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Relevance of Family and Consumer Sciences from Flint to Your Community

By Trish Olson, Director of Programs

On March 23, FD will meet at the “virtual watercooler” at the beginning of its one-day meeting to hear and discuss a short presentation titled: “Our Value: Analysis of Extension Family Consumer Sciences (FCS) Programs in North Central Region.” A longer version of this presentation was delivered earlier this month at National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) headquarters in Washington, D.C. Ironically, given that our meeting is a virtual gathering ‘round the water cooler, a key subject of this presentation is water quality.

Flint Water Plant
Photo credit: Ben Gordon
The beginning of our presentation shares the role that Michigan State University Extension is currently playing in responding to the Flint water crisis. Extension has provided services in research to outreach in Flint. After researchers discovered detected the problem, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences educators delivered education about safe water use and resources to Flint families. How did the community respond? Find out at the (lead-free) water cooler on Wednesday.

Mrs. Richards

Next, the presentation takes a short look back to the beginning of our field of Family and Consumer Sciences. Ellen Swallow Richards, considered to be one of the founders of Family and Consumer Sciences, was a chemist for the Massachusetts State Board of Health from 1872 to 1875, and that state’s official water analyst from 1887 until 1897. She also served as a nutrition expert for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is amazing to reflect that the topic of concern that started our field is the same topic, water quality, which continues to make us relevant today.

See you at the watercooler on Wednesday!

Editor's note: You can read the executive summary of the North Central Cooperative Extension Association report here: Analysis of the Value of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension in the North Central Region
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