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Extension > Family Matters > November 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Alternative Learning in Worthington

By Bonnie Christiansen, SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator

This October and November, SNAP-Ed Educators Leticia Rodriguez and Conchita Paez-Sievert partnered with Hy-Vee to hold a Cooking Matters™ for Teens class with the Middle Level Alternative Program students from the Worthington Alternative Learning Center.

During the six week course, students traveled to Hy-Vee to learn from a chef and nutrition educators how to make a recipe. Then, they applied their learning, making the recipes themselves — and, of course, eating them.

Lessons focused on making healthy meals and practicing safe cooking.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Addressing Our Own Grand Challenges

By Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation

During our regional visits this summer, I shared an update about the University's plans on addressing Grand Challenges. President Kaler issued a challenge to the University community in his 2014 State of the University address:

Poverty. Social inequality. Religious intolerance. World hunger. Climate change. Disease. These are among the most serious and intractable problems we face. They are among some of the world's Grand Challenges. ...

Students, faculty, staff, donors, community partners — no matter how different your perspective is, I believe together we will continue to move this University forward because we share a belief [in the same] principles. I believe those principles to be:

  • A limitless ambition in all we do,
  • An intolerance for complacency in our workplace or our work,
  • Academic excellence and global impact,
  • And civic responsibility to be a guiding force to meet those Grand Challenges. ...
I want this University to have a Grand Ambition and apply that against our many Grand Challenges.

The challenge for us is not to wait for someone else to name these Grand Challenges. At each regional visit, staff members described their own region's grand challenges. Similar to what President Kaler describes above, our own staff have accepted the challenge to address, find solutions for, and work towards minimizing the many issues that exist in our own state.

The next five editions of Family Matters will highlight our own regional grand challenges, and Family Development's efforts in that region. Family Matters will return to normal in January. We'll kick off this series by highlighting the Southwest Region next week.

Grand Challenges Research: Forum Summaries and Next Steps

The following is a reprint of an email sent to selected Twin Cities faculty and staff by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost on November 19.

Dear Colleagues,

Many of you participated in the series of recent Grand Challenges Research Forums to help shape core components of the University's scholarly future. In all, the five forums drew about 600 faculty, staff, and students to discuss our wide-ranging research strengths. The discussions brought into sharper focus the 130 ideas submitted by faculty during our Call for Ideas process — and potential opportunities to integrate and expand the impact of work to address critical societal challenges.

How Is the University — Including Extension — Uniquely Situated to Meet Grand Challenges?

In October, I participated in first three of the five Grand Challenge Campus Forums hosted by University of Minnesota Provost Karen Hanson. The forums were centered on the following broad “umbrella” themes:
  • How will we ensure just and equitable societies?
  • How will we foster human potential and well-being across the life course in a diverse and changing world?
  • How will we advance human health?
  • How will we develop sustainable cities and resilient communities in a world of climate change?
  • How will we provide secure food, water and energy today and for the future?

Diversity, a Grand Challenge and a Great Opportunity, as Highlighted by the Food Access Summit

In October, I attended a Grand Challenges forum on fostering human potential and well-being, which included themes of diversity. Then, in November, I attended the Food Access Summit and realized how relevant it was to the Grand Challenge themes of diversity. I wish to express how enthusiastic I am about all the opportunities that lie ahead in the realm of cultural diversity and the movement of inclusion as they relate to those of us in Extension Health and Nutrition.

Post-Food Access Summit, Part 2

I asked the Health and Nutrition staff who attended last week's Food Access Summit in Duluth to share one quote or idea that stuck with them. This is what they said.

I really enjoyed Natasha Bowens' presentation and thought her reflection of not seeing enough people of color in the farming sector or at farmers markets was a good push to focus more on that topic. I want to work towards making farming and farmers markets a welcoming environment for all people and encourage others to do the same.

Theresa Donnelly
SNAP-Ed Educator


Website Bytes: All in the Family

When was the last time you visited the public Family page on the Extension public website? Recently — because it’s your browser’s home page? Or so long ago you can’t remember?

Well, wherever you fall on the frequency-of-visits spectrum, here are three things you may not know about the Family page:


So now that you know these three things about the public Family page, make it your home page and stay in the know.

Hannah Jastram 
Communications Associate

Staff Transitions

Diane Rasmussen has left Extension for a job in the private sector. Her last day as SNAP-Ed regional coordinator in the metro area was November 13. We thank her for her time and wish her the best!

Amanda Corbett, research associate, is leaving Extension to join the U of M’s Rural Health Research Center. She will be a researcher on a team that is bridging research and practice and informing policymakers on the health care needs of rural populations. Amanda's last day with the Applied Research and Evaluation team in FD will be November 30. Please join us in congratulating Amanda on her new position and thanking her for her amazing work supporting Policy, Systems, and Environmental evaluation and adaptation studies in Health and Nutrition.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Living the Post-Conference Life

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

Conference season is upon us! Many of us have attended conferences over the past few months and others will continue to do so in the upcoming months.

I don't know about you, but often when I attend a conference and meet new people and learn about new research and programming, I return home energized to apply all that I learned to my own work. But once I get to the office, the energy and ideas are pushed aside as I prioritize my existing work.

Post-Food Access Summit, Part 1

I asked the Health and Nutrition staff who attended last week's Food Access Summit in Duluth to share one quote or idea that stuck with them. This is what they said.
 
"Justice is what love looks like in public" — Cornell West
It's one of my favorite quotes. Relevant in networking and relevant as we talk about racial disparities in the food system.

Lisa Wong
SNAP-Ed Educator

Health and Nutrition Associate Program Director Completes Degree

Congratulations to Margaret Haggenmiller on receiving her Master of Education degree in the College of Education and Human Services at University of Minnesota — Duluth!

Margaret’s final capstone project, “A Study of the Implementation Process of an Expanded School Breakfast Program,” was not only applauded by her committee members, but they are also encouraging her to publish her work. FD’s Applied Research and Evaluation team hopes to learn from Margaret about the project and how it can inform Health and Nutrition’s work.

In the acknowledgement page of the final paper, Margaret wrote, “A very special thanks to my husband John for cooking nearly every meal for the last two years.” This shows in a small, yet significant way, what kind of commitment it takes to obtain a degree while working full time.

Mary Marczak
Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation

Creating Accessible Environments

What constitutes a disability according to the law? How does our understanding of disability influence what we do to provide meaningful access in our programs and resources? Attend Extension’s December webinar at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 9 at to get answers to these kinds of questions from Roberta L. Kehne, physical access coordinator with the U of M Disability Resource Center. You will also learn about additional resource and referral information that is available, including those offered through the center. Visit the Extension intranet to register for the “Creating Accessible Environments” webinar: Program Resources > Professional Development > Topic Webinar.

Hannah Jastram
Communications Associate

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Following Flip Saunders’ Lead to Build a Culture of ‘WE’

By Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation 

There was a universal outpouring of love and support after part-owner and head coach of Minnesota Timberwolves Flip Saunders died at age 60 while fighting Hodgkin lymphoma. A moving video tribute was shown Monday, November 2, before the Timberwolves home opener at Target Center: Watch the video tribute from Target Center.

Report Chronicles Collective Action for Healthy Food Access

We, in Health and Nutrition, are delighted to share our final report featuring key activities of statewide food networks. The report includes challenges these networks face and best practices to cultivate collective action to meet those challenges. While this report was developed after interviews with 15 statewide food networks, the opportunities, challenges, and best practices present excellent lessons and considerations for any local or regional network.

FD Social Media: Rounding Up, Down, and All Around


By Jessica Barnes, Communications Associate

Change is in the air. Hannah Jastram, communications associate, and I are working with leadership and educators to tweak our social media presence to be #strongertogether.

Word Matters: Want to Look Smart? Write Simple.

Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

Many of us may think that writing with big words makes us look smarter. One significant study says the opposite is true.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Reflections from the Road

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

As associate dean, my work involves a great deal of travel in the state as well as across the country. My medical needs put a damper on my travel for the past year; but these last two months, I have embarked on a more robust travel schedule that included seven regional visits in Minnesota and a conference in Detroit. Experiences from these travels have built on each other and are shaping how I lead our work.

Bringing Systems Thinking to our Work

The inclusion of policy, systems, and environment change strategies in our work requires a shift in our way of thinking. While thinking about how we can change behavior through direct education is still important, we also need to think about the systems in play that will affect participants' ability to make the desired behavior change after they leave our classes. We explored this topic in Health and Nutrition's Spectrum of Prevention modules with this video: Broc and the Systems. This video illustrates some of the systems that have an impact on a family's ability to make healthy choices. But there are many videos that cover this topic. In fact, if you search YouTube for “systems thinking,” you get over 20,000 results!

Consider Giving to FD During Community Fund Drive

Hopefully you are all considering giving during this year's Community Fund Drive. Did you know that Family Development has a number of U of M Foundation funds that you can give to? Here's a summary of the FD funds. (Note: You can contribute to the funds without links with an offline giving form. See the instructions after the summary.)

Introducing Two New SNAP-Ed Educators

Hanan Osman joined the Minneapolis-Saint Paul SNAP-Ed team on October 26 as a SNAP-Ed Oromo educator. She is of Oromo origin from Ethiopia, and her nationality is Canadian. In the past, Hanan has worked as a health educator in sexual health, HIV prevention, and health promotion. She is a firm believer in providing people meaningful information to make informed decisions about their health. She is an advocate of upholding anti-oppressive principles, participatory engagement models, and multilingual approaches in achieving health with dignity. “I hope to contribute to the continued success [of] this Extension program,” Hanan writes, “provide my knowledge and expertise, and also gain [a] wealth of knowledge from the amazing group of people I will begin to work with.”

Rebecca (Becca) Spanier joined the Southwest Region SNAP-Ed team on October 26 as the SNAP-Ed Spanish educator in Kandiyohi County. Becca has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She has both a personal and professional background living and working outside the United States in Venezuela, Costa Rica, and most recently Mozambique, where she served in the Peace Corps for 14 months as a community health volunteer. Becca’s interest in healthy living, a passion for helping people, and taking a public health approach in her work are what excite her in her new role in Extension.
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