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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


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 Foreverâ„¢ 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!


brouth Author Profile Page said:

Thanks Karen, the Pharrell video did brighten my Monday morning! I appreciate the updates about thinks going on in different programs as well as things that may be going on on campus. Hope everyone has a great week!

cdklug Author Profile Page said:

Thank you for sharing Karen. I like the new title naming convention. The only possible suggestion would be SNAP Educator, rather than SNAP Ed Educator. Looking forward to upcoming the training opportunities.

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

Thanks Karen, I share your passions for dogs and music. I love that tune (but I hope they got copyright permission to use the tune to new words, speaking of tech stuff we all need to be aware of). I also learned something about the YouTube site - the ads change. So whatever "inappropriate for polite conversation" ad you saw, was not what the rest of us probably saw. Mine was an intergenerational learning message for a school of business. Learn something new everyday.

Ellen McCann Author Profile Page said:

I would agree on using SNAP Educator vs. SNAP Ed Educator. (The later seems redundant). I think all titles are clear and make sense.
Thanks for all of the training opportunities.
And I too am a dog & music lover so loved the video!
Happy Monday!

Hannah Jastram, RD Author Profile Page said:

Thanks for posting the Sparkol video!

What role to county educators play?

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