by Elizabeth Wehman, editor

THE 4-H COUNCIL is active in promoting and supporting the county’s local clubs and include: (from left) Yvette Pickler, Louri Miller, Leonard Mitchell, Robin Schmidt, Sandy Maynard, Dane Sebesta, Mary Sebesta, President Rhonda Stickel, Nikki Hersch, Vice President Jaqui Reeder, Treasurer Joe Hammontree, Andrea Andrykovich, Connie Kobe, and Sydney Reeder. Susan McManus, Cathy Harris, Bernie Harvey, Secretary Robin Stechschulte, and Ed Garber were missing from the photo. (Courtesy Photo)

In his years of service, retired Shiawassee County Probate Court Judge Jim Clatterbaugh had this to say about students involved in 4-H clubs, “Kids with good activities, such as 4-H, are supervised by good leaders and if active in this wonderful organization some become our future farmers. In my years as judge, there were no cases that went through my court which involved a minor involved in a serious crime who had been a part of a 4-H club.”

For 100 years, the Michigan State University Extension has been a service of Shiawassee County.MSU Extension began when A. B. Cook was first appointed agricultural agent in Shiawassee County on May 1, 1917. The 1914 Smith Lever Act Extension was a federal act that created Cooperative Extension. It calls for a three way governmental funding partnership to fund. Shiawassee County government has served as a county partner in the funding between county, state, and federal government through their general fund budget.

In Shiawassee County this happened for 94 years until 2012 when Shiawassee County Administrator Margaret McAvoy presented the annual budget to the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners that reduced expenditures from 2011. MSU Extension and 4-H from the County was cut from the budget. That budget passed by the county board.

That is when the Shiawassee County MSU Extension and 4-H started being funded by a millage instead of the county general fund. At that time a .05 millage was passed by the voters and has been in effect from 2012 through 2016.

On Aug. 2, voters will decide whether to fund a 4-H and MSU Extension program in this county. This year’s millage of .076, should it pass, would fund a full-time 4-H Coordinator, a half time support staff, and provide operating dollars for the office and staff. The millage would be in effect from 2017-2022 and raise an estimated $129,278 annually for operations. Cost for taxpayers would equal $7.60 for a home of $100,000 taxable value and $3.80 for a home of $50,000 taxable value.

For every $1 the county invests, more than $5 in state and federal resources are invested in Shiawassee County through MSU Extension. If the partnership link from the county is nonexistent, the state and national funding is not provided. Thus, there are no monies for the county MSU Extension office and 4-H.

What does the MSU Extension and 4-H do for the Shiawassee community? They support the 4-H clubs in Shiawassee County with the help of the county full time 4-H Coordinator. 4-H Clubs are the foundation of every successful 4-H program. They include project clubs, afterschool clubs, in-school clubs, or even community clubs. In 2015, Shiawassee County had 804 members in 54 traditional 4-H clubs. At least 157 volunteer leaders are involved in clubs and 684 youth are in special interest clubs.

MSU Extension nutrition program staff offer educational presentations and hands-on classes to limited resource families, individuals, and classrooms promoting healthy food choices, menu planning, cooking skills, smart shopping and healthy snacks. In 2015, 5300 youth contacts in grades K through 12, 250 seniors, and 275 plus other adults were a part of this program.

The Extension office also works to increase farmers’ success while protecting the environment, ensuring food safety reaching new markets, and advancing agriculture through applied research. In Shiawassee County, 74 people took part in soybean field crop and master gardener education in 2015.

The MSU Extension Water Resources programs provide services to local water organizations such as surveys and training. In 2015, 189 Shiawassee County residents attended Extension Water Resources programs. Organizations in Shiawassee County who have collaborated with MSU Extension in 2015 include the Friends of the Shiawassee River and Lake Manitou Lake Association.

MSU Extension instructors and proctors, which are National Restaurant Association certified, provide consumer food safety support and education, which includes safe food preparation and storage plus the latest research in water bath, pressure canning, dehydrating, and freezing methods for preserving foods at home. They also offer 8 and 16 hour ServSafe trainings for Food Service Managers.

The office also reached 1,800 people in 2015 with the following high quality, evidence-based programs: PATH (Personal Action Towards Health) – Diabetes PATH and Chronic Pain PATH, the National Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, and Matter of Balance. These programs provide participants with tools and strategies to help improve quality of life with the goal of preventing or better management of chronic conditions such as diabetes.

MSU Extension also helps individuals complete a six-hour course to help them qualify for down payments and other assistance programs for unbiased education necessary to help them make informed choices about the true costs of homeownership. These individuals help home owners learn about their rights and options from certified housing counselors to navigate tough decisions and avoid foreclosure whenever possible.

For any questions regarding the MSU Extension office or 4-H, interested persons may visit or call the office at (989) 743-2251.

Funding 4-H and MSU Extension on Upcoming Ballot was last modified: July 27th, 2016 by Karen Elford