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Showing posts from May, 2016

Farm to School Leadership Team Report Released

By Stephanie Heim, Associate Program Director — Health and Nutrition

I am delighted to share a report of cross-sector collaboration that features Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team. Developed after 22 interviews with current and past Farm to School Leadership Team members, this report documents the processes and outcomes of the Farm to School Leadership Team’s collective efforts over the past five years. It highlights dynamic tensions and examples of success while documenting the history of farm to school in Minnesota.

Most of us are probably involved with at least one collaboration. The opportunities, challenges, and best practices documented in this report present excellent lessons and considerations for any cross-sector collaboration.

The full report is available here: If you have any reflections or feedback after reading the report, feel free to share them with me or send them to

U of M Extension Center for Family Development Receives Nearly $1 Million NIFA Grant to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Youth

A University of Minnesota Extension project led by Family Development staff received nearly $1 million in new grant funding from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to improve the health of our nation’s children.

The Latino Fathers Promoting Healthy Youth Behaviors project aims to prevent obesity among Latino adolescents by engaging families, especially fathers or other male caregivers in the household (foster parents, uncles, grandparents, or older brothers), and their child (10–14 years) in a prevention program. The multidisciplinary team working on this project includes faculty from several different departments at the University; Extension educators from Health and Nutrition, Family Relations, and Family Resource Management; SNAP-Ed educators; and Latino community leaders.

SNAP-Ed Educator Receives Dean’s Distinguished Staff Award

SNAP-Ed Educator Lorelei Schelhaas was awarded the 2016 Dean’s Distinguished Nutrition Educator Award May 19 at the Extension Staff Conference. Lorelei is located in the Pipestone County office in southwest Minnesota and has been teaching nutrition with Extension since 2001. “Lorelei has embraced the SNAP-Ed vision and works every day to make an impact in the lives of those she works with,” says SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator Bonnie Christiansen, who nominated Lorelei for the award.

Urban Family Development: A Year of Growth

By Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation

Earlier in the year, the national Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) unveiled their 2016 Goals and Ongoing Priorities. One of the five strategic goals is urban programming, stating, “While maintaining rural presence, [Extension will] provide support for A National Framework for Urban Extension.”

Interestingly (but not surprisingly, as our center is filled with overachievers), we began to lay the groundwork for bolstering our urban programming back in May 2015! It started with Associate Dean Karen Shirer naming a director of urban family development, but more importantly, encouraging FD leadership to take the reins, to say "yes, and," to go forth and do. In 2015, we focused urban programming efforts on our largest program area, Health and Nutrition (H&N). Here’s just some of what has happened since May 2015.

Social Marketing Campaign to Sweep the State

By Michael Brott, Communications Manager

Direct education and policy, systems, and environment work are at the core of SNAP Education. In addition to the program’s traditional individual or group-based classes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) expects states to incorporate into their SNAP-Ed plans at least one other broad-based approach to nutrition education. A multilevel approach is encouraged in order to reach a larger segment of the SNAP-eligible population.

One way that FNS suggests achieving this goal is through social marketing campaigns. The implementation of targeted social marketing campaigns offers an opportunity to transform our current efforts into more innovative and potentially more effective approaches to program delivery.

So what is social marketing?

‘Children in Common’ eReview Receives University Award for Writing

The Extension publication, Children in Common: Ensuring the Emotional Well-Being of Children When Parenting Apart, has won a University of Minnesota Communicators Forum 2016 Maroon Award. The award was presented May 12 at a Communicators Forum recognition event.

Issued in October 2015, the “Children in Common” publication was chosen as an award-winning piece in the “Writing: Long Feature” category. Maroon & Gold Awards are presented annually to University of Minnesota Communicators Forum (UMCF) members whose work exemplifies the University’s core values: excellence, innovation, effectiveness, integrity, diversity, collaboration, sharing of knowledge, accountability, stewardship, and service. Maroon Awards are given to entries deemed by the judges to be of exceptional merit.

This publication was written, edited and designed by a collaborative team of Extension and community professionals and was submitted by Hannah Jastram, communications associate and UMCF member.

Welcome New SNAP-Ed Project Coordinator

Kelsie Ferguson is joining Family Development as a SNAP-Ed project coordinator in Northwest Minnesota on May 31. Kelsie recently received a Master's in Public Health degree from North Dakota State University, where she worked as a SNAP-Ed research assistant and provided technical assistance to schools implementing the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. Welcome Kelsie!

You may also be interested in FD's current job openings, available at Employment: Family Development.

Setting the Stage for Open Dialogue

By Trish Olson, Director of Programs

Last week, we hosted representatives from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) for a SNAP-Ed Management Evaluation. In other words, we had a program and fiscal review from our funder. For some, this might sound like an event that would cause much angst. But not so for our center: we have a stellar program and stellar fiscal oversight. The visit felt less like an audit and more like a two-day conversation about how we achieve the SNAP-Ed grant objectives in innovative, diverse, inclusive, and fiscally responsible ways. Many thanks to all who made this important review run smoothly.

While DHS staff learned about us during the review, we also learned from them.

Partnering for School Success Participants Tour U of M

By Kathleen Olson, Program Director — Partnering for School Success

Latino families from the Triton and Faribault (MN) School Districts toured the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus on Saturday, April 30. As part of the Partnering for School Success (PSS) project, the field trip helped them learn about what the University has to offer Latino students, namely, support, scholarships, and careers.

Students and their parents learned about planning for college and toured both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, including new technologically equipped classrooms, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, and Coffman Memorial Union (the Minneapolis student center). Presentations and tours were held both in Spanish and English for the 75 parents and middle and high school students and 7 project staff.

Staff Announcement

FD welcomes Sarah Everson to the Northeast SNAP-Ed Educator Team. Sarah began her duties as a SNAP-Ed educator in the Carlton County area on May 9. She is a recent graduate of St. Cloud State University with a bachelor’s degree in community health. She received an award for Excellence in Leadership from St. Cloud State and completed an internship with the Morrison County Public Health Department working with SNAP-Ed staff. Sarah is originally from Maplewood, MN and is now living in the Moose Lake area.

You may also be interested in FD's six job openings, available at Employment: Family Development.

Wrestling Together Against Poverty and for Health

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

One word captures the theme of what has been the predominate user of my time and energy – “health.” We each have our own definition of what that word means. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health in a holistic way that resonates with me: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

I often find myself worrying about my physical health as I approach my post-cancer check-ups every three months (I happen to have one of those checkups later this week). Will the disease be absent or present? Yet my resources on healthy and hopeful survivorship remind me daily that health is so much more than the absence of disease and that one can be emotionally and spiritually healthy even when living with a chronic disease.

Staff Announcements

On April 27, the FD Communications Team welcomed Parker Mott as a student worker. Parker is a first-year graphic design major at the University of Minnesota. He was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. In his free time, Parker likes to bike, hike, and listen to music.

Welcome Zoe Holloman to her new role as Twin Cities metro SNAP-Ed project coordinator, a new position for Health and Nutrition. Zoe comes to Extension with an extensive background in community-engaged food systems and health equity work in Buffalo, NY, and more recently in the Twin Cities. Zoe's first day is May 4.

FD in the News

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

SNAP-Ed educator makes “Top 20 Under 40” list

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.

Organizers hope to grow Wadena Community Garden

SNAP-Ed Educator Marilyn Hofland has run the Perham Community Garden for 20 years and discovered the Wadena Community Garden by accident. "It's a perfect fit with my program, giving access to healthy food and a great physical activity to those who either lack the skills, tools and land or finances to start a garden themselves," she said.

Review insurance policies before severe weather

The Commerce Department teamed up with Family Development to create a Financial Recovery After Disaster Video series. These brief videos, along with supporting materials, offer comprehensive guidance on how to sur…