University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

Extension > Family Matters > February 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

H&N Staff Mix and Mingle with Metro Community Partners

By Evalyn Carbrey, Regional Coordinator — SNAP-Ed

On Friday, February 10, the Metro Extension Health and Nutrition staff hosted a partner “meet and greet” event at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach Center (UROC) in Minneapolis.

panoramic view of community room with many people

The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity to say thank you to our current partner agencies and programs, feature some of the great work of our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) staff, and to foster new connections with current and future partners. Over 35 partners attended, included individuals from community organizations, public housing, local public health, and many others.

Monday, February 20, 2017

In 2017, I will be taking more risks.

headshot of Mary Jo Katras
By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

Throughout 2016, the opportunity to take risks bubbled up more than once in my personal and profession lives. For example, I had the opportunity to try aerial fitness, which stretched both my coordination and athletic ability to the max. An opportunity to take risks at work came up when I was I was challenged to develop new ways to deliver online programming that allowed for greater accessibility for our audiences.

As I think about taking risks, I am reminded of my youngest daughter Josie learning to ride her bike. She first began to learn to ride her bike in a baseball field. In her mind, falling on gravel was much less scary than falling on a concrete sidewalk. After she had built up her confidence on the baseball field, she began to practice in the empty school parking lot on weekends. Then she moved to riding on the sidewalks in our neighborhood.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Extension Network Nerds Are Set Up to Connect

By Noelle Harden, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Are you thinking like a network?

You may have read the blog post my fellow network nerd Jamie Bain wrote about thinking like a network. You may have also read that cold weather didn’t keep people away from the summit hosted by the Central Regional Food Access Network. As Extension and Minnesota become more “net-centric,” we in Family Development are developing new resources to meet the needs of our Health and Nutrition staff, partners, and the communities we serve. Case in point, our new web page: Food Networks in Minnesota.

This web page hosts an ArcGIS map and a sortable directory of food networks in Minnesota.

screenshot of a map of minnesota
A snapshot from the ArcGIS map with the Central Region Food Access and Minnesota Food Charter networks highlighted.

This web page also has information about how to join the new Minnesota Food Networks email list and upcoming quarterly meetings. We created these resources to promote more learning, connecting, and engagement between food network leaders and others working on food systems change in Minnesota communities and across the state.

Please share these resources with partners (here’s a shortened link for you to use:, and don’t hesitate to contact me at with your questions, ideas, or to seek out some network nerd camaraderie.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Extension Begins Training for School Success Program

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

On March 30, University of Minnesota Extension staff, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education, will begin training future facilitators of Education: Our Best Legacy (EOBL). This program was developed by Center for Family Development (FD) staff to help middle school students get the most out of school. EOBL is one of several parent education programs offered under FD’s Partnering for School Success project.

two adults with a child standing in front of a chalkboard

Despite overall strong marks in academic achievement, Minnesota experiences one of the highest levels of educational disparities in the country. FD staff in family resiliency created the EOBL program to close these opportunity gaps in education.

Schoolyard Gardens Conference Set for Early March

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

“New Places to Grow” is the theme of the 2017 Schoolyard Gardens Conference, set for Friday, March 3, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. Held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., sessions include the following:
  • Ten Plants that Changed Minnesota
  • Making Year-Round School Gardens Work
  • Special Needs and Gardening
  • Sustaining a School Garden through Collaboration and Student “Ownership”
  • The Perfect Prairie Partnership
The conference will also feature a keynote address by Rick Sherman, Farm to School and School Garden Coordinator, Oregon Department of Education. Rick will share how Oregon became a leader in the farm to school and school garden movement, detailing how the state’s school gardens united into a mega-force.

Whether you are a beginner or schoolyard garden veteran, join educators, school administrators, gardeners, and community members to learn innovative strategies to sustain and engage diverse learners in thriving schoolyard gardens.

This annual event is sponsored by the arboretum and the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, in collaboration with the Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Coalition. Register today on the conference web page: 2017 Schoolyard Gardens Conference. Financial hardship assistance may be available. Call 612-301-1210 to inquire.

Your Help Needed for Elder Family Financial Exploitation Research

By Marlene Stum, Professor and Extension Specialist — Family Social Science

Your help is needed to identify potential participants to understand family experiences when elderly people are victims of financial exploitation by someone in their own family. We have half of our participants but need another recruitment push to reach our goal of having all interviews completed by March 2017.

Elder family financial exploitation is widely agreed to be the most prevalent and growing type of elder abuse in Minnesota as well as across the U.S. It is also commonly recognized that “families are never the same after experiencing financial exploitation.” However, the voices and perspectives of affected family members are largely absent from what’s known about elder financial exploitation.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Affirming Our Commitment to Respecting Diversity and Fostering Inclusion

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

On January 24 and 26, I attended two sessions of the 2017 Lessons from the Field series. This year’s series of workshops focuses on the needs of transgender youth and is led by CYFC's Scholar in Residence, Jennifer McGuire, Ph.D. Jennifer and her co-presenters — Nathan Hesse, SNAP Ed educator, and Cari Michaels, CYFC Extension educator — thoughtfully highlighted the challenges faced by transgender youth in our society.

three women talking at a table
We got a chance to connect with each other throughout the workshop.

These transgender workshops reminded me of one of my earliest programming opportunities related to diversity and inclusion. In 1995, while working at Iowa State as an assistant state Extension leader, I was tasked with planning and implementing a statewide, three-day immersive training session on reaching Hispanic audiences through Extension family programming. Today, these lessons learned from planning and participating in this experience remain with me.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Layered Learning and Evaluation Anxiety

By Emily Becher, Research Associate

Throughout my brief career as a student, academic, researcher and evaluator, one theme has emerged: I’m not as smart as I thought I was!

When I was younger, I thought that intelligence or smarts was measured by my ability to grasp complex ideas and thoughts. If I wasn’t able to grasp an idea quickly and easily, it meant that I wasn’t gifted in that particular area and I should move along to something else. A quote my dad my often shared with me would bubble up at the back of my mind: “Genius manifests itself.” I took this to mean that if I was good at something, it would be obvious from the beginning.

However, over the years, I’ve learned that this just isn’t true — at least for me.

Scenes from Video Land

Check out these videos from Extension staff and partners:

Gisell Gonzalez at the St. Paul Women's March (4:21) — Listen to this young Latina's speech about her feelings regarding the mischaracterization of women and Latinos roles in the workforce.

Live Better Live Longer (5:48) — CHI St. Gabriel's Health — Learn about this Morrison County program and keep your eye out for Regional Coordinator Stephanie Hakes,  and SNAP-Ed Educators Carmen Genske and Elizabeth Quillo.

Following in Faith (2:33) — Zumbro Lutheran Church — Check out this an example of what can be achieved when different institutions decide to work together for a common goal in the community (hint: it involves burritos).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

FD in the News

Here’s your monthly roundup of regional media coverage on the work of Family Development staff and partners.

Community food project proposed for Wadena families
Wadena Pioneer Journal, Dec. 19, 2016

The Wadena Growers Association is looking to increase healthy food access and is working with Tri-County Health Care Foundation and Extension to offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables to families.

University study: Minnesota childcare providers are fostering healthier environments
U of M Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Jan. 3, 2017

A University of Minnesota research team found that early childhood care and education providers are making significant strides in ensuring kids eat healthy food and are physically active, although barriers remain. U of M Extension noticed that providers surveyed in 2010 were willing to serve more whole grains and took action.

Local policy council continues work addressing barriers to healthy food in Steele County
Owatonna People’s Press, Jan 19, 2017

The Roots, Shoots and Boots Food Policy Council — of which SNAP-Ed Educator +Andrea Kronbach is a member — is continuing its discussion on how to increase awareness, accessibility and affordability of healthy food in Steele County.

U of M Extension looking to expand One Vegetable, One Community initiative
Crookston Times, Jan. 20, 2017

University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed, Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, and Institute on Environment together partner through the One Vegetable, One Community gardening campaign to encourage healthy food access and community building.

Local program helps pre-diabetic patients adopt healthy lifestyles
Worthington Daily Globe, Jan. 25, 2017

A group of pre-diabetic women in the Worthington area have not only seen improvements in their health during the past year, but have also assumed the challenge to change their lifestyle with the help of the I CAN Prevent Diabetes (ICANPD) program taught by SNAP-Ed Educator +Maria Conchita Paez-Sievert.

Faribault High School graduate reflects on role at St. Paul Women's March
Faribault Daily News, Jan. 25, 2017

Gisell Gonzalez Sanchez addressed the masses at the Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday, January 21 with a message about her feelings regarding the mischaracterization of women and Latinos’ roles in the workforce. The organizers of the St. Paul Women’s March discovered Gisell through a video SNAP-Ed Educator Rafael Flores uploaded to Facebook depicting her experience of being a first generation Latino college student.

Were You in the News?

Was your work highlighted recently by local media or were you quoted in a story? Contact +Michael Brott, FD communications manager, at to share the news.
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy