Tag Archives: efnep

Is this seat open? Going where the relationships are in District 13

Zelda Felix-Mottley and state Sen. Al Psholka posing for a photo.

Zelda Felix-Mottley and Mr. Al Pscholka, budget director for the State of Michigan.

Where can you cross paths with decision-makers? Michigan State University Extension educator Zelda Felix-Mottley’s advice is to “go where they go and mingle.” In other words, go where the relationships are. What does that look like? We asked Zelda to share her stories on what that meant for her strategic connections.

Zelda teaches nutrition education to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) audiences and also provides Smarter Lunchroom and Healthier Child Care Environments trainings. Where are her U.S. and state representatives, commissioners and other decision-makers going? To the county Human Services Coordinating Council meetings. So Zelda began to attend as well, each time highlighting her program area and highlighting other Extension program areas too.

It wasn’t just her presentations that built relationships though. Zelda began to sit next to the decision-maker she wanted to connect with. Sitting next to them allowed her to make small talk, learn about their interests and be able to talk about hers (Extension). After a few years of sitting next to Al Pscholka (budget director for the State of Michigan, formerly a state representative and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee), she invited him to the local Extension office, and he visited. Becoming an Extension ally, Al advocated for Extension services and agricultural research during the 2014 budget development process, making sure that funding was strengthened for our organization. We gave him a Key Partner Award in gratitude for taking a stand for us.

Who else has Zelda sat next to? State Sen. John Proos, who visited the local Extension office and helped Zelda with a presentation to Health and Nutrition Institute staff members about successfully reaching elected officials. Also, she has sat next to county commissioners, who have now become advocates in their county meetings and to other county departments, helping to advocate for funding and partnerships.

State Sen. John Proof poses for a picture with Extension staff in the kitchen at the Berrien County office.

State Sen. John Proos visits the Berrien office to meet with the Nutrition and Physical Activity Extension staff members.

We can learn so much from Zelda’s approach to strategic connections.

“Be patient, it can’t be done all at one time,” Zelda said. “You have to be intentional: start small.”

It can be as simple as going where the relationships are and taking the empty seat next to them.

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Filed under Health and Nutrition, Impacts, strategic connections

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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Extension secretary receives recognition from NIFA director

Bonnie Powell, secretary in Michigan State University Extension Tuscola County Health and Nutrition Institute, received a note and certificate of appreciation from Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Bonnie works on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‒ Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) data entry.

The certificate of appreciation is for taking initiative to improve the functionality of WebNEERS and the accuracy of reports. WebNEERS is the Web-based Nutrition Education Evaluation and Reporting System for NIFA. Bonnie’s contributions greatly improved the WebNEERS system for users across the country.

Stephanie Blake, WebNEERS project coordinator at the USDA, spoke to Kathy Raphael, MSU Extension associate program leader, at the National EFNEP Coordinators Conference in Washington, D.C. at the end of February about how invaluable Bonnie’s contributions were and Kathy asked that I repeat the compliment. In a separate note, Stephanie writes that she can’t thank Bonnie enough for all of her help. She has truly made a huge difference with WebNEERS. Way to go, Bonnie!

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Nonprofit honors MSU Extension staff member

Gateway Community Services presented Norma Bermudez, Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition program assistant, with a certificate of appreciation on April 25 for the work she has done at Crossroads for the past 10 years.

Norma Bermudez, Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition program assistant received a certificate of appreciation from Gateway Community Services on April,25, 2013

Norma Bermudez, Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition program assistant received a certificate of appreciation from Gateway Community Services on April,25, 2013, for her work with young people at the Crossroads Center in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Joyce McGarry

Crossroads is a voluntary transitional living program for young people unable to live at home. The program helps prepare them for independent, self-sufficient living. Norma helps them reach that goal by teaching EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) classes.

Norma’s work is not limited to kids at the Crossroads. She works with families, youth and teen moms throughout Ingham County. Throughout her 27 years of working in MSU Extension, Norma has reached hundreds of people with lessons on food preparation, resource management and healthy eating. She’s adapted to changing from one-to-one home visits to group classes with style and professionalism.

Extension educator Joyce McGarry who supervises Norma said, “Building relationships with her clients and partnering agencies is one of Norma’s strengths. She is the first to work any community event ‒ seven days a week if needed. Everywhere she goes someone recognizes her as the person ‘who taught me how to plan meals’ or ‘who taught me to prepare easy, good recipes for my family.’”

Those kinds of comments are a great tribute to her dedication.

Congratulations to Norma!

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When county commissioners speak…

Margaret LaShore, Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition educator, was honored with a resolution recognizing her significant contributions as an Extension professional by the Bay County Board of Commissioners this week. I happened to be in the area and knew about the commission’s plans, so I was able to witness the event. However, the honor took Margaret by surprise. She didn’t know that there was going to be a resolution and wasn’t even planning to go to the commission meeting until a number of colleagues showed up at her office. Extension educator Ann Arnold made all of the arrangements yet successfully kept them a secret from Margaret.

Margaret has been with MSU Extension since 1986 and has served in Bay County and the Saginaw Bay region throughout her career with Extension. She has provided tremendous leadership to MSU Extension and the people we serve in Bay County and well beyond. She is a dedicated educator, someone who knows that the more effective we are in our efforts to educate people about their health, the more effective they can be in managing their health and enjoying a higher quality of life. She also has been a great driver for the need to document the work we do and the impact it has on people’s lives. She’s helped us gather the data we need for our federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program‒Education (SNAP-Ed) efforts and our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) efforts for many years. As we have consolidated our administrative work, she has taken on larger and larger geographic areas of responsibility.

What was especially heartening about the ceremony on Tuesday was hearing the commissioners speak to the influence and effectiveness of Margaret’s work in Bay County. It’s clear that although her primary efforts were in nutrition education, she has been willing to take on other responsibilities at times when it was needed, and the county leaders recognize that.

For Extension professionals, recognition from the community we serve is the highest compliment, and I was fortunate to witness Margaret receive that compliment. On behalf of all of MSU Extension, I’m pleased to extend my congratulations to Margaret and to say “Thanks” for being such a great colleague and model for the rest of us.

Thanks to Extension educator Lisa Treiber for sharing a photo from the event:

Margaret LaShore (holding plaque) was honored with a resolution from the Bay County Board of Commissioners. Photo credit: Lisa Treiber.

Margaret LaShore (holding plaque) was honored with a resolution from the Bay County Board of Commissioners on June 11, 2013. Photo credit: Lisa Treiber.

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MSUE EFNEP educates refugees on healthy, safe eating

Anna Tran and Lucia Rogers, Michigan State University Extension Ingham County program assistants in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), completed a six-week series in May and June for 21 refugees. Originally from Bhutan, these families came to Lansing after living in Nepalese refugee camps. St. Vincent Catholic Charities supplied the MSUE staff members with three translators that attended each session that took place once a week for 2 hours.

 When the program began, the families typically ate food very high in saturated fat, using large amounts of butter in all of their cooking. The lessons concentrated on using less butter in food preparation and eating low-fat foods, and encouraged eating more frequent meals in smaller portion sizes.

 The MSUE staff members helped the participants locate food stores that carried items at lower cost than those at the small neighborhood convenience stores where they did most of their shopping. The change enabled the parents to have enough money to supply their children with more meals and snacks throughout the day.

 All lessons promoted food safety. The group worked on washing hands with warm water and soap, and learned to refrigerate foods instead of storing them outside.

 By the third session, the staff realized that they had effected a major behavior change when participants stood up and began to line up to wash their hands before the food preparation. According to Extension educator Joyce McGarry, this was a huge step in understanding food safety and the prevention of illness. Joyce notes that the program evaluations, completed with help from staff and translators, showed a 100 percent improvement in washing hands.

 The EFNEP assists families and youth living in low-income situations in acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior necessary for nutritionally sound diets. It also assists in contributing to their personal development and the improvement of total family diet and nutritional welfare.

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MSUE EFNEP collaborates with Healthy Homes program to help families be healthy

Staff members from Michigan State University Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Ingham County and the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Healthy Homes University project have a goal in common – they want to help families be healthy. The two are working together to reach that goal. The Healthy Homes University project aims to reduce lead-based paint poisoning throughout the state. MSUE EFNEP staff members have been helping to identify eligible clients that qualify for this free program to help families with asthmatic children. In return, the Healthy Homes staff members have been referring their clients to our nutrition program.

 According to Joyce McGarry, Extension educator, it’s a win-win situation for families to become involved with both programs. Healthy Homes inspects homes and installs products to reduce asthma triggers and prevent injuries. EFNEP educates families on healthy food choices, food safety, the importance of physical activity and easy food preparation techniques. Both programs are able to combine their strengths in assisting families with basic needs of health and nutrition.

 Joyce remarks, “We work with so many families that need more than just our nutrition education. To be able to connect our EFNEP clients with additional needed services helps MSUE build relationships within our community.”

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Eating Smart From the Start Program educates child care providers in nutrition

Any parent knows how hard it can be to get kids to eat nutritious food. Child care providers struggle with the problem as well.

 Michigan State University Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Saginaw and Genesee counties partnered with Cooking Matters (formerly Operation Frontline) to offer the Eating Smart From the Start program designed by Cooking Matters. The program empowers child care providers to serve nutritious – and delicious – meals and teach healthy eating habits to the children in their care. This five-session course engaged 15 child care providers caring for children living in low-income situations in a series of participatory cooking lessons. In November 2010, the program received a grant from Cooking Matters, sponsored nationally by Wal-Mart and the ConAgra Foods Foundation, to implement a series in the winter and spring.

 Dawn Earnesty, Extension educator District 9, oversees the program and grant. Monica Borsenik, MSU Saginaw County Extension program instructor, and Chrystal Harris, MSU Genesee County Extension program assistant, provided nutrition instruction. A culinary professional, Brandon Odum, who is a culinary arts major at Mott Community College, provided instruction for the cooking aspect of the class. Topics included healthy snack ideas for children, healthy recipes, menu planning, budgeting and strategies to promote positive attitudes about food among children.

 Participants took part in hands-on cooking lessons with direction from Mr. Odum. Grant money provided groceries for child care providers to take home and prepare meals with the children they care for. It also provided for a group meal and snack at the educational session.

 Throughout the class, participants discovered new ideas about nutrition and healthy recipes to implement into their child care businesses. The curriculum focused on engaging children into the cooking process, trying new foods and learning the importance of eating meals as a family.

 One child care provider, who had described issues she had with picky eaters, implemented the program’s “cucumber sammies” recipe for her children’s healthy snack one day. She couldn’t believe the positive response she received from the children. They were eating something green and healthy and liked it! Participant evaluations from the first session resulted in 100 percent of the group reporting they enjoyed the content and learned at least one new piece of information about nutrition.

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Another plug: MSUE’s family approach to nutrition education

Gretchen L. Hofing, Michigan State University Extension food, nutrition and health educator, passes on this testimonial told by Alice McElroy. Alice was a Lenawee County Extension program associate with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) up until the last few years when she shifted to the Family Nutrition Program (FNP). She is retiring at the end of the month, so when she ran into a past client at Meijer the interaction was especially rewarding for her. Alice related that one of her past EFNEP homemakers from maybe 12 or 13 years ago stopped her to talk. Alice was surprised she remembered her at all, but the woman said she would never forget all the fun things they did. Alice said that seeing her and two of her four children and her husband was like seeing old friends.

 This particular homemaker homeschooled her children, and she and Alice talked about how they incorporated reading, math, food safety and science into the nutrition lessons. Alice remembered how much fun they had while they planned meals and the children helped cook. The homemaker’s husband said he had been out of work for more than a year and had just this week gotten a job, but his wife was the greatest at stretching their food budget and that helped a lot during this past year. Both the husband and wife believe that skill came from working with MSU Extension programs.

 Alice states, “It’s very gratifying to know that I and the organization I work for help make long-lasting changes in families’ lives.”

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