Message from the Associate Dean
Happy Summer Solstice! Summer has arrived and brought warmer days, a ton of rain, and likely a bumper crop of mosquitos. In this blog, you will find a reminder to register for the Family Development Conference on July 16 and the NEAFCS Professional Development Day on July 17. With the recent record rainfalls and flooding, I share some reflections on climate change and what is means for our work. You will also find information about the UMN Employee Engagement Survey and program business planning. Five new SNAP Ed Educators are introduced and a fun day at the office is highlighted.
Enjoy a safe and joyful July 4th!
Karen Shirer, Associate Dean
Reminder: FD Conference on July 16, 2014
Heather Lee reminded me that we are trying to get a final count for our upcoming Family Development conference.
Please complete your registration by July 3.
This conference will take place on Wednesday, July 16, from 10-4. It will be at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
This conference will be a great opportunity to:
- Get to know fellow Family Development staff and the center's programs
- Find out about our rich history and where we're heading in the future.
- Understand more about the "nuts and bolts" about being in Family Development.
- Reflect on the importance of your role in Family Development, and explore ways to collaborate with other FD staff to build a stronger future.
This is the first time that we have attempted to gather all Family Development staff for this event. We hope that you will all be able to join us. [If not, please discuss with your supervisor and indicate that you will not be attending on the registration survey.]
Remember, if you plan to attend the NEAFCS-MN affiliate event on July 17, that is a separate registration process. See the messages from Brianna Routh regarding this event and how to register.
Hope to see you all next month!
Reflections on Climate Change
Our recent record rainfall has turned my attention to the big issue of climate and its implication for our work in Extension. Earlier this week a report was released by a national think tank about the economic implications of climate change for the future of business and industry in the United States (see the report). This report spurred my thinking to reflect what the increasing incidence of large, adverse weather events will have for families and their capacity to thrive in this challenging environment. Right now in Minnesota we have an opportunity to find out.
Recently, a webinar was given by Cornell Cooperative Extension highlighting their work in disaster recovery and response. It provides a good primer on how state Extension programs can and do respond as well as may stimulate your thinking about how to respond to Minnesota's current disaster.
Lastly, Extension is working to update and make resources available about the recent flooding events for agricultural producers, families, households, and communities. You can find resources on the Flood recovery and preparation resources available page of Extension News. In Family Development, we provide information and education on long-term financial recovery for families and on helping families and children through the stress of disasters. You can find Family Development resources at the Families in Tough Times page.
A webinar is planned for July 10, 2014 for county emergency managers, local public health, local elected officials, professionals who work with families, and county extension offices. Resources and programs offered by Family Development will be highlighted, including:
- Recovery after Disaster -- The Family Financial Toolkit: materials that will help households document damaged and lost property, where to seek assistance, and making informed decisions.
- Cleaning your Home after a Flood
- Family resiliency during this stressful time
The Employee Engagement Survey Results
During the fall of 2013, the University conducted a University-wide employee survey studying two primary factors that help to define an engaged employee: commitment and dedication; and effective work environment. On May 21, Dean Durgan presented the results for Extension.
Dean Durgan has asked each unit to identify one or two strategies that will be implemented to enhance employee commitment/dedication and an effective work environment. At the Family Development Conference on July 16, we will discuss the results for the survey for the center and brainstorm possible strategies to address. If you have not viewed the webinar, it is archived on the Intranet webpage devoted to the employee engagement survey.
Business Plan Development in Family Development
Over the next year, we will be focusing on creating new program business plans for our two program areas (Family Resilience and Health and Nutrition) and CYFC. Recently, Health and Nutrition began laying the ground work by embarking on a six-month portfolio planning process (i.e., business planning). When complete, the Health and Nutrition Portfolio Plan will describe the program area's work over the next few years. Stephanie Heim (chair), Ryan Johnson, Mary Caskey and CeAnn Klug serve as a task force to gather and compile relevant information on behalf of all Health and Nutrition staff to move this work forward.
Trish Olson, program leader for Family Resilience, has been working with program teams to develop updated program business plans. You will be hearing more about these efforts over the coming year.
What should we call our new site?
We are creating a new consumer-focused website that brings together existing content from multiple Family Development websites. It will have four sections: Healthy Homes, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, and Healthy Futures. We are looking for your input on what to call this site.Survey
Introducing New SNAP Ed Educators
Please join me in welcoming five new staff members to welcome to Extension and Family Development:
Kanko Akakpovi began her position as a SNAP-Ed Educator on June 2. Her office is located in Rice County. She previously served as a Community Nutrition Educator in Steele and Rice counties since 2010 and most recently was with EFNEP in Ramsey County. Kanko holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health from St. Cloud State University. In addition to her time with University of MN Extension, she has previous experience in residential care for disabled clients and food service. Kanko immigrated to the United States in 2004 from Togo West Africa.
Nancy Brewster earned a Business Degree from Boston University with a concentration in Food Administration and Hospitality. She comes to Extension with experience as a Cultural Liaison with the Hispanic Community; working with children and adults in the Educational Field. Nancy enjoys leading an active lifestyle, dancing to tropical rhythms and interacting with people of different cultures.
Andrea Kronbach joined the Southeast Region in her new role as a SNAP-Ed Educator based out of Steele County on June 9. Most recently, Andrea was with Rice County Public Health as a public health educator. Andrea began her U of MN Extension Health and Nutrition work in 2006 as a nutrition education assistant and as program coordinator for the South Central area in 2008. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Life and Child Development from Minnesota State University Mankato. In addition to her time with University of MN Extension, she has previous experience with Nicollet County Social Services.
Samantha Stewart received her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in Community Health Education with a minor in Biology. She went on to receive her Master's in Public Health in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both her academic and professional interest includes working with youth in the area of chronic disease prevention. She grew up in central Minnesota area in the small city of Cold Spring near St Cloud and is looking forward to working back in the state of Minnesota to tackle the issue of obesity/chronic disease prevention.
Anne Ulrich has accepted the SNAP-Ed Educator position housed in Mahnomen County. She has previous work experience teaching school age children at the Wee-Care Early Learning Center in Bagley and interning with Clearwater County Nursing Service. Annie holds a Bachelor's degree in Community Health from Bemidji State University.
Hard Day of Work at 4H Foundation Golf Tournament
The Minnesota 4H Foundation held its annual golf outing at the Medina Country Club on June 23. I had the pleasure of being on one of the Extension-sponsored teams. The weather was perfect and the team made a respectable showing. My team members included Todd Iverson with UMN Government Relations, Jim Mulder (retired director of the MN Associate of Counties), and his wife Carmen. Please know that this is not a typical day of work for me but one I thoroughly enjoy when given the opportunity.
From the Left: Todd Iverson, Karen Shirer, and Jim and Carmen Mulder