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Showing posts from August, 2015

Musings from Round One of Regional Visits

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

On August 14, the Family Development leadership team completed the first four meetings with FD staff across the state. We learned so much about the four regions we visited. Staff members were asked to bring three challenges they saw in their region’s work, families, and communities. Many brought articles clipped from newspapers or printed from websites. Others brought photographs or simply shared what was going on. In this week’s column, I wanted to share, too. Here are some recurring themes and issues I heard discussed at the regional meetings:

Networking for Change

By Ryan Johnson, Associate Program Director — Health & Nutrition

Registration is open for the 2015 Food Access Summit, to be held November 8 to 10 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Five hundred participants will build on existing partnerships, collaborations, and alliances to strengthen and expand the work of individuals and agencies.

Photo Credit: Lindsi Gish
Posted by Food Access Summit on Friday, November 14, 2014
Healthy food access is a grand challenge for all regions of Minnesota. Like all grand challenges, this one requires the energy and creativity of multiple sectors, including:
AgricultureAnti-hunger organizersTribalCommunity developmentEducationRetailHealthPhilanthropy Extension staff in general and FD staff in particular are well-positioned to address food access, so we encourage you to participate in the workshops, networking, and issue-area strategic discussions at the Food Access Summit. These venues promise to energize and connect conference participant…

Critical Conversations About Diversity and Justice

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

The U of M Office of Equity and Diversity and University Libraries are co-sponsoring “Critical Conversations About Diversity and Justice” for the fourth consecutive year. This series of seven panel conversations, which starts in October 2015 and continues through April 2016, covers the following topics:
#Connected or #Disaffected? Diversity and the Power of Pop Culture and Social Media (October 9)Queer Histories (Queering History) of the Twin Cities (October 30)Limiting Liberty: The Recurring Collision of Free Speech and Religion (November 20)A Failing Grade? Addressing Opportunity and Achievement Gaps in Public Education (January 29)Our Somali Neighbors: Learning More about Somali Culture and Community (February 26)Hit 'em Again: Is Violence an Essential Thread in the Fabric of American Society? (March 25)25 Years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Public Policy, Personal Attitudes, and Social Change (April 22) Every conver…

Introducing a New SNAP-Ed Educator

Alica Whitmore joined the Southwest Region SNAP-Ed Team on August 27 as a SNAP-Ed Educator located in Redwood County. Alica has a bachelor’s degree in Youth Development Studies and brings a wide array of professional and volunteer experience to the position. Previously, Alica championed educational and food equity in North Minneapolis. She is excited to participate in the collaborative and comprehensive approach towards holistic health and accessibility that U of M Extension takes. Alica enjoys biking, discovering new foods, and meeting new neighbors.

Bonnie Christiansen
Regional Coordinator, Health and Nutrition

Editor’s note: See all FD job openings here: Employment and Jobs: Family Development.

The Art of Creating Community

By Renee Obrecht-Como, Program Operations Director — Health & Nutrition

I’ve had many conversations over the years with Family Development colleagues and others about the joys of creative expression, such as cooking healthy and delicious meals, storytelling, and making music, crafts, or art. Educators certainly know these hands-on activities facilitate learning and skill-development. Recently, I was inspired by the ways that working together on artistic activities, or displaying them in public spaces where people gather, also facilitates creating community.

Word Matters: Perplexing Pronouns

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

"The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind, and they can be seen in the church basement Friday afternoon."

Bad writing does occasionally provide a welcome moment of hilarity, as this example from a church bulletin cited in the book “Sin and Syntax” shows. But mostly, bad writing is confusing — and we want our writing to be clear.

Unfortunately, the potential to create murky prose lies everywhere in the process of writing. Some "opportunities" to confuse readers occur at the big-picture, structural level, while others occur at the word, phrase, or sentence level. This month, I'm going to focus on an opportunity in the latter categories: vague and faulty pronoun references. By monitoring your pronoun use, you can keep your readers from becoming dazed and confused.

Taking Time to Reflect — and Meet Grand Challenges

By Trish Olson, Director of Programs

What feelings does this image provoke for you? I used to feel irritation, but now I feel something quite different — pride.

Celebrate ADA Anniversary by Tearing Down 'Virtual' Barriers

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

I recently read an eye-opening article in the Wall Street Journal with an eye-opening headline: "The Challenges of Surfing While Blind." The article was written by DeAnn Elliott, a Boston-based disability advocate who is legally blind. She wasn't writing about surfing on the ocean, though. Instead, she was writing about surfing the Internet.

Elliott no longer sees a computer screen well enough to use a mouse to point and click. Instead, she uses software that reads the screen to her in a voice that she says “sounds like Stephen Hawking's." The software relies on text labels that identify photos and other graphical objects on screen, such as buttons, charts, and maps.

Unfortunately, the map Elliott confronted didn't include any text labels, known as “alt-text” in web speak, that the screen reader could "see." Elliott described the map as a “brick wall,” and wrote that being asked to click on it (instead of choosing her…

Cultural Adaptation of I CAN Prevent Diabetes Underway

By Anne Dybsetter, Extension Educator — Health & Nutrition

Southwest Minnesota's diverse population is home to various food cultures, lifestyles, and family traditions. This year, two Southwest Minnesota communities and Extension Health and Nutrition staff are working together to ensure that a promising program is adapted for the food and lifestyles of Latino and Somali cultures.

I CAN Prevent Diabetes (ICANPD) is a research-based, national program for people with prediabetes. The lifestyle changes practiced in the year-long course can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, with potential for a dramatic positive impact on participants' long-term health. To adapt ICANPD, SNAP-Ed Educators Leticia Rodriguez in Worthington and Abdulahi Dohe in Willmar are working alongside cultural liaisons from their communities, as well as other Extension staff.

The Minnesota Department of Health is partnering to provide funding for the project, which will result in general insights into cu…

A New Look at Fruits and Vegetables in Schools

By Mary Schroeder, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

On August 13, 60 school food service staff in the west central Minnesota attended a three-hour training on fruits and vegetables in Fergus Falls. The training was part of the annual school food service training by sponsored by the Lakes Country Service Cooperative and facilitated by University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition staff.

When a Country Redefines ‘Family’

By Dylan L. Galos, MS, and Eugene Hall, MA, Graduate Research Assistants — Family Development; and Jenifer McGuire, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist — Department of Family Social Science
This is the first of two articles on the effects of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made a historical decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, ruling that state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. This decision, which has implications for the work we do in Family Development, is not the first time that the definition of marriage has changed, nor is it the first change that took a long time (this movement in the U.S. began in earnest several decades ago). Many people once considered interracial and interfaith marriage unthinkable, and interracial marriage was once illegal in a number of states. Public opinion on same-sex marriage has seen decades of slow progress, …

The Definition of ‘Family’ is Changing, and It Matters to Our Work

By Dylan L. Galos, MS, and Eugene Hall, MA, Graduate Research Assistants — Family Development; and Jenifer McGuire, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist — Department of Family Social Science

This is the second of two articles on the effects of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that same-sex marriages are legal in all states, causing a sea change in policy across the nation. In addition to expanding the definition of marriage, the ruling on who can marry whom also changes our definitions of family — we touched on that in the first of these two articles. While it’s important for family researchers, evaluators, and practitioners in FD to understand policy changes emanating from the Supreme Court ruling, our focus must be on how those policy changes affect our focus on inclusivity. As we consider this expansion in the definition of family, we in Family Development have to find ways …