Sunday, October 22, 2006

Leelanau Operations Millage: No More Extension?

We had an MSU Extension Council Meeting this week. It was grim. Failing to pass the County Operations Millage would effectively dissolve the agreement that allows Cooperative Extension to operate in Leelanau County. Leelanau would go from having the model 4-H program to having no 4-H program at all.

I was impressed by the master list of County Extension projects. Extension is always doing more than I realized. The thought of losing these programs is terrifying.

If MSU Extension / 4-H are eliminated, the following programs would no longer be available in Leelanau County:

4-H Programs:

· 183 community members that currently volunteer in 4-H would no longer have the 4-H opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Leelanau County kids.

· 4-H clubs including 4-H skiing, 4-H horse and 4-H livestock clubs

·4-H Kids Club at any of the four schools (currently in Suttons Bay, Leland, Glen
Lake and Northport School collectively serving over 200 children)

· Summer child care in 4-H Explore Experience Leelanau in Leland, nor Summer child care at Suttons Bay or Glen Lake Schools (currently serving about 90 children)

· An organization that is flexible enough to address emerging needs (we don’t have a hard and fast agenda -- we do what the community asks for); the newest request was the after-school childcare program at Northport School.

·An organization that looks at what kids need and strives to meet that need (for
example, the new Guys’ Group is addressing the needs of middle school

· Mentoring program at Northport School (a full-time person at no cost to the county)

· Natural Helper program for the five high schools in the county (peer mentoring training for 25 teens each year)

· Child care grant dollars from United Way (almost $40,000 in the last 4 years)

· Insurance coverage for Voices and Choices and Girls on the Run (programs that partner with 4-H but who are facilitated by Leelanau County Family Coordinating Council and Family Court respectively)

· Leelanau County 4-H participation in the NW Michigan Fair

· Opportunities to host or travel on a 4-H international exchange (2 families hosted last year; one member traveled this year)

· Young teens experiencing a university campus (this year we took 53 teens and 15 adults to 4-H Exploration Days)

· Volunteer training opportunities at the 4-H Kettunen Center near Cadillac

· Opportunities for families to attend 4-H Family Science Weekend at the 4-H Kettunen Center (we’ve had 3-6 families attend that event for the last 5 years)

· 4-H Youth Association which annually provides over $4,000 in scholarships to 4-H members and leaders to attend leadership & citizenship experiences

· Event for 4-H members to showcase their projects (4-H EXPO each Spring)

· 4-H Horse Council which oversees 64 county young people with a passion for horses

· 4-H Livestock Council which oversees 204 youth learning about and raising animals

· Volunteers to help foster kids get their drivers license

· Involvement in promoting the cherry industry by hosting a petting zoo at the Cherry Festival’s Cherry Connection event at the Hort Station

· Opportunity for our local youth to compete in the statewide photo contest (Leelanau County had one of the 12 state winners this year!)

· Opportunity for young people to strive to achieve a State 4-H Award (Leelanau County had a regional winner this year!)

· Participation in Capitol Experience and Citizenship Washington Focus (events for teens where they experience and learn about state and national government respectively)

· Screening of volunteers who work with children (criminal history checks with the Michigan State Police, personal interviews in their home, 2 reference checks)

· Opportunity to win a college scholarship from the Johnson Foundation (each year they give nearly $100,000, half of which must go to seniors who were involved in 4-H)

· Access for volunteers to a major university with regards to training, liability insurance, curriculum, resources, specialists, etc.

Agriculture & Community Development Programs:

· Local information/bulletins on crops & farm management

· Ag consulting on pesticide and fertilizer recommendations

· Diagnostics for crop production problems

· Local Value-Added Counselor for MSU Product Center

· Entrepreneurial classes/workshops for new ag businesses

· Coordination of four Leelanau Farmers Markets; including administering Project Fresh and Senior Fresh to seniors and tribal elders (coupons to purchase local produce)

· Local representative on local food system development effort (Taste the Local Difference – TLD)

· Staff support for local Leelanau County Farmland Preservation Board

· Tractor Safety Classes for youth

· Contact for labor regulations & Labor Management Program

· Leadership training sessions for potential community leaders

· Local member of Emergency Board for Crop Disaster Program

·Citizen Planner Training; workshop for local planners

· Local session for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Update

· Income Tax Sessions for farmers

· Farm Safety Program for farmers & farm workers

· TelFarm Payroll & Accounting Sessions

· Local Horticultural Society to support grower needs

· Local ag & natural resource information and education workshops for Leelanau County; ie, Wind Energy, Estate Planning, Hispanic Pesticide Education, Alternative Energy, Organic Farming, Value-Added, Farmland Preservation Programs and developing issues

Master Gardener / Home Horticulture Programs:

· Answer horticultural-related questions from the public; identification and

· Coordinate Master Gardener Volunteer Training program (40 hr. research-based educational course attended annually by approximately 40 residents)

· Currently coordinate approximately 200 Master Gardener Volunteers completing over 2500 hrs of community service annually serving thousands of people in Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties.

· Mentor at-risk kids through the Leelanau Community Garden (cooperation with the Leelanau Family Probate Court & MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers)

· Produce and donate approximately 500 lbs of fresh vegetables to Leelanau County food pantries. (Grown in Leelanau Community Garden)

· Sponsor the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan, which hosts horticultural-related educational events in Leelanau/Grand Traverse region.

Family & Consumer Science Programs:

· Parent Education - Parent education classes for Leelanau county families.

· Cherry Connection - Week long cherry festival event that occurs in Leelanau County. (Brings approximately 2000 tourists to Leelanau County at an event featuring locally made cherry products. Promotes local cherry business as well as local farms.)

· Safe Kids - Unintentional injury prevention programs for children under the age of 14. (Unintentional injury prevention education is provided to parents around safety with car seats and bike helmet usage. Car Seats and bike helmets are given to families who don't have appropriate safety equipment.)

· Financial Management Education - General financial management education for youth at the alternative high school as well as traditional high school.

· Family Nutrition Program; current scheduling includes the Leelanau Peninsula
School and the Suttons Bay High school in the Life Skills classes

· Family Nutrition Program at the Grand Traverse Band with youth and elders in Peshawbestown.

· Nutrition education for non-FNP audience - General wellness education focused around the food guide pyramid and staying fit.

· Monthly Project Fresh classes at the Leelanau/Benzie Health Department and Commodity Supplemental Food Program at the VFW Hall in Lake Leelanau

· Home Nutrition Series; informational sessions to TOPS groups and at Senior Meal Sites

List compiled by the Extension office staff

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