St. Joseph County message from the district director 2017

Michigan State University Extension continues to serve the residents of St. Joseph County through the educational process that applies knowledge to critical issues, needs and opportunities.

Over the past year, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension partnered with St. Joseph County to continue strengthening youth, families, businesses and communities. MSU Extension staff are grounded in local relationships and serve by bringing the university’s research and resources to provide outreach and education in the areas residents need it most.

A noteworthy demonstration of our partnership in 2018 was a program to help landowners make decisions related to solar energy projects. In response to aggressive solicitation by solar developers to lease or buy land from St. Joseph County land owners, a multidisciplinary team of MSU Extension educators brought a solar energy educational program to Three Rivers. The state-wide program was developed in response to policy changes made in late 2017 that made utility-scale solar projects more profitable. The program attended by landowners, local leaders and consultants focused on policy, community planning and zoning, legal contract land leasing, tax issues, and the integration of solar with existing agricultural systems using evidenced based practices. In addition to the positive outcomes of knowledge and confidence, the program resulted in new partnerships with agencies and associations involved in the solar industry. Overall, the program provided southwest Michigan residents and leaders with a unique opportunity to better understand the solar industry, its impact on local landscapes, personal finances, and the economy, as well as the role of local policy development in helping shape the state’s energy future while balancing competing interests.

MSU Extension is passionate about serving St. Joseph County, and we are proud of the impacts we have made over this last year. Thank you for your continued support and for partnering with us to make a difference.

Julie Pioch, District 13 Coordinator

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