Staff members of the Wexford County Michigan State University Extension Office have donated many hours over the past two weeks to design and create a 4-H snow sculpture to enter into the North American Snow Festival Snow Sculpture Contest. Leading the team was Tracy Trautner, 4-H program coordinator in Wexford County, who thought that entering the sculpture into the competition would be a great way to participate in the community, as well as increase awareness of local MSU Extension services. The sculpture took second place out of four entries.
“I think the main goal of this project was initially to build a snow sculpture for our first time. As it evolved, it turned out to be much more than that – it is located right outside of one of our larger school buildings, so it gets quite a bit of visibility on a daily basis,” Tracy said, “More than that, the snow festival will bring thousands of people to town and increase visibility for 4-H. In the end, it was a great team-building experience for our office, and I’m impressed with how everyone jumped in and donated a lot of time and effort to make our snow sculpture a success.”
The process took some time and required the dedication of the entire office as well as members of their families, but the team was dedicated to completing their project. In addition to Tracy, staff members who participated included Jill O’Donnell, Shari Spoelman, Erin Lizotte, JoAnne Benthem, Sara Keinath and Carol Blake as well as 4-H leader Dan Valley and family members.
The North American Snow Festival takes place during the first weekend of February every year in Cadillac, Michigan. In fact, it has been held in the Cadillac area for more than 30 years. This is a great way for the Wexford County staff to collaborate with the larger community, to participate and to give back. Congratulations to all of them for a job well done!
Sara Keinath, Michigan State University Extension educator in Wexford County, was the keynote speaker at Cooley High’s graduation. Cooley is Cadillac’s alternative high school and a place where Sara has taught “Going Solo” youth entrepreneur training for two years in partnership with the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce.
Given the chance to choose the person to speak at their graduation, the students chose Sara. In addition to teaching the youth important life skills, she developed a meaningful and special relationship with them. Honored to accept the invitation, she provided graduates with a short but motivational message on the importance of setting goals for themselves.
Kids in Wexford County are becoming wise about nutrition and having fun at the same time with the help of Michigan State University Extension and the OrganWise Guys.
Deb Dyer, MSUE Wexford County Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) program assistant was surprised to see an Internet posting from a Cadillac kindergarten teacher, Kelly Baas, who thought so much of the OrganWise Guys curriculum being taught in her class that she posted a lengthy testimonial, including some letters from her students. You can find it on the OrganWise Guys website here.
The OrganWise Guys is an interactive, science-based curriculum that uses fun characters based on the organs of the body to teach children about nutrition and physical activity.
The SNAP-Ed program provides nutrition education to persons who qualify for food assistance. These are generally people living in low-income situations who are eligible for the SNAP (what used to be called food stamps) or Bridge Cards (in Michigan). Schools with 50 percent or greater students receiving free or reduced lunches also qualify.
MSUE campaigned with local schools to offer to come into the classroom and provide the nutrition education that they would need to meet curriculum standards. The SNAP-Ed personnel teach the curriculum but also train the teachers to implement this comprehensive nutrition program.
According to Shari Spoelman, District 6 coordinator, referring to the posting by Kelly Baas, “This is great feedback following our first year of teaching OrganWise Guys in all qualifying classrooms in kindergarten through 2nd grade in Cadillac Area Public Schools. That’s 25 classrooms, each visited for 11 to 12 lessons.”
MSUE staff members in counties throughout the state teach Organ WiseGuys. I mentioned Isabella County’s program in a previous blog. If you’d like to tell us more about how OrganWise Guys is being implemented in your area, please leave a comment on this blog.