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Showing posts from April, 2016

Internet Colleagues are Colleagues Too

By Sara Langworthy, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium

How many colleagues do you have who you interact with primarily through email, conference calls, and video chats? I’m guessing most of you have at least a few “internet colleagues,” especially given the nature of our work in Extension across the state and country.

But how many of those colleagues did you meet online?

As I’ve been branching into a more public life on the internet, starting, building, and maintaining relationships with colleagues in online spaces has become an essential part of my work. And I’ve learned just because those relationships exist primarily online rather than IRL (in real life) doesn’t make them any less meaningful.

CYFC Establishes Advisory Board

By Mary Marczak, Director of  Children, Youth & Family Consortium and Director, Urban Family Development and Evaluation

How does the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) become more than what we think is possible? Bring together a group of diverse, interdisciplinary minds with both practice and academic wisdom to inspire and broaden our thinking! This year, 2016, marks over five years since CYFC made a home in University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development. Given our team’s renewed vision for growing our work and expanding our reach, we believe it is a perfect time to once again engage a formal advisory board for CYFC.

The Quest for Engagement

By Rafael Flores, SNAP-Ed Educator and Silvia Alvarez de Davila, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

A few days ago, I was looking for the meaning of the word engagement. offers seven different meanings: the first ones are all related to getting married or being busy with work or other tasks. The latter ones define engagement as “a pledge, an obligation, or agreement,” and finally as “an encounter, conflict, or battle.” None of these definitions convinced me.

In our work as educators, engagement means something different. It is not only making people come to a class they signed up for, but also offering participants useful information in an environment where they feel comfortable, and are excited to return to the next class. Our overarching goal in Family Development is to help participants internalize and apply the information they have received, and ultimately to use this knowledge to improve their well-being to the extent possible given the multiple constraints …

CYFC Publishes New eReview on Educational Disparities

By Cari Michaels, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium

The Center for Family Development's Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) has published the latest issue of the Children's Mental Health eReview, Falling Behind: Understanding the Educational Disparities Faced by Immigrant Latino Students in the U.S.

Authors and editors across Extension centers collaborated with community authors to describe Latino students’ academic achievements, as well as the many opportunity gaps they face in U.S. schools, including economic constraints, language barriers, acculturation issues, and discrimination. Community authors suggest practical ways to use this research in communities, schools, non-profit organizations, and higher education.

You can download this issue here: Falling Behind (2.2 MB PDF). If you read it, please give us feedback:Falling Behind survey

Collaborating to Teach Integrated Nutrition and Budgeting Classes

By Sharmyn Phipps & Gloria Wolf, SNAP-Ed Educators; and
Sarah Louise Butler & Shawna Faith Thompson, Financial Empowerment Educators

Personal financial education and SNAP-Ed programming go together like lettuce and tomato. A lesson in personal finance within the typical series of SNAP-Ed nutrition classes gives SNAP recipients tools and strategies to maximize making healthy decisions around food and money.

Read on for two examples of how the integration of these two programs enhanced Minnesotans’ learning.

SNAP-Ed Educator Makes "Top 20 Under 40" List

Alexandria, MN — The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals and Echo Press announced “20 under 40” honorees on Friday, April 22, one of whom was SNAP-Ed Educator Maggie Yutrzenka. The 20 professionals were chosen based on the depth of their community involvement, career accomplishments, and use of leadership skills to better their community, workplace, and family.

Special Guest at Inheritance Program

By  Sara Croymans, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency  

On April 20, one hundred participants at the Senior Spring Fling in Worthington learned practical information about the inheritance and transfer of non-titled personal property at a presentation of Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate?™ (WGGYPP).

A highlight of the day was the attendance of Marge Reusch, owner of the original yellow pie plate.

Button It Up

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege to meet with Family Resiliency educators to reflect on the amazing work that happened in 2015 and to look ahead to what is happening in 2016. A key takeaway from these conversations is just how ever-evolving our work really is. As I reflected on the meetings, I realized that the dynamic nature of our work is both an opportunity and challenge.

The dynamic nature of our work gives us the opportunity to do three things.

Farm to School Flourishes in Minnesota and in SNAP-Ed

By Callie Recknagel, SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service recently released the 2015 Farm to School Census Data. In Minnesota, 268 school districts out of 689 participate in farm to school activities, which includes more than 1,000 schools, and over 416,000 students. That translates to over $12 million invested in local food in Minnesota in one school year!

Though we may not always use the term “farm to school,” SNAP-Ed educators and Extension educators are immersed in this work -- teaching nutrition education classes in schools, doing taste tests with youth, promoting locally grown foods, helping to develop healthier menus that incorporate local foods, working with food hubs and connecting local growers with schools, setting up Smarter Lunchrooms, teaching lessons in the garden, and more.

Everyday Engagement

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health & Nutrition

I had the honor of meeting with my staff this past month to review their 2015 work and discuss their plans for 2016. Because engagement is so central to the work and success of the Health and Nutrition team (and in fact all Family Development), I listened carefully as I met with each of my staff members to understand exactly what strategies they use to engage partners and community members, develop trusting professional relationships, and bring people, ideas, and energy together. I was waiting to hear about their tactical, methodic engagement approaches, which I imagined would consist of deliberate meetings, clear and focused communication plans, and perhaps memoranda of understanding regarding their common goals.

What I actually heard was quite different.

Hearing (and Speaking) about Hunger

By Michael D. Stratten, Community Nutrition Educator

I am glad that I was able to take a half day off work this March to attend Hunger Day on the Hill at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. Although I was nervous about meeting personally with state legislators, attending Hunger Day on the Hill was an experience I will never forget. I learned about the Good Food Access Fund bill, and how it would benefit our local food shelves. It was very empowering and gratifying to know that my voice was not just heard, but could be instrumental in the process of passing legislation that benefits not just my community but the whole state of Minnesota.

Welcome New Health and Nutrition Educator in Anoka County

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition

On March 28, Erica Bania joined Family Development as an Extension educator in Health and Nutrition focused on implementing SHIP initiatives in Anoka County. SHIP, the Statewide Health Improvement Program, is an initiative of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Erica holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition degree from the University of Minnesota. She completed her dietetic internship through Utah State University’s distance internship program and recently earned a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management degree through Concordia University in St. Paul.

Erica has worked as a registered dietitian in multiple care modalities throughout the Twin Cities and her work experience includes healthcare project and food service management. She also has led a home enteral nutrition program. She works out of Anoka County. Please welcome Erica!

April Website Bytes

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

This month, new and updated content pages are in the spotlight.

Getting Engaged... at the Outreach and Engagement Conference

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

Last week, the University of Minnesota sponsored a two-day conference for faculty, staff, and community partners on addressing grand challenges through community engagement. Extension was well represented at the Outreach and Engagement Conference in staff attendance and presentations at various concurrent sessions. It filled me with great pride to see not only the interest of you, our staff, in addressing the state's grand challenges through community engagement, but also your interest in sharing our work.
#umnengaged Abdulahi Dohe and Anne Dybsetter shared cultural adaptation of Diabetes Prevention w/ Somali audiences — pdolson01 (@pdolson01) March 31, 2016

Health and Nutrition Pilot Projects Ready for Takeoff in Three Minnesota Communities

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition
Updated July 6, 2016

Teams of Health and Nutrition staff are poised to begin what is hoped to be a long-term commitment to supporting healthy lifestyles within three Minnesota communities:
Milan, population 396, many of whom are recent immigrants from an island in Micronesia. Browns Valley, on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota in Traverse County. Dunedin Terrace, a public housing site on the West Side of St. Paul. Referred to as “the Pilot Projects,” these initiatives are focused on the goals of creating an understanding of healthy eating and active living; improving food skills such as shopping and preparation; working toward policies, systems, environments, and social norms that support healthy choices; and improving access to healthy foods — all on a community-wide scale.

From a Little Seed (Money), Great Things Can Grow

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator — CYFC

When fellow Children, Youth, and Family Consortium Extension Educator Sara Langworthy and I received a 2014 Extension Issue Area Grant, we had no idea how the “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners” project would blossom.

CYFC’s partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School began as informal conversations with the school principal who was hoping to create a trauma-sensitive school environment. Those conversations have led to the creation of a large network of partners and supporters across the University of Minnesota and the East St. Paul community where the Bruce Vento School is located.

Why the need for a trauma-sensitive learning environment?

Extension Partnership in Southwest Minnesota Recognized for Moving Families Toward Self-Sufficiency

By Bonnie Christiansen, Regional Coordinator — Health and Nutrition

Some partnerships become more and more robust as time goes on. Western Community Action (WCA) was recently recognized for just such a partnership with Extension’s SNAP-Ed program in southwest Minnesota. WCA is a private, non-profit organization formed in southwest Minnesota in 1965 as one of many community action agencies established nationwide under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight poverty and help people achieve self-sufficiency.

On March 23, WCA received a Best Practices Award from Minnesota Community Action Partnership, Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Economic Opportunity, and the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. The award was based on WCA’s wellness initiatives for SNAP-eligible populations.

FD in the News

Your monthly roundup of regional media coverage of the work Family Development staff members are doing.

Institutions, growers gather to gain information, network.

“We’re working to connect farmers to buyers and institutions to have local food accessible for schools and restaurants and health care facilities,” said Extension Educator Kelly Kunkel of the Minnesota Valley Action Council Food Hub.

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