My Secure Advantage Update/Webinar

Human Resources is pleased to report that the new “My Secure Advantage” (MSA) financial wellness program which is offered in partnership with E4 (our Employee and Family Assistance Program) got off to a remarkably successful first month: between January 4th and the 31st 46 benefits-eligible Middlebury employees enrolled themselves in the program! And the initial feedback we have received from those using the Money Coaching program has been overwhelmingly positive!  According to MSA, the top three areas of interest for Middlebury participants have been: debt reduction, retirement planning and budgeting.  Might you be interested in those or other money-related topics, too?    Whether you are suffering from financial stress or have some extra cash and are in a position to do some financial planning consider joining your “early adopter” colleagues and  taking advantage of what MSA can offer.  Please consider consulting with a Money Coach (888-724-2326) or joining MSA for a live financial webinar later this month (see signup information below).

YOUR FREE FINANCIAL FORUM – Feb. 24th
Many members have asked that we continue our Financial Forum Series. We are happy to announce that we have scheduled a Financial Forum for each quarter of 2016. As usual, our panelists will address questions ranging from debt and budgeting, to investments and retirement. Since we are in the middle of tax season, we will also have a member of our tax team available to answer your tax-related questions. Submit a question when you register, then log into the webinar on February 24th to hear our panel address questions and concerns from people across the country.

9am PST SIGNUP
12pm PST SIGNUP

MEET: Dave Jiru
35+ years’ experience in the financial services industry – Dave is a former Registered Rep. with the NASD and had Series 24, 7, 63 and 65 securities licenses. Dave manages the MSA Financial Ed. Dept. and is a frequent presenter of classes and seminars nationwide

MEET: Barbara Quan
Barbara has worked in financial services since 2001 as a loan officer for several mortgage firms, and she holds a California Real Estate License. She is a Certified Credit Counselor. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

MEET: Donna Shackel
38+ years’ experience in tax and financial services – Donna is an EA and former IRS tax representative. She spent 10 years teaching tax law for both the IRS and California Tax Education Council. She is also a Certified Credit Counselor.

MAKE FINANCES A PRIORITY. SIGN UP FOR THE MSA NEWSLETTER TODAY.

VWHE 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference–Register Now!

The 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference from Vermont Women in Higher Education, with the theme “Power Up! Harness Your Power, Direct Your Energy, Electrify the World,” is March 31 and April 1 at Killington Grand Resort. There will be a variety of professional workshops and more, all in a beautiful setting.  This year’s keynote speaker is Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power.  

The featured talks on Day One of the conference promise to help participants develop new skills and return to their jobs energized. They are titled Recharging Your Battery: Plugging into Your Positive Core to Power Up at Work and Beyond,” and “Being That Person in Your Department: Addressing Social Justice Issues with Fellow Professionals in Student Affairs and Beyond.”

Overnight accomoddations are also available at a special group rate.

Click here to register now!

Questions? Please contact Shannon Bohler, VWHE Institutional Representative at x2961 or at bohler@middlebury.edu.

Feel free to check out the conference webpage!

The State of the Republican Race: A View From the Ground In New Hampshire

Because I’ll be making a last round of New Hampshire campaign events tomorrow (I’m hoping to hit Cruz and Jeb! and will be live tweeting both events), I thought I’d post my assessment of the state of the Republican race in New Hampshire tonight. (The Democratic race, to me, has not been nearly as unpredictable.) […]

The Trees are Alright

Abnormal weather always has people worrying about their trees and shrubs in the yard, and this winter is anything but normal. It’s the warm temperatures that are troubling, and many people have come up to me asking if the trees are going to be OK, or if the warm temperatures mean they are going to start growing.

Surprisingly, it’s the opposite, but this winter is a long ways from being worrying.

All temperate climate plants go through a period called dormancy, a mandated winter rest. This is triggered in the fall by not only temperatures, but by day-length. As the days get shorter the plants go through chemical and physiological changes to prepare for below normal temperatures. Once dormant, the plant needs sustained cold (500-2000 hours below about 40 degrees) to break dormancy and get ready to grow again in the spring. So, if this winter were to have stayed above about 50 all winter long the plants wouldn’t have started to grow, but the opposite, would just sitting there doing nothing.

And this makes sense. I’m always amazed at how smart and resilient plants are. While this winter is fairly unusual in the sustained warmth, we do see warm spells most winters, and plants that would start to grow at the first blush of spring wouldn’t be around very long. Breaking dormancy requires not only warm temperatures, but increasing day-lengths, longer spells of sunshine to break their winter gloom.

What can hurt a plant is freezing temperatures once dormancy is overcome. In trees, this is seen as frost cracking, long vertical fissures in the bark caused by water freezing in the xylem after warming up and moving around in the daytime. (Look at the trunk of the Sycamore in the triangle in Wilson Terrace outside McCullough)

This adaption to day-length also explains why plants with a local background (called provenance) is best. Day-length varies by latitude, with greater variation seen in northern latitudes. Take a tree from Vermont, move it down to Georgia (poor thing), and it will stop growing mid summer, as the days are a northern fall-like short. What I see quite a bit more, though, is the opposite. Plants grown in a nursery down south and moved up north don’t know when to shut down and start dormancy, and are often growing late into the fall, with their leaves and twigs freezing, unprepared for winter.

And while I’ve got your attention, let me take care of one final question I’ve been getting. No, your lilacs aren’t ‘budding’. Many people are looking at their giant buds on the ends of the lilac twigs, and think they are swelling about ready to pop and start growing. They were actually that large this fall, you just were too busy looking at fall foliage. Fear not.