Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2017

Teachers, School Staff Trained to Boost Student Success

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

On March 30, University of Minnesota Extension staff, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education, trained 48 future facilitators of Education: Our Best Legacy (EOBL).

From Divide to Dividends: A Tour of Minnesota's Shared Connections

By Jamie Bain, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Last week, I drove through through the north woods, snaked through lake after lake, and absorbed the sun and the energy of the vast blue sky. This incredibly beautiful experience unfolded in 36 hours with an amazing crew of Metro Food Access Network (MFAN) partners on a two-day tour of northwestern and west central Minnesota on March 28 and 29. The goal of the adventure was to learn more about the “divide” between urban and rural Minnesota we’ve heard so much about in the news lately.

Evaluations are supposed to be used.

By Emily Becher, Research Associate

Last month, I wrote a blog post about my path of professional development, which included my desire to learn more about the field of evaluation studies. Reading Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2012) by Michael Quinn Patton was my first step. Not to skim, not to read sections, but to read the whole thing in its entirety.

And… I did it!

Publicly stating my goal to write down my thoughts for Family Matters was a way to create accountability for myself, keep me on track, and block out time for reading. So thank you to Family Matters readers for being my accountability buddies!

The first thing I want to share is that I really enjoyed this book and I found it extremely useful. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking to increase their evaluation capacity.

Healthy Food, Safe Food Project Equips Food Access Advocates

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

This week, University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released the results of the Healthy Food, Safe Food (HFSF) Project, which explored regulatory barriers to improving access to healthy foods while simultaneously maintaining and enhancing food safety. The just-released results include reports summarizing the project findings, as well as an action guide and toolkit based on those findings for use by food access advocates.

Financial Education with Drug Court Participants

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

For the first time, I am collaborating with the 8th Judicial District to provide financial education to drug court participants. I worked with Karon White, drug court coordinator, to develop a pilot budgeting program for a small group of drug court participants. Together we identified the following topics for the course:
Goal setting Credit historyDebtBudgeting

Extension Offers One-to-One Services for Financially Distressed Farmers

ST. PAUL, Minn.  — University of Minnesota Extension today announced it will begin offering one-to-one financial counseling to farmers in serious financial stress.

“We know that due to a variety of factors, including on-going low prices, some farmers find themselves facing difficult circumstances,” said Bev Durgan, Extension dean. “With our new program, Extension offers distressed farmers help in understanding their financial situation and exploring options to keep their farms functioning as a viable enterprise.”

To set up a confidential appointment with an Extension farm financial analyst, farmers can call the Farm Information Line at 1-800-232-9077.

FD Program Business Plans Reviewed

By Patricia Olson, Director of Programs

“I feel a sense of urgency for the work we in Family Development engage in,” Extension Educator Jamie Bain wrote in her January 9 opening column. “Until all Minnesotans share equally in health and wealth, those of us on the comfortable side of Minnesota’s many gaps cannot rest.”

And resting we are not. This year, Extension Center for Family Development (FD) is implementing a program business planning model. We are doing this to operationalize and realize our promise to help Minnesota families make informed decisions leading to better health, financial security, and well-being. We also aim to be accountable for resources that come from taxpayers and to invest those resources wisely.

Reading, Readability, and You

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

Let’s talk about reading.

Not reading for leisure, but reading for information you need to get something done. If you’re like most people, you scan and skim until you find exactly what you’re looking for, like the instructions for how to get that spot out of your living room rug. And if you don’t spot what you want quickly, you’ll stop reading and go elsewhere.

This “scan and skim” tendency is magnified on the web, where users don’t even necessarily read from top to bottom or word by word. Instead, they often skip around the screen in search of information, and if they don’t find it right away, they’re gone.

New Graduate Assistant Joins Extension

Jenifer McGuire, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor — Family Social Science

Laura Janzen started working as a graduate assistant with University of Minnesota Extension in February 2017. Her areas of focus are equity, sexual minority youth, and transgender/gender nonconforming youth in schools.

Before joining Extension, Laura worked for Edina Public Schools as a recreation leader and paraprofessional. She also has been a data collector for St. Louis Park Schools and Bright Water Montessori School in Minneapolis, administering various academic assessments.

Laura will graduate this May with a Master of Educational Psychology degree. For the 2017-2018 school year, she has been placed at Jefferson Community School in Minneapolis for her school psychology practicum and will serve as a full-time school psychology intern to gain her Education Specialist degree in School Psychology. Welcome Laura when you see her.

Divorce Education Article Published

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

The international journal Evaluation and Program Planning recently published an article by Extension staff titled “Relational conflict and outcomes from an online divorce education program.” The authors — Sarah Cronin, Emily Becher, Ellie McCann, Jenifer McGuire, and Sharon Powell — examined the impact of conflict on coparenting outcomes of the divorce education program Parents Forever™. They examined two hypotheses:
Reduction in conflict will be significantly related to an increase in positive coparenting behaviors.Reduction in conflict will be significantly related to a decrease in negative coparenting behaviors. The authors analyzed the data and found they contradicted the first hypothesis and supported the second hypothesis. For a detailed discussion of the results, implications of this study, and lessons learned, see the full article: Evaluation and Program Planning, Volume 62.

A Tale of Two Columns

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

When I sat down to write this month’s column, I was torn. On the one hand, program business plans have been on everyone’s minds, and I’m no exception. I’d been reading the 13 program business plans submitted February 24 and thinking about the implications for our center. On the other hand, another, more personal date and topic was on my mind.

Community Gathers at Minneapolis Church to Discuss Transgender Issues

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator -- Children, Youth & Family Consortium

On Tuesday, February 28, nearly 200 community members gathered in Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis to learn about transgender youth research and practice experts.

Registration for this third event in the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) 2017 Lessons from the Field series, "Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth," was so high that we had to arrange a last-minute venue change. Our fear that the move to a church sanctuary would keep participants from attending were not realized: Plymouth Congregational Church is an openly welcoming and affirming community and several participants who identified as GLBT expressed their appreciation for the large rainbow flag at the church building entrance.

Similar to the inaugural event, Extension SNAP-Ed Educator Nathan Hesse provided participants with an overview of health and nutrition risks for transgender youth who are often homele…

Website Bytes: Spring Cleaning Edition

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate and Website Coordinator

Ever since I wrapped up production of a new video about the Green family, I’ve been looking for other projects to keep me occupied. This month, the all-consuming project is spring cleaning FD’s websites — and you’re all invited.

Family Development has 15 websites within the larger Extension website. That comes out to about 1,900 web pages. In 2016, some of those web pages racked up thousands of pageviews. And some of those web page (58 percent, to be precise) were viewed less than 100 times.

My goal is to look at every web page and every PDF owned by Family Development. I want to know how many times a piece of content was viewed or downloaded in 2016 and when it was last reviewed. If it’s a popular page (100+ pageviews) that’s been recently reviewed (within the last two years), I’ll hand out gold stars and move along. If it’s a wallflower that hasn’t been touched by an educator in a while, I’ll take out m…

RSDP Invites Project​ Ideas

The Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) connect​ ​Greater​ Minnesota communities to the University of Minnesota in order to help solve problems and take advantage of new opportunities. RSDP brings together local talent and resources with University of Minnesota knowledge and seed funding to drive sustainability in four areas: agriculture and food systems, tourism and resilient communities, natural resources, and clean energy.

The Partnerships support and facilitate research, planning, design, and policy projects consistent with the RSDP mission, goals and principles.

Have an idea? Seed funding is available for projects that build robust community-University partnerships for sustainable development. Download the Project Idea Brief (301 K DOC), and contact​ ​​the RSDP Director in your region to start discussing your project idea today!

FD in the News

Here’s a monthly roundup of regional media coverage on the work of Family Development staff and partners.

Yes, prediabetes is real -- could you have it?
Crookston Times, Feb. 21, 2017

University of Minnesota Extension has partnered with Altru Clinic in Crookston to offer "I CAN Prevent Diabetes." SNAP-Ed Educator Megan Hruby, a certified lifestyle coach through the National Diabetes Prevention Program, partnered with Altru's Jami Mathews and Janelle Porter to teach the year-long class.

Spotlight: Bemidji Food Shelf Gardens
Notes from Northern Gardener, Feb. 7, 2017

In collaboration with the University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed program, the Bemidji Community Food Shelf applied to be a part of the Minnesota State Horticulture Society Garden-in-a-Box program. The program uses the veggies in cooking classes taught by SNAP-Ed Educator Deb Dilley to demonstrate healthy eating and self-sufficiency.

One Vegetable One Community groundswell grows
Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatc…