The impact of Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) in Macomb County is diverse and wide-reaching. For 100 years the institution has provided our community with resources, programming, guidance and knowledge in areas related to agriculture, business, community, family, food, health, gardens and natural resources. But what does that really mean? Well, many of you have likely heard of or participated in 4-H programs. And perhaps some of you have taken a local master gardener class. Or maybe you’re a food service manager and you’ve enrolled in a ServSafe course to receive certification in your field. All of these resources are provided by MSUE, and truly, those three examples just scratch the surface of what the institution does in our county. To put it simply, MSUE helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses.
We recently learned all about this at a luncheon hosted by MSUE to mark its 100 year anniversary here in Macomb County. The event was attended by several state and local officials, MSUE leadership and supporters. It featured recognition and awards for the many volunteers that assist MSUE programming and also included a bit of a history lesson too.
It all started in 1912, when the Michigan Legislature authorized county boards to appropriate funds and levy taxes to further teaching and demonstrations in Extension work. Eleven agricultural agents were named that year. Then, in 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, which created the Cooperative Extension System and directed the nation’s land grant universities (Michigan State University) to oversee its work. With the passage of Smith-Lever, the first statewide home economics and 4-H youth Extension workers were appointed and in 1918, the first county agent was installed for the Macomb region. In the early years, demonstration agents showed or demonstrated new farming or homemaking techniques. Today, Extension educators use a wide variety of systems to deliver educational information in all 83 counties around the state. To better serve its communities, Extension has focused on several key areas important to Michigan:
- Greening Michigan: Leveraging Natural and Human Assets for Prosperity
- Enhancing Michigan’s First Green Industry: Agriculture and Agribusiness
- Preparing Michigan’s Children & Youth for the Future
- Improving Health and Nutrition for Michigan Residents
According to research data provided by MSU, there are several economic benefits attributed to this work:
- For every dollar invested, MSU Extension programs (and AgBioResearch programs) generate an estimated $5.60 of benefits to the state and nation.
- Every dollar the state invests in MSU Extension (and AgBioResearch programs) stimulates another $1.81 in state economic activity and state tax revenues.
- Combining the above effects along with the additional tax revenue returns to the state results in a ratio of economic and social benefits to net state economic costs of 16:1.
While these dollar amounts and figures demonstrate the economic impact of MSUE, there are also countless examples of how the organization has had a personal impact on individuals and communities that participate in programming, events or activities. Whether this be a young person who learned real-world skills in 4-H or a farming community that was provided assistance with invasive species, MSUE has made an indelible mark in the state of Michigan and right here in our home towns.
With that, MMYH would like to congratulate MSUE on its 100th anniversary in Macomb County. We appreciate and are thankful for your support. Here’s to another 100 years!
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.