Roger Betz receives the Outstanding Service to MSU Extension Award

Roger Betz was honored for his 38 years of outstanding service to MSU Extension during the annual Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 29.

The Outstanding Service to MSU Extension is the highest honor given to staff members who have been with the organization for at least 20 years, and who have consistently exhibited leadership, service and excellence in programming or administration. 

Roger Betz, MSU Extension farm business management senior educator, plans, promotes, and teaches business succession and estate planning workshops, and has worked individually with more than 430 families throughout his 38 years of service. Through individual consultations, he helps farmers learn to keep accurate financial records using MSU’s 

Tel-Farm system and to use this information to manage their businesses.

His relationships with families, knowledge of the farm business, and understanding of the role of stress laid the foundation for MSU Extension’s Farm Stress program. He led the Farm Stress team’s development of the workshop “Communicating With Farmers Under Stress,” conducted throughout Michigan and Indiana. He helped GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and members of the dairy industry train staff to recognize and respond to signs of stress in their clients.

He has developed decision-making aids for producers. One is the financial foundation of the “U2U Irrigation Investment DST” web tool for the Corn Belt States. Under Roger’s leadership, the members of the Dairy and Farm Management teams built a budgeting framework to help dairy farms during the financial crisis. He was instrumental in bringing Annie’s Project, a workshop designed for farm women, to Michigan and worked with the National Annie’s group to develop a new curriculum. His understanding of the 2002 farm bill enabled him to identify an error in the nationally supported decision-making program developed at Texas A&M. His discovery led to a congressional amendment to the legislation. Roger expands his ability to influence producers’ financial management decisions by training Extension educators.

Some of his most significant educational impacts result from his individual consultations with farm families that involve sensitive and emotionally charged issues of money, land, relationships, and death. While the financial impacts of his work are impressive and unparalleled, his intimate working relationships with farm families is his legacy. His technical expertise, dedication, empathy, and sincere desire to improve the lives of farm families across Michigan have been a tremendous asset to Michigan agriculture and MSU Extension. Roger Betz truly deserves this highest honor given to MSU Extension professional staff members.

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