Extension TodayNews from and about the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System
Message from the Chair
Vonda Richardson Extension Administrator, Florida A&M University
As we approach the season where much focus is on the family, the Extension Today newsletter is highlighting the activities and impact of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension programming across the 1890 system. FCS programs strengthen families, farms, communities and the economy by focusing on the human dimensions of food and agriculture. Through the application of scientific research, outreach education and partnerships, FCS helps families and consumers make informed decisions that enhance community vitality and family well-being.
Many programs across the 19 institutions focus in areas such as health, wellness and safety, financial literacy, adult development and aging, housing, child and family development, and workforce development. Even with the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1890 Extension programs are still connecting with rural, suburban and urban families through virtual and in-person educational experiences.
AEA celebrates the innovation and commitment of our FCS leaders, educators and stakeholders. We appreciate you taking the time to read about the talented expertise in 1890 Cooperative Extension and the difference we are making in the lives of young people, their families and in communities. Continue to stay safe and protect each other.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Teaching older adults to master Zoom
By Wendi Williams, Communications & Marketing Coordinator at Alabama A&M University
According to a national survey by AARP, about 51 percent of older adults purchased a new digital device in the year. However, only 1 in 6 used these devices to video chat on platforms such as Skye and Zoom. To close the digital gap, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Family and Child Development team at Alabama A&M University offered the Free Zoom Training session. The training was targeted to older adults who are among the most vulnerable for contracting COVID-19. Participants learned the main features of Zoom, such as how to host meetings, launch polls, share screens, create registrations and utilize breakout rooms.
As a result of attending this 4-day interactive course, older adults like Gloria Batts are now using Zoom to conduct voter registration sessions and ministry work, to meet with business consultants, and to connect with family and friends. To older adults Batts said, “Do not be intimidated by Zoom – there is room for Zoom in your life as a senior.”
Zoom is a great tool to help prevent social isolation and loneliness among seniors. Visit Urban Extension Online Classes for a listing of current online programs.
Inspiring healthier lifestyles
By Renita Lacy, Staff Writer
During the month of June, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), an entity of the Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP), partnered with the city of Vicksburg to host a summer camp for its Inner-City Youth Development Program. Held at the Jackson Street Community Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the camp was free and open to youth between the ages of 8-16.
Throughout the event, 14 students learned the importance of consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables and staying engaged in their health, nutrition and physical activity. EFNEP educators were available to teach students the significance of choosing healthier snacks, drinking more water, keeping active and making healthier lifestyle changes. Members of the Vicksburg Fire Department were also in attendance to inform students about safety in the kitchen and home, and demonstrate to them what to do in the case of a fire.
Upon successful completion of the camp, each participant was given a packet with additional food safety information and healthy recipes to take home and share with their families.
For more information, please contact Dr. Kimberly Smith-Russ, ASUEP Family and Consumer Sciences specialist, at (601) 857-0250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central State University Extension prepares for educational programs on the road
Central State University Extension (CSUE), with its Family and Consumer Sciences Program, will be taking its educational efforts on the road in the coming year as regional offices are established throughout the state of Ohio.
With the state of Ohio now divided into four CSUE regions with an organizational base in Greene County, CSUE Family and Consumer Sciences educators will be utilizing several mobile educational classrooms and mobile kitchens to take their programs on the road. The fully functional units will be equipped with videography equipment as well that will allow participants to view the programming from all angles and outside of the units. The mobile units will be operational by 2021. The mobile classrooms and kitchen will allow the educational programs and educators to reach a maximum number of participants.
Virtual programming will continue to reach all corners of Ohio with CSU hiring two videographers to create educational programs that will be shared on the CSUE website and social media platforms.
For more information about the CSUE Family and Consumer Sciences mobile and virtual education programs, contact CSUE EFNEP Coordinator Dr. Mary Kershaw at mkershaw@CentralState.edu or (937) 376-6654.
SNAP-Ed educators provide online nutrition education lessons
The nation has suffered greatly due to COVID-19; Delaware is no different. More than 138,000 public school students were impacted by Gov. John Carney’s school closure, which caused educators to shift to 100 percent online education for students and families statewide.
Delaware State University’s SNAP-Ed program faced similar challenges, causing educators to prepare immediately for online lesson delivery, as most of the previously scheduled spring classes faced cancellation.
Some elementary teachers, however, from schools in New Castle and Kent counties, began contacting SNAP-Ed educators to request nutrition education resources for their homebound students. DSU SNAP-Ed educators taught USDA’s Serving Up MyPlate nutrition education lessons via Zoom to more than 900 students in nine schools within the Red Clay, Colonial, Christina School and Capital school districts.
Prior to the lockdown, DSU SNAP-Ed educators completed their lessons at Warner Elementary in the Red Clay School District, which is led by Dr. Terrance Newton. Newton recently received a Delaware Friend of Extension award for his dedication to his students, which includes welcoming DSU in for the last two years to provide them with extended lessons on nutrition and healthy activities. He was nominated by DSU SNAP-Ed educators Talaysha Lingham and Beverly Fountain.
Homebuyer Education 101: The rural perspective
Owning a home is within the reach of anyone who has a stable income and an appropriate credit score. However, there are factors that the mortgage lender must evaluate before they will extend a mortgage loan.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) Cooperative Extension Program’s role is to provide education and guidance that leads to homeownership and increases wealth through real estate. It does not always come through workshop participants but through observations in the community and relationships with people.
The Campbells, a family visited by Donna Salters, Extension program agent I, wanted better housing but did not believe it was possible. They lived in a substandard home for more than 30 years with roof and floors caving in, birds and squirrels building nests inside of the walls, and stained flaccid ceilings. After a private consultation with Salters, it was determined that there was a possibility of acquiring a better home.
The process of discussing loan types, various down payment assistance programs, and working with a mortgage lender ensued. After a lot of frustrating moments and time-consuming efforts by the realtor and mortgage lenders, the Campbells now live in a $225,000 home they can easily afford. Today, their net worth increased from $40,000 to approximately $300,000.
Bringing holiday cheer to local families
For a decade, Terralon Chaney, Fort Valley State University’s Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent, has hosted the annual FVSU/Twiggs Extension Christmas Toy Drive for local children and senior citizens in Twiggs County, Georgia. The Salvation Army, local residents, business owners and sponsors come together each year to donate the toys.
“There was a great need this year for the annual toy drive because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Chaney said. “When we first started this toy drive 10 years ago, we were serving 200-plus families. Today, we have made a great impact and our numbers are down. My goal is to serve Twiggs County families and youth to make sure that their holidays are great.”
Chaney held the annual toy drive on Oct. 14, 2020. She collaborated with the Department of Family and Children Services to package the toys for distribution to approximately 60 families.
The paradigm shift from traditional Cooperative Extension programs to virtual video programs
The year of 2020 has brought about new ways of programming for Kentucky State University’s (KYSU) Cooperative Extension Program as a whole. Extension agents modified programs to virtual programs to reach different audiences within their counties.
For Hardin County, consumers have an increased interest in finding new ways to save money on groceries and learning about how to improve their overall health and well-being. To meet the needs of the consumers, a nutrition education video series was developed to show consumers how to make the most of their food budget and how to select foods that are healthier for their bodies.
The series featured topics related to meal kits and healthy eating. The impact the video series had on programming in Hardin County has been overwhelming. By showing the videos, the nutrition education program’s exposure grew by more than 30 percent. In fact, more viewers chose to watch the program online than to attend the previous face-to-face programs. In addition, four new organizations now collaborate and do non-formal education with KYSU’s Cooperative Extension programs because the videos can be easily shared online via social media channels like Facebook and YouTube.
Teaching nutrition and health: EFNEP makes a difference
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) at Langston University is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Similarly operated in other land-grant universities, EFNEP reaches people throughout the U.S. and six U.S. territories.
According to USDA, 80 percent of families served by the program live at or below the federal poverty level and 70 percent are underserved minorities. The Cooperative Extension and Outreach Program team in the Langston University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences provide nutrition support and healthy eating demonstrations to communities in rural and urban Oklahoma. Special emphasis is placed on limited resource communities in Oklahoma City. In demonstrations, LU-EFNEP staff, volunteers and students create a variety of healthy refreshing fruit smoothies and other health products.
“Many children are often unfamiliar with a variety of fruits and their nutritional value,” said Jeremiah Wilson, deputy associate Extension administrator.
The EFNEP team at LU-SAAS works to fulfill program goals in four areas: diet quality and physical activity, food choices for best nutritional quality, food safety, and food security. “Oklahoma is ranked eighth in obesity nationally, and the guidance we offer can have a lifelong health benefit,” said Dorothy Wilson, director and state program leader for 4-H Youth Development, FCS and EFNEP.
Achieving health equity by fighting food insecurity, hunger and supporting families
The Lincoln University Human Nutrition and Health Program (LUCEN) collaborates with groups and businesses to support good nutrition and reduce food insecurity throughout Missouri, more specifically the Bootheel area, and four neighboring states. Teaching food safety and providing demonstrations and meal plan development virtually, as well as at food distribution sites, were standard operating procedures even before the pandemic.
LUCEN has supported and assisted with delivery of more than 35,000 Farmers to Families food boxes and 542,000 pounds of food in critically underserved communities referred to as Opportunity Zones.
Improving health and nutrition is about the people served, not just supplying food to a limited-resource population. “Little Miss Chloe” has food allergies. The LUCEN staff was able to adapt recipes and provide meal plans for her and her family. This gave Chloe the opportunity to enjoy meals with her family and classmates.
Another young man, Sterling, would only eat fruit. His mother said he peered inside the Farmers to Families food box presented to him by LUCEN and Ole’ Tyme Produce and sampled a balanced meal planned that she made with the support of LUCEN. Sterling’s response to his mother was: “I want more vegetables.” This is the impact of the Southeast Missouri Outreach program.
LIFT for a better life
Twice a week during the winter months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Vince and Annette Cerullo would jump in their car and head from their home in Mt. Gilead to the Troy-Montgomery County Senior Center in Troy.
They were part of the Early LIFTers, one of two groups at the center who participated in Lifelong Improvements Through Fitness Together (LIFT), a program offered by Rhonda Peters, the Family and Consumer Sciences agent with Cooperative Extension at North Carolina A&T in Montgomery County.
“This is an ideal program for older people and Rhonda was a wonderful teacher,” said Vince Cerullo. “When you’re in your 80s, you might not get around like you used to, but this class was just the right level. It gave us both more energy.”
LIFT focuses on building strength, flexibility and improved balance in older adults. “It’s not a weight loss program,” said Peters. “It’s about improving basic fitness. For seniors, it helps them stay independent. It can mean you are less likely to fall and able to age at home.”
Cooperative Extension Program innovates transformative digital health app
By Jennifer Garza, Ph.D.
An astounding 1.5 million individuals are diagnosed with diabetes yearly in the United States, as reported by the American Diabetes Association. As a result, diabetes self-care management education (DSME) programs are on the rise. DSME programs have been identified as an effective mechanism with the inclusion of content and delivery components vital to education and behavioral adoption required to manage diabetes. Therefore, DSME programs have expanded to the use of technology. Using technology as a delivery component can reduce health disparity and overall improvement of health literacy in minorities.
After conducting research and studies, Dr. Jennifer Garza conceptualized the first of its kind mobile application—LEAD. (Special thanks to Dr. Paul Johnson and Dr. Sharon McWhinney for collaborating on this project and bringing it to fruition). The LEAD curriculum and the LEAD mobile app work in tandem to provide participants with digital support in self-care management of diabetes.
Here’s what the application does: The sign-up button captures demographics for the institution. After signing in, the next page takes you to the heart of the app with options for Medications, Vital Signs, Physical Activity, Healthy Foods, Evaluation and Help.
SU Ag Center’s Family and Human Development Unit goes live to reach families
Several months into the pandemic, Louisiana reported the highest number per capita of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country. To assist families within the state, the Southern University Ag Center’s Family and Human Development Unit provided individuals and families with information on Maintaining Social Ties during the Coronavirus Quarantine. This information was presented to families in churches and organizations in the communities served by the unit.
During this time of social distancing, the unit utilized Facebook to expand its reach to families. Through this platform, the unit held Facebook Lives on the topics of Communicating Good Health Practices, Reducing Sodium in your Diet, Budgeting and Activities that Stimulate Sensory Development in Children.
Recently, families throughout Louisiana have endured the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricanes Delta and Laura. To educate the community, the Family and Human Development Unit shared hurricane preparedness tips from the Southern University Ag Center, Louisiana Department of Health and Healthy Baton Rouge, as well as information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the proper way to wear and remove face masks.
The SU Ag Center’s Family and Human Development Unit provides research-based programs that address parenting, childcare, family economic stability, consumer education and stress. Programs in this area work to strengthen the capacity of families to nurture, support and guide their members throughout their lives.
TSU’s Department of Human Sciences provides Coping with COVID-19 resources
By Rita Fleming, Beatrice Harris, Kane Reeves and Margaret Machara
In early March, when most of the nation started shutting down at the beginning of the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, TSU’s Department of Human Sciences, like most academic institutions, were reacting to the crisis.
How do we reach out to our stakeholders and the families that we inform, educate and empower? How do we work from home ourselves? We immediately formed a COVID-19 task force including Extension specialists, human sciences faculty and a county director to brainstorm ideas and solutions. The group quickly identified timely resources addressing strains on mental health, safe practices, creative methods to remain social, ways to home-school children, and ideas to strengthen family relationships.
Now, with the pandemic stealing 244,172 lives in America as of Nov. 13, 2020, TSU’s human sciences task force continues to evolve responding to an ever-growing list of topics arising from this unimaginable health crisis.
Senior Olympics program addresses health issues
Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension (TUCE) has a long history of serving the Alabama Black Belt communities in Family Home and Consumer Sciences. Specifically, one of its flagship programs has been the Senior Olympics program. This program has been in service for more than 20 years and promotes physical and mental health for senior citizens in the Alabama Black Belt and beyond.
TUCE specialists and educators noted the growing obesity problem in America and the contributions of adult inactivity to even more health diseases and disorders in our region. To proactively address this issue, the Senior Olympics was born. The Senior Olympics promotes healthy lifestyles for senior citizens through fitness, sports and active life involvement. Participants also receive information to encourage a healthy diet and exercise schedule, along with nutrition sessions on preventing heart disease and controlling diabetes. The strong relationships established through the Senior Olympics have resulted in yearlong activity through new walking clubs in each area.
At the Senior Olympic Games, seniors participate in various activities. The games are held annually at local schools and community centers in Greene, Lowndes and Macon counties while providing intergenerational connections. Every year, seniors from Dallas, Perry, Montgomery, Bullock, Barbour, Greene, Hale, Sumter, Marengo and Macon counties travel to the location closest to their area and participate in the TUCE Senior Olympics.
Pine Bluff resident sees health improvements after following UAPB SNAP-Ed recommendations
By Will Hehemann, Writer/Editor at UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
In June 2020, Paris Brown, a 49-year-old resident of St. John Alexander Tower in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, decided to start out on a health and weight loss journey. In just over three months, she has lost 10 pounds thanks to adopting healthy exercise and eating habits.
Brown said she decided to start making more healthy lifestyle changes to achieve a healthier weight and alleviate some of her knee pain. She went from walking in the mall and around the track to walking stairs and around parking lots. Brown credits much of her success to her participation in cooking classes offered through the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed).
“Thanks to UAPB SNAP-Ed, I learned how to cook nutritious recipes, read food labels, cut back on high salt food items, and select the best types of fruits,” Brown said. “I have also learned to have control and get up from the table when I’m full.”
Marilyn Burch, Extension associate for foods and nutrition at UAPB, said she encouraged Brown to start small, set realistic goals, and practice patience while waiting for results. She also emphasized that variety and moderation are important parts of establishing a healthy eating pattern.
EFNEP team impacts thousands
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the prevalence of obesity is among children ages 2 to 19 and affects 13.7 million children and adolescents.
The grave reality is that without intervention obesity in childhood will continue through adulthood, causing those affected to be highly susceptible to serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that the prevalence of obesity declines as the education level of the head of household for adolescents increases. That fact is precisely what drives Dr. Virginie Zoumenou, a certified nutrition specialist, professor and program director, and her University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension team to tirelessly provide nutrition education, even amid a pandemic, to the community at large.
Under Zoumenou’s leadership, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP) Program was established in 2006. Using a holistic approach to nutrition education, it targets underserved and underrepresented families in the Tri-county area of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. Over the past 10 years, EFNEP has reached approximately 3,000 adult participants with young children and 6,000 youth in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.
POP! Market feeds more than 11,000 low-income and minority individuals in Virginia food desert
The city of Petersburg, Virginia, is classified as a food desert where low-income and minority residents do not have access to fresh, wholesome foods (USDA, 2020). Due to a lack of access to healthy foods, four out of every 10 Petersburg adults are clinically obese (CDC, 2016). With almost 1 in 3 low-income families in Petersburg receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Virginia State University’s Family and Consumer Sciences Program in partnership with Petersburg Healthy Options Partnerships, Petersburg Healthy Community Action Team, River Street Market and the Harding Street Urban Agriculture Center have teamed up to establish a new market concept called POP! (Petersburg Offers Produce) Market.
The POP! Market was established in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing Petersburg residents with affordable produce within convenient walking distance of their neighborhoods. As a result of four POP! Market events in 2020, more than 120 fresh produce boxes with a retail value of $20 each were sold at half price to SNAP customers, amounting to $600 worth of free, local produce to low-income Petersburg families.
Additionally, the POP! Market has also continued to partner with community and faith-based organizations to assist in distributing food during the COVID-19 pandemic to 11,321 individuals with a retail value of $112,786. For more information, contact Deb Jones, Extension specialist, at email@example.com.
Virginia Cooperative Extension extends the resources of Virginia's two land-grant universities, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech, to solve problems facing Virginians every day.
Providing healthy recipes for kids through virtual nutrition program
While cooking videos are becoming increasingly popular in the digital arena, West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Associate Kateira Hogan never expected to be among the people creating such content. Through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), a USDA initiative that provides nutrition education to youths and adults, Hogan is teaching safe food handling and preparation, healthy eating and nutritious recipes to kids in West Virginia middle schools.
“At this age, kids really begin to develop as individuals and are open to new ideas and learning new skills,” she said. “I have found that when these new cooking techniques are learned, the students want to share them with family and friends, which increases the awareness of this knowledge across age ranges.”
The goal, Hogan says, is to teach the kids to be able to prepare an easy, healthy and nutritious meal. By sharing that knowledge with parents, caregivers and siblings, the entire family will benefit. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Hogan has taught more than 800 kids about healthy eating and cooking with virtual cooking demonstrations and education.