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Friday, May 22, 2015

Close Encounters of a Different Kind

By Mary Marczak, Evaluation and Research Specialist

Recently Trish Olson (FD Assistant to the Associate Dean) sent me a link to a thought-provoking YouTube video called “What kind of Asian are you?” I had already seen it, but given our recent professional development conference focusing on issues of diversity, race, and culture, I took another look. Before reading on, watch the video.

So what does this video have to do with me? I was born and raised in South Korea until I was about 10, but then was adopted and grew up in Minnesota in a nearly all-white community with no other Asians (until my parents adopted more Korean children, followed by the adoption of a Korean girl by a Lutheran pastor at a neighboring church).

Extension Specialist Submits Proposal for New, National Native American Nutrition Campaign

By Craig Hassel, Extension Specialist — Food and Nutrition

Earlier this spring, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced the launch of a new campaign to improve the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. SMSC, based in Prior Lake, MN, is conducting the Seeds of Native Health campaign with three major partners, including the First Nations Development Institute, based in Colorado; the Notah Begay III Foundation, based in New Mexico; and the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).

I was selected to lead the University’s work with Seeds of Native Health, which seeks to improve awareness of Native American nutrition problems, promote the wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education, and research.

Last week, I submitted a proposal that outlined how the University of Minnesota will provide leadership in the following three initiative areas:
  1. Help to develop the cultural interface between indigenous values and teachings and those of agricultural, biomedical and dietary research.
  2. Create a national repository (database) of Native American nutrition programs and practices.
  3. Serve as the convening partner for a series of annual nutrition conferences, starting in spring 2016 at the Mystic Lake Conference Center in Prior Lake.
In addition to CFANS and U of M Extension, I will be working closely with the Research for Indigenous Community Health team — a group of indigenous faculty supported by the University’s College of Pharmacy and the School of Public Health.

For more information about this campaign, read SMSC’s March 24 news release and an article in the March 24 Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Research Assistant to Adapt Parents Forever™ for Divorcing LGBT Parents

By Emily Becher, Research Fellow

Eugene Hall
Eugene Hall joins FD today as a graduate research assistant with the primary duty of leading the process to adapt the Parents Forever™ curriculum for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents.

Given that gay marriage is now legal in the state of Minnesota, we can expect that LGBT divorces will also occur. If divorcing LGBT parents in Minnesota are contesting custody over minor children, they would be mandated to attend a divorce education course. Without an adapted curriculum, two negative outcomes are possible:

  • Judges would waive the mandate for these parents, and they would experience differential treatment based on their LGBT status, or
  • LGBT parents would be required to attend a course that is not designed for LGBT individuals and families, with most likely diminished positive outcomes from the course.
The team behind Parents Forever™ wanted to invest in an adapted curriculum in order to offset either or both of these potential negative outcomes.

As a first-year Ph.D. student in the department of Family Social Science working with adviser Jenifer McGuire, Ph.D., Eugene will start his work with FD by conducting focus groups and interviews. He will then move to adapting, piloting and evaluating the course, and finally, to disseminating the results of the pilot and the adapted curriculum.

LGBT parents, please contact Eugene Hall at or Jenifer McGuire at Eugene's office will be in 495 Coffey Hall, so if you see him around, please say hello. Welcome to the team, Eugene!

Health and Nutrition Portfolio Plan May Update

By Stephanie Heim, Associate Program Director and Renee Obrecht-Como, Program Operations Director

Summer may come after all! It’s hard to believe that we find ourselves nearly halfway through 2015. The Portfolio Plan was developed as a tool for the Health and Nutrition (H&N) team to connect the dots on its collective work. As mentioned in the team’s March 24 blog post, we will be providing regular updates on our work. With that in mind, here’s a snapshot of the latest Food for Thought blog post on the Portfolio Plan:
  1. Family Development announces a reorganized leadership structure that reflects the commitment of its leaders to H&N’s portfolio plan. H&N is also adding staff to increase the impact of our work.
  2. The SNAP-Ed Community Partnership Funding initiative (formerly known as the SNAP-Ed Opportunity Identification Initiative) has welcomed a new coordinator and a Request for Proposal solicitation is scheduled to be issued this fall. This initiative will give us an opportunity to learn from our partner organizations — our primary audience in 2015.
  3. Work is accelerating to analyze and broaden our work across the Spectrum of Prevention to include Policy, Systems, and Environment, and Constituent Relationship Management systems.
  4. New SNAP-Ed and EFNEP Plans will be completed by the end of June.
For more details, check out the full blog post on the Food For Thought blogMay Portfolio Plan Update.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thinking Outside the Party Box

By Trish Olson, Assistant to the Associate Dean

In February, my niece announced her engagement from Missoula, Montana. Our family was ecstatic. Then she said she would not be home to Minnesota before the wedding on May 20. My sister and I were disappointed. As aunts, we felt it was our role to host a proper wedding shower for her. How could we do that if she did not come home to Minnesota?

Partnering for School Success Participants Tour U of M

Over 50 Latino parents and children living in the Triton and Faribault (MN) School Districts toured the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis campus on Saturday, May 9. Parents participating in the “Partnering for School Success (PSS) Children, Youth and Families at Risk Project” and their children boarded buses for a field trip to learn what the University offers Latino students, including possible areas of study (majors), scholarships, and other types of support.

Participants learned about planning for college and toured a number of campus locations, including new technologically equipped classrooms, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, and the Coffman Memorial Union (student center). All presentations and tours were in Spanish for the 33 parents and 22 middle-school students. Tex Ostvig, coordinator of Pre-Collegiate Outreach with the Multicultural Center, facilitated the program and offered many stories of encouragement and motivation for children seeking higher education and their parents.

Partnering for School Success montage of participants
Clockwise from top left: students in front of the Weisman Art Museum, a parent listening to a presentation,
the group with Goldy Gopher by Coffman Memorial Union, and Tex Ostvig leading a tour.

When asked what part of the visit they liked the most, participants had the following to say:
  • “The tour because I became acquainted with the university and I like it a lot and I believe that my children can go now.” — A parent 
  • “Everything. The facilities, the conversation, the time that is dedicated to Latino families. The presentation was so motivating and so clear!” — A parent 
  • “Seeing the university for the first time.” — A student
  • “Walk around the campus. You can do it.” — A student
For more on PSS, visit this web page: Partnering for School Success

Kathleen Olson
Program Director — Partnering for School Success

Our Family Development Name Is Now in Spanish

Until now, we have not had an "official" Spanish version of our center's name, Extension Center for Family Development. As you are probably aware, Spanish-speaking individuals and families continue to be a growing audience for FD's educational programming. That said, it was time to establish an official name for our own center in Spanish. FD's Spanish-speaking staff members have voted and I'm happy to announce that our official Spanish name has been selected:

Centro de Extensión para el Desarrollo de la Familia

We’ll be using this name consistently on all Spanish-language resources and communication tools. Thanks to all who helped make this official name possible! For a list of all the resources we offer online in Spanish, see FD Spanish Resources.

Heather Lee
Project Manager

May Website Bytes

Here’s your monthly round-up of what’s new on FD websites, in alphabetical order:
And here’s your fun website fact for the month: The top browser used by visitors to our websites is Chrome. Here’s the breakdown of the top four browsers used:
In the last year
1. Chrome (34%)
2. Internet Explorer (24%)
3. Safari (19%)
4. Firefox (14%)

In the last 30 days
1. Chrome (43%)
2. Safari (20%)
3. Internet Explorer (20%)
4. Firefox (12%)

Hannah Jastram
Communications Associate

Friday, May 15, 2015

Launching the SNAP-Ed Community Partnership Funding

By Ryan Johnson, Associate Program Director — Health and Nutrition

Coming soon to a community near you: SNAP-Ed’s Community Partnership Funding!

This initiative has a new name and a new timeline, but the same goal: to learn from our partners throughout the state about ways to incorporate policy, system, and environmental changes in organizations and communities in order to promote healthy eating and active living for Minnesotans with limited financial resources. The projects funded through this initiative will also help guide future Extension SNAP-Ed work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

‘Nellie Bly’ Moments and Creating Impact

By Rosemary K. Heins, Interim Program Leader — Family Resiliency

The day I’m writing this (May 5, 2015), Elizabeth Cochrane’s 151st birthday is being recognized by a Google Doodle — a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s home page that celebrates holidays, events, achievements and people. Cochran was a journalist better known by her pen name Nellie Bly. She blazed trails for women and the working poor through her writings and adventures.

Nellie Bly’s international fame came from reporting on traveling around the world in 72 days in 1889 — a feat inspired by Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Her unique work reporting on the horrid conditions for mentally ill women in a New York asylum and other writings helped improve lives for many down-trodden people of her era. She made an impact!

Word Matters: Three Tips from the World of Journalism

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

Mary Vitcenda Journalism has been transformed in the digital age, but its basic principles still hold true — and apply to writing at FD. Given my background in journalism, I often bring those principles to my editing, especially the cardinal rule to get the facts right.

If you’re unsure about something you have just written, verify the accuracy of information in your draft before publication. Actually, it’s a good idea to do a fact check with reliable sources even when you think something is correct. We’ve all fallen into the trap of assuming accuracy and having to back track. So:

Tip 1: Check the facts.

But back to journalistic principles, and more to the subject of this column — journalistic practices. How do they apply to writing at FD? Let’s look at two long-standing conventions of journalism and how you might use them to strengthen your writing. First, consider the 5 Ws of reporting:
  • Who was involved?
  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Why (and how) did it happen?
These are not only questions the readers and listeners of news stories ask. They’re also questions that FD audiences ask, and you’ll need to answer them in your writing — whether you’re developing a report, a web page, a fact sheet, or a video script. See Children’s Mental Health Case Studies for an example of a web page that hits the 5 Ws.

Military Families Team Launches Facebook Page

By Anita Harris Hering, Extension Educator — Military Families 

In March, Amy Majerle and I began working with the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) in the new “Family Transitions” concentration area. We’re pleased to announce the launch of a new Facebook page for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. To kick things off, the Facebook page is featuring the diary of an Air Force couple willing to share experiences from their first 30 days living together again after deployment. Today marks day 10 of the diary.

The First 30 Days After Deployment: An Air Force Husband and Wife's PerspectiveDay #10 for herMother's Day was such...
Posted by MFLN Family Transitions on Monday, May 11, 2015

In the coming weeks, our team will be developing new educational tools and information-sharing platforms for professionals assisting military families as part of our collaboration with the Department of Defense, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and eXtension. In the meantime, check out the Facebook page and walk in the shoes of a military family navigating the return of a family member after deployment: MFLN Family Transitions.

For more information about our work, visit About MFLN or read the March 17 Family Matters article: New Staff Join FD to Assist Military Families Learning Network.

NEAFCS-Minnesota Announces Award Winners

Congratulations to the 11 FD Extension educators and staff who won an award from the Minnesota affiliate of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science (NEAFCS) last week! See the full list on the NEAFCS-Minnesota blog:

Winners are moving on to regional and national reviews, so stay tuned.

Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

FD Participates in 5th Annual Financial Capability Roundtable

By Trish Olson, Assistant to the Associate Dean

What an honor it was to be a part of the 5th Annual Financial Capability Roundtable hosted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce held April 28 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. The event featured opening remarks by Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and a keynote address bv Richard Cordray, director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). I also participated in a panel offering perspectives on Minnesota’s financial capability journey.

New Parents Forever™ Article Published

By Emily Becher, Research Fellow

The Journal of Divorce and Remarriage recently published an article by the Parents Forever™ team titled "Parents Forever: Evaluation of an Online Divorce Education Program." The follow-up evaluation of the online version of Parents Forever™ found that 6 to 10 months after taking the course, participants reported a significant improvement in the following:
  • Their ability to control their angry or negative responses when communicating with their co-parent.
  • The level of conflict with their co-parent that their child observed./li>
  • How well they thought they were doing compared to others in the divorce process.
  • Their own ability to cope with the divorce.
The full article can be found here:

Thank Our Staff as May Begins

Trish Olson, Assistant to the Associate Dean 

When my children were growing up, if you looked out the window in the early hours of May 1, you would see kids scurrying around with small homemade baskets filled with treats and flowers. They would hang a basket on a door knob, ring the doorbell, and run away so the gift-bearer would not be known.

May 1 represents multiple celebrations around the world. As in my neighborhood, May 1 is celebrated as a welcome to summer in many countries. Simultaneously, May 1 is also celebrated as International Workers' Day, or Labour Day, across the globe. Talk about a day with an identity crisis!

Friday, May 1, 2015

For Community Action, a Community Approach

By Bonnie Christiansen, Regional Coordinator — Health & Nutrition, and Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

“Imagine living in a poverty-free community,” the Western Community Action (WCA) website invites visitors. “Imagine living in a place where no child grows up poor or hungry or living in unsafe conditions.”

WCA works to make this a reality in the southwest region of Minnesota, and we are proud to be one of their partners.

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