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Monday, February 20, 2017

In 2017, I will be taking more risks.

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

Throughout 2016, the opportunity to take risks bubbled up more than once in my personal and profession lives. For example, I had the opportunity to try aerial fitness, which stretched both my coordination and athletic ability to the max. An opportunity to take risks at work came up when I was I was challenged to develop new ways to deliver online programming that allowed for greater accessibility for our audiences.

As I think about taking risks, I am reminded of my youngest daughter Josie learning to ride her bike. She first began to learn to ride her bike in a baseball field. In her mind, falling on gravel was much less scary than falling on a concrete sidewalk. After she had built up her confidence on the baseball field, she began to practice in the empty school parking lot on weekends. Then she moved to riding on the sidewalks in our neighborhood.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Extension Network Nerds Are Set Up to Connect

By Noelle Harden, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Are you thinking like a network?

You may have read the blog post my fellow network nerd Jamie Bain wrote about thinking like a network. You may have also read that cold weather didn’t keep people away from the summit hosted by the Central Regional Food Access Network. As Extension and Minnesota become more “net-centric,” we in Family Development are developing new resources to meet the needs of our Health and Nutrition staff, partners, and the communities we serve. Case in point, our new web page: Food Networks in Minnesota.

This web page hosts an ArcGIS map and a sortable directory of food networks in Minnesota.

A snapshot from the ArcGIS map with the Central Region Food Access and Minnesota Food Charter networks highlighted.

This web page also has information about how to join the new Minnesota Food Networks email list and upcoming quarterly meetings. We created these resources to promote more learning, connecting, and engagement between food network leaders and others working on food systems change in Minnesota communities and across the state.

Please share these resources with partners (here’s a shortened link for you to use: http://z.umn.edu/mnfoodnetworks), and don’t hesitate to contact me at harde073@umn.edu with your questions, ideas, or to seek out some network nerd camaraderie.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Extension Begins Training for School Success Program

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

On March 30, University of Minnesota Extension staff, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education, will begin training future facilitators of Education: Our Best Legacy (EOBL). This program was developed by Center for Family Development (FD) staff to help middle school students get the most out of school. EOBL is one of several parent education programs offered under FD’s Partnering for School Success project.


Despite overall strong marks in academic achievement, Minnesota experiences one of the highest levels of educational disparities in the country. FD staff in family resiliency created the EOBL program to close these opportunity gaps in education.

Schoolyard Gardens Conference Set for Early March

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

“New Places to Grow” is the theme of the 2017 Schoolyard Gardens Conference, set for Friday, March 3, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. Held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., sessions include the following:
  • Ten Plants that Changed Minnesota
  • Making Year-Round School Gardens Work
  • Special Needs and Gardening
  • Sustaining a School Garden through Collaboration and Student “Ownership”
  • The Perfect Prairie Partnership
The conference will also feature a keynote address by Rick Sherman, Farm to School and School Garden Coordinator, Oregon Department of Education. Rick will share how Oregon became a leader in the farm to school and school garden movement, detailing how the state’s school gardens united into a mega-force.

Whether you are a beginner or schoolyard garden veteran, join educators, school administrators, gardeners, and community members to learn innovative strategies to sustain and engage diverse learners in thriving schoolyard gardens.

This annual event is sponsored by the arboretum and the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, in collaboration with the Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Coalition. Register today on the conference web page: 2017 Schoolyard Gardens Conference. Financial hardship assistance may be available. Call 612-301-1210 to inquire.

Your Help Needed for Elder Family Financial Exploitation Research

By Marlene Stum, Professor and Extension Specialist — Family Social Science

Your help is needed to identify potential participants to understand family experiences when elderly people are victims of financial exploitation by someone in their own family. We have half of our participants but need another recruitment push to reach our goal of having all interviews completed by March 2017.

Elder family financial exploitation is widely agreed to be the most prevalent and growing type of elder abuse in Minnesota as well as across the U.S. It is also commonly recognized that “families are never the same after experiencing financial exploitation.” However, the voices and perspectives of affected family members are largely absent from what’s known about elder financial exploitation.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Affirming Our Commitment to Respecting Diversity and Fostering Inclusion

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

On January 24 and 26, I attended two sessions of the 2017 Lessons from the Field series. This year’s series of workshops focuses on the needs of transgender youth and is led by CYFC's Scholar in Residence, Jennifer McGuire, Ph.D. Jennifer and her co-presenters — Nathan Hesse, SNAP Ed educator, and Cari Michaels, CYFC Extension educator — thoughtfully highlighted the challenges faced by transgender youth in our society.

We got a chance to connect with each other throughout the workshop.

These transgender workshops reminded me of one of my earliest programming opportunities related to diversity and inclusion. In 1995, while working at Iowa State as an assistant state Extension leader, I was tasked with planning and implementing a statewide, three-day immersive training session on reaching Hispanic audiences through Extension family programming. Today, these lessons learned from planning and participating in this experience remain with me.
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