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Showing posts from July, 2016

Finding Assets in Earwigs

By Beth Labenz, SNAP-Ed Educator

This is my first year growing my very own garden. This is also my first year with University of Minnesota Extension. It is not a coincidence that both of those firsts occurred at the same time.

Last September, I decided to accept a position as a SNAP-Ed educator and move back to my rural, Southwest Minnesota farming community. That meant that I was moving back as a single twenty-something (yes I can still say “twenty-something” for one more year), back to my family farm and into my parents’ basement. After discussing so many community garden projects at various community meetings, I decided to embrace farm life and start my own garden. I had space. I had seeds. I even had some know-how, thanks to Extension’s Garden website. I had everything I needed to begin this journey of becoming a gardener.

Or so I thought.

Lowering Walls and Welcoming Each Other

By Emily Becher, Research Associate — Family Development

Creating company culture in the workplace isn't just about adorning your walls with the company logo or painting everything in the same brand colors. It's about creating a unique yet unified environment that will reflect your company and its team.
— Lee Parsons, Feng Shui & Fuzzy Feelings:
Creating Company Culture Through Office Design

This summer, the office space that Family Development’s Applied Research and Evaluation Team calls home, Room 495 in Coffey Hall, underwent a dramatic transformation.

Partnership with Pediatric Clinics Supports Food Security

By Evalyn Carbrey, Regional Coordinator — SNAP-Ed

Cecilia DiCaprio, a University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed educator, is teaching nutrition classes to low-income families at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) as part of a larger effort to better serve Minnesota children and their families who are experiencing food insecurity.

Last December, the Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics Foundation received a SNAP-Ed Community Partnership grant. Through this grant, SNAP-Ed staff members are working with four community pediatric clinics, including HCMC, in the Twin Cities metro area that serve a large number of SNAP or SNAP-eligible patients. The purpose of the partnership is to support policy, system, and environmental (PSE) changes in food insecurity identification and referrals at the clinics so that the changes are sustainable. The participating clinics have committed to screening families for food security during regular pediatric visits and referring families who are experiencing food…

FD Staffers Attend Midwest Summit on Online Learning

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

To help the Center for Family Development increase its capacity and knowledge base for online learning, five FD staff members attended the Minnesota eLearning Summit in Minneapolis last week. The two-day conference, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the University of Minnesota, was attended by over 400 educators, developers, innovators, and presenters from around the Midwest. The 80 concurrent breakout sessions focused on blended, flipped and digital learning tools, resources, services, and best practices for online learning.

Asked to give one- (or two-) word reflections on their conference experiences, FD staffers said, “back to the fundamentals,” “learner engagement,” “innovative,” “possibilities,” and “informative.” Keep an eye out for the innovative ways these folks will apply what they learned to our work in Family Development.

FD in the News

Here’s your monthly roundup of regional media coverage on the work Family Development staff members are doing.

Your Money, Your Goals Training Coming Up in Worthington
Financial Capability Educator Jose Lamas will offer "Your Money, Your Goals" training on August 16 in Worthington to instructors, caregivers, and frontline staff helping individuals and families improve their financial management skills. Students will receive information and resources on financial empowerment, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau toolkit, that they can pass on to their clients.

Cooking Matters Classes for Big Brothers, Big Sisters Kids Wrap Up in Owatonna
Extension just wrapped up a six-week series of Cooking Matters classes for Big Brothers and Big Sisters participants in Owatonna. SNAP-Ed Educator Andrea Kronbach joined Owatonna Hy-Vee Chef Jorge Delgado to help kids learn to cook simple, tasty dishes using healthy foods — especially fruits and vegetables.

The Courage to Converse: ‘The Girls All Seem Happy’

By Alica Whitmore, SNAP-Ed Educator

How do I fully do my job in a community? A community in southwestern Minnesota that I enjoy, and where I recently purchased a home, but in which I still feel like an outsider?

I feel it when people ask at the hardware store, “Where is your husband? Are you picking up supplies for his next project?” I was tired and had my Extension polo on, so I smiled and walked away.

Consulting with the Community

By Evalyn Carbrey, Regional Coordinator — SNAP-Ed

The Urban Farm and Garden Alliance (UFGA) and University of Minnesota Extension are partnering to build community and consult with residents of the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods in Saint Paul.

Founded in 2014, the UFGA is an alliance of eight urban and community garden in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of Saint Paul. This group meets regularly to discuss issues such as land access and land tenure, host workshops, support each other in gardening through sharing of resources, and seek out grant opportunities.

Extension Partner Receives Two-Year Grant to Design Healthy Eating Spaces

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

Last week, Abi Asojo, Ph.D., professor of interior design at the University of Minnesota College of Design received word that her application for a two-year grant from Extension to redesign the dining hall space at a Saint Paul elementary school was approved.

Over the past year, University of Minnesota Extension’s Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) and the College of Design’s interior design program have been working in partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School in the Saint Paul Public Schools district to create environments that foster student learning and well-being.

Considering Historical Trauma When Working with Native American Children and Families

By Mina Blyly-Strauss, Research Assistant — Children, Youth & Family Consortium

I came to my CYFC graduate assistant position as an educational professional whose early work was with Native American teenagers. This is a demographic group often noted for some of the largest educational and health disparities in the state of Minnesota. More recently, I have focused on early childhood as a critical time to interrupt cycles of recurring disparities and to start healthy developmental trajectories.

What We Know
Historical trauma has been defined as a "cumulative emotional and psychological wounding, over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experiences" (Brave Heart, 2007, p. 177). For Native American populations, examples of such massive group trauma experiences have included being pushed off homelands, massacred, and forcibly confined to reservations. Often in collusion with law enforcement and child welfare agencies, children as young a…

The Courage to Converse

By Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation

Over the three days of the 2016 Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference last week, we heard from some amazing speakers. But I found the greatest moments of inspiration — the ones I call “goose bumpy” moments — came from our own staff. Joyce’s challenge to us not to minimize people’s experiences by using sanitized language, like the word “incident” instead of “murder.” Jose’s humbling story of poverty and homelessness, and his show of grace in telling the story and expressing gratitude to work in Extension. Noelle’s impassioned plea for us not to ignore systemic racism and injustices in our own organization.

Word Matters: Searching for the ‘Right’ Words

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

As an editor with Family Development, I spend many hours searching for words. I don't always succeed in finding the "right" word — the "best" word — to express my own and others’ thoughts. But I try, because word choice is critical to clear communication.

I was reminded of that principle at last week's 2016 Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference. And more than that, I was reminded of the importance of word choice in building community — because words can either bring us together or push us apart.

I’d like to highlight two moments of the conference that stood out for me.

Two Long-time Family Development Team Members Move On

We recently bid farewell to two Family Development staff members: Sharon Danes and Fay McLain.

Sharon Danes, Ph.D., professor and family economist, retired this summer from the University of Minnesota after a long and illustrious career with the Department of Family Social Science and with University of Minnesota Extension. She received many awards and distinctions throughout her career, including the Hubler Award for Excellence in Service to Family Businesses for her research, teaching, and consulting on family business disciplines. She also received the International Family Enterprise Research Academy Fellow designation, the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Dean Don Felker Financial Management Award, and the Epsilon Sigma Phi (Pi Chapter) Distinguished Team Award for Educational Response to Families’ Financial Situations After a Natural Disaster.

Partnering for Better Health in Saint Paul

By Evalyn Carbrey, Regional Coordinator -- SNAP-Ed

This summer, University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition staff members are partnering with resident councils and staff at a Saint Paul public housing site, Dunedin Terrace, to assemble an advisory board to build leadership within the community and begin a dialogue about how the University can work with residents to increase their access to healthy foods and improve their health overall.

Dunedin Terrace is a Saint Paul Public Housing Agency development that includes both a "hi-rise" apartment building and 22 two-story fourplex townhome buildings. The hi-rise is home to a predominately senior population, while the townhomes include mostly families with young children.

The community advisory board that the Dunedin Terrace resident councils and staff are convening in collaboration with Extension will identify ways to increase access to healthy foods and discuss other ways to promote health in the community. The boa…

‘And Justice For All’

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean — Family Development

University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development is an institution that administers a U.S. Department of Agriculture program — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education, or SNAP-Ed. As such, our SNAP-Ed educators are required to display an “And Justice For All” poster whenever they teach a class or set up a food demonstration.

The poster has directions for filing a complaint alleging discrimination by "the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs." (Read the full USDA Information Statements.)

But what do you do when that which is committing discrimination isn't a person, or even an institution?

Understanding the Power of GIS Mapping

By Nicole Helgeson, GIS Research Assistant — Health and Nutrition

GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, is the combination of computer hardware, software, personnel, and procedures that is capable of holding and using data to describe places on the earth’s surface. More importantly, it is a resource to store data from which you can create a map to suit a particular purpose, thereby creating the ability to quickly simplify and display otherwise complex information.

It is important to have a basic understanding of GIS and its role in producing maps to understand the large amounts of data that are collected among different projects and initiatives. Where is it? What has changed since…? What patterns exist between…? GIS exists to help us answer and effectively communicate these and other questions.

Kirsten Saylor Joins FD as School Garden Coordinator

By Margaret Haggenmiller, Associate Program Director — SNAP-Ed Metro

Kirsten Saylor recently joined Family Development as a school garden coordinator, a new, year-long position in which she will work with staff, students, and parents affiliated with the Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. She also will work with staff of FD’s Children, Youth & Family Consortium, which partners with the school in the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners project.

Kirsten’s responsibilities at Bruce Vento include helping teachers integrate participation in school gardening activities and ideas for healthy eating into classroom curricula, as well as collaborating with school cafeteria staff to advance healthy eating in a calming, communal space. She also will coordinate cooking classes for parents and students that use foods grown by students in the schoolyard garden, as well as foods that Second Harvest Heartland delivers to families at the school.

Welcome to New EFNEP Regional Coordinator Amanda Vanyo

By Cassie Silveira, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Amanda Vanyo joined Family Development as a regional coordinator with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) on June 27. Amanda comes to Extension from Minneapolis-based Park Nicollet Health Services, where she most recently worked at the Melrose Center for treatment of eating disorders. She has 16 years’ experience as a clinical dietitian.

Amanda is working out of Hennepin County and has assumed responsibilities previously handled by Fay McLain, who retired July 1 after nearly 28 years with Extension. Amanda joins Christine Navarro as one of two regional coordinators for EFNEP. Welcome Amanda!

FD in the News

Here’s your monthly roundup of regional media coverage on the work Family Development staff members are doing.

Making Money Work
Shawna Faith Thompson, Extension educator in financial capability, was a guest on the KMOJ radio show Financial Fitness for their episode “Making Money Work.” This show airs weekly on Wednesdays from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and is always full of great information on personal finance. [no longer active]

Getting healthy: Students in I CAN Prevent Diabetes class lose combined 160 pounds in four months
Led by Nobles County SNAP-Ed Educator Maria Conchita Paez Sievert, the current I CAN Prevent Diabetes class of 11 women has lost a combined 160 pounds in a span of four months. Since mid-February, the group has met once a week for a one-hour class and a 45-minute exercise routine led by a trainer at the YMCA in Worthington.

Healthy food partnership begins at New Brighton apartment complex [sign up or login required]
Opportunity Neighborhood, a nonprofit that offices out of …