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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wrestling Together Against Poverty and for Health

One word captures the theme of what has been the predominate user of my time and energy – “health.” We each have our own definition of what that word means. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health in a holistic way that resonates with me: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

I often find myself worrying about my physical health as I approach my post-cancer check-ups every three months (I happen to have one of those checkups later this week). Will the disease be absent or present? Yet my resources on healthy and hopeful survivorship remind me daily that health is so much more than the absence of disease and that one can be emotionally and spiritually healthy even when living with a chronic disease.

Staff Announcements

On April 27, the FD Communications Team welcomed Parker Mott as a student worker. Parker is a first-year graphic design major at the University of Minnesota. He was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. In his free time, Parker likes to bike, hike, and listen to music.


Welcome Zoe Holloman to her new role as Twin Cities metro SNAP-Ed project coordinator, a new position for Health and Nutrition. Zoe comes to Extension with an extensive background in community-engaged food systems and health equity work in Buffalo, NY, and more recently in the Twin Cities. Zoe's first day is May 4.

FD in the News

Your monthly roundup of regional media coverage of the work Family Development staff members are doing.

SNAP-Ed educator makes “Top 20 Under 40” list

The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals and Echo Press announced “20 under 40” honorees on Friday, April 22, one of whom was SNAP-Ed Educator Maggie Yutrzenka.

Organizers hope to grow Wadena Community Garden

SNAP-Ed Educator Marilyn Hofland has run the Perham Community Garden for 20 years and discovered the Wadena Community Garden by accident. "It's a perfect fit with my program, giving access to healthy food and a great physical activity to those who either lack the skills, tools and land or finances to start a garden themselves," she said.

Review insurance policies before severe weather

The Commerce Department teamed up with Family Development to create a Financial Recovery After Disaster Video series. These brief videos, along with supporting materials, offer comprehensive guidance on how to survive and manage the financial impact when disaster strikes.

Was your work highlighted in April by local media or were you quoted in story? Contact Michael Brott to share the news.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Internet Colleagues are Colleagues Too

How many colleagues do you have who you interact with primarily through email, conference calls, and video chats? I’m guessing most of you have at least a few “internet colleagues,” especially given the nature of our work in Extension across the state and country.

But how many of those colleagues did you meet online?

As I’ve been branching into a more public life on the internet, starting, building, and maintaining relationships with colleagues in online spaces has become an essential part of my work. And I’ve learned just because those relationships exist primarily online rather than IRL (in real life) doesn’t make them any less meaningful.

CYFC Establishes Advisory Board

How does the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) become more than what we think is possible? Bring together a group of diverse, interdisciplinary minds with both practice and academic wisdom to inspire and broaden our thinking! This year, 2016, marks over five years since CYFC made a home in University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development. Given our team’s renewed vision for growing our work and expanding our reach, we believe it is a perfect time to once again engage a formal advisory board for CYFC.

The Quest for Engagement

A few days ago, I was looking for the meaning of the word engagement. offers seven different meanings: the first ones are all related to getting married or being busy with work or other tasks. The latter ones define engagement as “a pledge, an obligation, or agreement,” and finally as “an encounter, conflict, or battle.” None of these definitions convinced me.

In our work as educators, engagement means something different. It is not only making people come to a class they signed up for, but also offering participants useful information in an environment where they feel comfortable, and are excited to return to the next class. Our overarching goal in Family Development is to help participants internalize and apply the information they have received, and ultimately to use this knowledge to improve their well-being to the extent possible given the multiple constraints families face every day.
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