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Extension > Family Matters > February 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Update from Karen Shirer: Life is Good

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean
 
It has been some time since I have given you an update on my health. There is very good news to report. After six rounds of chemo and recovery from a broken leg over the last six months, I learned last week that my cancer is in remission. My family and I are very thankful for this great news! We know that many of you have kept me in your thoughts and prayers, and we are deeply appreciative of this.

Depending on all necessary approvals, I will return to work part time later this week. I look forward to returning, and I will use March to ease back into my administrative role as associate dean. Continue to direct questions to Trish Olson as I make this transition; she will include me in conversations as necessary.

Parents Forever™ Update: Collaborating with Wisconsin and North Dakota

By Emily Becher, Research Fellow

In the first week of February, the Parents Forever™ team in Minnesota held a day-long meeting with partners from the Wisconsin and North Dakota Extension systems. Both states currently teach four-hour versions of the Parents Forever™ curriculum that differ from our eight-hour course in Minnesota.

With our recent revision of the Minnesota curriculum and the drive for more rigorous adherence to the program model and evaluation of outcomes, this meeting was called to see if Wisconsin and North Dakota would partner with us to co-create a shared four-hour version based on the revised curriculum. We are happy to report that both states agreed that a shared version and a joint multi-state evaluation would be of mutual benefit.

Next steps will be finalizing the four-hour version, adapting an online version of the course for both states, and implementing an evaluation plan that allows us to compare the eight-hour version we teach in Minnesota to the four-hour versions taught in North Dakota and Wisconsin. We are excited about the next steps of our Parents Forever™ multi-state Extension partnership.

For more on Parents Forever™, visit parentsforever.umn.edu.

CYFC Partnership Builds a Better Learning Space for St. Paul Children

By Sara Langworthy and Judy Myers, Extension Educators; Nora Fox, Research Assistant — Children, Youth and Family Consortium

We in the Children, Youth and Family Consortium (CYFC) have been thinking a lot lately about how thankful we are for our partners.

Thanks to the incredible work and dedication of over 55 active partners and the generous funds provided by the Extension Issue Area Grant, CYFC is partnering to create innovative learning spaces for children at the Bruce Vento Elementary School in East Saint Paul. Through reciprocal relationships, this project is capitalizing on the strengths of school staff and community leaders, as well as University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students to enhance the opportunities for students at the school.

You can read about our progress across all areas of the project here: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners: Mid-Year Report. And you can read about the incredible power of partnership that has led to the design of a calming room space for the students of Bruce Vento Elementary School here: February CYFC Monthly.

Study Shows Positive Effects of SNAP-Ed Program on Youth


Misty Blue, Graduate Research Assistant

During the school-year 2012-2013, the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development conducted an impact evaluation to assess the effect of SNAP-Ed programming on youth attitudes and behavior regarding healthy eating and physical activity. A total of 22 schools from across Minnesota, 396 third-graders and their parents or other caregivers participated in this longitudinal group-randomized trial. Participating youth attended seven nutrition education sessions led by a trained SNAP-Ed educator.

The FD evaluation team worked with SNAP-Ed educators, University faculty, Extension educators, and evaluators and content experts from within the University and across the country to design and implement the impact evaluation. The evaluation results are encouraging; they show that SNAP-Ed education increases youth’s:
  • Willingness to try new vegetables, as reported by parents and youth. 
  • Vegetable intake immediately following the program.* 
  • Fruit intake a year after the program. 
The results also included ripple effects observed by other family members. Parents and other caregivers reported positive signs of change among youth not just around healthy eating, but other healthy behaviors; signs included conversations about health, participation in community gardens and bike coops, help with meal preparation, and more.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

America Saves Week: Take Your Financial Future into Your Own Hands

By Sharon Powell and Mary Jo Katras, Extension Educators — Family Resiliency

Did you know that only half of Americans report having good savings habits? The America Saves campaign and the American Savings Education Council teamed up in 2007 to form America Saves Week (ASW), an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and for individuals to assess their own saving status. This year, ASW is February 23–28.

Two years ago, a group of Minnesota organizations came together to build on ASW by creating Minnesota Saves, a state branch of the national ASW campaign. The Better Business Bureaus of Minnesota and North Dakota coordinate this effort in collaboration with University of Minnesota Extension, the Financial Planning Association of Minnesota, Trust Vets, and other community partners.

This year's Minnesota Saves event, “Building Your Life: Saving$,” is a free resource fair designed to promote positive savings behaviors to consumers, businesses, and employees. The event will take place this Friday, February 20, from 2–6 p.m. at the North Hennepin Community College Grand Hall (7411 85th Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445). Twenty-one agencies representing financial services, community non-profit organizations, and the military will share their expertise and resources. The event will feature six mini-workshops on children’s literacy, scams and frauds, financial planning for young adults, military-specific financial issues, and housing. No registration is necessary and all are welcome!

Individuals and families are invited to make personal savings pledges and take photos of their savings goals, which will be be tweeted by @MinnesotaSaves. Follow along on Twitter.

Lincoln on Leadership

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean 

For some, Presidents’ Day is just a holiday from working, banking, or getting mail. For me, this day offers an opportunity to reflect on leadership. Presidents are elected to their position, but mere election does not make them leaders. As part of a leadership cohort in which I participated, we held a leadership book swap. I received Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Phillips.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the U.S.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Choosing Health in Todd County

By Stephanie Hakes, Regional Coordinator and Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate — Health and Nutrition

Lakewood Health System in Staples, MN is interested in making healthy food choices easier and more convenient. So it makes sense that when Hunger-Free Minnesota funded a project called Choose Health, Lakewood Health System partnered with University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition and five other organizations to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The Choose Health project expands access to locally grown foods in ways that address food insecurity. Limited income individuals receive a community supported agriculture (CSA) share and participate in learning opportunities. Todd County Public Health provided a concentrated community referral process and ongoing support for food insecure individuals. “It was such a relief to know that we would be getting fresh local produce biweekly,” said one participant.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

FD Participates in Campus Climate Discussion

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

In his March 2014 State of the University address, President Kaler cited the importance of creating a climate — a culture, an atmosphere — of equity, inclusion, and community on campus. He also named a group of senior leaders to lead a charge for advancing equity and diversity on campus, noting that “faculty, staff and students all have a role to play” in the effort.

Last Thursday those leaders, the Campus Climate Workgroup, hosted an all-day event designed to spark conversations and ideas for creating a campus climate in which everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued. More than 600 people, including myself and four others from FD, attended the event, held at Coffman Memorial Union on the Minneapolis campus. Here are some of my thoughts about the event, which was conducted using Open Space Technology (OST).

Spanning Cultural Difference in Food and Health

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

Extension faculty Craig Hassel, Ph.D., of the Food Science and Nutrition Department will present “Spanning Cultural Difference in Food and Health” at the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science’s Seventh Annual Science Studies Symposium this Friday, Feb. 13.

Dr. Hassel will explore examples of University outreach and cross-cultural engagement with older, “non-biomedical” thought systems, such as African, Chinese, and indigenous knowledge traditions in medicine. He also will discuss nutrition science with its legacy built on empirical data, its history of success with deterministic, acute-deficiency disease, and its current struggle with more complex, diet-related chronic disease and concepts of well-being. Dr. Hassel proposes that nutrition as a biomedical science would advance by learning and adapting discourses and thought styles like those used in the humanities and social sciences.

UPDATE (2/20/15): You can watch the presentation on YouTube: Spanning Cultural Differences in Food & Health.

Go Out to the Prairie!

By Trina Adler Barno, Program Leader — Health & Nutrition

 
I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin in a loud and active household with four brothers. My dad was not very tolerant of a lot of chaos in the house, so when the horseplay got to be too much for him, he would command in his booming voice “You kids either knock it off or go out to the prairie!” Considering my Midwest roots and the fact that I lived and breathed the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child, my dad’s command always conjured positive images of frolicking in grassy fields with rolling hills and butterflies. Although not a Midwest prairie, our grassy backyard served as a good alternative for burning off our excessive energy.

When my dad died, his brothers came to town and spent time with us telling stories of their family growing up in a very poor neighborhood in Chicago. Uncle John told us how my dad and his brothers would be “sent out to the prairie” whenever they got too rambunctious in the house. It turns out that in the inner city of Chicago, a “prairie” was an empty lot between buildings, typically lined with demolition debris, garbage, old car tires, and dead appliances. My brothers and I were surprised to find out that my dad’s vision of “prairie” and our “prairie” were not at all the same.

FD Participates in Campus Climate Discussion

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate<br />
In his March 2014 State of the University address, President Kaler cited the importance of creating a climate — a culture, an atmosphere — of equity, inclusion, and community on campus. He also named a group of senior leaders to lead a charge for advancing equity and diversity on campus, noting that “faculty, staff and students all have a role to play” in the effort.

Last Thursday those leaders, the Campus Climate Workgroup, hosted an all-day event designed to spark conversations and ideas for creating a campus climate in which everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued. More than 600 people, including myself and four others from FD, attended the event, held at Coffman Memorial Union on the Minneapolis campus. Here are some of my thoughts about the event, which was conducted using Open Space Technology (OST).

Word Matters: Don’t Go Out of the House in Your Underwear, or the Importance of Revising

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor
 
How many times do you revise your first drafts? Once? Twice? Never? Whatever your answer, consider this: Very few writers say exactly what they want to say on their first try, even the great ones.

Evgeny Chirikov at his desk by Ivan Kulikov, 1904.
“Revising” is a part of writing we often don’t hear about. Instead, we hear more about the “creating” part of writing — the initial act of putting words on paper or entering them into a computer. Movies like to show that part of writing with images of the inspired author, hands flying over the keyboard late at night, capturing every “brilliant” thought that comes into his or her head.

And that depiction isn’t entirely wrong. When you start writing something, you do want to let your thoughts flow freely. But that’s only half of the writing equation. The other half? Revising.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Change CAN Happen

By Amanda Corbett, Research Fellow

Change can happen and relationships do matter. Those were two key messages I took away from the keynote presentation at the first annual Jean W. Bauer Community Dialogue: "Addressing Financial Capability Needs of Diverse Audiences Through Community-Extension Partnerships," which honored the late Dr. Bauer's legacy and kicked off the Jean W. Bauer Fund in Family Financial Management.  About 60 FD faculty, educators, staff, and community members, as well as our guests from Korea, attended the event, held January 27 at the St. Paul Student Center.

I found the keynote presentation delightful and inspiring. Kim Greder, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Family Life Specialist, Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University, and her community partner, the Rev. Sarai Schnucker Rice, Executive Director, Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC), shared their story of joining forces to change the approach and operation of the food pantry network operated by DMARC — which now includes 12 food pantries in the Greater Des Moines area.

And the Cooking Matters® at the Store Winner Is…

By CeAnn Klug, Assistant Program Director — Cooking Matters® Minnesota

Cooking Matters® at the Store (CMATS) is a grocery store tour that helps Minnesota shoppers make smart food choices on a limited budget. This course is based on a growing need for families to learn how to make the best possible use of their resources. CMATS was developed based on research showing that careful food shopping practices, such as price comparison and nutrition label use, are associated with measures of better dietary quality. The program aims to promote real changes to food shopping habits by creating a dynamic learning experience for participants.


This summer, I challenged SNAP-Ed and EFNEP educators to lead tours for 1150 participants. Thanks to their efforts, we exceeded that goal — our current count is 1257! The educator who led the charge with 55 participants between November 15 and December 15 was Community Nutrition Educator Yoha Christianson, which makes him the winner of the CMATS incentive challenge. You deserve it — well done!
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