Tag Archives: upper peninsula

UP food summits put spotlight on local food movement

The local food movement is a force moving across the country. Here in our own state, Michigan State University Extension has been a big part of that movement.

Three local food summits recently took place in each region of the Upper Peninsula. “Together at the Table: Recipes for a Sustainable Local Food System” took place Nov. 5 in Houghton (western), Nov. 6 in Marquette (central) and Nov. 7 in Sault Ste. Marie (eastern). This was the third summit for the eastern U.P. and the first in central and western U.P.

The U.P. Food Exchange put on the summits. The exchange, a collaborative partnership between MSU Extension and the Marquette Food Co-op, connects local food activity within each of the U.P.’s three regions and coordinates local food efforts between the regions. It was created in November 2012 with funds from a Regional Food Systems Grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

MSU Extension educator Michelle Walk co-leads the U.P. Food Exchange initiative with Natasha Lantz of the Marquette Food Co-op.

Each of the three U.P. regions has its own steering committee to coordinate activities specific to each region, and each committee had input into the overall format of the summits. Committee members identified local speakers for the panel portions and local topics for the table discussions.

Keynote speaker at all three summits was Ken Meter, president of Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis and food system analyst.

“The summits are a culmination of some of the work we are doing across the U.P. in local foods,” said Michelle. “We were able to work with Ken Meter on the economic impact study under the Regional Food Systems Grant we received from MDARD last fall.”

The summits included 75 participants in Houghton, 135 in Marquette and 71 in Sault Ste. Marie.

“All three summits had participation from farmers, schools, health departments, chambers, restaurants, agencies (such as conservation districts and the USDA), elected officials of local, state and federal offices, interested consumers, retail outlets, tribes and many more stakeholders,” said Michelle, who presented at the summits.

The summits promoted ways to expand the local food market – through selling at farmers markets, expanding the customer base to include local institutions such as schools and hospitals, and extending the growing season with hoop houses. Strengthening the local food system strengthens the local economy.

The media took notice of the summits’ importance. Local news covered all three events.

Watch this video from ABC10 about the Houghton summit: http://abc10U.P..com/u-p-food-exchange-meetings-week/

 Watch this video from Fox TV6 about the Marquette summit:

http://www.uppermichiganssource.com/news/story.aspx?id=968231#.UpyGU7Uo7KI (Search for “food summit.” Then choose “Supporting Local Foods.”)

Watch this video from 9&10 News about the Sault Ste. Marie summit: http://www.9and10news.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9503989

Below is just one of the many local news articles that covered the events:

Sault Ste. Marie location in the Soo Evening News: http://www.sooeveningnews.com/article/20131108/NEWS/131109418/0/SEARCH

Thanks for your leadership, Michelle!

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GMI educator receives NACDEP service award

Michelle Walk, Michigan State University Extension Greening Michigan Institute educator, received the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) State Distinguished Extension Community Development Service Award at the NACDEP Conference in Park City, Utah, May 21.

 In her role, Michelle focuses primarily on business development related to tourism and community food systems. She also serves as an innovation counselor with the MSU Product Center Food–Ag–Bio and as an affiliate with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.

 Michelle works with organizations and communities across the Upper Peninsula and regularly partners with educators in other program areas, particularly agriculture and health and nutrition. Michelle has developed strong partnerships with key stakeholders in the region as well as with statewide associations and state agencies.

 Michelle provides leadership and coordination for the Eastern Upper Peninsula Food Hub project, which develops and implements strategies to support the viability and sustainability of eastern U.P. agriculture and food production. Through the project, she has partnered with the Marquette Food Co-op to conduct an Upper Peninsula Agriculture Assessment and develop plans for improving access to processing, aggregation and distribution across the U.P.

 In 2007, Michelle provided leadership to the development of the plan for the North Huron Scenic Pathway, a non-motorized pathway that will be nearly 80 miles in length once complete.

 Michelle served as part of a team that in 2009 published an economic opportunity study for the U.P. and Wisconsin border counties. She continues to be active on the tourism strategy group and assists in the planning of a U.P. Tourism Summit. She’s also part of a team of MSU faculty and Extension staff that will work with the Michigan Travel Commission to update their strategic plan.

 Michelle serves on numerous boards and commissions. She has received many awards including in 2011, the Community and Natural Resource Development Association’s (CNRDA’s) Raymond D. Vlasin Award that pays the highest tribute to Extension professionals who have consistently exhibited continuing leadership and excellence in Extension program planning, delivery and evaluation.

 Congratulations, Michelle!

Michelle Walk, MSU Extension educator, receives NACDEP State Distinguished Extension Community Development Service Award

Michelle Walk, MSU Extension educator, receives National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) State Distinguished Extension Community Development Service Award at the NACDEP Conference in Park City, Utah, May 21, 2012.

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Extension staff educate at UP agriculture conference

Michigan State University Extension staff members are gearing up for the Agriculture for Tomorrow Conference March 6 at Bay College in Escanaba. Extension educators, specialists and faculty as well as industry specialists will present a wide variety of sessions focusing on Upper Peninsula producers, growers or anyone interested in agriculture. Preserving food, making high quality corn silage, planning a business, growing corn for grain and grazing idle acres are among the sessions offered. Attendees can also choose sessions that cover cattle lameness, noxious and invasive weeds, northern vines, agricultural tourism, Michigan’s Cottage Food Law and much more. Many of the sessions are approved for Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Phase 1 credit.

 Gary Sipiorski, from Vita Plus Corp. of Wisconsin and former agriculture loan officer and member of the advisory committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will serve as keynote speaker. He’ll address the growing revenues with large and small farms and the importance of profitability.

 To find out more and to obtain a registration form, visit the MSU Extension Ontonagon County website.

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Michigan Sea Grant Extension testifies at Senate committee

Michigan Sea Grant Extension (MSGE), represented by Chuck Pistis, Sea Grant Extension program coordinator, and Ron Kinnunen, Sea Grant senior district Extension educator in the Upper Peninsula, was invited to provide testimony at the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee, chaired by Sen. Goeff Hansen.

 The committee convened to better understand what can be done to enhance education and outreach opportunities to Michigan residents and tourists on the dangers of rip and channel currents in Michigan’s Great Lakes. In 2010, rip currents claimed 29 lives in the Great Lakes with many of those occurring in Lake Michigan.

 Ron and Chuck provided testimony, and they also leveraged the partnership we have with the University of Michigan through Michigan Sea Grant to engage other experts. They included Guy Meadows and Heidi Purcell from the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering faculty at Michigan and Bob Dukesherer from the National Weather Service. Ron and Chuck’s presentation featured the work their team has performed to educate municipalities, agencies, residents and tourists across Michigan coastal counties on rip current awareness and beach-goer safety. They also discussed what actions are needed to enhance education and outreach on this important topic.

 In April, Michigan Sea Grant hosted the Michigan Water Safety Conference, which generated a statewide committee to address the matter of reducing rip current casualties more thoroughly. Members of the Michigan Sea Grant Extension team are now exploring possibilities of rip current warnings accessed through mobile technology and mobile devices.

 Sen. John Proos is seeking to introduce legislation on developing some statewide consistency on how communities communicate beach hazards via a flag system. The statewide committee formed in April at the conference will be utilized to obtain input.

 At the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Meeting held June 19–22 in Sheboygan, Wis., Ron Kinnunen, along with colleagues from Minnesota Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant, received the 2011 Dairyland Surf Classic Award for outstanding work in rip current safety in the Great Lakes.

 For more information on rip current safety, please visit http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/rip/.

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UP is open for business

I honestly don’t know where the tradition of sending a notice out to everyone in Michigan State University Extension when a county office is closed for weather conditions originated. And I’ve never really thought about it until I received a boatload of notices on Wednesday, a day when MSU cancelled classes, asked campus-based staff and faculty to stay at home, and kept all buildings on campus locked. The messages I enjoyed the most were the ones that quietly informed us that the offices in the Upper Peninsula (for the most part) were open for business on a day when everything else was closed. Certainly, the impact of the storm wasn’t as great in the UP as it was south of the Mackinac Straits, but still, there’s something reassuring about the ease with which our colleagues in the UP deal with weather challenges that leave the rest of us in a tizzy. If this becomes a persistent weather pattern in the years ahead, we may need some professional development sessions led by UP staff to help the rest of us understand how they keep things operating under cold and really snowy conditions.

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STAY effort focuses on empowering tribal youth

Michigan State University Extension is honored to be part of a seven-county effort in the eastern and central Upper Peninsula in partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The effort called STAY, which stands for Sault Tribe Alive Youth, is focused on bullying, substance abuse and suicide prevention among tribal youth and is funded through a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). MSUE staff members Janet Olsen, Karen Pace and Dionardo Pizaña were invited to share their expertise after several tribal members attended the “Mean Girls and Real Boys” bullying workshop in the Sault last spring and were impressed by MSUE’s approach to anti-bullying education and prevention.

 A major goal of the STAY effort is to build community capacity among tribal members to address these issues. Dionardo, Janet and Karen, along with emotional wellness counselor, Lisa Davidson, worked closely with elders, youth and members of the Seven Feathers Partnership to co-create a seven-day train-the-trainer process for 34 youth and adults called “Building Circles of Support: Partnerships for Personal Healing, Cultural Pride and Positive Change.” Participants gathered for four days and three nights in Sault Ste. Marie in August and three days and two nights in October on Sugar Island.

 The process was grounded in cultural empowerment – honoring and tapping the assets and strengths of the tribe – while participants explored ways to nurture their own and others’ social and emotional health. STAY participants engaged in talking circles, education and activities focused on tapping their own innate wisdom and health, addressing bullying and suicide and making connections to issues of race and other differences, identity development, bias and oppression. Elders and tribal leaders shared cultural teachings connected to the focus of the training, which added significant value to the experience throughout.

 Results of outcome data show positive learning and action changes on 28 measures including understanding how stress and state of mind contribute to the participants’ own and others’ emotional health – and the importance of addressing bullying and bias at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels. One hundred percent of participants surveyed said the process was very valuable (73 percent) or quite valuable (27 percent).

 One participant said, “I feel empowered to make a difference” and another commented that “I feel that I am now able to cause positive change in my community and beyond.”

 And STAY participants are doing just that – moving forward and integrating what they’ve learned in their work with native and non-native youth. For example, Joyce Belonga, MSU Extension educator Mackinac County, and Sue St. Onge, Sault Tribe, youth services coordinator, are working regularly in St. Ignace schools to address bullying issues.

 Last week, Joyce shared the following: “Sue and I had a review meeting yesterday with the classroom teachers and administrators regarding our work and they had rave reviews for our program! They have noticed behavioral changes in their students and the principal commented that our teaching has made his job easier due to students’ understanding the negative effects of their behavior.”

 STAY participants are now working together to share what they’ve learned in a major way. They are planning two community-wide events in April – one in Marquette and one in the Sault – at which youth and adults from the eastern and central U.P. will engage in learning and activities focused on bullying, substance abuse and suicide prevention planned and led by the STAY group. All of the STAY participants received a comprehensive curriculum developed by MSUE to use as a tool for addressing these issues within their home communities.

 As Karen, Joyce and Janet move ahead with their work with the Social and Emotional Health Work Team (part of the MSUE Health and Nutrition Institute), they’re excited about ways in which the STAY project partnership and process will inform their team’s work around healthy youth relationships and settings.

 “We’ve been so pleased about the development of the ‘Building Circles of Support’ training and curriculum and the critical importance of seeking input, guidance and wisdom from STAY participants throughout this process,” said Janet Olsen. “We’re very interested in how we can apply this process of working within a rich community context and partnership to co-create other learning experiences and materials connected to the well-being of Michigan’s children, youth and families.”


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