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MSU Extension sees positive response to online programming – Cadillac News

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Osceola County 4-H participants present dairy cows at the 2022 Osceola County Fair. In 2021, Michigan State University Extension District 6 Director Eric Karbowksi said 4-H was able to enroll 419 youths in its program, despite having to move to a mostly virtual platform.

Osceola County 4-H participants present dairy cows at the 2022 Osceola County Fair. In 2021, Michigan State University Extension District 6 Director Eric Karbowksi said 4-H was able to enroll 419 youths in its program, despite having to move to a mostly virtual platform.
REED CITY— Michigan State University Extension went before the Osceola County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to share its points of pride for 2021 in an annual report.
Prior to the August Primary election, MSU Extension and 4-H operations were funded through Osceola County dollars. But, after budgetary considerations for fiscal year 2023, the board decided to leave financial support for Extension up to voters in the form of a millage, which successfully passed last month.
MSU Extension District 6 Director Eric Karbowski began his report with an acknowledgment of the millage and said that despite employee turnover driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Osceola team remains “strong and incredibly resilient.”
The pandemic impacted more than just employment for Extension, Karbowksi said. For the first time, 4-H programs were being offered in a hybrid format to align with pandemic guidelines.
Although it was difficult to navigate engaging with the community in a virtual setting, Karbowski said Extension was still able to enroll 419 youths in 4-H programming in 2021. He added that the hybrid model has become a way for Extension staff to improve the quality of the services they provide. The educational side of a program can be conducted online, allowing for any in-person time to be spent working hands-on in the field.
“I think we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from that,” he said.
In terms of overall participation and engagement for 2021, MSU Extension programs saw an attendance of 1,426 Osceola County residents, and a total of 6,107 Osceola County MSU Extension Facebook page views.
Karbowski continued by highlighting a few financial support programs offered to Osceola County residents by Extension. There are designated staff members who work with individuals dealing with mortgage and foreclosure issues, as well as SNAP education. Over the course of 2021, Community Nutrition Instructor Renee Sanders was able to serve 229 Osceola County residents through various health and nutrition-based programming.
Extension has also seen success with its farm stress training program, which has helped farmers across Extension’s District 6 counties manage the stress that comes with operating a farm.
After concluding his report, Karbowski provided some updates on the relocation of Osceola County Extension offices into the old Hersey Elementary School building. He said staff are still in the process of unloading boxes and settling in to their new space, but feel the move will bring good things.
Extension offices will now cohabitate with the Osceola County Commission on Aging, and Karbowksi hopes their new space will allow for crossover between the two organizations. Additionally, he anticipates that a larger location could mean more on-site programming.
“We’re kind of excited about it,” Karbowski said. “We don’t have everything mapped out, penciled in yet, but I think those are things that (staff) will be excited to report back in the future about, some of those progresses and what those partnerships look like, how are we expanding that reach in that community.”
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