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Extension > Family Matters > December 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It’s that time of year to reflect on our accomplishments

1 of a 2-part series

By Trish Olson, director of programs

I know you have seen the lists generated: Best Movies of 2017, Best Books of 2017, Best Workplaces of 2017, and on and on. In my role as director of programs, I too, need to reflect and look back on 2017 in order to inform our work in 2018. How do I do this? One way is to look at accomplishments against promises made.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Latino Financial Literacy Team addresses immigration concerns and other emerging issues

By Antonio Alba Meraz and Sara Croymans, Extension educators in family resiliency

University of Minnesota Extension’s Latino Financial Literacy Program (LFLP) helps Latino immigrants in southern Minnesota understand U.S. financial information and systems so participants can make sound financial decisions. Program team members include financial capability educators Gabriela Burk, Dodge County; Jose Lamas, Nobles County; and Francisca Mendoza, McLeod County. They are supported by Antonio Alba Meraz and Sara Croymans, Extension educators in family resiliency. Recently, the Latino Financial Literacy Team has provided special programming to address immigration and related issues.

Family resiliency team piloting parenting classes in Minnesota prisons

By Ellie McCann, Extension educator in family resiliency

A family resiliency team with the Extension Center for Family Development has received a $25,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Corrections to develop and deliver parenting classes for incarcerated parents and caregivers. I am principal investigator for the team. Other members are family resiliency educators Becky Hagen Jokela, Anita Harris Hering, Lori Hendrickson, and Sharon Powell.

The parenting classes, which began in November, are being offered at three prisons across the state—Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, and Moose Lake. Stillwater and Moose Lake will host three 12-week, two-hour class sessions. Oak Park Heights will host one 12-week, two-hour class session. Classes will continue through June 30, 2018.

Friday, December 8, 2017

FD Family Resiliency Team wins financial community educator award

By Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency

The Family Resiliency Team with the Extension Center for Family Development was recently recognized for its sustained commitment and contribution to financial education in Minnesota communities. The team received the 2017 Thrivent Financial Community Educator Award for its Community Mentorship for Financial Capability Program. The award was given at EconFest on Nov. 2 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. EconFest is an annual celebration of teachers, students, and communities sponsored by the Minnesota Council on Economic Education.

Friday, December 1, 2017

FD in the News

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

Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Announces 52 Super Snack Challenge Winners
Super Bowl LII Newsroom, Nov. 15, 2017

November was a rewarding month for SNAP-Ed Educator Letica Rodriguez and her grandson, Cristofer Ramirez. First, he was named one of 52 winners of the Super Snack Challenge sponsored by the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. He won based on his recipe for Colorful Black Bean Salad, a recipe Letica teaches many children to make in her SNAP-Ed classes.

Next, he was named one of 10 finalists to compete in the All Pro Chef Event held Nov. 28 at Breaking Bread Café and Catering in Minneapolis.

Cristofer will join his fellow Super Snack Challenge winners at the Minnesota Super Bowl 2018 Super Kids Tailgate Party. There, the winning healthy game day recipe will be chosen from among the 10 All Pro chefs.

Commissioner of Health appoints committee members to health equity advisory panel
Minnesota Department of Health news release, Nov. 14, 2017

Cassie Silveira, Extension health and nutrition educator, is among 25 Minnesotans appointed to a newly created advisory council. The Health Equity Advisory and Leadership Council was created as part of a broader effort by the Minnesota Department of Health to address Minnesota’s disparities in health status—particularly disparities across various ethnic, racial, and regional groups.

Summary of 2017 Food Access Summit, Nov. 26, 2017

Michael Stratten, EFNEP community nutrition educator, was among speakers at the 2017 Food Access Summit held in October in Duluth. Nearly 800 people attended the gathering to hear presentations on food insecurity, food equity, and the impact of food choices on the economy and environment. Stratten told his story about growing up in Chicago and urged attendees to make their communities healthier for the next generation.

The Evaluation Elf on the Shelf: Get your 2017 data entered!

Dear Family Development employees,

It’s me, your friendly research associate Emily Becher. As we enter this season of cozy sweaters and delicious food, one of the traditions I’ve started to celebrate with my children is “The Elf on the Shelf.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is a small doll with an accompanying book that parents can use around the holiday season to promote good behavior. Parents move the elf around different locations in the house during the night, and in the morning the children find where the elf is now located (usually doing something silly like hanging upside down from the refrigerator or making a sprinkle angel).

The idea is that the elf is watching and reports back to Santa Claus every night on their behavior. Good behavior means good reports to Santa and presents. Bad behavior means bad reports to Santa and no presents. So often in my house from Thanksgiving to Christmas, you will hear me say, “Twirley is watching! What do you think she is going to tell Santa?” (If you haven’t guessed, Twirley is the name of our household Elf on the Shelf.)

Young female pointing to Elf on the Shelf sitting on a bookshelf.
Twirley watching Emily Becher's daughter, Dorothy

In a similar vein, think of me as Emily, Your Evaluation Elf on the Shelf. As federal reporting season approaches, I will start popping up in different ways to remind you that all of your data for annual year 2017 needs to be entered by Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Many of you won’t be teaching classes the last couple weeks of December due to participants’ busy lives and schedules. That gives you an ideal opportunity to get a head start on your data entry.

If you need support, talk to your supervisor now, before we get closer to the deadline. If you don’t think you can make the deadline for data entry, talk to your supervisor and let me know so I can wait for your data to do my federal reporting data magic.

If you have some kind of evaluation data that doesn’t fit in SEEDS, Webineers, or FD-RED (Family Development Reporting and Evaluation Database), but it’s in a spreadsheet or a Qualtrics survey, email me the data (and share the survey with me) and cc your supervisor so they know I have it.

What about FD-RED?

If you enter your data into SEEDS or Webineers, i.e. SNAP-Ed or EFNEP, your evaluation data are already taken care of and you can ignore this FD-RED discussion.

FD-RED does not collect evaluation data (beyond demographics). So if you have evaluation data, i.e. what people learned or gained, for any program or event that was entered into FD-RED (or should be), please email those data and/or report to Emily Becher,, or Anna Alba, Please follow these instructions:

  • Use “2017 Annual Report” as the subject line.
  • If the full questions are not listed in the attached spreadsheet or report, attach the evaluation tool as well.
  • Cc your supervisor so they can track what evaluation data have already been sent.

Remember: I need these evaluation data because I have to report to our federal funders how well we met the mark on a series of indicators. I desperately need your evaluation data to tell that story.

A different strategy for supplemental survey

My dear FD colleagues, I encourage you to get a head start because I will be sending out a supplemental survey at the beginning of January that asks about all the “extra” information I need for the federal report. If you want to get a head start on pulling that information together, you can find that survey here: FD Supplemental Survey 2017 (PDF). I am going to use a different strategy this year for the supplemental survey: I’m going to email it out to everyone in FD using Qualtrics and then even if you don’t have data to report, I’m asking you to say you don’t have data to report, which should take less than 30 seconds. If you say you still have data to report, you are going to get a reminder sometime in early January to remind you to get that data entered.

I’m doing this because every year I have last-minute data given to me. I don’t mind getting last-minute information because it enriches the report, but please give me a heads-up that you might send more information later. When I get last minute data that I wasn’t expecting, it means I have to re-do our numbers. I think last year I re-did our numbers… 20 times? So I’m hoping by sending out the supplemental survey this way, it will prompt data entry (or letting me know data will be coming in later) for anyone who has forgotten.

Remember, the goal of federal reporting is to get the story of your awesome work out there. You do incredible work and I am very proud and grateful to support you. So thank you in advance for getting your data in on time (or letting me know if it won’t be), so I can tell your story even better.

Emily, Your Evaluation Elf on the Shelf

Photo Credit: Michael Kappel via Flickr 

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