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Showing posts from January, 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.


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 “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.”


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 Dev…

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.

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.


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:

Staying safe this winter — How to dress for snow and cold temperatures, avoid slips and falls, and stay safe while you travel in winter.How Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule helps you keep the heat on in the winter — Apply for a Cold Weather Rule plan before you start struggling with your heating bill this winter.Keeping your home safe and warm in winter — Follow these steps to manage heating costs and ensure your family’s safety in winter.

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 SavvySenior.org.

HUFFPOST: How to Divvy Up Your Family Belongings Peacefully and Sensibly https://t.co/s2bTQ27ucz via @HuffPostBlogpic.twitter.com/19gyUZA1zT — Jim Miller (@TheSavvySenior) December 25, 2017
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…