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Showing posts from December, 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: z.umn.edu/healthywinters.

Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate