Tag Archives: tracie abram

MSU Extension staff members receive NEAFCS awards

Many of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues received awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual session in September, in Big Sky, Montana.

Individual awards:

Zelda Felix-Mottley won the Continued Excellence Award, which goes to an NEAFCS member of at least 12 years. It recognizes active involvement in professional improvement programs, promotion of professional development and leadership. This is the highest honor awarded to NEAFCS members. Zelda has been with MSU Extension for 23 years and is based in Berrien County (District 13). She teaches face-to-face nutrition and physical activity workshops alongside her staff. She recruits agencies and organizations to participate in MSU Extension programming and connecting. She also builds relationships and rapport with legislators, commissioners and community partners that in turn support MSU Extension.

Diane Fair and Shannon Lindquist both won Michigan and national Distinguished Service awards. These awards are given to members of 10 years or more to recognize Extension family and consumer science educators for leadership, outstanding programs, and personal and professional growth. Diana is a disease prevention and management educator in District 13, and she provides diabetes and other health-related programs. Shannon is a member of the social-emotional work team, making efforts to provide these important programs in the seven counties of District 6. She facilitates trainings with parents, childcare providers and youth.

Michelle Jarvie, food safety, nutrition and physical activity educator in the U.P., received the New Professional Award. The New Professional Award recognizes outstanding accomplishments of NEAFCS members within their first three years of employment. The award is to encourage the use of innovative and effective methods of conducting Extension programs.

Brenda Reau, senior associate director of the MSU Product Center, received third place in the central region for the Communication Award for Educational Publication. This award recognizes a supplementary educational information piece that is designed to inform, update and make the reader respond in a positive manner.

Financial and homeownership educator Erica Tobe received first place nationally and also in the eastern region for the Social Networking Award for her project Twitter Chats and Google Hangouts for Financial Education Outreach. The project is focused on improving financial literacy through innovative technology approaches and involves a multistate collaboration. The award recognizes innovative online social networking efforts.

Team Awards:

Health and nutrition educators Eileen Haraminac, Jeannie Nichols and Jane Hart received two awards: the first place and regional Food Safety Award and the third place central region Communication Award for Internet Technology Communication. The Food Safety Award recognizes NEAFCS members for outstanding educational programs conducted for families, school nutrition workers, food industry employees or managers, church workers preparing meals, home care providers, and other groups/individuals preparing and/or serving food. The Educational Technology Communications Award encourages excellence in communication through computer programs, web pages or computer-generated presentations.

Holly Brophy-Herb and MSU Extension team members Kendra Moyses, Carrie Shrier, Maria Millet, Kylie Rymanowicz and Alan Pilkenton won the first place national award and central region award for Human Development and Family Relationships for their Building Early Emotional Skills (BEES) Parenting Program. The award recognizes innovative human development/family relationship educational efforts focusing on child care, parenting, relationships through the life span, marriage enrichment, communications (parent/child), retirement, aging, stress management and related issues.

Lastly, Tracie Abram and Michelle Jarvie received the Family Health and Wellness Award first place nationally and in the central region. The award recognizes innovative programs that promote and improve the health and wellness of families in areas such as nutrition, fitness, family meals, meal planning, time or stress management, and healthy lifestyle.

Congratulations to all of our NEAFCS winners, and thank you for the work that you do for MSU Extension and the people of Michigan.

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Let’s talk about gratitude

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I wanted to take a moment to share some great Michigan State University (MSU) Extension resources on gratitude.

Pumpkins in a field.

Photo by tinah at Morguefile.com.

 

Health and nutrition educator Shannon Lindquist writes that people who practice gratitude are more proactive in taking care of their physical and mental health, exercise on a regular basis, make healthy food choices, make and keep yearly health appointments, develop positive coping methods for stress, and have a sense of happiness and optimism. Those sound like great benefits to me.

What are ways that we can show gratitude? Children and youth educator Makena Schultz lists seven ways to practice gratitude in her article “‘Tis the Season of Giving Thanks: Why Gratitude Is Important in Leadership.” She describes creating a gratitude letter, a gratitude list or journal, or a gratitude jar; engaging with a gratitude partner or in grateful contemplation; and making a gratitude visit to a deserving person. Learn more about leadership and gratitude by reading her article.

Photo of a table set with Thanksgiving dinner: squash, mashed potatos, ham, desert and flowers.

Photo by earl53 at Morgueufile.com.

Health and nutrition educator Tracie Abram encourages people to “slow down and notice the foods you are eating and how your body communicates and reacts to the food.” She also shares to “cultivate gratitude for the simple things and you will see more positives. You can be that person who helps create a joyful food memory for another by sharing your love for food and a grateful attitude.” She shares more about how to cultivate a food gratitude attitude in her article “Cultivate a Food Gratitude Attitude.”

Mother a daughter sit and look at pond.

Photo by Scott Liddle at Morguefile.com

Gail Innis, health and nutrition educator, shares the importance of modeling thankfulness and gratitude with your children. Gail encourages us to discuss with our kids the gifts that they received from a family member and have them draw a picture or write a note to thank them. Make a phone call to a long-distance relative with your child to say thank you. Volunteer with your children in local charitable events. Tell and read stories about generous people, characters or events. Take time each day to talk about at least one thing you each are grateful for. Gail includes more in her article about teaching an attitude of gratitude to young children.

I am grateful for my wife; my daughters; my dog, Cocoa; and our home in the U.P. I’m also grateful to work with all of you to further the mission of MSU Extension and the opportunity to make a difference in Michigan. What are you thankful for? Let’s remember as we continue forward in the month all the blessings we have in our lives.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: 7 things you should know

Person sitting looking out over a lake and hills orange with sunset light.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Check out seven things that you should know about mental health that come from our Extension colleagues:

  1. Forgiveness is linked to better mental and physical health. Carolyn Penniman, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator, writes that “A growing body of research on forgiveness is finding that people who forgive are more likely than the general population to have fewer episodes of depression, lower blood pressure, fewer stress-related health issues, better immune system function and lower rates of heart disease.” Find out more by reading her article.
  1. Adults can support the positive mental health of adolescents. Karen Pace, MSU Extension academic specialist in health and nutrition, explains in her article that adults can support young people by maintaining open communication, helping them nurture their emotional intelligence, supporting the development of their social intelligence, and being positive role models with youth in their communities. Find out more by reading her article.
  1. Nature is good for your mental health. Dixie Sandborn, MSU Extension academic specialist in health and nutrition, explains in her article that a growing body of evidence suggests time spent outdoors in nature boosts well-being, and the strongest impact is on young people. Find out more by reading her article.
  1. Practicing gratitude yearlong has mental health benefits. Karen Pace describes the importance of “an active process of self-reflection about what’s really important to us . . . through gratitude journals, meditation, prayer, the process of creating art, movement, singing – or simply saying out loud to ourselves or others that which we are grateful for.” Cultivating the practice of gratitude can help youth and adults become more resilient during stressful times, painful emotions, difficult situations and challenges. Find out more by reading her article.
  1. Digital technology can negatively affect mental health. Janet Olsen, MSU Extension academic specialist in health and nutrition, writes that the overuse of digital technology can negatively affect sleep quality and cause frequent interruptions that can lead to increased problems with memory, attention, concentration and learning. Even our levels of empathy can lower. Find out more by reading her article.
  1. It’s important to become familiar with the definitions of mental disorders, mental health conditions and mental illness as we check in with our own well-being and that of our kids. In this article, Tracie Abram, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator, explains mental disorder conditions and symptoms, and talks about how to get help. Find out more by reading her article.
  1. You can nurture your child’s mental health and make parenting easier by understanding how our brains work. In her article, Karen Pace describes research about the brain and the way it works in children that will give parents a better understanding of how to support their children. Find out more by reading her article.

Although I’ve shared seven great sources of mental health information, I encourage you to check out our MSU Extension website where we have even more resources put together by our colleagues. By understanding mental health, and how the brain works, we can engage in important nurturing practices in our own lives and with our families as we welcome the month of May.

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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.

BeSafe-Cover-BookstoreThumb

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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