MSU Extension liaison connects U.P. vets with opportunities

MARQUETTE — Michigan State University Extension has doubled down on its commitment to military veterans by hiring a new specialist who will work directly with this audience — with a workshop scheduled in the Upper Peninsula on Saturday.

Adam Ingrao, himself a veteran, will help connect veterans with education and opportunities available through MSU Extension, according to a press release. He will be working with veterans throughout Michigan with a presence in the Luce County Extension office in Newberry and at MSU’s main campus in East Lansing.

To kick off this new commitment, Ingrao is expanding MSU Extension’s Heroes to Hives program, a honey bee education and management program that he and his wife, Lacey Ingrao, founded in 2015 on their farm near Lansing.

“We started Heroes to Hives to help veterans find a safe space where they could talk frankly about experiences in the military while learning to protect and profit from the most important pollinator we have,” Ingrao said.

U.P. veterans, National Guard members and their spouses are invited to join the Heroes to Hives program for a free “Healthy Hives” workshop at MSU’s North Farm in Chatham on Saturday. The Heroes to Hives Workshop will be from 9 a.m. to noon at MSU North Farm, N5431 Rock River Road, Chatham.

In this three-hour beginner beekeeper workshop, the following topics will be covered: lighting a smoker, proper hive tool use, hive handling, basic hive inspections, note taking and varroa mite monitoring on live beehives.

Register at: https://goo.gl/forms/6Npd6Xf0DEN3c8yg1

“When you work with bees, you have to move very slowly and methodically,” Ingrao said. “That can be a great benefit to former soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress or who have been injured. Teaching people how to meditate, for example, not only keeps them from getting stung, but it allows them to clear their mind and focus.”

Ingrao will also work to connect veterans with other MSU Extension programs.

“Most people think of Extension as (agriculture) education only,” he said. “But there are many other programs that are of particular interest to veterans. I’m eager to help veterans and their families connect to youth development opportunities like Michigan 4-H, nutrition education programs, health and wellness programs, and the myriad other opportunities that MSU Extension offers to support the success of veterans and their families.”

Jeff Dwyer, director of MSU Extension, said Ingrao is a perfect fit for this position.

“Adam’s commitment to service — in the military and beyond — is unparalleled,” Dwyer said. “He understands veterans’ specialized needs because he is one. I look forward to helping him grow our commitment to this audience.”

Michigan is home to about 635,000 military veterans – just under 9 percent of the state’s total population.

For more information on Michigan State University Extension, visit http://canr.msu.edu/outreach.