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Tom Coon

Tom Coon: Leading MSU Extension into the 21st century (part 1)

Tom Coon talks with Kirk Heinze on WJR

Written by Julia Wendzinski

Tom Coon is the director of Michigan State University Extension, a program dedicated to educating the people of Michigan about how to improve their lives and communities. Coon talks with Kirk Heinze about the reorganization that MSU Extension is currently going through.

A program that has been “doing green things long before green was popular,” MSU Extension is reorganizing their operation to better fit the needs of the state.

“Part of being sustainable is being adaptable,” says Coon. “As new challenges present themselves, you have to jump on those.”

MSU Extension will still have an office in every county and will remain connected with MSU. Their focus will continue to be delivering programs to help people improve their lives, whether it be with their families, in their communities, in their businesses or on their farms.

“What’s different is how we’re going to organize ourselves to get that work done,” says Coon. “It goes back to being lean and being responsive in a very timely way.”

A goal of the reorganization is to be able to replicate successful programs, such as one relating to lowering utilities bill across the state at a rapid rate.

“So what we provide is a value to people across Michigan and not just in the county where we got a particular program started,” says Coon.

Four institutes are at the core of the reorganization. These four institutes are areas where MSU Extension feels Michigan has the opportunity to grow.  The first is agriculture and agribusiness, often described as Michigan’s  first green industry, which is growing. The second is greening Michigan, explains Coon as “leveraging our natural and human assets for prosperity at the community level.” The third area is health and nutrition, helping consumers make healthy decisions and in turn reduce healthcare costs.

The fourth focus is preparing Michigan’s children and youth for the future. Children are our workforce of tomorrow, says Coon, and must be positioned well into programs to help them grow in a healthy way.

Click on the arrow above to hear part one of Coon’s May 14 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk HeinzeGreening of the Great Lakes airs Friday evenings at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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