Tag Archives: suzanne pish

MSU Extension team responds to help families with farm stress

A person with a hat sits in a field with a combine in the background.

About a year ago, commodity prices fell, especially affecting dairy farmers. Michigan saw a rise in attempted suicides among farmers and farm families. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension responded by forming the Farm Stress team, made up of Suzanne Pish, Adam Kantrovich, Roger Betz, Tom Cummins and Beth Stuever, to create resources for educators and others who work with farmers and their families.

The team, with the assistance of ANR Communications and Marketing, put together a fact sheet and video for farmers and farm families so that our staff could have access to resources they could use in their programming and interaction. The team also put together two programs to help Extension educators and others who work with farmers and farm families. The first was a mental health first-aid training: a full-day, hands-on, certification course that can help those people working with farmers and farm families to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and emotional crisis. The second was a workshop designed for people who work with agriculture producers and farm families who want to know more about managing farm-related stress and ways to approach and communicate with those in need.

The team and the resources that they have produced are an example of how important it is that we work across institute or department lines, and that we mobilize to meet immediate needs of Michigan residents. We have our traditional programs that provide ongoing, stable service to our constituents, but we also can function in an emergency response role, just like we did in our response to the Flint water emergency.

Do you work with farmers, farm families or both? Do you have connections who do? You might want to take some time to watch the video about stress management for farmers and take a look at the other resources on our MSU Extension webpage devoted to farm stress. If you have any questions about the resources or the team’s work, feel free to reach out to Suzanne Pish.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, health, Impacts, Resources, Social and emotional health

MSU Extension staff members receive NEAFCS awards

Many of our fellow Michigan State University Extension colleagues received awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual session Nov. 5 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Individual awards:

Joyce McGarry won a Continued Excellence Award, which goes to an NEAFCS member of at least 12 years. It recognizes active involvement in professional improvement programs, promotion of professional development and leadership. This is the highest honor awarded to NEAFCS members. Joyce has worked for MSU Extension for 17 years, concentrating in the areas of nutrition and food safety programming. She supervises nutrition staff in seven counties and provides leadership as co-chair of the Nutrition Physical Activity Work Team in the Health and Nutrition Institute.

Gail Innis and Brenda Long both won Michigan and National Distinguished Service awards. The award is given to members of 10 years or more. It recognizes Extension family and consumer science educators for leadership, outstanding programs, and personal and professional growth. Gail began working for MSU Extension as a program associate in 1991. She describes her current position as educator in both the Children and Youth Institute and the Health and Nutrition Institute as “the best of both worlds” where she can draw on the resources of both to serve families across the lifespan. Brenda is a senior Extension educator and has been based in Ionia County since 2002. Her programming focuses on health, financial capacity and homeownership education.

Brenda also received two national awards for health insurance education, collaborating with eleven state partners. She took third place for the Florence Hall Award, which recognizes NEAFCS members who have been alert in recognizing emerging issues or new concerns and interests of families or individuals and have planned and implemented programs that benefit families or individuals. She took first place for the Marketing Package Award for an outstanding marketing package promoting a program pertinent to family and consumer sciences issues.

Lisa Treiber won a national and Michigan Clean and Healthy Families and Communities Award. The award honors outstanding educational programming efforts that utilize any of the American Cleaning Institute’s educational materials in the areas of food safety, emergency preparedness or response, safe and effective use of cleaning products, and others.

Team awards:

Teresa Clark-Jones, Gail Innis, Carolyn Penniman, Suzanne Pish and Holly Tiret took third place nationally and second place regionally and in Michigan for the Early Childhood Child Care Training Award for the “RELAX: Alternatives to Anger for Parents and Caregivers Workshop.” The award recognizes outstanding childcare professional training that addresses the needs of young children. Over 600 participants have taken this workshop throughout Michigan and in West Virginia and Texas.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Bill Hendrian, Jean Lakin, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Pam Sarlitto, Beth Waitrovich, Chris Venema, (all NEAFCS Members), Jim Buxton, Moses Cantu, Angela Miles Griffin, Lauren Hale, Khurram Imam, Sharon Jeffery, Scott Matteson, Vivian Washington and Rob Weber (all non-MEAFCS Members) won a national, regional and Michigan Extension Housing Outreach Award for “Michigan State University Extension Housing Programs 2013-14.” The award recognizes programming that enhances housing outreach to communities and special needs families.

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Follow these tips to promote your ‘baby’

Many of you have produced Michigan State University Extension curriculum or bulletins on subjects near and dear to you. The product has become your “baby” so to speak. You’ve put much time and energy into producing a product you believe in. You want others to benefit from your efforts. However, you’re disappointed to find that sales of the product in the MSU Extension Bookstore are not what you expected. This does happen in some cases. But there are other cases where MSU Extension-produced products are selling well in our bookstore. Often, the product’s promotion may make the difference. I’d like to tell you about three cases in which our MSU Extension colleagues’ efforts in promoting their products have resulted in at least modest increases in sales. All three worked with Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications to develop their products.

RELAX: Alternatives to Anger is an educational series for people who want to manage their anger and stress both at home and at work. It was updated in December 2012 by MSU Extension educators Holly Tiret and Suzanne Pish. Sales of RELAX from the third quarter of 2013 accounted for more than double the total sales of the first and second quarters.

Holly attributed the uptick in sales during that period to the RELAX team’s promotion of the product at the Galaxy IV Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., in September. At the conference, the team distributed postcards advertising the RELAX curriculum that included a brief description, cost, contact information, and the MSU Extension Bookstore and MSU Extension websites. The team further increased product visibility by wearing shirts with the MSU Extension logo and the RELAX  logo at the conference. In addition, the Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) provided funds to purchase a booth to promote many MSU Extension programs.

Holly said, “We didn’t just sit at our booth. We walked the exhibitor booths, and people kept asking us what RELAX on our shirts stood for. We ended up having to carry postcards with us to give to people as we walked around visiting other vendors.”

Sales of RELAX outside of Michigan accounted for a third of all sales. Holly attributes that to national exposure through the Galaxy conference and participating in the exhibitor hall. The curriculum also received National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) national, regional and state awards further increasing awareness.

“The fact that we were a part of the professional organization helped us reach a much broader audience of potential customers,” said Holly.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll tell you about two other curricula that our colleagues have successfully marketed.

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Learn to RELAX with MSU Extension anger and stress management curriculum

A Michigan State University Extension curriculum has been updated and is getting new attention, thanks to eXtension and other online learning options. “RELAX: Alternatives to Anger,” an educational series for those who want to manage their anger and stress both at home and at work, was recently updated by MSUE educators Suzanne Pish and Holly Tiret.

Since it was released on eXtension in December, ten individuals have taken part in an online offering of this program. In addition, nearly 70 copies of the curriculum CD have been sold through the MSU Extension Bookstore. Staff members can also order workbooks to use when offering the program, and incentives like stress balls and promotional magnets.

Suzanne and Holly worked with ANR Communications technical writer Katie Gervasi to produce the curriculum. Others in ANR Communications were involved in designing templates and getting the RELAX items into the MSU Extension Bookstore. The team wanted to extend the availability of the curriculum so they decided to also offer the online option through eXtension. Anyone can take the course. The cost is $20.

Closer to home, Suzanne will collaborate with the MSU Extension Staff Wellness Committee to offer RELAX for MSU Extension campus staff March 26. Register here.

“We would like to have MSU Extension staff to help advertise the online course to potential participants,” Suzanne said, “Just a week ago, a participant from Wisconsin called to say how much she enjoyed the course.”

Holly said, “I also got an email from an MSU student looking for an anger management class for himself. I emailed him and gave him instructions on the online course. We are even reaching students at MSU!”

To get to the online course, go to http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/relax_alternatives_to_anger_online_program.

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Filed under Social and emotional health

Extension program leaders create resource to address bullying in out-of-school settings

It’s evident when you listen to news reports, scan social media or just talk to folks – issues related to bullying, bias and harassment concern parents, educators, family workers and others who work with and care about young people. And, of course, these issues concern young people as well.

Schools have resources to address these issues, but few address bullying issues in out-of-school settings. As always in Michigan State University Extension, our staff members see a need and work to meet it. That’s why MSU Extension Health and Nutrition program leaders for social and emotional health Janet Olsen and Karen Pace created Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments.

BeSafe-Cover-BookstoreThumb

The two targeted the curriculum for use in out-of-school settings such as 4-H clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs, scouts and after-school programs. Be SAFE helps young people aged 11 to 14 partner with adults to create physically and emotionally safe environments.

The overall goals of Be SAFE include promoting social and emotional learning and development, addressing and reducing bullying, preventing bullying behaviors by tapping the wisdom and assets of youth and adults, and developing positive relationships with peers and adults.

Research shows that young people benefit from time spent in positive and safe settings with adults and peers. Adults can use Be SAFE as an important tool to help young people to create those safe, affirming and fair environments. The resource helps adults to help young people be resilient when facing challenging situations such as bullying, bias and harassment.

As true of all MSU Extension curricula, this publication draws from extensive research, and Karen and Janet also drew from evidence-based bullying prevention programs. A number of their MSU Extension colleagues also contributed to the development of Be SAFE by serving as reviewers and as liaisons to the nine sites across the state that piloted the material. These included staff members from the Health and Nutrition Institute (Tracie Abram, Denise Aungst, Carolyn Penniman, Suzanne Pish, Erin Ross, Olga Santiago and Holly Tiret), the Children and Youth Institute (Kendra Moyses and Jodi Schulz), and the Organizational Development Team (Dionardo Pizaña). Former Children and Youth Institute staff members Andrea Caron, Sandra Griffin and Julie Scislowicz were also involved with these efforts.

Janet and Karen are currently working to assist MSU Extension staff members in providing education around issues of bullying, bias and harassment. It’s not too late to register for a June 4 train-the-trainer opportunity in Gaylord. You’ll receive a copy of Be SAFE and learn how to incorporate the curriculum into your program. You’ll also explore current research on bullying and learn key strategies to address bullying issues. Click on this link to learn more and to register.

Download a free PDF of the Introduction section of Be SAFE or order a copy of the 224-page guide, designed and edited by ANR Communications, at the MSU Extension Bookstore.

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Extension staff members win NEAFCS awards, present at conference

Michigan State University Extension staff members won several awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) national conference in Columbus, Ohio, Sept 27. The Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) will recognize the educators at the membership meeting at Fall Extension Conference.

The Health and Nutrition Institute Food Safety Team was first place national winner and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety. The award recognizes outstanding educational programs conducted for families, school nutrition workers, food industry employees or managers, church workers preparing meals, home care providers, and other groups or individuals preparing or serving food.

The MSU Extension Food Safety Team received first place national winner award and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety at the NEAFCS national conference

The MSU Extension Food Safety Team received first place national winner award and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety at the NEAFCS national conference Sept. 27, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: Associate Dean of UNL Extension Kathleen Lodl, MSU Extension staff members Eileen Haraminac, Lisa Treiber, Joyce McGarry, Beth Waitrovich and Jeannie Nichols and NEAFCS President Amy Peterson [not present Christine Venema, Pat Joyce (retired), Jan Seitz (retired)].

 Evaluated on program objectives, program accomplishments, program impact and support materials, the team received a score of 98 out of a possible 100.

Jeannie Nichols led the team that includes Eileen Haraminac, Pat Joyce (retired), Joyce McGarry, Janet Rathke, Jan Seitz (retired), Lisa Treiber, Chris Venema and Beth Waitrovich.

The team applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant allowing them to provide statewide programming in 2011. They taught face-to-face workshops around the state and developed an online training at msue.anr.msu.edu/programs/cottage_food_law.

The workshops and online training taught Michigan residents about the new 2012 Cottage Food Law and the importance of food safety practices when preparing and selling cottage foods in Michigan.

Teresa Clark-Jones led the Financial and Home Ownership Education Team, made up of mostly Greening Michigan Institute members, that took third place in the Central Region for Communications – Internet Education Technology. The award recognizes excellence in Web-based programs or Web pages.

In addition to Teresa, team members include Connie Costner Borg, Dr. Lisa Cook, Kathy Hale, Jean Lakin, Wanda Repke and Erica Tobe.

The team created www.mimoneyhealth.org with education information related to financial literacy for the public to access. On the website, consumers can take the Financial Health Survey, in which each survey participant determines his or her financial health index score and receives resources to help increase the score.

Extension educator Carolyn Penniman won a Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest award presented by the NEAFCS. The award recognizes members for leadership, outstanding program efforts and personal and professional development.

Carolyn has been part of MSU Extension for more than 14 years, providing education in parenting education, food safety, training for foster and adoptive parents, and financial literacy. She’s participated in international Extension training and led the Poverty Reduction Initiative for Charlevoix and Emmet counties. She used a United Way grant to provide two poverty simulation workshops and develop a Money Mentor program.

Besides winning awards, MSU Extension staff members were busy presenting sessions at the conference, lending their expertise to their colleagues. Health and Nutrition Institute Extension educator Suzanne Pishpresented a session at the conference from RELAX: Alternatives to Anger, an anger management program for young people, parents and caregivers.

MSU Extension staff members presented on the Cottage Food Law at the NEAFCS national conference

MSU Extension staff members presented on the Cottage Food Law at the NEAFCS national conference Sept. 27, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: MSU Extension staff members Joyce McGarry, Rita Klavinski, Lisa Treiber, Jeannie Nichols and Beth Waitrovich. Photo credit: Eileen Haraminac.

In addition, Extension educators Joyce McGarry, Jeannie Nichols, Lisa Treiber and Beth Waitrovich of the Food Safety Team presented a session on the Cottage Food Law. Extension educator Rita Klavinski provided technology support at the conference.

Congratulations and thanks to all of our award winners and session presenters!

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Extension educators quickly respond to emotional health issues brought on by drought

Part of Michigan State University Extension’s mission is to quickly respond to emerging issues affecting Michigan residents. The recent drought has certainly given us the opportunity to do so, and we had a great report from Marilyn Thelen, AABI Extension educator, on our July 16 webinar to describe how the work groups in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute have responded.

We also heard Suzanne Pish, Extension educator in the Health and Nutrition Institute, describe how she recognized that severe weather was causing stress in growers dealing with the loss of the cherry crop. The recent drought is similarly affecting farmers and Suzanne is feeling its effects personally. Her Dad is a dairy farmer in southern Michigan where the drought is hitting hard. In addition, Suzanne and her husband raise goats and hay. The drought took one-tenth of their hay crop. She felt both the financial and emotional toll the drought was taking and could relate to the feelings of her dad, the cherry growers and other farmers in the state. Suzanne connected her experience with the effects of stress with her expertise as a social-emotional educator to write an article for our MSU Extension News “Farm-related Depression: Signs and Symptoms.”

A farm blog picked up the story. Fred Peralta, producer/director of WEIU-TV in Charleston, Ill., read Suzanne’s story and invited her for a web-video chat interview on his local agricultural program “Four Rivers Ag Report.” The interview aired July 20. You can watch it here:

This is a great example of how Extension educators and specialists get information out quickly to the MSU Extension News website and that information expands out in many directions. It’s also a great example of taking a core set of program priorities and recognizing how those might apply to audiences that aren’t regularly served by a particular work group. AABI colleagues immediately realized the need to provide technical expertise to groups they routinely serve. Suzanne and other colleagues on the Social-Emotional Health work group saw a need with that same audience, even though they mostly focus on youth and young adults with their programs.

Extension educator Karen Pace contributed to the subject as well with an article for MSU Extension News on the emotional toll severe weather can place on farmers and their families.

Extension educator Holly Tiret and members of the Health and Nutrition Institute are also putting together a workshop dealing with stress, anger management, and financial and credit issues. It will be ready soon to present all over the state.

I’m proud of how quickly our groups have responded to this issue not only in the usual ways but stretching beyond their focal audience.

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