Message from the director of MSU Extension - April 3, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, April 2, 2020, Michigan State University leadership made the key decision to modify or suspend youth events scheduled to take place this summer on MSU’s campus. This, combined with Gov. Whitmer’s announcement that in-person K-12 instruction is suspended for the remainder of the academic year, has informed changes to our guidance to MSU Extension’s youth programming:

  • All on-campus MSU youth events scheduled to occur before September 1, 2020 must be modified to an online space, postponed or cancelled.
  • No face-to-face youth events or programs may take place anywhere in the state, including summer camps, until September 1, 2020. This also includes MSU Extension youth programming at the Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation, MSU Tollgate Farm and Conference Center, Summer Discovery Cruises and other programs throughout the state.
  • We are working with Michigan Fairs and Exhibitions as their members determine how this will affect county fairs. Look for more information on that in the coming weeks.

Guidance regarding all MSU Extension events including youth and adult programming is forthcoming.

Although this is the right thing to do to protect the health and wellness of our staff and all Michiganders, I know this is heartbreaking to many. I also know that there may never be a more important time for us to think differently about how we deliver meaningful experiences to youth and volunteers who are seeking information and education. The supplemental education we can offer through our youth programming is critical. For example, CYI leadership is going to work with educators and program coordinators throughout the state to determine if they can conduct 4-H Exploration Days online or through a hybrid, on-demand model that mixes online education with local experiences. I encourage you to look for the same opportunities.

This is not going to be easy. It’s going to require patience and perseverance. You will receive further information from your institute leadership as additional plans are made. I ask that you be patient with institute leadership, as I assure you that they are working as quickly as they can to convey information in real time. This includes working on additional communication that may apply to volunteers and the many populations you serve.

Once again, I commend our faculty and staff members for setting a good example for others and ensuring that we are able to offer opportunities to Michigan residents as we all stay home and stay safe. You should plan to work from home as long as the state “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order remains in effect and university and local directives are in place. Current guidance requires that MSU Extension employees work from home until May 15, 2020.

Your dedication to Michigan residents and creativity continues to inspire me. Please continue to share the good work you and your colleagues are doing through social media and other means by sharing liberally. Our friends at the MSU Extension Food Processing and Innovation Center are doing some phenomenal work to help keep healthcare workers safe. The Lansing State Journal was the first to report on this exciting story, and there will be much more to come.

Thank you for all you do. Stay home and stay safe.

Jeff Dwyer, Ph.D. 
Director, MSU Extension