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MSU Today

"We take science and expertise at MSU to communities all over Michigan." says MSU Extension director

Katie Nicpon
Russ White, Jeff Dwyer

“The mission of Michigan State University Extension in a nutshell is to take the science and expertise that exists at a great land grant university like MSU out to communities all over the state,” says Jeff Dwyer. “We’re really about helping individuals, families and communities become healthier in all the ways they might need our assistance.”

Dwyer is the director of MSU Extension and the senior associate dean of outreach and engagement for the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

He talks about a variety of MSU Extension initiatives like the MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation that will provide opportunity and education for Detroiters. MSUE is recommitting its dedication to military veterans by hiring a specialist who will address veterans’ specific needs.

Four years later, and Flint still doesn’t have clean water, but MSU Extension is expanding its footprint to help residents recover. Extension has been in Flint for over 100 years.

Dwyer talks about 4-H and how that organization remains a leading model for youth development and provides opportunities in STEM. MSUE is moving into new areas through its behavioral health team, too.

And MSUE is evolving its capacity in agriculture and continuing to help farmers and agribusiness professionals with research-based production recommendations and resources.

“If you think about us as being truly statewide, which not many organizations can attest to these days, and the breadth of areas that we work in, our people really are sentinels in their communities.

“And we’re going to find other areas in which we should engage. We can’t just be what we’ve always been. We need to be what residents of the state of Michigan need us to be to address the concerns and issues and problems they have.”

On his role as senior associate dean of outreach and engagement for the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dwyer says “This role is an explicit acknowledgement that we need to every day be doing what we can do to get what we’re learning and experiencing out to people across the state.

“And it’s a reflection of the focus of leadership in the college on really taking what we do out to communities across the state, the country and frankly the world on a regular basis.”

Dwyer would like more people both on and off campus to be aware of the many programs and services MSU Extension provides.

“We need more people to know we exist. We’re not going to force people to make use of our programming, but they ought to know that it’s there. And if we’re not today doing something that people need, we’re going to work harder to make sure we fill that gap.”

For all of higher education moving forward, Dwyer adds “we need to continually refine our educational offerings in ways that people find meaningful.”

Dwyer previews a new podcast series he’ll host called Partnerships and Peninsulas coming later this summer in this space.

“It’s an opportunity for us both in studio and out in the field to talk with our talented educators and specialists around the state about the specific things we do. We want to use the podcast to get more people to know about MSU Extension and how to reach out to us so that we can do what we want to do every day, which is to meet the needs of the residents of Michigan.”

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.

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