Skip to main content

Extension Launches New Professional Development Program for Health Promotion

By Anne Dybsetter, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

On behalf of the team working on the Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities program, I am pleased to announce the national launch of this web-based professional development program for health promotion organizations. University of Minnesota Extension's Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities promotes the integration of policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) interventions with educational strategies.

five icons in an arch over course stitle

Our goal is to help health promotion staff understand and act on factors that influence whether individuals can easily make healthy choices wherever life takes them — at home, at work, at the grocery store, and beyond.

The Learning Environment

Five online learning modules are the primary source of content for the program. Modules average 60 minutes each, with material presented through activities, examples, stories, reflection questions, and interactive exercises. Online content can be completed individually or in groups, and is intended to be conducted over a flexible timeframe of approximately 10 to 12 weeks.

Including the coaching process, the program provides eight hours of professional development per participant. For Minnesota organizations, agencies, or teams interested in this program, the registration fee will be waived. Contact us before registering to find out how to waive the fee.

From an In-House Training to a National Program

The program, formerly called Exploring our Work with the Spectrum of Prevention, was first piloted with University of Minnesota Extension’s Health and Nutrition staff in summer 2015. It was well received, and other states began to show interest in the content. In the two years since then, the program was peer-reviewed by staff at multiple levels at Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) and piloted with MSUE and Iowa Department of Public Health health promotion educators.

As a result of feedback from the peer review and pilot, we made extensive revisions to the program, such as adding videos and clarifying concepts.

A sample slide from Module 1: Frameworks for Healthy Communities

You can read more about the qualitative data analysis process we used here: Jam that Data! (Jam It Good).

A Team Effort

The program team extends our deepest gratitude to the nearly 30 Health and Nutrition colleagues that contributed their time and talent to this program at various stages. Your wisdom, input, and critical feedback make Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities possible!

Members of the core design team for the program include Laura Perdue, Extension educator in Health and Nutrition; Stephanie Heim, associate program director in Health and Nutrition; Evalyn Carbrey, regional coordinator for SNAP-Ed; Laura Bohen, Extension educator in Health and Nutrition; JoDee Christianson, SNAP-Ed educator; Annette Shepardson, SNAP-Ed educator, and Takayla Lightfield, former community nutrition educator.

For more information about the program, go to

Print Friendly and PDF