Tag Archives: wendy powers

Extension educator is lead author in prestigious journal article

Dr. Wendy Powers, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, and I received an email from Douglas A. Landis, professor and interim chairperson in the Michigan State University Department of Entomology. The email called attention to MSU Extension educator Ben Werling as the lead author on a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The article, “Perennial Grasslands Enhance Biodiversity and Multiple Ecosystem Services in Bioenergy Landscapes,” related to postdoctorate work Ben led in Dr. Landis’ lab working on a Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) project. Ben and Dr. Landis led a large group of collaborators (the GLBRC Biodiversity Team) studying the impacts of bioenergy cropping systems on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This synthetic work combines information on plant, insect, microbe and bird biodiversity and the services that flow from their presence (biomass, pest suppression, pollination, GHG mitigation, and bird watching opportunities) in bioenergy crops. It’s hoped that this information further informs policy and the roll-out of the most sustainable systems.

Dr. Landis said, “Ben led a 1.5 yearlong effort to synthesize the data, conduct the analyses and write the paper. My guess is that he is too humble to have mentioned this, so I just wanted to let you know what a fine job he has done!”

Papers published in the PNAS are remarkable achievements, and require a recommendation by a National Academy of Sciences member to be accepted. That distinction is reserved for particularly significant findings. It is especially rare for a paper in PNAS to be authored by an Extension educator.

Others authors on the paper who receive support from MSU Extension include Rufus Isaacs and Julianna Wilson, both in the Department of Entomology, and Katherine Gross, director of the Kellogg Biological Station.

Congratulations to Ben and the rest of the team for this synthetic work and the recognition they have received!

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One-year-old performs beyond expectations

Our new Michigan State University Extension website is one year old today! With your help, the site has done extremely well. The latest statistics taken April 15 reveal we’ve had 1.8 million pageviews on the site!

The website’s beginnings go back to fall 2010 when Dr. Wendy Powers, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, challenged Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications to build on the success of the CAT (Crop Advisory Team) Alerts that entomology specialist Joy Landis and her team had produced so successfully.

Joy; Dennis Bond, web administrator for ANR Technology Services; and communications manager Beth Stuever made quick work of creating and launching News for Ag in March 2011. Faculty and staff members shared their practical knowledge in Internet articles. The site gave farmers and others in agriculture access to the latest information and research.

Dr. Powers said, “Our intent was to demonstrate how this would work and the impact if might have. Fortunately, the site now reflects the breadth of MSUE by including all of the institutes.”

Eventually, educators and specialists from all four institutes lent their expertise and the MSU Extension website was born on April 18, 2012 – one year ago today.

You may recall that during Fall Extension Conference in October 2012, we hit the million mark for pageviews. The number of people who are engaging on our pages grows steadily. This last week produced some new high numbers. Our current lows are as big as the past highs! When we began this process, we considered 2,500 pageviews in a week an outstanding result. The highest day ever in News for Ag was in March 2012 with slightly more than 2,200 visits. The portal averaged about 6,000 visits PER YEAR. Now, we get more than twice that almost every day. In fact, in the last 30 days, more than 100,600 people have visited the site. Collectively, they have viewed 220,695 pages. And about 29,000 people come back to our site EVERY DAY.

To compare ourselves to other Extension services, Iowa State in the last 30 days had 587,402 pageviews, while we had 210,616. In a year’s time, we have grown to have almost half as many as they have. Keep in mind, they have a more mature site that includes ALL their events and all their 4-H information. We also have three times as many pageviews during the last 30 days as Kansas State Extension, and two-thirds as many as the Ohio State University Extension and as North Dakota State University Extension Service – all sites that have been around longer and are considered more mature than our site.

Extension specialist Cindy Straus worked hard on gathering these statistics and putting them into a format we could understand. Thanks, Cindy!

And really, the website is only part of the story. Articles that appear on the site are often picked up by traditional and digital media, thereby extending the value of every article written and helping us reach more people with pertinent education.

We’re making some great progress, partly because we have great content. However, we need more content to attract people to our website. Extension educators, reach out to faculty – whether they are Extension specialists or not – and offer them the opportunity to get more visibility for the work they are doing through MSU Extension website articles.

The MSU Extension web team includes Dennis, Sean Corp, Michelle Lavra, Laura Probyn, Marian Reiter, Cindy Straus and Beth Stuever.

A team of posters regularly upload or “post” articles that educators and specialists submit (hence, the term “poster”).

Beth said, “The posters are our front lines in working with educators and specialists to ensure high-quality, timely information is added daily.”

These posters include Mindy Maxwell Pratt (poster team coordinator), Sean Corp, Sandra Ennes, Mallory Fournier (under the supervision of Joy) and Katie Gervasi.

Thanks to all of these staff members and to all of you who are writing the articles and lending your expertise to the site. You’re making our numbers go up! You’re bringing a lot of attention to our programs that we wouldn’t have been getting without the new website.

Watch this week’s webinar at https://connect.msu.edu/p14evbgs7ij (at 50:39) to find out more.

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Fall Extension Conference 2012 – Thanks!

Another Fall Extension Conference has come and gone, and I want to send my thanks out to all who helped make it a valuable and productive experience. I’m always overwhelmed by FEC as it approaches, worried not so much about how things will work – we have great colleagues who worry about that for us and their worry produces a well-run and cost-efficient conference – but more about how to make the most of this opportunity. In my comments on Monday and Tuesday, I tried to convey how grateful I am for the work this organization does and the people who work so hard to make it successful. I’m never satisfied that I’ve fully expressed how much this organization means to me and to Michigan. You are awesome, and I take great pleasure in each day that I get to work with you to help people improve their lives. You teach me a great deal. I hope you found the conference to be as nourishing (not only in food) as I did. And I thank you for being part of it.

The organizing team – Betsy Braid, Megghan Honke and Doug Brahee as co-chairs, and Julie Chapin, Dawn Contreras, Dave Ivan and Wendy Powers as steering committee members deserve many thanks and credit for making this as productive and meaningful as it was. I would also like to offer a special thanks to George Silva and Marilyn Thelen for helping develop the cross-institute session.

Watch your inbox for a survey to provide feedback on FEC 2012.

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Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute showcases program highlights in webinar

One of the core principles of our Michigan State University Extension redesign process has been the need to embrace technology as a tool in extending the reach of our programs and expanding the information we make available. Not surprisingly, other organizations we work with are trying to learn how to use technology as well and some have asked to learn from our experience. A good example is the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), which has asked for advice as they seek to use webinars and Web conferences to connect county commissioners across the state. One of the best ways to learn the use of technology is to use it, and this week some of our colleagues in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute provided a webinar on programs in the institute for the Agriculture and Tourism Subcommittee of MAC (chaired by retired Kalamazoo County Extension director Ann Nieuwenhuis).

 The webinar achieved much more than helping MAC members to learn how to participate in a webinar. It also provided a great overview of current projects and priorities within the institute. Wendy Powers, AABI director, served as the facilitator, and then Beth Stuever, Bruce MacKellar, Beth Franz, Jerry May, Marilyn Thelen, Brenda Reau, Nancy Thelen, Phil Tocco and Rebecca Finneran provided details on programs and resources in the institute. It’s a great overview of what our colleagues in AABI have accomplished and what they are working on. To view a recording of the two-hour presentation, go to http://breeze.msu.edu/p3c604jf1e9/. Beth Bishop prepared a separate recording on the Enviroweather program as an additional resource and it is available at http://breeze.msu.edu/p55e0jzhue2/. Thanks to all for putting together such a great illustration of what’s new at MSUE in agriculture.

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MSU Extension well represented at national equine event

Wendy Powers, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute director, and Tom Guthrie, Michigan State University Extension educator, were invited speakers at the national 2011 Equine Science Society Symposium in Murfreesboro, Tenn., May 31 to June 3. The two presented a session on environmental issues for the horse industry to 310 attendees. This was an honor as there were only a few invited speakers. Both Tom and Wendy presented Michigan as a leader in issues related to horses and the environment. Following the presentation, an equine faculty member requested that publications developed by MSU Extension be sent to Kentucky, which as you know, is a leader in the horse industry.

 Karen Waite, MSU Extension equine specialist, presented two papers at the symposium, one co-written by Taylor Fabus, visiting instructor in the Department of Animal Science. Christine Skelly, associate professor in the Department of Animal Science, also presented. The accepted publications were peer reviewed, and the associated papers were published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

 Click here to view the line-up of presentations and posters.

 

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New online tool helps push MSU Extension to get information to farmers, stakeholders

Earlier this week, creators of MSU Extension News for Agriculture celebrated a “soft launch” to members of the Ag and Agribusiness Institute (AABI). The March 7, 2011, announcement that this new website is now live was one giant step toward ensuring that Michigan State University Extension remains relevant and visible in the 21st century.

The site gives farmers and others interested in agriculture access to the newest information and research from MSUE in one convenient, online location. It helps break down those county and regional borders we’ve talked so much about, and allows our faculty and staff members to spread their expertise throughout the state.

Wendy Powers, AABI director, said it best. “Even though we may have a livestock specialist in central Michigan, someone in northern Michigan might need their expertise,” she said. “By having educators contribute articles and share their knowledge on the Internet, MSU Extension can make sure that all farmers in the state have access, immediately, to information that is of vital importance to the success of their operations.”

It took many hands to pull this off – especially because it went from concept to launch in only five months. Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications joined forces with Integrated Pest Management folks with CATAlert expertise to perfect the concept and then worked with ANR Technology Services to create the site. Most importantly, a task force of 25 educators, specialists and faculty members weighed in on the process to ensure it meets clients’ needs. And let’s not forget the more than 160 AABI members, faculty and educators who will contribute to the site every month.

The next step is to finish a mobile version of the site (set to be available by April 15) and then create a comprehensive database so information can be pushed out via e-mail and, eventually, text message. For that, I owe a debt of thanks to the ANRTS team, led by Erica Ciupak. They continue to lead the way in helping us to adopt new technologies and use them to deliver to a broader audience with the latest information and expertise.

It’s an exciting process that moves us forward in how we communicate timely information with our key audiences. I encourage you to visit the site and send any suggestions for improvement to Beth Stuever. The team will continue to tweak the site over time. It plans to announce it statewide once the search box begins working (something that we rely on Google “spiders” to get rolling) and the mobile site is near completion. Thanks to Joy Landis, from the IPM team, Dennis Bond in ANRTS, Wendy, Beth and the entire AABI, ANR Communications Team and IPM team for helping to transform us and the way we serve our stakeholders!

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Institute Day will be key feature of FEC10

October 20 will be a key day for all Michigan State University Extension personnel. You’ll spend the day working with others assigned to your institute and learn even more about your new workgroups. Julie Chapin, Dawn Contreras, Rick Foster and Wendy Powers are developing plans to ensure that this is a valuable day packed with useful information.

Also, I recommend that you consider preparing for FEC10 by engaging through social media (for example, discussion boards on the FEC10 Facebook fan page) and taking advantage of professional development opportunities available in advance of the conference. You can see a list of suggested trainings and activities at the end of my official FEC10 welcome letter.

 You only have a few more days to register for FEC10. Sign up now!

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference