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Extension > Staff Update > Family Matters: Update on the Center for Family Development

Family Matters: Update on the Center for Family Development


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!


Hannah Miller, RD Author Profile Page said:

In addition to the resources posted on the Farm to School website for Farm to School Month, we're celebrating on social media! Check out the Simply Good Eating Facebook page and the Simply Good Eating Twitter account.

Kathleen Olson Author Profile Page said:

We were at State Fair the same day, but didn't see you; maybe it was your disguise. Yes, there were a lot of people, but much cooler than previous days.

Cathy Jordan, Ph.D. Author Profile Page said:

I have a friend who, in response to her text to her son that the "one day record was 237,000" received the reply "Is that the attendance record or the number of calories you consumed in one day?"

robrecht Author Profile Page said:

What a great photo of you and Steve, Karen! I think they call this look the "Full Minnesotan." Hmmm... Maybe you need something on a stick in the picture for that.

robrecht Author Profile Page said:

What a great photo of you and Steve, Karen! I think they call this look the "Full Minnesotan." Hmmm... Maybe you need something on a stick in the picture for that.

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