Michigan State University Extension 2014-2015 annual report for Charlevoix County

msu extension annual report 2014-2015BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, NEWS EDITOR

Just what does the Michigan State University Extension office do?

The scope of their work may surprise you, as they have programs that deal with everything from nutritional and health education to business, agriculture and planning, youth sports and science, career readiness efforts and much more.

Michigan State University Extension office officials from Northern Michigan recently presented their 2014-2015 annual report to the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners.

Lisa Anderson—District 14 Coordinator of the Michigan State University Extension office, which oversees the northwestern Michigan region of Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Montmorency, Otsego and Presque Isle Counties—said the report is divided into the following four categories:

• Developing Youth and Communities

• Health and Nutrition Institute

• Agriculture and Ag Bio Resource Institute

• Fostering strong communities and businesses

[The full text of the report and a document available for download are included at the bottom of this story]

4-H highlights

4-H Coordinator Leah LaVanway discussed the youth programs, which the MSU Extension touts as offering life skills to help children prepare for the workforce by learning skills in the categories of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as “STEM.”

Early literacy skills programs are also available to help students be ready for school.

“Probably 75 percent of the youth that participate in 4-H for Charlevoix County fall in our sports and fitness programs,” LaVanway said at the Wednesday Nov. 11 Charlevoix County Board meeting. “The other 25 percent fall in our animal science—your traditional 4-H Clubs that you think of—the kids that do their year-round animal projects that have the culminating activity at the end of attending the fair.”

There are over 1,300 children—or 33 percent of the youth population—in Charlevoix County who participate in one or more of the 4-H programs.

Each year, a fall awards banquet is held for the 4-H science program participants.

There is also an annual field trip called “Exploration Days” to places like the Agro-Culture Fertilizer facility in St. Johns.

Students aged 11 to 19 visit Michigan State University for a four-day event to learn about life on campus as well as traveling to the fertilizer company and engaging in workshops on dog-sledding, healthy eating, taxidermy, geocaching, line dancing and more.

Youth participants in the 4-H program also learn the value of community service.

“We always help a nonprofit organization. We learn about that nonprofit organization—how they give to the community—and then we do a community service… Like this past year, we helped clean up Raven Hill so they could get ready for their open house,” LaVanway said.

Between 200 and 300 of the participants attend the Emmet-Charlevoix County Fair to show off their animal and science projects.

Another unique program allows students to learn about Chinese culture, create works of art of their own, and then send some of the artwork along with biographies of local students to China.

Other programs include 4-H tennis, which has nearly 60 players, soccer programs in Boyne City and East Jordan, and there are also swimming sessions, sailing, nutrition classes and more.

About Local Nutrition

Anderson then discussed the MSU Extension’s Nutrition Institute, which oversees SNAP education.

SNAP stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”

“That program is statewide and we have someone in every county doing that nutrition program,” said Anderson. “It’s federally funded with federal funds that come into the county.”
Over the past year, in Charlevoix County, 486 adults and 448 youth were reached through nutrition education classes.

‘That’s quite impressive,” said Anderson, who added that there is a partner program which helps those on the Women Infant & Children or WIC program, which helps needy families, to get fresh produce.

The nutrition program includes information on the importance of physical activity, healthy weight maintenance, and how to get the most out of food dollars.

Programs to support food and agriculture are also available to, as it states in the report, “help farmers 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.”

Enhancing and Protecting Natural Resources

Dean Solomon, Senior Extension Educator of the MSU Extension Office, then discussed ongoing efforts in Charlevoix County.

He touched on a three-year project aimed at educating people on issues regarding local shoreline matters.

A planner forum is also held to allow people in that field to better understand challenges of property owners, developers and their needs.

Solomon also mentioned the Boyne on the Water project, which is a cooperative project among two MSU groups and the Michigan Municipal League, who are working with Boyne City officials and residents on a vision for the future of Boyne’s waterfront parks.




Greetings from the new Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) District 14, which serves Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Montmorency, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties.

This administrative change in no way affects the type or quality of the educational programming

MSUE continues to bring to Charlevoix County residents.

We are proud to partner with the County and hope you enjoy reading about the successful and diverse educational events that MSUE sponsored this year.

MSUE brings the latest information from the Michigan State University campus directly to Michigan citizens and has done so for over 100 years.

We look forward to our continued service to Charlevoix County and the State.

Lisa Anderson

District 14 Coordinator

Michigan State University Extension


When you 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).

Extension programs help children develop early literacy skills that support school readiness. They learn leadership and decision-making skills in 4-H that increase their likelihood of becoming civically active.

4-H participants 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 and contribute to their communities.

More successful young people in communities results in greater tax revenues and consumer spending and increases the likelihood that young people will stay in, or return to, their communities.

The Charlevoix County 4-H Program currently has an enrollment of 1316 youth in 22 traditional 4-H clubs, 8 county committees and many after-school programs and activities.

These clubs and committees are supported by 241 adult and 85 youth volunteers. Health, food & nutrition, physical fitness, livestock, horse, crafts, visual arts, photography, animal and natural sciences, community service, citizenship, character education, shooting sports, financial literacy and outdoor education are just some of the current project areas that clubs offer.

4-H Fall Awards Banquet:

The 4-H awards banquet is the membership recognition component of the county 4-H program.

The event is held each October for all 4-H families. Yearly membership medals, project certificates, and project pins (for outstanding achievement or growth in a specific project area) are presented to youth by each of their club leader(s).

Leader and volunteer certificates and pins are awarded based on years of service to Charlevoix County 4-H as well. All 4-H leaders and volunteers are also presented with an appreciation gift as a thank you for all the hard work and dedication they give year round to Charlevoix County 4-H.

Then a potluck dinner with a pig roast is shared and enjoyed by all.

The highlight of the evening is the “Volunteer of the Year” award, which is presented to an adult volunteer who has been nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to the 4-H program during that year.

Earlier in the month “4-H member of the Year” is awarded in conjunction with Farm Bureau of Charlevoix County at their annual meeting.

4-H Exploration Days:

Exploration Days at MSU provides youth age 11-19 with the opportunity to experience life on a college campus.

The 4-day event held in June each year gives over 2,400 4-H members a chance to live in the dorms, experience a college setting, and be self -directing and responsible for getting themselves where they need to be.

This year, 30 youth and 4 adults attended from Charlevoix County, as part of a 56 member delegation from Emmet and Charlevoix counties.

Participants traveled by charter bus, visited the Agro-Culture educational facility and farm in St. Johns, MI, stayed on MSU campus and experienced dorm life, participated in classes and workshops, and other enrichment events.

Some of the classes that Charlevoix County youth took part in included: working with sled dogs, gobble heads, pickle-ball, healthy snacking, geocaching, taxidermy, line dancing, and how to survive a budget zombie apocalypse.

Take A Day On:

Charlevoix County 4-H youth participated in the 15th Annual community service learning project called TAKE A DAY ON!

This is an event where youth get to take a day off of school and take a day on for an organization in their local community.

The event this year was on Friday, May 1st at Raven Hill Discovery Center in East Jordan.

We had 27 youth and 6 adults in attendance this year. Raven Hill Discovery Center is the only place in northern Lower Michigan where science, history and art connect for children and adults through hands-on activities and explorations, both indoors and outdoors.

Connections emerge through classes, exhibits and facilities that provide opportunities for all ages to learn, create, grow and play.

Raven Hill Discovery Center is also a regional science and technology center, as well as a cultural, historical and art center.

The overall mission of the Center is to build life-long connections for children and adults that link science and technology, history and the arts by inviting visitors to have quality hands-on experiences in this special learning environment.

Students started the morning off learning all about the history of Raven Hill and the activities that are held at the Center along with meeting some of the fish, reptiles and other animals that live there.

Then the rest of the day was spent painting picnic tables, raking, cleaning out flower beds and clearing the trails of debris.

The youth also collected many donations of paper products (such as paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, & toilet paper) to donate to Raven Hill for science experiments.

Emmet-Charlevoix County Fair:

This year-end event is held in mid-August and is an opportunity for 4-H youth to showcase their projects.

The 4-H projects are exhibited in the Community Center where clubs set up their booths to display the member’s projects as well as their club’s community service activities.

Over 1,800 exhibits are on display in the Community Center and over 500 animal projects can be

found in the many livestock barns.

Members involved in animal projects are kept busy participating in the 10 horse shows, 15 livestock shows, 5 small animal shows, 2 dog agility classes, 2 exotic animal shows and the livestock auction.

In July and August, 4-H staff conduct five pre-fair orientations for 4-H families as they prepare for the fair.

Families learn about everything from registration and paperwork procedures, arrival at the fair, camping opportunities, show day schedules, rules and requirements, as well as all of the non-competitive opportunities available for the youth.

Non-competitive events are also offered for the Cloverbud members (age 5-8) and free-time events include scavenger hunts, and a 4-H dance sponsored by the fair board.

Over 30 teen leaders serve as mentors for the younger members as they serve on barn duty and offer showmanship clinics, and adult volunteers provide leadership as barn superintendents, show days clerks, announcers, award presenters, and overnight barn duty workers.

Adult and teens are also instrumental in setting up the Community Center the week before the fair and the tear-down of the exhibits at the end of the week.

The fair is a wonderful opportunity for the 4-H members who exhibit and participate in the many fair events, but it is also a great opportunity to promote the 4-H program, the volunteer opportunities available for adults and the youth development opportunities available to all youth in the county.

China Art Exchange:

Thousands of Michigan 4-H youth, kindergarten through sixth grade participated in the 2015 4-H Art Exchange with China. St. Mary’s School in Charlevoix had 51 youth take part in this wonderful exchange.

As part of the art exchange, children were asked to paint or draw “visual letters” for Chinese children their own ages. A visual letter is like a written letter in that both tell a story, share important ideas and

feelings, and connect children regardless of where they live.

Eight youths’ artwork from Charlevoix County was selected to be sent and exhibited in schools in Shandong Province, China.

Charlevoix County 4-H Tennis Program:

The Charlevoix County 4-H Tennis program offers three different levels of tennis instruction so youth of all levels can be involved in 4-H.

51 youth in grades K-12 participate in the Charlevoix County 4-H Tennis Program that is supported by only 2 amazing staff members.

Tennis classes are designed to help players love the sport while promoting positive youth development.

Studies have shown that tennis has many different health benefits for youth such as physical, mental, and emotional growth. Youth also learn many life skills such as how to be a gracious winner or lose with honor, manage adversity, and seeing math skills in everyday life.

4-H Soccer Programs:

The Boyne Area 4-H Soccer Program and East Jordan 4-H Soccer program offer an active way for youth to be involved in 4-H programs.

547 youth in grades kindergarten through 9th grade are involved in one of the counties soccer programs that is supported by 85 volunteer coaches for fall and spring seasons as well as summer camps.

Recreational soccer and travel soccer are both options offered to youth in the county depending on their passion for the game.

Participation in sports, including soccer, offers benefits that are consistent with elements of positive youth development.

Studies have shown that the soccer experience supports the need for youth exercise and fitness.

Further, it helps youth develop physical competence, a positive self-image, social skills, sportsmanship, responsibility, cooperation, teamwork skills, and the ability to handle the highs and lows associated with winning and losing.

Sports and Fitness Clubs use Jump Into Food & Fitness (JIFF) curriculum:

Charlevoix County 4-H offers a wide range of sports education to its local youth such as: spring soccer, summer soccer camps, fall soccer, travel soccer, sailing, sailing races, swimming, golf, and tennis.

Adult and teen leaders have fun teaching the sport while tackling the serious business of teaching kids about healthy food choices and the importance of being physically active and how it pertains to the sport they are learning.

The JIFF, research-based curriculum is designed for adults and older teens to use with kids aged 8 to 11 (grades 3 to 5).

“Jiff the Joey” sets the stage for each of the eight “Kangaroo Jumps” or sessions in JIFF.

Fun nutrition, physical fitness and food safety learning activities are integrated into the program, which uses the MyActivity Pyramid and the MyPyramid for Kids.

When you support MSU Extension, you help participants learn safe food handling practices, increase their physical activity and improve the quality of their diets.


Extension programming also helps decrease incidents of violence and bullying.

Encouraging these healthy behaviors helps reduce food and health care costs by helping prevent chronic health conditions and providing safe environments throughout a person’s life span.

Teaching valuable healthy-eating skills:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) provides nutrition education to income-eligible adults and children. This program focuses on improving dietary quality and increasing physical activity while stretching food dollars.

The ultimate goal of these programs is to promote healthy weight maintenance and obesity prevention. During the past year in Charlevoix County, 486 adults and 448 youth were reached through nutrition education classes at various venues in the county.

One of the many classes MSU Extension staff teach each year is through a partnership called Project FRESH.

In collaboration with the Charlevoix County Health Department, MSU Extension nutrition staff provide nutrition education to families involved in the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) on the benefits of including more fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Coupons were provided to these participants to purchase locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables from Charlevoix County farmer’s markets though Project FRESH.

These coupons were redeemed at the farm market for $6,280 in funds for produce grown by local farmers.

Nutrition education classes make a difference in lives of adults and youth in Charlevoix County! Here are a few impacts achieved through the MSU Extension nutrition education classes:

Impacts with Adults:

83% showed improvement in one or more nutrition practice like planning meals, making healthy food choices or reading food labels.

74% showed improvement in one or more food resource management practice like planning meals, comparing prices or using grocery lists.

95% of participants in Project FRESH will eat more fresh fruits & vegetables per day.

92% of participants in Project FRESH learned new ways to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into their meals and snacks.

Impacts with Youth:

94% of the teachers reported that the children increased in their awareness of the importance of good nutrition.

69% reported that the children were making healthier meal and snack choices.

84% reported that the children were willing to try new foods.

73% reported that the children were eating more fruits.

67% reported that the children were eating more vegetables.

“At Boyne City Elementary, many teachers have children who are taking part in the series in a different class room. One teacher expressed that her kindergarten daughter would not try spinach when she would serve with dinner at home. However after trying spinach in a Show Me Nutrition session in which students were able to make their own sandwiches, she went home and asked to have spinach with her next sandwich and at other meals. ” —Jordan Desrochers , MSUE Nutrition Program Instructor

Teaching residents about food safety

Supporting MSU Extension food safety education programs helps prevent food borne illnesses and ensures a safer food supply for consumers–whether that is at food retailers, restaurants, farmers’ markets or community meals served by organizations.

MSU Extension food safety education programs train participants to prevent incidents of food-borne illness associated with unsafe food handling practices, which results in fewer medical expenses, fewer food recalls, and less temporary or permanent closures of food businesses by local health departments. Costs of illness, recalls, and food business closures are more expensive from a public health perspective than taking an inexpensive class to learn how to prepare food safely and preserve food correctly.

Working to improve social and emotional health

MSU Extension addresses violence and bullying prevention through its focus on social and emotional health, with the overarching goal of helping young people and adults learn to foster safe, affirming and inclusive relationships and settings that are free from violence, abuse, bullying and harassment.

This benefits communities through decreased mental, emotional, social and economic costs associated with violence in communities.

During 2014, MSU Extension’s social and emotional health educational programs reached a total of 3,756 participants statewide.


Michigan agriculture continues to be a growing segment of the state’s economy.

When you support MSU Extension, you help farmers 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 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.

In this way you help MSU Extension encourage growth in a sustainable and prosperous Michigan food and agriculture system.

Fruit Production

Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show: The January 2015 show was very well attended with over 320 registrations.

Sessions covered a broad range of topics pertinent to tree fruit, grape and Saskatoon berry production.

The wine grape educational session was very well attended as was the Saskatoon session.

Extension’s response to cold injury in area vineyards

Following the severe cold injury to grapevines in the Grand Traverse region due to the 2014 “polar vortex” weather events, numerous reports, articles, radio and television interviews and other form of communication were used to educate growers about vine recovery strategies and keep the public informed about the health of the local wine industry.

Weathering the Climate:

• Cultivation and Technology in Grape Production Conference (Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Sept. 5, 2014)

This program came out of a new collaborative effort between MSU Extension, MSU’s Institute of

Applied Technology and Northwestern Michigan College (NMC).

It featured experts in agricultural technology, geography, horticulture, and unmanned aerial systems.

Over 90 participants attended the full-day program that included lectures, grower panel discussions and vineyard demonstrations.

• Insect and Disease Training Session for Grape Growers (Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, November 25, 2014)

This full-day session was held at the Northwestern Michigan College University Center, continuing the new programming partnership with NMC.

• Great Lakes Fruit & Vegetable Expo Grape Sessions (Grand Rapids, Dec. 9, 2014)

MSUE educators from northwest Michigan are involved in the planning and facilitation of this annual December event held in Grand Rapids.

Many northwest Michigan growers attend to obtain information and make contacts that benefit their farming operations.

Grape Research & Demonstration Projects

Grape variety trials and growing practices research continued in 2014.

The severe cold in January and February of 2014 caused extensive injury to grape buds; research and demonstration activity related to vine recovery strategies were initiated at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center.

Students in the Viticulture and Enology Science & Teaching Alliance (VESTA) received many hours of hands-on experience in the experimental vineyard.


Cultivating food & farming entrepreneurs

With over 1,000 attendees annually, the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference has become the preeminent small farm conference in Michigan, providing education and resources for small and mid-scale growers in the post-20th century world of Agriculture.

The Small Farm Conference has featured the country’s leading growers, researchers and engaged citizen/eaters that have questioned the long-term sustainability of the industrial food system and are providing promising alternatives.

The conference planning team, which is now comprised of a collaboration of growers, University, and community partners, continues its pursuit of cutting edge practices and practitioners.

By focusing on the ecological, economic and social aspects of more community based food-systems, scores of viable, triple-bottom line businesses have been started and thousands more report the changes that they have or will make as a result of something learned at the Conference.

Innovation Counselor Wendy Wieland has served as Conference Co-Chair for the past seven years.

MSU Extension Educator Ann Chastain assisted the Conference Board of Directors in a strategic plan review process this year, as leadership for the Conference is being transferred to the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art and Natural Design (ISLAND) in Petoskey.

The MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio assists county residents in developing products and businesses in the areas of food, agriculture, natural resources and the bio economy.

The innovation counselor has special training to deliver these services to local residents.

Business counseling is conducted on a one-on-one basis and may take place at the MSUE office or the client’s home or business location.

The assistance provided is tailored to meet the needs of the client and may include things like developing a business plan, navigating the regulatory maze, accessing the supply chain or seeking funding options.

The innovation counselor also assists clients in accessing specialized services they may need that are offered through Michigan State University like feasibility studies, nutritional labeling and packaging assistance.

Forty-two counseling sessions took place in Charlevoix County to assist 11 entrepreneurs in starting new businesses and expanding existing businesses.

Businesses assisted include food entrepreneurs and farmers at every stage of development.

The partnership between MSUE and the Product Center Food-Ag-Bio is providing support for entrepreneurs and economic development across the region.

Strengthening municipalities

Charlevoix County Citizen Planner Program. The popular Citizen Planner Certificate classroom training program was offered in Charlevoix during Fall 2015.

Twelve local officials participated in the seven-session intensive program to learn about fundamentals of planning and zoning.

The county continues to benefit from the significant number of local officials who have completed the course either in the classroom or online.

As a result of the Citizen Planner program, local officials gain the skills they need to be effective in their complex planning and zoning roles, benefiting our local communities through more efficient and effective governmental decisions.

Boyne on the Water PlacePlan

Boyne City was one of seven communities selected in early 2015 to participate in Michigan’s PlacePlan program.

This cooperative effort between the Michigan Municipal League, the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction and MSU Extension provides technical assistance to help communities develop a vision to build on core strengths to create quality places in their area.

The project is funded by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The PlacePlan process is engaging Boyne City officials, engaged residents, local business leaders and community groups to re-imagine their Lake Charlevoix waterfront from Peninsula Park to the 475 North Lake Street property.

This process creates the opportunity for residents to provide input at every stage in the plan’s development, which will culminate in a conceptual plan at the end of 2015.

This program is one of MSU Extension’s Placemaking education efforts – building capacity for communities to capitalize on their assets to enhance their community as a place where people want to live, work, play and learn in.

Through these efforts, Michigan communities can become more competitive and grow in the New Economy.

Enhancing & protecting our natural resources

Lake Charlevoix Water Quality Protection. Lake Charlevoix is one of the premier water bodies in northern Michigan, noted for its outstanding water quality, beauty and recreational opportunities. MSU Extension, in partnerships with the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is implementing a set of activities to further enhance education and assistance programs to build capacity and connection between Lake Charlevoix Association leaders and local officials.

MSU Extension led three sets of activities during 2014-2015:

• Lake Charlevoix area zoning administrators meetings. Through these discussions, zoning administrators learned about tools and techniques and shared experiences regarding the challenge of enforcing zoning standards in shoreline areas.

• Lake Charlevoix Shoreline Tour. Again this year, MSU Extension partnered with the Inland Seas Association and Lake Charlevoix Association to conduct educational tours aboard the sailing ship Inland Seas. The July 2015 event was a great success for the second year in a row, with 85 local officials, lake association leaders and lakeshore residents attending to hear presentations about lake ecology, shoreline greenbelt design and shoreline erosion and local regulations.

• Charlevoix County Planners Forum. The goal of this November 2014 event was to promote learning and interaction among elected and appointed planning officials in the County’s 19 jurisdictions. 34 local leaders participated in the program, which included presentations on a wide variety of water quality and planning topics.

This project is funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency.

Through these MSU Extension efforts, local officials, lake association leaders and shoreline residents learn about water quality protection techniques, and gain an understanding of the role of local and state regulation, enabling them to work together to enhance water quality and recreational opportunities in northern Michigan.