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Showing posts from September, 2017

Autumn: A Time for Endings and Beginnings

Editor's note: This column was written before the tragic shooting in Las Vegas.

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean — Family Development

North of the equator, the month of September brings autumn when the days grow shorter and cooler. Plant life shows it final brilliance before winter sets in for the long haul. As Fredric and Mary Ann Brussat reflect, poets capture the deeper meaning of autumn as they describe the leaves letting go, the shortening days, and recognizing the impermanence of living things.

Extension Unveils New Online Overindulgence Course: Parenting with a Good Heart

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communication Associate

This fall, a multidisciplinary team of University of Minnesota Extension educators launched a new online course about overindulgence in collaboration with author and researcher Jean Illsley Clarke and parent educator Lisa Krause.

“Overindulgence” is a term used to describe giving a child too much of anything — like money, food, space, time, energy, or attention — that can delay development. Parents and caregivers overindulge children from a "good heart," experts say, but the practice doesn't help children or families in the long run. As a result, Extension educators in family resiliency saw an opportunity to develop an online course about overindulgence that gives families tools to make informed decisions leading to better health and well-being for their children.

Community Specialist Takes on New Role in Family Development

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

Kate Welshons has taken on a new role with the Extension Center for Family Development (FD) as an online learning specialist. Kate’s new role, which began in June, is also a new position to FD.

Some of you in FD may know Kate as a key member of the Parents Forever™ team. Kate helped manage and facilitate efforts of this team, dividing her time between in-person and online course offerings. This new role gives all FD teams the opportunity to enjoy her expertise and provides Kate the opportunity to focus more on academic technology, instructional design, and adapting research-based curricula and educational tools for an online learning environment.

Kate holds a Master of Public Health degree and a Master of Social Work degree, both from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her areas of focus include instructional design, online course development, program evaluation, continuous quality improvement, educational disparities, an…

Fresh Starts for Fall

By Sharon Mulé, Staff Development Coordinator

At the beginning of September, I found myself standing in an empty room in my home. My daughter Chelsea and her cat Gryffin had moved out into a place of their own. Now I had an extra space to design. I contemplated many opportunities. What color could this room be? Could the furniture be rearranged? Could it be for guests, for me, for my 8-year-old grandson? (OK, for sure for my grandson.)

Extension Continues Training for School Success Program

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

University of Minnesota Extension staff are conducting a second round of training sessions this fall for future facilitators of the Education: Our Best Legacy (EOBL) program. This program was developed by Center for Family Development (FD) staff to help middle-school students get the most out of school. Facilitators deliver EOBL classes to two groups: Latino families and other families considered “hard to reach.” Those families include low-income white families, non-Latino immigrant families, and families of color.


The Case for the Place-Based Approach

By Marijo Wunderlich, Researcher — Health and Nutrition

What happens when the people closest to a problem are part of the solution?

This is the question that we at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development in Health and Nutrition are exploring. Our strategy is increased public engagement and community activism across sectors that we’re calling the “place-based approach” or PBA. Health and Nutrition staff and faculty tackle problems like limited access to healthy foods and challenges to more active living and physical activity. The goal of the place-based approach that we’re taking is that residents become more involved in activities that build community, such as advocating for policy changes to make streets safer and communities more livable or starting and sustaining community gardens.

How PBA Works A place-based approach focuses on work in a specific locale, such as a neighborhood, which fosters social cohesion and builds social capital. By bolstering socia…

Managing Stress and Well-Being in Fearsome Times

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean — Extension Center for Family Development

As I sat down to write this column, Hurricane Irma had pummeled the northeast Caribbean and was making landfall on the west coast of Florida. This storm comes after an 8.1 earthquake off the shore of Mexico on Thursday, Sept. 7 that killed dozens, and as devastating wildfires continue to rage in the western United States and Canada (the smoky haze over Minnesota originated in British Columbia). And all these disasters are occurring as Houston barely begins its recovery from the record setting rains of Hurricane Harvey.

We can argue whether these events are natural disasters or human-made ones influenced by climate change and mismanagement, or a combination of both. These debates are important, but we are still left with the human toll these disasters take on people. We include ourselves in that toll when we watch them unfold. What can we do to manage our stress and well-being during these fearsome times?

Extension Educator Contributes to New Learning Community

Later this month, University of Minnesota Extension Educator Ellie McCann will share her expertise with a new learning community of Minnesotans interested in building resilience and promoting mental well-being. She will do so via a webinar hosted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, September 26.

Celebrating Minnesota’s Schools and Farmers

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

October is National Farm to School Month! This is a time when University of Minnesota Extension and statewide partners recognize the importance of farm to school practices as a way to improve child nutrition, support local economies, and teach children about where food comes from.



Farm to school tours and events are taking place across Minnesota during the month of October. Here are two upcoming events.

Minnesota Thursday/Midwest Menu — Thursday, October 5 — Schools across the state will kick off Minnesota Thursdays with a special Midwest Menu. Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch — Thursday, October 12 — Schools and organizations across the Great Lakes region will crunch into a local apple at noon, local times. Like the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch Facebook page to learn who will be crunching. To see photos of the day, search for #MNAppleCrunch on Twitter.
In addition, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is hosting a webinar on Tuesd…

Graduate Assistant Joins CYFC Scholar in Residence Program

Graduate Assistant S. Okrey Anderson joined University of Minnesota Extension in August, working primarily with the Children, Youth & Family Consortium's Scholar in Residence Program.

S, whose pronouns are they, them, and their, was a research assistant at the Children and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois. They also worked as the youth and families program coordinator at a nonprofit LGBT resource center in Champaign, IL.

S has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in social work, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They are currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Family Social Science.

S's focus areas are gender and sexual minority youth and young adults, religiosity, family support, and home-based education.