Tag Archives: theresa silm

Honoring our retirees as they begin new chapters

It’s the time of year when we honor and say goodbye to all of our retirees during the Michigan State University (MSU) retirement reception and banquet on Tuesday, April 12. I want to give one final shout-out to our MSU Extension colleagues who have made their marks on our organization and Michigan.

Elaine Bush joined MSU Extension in 1987 as a 4-H program assistant in Benzie County, and then spent many years in Manistee County as a 4-H agent, county Extension director and finally, as an Extension educator. Throughout her career, she enjoyed working with clientele, local government officials and organizational leaders. Coordinating the MSU Extension Firewise outreach program was one of her career highlights. Elaine enjoyed working with national Extension staff involved in disaster education as the point of contact for Extension Disaster Education Network.

Gerald (“Jerry”) May’s educational programs included environmental issues relating to livestock production concentrating on air quality concerns for livestock producers, rural residents and agency staff who work directly with livestock producers. He focused on odor issues related to livestock production, selecting sites for livestock facilities and the National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool. He also provided quality assurance education programs for pork producers on a regional basis. Jerry’s greatest pride and enjoyment came from relationships he developed working with farm employees and owners, state agency staff, 4-H youth and his Extension colleagues.

Jane Herbert joined Extension in 1996 as a water quality educator responsible for design, development, coordination, promotion, teaching, evaluation and budgeting of regional and statewide water quality programs and activities. In 2008, she became the lead educator for the MSU Extension inland lake shoreline restoration programing and was a founding member of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership that developed the Certified Natural Shoreline Professional program. She provided leadership for a series of natural shoreline workshops and train-the-trainer sessions to equip natural resource professionals to educate lakefront property owners.

Patricia (“Pat”) Dignum began her career as a 4-H educator in Kent County and later moved to Montcalm County. In Kent and Montcalm counties, she provided educational programming and oversight of 4-H Youth Development, along with volunteer and leadership trainings for community partners. In Kent County, she also developed afterschool programs in science and nutrition for urban elementary schools and at-risk secondary students. In recent years, as a supervising educator, she provided support to the 4-H staff in 10 counties.

Theresa Silm has devoted her life to 4-H and youth. After graduating with a B.A. in child development and elementary education from Michigan State University, she accepted a position as a 4-H program associate in Clinton County in 1977. She later became the 4-H youth agent. She has provided both youth programming and family education, and has worked with community partners to develop programs, curriculum and trainings for children and teens.

Wanda Roberts began as the Grand Traverse County 4-H Extension agent in 1990. In her role, Wanda facilitated meaningful partnerships with community organizations to provide educational programming for community members, especially youth. As supervisor of local 4-H program coordinators, she was also dedicated to mentoring and helping her colleagues be successful. Following her passion for financial literacy, Ms. Roberts served for five years as a financial educator with the Financial and Homeownership Education Team. She was instrumental in creating a partnership with Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services in investor education. She also served as the co-chair of the national Financial Security for All eXtension Community of Practice. She is a member of the Michigan Association of Extension 4-H Youth Staff and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

I also want to take time to honor and remember Thomas (“Tom”) Schneider who unexpectedly passed away in Laos earlier this year while doing what he loved. For the past 13 years, he would travel to Laos to train local indigenous hill tribe members who in turn provide an education to the local children as a step in helping build a sustainable local economy. He joined Extension in 1977 as an Extension 4-H youth agent in Oakland County. In 1988, he became an Extension program leader responsible for developing the new property donation to MSU and managing the Tollgate Extension Center located in the heart of Novi, Michigan. Throughout his career, Tom committed himself to helping young people and adults achieve success in their lives. Tom was a strong advocate for the staff he supported and worked with, serving on numerous committees related to staff development and leadership. As a co-creator of the MSU Extension Facilitator Excellence training, he was instrumental in helping professionals across Michigan and the country improve their group facilitation skills in support of community and youth development efforts. Tom is survived by his wife, Brenda, and daughter, Jennifer. We join them in remembering how he changed our lives.

To all of our retirees, thank you again for all of the important work that you’ve done for Michigan residents and your service to our organization. You have made a difference in all of our lives.

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Partnership with the Molina Foundation builds literacy in Michigan

For the past few years, the Molina Foundation and Michigan State University Extension have been working to place books in the hands of children living in low-income situations and enhance literacy levels of Michigan’s children. Since 2011, the Molina Foundation has donated and MSU Extension has distributed about 250,000 books to Michigan children.

This past summer, MSU Extension educators and program coordinators received 30,000 new children’s books to give to Michigan children. They handed out the books at community events, elementary school open houses, Project FRESH, outreach programs for children in migrant camps, county fairs, Operation: Military Kids events, summer camps and more, reaching thousands of children with the gift of free books.

This type of program gives children access to age-appropriate books that they otherwise may not have had.

One MSU Extension staff member said, “Many of the individuals who received the books were quite emotional when told the books were theirs to keep and they were free. That had never happened for them before. And more than a few little ones said they never had a storybook before and couldn’t wait to start reading. They obviously had a love for books, just hadn’t had too many opportunities to hold one.”

MSU Extension staff members who provided leadership for this effort include Jodi Schulz, Bay County educator; Jodi Wrzesinski, Bay County 4-H program coordinator; Theresa Silm, Clinton County educator; and Carrie Shrier, Livingston County educator.

The Molina Foundation received a key partner award at Fall Extension Conference this year for its continued work with MSU Extension and dedication to improving literacy in Michigan.

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Deadline for 4-H Emerald Clover Society member nominations is Jan. 31

What do Maggie Bethel, Cheri Booth, Julie Chapin, John Engler, Dean Kiesling, Theresa Silm, Debbie Stabenow and Vera Wiltse have in common? All are former 4-H members. And all are members of the 4-H Emerald Clover Society.

 The goal of the 4-H Emerald Clover Society is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate individuals who have had significant 4-H involvement as a youth and who have made significant contributions to their local, state and national communities. Nominee selection is based on evidence of three or more years of Michigan 4-H youth membership, professional and business achievement, leadership in community service and philanthropy, contributions to or impact on American society, and significant leadership and achievement as a 4‑H member.

 Do you know a former 4-H member, still living, who meets these criteria? If you do, why not nominate that person for membership in the society? The deadline to nominate is Jan. 31. Download a nomination packet at http://www.mi4hfdtn.org/ecs. Mail the completed form to the Michigan 4-H Foundation or submit by fax at 517-432-3310 or email to info@mi4hfdtn.org.

 Chosen 2012 inductees will be honored at the 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony on June 21 prior to the State 4-H Awards Celebration.

 For a list of current 4-H Emerald Clover Society members, visit the Emerald Clover Society website at http://www.mi4hfdtn.org/ecs/. You may recognize many more names as current or former Michigan State University Extension colleagues.

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