DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan State University Extension has expanded the scope of its agricultural and environmental programs to target quality of life challenges faced by residents and communities.
The extension will launch its "I Know MI (pronounced "MY") Numbers" initiative over the next six to nine months.
The initiative is intended to educate people across the state on what numbers translate into healthier living, a cleaner environment, better education and more effective local government.
Extension scientists and staff will use their expertise to work with residents and municipalities in all 83 counties, Director Thomas Coon said Saturday.
Farmers will be educated on practices that reduce the flow of pesticides and nutrients into the state's water supply. Nutrition classes to reduce adult obesity and workshops to help communities deal with fiscal and other challenges will be offered. The extension also will help distribute 50,000 books to increase childhood literacy and provide resources to improve science literacy.
Programs will start in communities at the end of the month.
Each of the five topics relates to areas identified by Gov. Rick Snyder as priorities for Michigan's success, Coon said.
"We want to show ourselves and the people of Michigan that we are able to respond in a rapid way to emerging issues," he said. "We think we can show ways to help people make progress."
The methods of teaching are changing, a bit, he added.
"Obesity is about food choices. It's about physical activity," Coon said. "We feel we have curriculum that can help people make changes in their lives and measure the progress. But it's with a particular goal to help people find ways to bring down their weight."
An agriculture literacy program helps the public understand where their food comes from and where food production stands in Michigan. As part of it, some dairy farmers are opening up their farms on Saturday, preparing breakfast using all Michigan projects, Coon said.
"The more we get information about food grown in Michigan ... it's going to resonate that there are more ways to make money around this," he said. "We are trying to create opportunities for people to farm in Detroit in Flint. We don't care if it's through a community garden or a small business. The point is there are a lot of ways to grow food and a lot of opportunities to grow in urban areas."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.