Improving People's Lives in Otsego County
Two examples follow of how MSU Extension is improving the lives of the residents in Otsego County. There are 600 people who work for MSU Extension across the state.
Michigan State University Extension helps people improve their lives through an educational process that applies knowledge to critical issues, needs and opportunities. There are 600 people who work for MSU Extension across the state. We live in the communities we serve and hope to make a difference by working with partners to address all kinds of varying needs. Two examples follow of how MSU Extension is improving the lives of the residents in Otsego County.
Food Pantry Partners
Trying to meet a wide range of community needs may seem daunting, but Denise Aungst, supervising educator, found that with partners the sky is the limit. As an organization representative, she found herself in the right place at the right time to connect partners. There was a need for food rescue partners to serve a small community with few direct resources, and this seemed like a great fit for her work with MSU Extension. She called Cindy Lester at the Johannesburg Christian Church and she was eager to participate. The Giving Tree Food Pantry was born, and would be located at the church. Cindy jumped into action and even had her daughter design a beautiful banner for the food pantry and t-shirts for the volunteers.
Within a few weeks, the Giving Tree Food Pantry received the first delivery of roughly 20 pounds of bread from Panera Bread. Volunteers stepped forward and the bread distribution grew to a stocked pantry with freezer capacity which serves between 60-80 people weekly. Partnerships with the Otsego County Food Pantry and local stores have been key along with donations.
“For the longest time we spun our wheels praying and brainstorming to how we could best use our facility,” said David Hall, associate pastor at Johannesburg Christian Church. “Many ideas came and went and then God gave us bread through Denise. It all started with bread!”
Proud Equestrian Program
The Otsego County 4-H Program has a club called the Proud Equestrian Program Freedom Riders, which focuses on children with disabilities. With the help of trained and caring volunteers, riders can improve balance, coordination, posture and muscle tone. Horseback riding also increases self-esteem, self-confidence, discipline and social growth. This year, we had 24 volunteers and six riders that formed a bond with their horses and the volunteers as they learned to ride.
One particular rider this year has grown so much. Andrew was quiet and apprehensive when he first started to ride. After a few months of working with him, Andrew began to talk to the volunteers and pet his horse more and more with each session. He now smiles and enjoys his time with his horse and the volunteers.
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