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Exploring staff development opportunities

By Sharon Mulė, staff development coordinator, Center for Family Development

Starship enterprise moving through space.
Explore new worlds. Boldly go where you haven't gone before. 
Take advantage of upcoming staff development opportunities. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

On April 6, 2016, I landed in Roanoke, Virginia. I had been with Family Development since January but walking into the National Health Outreach Conference (NHOC) was like landing on another planet. Fast forward two years and another NHOC in Annapolis, Maryland. Now here I am helping plan the NHOC for May 2-4 in Minnesota!

With a great conference planning team who really know their stuff, we are moving through the conference planning process and it’s getting exciting! Whether you plan on attending or not, take a few moments and look at the range of presentations from people all over the country.

Register for NHO Conference now

I know some of you do plan to attend the NHOC, and I encourage you to register now. Why you ask? Well, we only have room for 350 attendees, so it pays to sign up early. The other reason is a bit selfish.

If you walk by the door of my office you will see that we are visually tracking registration. This visual does a lot to encourage all of us who are deep in the conference planning process. So besides being good for you, registering early is good for us, too. Whatever your motivation, if you’ve been thinking about attending, please talk to your supervisor soon. And get signed up!

Sign up for Mindfulness at Work course

So what else is happening in professional development? Beginning May 11, we are starting another Mindfulness at Work cohort course. This online course is six weeks in length.

Response to our first cohort course last year was overwhelmingly positive. Here are some statistics from a post-course evaluation:
  • 100 percent of respondents either strongly agreed (56 percent) or agreed (44 percent) that the course was worthwhile.
  • 100 percent were very satisfied (67 percent) or satisfied (33 percent) with the course. 
  • 100 percent of respondents either strongly agreed (78 percent) or agreed (22 percent) that the course should be offered to others in their organization. 
Here’s what some Center for Family Development participants said about the course:
"That our team was doing it together. Also the wide variety of resources made available during and after the course."

"My department's support of mindfulness and this program — it sends a strong message about the value of health in the workplace. Also the ability to access the program at times that worked for me."

"There was no value judgment in this program. It was open and accepting of people where ever they were at in the process of being mindful."

"I liked everything about it. I think the added resources were helpful. I like that I could download things I can use in future. I loved the video meditations. Really helped me more than I could have imagined."
Among the topics to be covered in the mindfulness course are: being present in the moment, reducing conflict at work, developing resilience, communicating at work, and addressing challenges in life with mindfulness.

The course is self-paced; you complete a section a week. There is an opportunity for reflection and comment. If you’re enrolled in the University’s Wellbeing Program, you can earn 150 wellbeing points for completing the Mindfulness at Work course. Watch for more information on registration.

Take advantage of two more opportunities

Here are two more professional development events you should know about:
  • Staff conference. If you are a Civil Service employee, please register for the Staff Conference set for May 16 at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. The team planning this conference has been working diligently to provide you with information and resources to support you professionally and re-charge you personally.
  • Opioid crisis webinar. Finally, if you missed the webinar, Opioid Crisis — Past, Present, Future presented by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, take an hour to check it out. We hear about the opioid crisis almost every day in the news, and this webinar clearly explains this important issue. Guest presenter Jordan Hansen, with the foundation, does a great job explaining the impact of opioids.
That’s it for now! Stop by and see me or send me a note at with any questions or suggestions you have about professional development. Thank you for all you do every day to make a difference in our communities!
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