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Showing posts from October, 2016

More than a Soil Test

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

At our school, the annual science fair is a big deal.

My 13 year-old daughter Fae had been mulling over her idea for months. Originally, she wanted to test whether a Wi-Fi network has an effect on plant growth. As with any research project, her first step was to find out what previous research has to say on this topic. However, Fae found very little research online or in books, so she asked her teacher. Her teacher recommended talking to an expert in field, perhaps someone from Extension. Lucky for Fae, I work for Extension and had the inside scoop on someone she could talk with — Sam Bauer, Extension educator in horticulture.
Squashing Japanese beetles with a greens roller might be my second favorite pastime pic.twitter.com/RbRK7VoqdC — UMN Turf Extension (@urbanturfmn) August 5, 2016
Fae sent Sam an email with her questions, and he conferred with his colleagues, then explained to Fae the difficulty of controlling for all possi…

Opening (More) Doors with Higher Education

By Antonio Alba Meraz, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

This summer, Silvia Alvarez De Davila and I, Extension educators in family resiliency, trained three Extension bilingual educators on the Latino Financial Literacy Team in Open Doors with Higher Education, the Extension program for Latino parents and high school students.

Because of this summer’s training session, more Latino parents, caregivers, and children in Minnesota will be exposed to the benefits of the Open Doors program. I expect that in 2017, we five Open Doors educators together will teach the series to about 100 families.

The Open Doors with Higher Education program is a culturally sensitive series of seven, 2-hour sessions that empower Latino parents to support their children to graduate from high school and attend postsecondary school.

CYFC Team to Take Lessons from the Field on the Road to Address Transgender Youth Issues

Judy Myers, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Beginning in January 2017, the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) will host a number of Lessons from the Field seminars on the topic of transgender youth, featuring CYFC's resident visiting scholar.

Transgender youth live throughout Minnesota, in rural and urban communities alike. CYFC educators and staff believe that addressing the issues that transgender youth face in Minnesota is critical to improving both their health and the health of communities in which they live. CYFC is in a unique position to address these issues in collaboration with our Scholar in Residence, Jenifer McGuire, Ph.D.

Transgender Youth: Breaking Down the Challenges

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Imagine that you are an adolescent who feels unsafe everywhere you turn — at home, at school, and in your community. This is the situation for many transgender youth who are at higher risks for homelessness, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide than other gender nonconforming young people.


What are the physical and mental health risks that transgender youth confront and how “big” of an issue is this?

Promoting Good Health Through Physical Activity in Rochester

By Milena Nunez Garcia, SNAP-Ed Educator

Good things are happening at the Oak Terrace Estates and Parkside mobile home communities in Rochester, MN.

Back in 2015, I started a community exercise program that brought together community leaders, as well as community agencies and businesses to offer residents the opportunity to be more physically active with others in their neighborhood. University of Minnesota Extension, Olmsted County Public Health Services (working through the Statewide Health Improvement Program), the RNeighbors Neighborhood Resource Center, and Riverstone Communities are some of the organizations that collaborated in this effort. We, the partners, included residents in the planning and implementation of this project. They assisted in the promotion and recruitment process, determined the class schedule, arranged child care, and kept the shared community room clean.

New Employee: Grant Accountant

By Madonna Monette, Finance Director

Please join me in welcoming Irina Cherevatsky, our newest grant accountant. Irina comes to Extension with 13 years of experience at the University of Minnesota. She was most recently with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences as a finance professional in the college’s financial cluster team serving three departments.

Irina is a certified approver and will have the portfolio of serving Extension's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, and various Extension administration grants. Irina started her position with Extension on October 10 and her primary office is in 415 Coffey Hall.

Making Mistakes (or Pastries) in Times of Scarcity

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition

June Cleaver I am not.

I love to cook and bake, but I rarely have time to do so. I often leave the house for work at 5 a.m. and don’t return until 6 p.m., and can only manage about 2 hours of productive time to put some supper on the table, help with homework, debrief with my kids about their days, and throw a load of laundry in before collapsing in my bed.

When my son asked me recently to make kolache for his class report on the Czech Republic (hoping to earn some extra credit by bringing in this Central European sweet bread), I weighed the scarcity of my time and need for sleep against his pleading eyes. And I stayed up to make the pastries.

Partnering for School Success Team Receives Dean’s Diversity and Inclusion Award

This October, University of Minnesota Extension Dean Durgan honored the Partnering for School Success team with the Dean’s Diversity and Inclusion Award.

Moving from 'What's Wrong with You?' to 'What Happened to You?'

Makshita Luthra — Graduate Research Assistant, Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. It is often linked to unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. Another significant factor associated with obesity in children and adolescents are “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines ACEs as childhood experiences, both positive and negative, that have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, as well as lifelong health issues, including obesity. University of Minnesota Extension’s Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) focuses on ACEs, as well as AFEs (more on those later) in its work with obese children and adolescents.

FD in the News

Here’s your monthly roundup of regional media coverage on the work Family Development staff members are doing.

Growing a movement - Local food hub connects people with what they eat
The Live Better Live Longer Eat Smart community outreach program in Little Falls includes a free, bi-weekly community-supported agriculture (CSA) share for participating families. These CSA shares provide fresh local produce directly from farmers to consumers, and to help participants use the produce, SNAP-Ed Educator +Elizabeth Quillo leads cooking classes and demonstrations.


Growing connections with Guatemala: Delegation tours area schools
A group of eight Guatemalan state officials toured Minnesota schools’ food services in September to get ideas they can implement in their home country. The group made several stops in the Bemidji area. Family Development staff, including Health and Nutrition staff members, organized the tour.


Bemidji Schools Host Guatemalan Visitors
This Lakeland Public Television segm…

On Parachutes, Grizzly Bears, and Tree Trunks

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

The start of fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year for those of us who love the four seasons of the Great Plains. However, it is also one of the busiest time of the year for work and family life. For me, travel both in and out of state to meetings picks up dramatically. Over the last two months, I’ve taken three noteworthy trips.

Last week’s edition of Family Matters highlighted Congressman Tom Emmer’s participation in a Cooking Matters® Minnesota class for youth in Big Lake. I also attended this class and had the opportunity to see Cooking Matters in action as well also to talk about SNAP-Ed and other Family Development programs with the congressman and his aide.