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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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I Know MI Numbers health and wellness project wins health care award

The health and wellness project of the Michigan State University Extension I Know MI Numbers initiative won an Innovations in Health Care Award April 30 at the Lansing Champion of Hope Tribute Dinner. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and its partners sponsor the awards.

The project won first place in the category that recognizes projects that promote knowing the four health indicators of Gov. Snyder’s 4 x 4 plan: body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar.

The team knew the project was a finalist but did not know it won first place until it was announced at the dinner. They received a plaque and $1,000.

The MSU Extension I Know MI Numbers initiative focused on five key areas relating to Gov. Rick’s Snyder’s dashboard, which provides an assessment of the state’s performance in key areas including education, health and wellness, financial health, infrastructure, talent, public safety, and energy and environment.

In the health and wellness area, our I Know MI Numbers project focused on healthy weight in residents of Saginaw and Genesee counties. It examined the effectiveness of nutrition education programs to address healthy eating, physical activity and health indices in adults. Participants attended a weekly series of classes emphasizing behavioral goals and strategies associated with healthy weight. Data analysis showed statistically significant changes related to several health behaviors and indices.

MSU Extension educators Dawn Earnesty and Christy Rivette accepted the award. They also presented a poster on the project. Legislators, health care providers, managed care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, the Michigan Department of Community Health staff members and the business community attended the dinner.

In addition to Dawn and Christy, the I Know MI Numbers health and wellness team includes Dr. Dawn Contreras, Sheilah Hebert, Lynette Kaiser, Margaret Lashore, Freda McNair, Cathy Newkirk, Dr. Olga Santiago, Kris Swartzendruber, Donna Taylor, Lisa Treiber, Christina Warner and Teressa Young.

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Extension program leaders create resource to address bullying in out-of-school settings

It’s evident when you listen to news reports, scan social media or just talk to folks – issues related to bullying, bias and harassment concern parents, educators, family workers and others who work with and care about young people. And, of course, these issues concern young people as well.

Schools have resources to address these issues, but few address bullying issues in out-of-school settings. As always in Michigan State University Extension, our staff members see a need and work to meet it. That’s why MSU Extension Health and Nutrition program leaders for social and emotional health Janet Olsen and Karen Pace created Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments.

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The two targeted the curriculum for use in out-of-school settings such as 4-H clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs, scouts and after-school programs. Be SAFE helps young people aged 11 to 14 partner with adults to create physically and emotionally safe environments.

The overall goals of Be SAFE include promoting social and emotional learning and development, addressing and reducing bullying, preventing bullying behaviors by tapping the wisdom and assets of youth and adults, and developing positive relationships with peers and adults.

Research shows that young people benefit from time spent in positive and safe settings with adults and peers. Adults can use Be SAFE as an important tool to help young people to create those safe, affirming and fair environments. The resource helps adults to help young people be resilient when facing challenging situations such as bullying, bias and harassment.

As true of all MSU Extension curricula, this publication draws from extensive research, and Karen and Janet also drew from evidence-based bullying prevention programs. A number of their MSU Extension colleagues also contributed to the development of Be SAFE by serving as reviewers and as liaisons to the nine sites across the state that piloted the material. These included staff members from the Health and Nutrition Institute (Tracie Abram, Denise Aungst, Carolyn Penniman, Suzanne Pish, Erin Ross, Olga Santiago and Holly Tiret), the Children and Youth Institute (Kendra Moyses and Jodi Schulz), and the Organizational Development Team (Dionardo Pizaña). Former Children and Youth Institute staff members Andrea Caron, Sandra Griffin and Julie Scislowicz were also involved with these efforts.

Janet and Karen are currently working to assist MSU Extension staff members in providing education around issues of bullying, bias and harassment. It’s not too late to register for a June 4 train-the-trainer opportunity in Gaylord. You’ll receive a copy of Be SAFE and learn how to incorporate the curriculum into your program. You’ll also explore current research on bullying and learn key strategies to address bullying issues. Click on this link to learn more and to register.

Download a free PDF of the Introduction section of Be SAFE or order a copy of the 224-page guide, designed and edited by ANR Communications, at the MSU Extension Bookstore.

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