Tag Archives: tom dudek

Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most

President Lou Anna Simon provided testimony to the House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee yesterday and articulated a 21st century vision of what a land-grant university – THIS land-grant university – needs to do. Our mission is still rooted very much in our service to our state, helping to prepare our residents and our institutions for the challenges and opportunities we will face in the years ahead.

 I hear President Simon quite frequently, and occasionally stakeholders will assert to me that they think Michigan State University has abandoned the land-grant mission. It’s always hard for me to hear those comments, and I respectfully disagree when people make that assertion. I’m grateful for her leadership, and now I have her testimony to refer to for those who disagree with me. I encourage you to read her testimony when you have an opportunity and to pass along what she said by sharing this link with others: http://president.msu.edu/documents/2012_House_Higher_Ed_testimony.pdf. You can find a summary and this link on President Simon’s home page as well.

 So that was nice to hear. What blew me away was a brief video that the president insisted on showing to the committee members. It’s title is MSU: Impacts Across Michigan. Sounds pretty straightforward, I know. The shock for me was the lead story – it was a testimonial from Gordon Berkenpas, CEO of Greendorr Greenhouses, Inc. of Dorr, Michigan, who told of the importance of MSU research and Extension for his business’ success. This was the president’s show, and what she chose to feature was our work. Tom Dudek, senior Extension educator, is shown in the video, and Tom was contacted by the president’s office to arrange for a stakeholder who could tell the story of our impacts in a compelling way. Tom, you succeeded! View the video: 
 What added frosting to the cake was to see that the second impact story featured Dr. Carl Taylor, professor of sociology and a resource for our youth development programs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that MSUE would be tied to stories of impacts from MSU. It’s just nice to have the recognition, and I wanted each of you to know about this as well. Tom Dudek’s work with Greendorr Greenhouses and Dr. Taylor’s work with youth are representative of all that we do to help people improve their lives across Michigan. It’s a proud day to be a member of Team MSU.

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Extension educators and specialists receive awards at NACAA conference

Two weeks ago in an Aug. 11 Spotlight article, I told you about the tremendous involvement of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues in the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) and their Annual Meeting and Professional Conference. I promised you that I would describe the awards that were presented to these MSU Extension professionals at the conference Aug. 7–11 in Overland, Kan., and although it’s a week later than planned, I’m making good on that promise.

 Two Extension educators in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute earned the NACAA Distinguished Service Award for educators with more than ten years of service: Robert Bricault, Extension educator in Washtenaw County, and Warren Schauer, Extension educator in the Upper Peninsula.

 During 19 years in Extension, Robert Bricault served as an educator in consumer and commercial horticulture, and natural resources in southeastern Michigan. Bob worked to reduce phosphorus impacts on local rivers through a soil-testing initiative and helped develop an educational resource notebook on the emerald ash borer for each county in Michigan. He provides specialized training in diagnosing landscape problems.

 As business management educator, Warren Schauer served most of his 32-year Extension career delivering farm financial management and agricultural educational programs to clientele in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Michigan. Significant programming includes farm financial analysis, business planning, estate planning, livestock marketing and wind energy programs. Warren has also been involved in the Agriculture for Tomorrow Conference, Annie’s Project, U.P. Youth Market Livestock recordkeeping project, Bay de Noc Gardening Conference, Master Gardener, and farm financial management seminars in the Ukraine, Africa and the eastern Caribbean.

 Tom Guthrie, Extension educator in Jackson County, received the NACAA Achievement Award given to educators with less than ten years of service. As a member of the MSU Extension Pork Area of Expertise team, Tom is responsible for developing statewide accessibility to swine management educational programming, which also includes environmental issues. Tom’s major educational programming initiatives include swine production management, utilization of Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) in swine rations, environmental sustainability of pork operations and pork industry assurance programs. Tom also works with youth pork producers across the state.

 National finalists for “Search for Excellence in Crop Production” for “Sustainable Hops Production in the Great Lakes Region” were Robert Sirrine, Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute; Erin Lizotte, agriculture and agribusiness Extension educator at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station (NWMHRS); and Nikki Rothwell, district horticulturalist and NWMHRS coordinator. Through the program, the group of educators strives toward the goal of providing potential hops growers with an accurate assessment of the costs, challenges and opportunities for small-scale hops production in the Great Lakes Region by providing science-based growing and marketing information. The program has made significant progress toward this goal through grant-funded on-farm research, brewer surveys, educational programming, field days, and marketing and outreach. A significant investment in program evaluations has served to ensure that programming efforts remain relevant and timely. Results demonstrate increased knowledge in hops production and processing, and confidence in growing and marketing hops. Small-scale hops production has and will continue to provide economic development opportunities in Michigan and the surrounding Great Lakes Region. 

 Robert Sirrine; Cheryl Peters, Extension specialist; Nikki Rothwell; Erin Lizotte; Stan Moore, Extension educator; and Duke Elsner, Extension educator; were state winners for “Search for Excellence in Young, Beginner, or Small Farmers/Ranchers” for “Northwest Michigan New FARM Program.” It’s becoming harder for young people to enter and stay in the farming profession due to lack of farm transfers, the decline of traditional processing markets, residential development, increasing land costs and other financial difficulties. The Northwest Michigan New FARM (Farmer Assistance and Resource Management) Program is designed to assist beginning farmers, increase economic viability, maintain and enhance environmental stewardship and conserve northwestern Michigan’s rural character. Forty beginning farmers from northwestern Michigan’s five-county area were selected to participate in this comprehensive two-year program. A series of eleven workshops and four educational trips will educate these young farmers with the ultimate goal of a future of viable and sustainable agriculture in northwestern Michigan.

 Tom Dudek, senior Extension educator, and Charles Gould, Extension educator, were poster presentations finalists for “Determining Nutrient Removal Rates for Selected Herbaceous Perennial Crops.” Data generated from the study presented will be used by growers to comply with Michigan’s Right to Farm guidelines with respect to phosphorus applications to their farms.

 Duke Elsner and Mogens Nielsen, MSU adjunct curator, were poster presentations finalists for “Encouraging Citizen Science Activity to Obtain Data on Butterfly Distribution in Michigan.” Mogens’ book “Michigan Butterflies & Skippers” (E2675) was first published in 1999. Although he gathered information through many decades of personal study and examination of museum specimens, county distribution data appeared to be incomplete. Readers were asked to become “citizen scientists” and examine their personal collections in an effort to gain complete and accurate county distribution data. The data collected from this process was extensive enough to remove one species from the “special concern” list in the state.

 Many of our colleagues won communications awards.

 Phil Durst, Extension dairy educator, was state winner and regional finalist for an audio recording. Phil wrote the “Dairy Moosings” podcasts, which were reviewed by researchers. Phil and Stan Moore recorded, edited and produced the podcasts. You can find them on the MSU Dairy Team website at http://dairyteam.msu.edu/. The podcasts are published in Libsyn (http://dairymoosings.libsyn.com/webpage) in a library of Dairy Moosings podcasts and are available for RSS feeds. The podcasts, “Bovine Leukosis Virus: More Bark Than Bite?” and “High Production and Reproduction: Do the Two Mix?” present current dairy management research information in an interesting and adaptable format, accessible when and where producers want it.

 Robert Sirrine and Annette Kleinschmit, Leelanau County Extension administrative assistant, were state winners for a program promotional piece. Twenty promotional pieces were displayed at area Extension offices, grocery stores and other locales to promote the 2010 Hops Field Day and Tour. The event was also publicized on a weekly radio program and sent out via email and mail in a monthly agriculture newsletter. As a result of this promotion and marketing, 53 participants enrolled in the session.

 Duke Elsner was a state winner for a feature story that appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Field crop production is often overlooked in the Grand Traverse Bay region where most media coverage focuses on cherry and wine grape production. In the summer of 2010, it became clear that the region’s field corn crop was going to be at record-setting levels. Duke called attention to this agricultural achievement by preparing a feature article about the types of corn grown in the country, the numerous uses for corn and the significance of corn production in the local area.

 Extension educators Diane Brown-Rytlewski and Bruce Mackellar were state winners and national finalists for a team newsletter that is distributed to commercial fruit, vegetable and field crop growers in Berrien County and other parts of southwestern Michigan. Copies are printed and mailed to a list of more than 500 subscribers, and the publication is also available via email or at the Extension office. Created three to four times per year, the newsletter provides timely meeting notifications and other information pertinent to growers and others involved with commercial crop production.

 Dennis Pennington, Extension educator, was state winner and regional finalist for a bioenergy website, developed to address a key gap in delivering information to farmers and Extension educators. Existing MSU bioenergy websites focused on current research and grants but did not include general information about what bioenergy is, what the potential crops are, and how these crops can be processed into energy. This site conveys this general information as well as current results from applied research, national policy objectives, economics of production and links to external resources. The site is also used to share speaker presentations from various events. Visit the website at http://bioenergy.msu.edu/.

 Erin Lizotte, Nikki Rothwell and Extension educators Phil Tocco and Jane Herbert were state winners and regional finalists for a learning module. As farmers continue to struggle with GAPs (good agricultural practices) and new food safety standards, it has become necessary to train growers step by step about food safety. A Web series was launched designed to get growers one step closer to GAP certification. A compilation of fact sheets, video clips and a GAP Manual Template were bundled on a CD (the learning module), and a graphical user interface was developed to guide producers with a limited access to the Web.

 Phil Tocco was a state winner for a video recording, which is part of the Web series described above.

 Phil Tocco and Jane Herbert were state winners for a fact sheet. Food safety has become a significant issue among produce growers in Michigan. Of particular concern has been the lack of a uniform action threshold among auditing agencies concerning irrigation water quality. Working with water quality educators and specialists in Michigan, the food safety Extension group vetted two standards in use within the U.S. relating to irrigation water, then wrote a fact sheet to aid growers in adopting a standard. Drafted in August of 2010, the factsheet has been distributed online and in various grower meetings to at least 150 individuals.

 Congratulations to all of our winners! Our colleagues in NACAA do a great job of modeling creativity, innovation and teamwork.

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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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