2018-09-06 / Opinions

What is MSU-Extension?

Guest VIEWpoint
By Jerry Johnson
District 10 Coordinator, Michigan State University-Extension

Jerry Johnson Jerry Johnson So, what exactly is MSU-Extension? What do these people do? Who do they impact? And, selfishly, why should I care? These are some of the questions I asked myself before joining the MSU team in May of this year. After more than 30 years in the food industry working for and leading so called “for profit enterprises,” what could come from this career change? If your thought processes were anything like mine, you have a very limited understanding of what MSU-E is all about.

Fast forward a few short months and my vision is much more clear. Simply put, MSU-Extension exists to bring cutting edge knowledge to the citizens of our state and to deliver this knowledge “where people live.” This is no small idea as, for many, the vast treasure of information that exists within the many colleges of MSU would be out of reach for them financially, geographically or both were it not for the information delivery system we call “Extension.”

In order to optimize the availability of this knowledge, Extension is organized both functionally and geographically. The four functional Institutes include: Children & Youth which focuses on literacy, life skills and, of course, the renowned 4-H program; Health & Nutrition which provides education on food safety and preventive health care; Greening Michigan which provides instruction in effective governance, entrepreneurship, tourism and sustainability; and Agriculture/Agribusiness, which provides farmers with information and resources to optimize their profits while protecting natural resources. And in Huron County where annual agricultural cash receipts approach $700 Million it’s easy to see where incremental improvements in fertilization or seed application quickly leads to enhanced profitability.

Geographically, our staff is organized by county to better serve residents. All educational staff have county responsibilities while some have regional or even statewide stewardship roles. This allows MSU-E to deliver educational programming efficiently and effectively. No two counties are exactly alike and staffing of our county offices is designed with the needs of that particular county in mind. The men and women who make up our staff throughout the Thumb Region are a cohort of highly educated, caring, concerned individuals who take personal pride in delivering the power of knowledge to willing recipients.

OK, back to my question about moving from the private sector to the public sector. Whether you’re selling a product or delivering an educational program, it boils down to customer service – meeting and exceeding expectations. For MSU-E, it’s providing our citizens with knowledge they can use to address critical issues and opportunities they are facing. So, basically, I’m a talent agent. I’m here to connect the residents of our Thumb counties to the educator who can best meet their particular need.

MSU-E well recognizes that equipping our citizens with information and resources enhances their ability to make sound decisions for the betterment of themselves, the benefit of their families and the health of their communities. MSU-Extension is your front door to Michigan State University. We are here for you.

For more information: MSU Extension-Huron County, 1142 S. Van Dyke Road (M-53), Ste. 200, Bad Axe, MI 48413; 989-269-9949 extension 609; FAX 989-269-7221.

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