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Dear Colleagues:flower.jpg

Ever so slowly winter is loosening its grip on us and we are beginning to see patches of green grass. Although it may take some time, I am confident we will see spring soon. Many times this winter I felt like a victim of its cold and snow, and the disruption it caused in my work and personal life. But these disruptions often became times where I could take a step back to think and plan. The first story in this blog "Be the Change" is an outcome of one of these reflective moments.

As it turns out, a great deal of the information contained in this blog post focuses on health and nutrition programs. Due to the recent redesign of the program, there is a great deal to bring to your attention about the program area. You will find information about a new Extension Educator, the new titles used by the program, and SNAP Ed Educator positions. Please know that I am not showing favoritism!

We are excited to announce several professional development events for you. First, we are beginning to plan a one-day Family Development Event for all FD staff and faculty in July. And we mean all staff! The center has undergone a great deal of change in the last 2 to 3 years and we think it is time for us to come together as a group to learn more about each other's work and get to know each other better.

Take a look at the spring webinar series we are planning and look at the example of a YouTube video. One of the sessions will teach you how to make your own! We remain committed to increasing all of our technology skills and to use social media to support our educational efforts.

Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

P.S. At the end of this blog post, please take a few minutes to give me your feedback. In particular, let me know if there are stories and information that you would like to see. I will make an effort to include in the future.

Be the Change

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." - Ghandhi


On one of those snow days, I planned several projects to fix people and programs. As I got further into my "fixing" it dawned on me that the change I was looking for did not involve only changing other people. I needed to also change myself -- my behavior, my attitude or my approach. Sometimes I tell staff that "all things change when we do", which is a paraphrase of Ghandhi's quote. This experience reminded me of a friend of mine at Iowa State.

Sharon Wasteney was a county extension director for a small, rural county in southern Iowa. She happened to be the site director for our CYFAR project and I was the state director. We hit it off from day one and enjoyed working together, although we had very different personal lives and political leanings. Sharon was an innovator, willing to try new ideas and approaches in her very rural and very poor county. Her efforts were not always embraced by her colleagues or her constituents but she remained resolute and committed.

When I left ISU in 1999 for Michigan State, she gave me a card with the quote above from Ghandhi. For many years that card was pinned on my bulletin board but appears to have gotten misplaced in our office move to Coffey Hall in 2010. I also have included a picture of a 15" by 15" wall hanging that she made to help me remember our work together on the CYFAR project. I treasure it and won't lose it!

I challenge you to think about how this saying applies to you and your work. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you discover. Learn more about this quote and other things that Ghandhi said.

Welcome a New Extension Educator for Health and Nutrition

Laura Perdue recently joined the University of Minnesota Extension as an Extension Educator for Health and Nutrition. Her office is in the St. Cloud Regional Office.

Laura is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she obtained her Master's degree from the University of MN in public health nutrition. Her experience includes working as a graduate research assistant with the Family Development Research and Evaluation team. Most recently she has served as a Health Promotion Specialist with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation involved in various community programs and campaigns promoting heart health.

Please join me in welcoming Laura Perdue to Extension.

New Titles for the Health and Nutrition Programs

You might have heard some buzz in the office about the changes in titles for the Health and Nutrition Program. In the past we had used Simply Good Eating as the program title. Over the last five years, we started adding new program initiatives that did not quite fit under this title. So the program leadership team (Trina, Renee and Houa) made the decision to rename the program and to give new titles to the various staff positions.

Health and Nutrition Programs will be used as the umbrella term for all Health and Nutrition work. For SNAP Education the program title will be Health and Nutrition Programs: SNAP-Ed; and for EFNEP it will be Health and Nutrition Programs: EFNEP.

New titles for staff positions are as follows:

  • Extension Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs
  • SNAP-Ed Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs
  • County Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs (MOA funded)
  • Community Nutrition Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs, EFNEP
  • Regional Coordinator, Health and Nutrition Programs, SNAP-Ed
  • Program Coordinator, Health and Nutrition Programs, EFNEP
  • Associate Program Director, Health and Nutrition Programs (Could be followed by SNAP-Ed, Cooking Matters, etc.)

Please give us your feedback at the end of this blog on what you think of these titles.

We Need Your Help!

The Health and Nutrition Program continues to hire new SNAP Ed Educators to staff the SNAP Education program. We implemented a new staffing model in January with the hopes of employing 45 educators across the state. Currently, we have 25 positions filled and 14 positions are posted on the Extension employment website. We need your help to recruit high quality candidates for these positions.

SNAP Education is a federally funded program designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity among low-income families, especially those that are eligible for SNAP benefits. A SNAP-Ed Educator promotes and improves individual and community health by promoting healthy eating behaviors and physical activity in low-income communities. He/she is responsible for program delivery (build relationships with the community, conduct community needs assessment, analyze findings, design program to fit audience, determine and implement program delivery process, deliver/evaluate/revise program) within a wide variety of community settings in the region. In addition, she/he will utilize the full spectrum of prevention strategies, including public health approaches. Public health approaches promote policy, system and environmental changes that improve access to healthy food in order that individual behavioral change is possible. Required qualifications include:

  • Bachelor's degree in health, nutrition or a closely related discipline OR a combination of related education and relevant experience totaling four (4) years.
  • 1-3 years of experience in teaching, health promotion, and/or community education, to include facilitation, mentoring, coaching stakeholders, and completing reports.
  • Experience working with culturally and economically diverse audiences.
  • Computer skills experience or education: web-based communications and training platforms, competent keyboarding, and data entry (Microsoft).
  • Valid driver's license, reliable vehicle with required liability insurance, to be utilized for frequent travel within Minnesota, infrequent travel outside Minnesota. Traveling 500 miles in a week would not be unusual.
  • Ability to plan and maintain a flexible work schedule, including regular evening and weekend hours to meet time demands and/or special needs of SNAP-Ed program participants.

Several positions require that the ability to speak Spanish and a number of others are looking for experience working with Hmong and American Indian audiences. Here is a list of all positions that are currently posted. In the near future, we will be posting additional positions.

Considering Giving to the FD Staff Memorial Fund

Our staff memorial fund, which is used to send flowers to staff's family after losing a loved one, is running low. This fund was set up in memory Kim Coffey, former support staff within Family Development. If you have been the recipient of this fund in the past, please consider making a donation now. Every little bit helps!

To make a donation, make check payable to "University of Minnesota." On the memo line, indicate "8882 - Family Development Memorial Fund." Checks can be sent directly to:


Madonna Monette
UM Extension Finance, Room 415
CofH, 1420
Eckles Ave.
St Paul, MN 55108.
The donation is fully tax deductible.

Sign Up for Upcoming Professional Development Workshops

You've hopefully seen the email announcement from Heather Lee that was sent yesterday, regarding the upcoming Professional Development trainings. I'd encourage you all to review those trainings and sign up for them if it works with your schedule (see below).

Our work with in FD is constantly changing as the technology changes. These upcoming trainings are a great opportunity to explore tools that will help you with your upcoming evaluation and educational projects. (For a great example of a recent video using Sparkol, see the Parents Forever™ YouTube video below.)

Sign up for one for one or more of these upcoming trainings to find out how (and when) to use these tools for your work.


We are happy to be offering the following distance learning professional development trainings this spring. In order to ensure that we have the right accommodations and technology arranged, let us know if you intend to attend one or more of the trainings described below. Please register by Friday, March 28.

Note, if you sign up for one or more training, you will be receiving additional information about the training (call-in information, "homework," etc.) before the scheduled training.

If you need additional information about the module now, in order for you to make your decisions, please contact me (Heather Lee).

Qualtrics Module 1: What is Qualtrics?: Basic Survey Building
Date: April 8 (10-12)
Description: This module will give you an introduction to Qualtrics and give you hands-on experience with the basics. Learn how to create a survey, how to change the look and organization of a survey, and how to share a survey.

Qualtrics Module 2: I've Sent Out a Survey, Now What?: Viewing and Sharing Results
Date: April 15 (10-12)
Description: This module will provide information about Qualtrics data collection. Discover how to view responses, download the collected data, and create and share reports.

Qualtrics Module 3: What Makes Qualtrics so Cool?: Advanced Survey Building and Other Fancy Features
Date: April 22 (10-12)
Description: This module starts diving into many of the "bells and whistles" of Qualtrics. Find out how to use of certain question types, create the ultimate registration tool, set up automated emails, use advanced survey organization (i.e., branching surveys) options, and more.

E-learning Module 1: Articulate
Date: April 25 (1-3)
Description: This module will introduce the topic of e-learning best practices and highlight one e-learning tool: Articulate. See Family Development examples using this tool, and find out more about how Articulate can add value to your educational offerings.

E-learning Module 2: Moodle, Camtasia, and Sparkol
Date: May 2 (1-3)
This module will introduce more e-learning tools: Moodle, Camtasia Studio, and Sparkol. Explore how these tools have been used in Family Development, and things to consider before choosing tools for an e-learning project.

Something to Make You Smile

Two things I love are my two dogs and rock music. This YouTube video combines both. You can skip the ad to get to the video and you may want to because some content is not for polite conversation.  Enjoy!

Please take a few minutes to give your feedback. I would greatly appreciate it!

Coming Up for Air...


Dear Colleagues,

mar072014-Karen.jpgLast summer I launched an occasional blog to keep you informed about the happenings in the Center for Family Development. Unfortunately, I have not posted since mid-October but I am back with new energy and ideas to share with you about the center and our work. Much has occurred since I last posted and in this post I begin to share changes, new efforts and more.

After you read the blog, please take a few minutes to add a comment. Let me know what you would like to see in this blog and any other feedback that would be useful. Thank you ahead of time for your input.


Managing change...

In November, a re-designed health and nutrition program was announced. The plan included new position classifications for educators in the SNAP Education program and their supervisors. These changes resulted in the layoff of employees and hiring for the new positions. The Health and Nutrition continues to implement the model. In the near future, a webinar will be held for all Extension staff and key partners about the new Health and Nutrition model. Look for more details soon.

I bring up this organizational change effort because of what I learned about change and transition. Typically I think of myself as someone open to change with a strong desire to try new things. In addition, I had written curricula and publications on managing change in the past. But I found myself very challenged by the changes that needed to be made to accommodate the loss of funding for the SNAP Ed program. To help cope, I turned to resources readily available on the Internet and want to share a few resources with you.

As I read about change, I was reminded that sometimes change can be overwhelming and difficult to accept. Numerous resources are available on the Internet and elsewhere to help us manage stress and strong emotions, cope with conflict, and build our resilience during times of change. Here are a few to get you started on thriving through periods of transition.

Dealing with Stress

These Family Development resources have been developed for various audiences by UMN Extension faculty and staff, and community partners.

Transition and Changes: Practical Strategies

This fact sheet from Colorado State University Extension provides an overview of strategies for managing changes and transitions as well as background information change and transition.

University of Minnesota Employee Assistance Program

If personal efforts at managing stress are not helping, consider the UMN Employee Assistance Program. EAP provides cost-free and confidential professional consultation and referral services for University employees, academic staff, and faculty who have work or personal concerns. Spouses/partners and dependents are also eligible for EAP services.

Recently Hired Staff

La Tasha Shevlin began Monday, March 3, as the Dakota County Financial Empowerment Extension Educator. La Tasha completed a Master's of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota. She most recently was the Employment Training Specialist at Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis where she designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated learning programs on personal finance and health specific content. La Tasha can be reached at

Amy Baack, recently hired as the Southeast SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator, joined U of MN Extension in 2010. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Baack previously held positions in Nicollet County where she served as the Community Nutrition Educator and most recently as a Regional Educator in the Southeast. Prior to joining Extension, she held positions with Mankato Public Schools, Minnesota Community Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension. Amy started her new position February 17, 2014 and is housed at the Mankato Regional Office. You can reach Amy at

Patti LaQua has been hired as one of two SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinators for the Central Region. She starts her new role with Extension on March 10th and will be housed at the Ramsey County Extension office. Patti is a registered dietitian and has spent the past 8 years working at the School of Public Health on nutrition education and obesity prevention programs with a focus on behavior change. She has coordinated nutrition education programs including developing the content, education materials and training staff to deliver a consistent intervention. Patti has also counseled and educated both individuals and groups. You can reach Patti at

Post to the Family Development Pinterest Page

Social media is becoming increasingly important as a delivery mode for Extension education. In mid-October, Brianna Routh sent out an email to the FD listserv about Pinterest. Like many of you, Pinterest feeds my creative side, providing knitting and crocheting ideas, fashion advice, and more. I want to remind you to use our Pinterest page. Here is the body of the original message that Brianna sent in October about our Pinterest page. Brianna can also send you the fact sheet on how to use Pinterest that was attached to the original email.

As you may be aware, Family Development now has our own Pinterest page aimed toward providing resources and information for parents! I would like to personally extend an invite for you to participate and contribute to our efforts. I know that Pinterest may be new to some of you, so I have included a few tools to help you get started. Included in this email are: 3 videos to get you started on using Pinterest and our FD page; a fact sheet with what makes a good pin, vocab, and more; a link to our Pinterest page; and a quick 4 question survey to determine if these are useful and what else you might need.
So maybe you have 20 minutes free to look through all these materials or just 5 minutes throughout the next few days, please check these resources out and contribute to the FD Pinterest page so your program and interests are included as we continue to connect with and educate program participants!
Personal Pinterest Profile:
Pinterest Newsfeed:
Contribute to FD Pinterest Page:
University of Minnesota Extension Family Development Pinterest Page:
Thanks, Brianna Routh

Something to Consider ... Addressing Generational Poverty

This year marks the 50-year War on Poverty launched by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The media is rich with commentary about whether or not this effort was successful. As with many efforts, the news is mixed.

The Ascend at the Aspen Institute has been offering a two-generation solution to poverty in which programs work with the children and family to break the poverty cycle. I subscribe to their listserv and recently received a newsletter from them that highlighted financial education and early childhood family education as solutions to two-generation poverty. Go their website to learn more about these efforts.

2014 Minnesota Award Winners for the National Association of Family Consumer Sciences

Join in congratulating award winners in Minnesota that will be forwarded to the NEAFCS Regional and National Awards Committee. We will have a strong presence as they evaluate award nominations from around the country.

Mary M. Wells Memorial Diversity Award — An Exploration into Culturally Relevant Family Resource Management Education
Jennifer Garbow
Antonio Meraz Alba
Rebecca Hagen Jokela
Trish Olson

Food Safety Award — Food Allergen Training for Food Service Employees
Suzanne Driessen
Kathy Brandt
Katherine Waters

Communications Awards — Internet Education Technology: Helping Families Recover Financially After a Disaster: A webinar series for helping professionals
Sara Croymans
Lori Hendrickson
Rebecca Hagen Jokela

Communications Awards — Educational Curriculum Package — Chat & Chew: Experiencing the Dietary Guidelines
Connie Burns
Mary Schroeder

Communications Awards — Written Press Release: Prevent the Spread of Norovirus During the Holidays
Deb Botzek-Linn

Community Partnership — Cooking Safely for a Crowd Video Conference
Deb Botzek-Linn

Social Networking — U of MN Extension Family Development Pinterest
Brianna Routh

Continued Excellence
Deb Botzek Linn

Distinguished Service
Kelly Kunkel

Dean Don Felker Financial Management Award - 4-H Consumer Decision Making Programming
Sara Croymans
Carrie Ann Olson

Don't forget to comment on the stories in this post. Also, be certain to congratulate your colleagues for their awards, to use the FD Pinterest page, and to read about the Two Generation Solution to Poverty and managing stress and change.

Karen Shirer
Associate Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Fall is fully upon us and there seems to be a hint of winter -- snow in northern part of the state this weekend? Autumn brings a busy time for our work in Extension. Take a few minutes to read what is going on in Family Development.


Be Sure to Complete the Employment Engagement Survey

It´s important that your voice is heard through the University´s 2013 Employee Engagement Survey. The survey will help University leaders understand what is on your mind so they can take action to improve your department and the University overall. Your support is critical to making this effort a success.

If you have already completed the survey, thank you for your feedback. If you have not yet participated, please set aside some time to complete and submit your responses by Friday, November 1. The survey is available online and can be accessed from iPhone® and Droid® smartphones. If you use a mobile device and are asked for a password, please log off and retry the survey link from a computer.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to answer and it should be completed during the workday.

Your responses to the survey are completely confidential. All responses will be sent directly to Hay Group for processing, and no one in the University or your department will have access to your individual answers.

Please do not forward this invitation to anyone else. The link provided below can only be used once.


Click on the link below, or launch your Internet browser and enter the following in your browser´s address line:

When you have completed the survey, click the "Submit Survey" button. You will then see a message saying your survey has been successfully submitted.

If you have any questions or concerns about the survey or survey process, contact your local HR support. For technical questions about the survey or to request a new link, email the Hay Group at Call OIT at 1-HELP from campus or (612) 301-4357 for workplace computer issues.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Connie Greer Honored as Friend of Extension at Fall Program Conference

University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan honored Connie Greer, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, on Oct. 8 at Extension's annual conference. Connie has partnered with Family Development on SNAP Education, financial literacy, and healthy food access. We were thrilled to have her honored by the Dean.

Here is the information about the award:

Connie Greer, Distinguished Friend of Extension

Connie Greer, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), has positively impacted the lives of low-income families across Minnesota for 40 years. In her role with DHS, she has been a stalwart friend of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and improved healthy food access through changing food systems and environments.

Smart Choices Training Coming to Minnesota

Bonnie Braun from the University of Maryland will be coming to Minnesota to conduct a training of the Smart Choice Health Insurance curriculum on Nov.12th & 13th at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Smart Choice Health Insurance© is the first release of a multi-part consumer education program including the new Ask an Expert. Smart Choice is a research and theory-based , consumer-tested curriculum designed to reduce confusion and increase capability and confidence among consumers making health insurance plan choices. It is applicable to both current health insurance consumers and those who are newly-eligible through the Affordable Care Act providing Extension with a teachable moment when most consumers are attuned to health insurance decisions.

Smart Choice Health Insurance©, with its standardized measures of health insurance literacy, enables Extension to offer an evidence-based curriculum. The nationally validated measures were created and tested by the American Institutes for Research.
To offer consumer workshops, educators need to become certified to teach the curriculum then collect and submit data to the University of Maryland Extension.

For a Certification Fee of $200, Educators receive the following benefits:
  • Access to the Educators Toolkit
  • Consultation with teaching team
  • Updated and new information
  • Data compiled and returned in comparative reports

Smart Choice Health Insurance 2-Day Training Workshop:

Tuesday, November 12 (11 am to 5 pm) - lunch included, dinner on your own
Wednesday, November 13 (8 - 2:30) - breakfast and lunch included

Registration fee of $250.00 includes: $200 Certification Fee and $50 for two lunches, a snack and one breakfast. Each person in attendance is required to pay the certification fee. Registration information will be sent out shortly.

I have agreed to support Family Development Extension Educators registration fee of $250 and am asking your program area to support your travel expenses. This training is open to all Extension Educators.

Location: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chanhassen, MN 55318 (approximately 30 minutes west of Minneapolis airport on Minnesota Hwy 5)

Chanhassen, Minnesota hotels you may want to explore: AmericInn, Holiday Inn Express or country Inn & Suites

For more information contact Mary Jo Katras at

Smart Choice Health Insurance is the product of a multi-state Health Insurance Literacy Team, led by the University of Maryland Extension and the University of Delaware Extension with funding from the University of Maryland Extension and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

marathon.jpg Life and Work Are Like a Marathon

On Sunday, October 13, my husband and younger daughter ran a marathon in Chicago. Steve and Allie ran with over 40,000 other runners while I tried to find them among the crowds of runners to cheer them on. I never saw them but both had great races. Steve ran it 3 hours 46 minutes, which is pretty good for a guy having knee surgery next week. Allie had a personal best of 3 hours 59 minutes.

This experience reminded me that much of what we do in our work in Family Development is like a marathon. Do we really have success without discipline and training? And although it is hard work and requires patience to carefully, implement and evaluate our work, there is elation and pride when the program is delivered or grant awarded due to this effort. Even as a spectator to the marathon and of your programmatic efforts, I feel great pride in my family's and your accomplishments.

Thank you!

Karen Shirer
Associate Dean

Dear Colleagues,

September is a busy month as we wind down from the summer and gear up for a busy few months of programming and meetings. In this week's blog, Farm to School month and an innovative to assessing needs are highlighted. In addition, a reminder for registering for Fall Program Conference is given as well as a few highlights of what is being offered.

Oh, there is one more thing -- I had to share the picture of my husband and me at the state fair. The picture did not capture one of my most photogenic moments but it reminds me of the importance of having fun and not taking myself too seriously. How can I when I am wearing antlers?!?!

Thank you and talk to you again soon. If you have newsworthy items for me to include in this twice monthly blog, please send them to me.


Celebrate Minnesota's Farm to School Month

Minnesota's Farm to School month is celebrated in September. We have a variety of new resources available for you to use in programming. Check out these items on the Farm to School website at

  • Educational videos -- Check out the Eat Smart Food videos that can be used in classrooms this fall to promote Farm to School meals and projects.
  • September is Farm to School month -- Use these documents to share ideas with community members in your county. These PDF's are designed for school administrators, farmers, food service, and teachers.
  • Do you know about FFVP? Participating schools in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are eligible to compete in the Eat Smart Food Contest this September. Please reach out to schools in your area to ask them to buy local foods and participate in the competition.
  • Looking for school gardens -- Please encourage schools in your community to participate in School Garden 101 this October in over a dozen locations across the state.

For more information on Farm to School programming, contact Susan DeBlieck.

More Information Coming Soon on Fall Program Conference

Extension's Fall Program Conference is scheduled for October 7 - 9, 2013 at DECC in Duluth. Please make sure you register for the conference and secure your lodging if you need it. Also, remember to carpool, if possible.

All of the sessions at Fall Program Conference are great opportunities for learning. I asked members of the FD leadership team to review the concurrent sessions at conference and tell me which three they thought were especially relevant to our work and needs in the center. There was great variation in their responses but three areas or topics rose to the top:

  • Cross center initiatives: Community Food Systems, Bridging the Achievement Gap and Renewable Energy.
  • "How do you fund that?" There is great interest in knowing more about the funding mechanisms for supporting our program.
  • Program planning and evaluation: Several concurrent sessions were mentioned that addressed how to plan and evaluate impactful programs.

We are currently planning the center time for Wednesday, October 9. We will start promptly at 8:30 am so be sure you check out of your hotel and eat breakfast before that time. The broad outline for the Center time is as follows:

8:30 am to 9:45 am -- Full Center Time

  • Quick FD update
  • An environmental scan of family issues in the state that we need to pay attention to
  • The 21st Century Extension Professional: a report from the North Central Region and what it means for us

9:45 to 10:00 -- Break and movement to your group meeting

10:00 to 1:30 pm -- Two groups will be meeting

  • Group 1: Family Resource Management, Family Relations and Children, Youth and Family Consortium meet together
  • Group 2: Health and Nutrition, Community Food Systems, and Food Safety meet together
  • More details to come later.

1:30 to 2:00 pm -- Reconvene as one large group to report back on smaller group discussions and discuss next steps.

We will be sending out more details in the near future.

Gathering Informational Needs on the Affordable Care Act of 2010

Since 2010, several provisions of the Affordable Care Act have been implemented; however, the opening of the online health insurance market place and the beginning of "open enrollment" starting Oct. 1, 2013 will bring about many changes in the way Americans access and use health care and health insurance.

Mary Jo Katras, Extension Education, has developed an interesting way to get the answer to the question "What Do You Want to Know?" She created a very short webinar (less than 15 minutes) to get the conversation started and to provide individuals with a brief overview of the Affordable Care Act and MNsure.

At the end of the short webinar, there is a link to a brief 5 question survey that gives people the opportunity to tell us, "What Do You Want to Know?" Participation in this survey is anonymous and will provide us with information about the ways we can support education and outreach for practitioners, communities, families and individuals on selecting health insurance.

Click here to view the short webinar:
Click here to take the short 5 question survey:

Please let Mary Jo know if you have troubles viewing the webinar or accessing the survey. Thank you for sharing with your audiences and your participation -- we really value your partnership and feedback!

Please contact Mary Jo if you are interested in learning more about this effort.
Mary Jo Katras, PhD
Office: 763-767-3875
Cell: 612-203-6403

Fun at the Fair
When the weather finally cooled off on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, my husband Steve, daughter Lizzie, and I went to the state fair. Lizzie took this picture of Steve and I modeling our antlers and mosquito head dresses that we picked up from an exhibit. We had a great time but left after 3 hours because the crowds were over whelming. We learned later that attendance set a one-day record of over 237,000 people and I think we saw them all!

Family Matters

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Extension Center for Family Development Update, August 23, 2013
by Karen Shirer

Happy State Fair!

I wanted to share a couple of things going on in the center. The first focuses on MNSure, Minnesota's new health insurance exchange, and our work to better understand educational needs related to it. The second is a story that ran on Minnesota Public Radio highlighting Extension's work along with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe in Bemidji on healthy food access. These two areas are important and emerging topics in our vision to strengthen all Minnesota families.

Hope you have an opportunity to attend the State Fair this year and enjoy the best of Minnesota's sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. I plan to attend!


We Need Your Input


Open enrollment starts Oct. 1, 2013 for MNSure. Mary Jo Katras, Extension Educator, is seeking input on how we can support you and the individuals, families and communities that you serve. Take some time to view the webinar described below and give your input. Also, be sure to share this opportunity with your community partners.

Since 2010, several provisions of the Affordable Care Act have been implemented; however, the opening of the online market places and the beginning of "open enrollment" starting Oct. 1, 2013 will bring about many changes in the way Americans access and use health care and health insurance.

The University of Minnesota Extension, Family Development, is asking the question "What Do You Want to Know?" A short webinar has been created (less than 15 minutes) to get the conversation started and to provide you with a brief overview of the Affordable Care Act and MNsure.

At the end of the short webinar, there is a link to a brief 5 question survey that gives you the opportunity to tell us, "What Do You Want to Know?" Your participation in this survey is anonymous and will provide us with information about the ways we can support education and outreach for you and the communities, families, and individuals you serve.

Click here to view the short webinar.

Click here to take the short 5 question survey:

Please let Mary Jo know if you have troubles viewing the webinar or accessing the survey. Her contact information follows this post.

Thank you for your participation — we really value your partnership and feedback!

Mary Jo Katras, PhD
Extension Educator & Associate Professor
Building Healthy and Strong Families
Center for Family Development
University of Minnesota Extension
Office: 763-767-3875
Cell: 612-203-6403

Minnesota Public Radio
Bemidji residents use food to stitch together community


The work of Deb Dilley, Community Nutrition Educator, was highlighted in a recent story on Bemidji, Minnesota. The community is thriving in many ways but poverty is high and there are health disparities along racial lines. One way some residents are trying to make connections is through growing and using food differently.

In Family Development's health and nutrition program, we are increasing our efforts to improve food security of MN residents and increase to amount of healthy food available to them. Deb's work is one example of the kind of work we are doing through the Simply Good Eating program, and in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health through the Community Transformation project and the State Health Improvement Program.

To read the story and learn more about the work that is going on in Bemidji, go to:

Family Matters

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It's about time for...a Family Development Update

shire008.jpgIt has been some time since I have talked with you about the happenings in the center and the great work we have been doing. There is much to catch you up on. Also, I have renewed my commitment to regularly communicate with you about the activities of the center and its staff. So, I am starting this new blog titled "Family Matters," in which I hope to give bi-weekly updates

In this first blog, you will find important information about the restructuring that we are embarking on in the Simply Good Eating program. In addition, work on the Food Safety team is highlighted. Changes in administrative support on campus are described. And lastly, there are reminders of some important dates.

Enjoy these lovely August days and hopefully you will see another posting from me before the end of the month.


Restructuring of the Simply Good Eating Program is Underway

Earlier this summer, a Task Force made recommendations regarding restructuring the 12 Simply Good Eating (SGE) regions to align with the 5 Extension regions. On Tuesday, August 20, 12:30 - 2 PM, you are invited to participate in a webinar to learn more details about how the restructuring will be done. We will give the timelines and details about the transition.

These are the recommended changes to the Simply Good Eating program that we will be discussing in the webinar:

  • Program Coordinators (PCs) will continue to supervise Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs). Our goal is that each PC will supervise up to 10 CNEs and give the kind of support that leads to high-quality, impactful programs.
  • We are creating a new position to supervise the PCs. This new role will be a largely administrative and operations role, and will be classed as a Professional Administrative. These new supervisors will manage the programs funded by EFNEP and SNAP Ed. We anticipate putting in place these new supervisors by January 1, 2014. The number of supervisors will be determined by future funding levels.
  • These changes will give Extension educators more time to develop new program efforts and to learn more about Policy-System-Environmental (PSE) approaches across all Health and Nutrition programming. Changes in the SNAP Ed guidance, SHIP 3, and other trends are driving these changes. EEs will no longer provide administrative oversight to SGE work. Instead, they will target their skills and efforts toward broader health and nutrition impacts, of which SGE is part of the spectrum of strategies.

Please reserve the date on your calendars if possible; the webinar will be recorded for later viewing if you are unable to participate when it is presented. More information will be coming your way regarding how to connect with the webinar in the next week.

Highlighting the Food Safety Education Team Successes

In this and future blogs, I will be highlighting the work of program teams in Family Development. I want you to become better acquainted with each other's work and see where there might be opportunity for partnerships. Last fall, the Food Safety Education Team joined Family Development and I want to highlight some important successes that they recently had.

The Food Safety Education team is led by Katherine Waters and works closely with Joelle Friertag, an Extension specialist in Food Science and Nutrition. Four Extension educators currently work on the program team: Deb Botzek-Linn, Kathy Brandt, Suzanne Driessen, and Glenyce Vangsness-Peterson. Connie Schwartau serves as coordinator for the team.

The team has made available a new set of teaching materials: Freezing Fruits and Vegetables for Later Uses. These training materials are designed as a self-training option or to use to teach others. View the leader's guide and follow the instructions at

The team recently updated the Serve It Up Safely Food Manager Renewal food safety online course, which celebrated its 10th year anniversary this year. The course has been updated to meet new food code regulations, food safety research and Quality Matters standards. Thanks to Suzanne Driessen, Katherine Waters, Connie Schwartau, Shari Schmidt, Heather Lee, and Ruth Ellis and for their efforts on transforming the course!

A seed grant of $10,000 from Global One Health Partnerships to Advance Local to Global Food and Nutrition Security has been awarded for the proposal "Structuring Food Safety Training for Success: A Somali Language, Culture, and Career Project in Minnesota".

The team consists of: Dr. Kendra Kauppi, Food Science and Nutrition, Role Project Coordinator; Glenyce Peterson Vangsness, Extension Educator, Role Curriculum Development Specialist; Ms. Fardowza Omar, Health Inspector, City of Minneapolis Health Department, Role Regulatory Specialist and Somali Community Liaison; Abdirahman Kahin, Owner and Operator, Afro Deli and Catering, Role Liaison to the Somali Business and Food Production Community.

The project will develop a working relationship with the Somali community. Working with the community, they will design, implement, and evaluate a culturally appropriate and customized food safety training program. The data obtained from this pilot project will serve as the basis to apply for additional funding to build a more robust state or multi-state project.

We also applaud Suzanne Driessen who recently received the Mid-Career Service award from Epsilon Sigma Phi North Central Region. See

The team also works with colleagues in other centers to delivery high impact programs. Earlier this month, 65 high school students attended the University on the Prairie Science Day Camp at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center (SWROC) August 6-8. Annie Doberstein, University of Minnesota graduate student in food science, along with Extension educators Mary Schroeder and Kelly Kunkel in Health and Nutrition, Carrie Olson and Dianne Derrick in Youth Development, and Kathy Brandt, Food Safety, provided students with hands-on activities for the food science program track.

Students learned about phytonutrients (chemicals in plant products that have health benefits) and the role they have in cancer prevention. Students were also introduced to food science careers, and they gained knowledge and skills to make healthier food choices for their growing bodies and minds.

To learn more about the Food Safety Education team, go to their website at:

More Restructuring in Family Development

Over the last year, Family Development has had three new program areas/units come under its umbrella: Food Safety Education, Healthy Food Access/Community Food Systems, and the Children, Youth and Family Consortium. We found that with additional staff and programming to support, we needed to adjust and streamline our administrative support team. Here are some of the changes that may be of interest:

  • Rhonda Dragan is now the Graphic/Multimedia Communication Associate, taking over for Jon Fu who has left Family Development
  • Jeanne Laqua is expanding her role and is now providing administrative support to all Family Development Program Leaders, not just Health and Nutrition.
  • Heather Lee is now supervising all staff in administrative support positions.

We are continuing our efforts to strengthen the roles and skills across all administrative staff, helping to ensure we have the best staff and the right roles in the future. To learn more about our programs, go to our website at:

Dates that You Do Not Want to Forget

August 22, 2013 through September 2, 2013: MN State Fair, St. Paul

September 16 to 20, 2013: Galaxy IV Conference, Pittsburgh, PA

October 7 through 9, 2013: Extension Fall Program Conference, Duluth

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