Tag Archives: dawn contreras

20+ year Extension partnership gears up for National Immunization Awareness Month

dna strands

As we count down to August, which is National Immunization Awareness Month, we reached out to  Dawn Contreras and Connie DeMars to highlight an important partnership and program serving Michigan medical professionals and residents. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services began a partnership in 1995 as the result of a statewide need for tools and training to help raise Michigan’s immunization rate and promote better health among all residents. We formed the Physician Peer Education Program on Immunization that provides medical updates relevant to immunizations to practicing physicians and medical groups. Through this program, we provide updates on pediatrics; adult immunizations; vaccines for women’s health, influenza and HPV; and recommendations for health care personnel. All are valid for Continuing Medical Education credit.

“Since October 1 of last year, we have organized almost 70 presentations reaching over 2,000 medical professionals to answer questions,” Connie said. “Our audience has included many aspects, from hospitals to the automotive industry.”

How can we help? Connie shared that we can all help to promote our upcoming, one-hour Pediatric and Adult Influenza webinar on August 30, designed for medical professionals. It will discuss influenza rates, surveillance and coverage levels, and recommendations. It will identify strategies to improve vaccination rates. I’ve linked to the PDF of the webinar’s promotional flyer to this post below so that you can download and disseminate it.

Flu Webinar Poster

“Getting all needed immunizations is an important element of good health for many people,” Dawn said. We are honored to be a partner with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on this long-standing program geared toward protecting the lives of Michigan residents.”

To find out more, visit our website or contact Connie at demars@anr.msu.edu.

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Filed under health, Health and Nutrition, Partnerships

Getting the word out to Flint families

On Tuesday, April 26, MSU Extension participated in the Flint Farmers Market event held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and attended by representatives from state and local agencies, the media and the public. The event raised awareness about the nutrition assistance programs and guidance resources available to Flint residents.

During the press conference, speakers from many organizations and programs such as the Fair Food Network, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Farmers Market Nutrition Program, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan joined USDA speakers to share about nutrition and program information. Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator, spoke at the press conference, highlighting MSU Extension resources and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‒ Education (SNAP‒Ed).

After the press conference, participants interacted with program staff during activities and demonstrations, and at informational booths. Our MSU Extension team provided a cooking demonstration, a Cooking Matters class and a Discover Michigan Fresh tour. They also set up a “fender blender” bike for participants to ride to create a healthy smoothie and taste the results of their efforts. The MSU Extension booth showcased our nutrition education curricula, fight lead brochures and class fliers.

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The event provided accurate information, brought partners together who support the efforts in Flint and delivered a cohesive message. The USDA took sounds bites and video footage to develop public service announcements for future use to reach out and educate more of the public about the important resources available.

Thank you, Dawn Contreras, Deanna East, Erin Powell, Lynette Kaiser, Rich Ashley and his son Gabe, Liz Josaitis, Maha Khrais, Shane Jackson, Nancy Latham, Becky Henne and Tom Cummins for your efforts to provide meaningful activities and content, and for representing MSU Extension at this successful event.

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Filed under Children and Youth, communication, Events, Flint Water, Food, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Partnerships, Publications, Resources

MSU Extension to join MSU team aiming to tackle childhood obesity

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Michigan State University researchers will lead a $4.7 million effort to tackle childhood obesity. USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is awarding the grant, which is a competitive grant program that was included in the 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama at MSU last year. This in itself is great news, since Michigan State University is often at the forefront of cutting-edge research to make the world a better place. More exciting is that our very own Dawn Contreras, director of the Health and Nutrition Institute at Michigan State University Extension, will be joining the team.

Childhood obesity is considered one of the nation’s biggest health challenges, as one-third of America’s children are overweight or obese, according to Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture. This study aims to illuminate the factors that contribute to obesity and encourage healthy habits among families. Specifically, the study will look at mealtimes of families living in low-income situtations, and aim to increase the frequency of healthy family meals.

Holly Brophy-Herb, professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in MSU’s College of Social Science, will lead the team. Other members of the multi-disciplinary team include Mildred Horodynski from the MSU College of Nursing, Jean Kerver from the MSU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Human Medicine, Julie Lumeng and Niko Kaciroti from the University of Michigan, and the Jackson Community Action Agency Head Start.

This is a great example of how MSU Extension staff members can get involved in larger initiatives that have an impact on our programming, our communities and even our families. We look forward to hearing more about the research and Dawn’s continued contribution.

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Filed under Food, Health and Nutrition

MSU Extension and Michigan Fitness Foundation to provide expertise in nutrition education and obesity prevention in partnership with USDA

As part of a competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Purdue University is establishing one of four regional centers for research into nutrition education and obesity prevention in a nationwide USDA project. As part of this project, Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Fitness Foundation will collaborate with Purdue University and the University of Missouri to enhance nutrition education and obesity prevention efforts in the Midwest.

Our very own Dawn Contreras, director of MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute, and Marci Scott, vice president of health programming at the Michigan Fitness Foundation, will serve as associate directors of the North Central Nutrition Education Center of Excellence, which will be housed at Purdue University.

Being part of this project isn’t just a great honor; it will also be a big strategic opportunity for MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute.

According to Dawn, “Nutrition education and obesity prevention are important issues for our state and the nation. The use of strategic connections is a key strategy for dealing with these issues. The new regional center of excellence will help us link faculty, nutrition educators and implementers, and partners in a way that facilitates increased knowledge and implementation of best practices for addressing the obesity epidemic. It is an exciting new endeavor for Michigan and our surrounding states.”

Great work from Dawn and our Health and Nutrition Institute!

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Filed under grants, health

Kudos and suggestions from the civil rights auditors

As you know, Michigan State University Extension recently took part in a U. S. Department of Agriculture civil rights audit. They occur once every four or five years. I’ve been involved in four of these – twice as a regional director and now twice as director of Extension – the last time was in 2004.

I’m very proud of the work we are doing to demographically reach target audiences. We are reaching the audiences in close demographic comparison in categories of race and gender. You may be surprised by some of the data. For example, of youth participants in the Children and Youth Institute, only 9 percent live on farms. This differs from the popular perception that 4-H only serves farm youth. The data shows that we meet people where the need is great with health and nutrition information as well as financial and money management.

The auditors were thrilled with the way we presented the data. I’d like to thank the many staff involved in helping to gather the data and put it into an understandable format. They include Nancy Axtell, Jessica Nakfour, Jean Schueller, Bruce Haas, Cheryl Peters, Olga Santiago, Kathy Raphael, Mary Wilson, Gloria Ellerhorst, Emily Proctor, Christi Sovis, Doug Brinklow, Michelle Lavra, Marian Reiter, Beth Stuever, Julie Chapin, Dave Ivan, Dawn Contreras, Paul Putnam, Jim Lucas, Pat Cudney, Kelley Hiemstra, Michael Krauch, Shari Spoelman, Don Lehman, Betty Blase, Deanna East, Joe Bixler, Marie Ruemenapp, Matt Shane and Ginger Hentz. Without your hard work for months in advance of this review, we could not have done it.

The auditors took all of that data and examined it. They also went out into the field to get more information from you. They were pleased with everyone’s availability to meet with the reviewers and with the helpfulness of the staff in giving them access to our information – as I am!

They combined the data and the information to give us feedback on a few things we can work on.

In working with people, we need to diversify our overall employment makeup throughout the organization as well as work to integrate and diversify membership within 4-H clubs and broaden the programming we’re doing with female farm operators. We need to expand our nutrition programming to include demonstrated outreach with other agencies.

Consistency is something that came up in several areas. We need to be consistent in demonstrating the work we do in each county through data, and train staff in the method for collecting that data. We need to update our race/ethnicity/gender data collection forms to include the recommended way to collect race and ethnicity data. We need to use the statement concerning accommodations consistently and ensure consistency with regard to civil rights training.

We need to ensure that brochures and other promotional pieces have pictorial displays of diverse populations. I know this is something that we’ve strived to do and we will continue to focus on it.

In addition, we need to revise our Civil Rights Plan and education to include the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended.

The auditors had many good things to say about our accomplishments. They praised our work with Tribal Communities as well as the work we’re doing with prisons. They believe that our work translating program documents and brochures and making them available in Spanish, Arabic and Braille is outstanding. They haven’t seen as much of that in other states. They believe we have great outreach through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-ED) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). They believe we have strong nutrition programming at the grass roots level.

Please be sure to review the August 4 MSU Extension webinar to view the charts and graphs that we put together for the audit. Viewing them will help you get a better picture of where we stand in our efforts. We’ve worked hard to pull together a lot of information for the audit. This information is not just something that was used for the audits; we can also use this information in many other ways. View the webinar here: https://connect.msu.edu/p4bz0fut3rj/

Also, please keep checking back to the MSU Extension Civil Rights site for additional materials that will be added: http://od.msue.msu.edu/civil_rights_diversity_multiculturalism.

Once again, thank you, everyone, for all of your hard work in making the USDA audit a powerful learning experience for all of us!

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USDA study reports MSU Extension’s role in leading older adults to make healthy food choices

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a study Dec. 5 demonstrating that well-designed nutrition education programs can lead to healthier food choices by participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The study, SNAP Education and Evaluation Study (Wave II), evaluated the impact of several nutrition education programs on fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary school children and seniors living in low-income situations. It evaluated programs implemented by the Iowa Nutrition Network, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Michigan State University Extension.

Our MSU Extension colleagues provided nutrition education expertise to income-eligible senior adults. Researchers found that participants in the Eat Smart, Live Strong program increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The results of the study show the role of nutrition education in helping SNAP-Ed participants make healthy food choices. MSU Extension plays a strategic part in delivering that education as well as fully documenting the outcomes of our work.

I’d like to thank Dr. Olga Santiago, MSU Extension health and nutrition specialist, for her leadership in the program. Dr. Santiago, along with Health and Nutrition Institute director Dr. Dawn Contreras and former state SNAP-Ed coordinator Ben Chamberlain were principal investigators on the project. It took many people to work on the study design, study implementation, data analysis and report. The program involved program assistants and instructors, educators, supervisory educators, data entry staff and business office support staff across 13 counties ‒ too numerous to mention here but appreciated nonetheless. Thank you to everyone for a successful outcome. Thanks also to the older adults and senior center managers who completed the evaluation surveys and participated in the study. Congratulations to all!

Read the SNAP Education and Evaluation Study (Wave II) including two individual reports on MSU Extension’s role: http://www.fns.usda.gov/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-education-and-evaluation-study-wave-ii

Read this USDA FNS news release about the study:  http://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2013/fns-001313

Read this ANR Communications news release about the study: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/msu_extension_snap_ed_program_helps_low_income_older_adults_eat_healthier

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Filed under Nutrition

Registration launches for Fall Extension Conference

Registration is now open for the Michigan State University Fall Extension Conference. This year’s event will take place October 22-23 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Registration is $100 for the entire conference or $50 for a single day. To register or to see a copy of the draft agenda, visit http://events.anr.msu.edu/FEC2013/.

Staff members working in the Nutrition and Physical Activity group, please watch your inbox for a special message from Dawn Contreras, Health and Nutrition Institute director, and Bill Wilkinson, fiscal officer, about how you should register for the conference. Please wait to register until after you have read their message so that you charge the proper account and have all other pertinent information for your registration.

Lodging is available at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. A discounted room rate of $81 per night will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until Sept. 30. To make reservations at the Kellogg Center, call 517-432-4000. Mention the group code FEC102213 to receive your discounted room rate.

If you would like more information regarding the Fall Extension Conference, visit http://fec.msue.msu.edu/.

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Filed under Fall Extension Conference