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Mr Rabe Goes to Washington

MSU CANR | Published on 3/26/2024

Grad student Michael Rabe represents the Turfgrass program, PSM and MSU on the Hill: Congressional Visits Day 2024

Michael Rabe, PSM graduate student (Thomas Nikolai) and  Farm Assistant Manager at the Hancock Turfgrass Research Center participated in the 2024 Congressional Visits Day (CVD) in February 2023. Michael and 18 graduate students from across the country, certified crop advisers, people from private sectors, and officials from the tri-societies (ASA-CSSA-SSSA). As part of “Team Mid-West,” Michael was grouped with Luther Smith, (Tri-societies) Dr. Karina Morales (University of Wisconsin), and Chase Krug, PhD student, University of Minnesota.

First the group was trained to have an effective congressional meeting. During that training “we had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Manji Misra, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and from congressional staffers who shared their experiences working a highly demanding jobs as legislative aides on capitol hill. And then we practiced the delivery of our message.  

The next day they attended scheduled meetings with the legislative aides of Rep. John Moolenaar, Senator Gary Peters, and Senator Debbie Stabenow, as well as staff of the Minnesota and Wisconsin delegations.

“Our goal was to ask 2025 fiscal year funding appropriation for the competitive USDA agricultural research grant programs, specifically $500 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and $50 million for the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA),” said Rabe. “AgARDA is a competitive grant designed to fund high risk high reward projects that can lead to innovation, it was authorized in 2018 but had not received appropriated funding above $1 million. No research projects have been funded by the program yet.”

This was the first time that Michael participated in advocating funding for ag research. “I got invited by the tri-societies because of my work on water conservation. It was a very impactful experience for me. I have now joined the science policy committees of the tri-societies and plan to be involved in science policy advocacy going forward.”


Michael is currently pursuing a MSc degree in Crop and Soil Sciences at Michigan State University. He is studying a new irrigation method for golf course putting greens (Capillary Hydroponics) that supplies water directly to the roots of the turfgrass plant, comparing that to the widely adopted method of overhead irrigation. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Crop and Soil Science at the Michigan State University in 2020. While working on his bachelor’s degree he worked as a Golf Course Superintendent at Eagle Eye Golf Club and is now working as the Assistant Farm Manager at the Hancock Turfgrass Research Center at Michigan State University. “During my time in the Michigan State University turf program and working in industry I heard from turfgrass managers who were eager to use innovation to be better stewards of the land and natural resources they were managing, it is my great pleasure to be a small part of the agricultural research that drive innovation that makes the end user’s lives easier and more effective.”


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