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calendarMSU Extension-Oakland offers a variety of programs about gardening, personal finance, nutrition, and natural resources.  We also offer programming specifically for youth. Below is a chronological list of all our upcoming programs.


Upcoming 2014 programs being presented by Robin Danto, Food Safety & Nutrition Extension Educator:

August 28 - MIFMA Farmers Market at the Capitol in Lansing
August 30 - Oakland County Market food demonstration - beets
September 2 - Distribution of Senior Market FRESH coupons in South Lyon
September 8 - Senior nutrition presentation in Royal Oak
September 13 - Distribution of Senior Market FRESH coupons in Highland
September 15 - School health fair in Farmington Hills
September 20 - Oakland County Market food demonstration - making homemade sunbutter
September 28 - Nutrition presentation at Fall Festival in Lathrup Village
October 18 - Oakland County Market food demonstration - how to prepare hard-shelled squash

May - October 2014:  Farmers Markets in Oakland County
Many Oakland County communities have farmers markets, and some combine the market with other activities or special events, including flower days, art fairs and flea markets. (You will need to check their websites for future events.)  If you have yard or garden questions, be sure to look for Oakland County Master Gardeners for assistance.  Master Gardeners can be found volunteering their time and expertise at many farmers markets in Oakland County.
July-August 2014:  Show Me Nutrition
This 6-week program, currently being offered in Rochester and Pontiac, is aimed at an audience of pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.  These lessons are interactive and appeal to a wide variety of learning styles.  Many of the activities are hands-on and each lesson has a book that accompanies it to reinforce literacy.  Each grade level is age-appropriate.  Topics covered:  food safety, positive body image, world hunger, physical activity and general nutrition.  Available in English or Spanish.  Call  248-858-0897 for further information or to schedule this program for your organization or school.
July-August 2014:  Eat Healthy, Be Active
This series is aimed at helping parents/caregivers make simple and tasty meals for their families that won't break their bank.  MSU Extension-Oakland nutrition instructors will provide nutrition education, food demonstrations and take-home materials. Series are currently being presented to community groups and organizations in Pontiac.  We are also presenting this program as a one-time workshop (9 am to 2 pm) in Pontiac on Fridays.  For more information or to schedule the Eat Healthy, Be Active series for your community group or organization, call 248-858-0897.   Available in English or Spanish.

July-September 2014:  Eat Smart, Live Strong
This nutrition series consists of fun, interactive activities for 55-74 year olds designed to encourage older adults to increase fruit and vegetable consumption as well as physical activity.  This series is currently being offered to community groups and organizations in Oak Park and Pontiac (Bowen Senior Center-open to the public).  For more information or to schedule your community group or organization, call 248-858-0897.   Available in English or Spanish.

June 25-August 27, 2014:  Summer Shooting Sports Program
This summer Oakland County 4-H will be partnering together with Sky's The Limit, a community foundation designed to reach under-served Pontiac youth. Their focus is a summer archery 4-H spin club. There has been an unfortunate decline of shooting sport clubs in Oakland County and we are looking to bring them back!  Archery is a great way for youth to gain self-confidence and master a skill in the art of shooting sports. Shooting begins every Wednesday, starting June 25
th until August 27th. Space is limited!  We will be at the Silver Lake Church of the Nazarene, 520 W. Walton Blvd, Pontiac, MI 48340. To sign up contact Chris Riley at 248-818-1144 or for more information contact Rachel Koppin at 248-858-1018.

July 28 - September 19, 2014:  4-H Week Window Display Contest
For current 4-H members:  Promote 4-H by participating in the National 4-H Week Window Display Contest!  Create an informative exhibit in the window of a local community business, restaurant or school.  Show people what 4-H is all about.  Displays must include:  4-H clover graphic, MSU Extension graphic, 4-H club name, club project area(s), and the location of your club's meetings.
The registration deadline is September 19, 2014.  Exhibits must be on display by October 3rd and remain in place until the end of the week (October 10th).  Judging will take place on October 7 and 8, 2014.  To register, please view the flyer on the title hyperlink above.
Contact:  Margi Stockert, Jason Scott or Deb Morgan if you have questions.

August 29, 2014:  Sustainable Bioenergy Cropping Systems
Advanced energy (bioenergy) mandates and economic incentives are driving interest in growing high yielding annual or perennial energy crops.  While using our best land to grow advanced energy crops may not be a logical choice, the question is:  How can the economic benefits of growing plants for energy and bio-based products be balanced by the environmental concerns?  Click here for more information about this free program
August 30, 2014:  Food Demonstration at Oakland County Market
8:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Is canning safe?  Does freezing destroy vitamins?  Learn all about food safety and preservation.  Presented by Robin Danto, MSU Extension-Oakland, Health and Nutrition in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union.
This free workshop and field demonstration, presented by Phil Kaatz, Extension Educator for Forage Management and Field Crops, will be held at the host farm and provide the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of improved soil health.  This workshop and demonstration will be held at Schweihofer Farms, St. Clair County, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Hot lunch is included.  To register call 810-667-0341 or email Tina House.
September 6, 2014:  Free Kids' Activities at Oakland County Market
9:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Teach your children about easy gardening with these head sprouts.  You don't need to buy trays or pots to start seeds -- use eggshells instead!  Presented by MSU Extension-Oakland Master Gardeners in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union. 
September 11, 2014:  Septic System Maintenance Workshop
A workshop on proper maintenance of septic systems to protect the health of your family and maintain water quality.  This program will discuss how a septic system works, signs of failure, proper maintenance, what to do if your system fails, and information on the septic permitting and inspection process.  6:00-8:00 pm in Green Oak Township, Livingston County.  Contact:  Bindu Bhakta at 248-858-0887.
September 13-20-27, 2014:  Advanced Garden Design 4-5-6
This Saturday morning series takes the participant through a successive series of training stages from simple to advanced garden design planning techniques.  Develop skills in the layout of garden beds and small landscape areas using the principles of floral harmony, balance and color for formal and informal gardens.  Contact:  Linda Smith, 248-858-0887. Click here to register online. 
September 20, 2014:  Food Demonstration at Oakland County Market
8:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Peanut butter is banned at many schools these days.  Learn how to make homemade sunbutter from sunflower seeds as an alternative to peanut butter.  Presented by Robin Danto, MSU Extension-Oakland, Health and Nutrition in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union.
September 20, 2014:  Free Kids' Activities at Oakland County Market
9:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Plant two to three small plants in a see-through container to watch them grow.  This terrarium will teach kids what plants need to survive and thrive.  Presented by MSU Extension-Oakland Master Gardeners in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union.

Michigan State University Extension and AARP Michigan have teamed up to offer consumers across the state “facts only” information about the Personal Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including expanded Medicaid coverage in 2014, and  how to become one’s own expert shopper and consumer for health insurance.  What’s vitally important is that this two-hour, two-part presentation is in plain English.
Workers and families who are selecting their health insurance, perhaps for the first time, will learn what the terms used in healthcare coverage mean, what types of healthcare coverage are now available to them, and how the Healthy Michigan plan now entitles most individuals and families earning within 133-138% of the Federal Poverty Level to Medicaid benefits.
MSU Extension’s Educators will present “Smart Choice: Health Insurance,” which provides basic understanding of insurance terms and types of coverage.  But it does not stop there.  Smart Choice explains how individuals and families can figure out how to price specific insurance coverage options to fit within their budgets and household priorities—in other words, how to review their household budgets to find the right coverage for themselves and those who depend on them.
The second presentation, by AARP trained volunteers, briefs audiences on the basics of the Affordable Care Act—how it improves Medicare, creates affordable markets of private insurance, expands Medicaid coverage and expands or improves healthcare services for many groups of people, including children up to the age of 26, women, small businesses, and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.  These services, in many cases, will cost less because tax credits for healthcare coverage have been expanded.
In a nutshell, the MSU Extension/AARP program:
  • Translates health insurance language into plain English
  • Breaks down the different types of health insurance plans on the market
  • Explains what “in-network” and “out of network” services are
  • Nails the price differences between the types of health insurance and their trade-offs in non-covered “out of pocket” charges
  • Shows participants how to evaluate their existing household spending on health services, medications, and supplies
  • Constructs an overall household budget which not only reveals what your current spending priorities may have been, but possibly reveals where room might exist within your means to afford health insurance, and to find what priority that can hold within household spending objectives
Together, MSU Extension and AARP, which are both non-partisan and non-profit organizations, hope to reach as many people as possible, especially those with financial concerns, with the facts—not rumors or misinformation--about what the Affordable Care Act is and how it can help them—in language that’s clear, not confusing.
One session will be held locally on Tuesday, September 23 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in Novi.  To register online. click here  For more information on Smart Choice, visit
September 23, 2014:  Managing Cover Crops Profitably
This free workshop and field demonstration, presented by Phil Kaatz, Extension Educator for Forage Management and Field Crops, will be held at the host farm and provide the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of improved soil health.  This workshop and demonstration will be held at Swoish Farms, Lapeer County, from 4:00 to 8:00 pm.  Combinations and single cover crop plots (12).  Steak fry included.  Limited space is available, so please register early.  To register call 810-667-0341 or email Tina House.
September 23-October 28, 2014:  Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) for Diabetes
PATH for Diabetes is a six week workshop series designed to provide skills and tools to help you improve your health and manage your symptoms.  Join us at the Orion Beaumont Wellness Center (Lake Orion) for this afternoon, 1:00-3:30 pm, program.  For further information contact Cathy Newkirk at 810-244-8523.
October 4, 2014:  Free Kids' Activities at Oakland County Market
9:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Soil, food (compost), air and moisture are required for a plant to live.  Kids can create an ecosystem-in-a-cup to take home.  Presented by MSU Extension-Oakland Master Gardeners in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union.

October 11, 2014:  Seasonal Interest in Your Garden
This workshop is a month-by-month survey of plants that will keep your garden looking great all year.  Many of us have a great spring and early summer display but the garden fizzles for the rest of the year.  This class will introduce you to plants that have many virtues and will ensure continuous bloom as well as winter interest.  
October 18, 2014:  Captivating Combinations
Stunning plant combinations are the building blocks of a great garden. Join us to:
    Explore the basics of successfully combining plants
    Discover how creative plant combinations can “perk up” an existing garden or provide the foundation for a new garden
    View many captivating combinations appropriate for a wide variety of Michigan garden conditions
October 18, 2014:  Food Demonstration at Oakland County Market
8:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Squash is both nutritious and delicious.  Learn about the different varieties of hard-shelled squash and how to prepare them.  Sample a recipe using winter squash and take home recipes.  Presented by Robin Danto, MSU Extension-Oakland, Health and Nutrition in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union.
October 18, 2014:  Free Kids' Activities at Oakland County Market
9:30 am at Oakland County Market.  Attracting birds to our yards is fun and educational.  Using cardboard paper rolls, honey and bird seed, kids will make a bird feeder to take home.  Presented by MSU Extension-Oakland Master Gardeners in cooperation with Oakland County Parks & Recreation.  Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union.
November 7, 2014:  Webinar - All Bugs Good & Bad Series, Where Have All the Honey Bees Gone?
Why do we have fewer honeybees these days?  What caused the decline?  What can we do to help?  These questions and more will be answered in this 45 minute webinar at 2:00 pm.  More information
January 22 - April 30, 2015:  Master Gardener Program
This class series will be held on Thursday evenings, 6:00-10:00 pm at the Oakland County Executive Office Building in Waterford.  Cost of the 13-week program is $300, which includes the 1,000 page training manual.  Master Gardener volunteers start by completing a 13-session practical curriculum ground in university research. This training consists of approximately 45 hours of training with classes on plant science, soil science, integrated pest management, diagnostics, annuals and perennials, woody ornamentals, lawns, vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits, household and nuisance pests and gardening practices to protect water quality.  After completing the training, Master Gardener trainees must complete 40 hours of horticulture-related service within one year to earn their Master Gardener certification. Click for further information and to register

February 9-March 16-April 13, 2015:  Michigan Pesticide Applicator Exams
Michigan Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator examinations will be held in Oakland County at 8:30 a.m.on February 9, March 16 and April 13, 2015.  Exam sessions generally run 9am-12pm.  The location is the Oakland County Service Center Executive Office Building Conference Center in Waterford.  Go to  for more information and to register.  Advance registration is required.
1) Only money orders or checks made payable to the State of Michigan are accepted.
2) Applicants must bring a picture ID, pen, pencil, and if renewing, their certification card and renewal paperwork.
3) We do not take walk-ins; all applicants must schedule an appointment.
4) We generally begin processing applicant paperwork at 8:30 am.  Please  arrive at that time and no later.  If you have a unique work situation and cannot arrive at the required time, please contact Molly Mott at 248-521-0501 (for this situation only).
Ongoing:  Food Preservation Correspondence Course 
A correspondence course for anyone wishing to learn canning, freezing, or drying techniques using up-to-date information and methods so the food preserved is safe to eat.  Contact:  Robin Danto at 248-858-0904.

Ongoing:  Michigan Cottage Food Law Food Safety Training
The Michigan Cottage Food Law allows Michigan residents to manufacture and store particular foods in an unlicensed kitchen, such as a residential home. Through this program participants will learn about the Cottage food law and other principles you can use to provide safe products. Cottage Food Law and Safety training educates on preparing and selling foods under the Cottage Food Law, producing a safe food products, production, packaging and labeling, storing and transporting.  Cost: $10.00.

The Tollgate Farm Center offers year-round educational field trips for school or youth groups.  Hands-on, interactive and engaging lessons are intertwined with real-life applications.  They create experiences that complement school curriculum and customize programs to be relevant and enriching.

Online Learning 

2014 Master Citizen Planner Webinar Series
Date: August 21, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: webinar
Contact: Janean Danca: 269-657-8213 or
The 2014 Master Citizen Planner (MCP) Webinar Series is designed to offer participants the latest updates and information on current topics. Using Adobe Connect, MSU Extension educators will provide an overview of topics of interest to planning and zoning officials. Classes are the third Thursday of April, June, August, October and December from 7 - 8 p.m. Class descriptions are available on the attached flyer. Each session is available individually or participants can register for all five at once. MCPs will earn one credit per session.  Visit the 2014 Master Citizen Planner Webinar Series registration page for more information.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Academy Online
Looking to learn more about integrated pest management (IPM)?  Then check out the Integrated Pest Management Academy Online.  These series of on-demand webinars, created by Michigan State University Extension, are designed to help Michigan growers identify pest management resources and understand IPM basics.  Registration is not required and they are available for free.  Simply visit at your convenience and view one or all of the prerecorded webinars.  Viewers can earn up to four pesticide recertification credits.  A computer with Internet connectivity, a web browser and speakers are required.
Webinar:  Financial Planning for the Second Half of Life - Tuesday, September 23 at 11 a.m. ET
The  United States has an increasingly aging population including baby  boomers age 50 to 68 (in 2014). Older adults face unique financial  planning challenges. These include making irrevocable decisions about claiming Social  Security benefits, selecting Medicare supplement health insurance and  long-term care insurance, selecting income-based investments (e.g.,  annuities), making sustainable retirement asset withdrawals, and calculating required minimum distributions (RMDs) due on  tax-deferred savings plans such as traditional IRAs and the Thrift  Savings Plan (TSP). This 90-minute webinar will “package” together 15  key later life financial planning topics that older adults and the practitioners who serve them need to understand and address.  Topics that will be covered in the webinar include:  Common financial errors of older adults, Statistics about older adult finances, Common later life financial characteristics and required decisions, 15  key later life financial planning topics (e.g., creating a retirement  “paycheck,” required minimum distributions, untitled property transfers,  and leaving a legacy), and Personal finance resources for older adults and financial practitioners. Participant  interaction will include discussing workable financial planning  strategies for older adults, older client errors and “blind spots,”  older client success stories, and more. Speaker: Dr. Barbara O'Neill. 

Get the Facts: The Affordable Care Act in Michigan Webinars
(Mondays at 3:00 pm)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as PPACA, ACA, health reform law, ObamaCare) affects residents’ access to and use of the country’s healthcare system and insurance policies. Individuals and families who have insurance through their employers, the private market, or through public programs, as well as those without insurance, are all affected in various ways. How much can I afford? Why is it important? What do I need and want? Lean how to make the Smart Choice . Join us live online to learn how you can get the most out of your health insurance. Webinars will be held Mondays at 3:00 pm for the foreseeable future.  To participate, log on to: Click “Guest” and type in any name. Your participation is anonymous. No personal information will be collected. If you don’t have a computer with a high-speed connection and speakers, visit your local library for access.
eHome Money is a personal guide to financial health.  It's a fun, informative, low-cost course that you take online at your own pace, on your own schedule, at any computer.  With eHome Money you learn the steps you can take to reduce debt, raise your credit score and improve your whole financial picture.
As a HUD and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) certified agency, MSU Extension has been providing housing education for over 20 years.  By completing the online eHome America course and learning about available local, state and federal housing financing programs, participants can take positive steps to reach their goal of home ownership.  In order to receive a certificate of completion participants will need to complete a discussion (in-person or via phone) with a Michigan State University Extension Certified Housing Counselor.
Whether you already have a financial services provider, or are trying to select one, this course will give you the confidence to effectively evaluate your options and make the choice that's right for you.  What's the difference between a broker, an adviser and a financial planner?  What do all the titles and designations mean?  How can their background and credentials be checked out?  What services should you insist on having provided?  When interviewing a prospective financial services provider, how do you differentiate between a straight-talking professional and a flimflam salesman?   (This webinar was recorded on September 25, 2012.)

Legally Secure Your Financial Future 
Organize, Communicate, Prepare is a comprehensive series to help you get organized, communicate with others and begin preparing your estate plan.
Investing For Your Future is an 11-unit home study course that was developed by the Cooperative Extension system for beginning investors with small dollar amounts to invest at any one time. It was assumed that many readers will be investing for the first time or selecting investment products, such as a stock index fund or unit investment trust, that they have not purchased previously.  The course units were developed in a logical order. "Basic" topics such as setting goals, investment terms (e.g., diversification, dollar-cost averaging, asset allocation), and finding money to invest lay a foundation to help readers understand how and why they’re investing.  After exploring "the basics," the course describes specific types of investments (e.g., stocks and bonds) in detail. Finally, Investing For Your Future concludes with additional topics of use to investors: available resources, how to select professional financial advisors, and information to help you avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud. You can choose to read the entire course, in any order that makes sense to you, or select only those topics that are of most interest.
Michigan Citizen Planner Online 
Michigan Citizen Planner Online is designed to equip volunteer community leaders with the technical knowledge and leadership skills needed to perform their duties more effectively.   Contact:  517-432-7600.

For further information about any classes or activities, please contact MSU Extension-Oakland County, 248-858-0880. 

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