• MSU Extension

    What is Extension?

    Family preparing foodMichigan State University (MSU) Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses.  For more than 100 years, MSU Extension has helped grow Michigan’s economy by equipping Michigan residents with the information that they need to do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower our children to dream of a successful future.

    For more information about what we offer in the classroom and by request, explore the MSU Extension Catalog of Programs and Services, which features programming in Agriculture, Business & Community, Family, Food & Health, Lawn & Garden, Natural Resources and 4-H & Youth.

    What we do

    Field crop researchWith a presence in every Michigan county, Extension faculty and staff members provide tools to live and work better. From a personal meeting to information online, MSU Extension educators work every day to provide the most current information when people need it to ensure success – in the workplace, at home and in the community.

    Whether it’s helping grow Michigan’s agriculture economy, capturing opportunities that use our natural resources in a sustainable way, controlling health care costs by giving individuals the information they need to manage chronic illness or preparing tomorrow’s leaders, MSU Extension is creating opportunities and building communities that make Michigan strong, prosperous and a great place to live.

    The 2012-13 Legislative Report contains stories on the latest developments in MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch, including scientific research, key programs, community outreach and how each organization has had a positive impact on Michigan residents.  


    4-H HisMichigan Extension work began before the organization was officially organized. The Michigan State College’s (now MSU) first livestock field agent was hired in 1907. In 1912, the Michigan Legislature authorized county boards of supervisors to appropriate funds and levy taxes to further teaching and demonstrations in Extension work. Eleven agricultural agents were named that year. In 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, which created the Cooperative Extension System and directed the nation’s land grant universities to oversee its work.

    With the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, the first statewide home economics and 4-H youth Extension workers were appointed; county home economics agents were appointed beginning in 1915. In the early years of Extension, “demonstration agents” showed or demonstrated new farming or homemaking techniques. Today, Extension agents use a wide variety of information systems to deliver educational information.


    Michigan State University Extension helps people improve their lives through an educational process that applies knowledge to critical issues, needs and opportunities.

  • My Way to Wellness Course

    Through the personal goal setting online course, participants will work towards setting goals. Although a healthy lifestyle is important for those of any age, making positive choices in terms of health and fitness as adults is crucial in determining many factors. Eating well reduces the risk of chronic disease, promotes energy and ultimately affects an individual’s weight and how they feel. Because the My Way to Wellness course is offered online, it is easy to accommodate to any schedule. Participants can complete the program at ease in the comfort of their own home or personal setting.s a key component to achieve where they want to be.

Meet the Team

  • Dawn Earnesty MS RDN

    MSU Extension Extension Educator

    Dawn is an Extension Educator with the Health and Nutrition Institute. She is a Registered Dietitian and has been working for MSU Extension for six years. Dawn also has her Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. Dawn is certified as a Work@Health instructor and also has a commission on dietetic registration certification in adult weight management. Her focus areas include worksite wellness, disease prevention and community nutrition education research. When she is not working hard to educate Michigan residents on nutrition and health she is working out, boating, and spending time with her family and friends.

  • Ellen Darnall

    Educational Media Coordinator

    Ellen is the Educational Media Coordinator for Michigan State University Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute. She is a Registered Dietitian with experience in clinical nutrition and community nutrition education. Ellen received her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and completed her dietetic internship at Wayne State University. Ellen enjoys teaching others about creating and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits. She can often be found running, practicing yoga, or in her kitchen cooking up something healthy and delicious.