The Spartan Podcast

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“We can help you with your tomatoes, but we do many other things,” MSU Extension’s interim director Jeff Dwyer tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

Dwyer says MSU Extension is structured into four institutes of health and nutrition, children’s initiatives like 4-H, traditional agriculture and agribusiness efforts, and green initiatives.

MSU Extension has 600 employees across Michigan, Dwyer says, and they live in the counties they serve.

“They’re passionate about what they do, and they’ve been in these communities doing this work, in some cases, for 30 years. They’re well known, trusted, and are making a difference.

“Our people are providing expertise, direction and coordination, but it’s the volunteers across the state who are reaching out to kids in their communities” who really make the difference.”

Dwyer says the many MSU Extension people helping out in the Flint water crisis, “tend to be very humble and do their jobs and people know they’re a critical part of the community. But they don’t always know that these people are part of Extension let alone MSU.”

One of Dwyer’s main goals is to bring more awareness to MSU Extension and all it does for citizens around the state “and how present we are in communities all over the state.

“The presence of Michigan State in this state is really quite spectacular.”

Dwyer tells the story of an unsung Spartans hero working in Flint, Rick Sadler, “who is working with Dr. Mona and did the social geography mapping that really pointed out which neighborhoods were most affected by the lead water issue.

“It’s a Michigan State University that goes out and looks for someone like that to begin with in the absence of a crisis. And then they’re there when we really need them.”

Dwyer thinks what will come out of the Flint water crisis is more awareness “for what we can do for an entire population of kids and families when we give them resources that they need to grow up in the way we’d like to see them grow up.

“These kids needed better nutrition and education before lead ever became a part of their lives and their water system.

“The real story is going to be that these kids and families will be better 20 years from now both because we’re still going to be there, but also because a lot of resources were put there to make their lives better now.”

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