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Showing posts from 2014

What Are You Searching For?

By Trish Olson,  Interim Associate Dean
This is the time of year when the "lists" for 2014 come out. I was intrigued by Google’s most searched words of 2014. The most frequent searches reflect hope, fear, compassion, and fun. They also reflect our role as global citizens.

Google also breaks down searches by category into sub-lists such as people, actors, actresses, beauty, celebrity pregnancies, diets, donations, losses, major league baseball, and selfies. What fascinated me about these sub-lists is the obsession with "famous people," especially actors and athletes. Are we simply curious about their lives? Or do we strive to be more like them? How does knowing more about famous people change our behavior or improve our personal or professional lives?

As we approach a new year, I challenge you to review and reflect on your own most frequent search queries for 2014. Maybe you keep an “internal log” of your searches in your head. If you need help, though, you can lo…

Reflecting on ‘Part-time’ Retirement and the Economy

“Never again.” Although I didn’t say those words out loud, those thoughts went through my mind last January 31 when I officially retired after 31 years with Extension! So imagine my surprise this past fall when I was asked to return to Extension as Acting Program Leader until Karen comes back.

At any rate, I am now a “failed retiree,” as an Ohio colleague labeled me when I saw her in September at the NEAFCS Annual Meeting in Lexington, KY. I’m also well into my “second act.” Working for pay again has been different and fun, and I’m happy to be able to blend part-time employment with the freedom retirement brings to pursue other interests.

Faculty-Field Partnerships

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

Recently I read a blog post from Brookings Institution titled Hitting Kids: American Parenting and Physical Punishment that provided a perspective on this fall’s Adrian Peterson situation. (Peterson is the Minnesota Vikings player accused of disciplining his 4-year-old son with a switch.) I thought to myself, “Who in Extension could offer a research-informed Minnesota perspective?”

I am thankful to Dr. Jenifer McGuire for offering additional information to reflect upon as we consider the ramifications of publicity from the Peterson case on our work with parents and children. Read her response to the Brookings article here: Interpreting Research on Parent-Child Interactions, Including Studies on Physical Discipline.

We must remember that these incidents about disciplining children are not just news media fodder, but important topics in the lives of families, children, and the agency staff who serve them. We in Family Development need to stay i…

Save the Date: Qualey-Skjervold Conference April 8-9, 2015

FD is pleased to announce that we have selected dates for next year's Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference. It will be held April 8-9, 2015, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

We would again like to extend the invitation to all FD staff to attend this event. The planning committee will be working on the agenda starting next month and will share more details about the conference as they are available. Registration will be sent in March. In the meantime, please save the dates on your calendar.

Heather Lee, Project Manager

EFANS Takes on a New Name: AFNR

The Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (EFANS) has changed its name to Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR). The center is no longer using EFANS or CFANS-Extension and requests that FD and other centers immediately start using the new name in their communications.

Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

Interpreting Research on Parent-Child Interactions, Including Studies on Physical Discipline

By Jenifer McGuire, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist — Department of Family Social Science

A response to Hitting Kids: American Parenting and Physical Punishment, by Richard V. Reeves and Emily Cuddy in a Nov. 6, 2014, Brookings Institution: Social Mobility Memo blog post.

When Trish sent this article to me and asked for my take on it, my first thought was “I don’t really know anything about spanking — that is not my area of expertise.” I still feel that way, but I do think I can offer some insight on how to back away from the surface of an issue to consider what’s actually happening, and how to interpret studies regarding parent-child interactions.

First, I can say that the Brookings article is similar to others I have seen on the topic of hitting kids, i.e., that research shows that spanking is fairly common and in moderation is not linked to significant outcomes one way or another. I suspect that when parents feel empowered to use more positive methods of disci…

Secretary of Agriculture announces grants to help schools buy local

This past Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the recipients of the USDA Farm to School Grants. Two of the 82 projects will be lead by Minnesota communities. The descriptions below are from the complete list of FY2015 Farm to School grant recipients. The demand for these grants is about five times higher than the funds available each year, so they are highly competitive. We will look forward to following the work of the two Minnesota grant recipients over the coming year.

Congratulations to the Community Health Board in northeast Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools!

Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

I gave myself a gift on Black Friday. I am not a shopper that day at the mall or online, so the gift I gave myself was to read a book cover to cover the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. I read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

Hillenbrand tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Italian-American born in 1917. This kid with a knack for getting in trouble was saved by a caring brother who introduced him to running on the high school track team. That led to a scholarship at the University of Southern California and participation in the 1936 Olympics, followed by enlisting in the U. S. Army Air Force and serving in the Pacific arena.

This is not just another book about WWII, an airplane crash, fighting off sharks, starvation, being a prisoner of war, or post-traumatic stress. While all these topics and more are covered in the book, it is above all a story of survival, endurance, sta…

Seasonal Website Shapes Up

The "Live Healthy, Live Well" website has a new section: "Healthy Winters."

Just in time for our unseasonably cold November, this section of the website went live two weeks ago. It features three articles by authors from Family Resiliency and Food Safety.

Thanks to +Mary Jo Katras+Sara Croymans, and +Ruth Ellis for their work on this section. Use this link to share with partners and participants:

Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

A Thanksgiving Update from Karen Shirer

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

Trish Olson asked that I give you an update on what is happening with me. Many of you have been asking how I have been doing with the cancer treatments.

First, some details on the cancer treatment. The cancer that I have is large B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma and my specific one is a “double-hit” lymphoma. It is a very aggressive form of cancer and was spreading rapidly through my lymph node system before I began treatment. To date, I have had four rounds of chemotherapy. Each round is five days long and completed in the hospital. The chemo goes by the acronym R-EPOCH, which describes the type being used. You can find out more at this website:

The chemo rounds have been rigorous, but I have been able to control the nausea with medication. Fatigue has been a problem because of the intensity of the chemo, but I am managing that much better with rest.

Parents Forever™ Website Expands

This past September and October, the Families in Transition Team took its show on the road.
Here we go! Rolling out the @UMNExt Revised Parents Forever curriculum training! 1st stop Andover RC! — U of M Ext FEN (@UMNExtFEN) September 22, 2014
Team members had worked hard to revise the Parents Forever™ curriculum and rolled it out to facilitators across Minnesota with in-person training sessions.

MDH Expert in Food Safety to Advise SNAP-Ed Program

We are excited to welcome the skills and talents of Tim Jenkins to FD’s SNAP-Ed program. Tim continues his position as Food Access Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), but will provide technical assistance and support for SNAP-Ed work in policy, systems and environment (PSE). Tim brings a strong food safety and food access background from his work with MDH and prior position with the city of Minneapolis as Environmental Health District Supervisor; he will look at SNAP-Ed’s PSE work through a food safety lens.

Financial Educator Joins Family Resiliency Team

We welcome Sarah Butler, who joins FD’s Family Resiliency Team as a Financial Educator in Dakota County. Sarah has been active in the field of financial education for over five years, focusing on low to moderate-income communities. She has experience in consumer credit counseling, financial coaching, foreclosure prevention, student loan rehabilitation, bankruptcy counseling education, asset building, and credit improvement. In addition to her work in financial education, she has extensive experience in community social service referrals.

Celebrate Family and Consumer Sciences Day by Dining In

Join families across America and celebrate the first annual Family and Consumer Sciences Day by dining in on Wednesday, December 3. The event is sponsored by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).

AAFCS is asking families to prepare and eat a healthy meal together on December 3 — the birthday of AAFCS Founder Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman graduate of MIT. She is known as the “Original Home Economics Superwoman.”

Visit the FCS Day website for information on how to participate and spread the word: The goal is to reach 200,000 families, so help get out the word and commit to "Dining In" on December 3. Family and Consumer Sciences Day partners include the USDA and National 4-H Council. Questions? Contact Emily Becher.

Emily Becher, Research Fellow

Humphrey Policy Fellow Joins Health and Nutrition Team

Starting Wednesday, Dec. 3, a new Extension educator will come on board with Health and Nutrition Programs: Cassandra Silveira. Cassandra joins us as a Humphrey Policy Fellow with a wealth of knowledge and experience developing, coordinating, and evaluating health and nutrition initiatives. She also has experience providing technical assistance for chronic disease prevention and management.

Cassandra will start her Extension career by providing intensive leadership and development to grow and enhance the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, and from there will lend her broad expertise to food literacy, food access, and physical activity initiatives throughout the state. She will be based at the Ramsey County office.

Trina Adler Barno
Program Leader — Health and Nutrition Programs

Turnip for Technology

Dear colleagues,

My 15 year-old daughter is hardly the poster child for a healthy lifestyle. She’ll often watch me (not offering to help) unpack grocery bags and put items away in the refrigerator and cupboards, and as the last item finds a spot, she’ll say, “Why didn’t you buy any real food?” She means salty food, sugary food, or fatty food, or, preferably, all three combined.

Yet, she was the one who first showed me Michelle Obama’s latest health promotion initiative.

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign has strategically and carefully focused attention toward healthy eating and active living for children and families. The First Lady has used a variety of technologies and platforms to reach out to target groups. She’s been on Sesame Street, the Disney Channel, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and countless talk and news shows. But perhaps the most fascinating and most viewed, the viral “Turnip for What?” clip* on the Vine video-sharing app, has all of us in the healthy-eating-…

Partner to Get Fit

By Jodi Nordlund, SNAP-Ed Educator and Stephanie Heim, Associate Program Director — Health and Nutrition

How do you get kids to eat their vegetables? Teach them to grow their vegetables!

It takes a village to run a community youth garden, and the garden at King Elementary School in Deer River is no exception. Get Fit Itasca pulls together the partners: The Boys and Girls Club of Deer River, Deer River School District, Itasca County Master Gardeners, many community volunteers, and University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition.

Health and Nutrition has partnered with Get Fit Itasca for over three years to improve food literacy, physical activity, and healthy food access in Northeast Minnesota. SNAP-Ed Educator Jodi Nordlund teaches cooking and nutrition classes using produce from the garden. This summer, kids tried many vegetables for the first time, from kohlrabi and kale to radishes and red cabbage. One Boys and Girls Club member said she "hated vegetables." But aft…

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. This day of remembrance started after World War I to commemorate an armistice — a temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany. This truce went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, and effectively ended “the war to end all wars.”

FD Selected to Help Military Family Service Professionals Worldwide

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean 

The Center for Family Development has been selected to help implement the work of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), which serves military family service professionals around the world.

MFLN recently received a joint Department of Defense-U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that will enable it to continue its work for the next four years. “We are excited that our new funding will allow us to expand our work to include providing online professional development, educational programming, and engaging communities in the areas of community capacity building, families with special needs, transition, and nutrition and wellness,” said Sarah Baughman, Project Leader, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech).

Family Development's involvement in the MFLN initiative adds the University of Minnesota to the network of academic institutions implementing this important work. Besides Virginia Tech, they include including the University …

Cooking Classes with Elementary School Children

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate 

Extension Educator Laura Perdue knows how to review literature.

Last week an article on a literature review conducted by Laura and three colleagues was published in the November issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Laura was second author on the article titled "The Impact of Cooking Classes on Food-Related Preferences, Attitudes, and Behaviors of School-Aged Children: A Systematic Review of the Evidence, 2003-2014."

Laura and her colleagues did the literature review because of her involvement with a program called Food Explorers™ — a school-based cooking curriculum to encourage kindergarten and first grade students to eat more healthy foods. Food Explorers trains parent and graduate student volunteers to introduce new recipes featuring fruits and vegetables in classrooms in four Twin Cities-area schools.

A Different Kind of Poster

You may recall that this past September, Extension Educators Ellie McCann and Sara Croymans presented a poster at the 4th International Conference on Building Resilience in Manchester, England. Not ringing a bell? Perhaps this photo will refresh your memory:

Ellie highly recommends fabric posters for travel with expected reuse.

If you look closely at the poster, you will see that it hangs a little differently than most. That's because it was printed on fabric! Fabric posters are perfect for international and other extended travel. They don't wrinkle or tear and fold up neatly to pack in your suitcase. PosterSmith and are just two businesses that print posters on fabric. Check them out and others online today!

Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

'If not me, then who? If not now, then when?'

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

The Community Fund Drive has been extended to November 7. This effort is the University of Minnesota's annual charitable giving campaign that provides an easy way for employees to donate to nonprofits that enrich the community. The Community Fund Drive was started by President James Morrill during the Great Depression in 1931. Since 1995, the Community Fund Drive has raised $17.8 million. In 2013, 36 percent of employees on the Twin Cities campus donated more than $1.3 million to the community.

Faculty and staff can donate online or via a paper form, and make either a one-time gift or have their donation taken out of their paycheck each pay period. Gifts can be made to a federation, an agency/agencies within a federation, an external charity, or a combination of all of three.

Pinterest for Parent Education

Brianna Routh kindled an interest in Pinterest last summer that continues to burn.

Our former Building Healthy and Strong Families Extension educator started an account on the Pinterest social content discovery and curation website in August 2013. She won an NEAFCS social networking award in 2014 for this FD Pinterest account.

Meanwhile, Brianna approached CYFC Coordinator Sara Langworthy and I about writing an article based on her work. We submitted an "Ideas at Work" manuscript to Journal of Extension (JOE) this July, and received a quick turnaround. The reviewer recommended that the article "be fast tracked for publication -- this is cutting edge and shouldn't have to wait for months to be published!"

'This is not the end, it is merely the beginning'

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean — Extension Center for Family Development

I recently read an insightful commentary about the two 2014 Nobel Prize winners working for the welfare of children: Malala Yousafzai, 17, of Pakistan, and Kailash Satyarthi, 60, of India. I was naturally drawn to the piece because it's about inspiring people making tremendous sacrifices for the sake of children. But I was also intrigued because the authors are two U of M graduate students* who are also from Pakistan and India. I encourage you to read the entire commentary, in which the authors offer their perspective on the importance of the Nobel Prize going to leaders from their home countries.


By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

At the Extension Program Conference last week, I attended a session about storytelling as a tool for evaluation by Dr. Richard Krueger. He told us about a study that predicted the characteristics of a successful Extension educator. Was it content expertise? Was it their ability to explain complex research to lay practitioners?


Military Families Learning Network Grant

The Center for Family Development has partnered with a national team to successfully receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture eXtension Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) grant. The MFLN includes Cooperative Extension family specialists, as well as the military family service professionals it serves. MFLN serves these professionals through engaged online communities that identify and make use of the highest quality, best practices, research- and evidence-based information, educational and curriculum materials, and programming activities and efforts.

Leadership in a 'V' Formation

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean — Extension Center for Family Development 

I was in Douglas County in West Central Minnesota this weekend where no roads are straight because of ponds and lakes; therefore, there was much waterfowl flying overhead (duck hunting opener may also have had something to do with that). Geese were constantly honking as they headed to warmer climates. It made me think about the "V" formation and leadership.

Well, I am not the first to think about this. Here's what Robert McNeish, Ph.D., a science teacher from Baltimore, Maryland, had to say about "V" formations and leadership in 1972. I've modified some of the "lessons" with Family Development in mind.

Secondary Traumatic Stress: Building Resilience for Professionals

Extension's Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) is sponsoring Secondary Traumatic Stress: Building Resilience for Professionals"as part of its Lessons from the Field series on Thursday morning, October 30. CYFC invites professionals who work with traumatized children, youth, and families to participate in the event, which will be offered live at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University's Minneapolis campus, as well as broadcast in real time to host sites in Greater Minnesota.

Family Development on Twitter

The Center for Family Development is now on Twitter!

This "all-FD" Twitter account is another tool in our communicator and relationship-building toolbox. We'll use this account to disseminate content from all program areas using "one voice;" share content from the SNAP-Ed, Youth & Money, and Family Education Network Twitter accounts; better connect the University and our work throughout Minnesota; and generally further our educational mission. Follow us today!

The Context of Our Work

By Patricia Olson, Interim Associate Dean

I often listen to a podcast called "On Being" with host Krista Tippett. Recently she spoke with renowned cellist and songwriter Yo-Yo Ma about a concept I think is important in Extension.

NEAFCS Regional and National Award Winners Announced

The National Educators Associate for Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) educates and recognizes Extension professionals who improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. NEAFCS provides education in:
Food preparation, food safety and nutritionFinancial managementHealthy lifestylesHome & work environment and safetyRelationship and parenting skills NEAFCS also gives awards, and Minnesota educators walked away with many of them.

International Conference on Building Resilience

Just last week, Ellie McCann and Sara Croymans presented at the 4th International Conference on Building Resilience in Manchester, England. In partnership with the community group Red River Resilience, they submitted a paper for the conference titled "One Message, Many Voices: Inter-disciplinary Partnerships for Resilience Communication."

Many other conference presentations were in the context of building resilience after disaster in the economic and physical structure context. Ellie and Sara's unique contribution to the conference was considering resilience from the perspective of social and emotional factors. They were able to connect with researchers from many countries and found the social and emotional factors seemed to reflect needs of those from developing countries.

Thank you Ellie and Sara for representing the Center for Family Development internationally!

Live Healthy, Live Well Website Launched

Late in July, we tallied the votes and unveiled the name for our new family-focused website. The Family Development web team is now pleased to announce the launch of the Live Healthy, Live Well website!

The creation of this website was a collaboration among Family Development content managers, taking content from the following websites:
Personal FinanceHealth and Nutrition, Cooking Matters® MinnesotaFamilies in Tough TimesFamilies with Teens Share this new website with your partners and colleagues! You can use this shortened link:

Hannah Jastram  Communications Associate

Interim Associate Dean Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

In case you have not heard, I am filling in for Dr. Karen Shirer, Associate Dean for Extension Center for Family Development, while she takes some time this fall to tend to her health. While this situation was unexpected for both of us, I believe her leadership style is one where she has "well-insured" the Center to continue to thrive during her partial absence (she is working some so I can consult with her).

Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.
— Jamais Cascio
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or ideas to move our Center forward during this interim time.
Trish Olson
Interim Associate Dean

See How Women Are Faring Economically in MN

The Legislative Office on the Economic Status of Women recently released a report of listening they conducted across MN earlier this summer. In the cover letter accompanying the report, I found this quote particularly meaningful:

It was striking that the priority women's economic issues were the same in every region. Transportation, affordable and available childcare, need for a skilled labor force, affordable housing, poverty, poverty and isolation of elderly women. Nowhere was a lack of jobs mentioned. Rather, the ability of women (and men) to take advantage of a robust job market was hindered by lack of necessary skills, difficulty in finding affordable and available childcare, and transportation issues.
I strongly encourage all of you to read the report Women's Voices from Around the State (176 K PDF) and consider how the findings inform your work with individuals and families in MN.

Karen Shirer Associate Dean

Pulling Together People, Providers, and Producers

By Annette Shepardson, SNAP-Ed Educator and Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate​ — Health and Nutrition​

There’s a lot going on at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center on a Monday afternoon.

The farmers market in the parking lot is the most visible sign of an interconnected effort to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Low-income clients are able to use their SNAP benefits at the market (the local food pantry is also in the medical center). SNAP-Ed Educator Annette Shepardson teaches cooking and nutrition classes for SNAP clients, where they learn different ways to use produce and get recipe ideas. Doctors, dietitians, nurses, and even social workers refer patients to her classes.

Consider Applying for an Issue Area Grant

Dean Durgan recently announced a request for proposals for issue area grants to support our cross-disciplinary efforts in key issue areas. Grant proposals are being for projects that advance Extension's work in the following issue areas: promoting youth educational success and food systems.

Successful proposals will add value/impact and contribute to Extension's cross-center collaboration and external partnerships. They may be carried out by diverse teams from across Extension and include other University and external partners.

This effort is designed to increase external visibility and demonstrate Extension's comparative advantage to address these complex issues. Projects must advance Extension's contribution to research, education and value/impact through applied research-based educational programming.
An Extension educator, specialist or faculty member with an Extension appointment must serve as one of the project leaders. Non-Extension personnel are encouraged to w…

Update on Children, Youth & Family Consortium

On July 1, Trish Olson assumed the role of interim director of the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC). As noted in an earlier blog post, Cathy Jordan is moving into a specialist role.

Trish has worked for the University of Minnesota since the mid-1980s in various roles in College of Human Ecology and Extension. She took time out to complete her Ph.D. at the Ohio State University in Family Resource Management. Since the early 2000s, she has served as a program leader in Family Development for Family Resource Management and Family Relations. Since 2007, she has been Karen Shirer's assistant in overseeing the center.

In her interim role with CYFC, Trish supports and promotes the mission of CYFC , the programming conducted by staff, supervises the staff, and oversees the budget. She also will work with Dean Durgan and Associate Dean Karen Shirer on determining the long-term leadership needs for CYFC. You can reach Trish at

SNAP-Ed Plan for 2015 Submitted and 2014 EFNEP Budget Approved

As I prepare this blog post, the SNAP-Ed plan for 2015 has just been completed and submitted to Sponsor Project Administration. Preparation of the plan was led by Renee Obrecht-Como and Trina Barno along with the Extension grant unit (Dianne Sivald, Liz Pukinis and Kerry Marsolek) and Mary Caskey, associate program director overseeing SNAP Education. The team worked diligently over the last six weeks pulling together the plan. Please join me in saying a big "thank you."

We also received word from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at U.S. Department of Agriculture that the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program budget of $1,060,098 was approved for the current year of FY 2014. Although we are deep into planning for FY 2015 and at the end of FY 2014, EFNEP funding tends to lag behind coming late in the fiscal year. We always welcome the funds no matter when we receive them! This funding is what supports the great team that won the Program Showcase a…

Welcome Two New SNAP Ed Educators to Family Development

Leticia Rodriguez joined the southwest region team on July 11 as the new SNAP-Ed Educator located in Nobles County. Letty has worked for the University of Minnesota in various ways since 1996. She worked with the Worthington Community Connectors; the Rainbows 4-H group in Nobles County (first 4-H group for kids of color); and as a CNE in Nobles County for 14 years. She is very involved in her community as a committee member for the International Festival and a member of the Blandin Leadership Program. She is excited to be back on board and looking forward to working with previous groups as well as meeting with new ones.

Debra Bearskin Hawthorne from Puposky, MN has recently been hired as the new Extension SNAP-Ed Educator, with an American Indian program focus. She began her regional position on Thursday, July 10th at the Beltrami County Extension Office. Debra has a degree in Indian Studies & English from Bemidji State University and is currently working on completing a Masters of…

Five Things I Learned at the Family Development/NEAFCS Conferences

On July 16 at the MN Landscape Arboretum, most Family Development staff and faculty participated in a full day of activities designed to promote greater understanding of our work and collaboration with each other. The next day, July 17, another group convened for the professional development day for the National Association of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences. Both days offered a variety of informative presentations and discussions. As I reflect back, there are five very important lessons that I learned:

Metro Food Access Network Success!

The Metro Food Access Network (MFAN) has been hard at work!

ThriveMSP 2040 was created by the Metropolitan Council and is the vision for the 7-county metro region over the next 30 years. It reflects the Met Council's concerns and aspirations, anticipates future needs in the region, and addresses our responsibility to future generations.

The initial ThriveMSP 2040 document had only one paragraph related to food access.

At the February MFAN meeting, the Land Access work group decided to draft and submit a letter to the Met Council outlining the areas of the document where food access should be highlighted. MFAN member organization, West Side Community Organization, lead the campaign to draft the letter. Many MFAN members helped draft the document and even more signed on to the completed copy. This letter was submitted to the Met Council before the deadline for public input in April 2014.

Family Matters: June 26

Happy Summer Solstice! Summer has arrived and brought warmer days, a ton of rain, and likely a bumper crop of mosquitoes. With the recent record rainfalls and flooding, I share some reflections on climate change and what it means for our work. Five new SNAP Ed Educators are introduced and a fun day at the office is highlighted.

Enjoy a safe and joyful July 4th!

Karen Shirer
Associate Dean

Reflections on Climate Change

Our recent record rainfall has turned my attention to the big issue of climate and its implication for our work in Extension. Earlier this week a report was released by a national think tank about the economic implications of climate change for the future of business and industry in the United States (see the report). This report spurred my thinking to reflect what the increasing incidence of large, adverse weather events will have for families and their capacity to thrive in this challenging environment. Right now in Minnesota we have an opportunity to find out.

Hard Day of Work at 4H Foundation Golf Tournament

The Minnesota 4H Foundation held its annual golf outing at the Medina Country Club on June 23. I had the pleasure of being on one of the Extension-sponsored teams. The weather was perfect and the team made a respectable showing. My team members included Todd Iverson with UMN Government Relations, Jim Mulder (retired director of the MN Associate of Counties), and his wife Carmen. Please know that this is not a typical day of work for me but one I thoroughly enjoy when given the opportunity.

Family Matters: May 27

Although summer does not officially start until later in June, Memorial Day serves as the kick-off for Minnesota's summer tourism season. And our weather is now cooperating for the time of year! Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy day to learn what is happening in the Center for Family Development.

This week, you will learn about a number of changes in the Center for Family Development (Changes in Family Development). We also continue to hire in the SNAP Education program and information is included about new employees (Welcome These New SNAP-Ed Educators). I also include links to two new important reports that were recently released on early childhood and children of immigrants.

Welcome these New SNAP Ed Educators to Family Development

New SNAP-Ed educators continue to be hired and I am pleased to report that we have added 15 new staff since early April. Below are the names and information about 10 new and returning employees. In addition, these individuals have also been hired and their bio sketches will be included in an upcoming blog: Samantha Stewart (Cass County, May 27), Andrea Kronbach (Steele, June 9), Kanko Akakpovi (Rice, June 2), Anne Ulrich (Mahnomen, June 9), and Nancy Brewster (Hennepin, June 2).

Changes in Family Development

Beginning July 1, the Food Safety Education team will be changing the administrative unit to which they report. They will join EFANS and Joelle Feirtag will become the program leader for the team. This change stems from a need to strengthen our food safety education and outreach across the full food system spectrum. As a result, Extension will enhance its contribution to MNDrive and other large efforts related to Food Science. In addition, Stephanie Heim will serve as liaison for Health and Nutrition with the Food Safety Education Team. In FD, our need for food safety education has grown as we have expanded our work with Farm to School, Healthy Food Access, and other multi-level, multi-institutional efforts.

Cathy Jordan will be stepping down as director of the Children, Youth and Family Consortium on June 30 to take a joint position between her academic faculty appointment in the Department of Pediatrics and Extension Center for Community Vitality. After 10 years as director, Cathy wi…

Extension Staff Day in Bemidji and Mankato

Extension recently held staff days at which administrative support, nutrition education, 4-H, and other staff participated. Two awards were given for which I am particularly proud. Betty Wistrom, SNAP-Ed Educator for southern St. Louis County, received the Dean's Distinguished Community Nutrition Educator Award at the session in Bemidji. In her letter of nomination, Betsy Johnson, Betty's previous supervisor, wrote, "Betty is truly an outstanding CNE who serves as an exemplary representative for the University of Minnesota Extension locally, regionally, and statewide." Betty moved to a SNAP-Ed Educator position in January, and continues making many contributions to Extension.

Deb Page, Assistant Director, Extension Human Resources, received the Extension Distinguished Dean's Staff Award Nomination. I wanted to acknowledge Deb's award because of the support she gave all of us in Family Development as we were restructuring the Health and Nutrition Program this …

Staff Announcements

The Department of Family Social Science recently announced two new faculty members with Extension appointments. Dr. Jenifer McGuire will join the faculty as an Associate Professor in the area of Parenting Education, beginning fall 2014, pending approval from the Provost's office. She can be reached at Jodi Dworkin served as the chair of the search committee and Ellie McCann served as Extension's representative.

Dr. Joyce Serido has accepted an offer to join the FSoS faculty as an Associate Professor in the area of family economics beginning Fall, 2014. She can be reached at Sharon Danes served as chair of the search committee and Jennifer Garbow served as Extension's representative.

Please join me in thanking Jodi, Ellie, Sharon, and Jennifer for their service to hire these new specialists.

Help Us Get the Word Out to our Partners about SNAP Education

In Health and Nutrition, we continue to make great progress hiring SNAP-Ed educators for the new model. Our next push is to ramp up our external communications with partners and we need your help. In the next few months, we will be sharing resources with you for communicating with county and regional partners. To get you started, we have put together a map showing the regions for SNAP-Ed (they match Extension's regions) and the counties for EFNEP (Hennepin, Ramsey and southern Anoka.) Click here for a copy of the map.

Thank you for helping us get the word out.

Learnings from PILD

Public Issues Leadership Development Conference, also called PILD, is sponsored by the Joint Councils of Extension Professionals. For Family Development, the National Association of Family and Consumer Sciences represents our interests on the Joint Council. EFANS, Community Vitality, and Youth Development also have national organizations that represent them. The mission of PILD is to provide leadership and advocacy skills to affect public issues. Conference sessions focused on enhancing public advocacy and education skills and broadening understanding of public issues that impact Extension and its clientele. On the last day of the conference, a team of Extension Educators and staff visited with members of the MN congressional delegation on Capitol Hill.

I walked away from the conference with some key lessons learned. One keynoter reminded me again of the importance of social media, especially Twitter, as a resource to get out our messages. Another provided guidance on how to foster co…

Minnesota Poverty: Call to Action

The University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development is one of numerous sponsors for this upcoming conference. As most of you are aware, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's State of the Union address calling on the nation to launch an "unconditional war on poverty." This address signaled a renewed national commitment to fighting poverty through targeted policy resulting in programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants, expansions to Social Security and nutrition assistance. This conference is intended to celebrate this anniversary and renew efforts by debunking false claims and putting forward a proactive vision about how to end poverty.

Family Matters: Update on the Center for Family Development

Life at work and home has been very busy and eventful of late. In early April, my daughter, Allison, was married — see the picture of Allie and her new husband, Mike, on the right. We had a wonderful celebration at our home in Circle Pines with immediate family. The next day I headed to Public Issues Leadership Development Conference (PILD) in Washington, DC. I wondered why I scheduled this trip immediately after the wedding but in the end was so glad I participated. See Learnings from PILD for some of the lessons learned.

This week, you will also find information about new faculty hires (Staff Announcements) and an award for a SNAP-Ed educator (Extension Staff Day), as well as a map showing the location of the SNAP-Ed educators and the regional coordinators (Help Us Get the Word Out). In addition, four professional development opportunities are described including the joint meetings with Family Development and the National Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in Minnesota.


We Need Your Help!

The Health and Nutrition Program continues to hire new SNAP-Ed Educators to staff the SNAP Education program. We implemented a new staffing model in January with the hopes of employing 45 educators across the state. Currently, we have 25 positions filled and 14 positions are posted on the Extension employment website. We need your help to recruit high quality candidates for these positions.

Considering Giving to the FD Staff Memorial Fund

Our staff memorial fund, which is used to send flowers to staff's family after losing a loved one, is running low. This fund was set up in memory Kim Coffey, former support staff within Family Development. If you have been the recipient of this fund in the past, please consider making a donation now. Every little bit helps!

To make a donation, make check payable to "University of Minnesota." On the memo line, indicate "8882 - Family Development Memorial Fund." Checks can be sent directly to:

Madonna Monette
UM Extension Finance, Room 415
CofH, 1420
Eckles Ave.
St Paul, MN 55108.

The donation is fully tax deductible.

Be the Change

"You must be the change you want to see in the world. Gandhi

On one of those snow days, I planned several projects to fix people and programs. As I got further into my "fixing," it dawned on me that the change I was looking for did not involve only changing other people. I needed to also change myself — my behavior, my attitude or my approach. Sometimes I tell staff that "all things change when we do," which is a paraphrase of Gandhi's quote. This experience reminded me of a friend of mine at Iowa State.

Sharon Wasteney was a county extension director for a small, rural county in southern Iowa. She happened to be the site director for our CYFAR project and I was the state director. We hit it off from day one and enjoyed working together, although we had very different personal lives and political leanings. Sharon was an innovator, willing to try new ideas and approaches in her very rural and very poor county. Her efforts were not always embraced by…

Welcome a New Extension Educator for Health and Nutrition

Laura Perdue recently joined the University of Minnesota Extension as an Extension Educator for Health and Nutrition. Her office is in the St. Cloud Regional Office.

Laura is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she obtained her Master's degree from the University of MN in public health nutrition. Her experience includes working as a graduate research assistant with the Family Development Research and Evaluation team. Most recently she has served as a Health Promotion Specialist with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation involved in various community programs and campaigns promoting heart health.

Please join me in welcoming Laura Perdue to Extension.

New Titles for the Health and Nutrition Programs

You might have heard some buzz in the office about the changes in titles for the Health and Nutrition Program. In the past, we had used Simply Good Eating as the program title. Over the last five years, we started adding new program initiatives that did not quite fit under this title. So the program leadership team (Trina, Renee, and Houa) made the decision to rename the program and to give new titles to the various staff positions.

Health and Nutrition Programs will be used as the umbrella term for all Health and Nutrition work. For SNAP Education, the program title will be "Health and Nutrition Programs: SNAP-Ed." For EFNEP, it will be "Health and Nutrition Programs: EFNEP."

New titles for staff positions are as follows:Extension Educator, Health and Nutrition ProgramsSNAP-Ed Educator, Health and Nutrition ProgramsCounty Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs (MOA funded)Community Nutrition Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs, EFNEPRegional Coordinator, Heal…

Recently Hired Staff

La Tasha Shevlin began Monday, March 3, as the Dakota County Financial Empowerment Extension Educator. La Tasha completed a Master's of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota. She most recently was the Employment Training Specialist at Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis where she designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated learning programs on personal finance and health specific content. La Tasha can be reached at

Amy Baack, recently hired as the Southeast SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator, joined U of MN Extension in 2010. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Baack previously held positions in Nicollet County where she served as the Community Nutrition Educator and most recently as a Regional Educator in the Southeast. Prior to joining Extension, she held positions with Mankato Public Schools, Minnesota Community Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension. Amy started her …

Addressing Generational Poverty

This year marks the 50-year War on Poverty launched by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The media is rich with commentary about whether or not this effort was successful. As with many efforts, the news is mixed.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute has been offering a two-generation solution to poverty in which programs work with the children and family to break the poverty cycle. I subscribe to their listserv and recently received a newsletter from them that highlighted financial education and early childhood family education as solutions to two-generation poverty. Go their website to learn more about these efforts: Ascend at Aspen Institute.

Karen Shirer Associate Dean

2014 Minnesota Award Winners for the National Association of Family Consumer Sciences

Join in congratulating award winners in Minnesota that will be forwarded to the NEAFCS Regional and National Awards Committee. We will have a strong presence as they evaluate award nominations from around the country.

Mary M. Wells Memorial Diversity Award — An Exploration into Culturally Relevant Family Resource Management Education
Jennifer Garbow
Antonio Meraz Alba
Rebecca Hagen Jokela
Trish Olson

Food Safety Award — Food Allergen Training for Food Service Employees
Suzanne Driessen
Kathy Brandt
Katherine Waters

Communications Awards — Internet Education Technology: Helping Families Recover Financially After a Disaster: A webinar series for helping professionals
Sara Croymans
Lori Hendrickson
Rebecca Hagen Jokela

Communications Awards — Educational Curriculum Package — Chat & Chew: Experiencing the Dietary Guidelines
Connie Burns
Mary Schroeder

Communications Awards — Written Press Release: Prevent the Spread of Norovirus During the Holidays
Deb Botzek-Linn

Community Partnershi…

Coming Up for Air...

Dear Colleagues,

Last summer I launched an occasional blog to keep you informed about the happenings in the Center for Family Development. Unfortunately, I have not posted since mid-October but I am back with new energy and ideas to share with you about the center and our work. Much has occurred since I last posted and in this post I begin to share changes, new efforts and more.

After you read the blog, please take a few minutes to add a comment. Let me know what you would like to see in this blog and any other feedback that would be useful. Thank you ahead of time for your input.

Simply Good Cooking

Extension educators developed the Simply Good Cooking (SGC) curriculum with participants' preferences in mind.

Health and Nutrition programming reaches audiences that are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We listened to them when they said they preferred to learn about nutrition through hands-on cooking in a fun, social, and interactive setting. And we developed and piloted a curriculum with over 20 lesson choices to meet their needs.