I Know MI Numbers
Kids learn about scientific measurement at "4-H Science Blast," a recent I Know MI Numbers event.
Michigan residents and communities are facing critical problems that affect their quality of life, challenge government and household budgets, and put Michigan's recovery at risk. The fiscal soundness of local governments; the quality of our water; rising levels of obesity, especially among children; low achievement in science literacy; and low levels of child readiness for entering school are just a few of the issues that threaten Michigan's efforts to move forward. All of these concerns have been identified as critical issues on Governor Rick Snyder's "dashboard" to measure how Michigan is faring (see "Measuring Michigan's Performance" at michigan.gov/midashboard for details).
To help overcome these challenges, MSU Extension (MSUE) has launched the "I Know MI Numbers" initiative, a set of targeted programs that are encouraging all Michigan residents to understand how their personal actions can translate into the "numbers" that reflect healthier living, a cleaner environment, and educational achievement for their families, their communities, and the state.
"The key to making dramatic changes in critical issues such as balancing production with environmental protection, obesity, municipal management, and literacy is understanding how to measure success," said Thomas Coon, director of MSU Extension. "We're encouraging people to learn where they stand and how to move forward."
Helping our Cities and Towns Succeed
Local governments and school districts in Michigan make up a $50 billion enterprise that provides basic public services such as police patrols, ambulance service, clean water, parks, and education. In Michigan this enterprise is increasingly under financial stress. Lower tax revenues, less state revenue sharing, and a sluggish economy have put many local Michigan governments in financial stress that is severe enough to threaten basic public services.
Extension educators, working with partners from the legal and financial sectors, are offering workshops for newly elected and appointed local officials about new civic management tools that the governor and Legislature have provided to address this crisis. Workshop topics include the new emergency financial manager law, legal contracts, health care management, turnaround plans, local finance, local government cooperation and consolidation, school law and finance, and municipal bankruptcy.
Developing the Workforce of Tomorrow
Increasing early childhood literacy. More than a third of children enter kindergarten without the pre-reading skills needed to benefit from the instruction they receive. MSUE is partnering with the Molina Foundation, based in Torrance, California, to distribute 50,000 books across the state to help improve early childhood literacy. The books will be bundled with other learning resources that will give parents and caregivers the tools they need to better prepare Michigan's youngest learners for a lifetime of greater literacy and greater success.
Improving science literacy. MSUE has a long history of providing science education in a non-formal setting that uses an experiential, learn-by-doing method. Science literacy for school-aged youth in Michigan is below the national average. MSUE aims to impact this rating by supporting teachers across Michigan with resources, experiments, and lesson plans on three science focus areas: biology (animal and veterinary sciences), plant sciences, and environmental sciences (including bioenergy). MSUE will provide resource packets, aligned with Michigan Science Education Standards by grade, to teachers along with training in how to incorporate the resources into their classroom lessons. After-school and community-based programs such as 4-H Science Blast and National 4-H Youth Science Day events will be held across the state in the coming months. Combined, these efforts are designed to help improve student science scores in schools and connect classroom learning with real world experiences.
Other areas of the I Know MI Numbers program include:
- Educating farmers about agricultural practices that will protect and enhance our state's natural resources
- Working through faith-based organizations, worksites, and existing programming to lead nutrition education classes with an emphasis on reducing obesity
I Know MI Numbers programs began in communities in April 2011. Initial results should be reported by the end of the year.