked with 4-Hers and Master Gardener volunteers to set up a 50 x 80-foot fenced garden in a lot that would otherwise lay barren. The fruits—and vegetables—of their labor will be used to feed people who visit an area soup kitchen.

Read more in the Port Huron Times Herald.

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Filed under 4-H, Agriculture, Gardening, master gardener