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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.

Back row, from left: Administrative Specialist Pat Persoon; SNAP-Ed Educators Ashraf Ashkar, Leticia Rodriguez, Maria Conchita Paez-Sievert, Peter Ekadu, & Beth Labenz; Regional Coordinator Bonnie Christiansen.
Front row, from left: SNAP-Ed Educators Lorelei Schelhaas & Darlyce Rangaard

Lorelei has been able to teach several I CAN Prevent Diabetes classes through the strong partnership she built with Pipestone Medical Center. Classes are held at the medical center and physicians are referring their pre-diabetic patients to Lorelei’s classes. One class participant said that a recent medical appointment showed her weight and all her bloodwork numbers were down within the normal range. “Whatever you are doing,” her doctor said, “keep it up.”

Another area in which Lorelei is having a great impact is with Pipestone Area School District. Along with teaching monthly classroom lessons, she is working with the food service director to introduce new fruits and vegetables, such as jicama, to students during their lunch time. Because of Lorelei’s persistence, the school wellness committee is meeting again after being inactive for years. The committee recently received a grant through the SNAP-Ed Community Partnership Funding initiative to help improve the group’s work as part of Action for Heathy Kids' "Every Kid Healthy" project.

Lorelei also makes good use of technology within SNAP-Ed. She took it upon herself to adapt all of the SNAP-Ed elementary school lesson plans into a format that can be used with an interactive whiteboard. Lorelei held a training webinar for SNAP-Ed staff statewide on how to incorporate interactive whiteboard lessons into their classroom teaching. “We are a more forward-thinking and tech-savvy program because of her efforts,” Bonnie said.

Lorelei maintains a long-standing relationship with the local food shelf. She provided train the trainer classes, as well as direct education, on “nudging” clients to make healthier food choices, as well as other support for food shelf staff and volunteers. Pipestone Food Shelf Director Roger Raschke, recently wrote:

We began offering fresh produce to our clients approximately 2½ years ago when we moved to a larger facility. We started with about 300 pounds of produce semi-monthly and were unable to distribute it all. The clients would not take the items and many did not know what the items were, or how to prepare them. It was discouraging to say the least. Lorelei volunteered to help with the produce distribution, explaining the items to our clients, and telling them how the items could be prepared. Time has passed and we now distribute 800 to 1,000 pounds of fresh produce semi-monthly, about 15 percent of our total pounds annually. It is an outstanding and inexpensive supplement to the normal canned and frozen fruits and vegetables.

Lorelei practices leadership and relationship-building internally, as well as externally, according to Bonnie Christiansen. “Lorelei has been invaluable to me as a supervisor this year,” she said. “She was willing to mentor the many new SNAP-Ed educators we hired on the southwest team. They have learned so much from shadowing her in class and asking for her expert advice. I truly appreciate the way she is a rock-solid leader on our team.”

“Lorelei looks beyond her direct education courses to what else she can do to help her participants overcome barriers,” Bonnie says. “She is compassionate and easy to talk to. Her participants love her and she radiates excellence in everything she does.” Congratulations to Lorelei!

FD Communications Team

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