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Extension > Family Matters > April 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Changing Face of the Heartland

By Trish Olson, Assistant to the Dean

“By 2044, people of color will account for a majority of the U.S. population.” This quote from the March Brookings Essay “The Changing Face of the Heartland: Preparing America’s Diverse Workforce for Tomorrow” caught my attention while I was at the Qualey-Skjervold Conference earlier this month. Author Jennifer Bradley provides both data and dialogue that support what we discussed at the arboretum, from population counts and change by racial and ethnic groups for Minnesota counties to community members’ experience with the Northside Achievement Zone.

tipping points scale graphic
Figure from the March Brookings Essay.

Read the Brookings blog post here: The Changing Face of the Heartland.

Eavesdropping on the Everyday

By Trina Adler Barno, Program Leader — Health & Nutrition
 
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ireland with my three children. I lived outside of Dublin for about a year when I was in my 20s, and while I have been back a few times since then, I was especially excited to see the reactions of my kids during their first overseas experience. We had a fantastic time and the kids have great stories to tell about what they saw and did.

montage of pictures from Ireland

Friends and colleagues have asked what the highlight of the trip was for me. I definitely enjoyed the historical sites and the country scenes, the energy of Dublin’s city center, and the sea side walks in Galway. But it’s funny: When you have lived somewhere, you recognize that the “touristy” stuff doesn’t necessarily capture the spirit of the place.

Friday, April 24, 2015

SNAP-Ed Instruction Helps Kids Eat Healthier

By G. Ali Hurtado, Research Associate — Family Development

Do nutrition education classes conducted in elementary schools by instructors trained in the principles of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) influence children to eat healthier foods? “Yes,” according to a study done by researchers from the University of Minnesota (U of M) Extension Center for Family Development.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The State of the Center

Trish Olson and I highlighted key achievements and offered other updates on the Center for Family Development at the Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference earlier this month.

Trish gave a quick snapshot of the center’s programming and budget for 2014. She noted these accomplishments from FD’s annual report: 
  • Reached 43,749 people in direct opportunities offered by Family Development, with almost half of adult participants representing racially and ethnically diverse populations.
  • Reached over 313,000 people through our website, publications, and social networking.
  • Published 103 journal articles, evaluation reports, curricula, and other resources.
The center received about $15 million from federal, state, and county sources; grants and contracts; and earned income. SNAP-Ed drew the most funding at $8.4 million, followed by EFNEP at $1 million annually. Other funds included state, earned income, foundation grants, and county grants.

Parents Forever™ Is Everywhere


The past six months were full of exciting developments for the Parents Forever™ program! In fall 2014, we trained 75 facilitators on the revised curriculum that we rolled out on December 15, 2014. New and existing program facilitators attended several Parents Forever™ training sessions.

As a result, our in-person programming continues to grow: We have officially partnered with community organizations and agencies in all 10 judicial districts in Minnesota, and 25 counties throughout Minnesota offer an in-person Parents Forever™ program, as well as one partner in Winnipeg, Canada.

The Parents Forever™ team has also begun using web-based technology to connect with our program facilitators and coordinators. As of this month, we have delivered three professional development webinars that focused on family resiliency, intimate partner violence, and financial management. We plan to offer five more installments this year. The Parents Forever™ team also is convening an online Community of Practice to provide a collaborative platform for Parents Forever™ facilitators and coordinators to share information, exchange ideas, and explore issues related to their work with families.

All in all, we anticipate 2015 will be a great year for the Parents Forever™ program as we continue to expand its reach and impact on parents, families, and children in Minnesota and beyond.

Kate Welshons
Parents Forever™ Community Program Specialist — Family Resiliency

Still April, Still Financial Capability Month in Minnesota


The Financial Capability Team in Family Resiliency has been offering events and workshops throughout the month to help educate and empower the organizations, communities, families, and individuals we work with across Minnesota. Next Tuesday (April 28), we’re involved in no less than three events:
  1. Using Children's Literature to Teach Financial Literacy, 10–11 a.m., Hibbing Public Library. Extension Educator Lori Hendrickson will talk with parents about the importance of saving using the children's book Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst. Learn more about Using Children's Literature to Teach Financial Literacy.
  2. Your Money, Your Goals Webinar, 10–11:30 a.m. University of Minnesota is teaming up with Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and Minnesota Department of Commerce to offer a Your Money, Your Goals webinar. Learn more and register.
  3. Minnesota Department of Commerce Roundtable, 1–4:30 p.m., Minnesota History Center, St. Paul. Minnesota's financial education and empowerment community will come together for the Financial Capability Roundtable, at which FD Associate Dean Karen Shirer will be a panelist. Learn more and register.
See all April’s events here: April is Financial Capability Month.

Mary Jo Katras
Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

April Website Bytes

Here’s your monthly round-up of what’s new on FD websites.
And here’s your fun website fact of the month: 51 percent of the traffic to our websites comes through "organic search." This means half of our visitors typed something into Google or Bing and ended up on one of our web pages. In the last month, here are the three web pages where visitors landed most often:
  1. Using Natural and Logical Consequences
  2. Background on Southeast Asian Parenting
  3. The Cost of Raising Children
Looking at the same metric for 2014, these three pages were in the top seven for 2014. I don't know why these pages are so popular in organic searches — do you?

Hannah Jastram
Communications Associate

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

‘An Advocate Always’

By Trish Olson, Assistant to the Associate Dean

After two days of listening to presenters and participating in table conversations at the FD Qualey-Skjervold Conference, I looked for folks to debrief with on Friday morning. I found small groups of FD staff discussing their experiences, and one person told me, “We should have encouraged staff to block off Friday morning to reflect as an individual or in groups!”

One activity that I reflected on as an individual was the question Brother Menkara Tezzat asked: “How have you and your people impacted the planet?” The results of my recent DNA test showed that my heritage is 90 percent Scandinavian; the report also provided history pertaining to Viking invasions of European coastal areas to explain my DNA results that were not Scandinavian. So I could focus on a history I am not so proud of — that of the Scandinavian Vikings pillaging and raiding northern islands and coasts of the North Atlantic, North Africa, Russia, Constantinople, and the Middle East in the late 700s.

But during that exercise last week, I thought of another seafaring Scandinavian, Fridtjof Nansen. While he started his career as an Arctic explorer, he became a diplomat who created the Nansen Passport. The League of Nations issued Nansen passports to stateless people and refugees who needed travel documents, but could not obtain one from a national authority.

Are You Straining Your Eyes?

By Emily Becher, Research Fellow

Recently while working at my computer in 495 Coffey Hall, I started experiencing some moderate eye strain that became a persistent headache on many days. Given that I have spent years working 9-to-5 on a computer without problems before, I went to get my eyes checked. My vision was the same as always. So I did some research and made three discoveries that have profoundly helped me. Here’s what experts recommend:

  1. Position your laptop and monitor screens so they’re perpendicular to your eyes — not tilted.
  2. Position your chair (as well as laptop and monitors, if possible) so your screens are at eye level or slightly below.
  3. Keep your screens away from the glare of sunlight, which can create additional vision problems.
I tilted my screens so they were flat, boosted my chair, and closed the blinds, and I haven’t had eye strain since. For more tips on reducing strain on your eyes, visit Workstation Discomfort Symptoms and Solutions: Eyes.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Renewed Appreciation for Family

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

Karen Shirer
On Wednesday, April 8, I will see many of you at the annual Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. After six months of medical leave to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I returned to work on February 25.

The memories and emotions of my journey to complete remission are beginning to fade, but several positive outcomes remain fixed in my heart. My husband and two daughters plus their spouses were rock stars of support and care. It was not always easy for them, especially during the six hospital stays for chemotherapy, as well as the recovery from a broken leg caused by the cancer (another separate hospital stay of six days).

Word Matters: Get Organized!

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

Of all the challenges in writing, one of the biggest is organization. And it’s a particular challenge when putting together big projects like curricula and longer reports.

Organized writing reflects clear thinking, and clarity is essential to effective communication, not to mention engaging your audience. As Kate Kiefer with the English Department at Colorado State University says, "If the organization does not provide readers with the information they are looking for in an orderly manner, they will quickly lose interest."

So how can you make sure your writing is well ordered?

April is Financial Capability Month

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed April as Financial Capability Month in Minnesota. Financial Capability Month is an opportunity to showcase the importance financial education. Our team has several events and workshops throughout the month to help educate and empower the organizations, communities, families, and individuals we work with across Minnesota.

April Declared Financial Capability Month in Minnesota

By Mary Jo Katras, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

Hear ye, hear ye! Governor Mark Dayton has officially proclaimed April as Financial Capability Month in Minnesota.

Financial Capability Certificate signed by Mark Dayton
Read Governor Dayton's full proclamation here: Financial Capability Month Proclamation.
Financial Capability Month is an opportunity to showcase the importance of financial education. The Financial Capability Team in Family Resiliency will offer several events and workshops throughout the month to help educate and empower the organizations, communities, families, and individuals we work with across Minnesota. See all the events here: April is Financial Capability Month.
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