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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Exploring staff development opportunities

By Sharon Mulė, staff development coordinator, Center for Family Development

Starship enterprise moving through space.
Explore new worlds. Boldly go where you haven't gone before. 
Take advantage of upcoming staff development opportunities. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

On April 6, 2016, I landed in Roanoke, Virginia. I had been with Family Development since January but walking into the National Health Outreach Conference (NHOC) was like landing on another planet. Fast forward two years and another NHOC in Annapolis, Maryland. Now here I am helping plan the NHOC for May 2-4 in Minnesota!

With a great conference planning team who really know their stuff, we are moving through the conference planning process and it’s getting exciting! Whether you plan on attending or not, take a few moments and look at the range of presentations from people all over the country.

FR team piloting curriculum on understanding health insurance costs

By Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency

Mary Jo Katras headshot
A team of 10 Family Resiliency (FR) educators is partnering with two universities to pilot a workshop on health insurance costs. The workshop, Understanding and Estimating Health Care Costs, is one of the modules in the Smart Use health insurance curriculum offered through FR.

The FR team has partnered with University of Maryland Extension and University of Delaware Extension since 2013 to pilot and use their Smart Choice and Smart Use curricula. The curricula provide education and resources to help increase health insurance literacy. “Health insurance literacy” refers to knowledge about making health insurance choices.

Want to do GIS mapping? Here are tips to get started

By Nicole Helgeson, graduate research assistant in GIS mapping

As a graduate research assistant in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, I often hear comments like this: “I just want to make simple map, but am overwhelmed by everything that I need
to know to get started.”

Nicole Helgeson headshot No wonder people are overwhelmed. When GIS appeared in the 1960s as a simple map coordinate program, few expected that GIS would become such an integral part of everyday life. From transportation to business, from agriculture to health and nutrition, hardly an area today does not use GIS in some way or other. According to the SAGE handbook of GIS and society, what was once a specialized profession of a few has now become more available and accessible than ever.

To help you sort through the massive amount of information, I have put together a list of tips to get started in GIS mapping your research results. Or whatever story you want to tell.

Two new metro area SNAP-Ed regional coordinators join FD

By Margaret Haggenmiller, associate program director in SNAP-Ed metro

Two new SNAP-Ed regional coordinators have joined the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development. Ayolanda Evans is based at the U of M Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center in Minneapolis. Janice Horsager Rasmussen is based at the Ramsey County Extension office in St. Paul.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

It's the lion you don't see that'll eat you!

By Mary Marczak, director of urban family development and evaluation

My graduate school statistics professor, A.J. Figueredo, often lamented how he couldn’t make it as an animal behaviorist so he became a stats professor. Lucky for us, he used his knowledge about animal behaviors to explain difficult statistical concepts. In research and hypothesis testing, Type II errors lead you to make wrong conclusions. Typically that's because you don’t know enough, don’t have enough data, or haven’t waited long enough for the effects or relationships to show up.

Getting the message across

By Carolina De La Rosa Mateo, graduate research assistant, Center for Family Development

I love the excitement of data collection and analysis. That’s because I am a first-year student in the University of Minnesota Master of Public Health program, which emphasizes the value of quality research.

As part of my graduate work, I have been on several teams and assisted in data collection for dozens, if not hundreds, of individuals. Currently, I’m on the Applied Research and Evaluation (ARE) Team with the Center for Family Development (FD).

SNAP-Ed Works!

SNAP-Ed helps people lead healthier lives. SNAP-Ed educators with the Extension Center for Family Development teach low-income families and individuals about good nutrition and making their food dollars stretch further. SNAP-Ed educators also help participants learn how to be physically active.

New SNAP-Ed educator to serve Mower, Freeborn counties

Thelma Garcia joined University of Minnesota Extension March 5 as a SNAP-Ed educator, based at Extension's Mower County office in Austin. She will serve both Mower and Freeborn counties.

FD in the news

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

Crookston Farmers Market awarded Power of Produce grant through U of M Extension
Crookston Times

The Crookston Farmers Market has been awarded a University of Minnesota Extension Power of Produce (PoP) Club grant. PoP Clubs give children money to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. SNAP-Ed Educator Megan Hruby is quoted in the article, which notes that 10 Minnesota farmers markets received a PoP grant in 2017.

Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign
Marshall Independent

United Community Action Partnership’s food shelves in Marshall and other south-central Minnesota communities are participating in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. United Community Action partners with Extension’s SNAP-Ed program to offer a variety of healthy eating lifestyle classes to its clients, including I CAN Prevent Diabetes (ICANPD). A recently completed ICANPD class in Marshall saw 18 participants lose a total of 300 pounds.

University of Minnesota Extension
Rep. Peterson’s Newsletter

SNAP-Ed associate program directors Mary Caskey and Margaret Haggenmiller visited the office of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson Feb. 8 to talk about SNAP-Ed in Minnesota. Mary and Margaret noted that every dollar spent on nutrition education saving close to $10 in the long run.

How to Divvy Up Your Family Belongings Peacefully and Sensibly
Queens Gazette

The Queens (New York) Gazette highlighted Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? (WGGYPP) as part of the Savvy Senior syndicated column. WGGYPP is an Extension resource to help families distribute personal belongings without conflict after the death of a loved one.

Additional coverage

Also getting coverage last month was SNAP-Ed and health and nutrition educators’ work in Red Wing, Worthington, and south Minneapolis.

Was your work highlighted recently by local media or were you quoted in story? Contact Michael Brott to share the news.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A mentor can help you grow professionally

By Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency

Kitten with meme text that says "Excuse me, will you be my mentor?"

It’s performance review time again. This is when we look back on what we accomplished last year and set our plan of work (POW) for the coming year. The POW includes both program goals and our professional development goals.

2018 National Health Outreach Conference coming May 2-4

Logo of conference that says "Engaging in a culture of health: Making Waves in the Land of 10,000 Lakes."
The 2018 National Health Outreach Conference is coming soon, and the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development is hosting! The conference, “Engaging in a Culture of Health: Making Waves in the Land of 10,000 Lakes,” is set for May 2-4 at the Radisson Blu Mall of America Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota.

SuperShelf makes super progress

By Laura Bohen, Extension educator in health and nutrition

Last spring the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health received a $3.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to evaluate the effectiveness of the SuperShelf program. U of M Extension health and nutrition staff are assisting with the evaluation.

One male and one female choosing food at a food shelf.

So how are things going, you may ask? In a word: super! I’m happy to say that the SuperShelf study is progressing at a steady clip.

Schoolyard gardens conference features Family Development connections

By Mary Vitcenda, senior editor, Center for Family Development

“Establishing Roots” is the theme of the upcoming Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Conference, which will include several sessions with connections to the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development (FD).

Three new SNAP-Ed educators join Family Development

Three new SNAP-Ed educators have joined the Extension Center for Family Development (FD): Abu Farah, Shanda Walker and Elizabeth “Liz” McLaughlin.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Any questions? Mindful Q and As help us better serve our clients and communities

By Trina Adler, program leader in health and nutrition

Woman holding a phone that says I'll be asking the questions from now on.

The other day I witnessed a couple of Family Development staff do a very courageous thing: They asked a question. They asked about some innovative, edgy work they were doing, knowing full well that the answer they receive might force them to back off from the path they were taking.

Taking the mystery out of Extension: Get to know the AR+E Team

By Emily Becher, research associate

Applied Research and Evaluation. We help you think about how to evaluate your work, from beginning to end. And a group photo of team.

AR+E stands for the Applied Research and Evaluation Team. We are similar to the Mission Support Team in that our role is to support the work of the Center for Family Development (FD).

Extension's finance education for Latino immigrants spotlighted at national meeting

By Antonio Alba Meraz, Extension educator in family resiliency

Last fall, four Extension educators in family resiliency, including myself, presented a special series of workshops and one-to-one consultations on personal finance to Mexican and other Latino immigrants living in rural Minnesota.

The series, which emphasized building credit, budgeting, and banking, was based on the Ventanilla de Asesoria Financiera (Financial Empowerment Window) model. The workshops and consultations were made possible through a grant from the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul.

Food Charter in Action events bring together 100s in support of healthy food access

By Stephanie Heim, associate program director

As lead partner of engagement of the Minnesota Food Charter Network, University of Minnesota Extension supported nine “Minnesota Food Charter in Action” events in November and December 2017.

Collage of people attending the Minnesota food charter in action events, sitting, eating, talking.

Reporting on the Food Charter in Action event in central Minnesota

By Serdar Mamedov, Extension educator in health and nutrition, and Molly Zins, executive director, University of Minnesota Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership

Serdar Mamedov head shot
On November 17, 2017, more than 70 people representing different stakeholder groups in local and statewide food systems in Minnesota came together at St. Cloud Technical and Community College to discuss a very important topic for Minnesotans – access to healthy food for all.

'One Extension' website redesign project moves into site building phase

By Michael Brott, communications manager

As reported in the Jan. 18 Extension e-news, communicators and web professionals from across Extension are continuing their work on Extension’s new website, which will launch this spring. Those of us who have been working on the website redesign have completed the planning phase and are beginning site building, content writing and transition work.

Joining in the fun at the Super Bowl Snack Challenge Kids Tailgate Party

There were lots of events going on in the Twin Cities the week before the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4, and Cristofer Ramirez, grandson of SNAP-Ed Educator Letty Rodriguez, was part of the scene. Cristofer was one of 10 Super Bowl Snack Challenge finalists invited to the Kids Tailgate Party held Jan. 31 at the Target Center.
Cristofer Ramirez at super snack challenge in front of food truck
Cristofer Ramirez

FD in the news

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Forget those New Year's resolutions - set goals instead

By Karen Shirer, associate dean

I wonder if you are like me. Every year in late December I set resolutions for a healthier and happier new year. Then, by the third week my best intentions have often ended up on the garbage heap of lost causes. This year my resolutions included maintaining a healthy weight, focusing on the positive and what I can control and change, practicing yoga and running, and well....being better in whatever way I can imagine. I think you get the picture.

Beyond filing: Tax time offers great opportunity to set financial goals

By Mary Jo Katras, Extension program leader in family resiliency

It’s that time of year again to think about filing taxes — this year for 2017 taxes. More than filing, though, tax time offers an opportunity for working individuals and families to get ahead.

Highway sign that reads tax time, just ahead with three arrows pointing up.

The prospect of receiving a tax refund is a good incentive for all of us to think about our financial situation and set financial goals. Those might include paying off existing debt or setting some money aside for an emergency fund.

Katie Lingras named new scholar in residence, succeeding Jenifer McGuire

By Cari Michaels, Extension educator with the Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Katherine Lingras, Ph.D.
Katherine “Katie” Lingras, Ph.D., has been named the Children, Youth & Family Consortium’s (CYFC’s) new scholar in residence. She is an assistant professor and licensed child psychologist with the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry.

Lingras’s term will run this calendar year, starting this semester and continuing through the summer and fall semesters. During her term, Lingras will focus on mental education and research that promotes mental health. She brings to this role her expertise in clinical work and research focused on the social-emotional development of children and building the capacities of the adults who care for them.

Lingras succeeds Jenifer McGuire, Ph.D., who served as the scholar in residence from July 2016 to December 2017. McGuire is an associate professor with the University Department of Family Social Science.

Nudging to Health workshop gets good 'grades' from participants

By Kelly Kunkel, Extension educator in health and nutrition

A little more than a year after it was rolled out, the Nudging to Health: Promoting Healthy Choices at Your Food Shelf food shelf partner education workshop is getting good reviews from participants. One was so impressed, she said, “The nutrition aspects were excellent. I learned things after 50 years of cooking.”

family picking up food from a food shelf

A team of University of Minnesota Extension health and nutrition and SNAP-Ed educators (the “food shelf team”) launched the Nudging to Health workshop in August 2016. The class is one of three developed to assist food shelf staff and volunteers in achieving better outcomes for their clients.

To date, there have been 22 Nudging to Health workshops conducted throughout Minnesota, with 233 staff and volunteers trained. They represented food shelves from Hibbing in northeastern Minnesota to St. James in the south central part of the state. Classes are taught by SNAP-Ed educators with the Extension Center for Family Development.

Telling the story of the CYFC-Bruce Vento School partnership

By Judy Myers, Extension educator with the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (retired)

The story of CYFC’s four-year partnership with the Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul is a remarkable one. Together we are making changes at the school to create a trauma-sensitive learning environment for students facing a host of special challenges.

Now we’re telling the Bruce Vento story through a website called “Fostering Resilient Learners at Bruce Vento Elemntary School.” The website, or story map as we in CYFC prefer to call it, depicts the work of Extension CYFC staff with school staff, neighborhood residents, community organizations, and others to transform the school physically and culturally for the benefit of students.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reflecting on movies – and our accomplishments

2 of a 2-part series

By Trish Olson, director of programs

I don’t know about you, but I am still seeing the “Best of 2017” Lists. I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame. They represent reflections of what has gone well – what should be repeated? Perhaps it is movies with another number behind their title, like “Pitch Perfect 3.” One and two worked, why not three? I have heard mixed reviews on the new “Star Wars” movie, which raises the question: When does something popular get “sunsetted?” When does something new replace the old and we are all better off for it? Olive oil replaces other fats. Taylor Swift leaves country behind for pop, etc. Perhaps the comparisons need to end.

Data visualization group requests feedback on infographic production

By Emily Becher, research associate, Center for Family Development

As part of a cross-center learning group on data visualization, I have been discussing ways to make infographic production easier and more approachable across Extension. We are gathering information to help us move this process forward, and we need your help.

Scholarships open for National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

By Stephanie Heim, associate program director

The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference Network is now accepting scholarships to attend the conference, set for April 25-27 in Cincinnati, Ohio. So, I have a request for each of you: Please alert your partners and anyone else you work with who's involved with local food efforts to apply. Deadline for applications is 8 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. Central), Monday, February 12.

Your Money, Your Goals training promotes financial empowerment

By Becky Hagen Jokela, Extension educator in family resiliency 
Your Money, Your Goals (YMYG) is a financial empowerment toolkit created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The toolkit gives service agency staff information and ideas for use in assisting their clients. The goal is to help clients understand their own financial situations and connect to resources in their communities.

Stay warm, stay safe this winter

Winter in Minnesota brings special joys, such as skiing, skating, or just curling up by the fire reading a book or watching a movie. But winter in northern climates also brings special challenges.

Two females sitting in snow looking at camera.

Extension educators have compiled information to help individuals and families stay warm and safe in winter. Check out Family Development's Healthy Winters web page for links to information on:

FD in the news

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

How to Divvy Up Your Family Belongings Peacefully and Sensibly
HuffPost, Dec. 25, 2017

Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?, University of Minnesota Extension’s resource to help families distribute personal belongings without conflict after the death of a loved one, was in the spotlight in December. Five newspapers around the country, including HuffPost, cited WGGYPP as a useful resource in a syndicated column written by Jim Miller, creator of

Overindulgence and Good Hearts: Parenting During Holidays
Minnesota Ag Connection, Dec. 18, 2017

Ellie McCann, Extension educator in family resiliency, talks about how the holidays increase pressure on parents to overindulge their children with too many gifts and in other ways. She also promotes two Extension online courses designed to help parents deal with this pressure any time of the year: Parenting in the Age of Overindulgence and Parenting with a Good Heart.

Community Voices: Planning for Death Can Be a Gift for Loved Ones
Savage Pacer, Dec. 2, 2017

No one likes to contemplate their own mortality. But it’s important to put your financial affairs in order and take other steps so your family knows your wishes upon death or in case of serious illness or incapacitation. Columnist Rochelle Eastman says planning for death is the “final gift you can give your family.” She also cites Extension’s Minnesota Health Care Directive Planning Toolkit as a valuable resource to aid in this process.
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