The Spartan Podcast


mwenkel.jpg Hear the conversation 10:01 min – 5.7 mb mp3

The Michigan potato industry accounts for about 3,400 jobs and an approximately $550 million annual contribution to the state’s economy.
And, according to Mike Wenkel, manager of the Potato Growers of Michigan, producers are increasingly committed to wise water management and soil health to ensure the long-term vitality of the industry.

“Soil health is a major management and research focus,” Wenkel explains. “How do practices like crop rotation, tillage and fertilizer applications affect the soil microbes vital to productive soils?”

As for water stewardship, most of Michigan’s 46,000 potato acres are irrigated and monitored by high-tech tools that measure rate, pressure and moisture levels to ensure water is used as efficiently as possible. Read more »


klhkob.jpg Hear the conversation 10:25 min – 6 mb mp3

Two recent reports have major implications for increasing Michigan’s recycling rate while decreasing solid waste in our landfills. Kirk Heinze discusses these reports, recommendations and key next steps with Kerrin O’Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition, on Greening of the Great Lakes.

The MRC represents recycling and composting interests statewide and is applauding the simultaneous release of two separate reports and sets of recommendations that would shift the focus of Michigan’s waste management strategy to increase recycling. The long-awaited reports show how Michigan can support and benefit from doubling the state’s recycling rate.

The Solid Waste and Sustainability Advisory Panel report calls for revamping Part 115 of PA 451 of 1994, the law governing solid waste and recycling activities in Michigan, to better align with the Michigan Solid Waste Policy. The Governor’s Recycling Council report outlines how to achieve the governor’s goal of doubling Michigan’s current recycling rate from 15 to 30 percent. Read more »


jaklh.jpg Hear the conversations 25:35 min – 14.6 mb mp3

Over the eight years Greening of the Great Lakes has aired, we have remained largely steadfast in our efforts to educate, not advocate. However, controversies occasionally arise which are so fundamentally deleterious to our sustainability ethos that it is morally imperative we take a strong position. Such is the case with the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal calling for the elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Read more »


Jenio.jpg Hear the commentary 1:59 min – 1.2 mb mp3

On this week’s Ag Report on Greening of the Great Lakes, Angel Jenio, communications director for the Michigan Corn Growers Association, discusses the importance of this week’s “National Ag Week” celebration for everyone in Michigan.

“For corn farmers and everyone involved in Michigan agriculture, Ag Week provided a chance to broadcast the many benefits of our state’s agriculture sector,” says Jenio. “Productive farms keep economic activity going strong, sparking investment and helping businesses grow. We’re proud to be part of a productive, innovative sector that benefits everyone in Michigan – and Ag Week provided a chance to tell that story.”

Jenio says more than 52,000 Michigan farmers produce more than 300 different products, making Michigan the second most diverse agricultural state in the nation. Production on those farms pumps about $100 billion dollars into our economy every year.

“Agriculture also creates jobs in Michigan, from our small towns to our largest cities,” says Jenio. “In fact, more than 900,000 jobs are connected to agriculture. That’s about one-quarter of all jobs in our state.” Read more »


ehmpato.JPG Hear the conversation 4:37 min – 6.3 mb mp3

Patricia Orlowitz grew up in suburban Detroit and landed on the campus of Michigan State University as an undetermined major within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Because I knew that was a sector that I liked. And I come from a family of journalists, so ag communications seemed like a natural, and after I met the professor running the program, Dr. Maxine Ferris, I just knew this was the field for me.”

Orlowitz works for USAID in international development within the country of Afghanistan.

“What I really like about my work is that I know that I am helping people in the most basic ways. And that these things—improvements in ag, improvements in education in Afghanistan, are what make it a stable and secure country and that adds to the future and prosperity and stability of the United States.” Read more »


mordell.jpg Hear the conversation 9:01 min – 12.3 mb mp3

Michigan State University alumnus Mike Mordell is executive vice president for international operations for Universal Forest Products International, a Universal Forest Products company. He says the lumber industry features a dynamic supply chain and that the business operates a lot like the stock market.

“We might not be as sexy as dot-coms or Silicon Valley, but we’re integral to how the world and the economy operates.

“Prices change. Most people, when they think about forest products, don’t realize that the products have to go to market,” says Mordell. “As a forestry student, what I knew a lot about was how to cut a tree, what happens to trees in a sawmill, and how to replant trees. But I didn’t have a good base of what happened once the tree left the saw mill. Read more »


wroten.jpg Hear the conversation 12:58 min – 7.4 mb mp3

Corporate Responsibility Puts Ford Among World’s Most Ethical Companies for Eighth Straight Year

With its focus on being a good corporate citizen, Ford Motor Company has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for the eighth straight year – the longest streak for any auto manufacturer.

“We’re very honored to be recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies for our commitment to ethics and corporate responsibility throughout, not just our company, but our supply chain,” says Mary Wroten, senior manager of Ford Supply Chain Sustainability. “Our efforts in our supply chain have really helped keep Ford among the world’s most ethical companies.”

Wroten spoke with Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes.

Each year, the Ethisphere Institute recognizes the world’s top companies for driving positive change by mandating ethical practices and promoting corporate citizenship as well as responsible governance and leadership.

As manufacturing continues to become greener, Ford is going further to shrink its environmental footprint by sharing even more leading sustainability practices with its suppliers around the globe. Read more »


mwenkel.jpg Hear the commentary 1:59 min – 1.2 mb mp3

On this week’s Ag Report on Greening of the Great Lakes, Mike Wenkel, manager of the Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc. describes how Michigan’s potato industry is able to provide a reliable supply of potatoes – giving the state a competitive edge.

“While many factors drive demand for our Michigan potatoes, reliability is a very important consideration for buyers. Michigan potato growers embrace the latest farming technology, constantly working together with researchers to find better ways to grow potatoes, and overcome challenges like pests and disease,” says Wenkel. “In addition, we’re a sustainable industry. Our customers know that when we grow potatoes, our commitment to long-term sustainability positions us to be successful in coming years.” Read more »


monaklh.jpg Hear the conversation 9:51 min – 4.5 mb mp3

“I have the honor of seeing our Flint kids almost every day in clinic, and they’re amazing,” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha tells Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes. “They are smart, they are strong, they are bright, they’re resilient and they’re brave.

“They appear to be doing well, but time will tell. Our work in Flint is really just beginning.”

Dr. Mona, as she’s known affectionately around the world, is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the MSU College of Human Medicine and director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint. She was at MSU on March 16 to give a talk titled “Flint Water Crisis: Background and Next Steps” as part of the Broad College of Business’ Business and Bagels Seminar Series. Read more »


vbklh.jpg Hear the conversations 34:32 – 19.7 mb mp3

Enbridge officials attended a meeting in Lansing on March 13 to try to assuage fears and concerns about the company’s Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Valerie Brader is executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy and co-chair of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board.

She says the board looks at the risks, benefits and alternatives to Line 5. It has representatives from industry, environmental, federal, state, and tribal groups and some outside experts to guide and advise on a whole range of issues dealing with petroleum pipelines in Michigan. It is charged with ensuring the safety, upkeep and transparency of issues related to the state’s network of pipelines. It is also charged with advising state agencies on matters related to pipeline routing, construction, operation and maintenance. Read more »

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