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Showing posts from January, 2016

New Staff Bring New Life to All Our Work

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition

I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with several new staff members in Family Development over the past couple weeks. As I meet and get to know them, I wonder what they are thinking and how they are feeling in their new positions. Do they have a clear understanding of their new job? Are they finding Extension to be a welcoming workplace? What kinds of things are they telling their families about their new jobs when they go home at the end of the day?

I remember that when I first started in Extension about 15 years ago, I was met with kindness and support by my new colleagues and leadership. I was impressed by the investment of the organization in technology for effectiveness and productivity. And, I admit, I was confused about the structure of Extension: I worked in a county office, had responsibilities for a program that spanned five counties that was managed by leadership on the Twin Cities campus, while my supervisor …

Introducing a New Extension Educator

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition

Serdar Mamedov joined the FD staff on January 20 as a new Health and Nutrition Extension educator at the St. Cloud Regional Office. Serdar earned a master’s degree in Community Health Education from Western Illinois University, Macomb, where he also worked as an adjunct instructor before joining Extension. Serdar has worked in a variety of settings, including hospitals, academia, and nonprofit community health agencies. He is a certified Basic Life Support Instructor.

Serdar's professional goal is to prevent diseases and promote healthy lifestyles through the application of knowledge to achieve behavior change. Serdar brings a wealth of experience in community health needs assessment, program planning, health education, and tools for healthy living. Welcome Serdar!

Hello and Goodbye to CYFC Graduate Research Assistants

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator

The Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) bid farewell to one graduate research assistant, Nora Fox, and welcomed a new assistant, Makshita “Maks” Luthra, on January 19. Nora graduated from the School of Social Work in December and has accepted a position with a local social agency. Nora was instrumental in launching the partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. For more about Nora's experience as a research assistant with CYFC, see her recent blog post, Where Real Learning Happens.

Maks is a graduate student in the School of Public Health’s Public Health Administration and Policy program. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Maks worked as a dentist at a charitable dental hospital in India and volunteered with a non-profit organization conducting analysis and research on the needs of institutionalized children. She also mentored young girls to help them identify their strengths and work toward goals to live ind…

(Re)building Relationships with Native Nations

By Jennifer Garbow, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

Darlene St. Clair of St. Cloud State University, also known as Iyekiyapiwiƞ, will provide information and context about native peoples of Minnesota in a professional development webinar for Extension employees this February. First presented at the 2015 Program Conference, this session will support and encourage Extension employees to consider the history, experience, and concerns of the native nations of Minnesota.

Scenes from Video Land

Check out these instructional videos from Extension and Family Development:

Video Annotations: What to Use and Why — Extension’s Academic Technologist Alison Holland shares six tips, with examples. (#2 could save you a lot of time!)

One-Button’ Studio for Easy Recording — Recently the University of Minnesota built "1:Button Studio" on the West Bank campus for use by anyone who needs a quick and easy space for recording. Extension Chief Technology Officer Amy Baker took a field trip to check it out.

Google Calendar Tips: Viewing multiple calendars — Have you seen FD Web Production Assistant Ruth Ellis’s video on how to see several calendars when setting up a meeting? It is the first video of a professional development playlist that contains two other highly entertaining videos by Ruth.

Children in Common: Ensuring the Emotional Well-Being of Children When Parenting Apart — Watch footage from the Children, Youth & Family Consortium’s October 22, 2015 Lessons from the Fi…

Who Provides SNAP-Ed in Minnesota Besides Extension?

By Ryan Johnson, Associate Program Director — Health and Nutrition​

In last week’s blog post, I talked about the differences between the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed). SNAP-Ed helps people with limited financial resources make healthy food choices and become more physically active. This week I want to introduce Extension’s partner in administering SNAP-Ed in Minnesota — the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe provides SNAP-Ed on six reservations: Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs and White Earth. The mission of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe SNAP-Ed program is to provide a circle of quality services to elders, families and children within the tribal community by promoting wellness and healthy active lifestyles through education, advocacy, and training emphasizing culture.

Three Takeaways, Three Steps Forward

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

As we all try to stay warm and safe in this frigid January, I am reflecting fondly on the regional visits we held last August through October when the weather was much warmer. Starting with the December 1 edition of Family Matters, the grand challenges identified during these visits were highlighted beginning with the Southwest region. As noted in an earlier blog post, these experiences are shaping our future directions for Family Development programming and our employee engagement efforts. I wanted to highlight several of these important directions.

Re-Inventing the Future of Minnesota’s Food Systems

This past December, Stephanie Heim, associate program director in health and nutrition, was named to eXtension's i-Three Issue Corps. The Issue Corps is a cohort of Extension professionals from throughout the United States who volunteer to create the next generation of Cooperative Extension System tools and knowledge base for achieving greater impact.

The 2016 Issue Corps is focusing on climate and food systems, making Stephanie a good fit for the initiative because of her work with the Minnesota Food Charter (MFC) Network. The MFC Network includes coalitions, organizations, funders, and individuals in communities across the state working to carry out the 99 food charter strategies. Those strategies involve policy, system, and environmental changes to make access to safe, affordable, healthy food a reality for all Minnesotans.

New Research Position Open

By Emily Becher,Research Associate

I am excited to announce that the Applied Research and Evaluation (ARE) unit has posted a position for a researcher. This position will focus primarily on conducting applied research and evaluation of the various programs offered through Health and Nutrition. Job duties include the following:
Conduct qualitative and quantitative research and data analysis, and write and disseminate reports of findings. Support, conduct, analyze, and report on research that examines elements of the current food environment across Minnesota. Provide evaluation support to existing signature programs within Health and Nutrition. Develop and execute evaluation plans and data collection instruments to collect information on existing food systems, access to healthy foods, program delivery, and cultural relevance of curricula being delivered in childcare settings, schools, healthcare settings, community settings, and proximities.

January Website Bytes

By Hannah Jastram, Communication Associate

Here's your monthly round-up of what's new on FD websites, in alphabetical order:

Children’s Mental Health as a Public Health Issue — New page! Start conversations about this topic with the video and discussion questions on this page. The issue brief and resource lists will help further inform your conversations.

Child Welfare and Education Learning Community — New items on this page! Results from CYFC's statewide focus group study with social service and education professionals on collaboration across child welfare and education systems and a handy infographic.

SNAP-Ed Community Partnership Funding — New information! From “The Rutabaga Project” to “Putting Public Land into Production,” stay up-to-date on this initiative by reading through the project descriptions.

School Garden Snapshots: Vandyke Elementary

By Jodi Nordlund, SNAP-Ed Educator

Working with schools to start a school garden is one of my favorite parts of my job. So I was excited  to get involved with  garden planning meetings at the Vandyke School Garden program last January. Partners at the table included the school principal, a couple of master gardeners, staff from the Statewide Health Improvement Program, interested community members, a few teachers, and SNAP-Ed staff in the northeast region of Minnesota. We divided up the work according to our strengths and community connections.

2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released

By Laura Perdue, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Every five years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) are tasked with examining the current research on nutrition and developing a set of recommendations known as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The recommendations in the guidelines have far-reaching impacts. They inform the development of the nutrition education curricula that we use in our classes, influence nutrition policy such as the requirements for school meals, and provide health professionals with a summary of the most current scientific evidence on healthy eating.

Got Grants?

By Emily Becher, Research Associate

Finding funding for ongoing programmatic needs and new work is both a challenge and an opportunity. What's more, finding funding is a necessity, whatever the current financial "climate" might be. Financial security for programs can go through cycles, with times that programs seem sustainably supported and other times when funding for programs seem more precarious.

Grants are a significant source of funding in Family Development, and learning how to identify and apply for grants is important to our work. Grants can be a mechanism by which we — FD staff and educators — support our existing programming and develop new and innovative ideas. In my role as a research associate, I serve as a resource for finding, developing, and implementing new grant funding opportunities in collaboration with educators.

Post-Food Access Summit, Part 3

I asked the Health and Nutrition staff who attended last fall's Food Access Summit in Duluth to share one quote or idea that stuck with them. This is what they said.

Something I've been thinking about is the transfer of power. It was interesting to me to be at a conference about networking for equitable food access, and not have any of the recipients at the table. It made me think of how many times I have been at the table as the voice for low income families, but I really should be taking it a step further and bringing families with me to meetings. Our participants should be telling the wellness committees and networks their needs and how best to reach them directly, not just through us. It's made me think about how I can build more empowerment into my work.

Megan King SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator

Central Region: Where the One Thing in Common is Diversity

Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation
Michael Brott, Communications Manager
Heather Lee, Educational Resource Development and Support Manager

With this report on the Central region, we wrap up our series on statewide visits with Family Development (FD) staff and educators. To accommodate the large numbers of staff in the Central region, FD leadership held three conversations:
September 23 at the regional Extension office in Andover; 15 staff members attended. September 24 at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach Center in Minneapolis; 24 staff members attended. October 12 at the St. Paul Student Center; 39 staff members attended. The Central Region stretches from St. Cloud in the north to the southern counties wrapping the Twin Cities and encompasses the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. According to the Metropolitan Council, the seven-county metro area was home to 2.85 million people in 2010; that number is expected to grow to 3.102 million by 2…

The State of Metro Health and Nutrition Programs

By Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation. 
Margaret Haggenmiller, Associate Program Director — SNAP-Ed. 
Cassie Silveira, Extension Educator — EFNEP

With renewed energy around Urban Family Development programs, we made great strides in 2015 to enhance our capacity to be active partners in community change. We started to address two goals in particular: to fully staff our two largest programs in the metro, including SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, and to better integrate our efforts across programs. Margaret Haggenmiller and Cassie Silveira give updates on their respective programs.

New Urban Office Opening

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

Our Center has made a commitment to better meet the needs of families in the communities where the majority of Minnesotans live: the Twin Cities metro area. The expansion of staffing and programming is especially evident in the Health and Nutrition program area. All EFNEP programming is in the metro, more than 25 percent of SNAP-Ed Educators are now located there, and two additional Health and Nutrition Extension Educators have joined FD’s metro EE group.

However, there was a problem. As Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation, put it last summer, “We are bursting at the seams in the metro and people do not have office space.”

On behalf of the team pulled together by Mary, I’m happy to announce that a three-year lease is being entered into for a building at 1902 Minnehaha Avenue West, in the heart of St. Paul and five minutes from campus. The space will house Associate Program Director…

Taking Stock of Northeastern Minnesota’s Food Environment

By Betsy Johnson, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Staff members of Extension Health & Nutrition and Healthy Northland are collaborating to assess the food environment in communities, stores, worksites, and congregate housing sites throughout the Northeast region as a first step toward creating healthy food environments at selected sites in the region.

Healthy Northland, the seven-county regional Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) initiative, was one of four Minnesota recipients of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Community Wellness Grant (CWG). For the CWG, we are charged with assessing food access and availability, nutrition and beverage policies, and sales practices, i.e. promotion of healthy food choices.

CYFC Receives Mini Grant for Work at Bruce Vento School

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator and Jessica Barnes, Communications Specialist

Extension Educators Sara Langworthy and Judy Myers have received an Institute on the Environment mini grant to advance the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) partnership work with Bruce Vento Elementary School in East St. Paul. The grant will enable the development of an interdisciplinary, expert-led, and research-informed plan for the creation and implementation of nature-based spaces near the school that are educational and therapeutic.

In school settings, these “natural learning spaces” are usually incorporated into playgrounds and other outdoor areas, either on the school grounds or in adjacent locales, such as nature reserves. CYFC staff is going one step further and plans to provide nature-based learning spaces both outside and inside the Bruce Vento school building. Partners in this effort include the University of Minnesota College of Design and Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Building Financial Capability at Dakota County Jail

By Sarah Louise Butler, Dakota County Extension Educator, Financial Empowerment

Jail inmates, also called “clients,” face numerous challenges when they try to re-enter society and achieve financial stability. Dakota County Jail clients have specific personal finance needs due to their criminal history.

Clients at the Dakota County Jail in Hastings are getting that help provided through my role as an Extension educator with the Community Mentorship Program, a financial education initiative offered by Family Development in partnership with the Minnesota Council for Economic Education.

Food Access Paper Published

By Mary Caskey, Associate Program Director, SNAP-Ed

SNAP-Ed Educator Brandy Buro, M.S., R.D. was published in the November–December edition of Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Her article is titled "An Ecological Approach to Exploring Rural Food Access and Active Living for Families with Preschoolers." I'm impressed that Brandy is a first author.

As a SNAP-Ed educator, Brandy works at many levels to empower individuals and families to make healthy food and physical activity choices:
Demonstrating quick, easy, fun ways to prepare great-tasting and healthful meals Strengthening local economies by teaching participants how to shop for healthy foods at area stores and farmers markets Building local capacity by growing farm to school programs Identifying active lifestyle choices for people of all ages where they live, work, and play Helping communities create and sustain environments that support and promote healthy choices