2017-09-10 / Insight

Michigan State Extension offers far-ranging assistance

810-452-2640 •

In Lapeer County, the MSU Extension office is located at 1800 Imlay City Road in Lapeer Township — and shares space in the Lapeer County Health Dept. building. 
Photo by Jeff Hogan In Lapeer County, the MSU Extension office is located at 1800 Imlay City Road in Lapeer Township — and shares space in the Lapeer County Health Dept. building. Photo by Jeff Hogan LAPEER TWP. — Ask many people what does the Michigan State University Extension Office do and you might get a puzzled look. Some might suggest the MSU Extension coordinates 4-H programs that you see at the Eastern Michigan State Fair each summer — but beyond that local officials with the organization believe their purpose and mission in the community may not be clear. And that’s a lost opportunity for thousands of area residents and business people.

Today’s INSIGHT takes a deeper dive into the local MSU Extension Office to shine light on the people and programs within our community.

The following information was included in the Lapeer County MSU Extension 2015- 2016 annual report, the most recent data available, and demonstrates the wide spectrum of services and expertise available at the local MSU Extension office in Lapeer Township.

In 2016, the Lapeer County funding appropriation to MSU Extension in the county was $221,817, while the MSU contribution was $454,129.

The local MSU Extension office at 1800 Imlay City Road in Lapeer Township is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.) The office may be reached by calling 810-667-0341,or by email to: msue.lapeer@county. msu.edu

Staff located in the Lapeer County office

• Phil Kaatz — Extension Educator/Forages/Field Crops; kaatz@msu.edu

• Christine Venema — Extension Educator/Food Safety; venema@msu.edu

• Turina Zimmer — Extension Educator/ Supervisor; tzimmer@msu.edu

• Kathy George — Program Coordinator/ 4-H Youth Development; george92@msu.edu

• Jean Kreiner — 4-H Program Aide; kreiner@msu.edu

• Sarah Graver — 4-H Fundraising Coordinator; graversa@msu.edu

• Brenda Patrick — Office Manager/4-H Secretary; patrick76@msu.edu

• Tina House — MSUE Secretary; houset@msu.edu

• Developing Youth and Communities

When area residents support MSU Extension 4-H programs, youth participants learn life skills that prepare them for the workforce — especially for highly sought after jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They learn leadership and decision making skills in 4-H that increase their likelihood of becoming civically active. 4-H’ers also demonstrate reduced high-risk behaviors such as drug use and learn to complete tasks, solve problems and seek any help they might need from peers and adults. 4-H involvement also helps participants avoid or reduce involvement with the court system. This helps ensure more young people succeed in school, attend college or other post-secondary opportunities and contribute to their communities.

4-H programming offers opportunities for young people to explore interests and develop critical life skills needed in the world today. In addition to the traditional long term clubs 4-H is most noted for, youth are also offered a wide variety of one day clinics and workshops throughout the year ranging from soap/wood carving, fitting and showmanship clinics in various animal project areas, to workshops to strengthen club meetings or individual achievement goals, such as Parliamentary Procedures Workshops and Michigan 4-H State Award Application Workshops.

• Growth in Non-Livestock Project Areas

In 2016, the Dog Project area has seen a 75 percent increase in youth enrollment from 29 to 51 4-H members. As a recipient of a Monsanto Grant, the Dog Leaders Committee used the funds, along with other funds raised, to purchase a new trailer and dog agility equipment. These items are being shared among all Lapeer County 4-H dog clubs as well as to hold local competitions, including the Eastern Michigan State Fair.

Shooting Sports has also seen a drastic rise in youth participation, with only approximately 5 members in 2013 to currently 44 in the county, a 780-percent increase. In 2016, youth were also offered a new 4-H approved discipline of Pistol Shooting. A trained volunteer in this discipline held additional sessions outside of regular club meetings for youth to target practice and learn the discipline in depth. Plans include additional trained volunteers for next year to support the growth of this project. Indoor projects, such as crafts, veterinary science and wood working, continue to be a favorite area whether it’s a 4-H’ers main project focus or a supplemental project for youth in an animal project.

One venue for youth to get feedback on indoor projects is at the annual Spring Achievement/Style Revue Event held every spring. Youth utilize this as a goal date to prepare indoor projects and are offered one-onone judging with qualified adults, in an effort to improve their projects before fair.

• Local 4-H Councils and committees

Lapeer County 4-H has 15 active committees, dedicated to planning and executing experiential education that develop critical life skills, including leadership, teamwork, problem solving, citizenship and many more: 4-H Council, Sheep Committee, Dog Committee, Horse Leaders Committee, Beef Leaders Committee, Swine Committee, Livestock Committee, Auction Committee, Poultry Committee, Rabbit Committee, Goat Committee, PEP Committee, 4-H Camp Committee, Teen Horse Committee and Indoor Committee. Celebrity Autographed Items Auction, in its 30th year, had another successful year in 2016. These auctions, held every spring, raise nearly all of the funds for local county programming. The event is widely known and supported by both donors and bidders alike. Funds raised are then managed by the 4-H Council with an approximate annual budget of $40,000. Their focus is to provide opportunities for excellent programming that will educate and grow our youth into productive and well-rounded citizens with a love for life-long learning.

• Ensuring safe and secure food

The MSU Extension offers program to enhance residents’ access to an adequate supply of safe, affordable food, program participants will focus on food safety measures in the field and at harvest, learn proper food preparation and food preservation techniques, and bring community partners together to strengthen access to healthy food supplies. This leads to a healthy population, which in turn helps keep health care costs in check and our communities viable. Teaching residents about food safety from the farm to the kitchen table, food safety is an important issue.

The Cottage Food Law took effect in July 2010, allowing home-processed foods to be sold to the public, emphasizing the need for food safety education. MSU Extension Cottage Food Law workshops supply local residents with up-to-date, scientifically backed information on food safety. In 2013, nearly 4,000 Michigan residents learned about preserving food and preparing safe food for public consumption.

Food consumers can have increased confidence when buying food products sold by someone with an MSU Extension food safety certificate related to producing cottage foods. There is a discussion of safe handling of food to prevent foodborne illness, personal hygiene, hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing, and production and storage.

• ServSafe® for food service managers

Lapeer County MSU Extension offers ServSafe, a national certification program for those individuals working in the food service industry.

ServSafe teaches about foodborne illness, how to prevent it and how to train employees on the latest food safety issues. Lapeer County MSUE provides the participants with education to successfully pass the Managers’ Certification Exam.

• Senior Project Fresh

Two hundred and forty one adults over the age of 60 years participated in Senior Project FRESH.

The enrollment sessions were held at Imlay City Senior Center, Lapeer County Community Health Dept., Riverview Towers, and Silver Maples Senior Apartments. As a part of the enrollment process an educational session was held. It covered the topics of hand washing, washing fresh produce, freezing produce, the MY plate eating pattern for better health, and how to use the Senior Project FRESH coupons. To follow up with the Senior Project FRESH Coupon program, 235 households received postcards as a part of an evaluation.


MSU Extension partners with Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), a free nutrition education program to reduce hunger and food insecurity and promote healthy eating habits.

MSU Extension SNAPE nutrition instructors teach youth, teens, adults and seniors how to make health a priority through an instructional series. With community partners as host sites, information in a series of six classes or in single presentations to more than 116 adults throughout Lapeer County was taught to adults on how to choose, prepare, and store healthful, safe foods that are also affordable and delicious.

• Supporting food and agriculture

Lapeer County and Michigan agriculture continues to be a growing segment of the state’s economy, and the production of commercial food and nonfood agricultural operations is growing rapidly. MSU Extension staff are available to help participants learn profitable and efficient business and production practices.

Participants also learn how to optimize and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and how to conserve and protect water resources. This education leads to better use of time, money and human capital, and helps retain and create agricultural jobs. These measures strengthen Michigan’s economy while connecting farmers to local food opportunities and global markets.

• Clean Sweep

Household Hazardous Waste Collections During 2016, MSU Extension provided leadership in conducting two hazardous waste collections in Lapeer County. The collections provide residents and farmers a way to dispose of unwanted pesticides and hazardous materials and keep them out of our landfills and help prevent the possibility of groundwater contamination.

The collections are a unique example of collaboration between MSU Extension, the Lapeer County Commission, Lapeer County municipalities and townships, and the State of Michigan’s Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). The Lapeer County Commission provides $10,000 in matching funds with money from all the Lapeer County townships and municipalities for a total of $20,000.

The State of Michigan MDARD reimburses Lapeer County for all pesticides collected and the hazardous materials collected. In total, 22,227 pounds of hazardous materials were collected in 2016, which included 6,356 pounds of pesticides.

• Keeping business strong

MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center help Lapeer County entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer-responsive products and businesses in the food, agriculture, natural resources and bio-economy sectors.

MSU Extension help participants understand the economic, environmental and social benefits of purchasing local and regional foods. The Extension also helps young people develop business skills that will help them succeed as adults and help communities capitalize on their ecological, social and cultural assets. This fuels the economy by creating and retaining jobs, and helps ensure a healthy tax base. Strengthening local governments and entrepreneurial communities through 4-H As the backbone of the economy, small business owners play a critical role in the prosperity of the nation.

MSU Extension is helping to meet this need by providing youth and the adults that support them with the skills and resources necessary to turn ideas into business ventures. Through simulations and workshops, youth learn how to develop business plans and operate their own companies, as well as how to be more entrepreneurial in their everyday 4-H experiences.

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