July 22, 2010

Hungry to help

4-H'ers take action to stop
the hidden health problem of hunger

350 4-H'ers at Dorton Arena
350 4-H'ers gathered at Dorton Arena for a Hands to Service project repackaging food for hunger relief agencies. (Marc Hall photo)

4-H'ers attending State 4-H Congress this week in Raleigh committed to an ambitious goal of collecting 1 million pounds of food for North Carolina’s food banks as part of a campaign called Hungry to Help.

Conducted in partnership with the Food Banks of North Carolina, the campaign is designed to promote awareness of hunger in North Carolina and to help stop it. To get started, 350 4-H'ers gathered at Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds Wednesday to repackage 37,900 pounds of pasta from massive containers into smaller, family-sized portions.

Later in the day, sitting down to a traditional Congress luncheon, they didn't get the usual boxed lunch or chicken-and-two-vegetables plate. Instead, to drive home their commitment to relieving hunger, they got a bowl of rice and water.

After they'd had a chance to partake, 4-H'er Ann Margaret Dietrich of Wake County asked them, "How many of you are still hungry?" When hands went up, she told them not to worry.

"We have more food for you," she said, "but we wanted you to think about what most of us take for granted daily -– food and clean water."

Speaking at a banquet the previous night, Clyde Fitzgerald of the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Carolina, told the 4-H'ers that people who think hunger isn't a problem in this state are mistaken. According to an analysis by Feeding America, a hunger relief organization with which the food banks are affiliated, North Carolina ranks as the second-worst state in the nation when it comes to children under 5 lacking regular access to nutritious food and as 10th-worst for children of all ages.

"Hunger is a very serious, urgent and unfortunately rapidly growing problem" in North Carolina and the rest of the nation, Fitzgerald said. "There's nothing more basic than the need for food. ... A child that is not well-fed cannot be as healthy as other children."

Nor, he added, can hungry children reach their full potential.

"You can make a difference," Fitzgerald concluded. "We need more people to part of the solution."

Participants packaged a total of 37,900 pounds of food.
Participants worked quickly to repackage 37,900 pounds of food in a single morning. (Marc Hall photo)

State 4-H Leader Dr. Marshall Stewart challenged 4-H'ers to bring Fitzgerald's message back home to their communities, to raise local awareness and to become citizen leaders for hunger relief. One of the campaign's short-term goals is for 4-H'ers in all 100 North Carolina counties to conduct canned food drives during national 4-H week, the first week in October.

Many of the 4-H members, including 13-year-old Will Farlessyost of Madison County, already are active volunteers for community food pantries and food banks. His club, Roots and Shoots, frequently raises money and collects and repackages food for a food bank.

"We do it because we want to make sure everyone has enough to eat. It makes me feel good helping people out," he said. "And it can be fun."

Sixteen-year-old Meagan Briley of Pitt County agreed.

"4-H'ers come from all kinds of backgrounds, and hunger is something that affects people of diverse backgrounds. So this campaign can unite us," she said. "Also, 4-H encourages us to care about our communities and the quality of life around people around you, and Hungry to Help gives us something that can bring us together and that can allow us to make a real difference."

For more information about Hungry to Help, visit 4-H's website at http://www.nc4hstories.org/page/hungry-to-help.

-D. Shore

Posted by deeshore at 09:33 AM

July 09, 2010

Program helps people eat smart, move more and weigh less

Participants
Participants in Wayne County's Fit and Fabulous Program work out twice a week. (Becky Kirkland photo)

More than 65 percent of all N.C. adults are overweight, and our state ranks fifth worst in the country for childhood obesity. Cooperative Extension is out to change these statistics through its Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program.

The 15-week program helps people plan, track and live healthier lifestyles. A team of experts with Extension and the N.C. Division of Public Health developed the program.

Dr. Carolyn Dunn, a family and consumer sciences professor, said three things stood out in the team's research on what helps people achieve and maintain a healthy weight: planning, tracking and being mindful about food and physical activity.

ESMMWL has been implemented in different ways throughout the state. Wayne County's Fit and Fabulous for 15 Program is a good example. Each week, local experts teach nutrition, and twice a week a fitness instructor conducts exercise classes. The program, organized by Extension and the county Health Department, has been such a hit that there’s a long waiting list.

Participants came from all walks of life, from school students to retirees, said extension agent Christine Smith. "We try to make it fun and light, so that everybody can feel like they are achieving something. And they feel good as a result of doing that."

With weight loss ranging from 2 to more than 25 pounds, participants made big steps toward healthier lifestyles. Some reported being able to cut back on diabetes medication, gaining control of high blood pressure and making healthier food choices.

Posted by deeshore at 10:16 AM

June 25, 2010

Pesticide safety toolkit developed

2safety_kitlo.jpg
Extension has a new Spanish-language training kit for pesticide safety. (Marc Hall photo)

Recognizing that farming is among the nation's most hazardous occupations, North Carolina Cooperative Extension offers educational programs to help farmers, farmworkers and their families lower their risk of injury, illness and death. Its latest tool in this effort is a kit of easy-to-use materials to teach pesticide safety to Spanish-speaking agricultural workers with limited formal education.

Extension tested the kit with workers and trainers to make sure the educational materials were simple yet effective. It also was reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that it met the federal Worker Protection Standard's training requirements. The WPS calls for agricultural employers, owners, managers and labor contractors to provide training not only to those who handle pesticides but to all the people who are involved in the production of agricultural plants.

Table-top flipcharts are the kit's centerpieces. On the side that faces the trainer, there are lesson plans, while on the side that faces the audience, there are colorful photographs illustrating the trainer’s message.

The kit also comes with one-page illustrated sheets -— available in Spanish and English -— related to some of North Carolina's most important crops. The sheets list common pesticides used at various stages of crop growth; indicate each pesticide's toxicity level; and spell out how long areas treated by each pesticide should be off-limits. There are also realistic drawings that illustrate the symptoms a worker might experience because of unsafe exposure and phone numbers for the worker to call in case of problems.

Right now, materials are available covering tobacco, sweetpotato and tomato crops. Material for other crops -- cucumbers, green peppers, grapes, landscape, Christmas trees, blueberries, strawberries and apples -- will be available for the 2011 growing season.

A website for dissemination of the toolkit for tobacco, sweetpotato and tomato crops will be available later this summer.

The toolkit was funded by a grant from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund and developed by Dr. Greg Cope, Julia Storm and Catherine LeProvost with the College’s Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.

The three introduced the materials during a train-the-trainer session in June 2010, when dozens of extension agents, state agriculture and labor officials, community health and migrant education workers, a fertilizer dealer and others came to Raleigh for a one-day train-the-trainer session.

For information, contact Storm at julia_storm@ncsu.edu.

-D. Shore

Posted by deeshore at 02:52 PM

February 10, 2010

Community garden plants seeds of better nutrition, physical activity

Students in the Beaufort community garden
As part of a nutrition and physical activity program, elementary school students took part in a garden day at the Beaufort County Community Garden. (Photos courtesy of Tanya Weyrauch)

When Horticulture Agent Tanya Weyhrauch talks about Beaufort County's community garden, she refers to a quote by writer Linus Mundy: "Think small. Planting tiny seeds in the small space given you can change the world or, at the very least, your view of it."

With the city of Washington's lease of a one-acre space near the local airport, Weyhrauch and the county's Extension Master Gardener volunteers created a space where 140 people had the chance to plant plenty of tiny seeds as they learned more about gardening, got some exercise, spent time outside, improved their nutrition with fresh fruits and vegetables and saved on grocery bills.

The garden was also the site of the "Kids in the Garden Day," the culmination of a nine-session "Steps to Health" program designed to help 85 local third-graders increase their physical activity and their overall nutrition.

At the June garden day, the students took part in a garden tour and learned about food safety, vermiculture, composting and water conservation as well as planting vegetables and growing and using herbs. It was a hands-on experience designed to boost the students' self-confidence in growing their own food.

The county Extension staff -- including Weyhrauch, County Extension Director Ann Darkow, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Susan Chase and 4-H agents Kimberly Corey and Louise Hinsley -- worked to integrate the three programs for stronger impact. They called the overall effort "Teaching Healthy Lifestyles: One Garden at Time," and they won a state award from Epsilon Sigma Phi.

The idea for the garden originated with Master Gardener Jim Keen, who served as the garden's chairman. His philosophy: Everyone needs a garden.

"Growing fresh vegetables is good for you and your family through better nutrition, physical activity and exposure to the sun," Keen said. "Digging in the earth is a family activity worth cultivating, yet many families don't have land for a garden."

Keen, his fellow Master Gardeners and the Extension staff raised more than $13,000 in gifts and in-kind donations for fencing, irrigation, a water well and signs. Donors included Crop Production Services, Taylor Well Systems, Lowe's Home Improvement and local farmer Andrew Arnold. Volunteers also contributed, putting in more than 1,000 hours of work at the garden and the school.

The garden opened in April with 49 plots ranging from 32 to 400 square feet. Gardeners paid $20 to $40 rent for the season.

And by the end of the growing season, garden organizers said they saw significant changes among the students and gardeners: A survey of teachers involved in "Steps to Health" found that 71 percent of the students increased their fruit and vegetable consumption.

Also, all the community gardeners reported being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and 85 percent said they consumed the recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables each day.

In addition, 85 percent said they identified insects before using chemical control methods, 90 percent applied mulch to the soil, 100 percent followed pesticide label instructions and 67 percent watered deeply and infrequently, depending on plan needs.

The project also brought recognition to Extension: The Washington Daily News ran several articles on the garden, and it was highlighted at a regional and state county commissioners association meetings as well as the N.C. State Fair.

Weyhrauch called the results positive and rewarding.

"The community garden is so much more than a place to grow vegetables," she said. "It provided a sense of accomplishment to those who plant, and a sense of community -– not to mention a reduced food bill."

Posted by deeshore at 08:32 AM

December 08, 2009

EFNEP Hunger Forum a success

Maureen Berner
Dr. Maureen Berner of the University of North Carolina describes hunger in North Carolina during the Hunger Forum.(Becky Kirkland photos)

With hunger in the United States at a 14-year high, a Hunger Issues Forum was held at N.C. State University's McKimmon Center on Dec. 4. The event was also a celebration of 40 years of N.C. Cooperative Extension's Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Started in 1969, EFNEP's mission is to help limited-resource families and youth make good nutrition decisions with their limited food dollars.

Keynote speakers for the forum were Dr. Maureen Berner, associate professor in the University of North Carolina School of Government, and Dr. Sharon Paynter, assistant professor of political science at East Carolina University. The two spoke on "A True Portrait of Hunger in North Carolina: How Local Governments and Non-Profits Coordinate and Energize to Address Hunger." Their presentation included photos by Donn Young of Chapel Hill, who is helping capture images of hunger today in North Carolina at the state's food pantries.

Paynter and Berner described how they are trying to develop a picture of hunger in North Carolina by looking at records maintained by food pantries across the state. The goal of their project is trying to understand hunger through solid research and to generate dialogue on the issue.

Both speakers have found that food pantry clients often defy stereotypes of hunger. Many of those receiving assistance are employed, and often they are older and have some health issues. Many times they live in a comfortable home – they simply don't earn enough to make ends meet. Many of those served by food pantries are in need of long-term assistance.

The Hunger Issues Forum comes on the heels of a recent announcement by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that "food insecurity" in the United States had reached the 14-year high in 2009. As a result of the poor economy, job losses and higher food prices, the group that tracks hunger reported that 13 million additional Americans experienced some form of food insecurity this year, and food stamp rolls have swelled to a record 36 million Americans.

Breakout session topics and presenters included "Hunger, Nutrition and Obesity," Heather Hartline-Grafton, senior nutrition policy analyst, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC); "Connecting People to Food," David Reese, chief operating officer, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh; and "Mobilizing Community Resources to Reduce Hunger," Earline Middleton, vice president of programs, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Raleigh.

Forum participants
Participants in the EFNEP Hunger Forum listen to the keynote presenation.

In the breakout session on obesity, Hartline-Grafton described the link between obesity and hunger. Those in poverty often have little access to fresh, healthy food choices or safe and inviting places for recreation. And binge eating, followed by hunger, is often the norm for those who struggle with food security.

In addition to new information from speakers, forum participants returned home with toolkits to help them conduct hunger data surveys in their own communities. The toolkits also included photos from the Portrait of Hunger project.

The theme of the forum already had inspired EFNEP educators to take action. In Lee County, the EFNEP unit decided to forgo their annual holiday party in favor of volunteering in Raleigh at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

Also as part of the forum, EFNEP Champion Awards were presented to EFNEP volunteers, Extension employees and partners for outstanding service to their communities.

When EFNEP began in North Carolina, the program was mainly conducted through home visits to participants. Today most of EFNEP’s educational workshops are delivered in group settings, often in collaboration with agencies serving limited-resource populations, such as the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program or Work First.

EFNEP seeks to give participants knowledge to help them make improvements in their diets and physical activity levels. In North Carolina, last year more than 4,500 families participated in EFNEP's adult program. In addition, more than 200 pregnant or parenting teens participated, along with more than 14,000 youth who participated in 4-H EFNEP.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 03:26 PM

November 12, 2009

Hungry teens head for Greensboro

The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T will be hosting an elite group of teenagers from across the state Nov. 12 to 15. The teens will be coming for training in intervention measures for hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and kidney disease. Extension health and nutrition specialists are using a $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to train the “Force of 100” in nutrition, food safety, physical fitness and proper exercise techniques.

Following their training this week, the teens will be expected to return to their communities and work on their own lifestyle changes, involve their household in changes, and conduct at least two programs that involve their family, friends and community.

Read more news from NC A&T State University, ag e-dispatch

Posted by Natalie at 09:47 AM

October 23, 2009

EFNEP celebrates 40 years service with Hunger Forum

efnep_forum.jpg

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) invites
you to join us as we acknowledge 40 years of service at our upcoming
anniversary and Hunger Issues Forum Dec. 4, McKimmon Center, N.C. State University.

The Forum entitled "Cultivating Solutions to Hunger" will address issues in the community through keynote speeches and three breakout sessions featuring national and state experts.

Breakout session topics include:
* Hunger, Nutrition and Obesity
* Connecting People to Food
* Mobilizing Community Resources to Reduce Hunger

Registration information and complete details of the forum can be found at:
www.ces.ncsu.edu/EFNEP/EFNEPHungerForum.pdf

To participate in the event, follow the directions for registration found on the Web site. You must complete the registration form found on this site. In addition, to document participation in the training, Extension personnel should register for the
Forum through the Learning Management System.

Posted by Natalie at 09:03 AM

August 18, 2009

Produce Lady can help with fruits, vegetables

A couple of years ago, a farmer pulled up to the Rockingham County Farmers Market with a truckload of plump, just-picked eggplants.

A few hours later, he was taking most of them back home unsold.

The problem? When customers asked him how to prepare eggplants, he had no idea what to tell them.

Brenda Sutton, extension director in Rockingham County, says that farmers and others like him are the inspiration behind a series of videos that instruct people on ways to prepare fruits and vegetables.

And, Sutton is the star: The Produce Lady, as she's becoming known far and wide.

Read more from the News & Record.

Posted by Suzanne at 09:30 AM

July 07, 2009

Zucchini 500 draws crowd to Kannapolis market

zucchini cars
A participant in the Zucchini 500 points out her car among the field of zucchini creations.

Fifty zucchini cars, outfitted to compete in four categories, packed the judges tables prior to the Zucchini 500 at the N.C. Research Campus Farmers Market in Kannapolis. The race itself was the big draw, with children of all ages enjoying the fun. Planned and hosted by N.C. State University and N.C. Cooperative Extension, the event was packed with imagination, creativity, local foods and loads of fun. The organizers planned the fun event to help raise awareness of the N.C. Research Campus Farmers Market and to encourage people to support their local farmers.

Bobby Waltrip, of the legendary Waltrip racing family, called the races. Jay White, Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners; Dr. Mary Grace, senior researcher with N.C. State's Plants for Human Health Institute; and Renee Goodnight, community outreach coordinator for the city of Kannapolis, were the judges. In addition to the races, zucchini cars were judged in the categories of Most Nutritious, Best School Spirit, Best NASCAR Theme and Most Creative.

zucchini race
Gentlemen, start your squash! Two contestants shake hands before the Zucchini 500 race in Kannapolis. (Photos courtesy of Leah Chester-Davis)

Every child who participated received a certificate, a coupon for a free ice cream sundae from Bruster’s Real Ice Cream and a fruit-themed stuffed animal from the Dole Food Co. Winners of the prize categories received Summer Shootout Series tickets from Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Other prizes included a free three-month family membership to the Cannon YMCA for one lucky family and an ice cream cake from Bruster’s.

Both Tara Vogelien, with the Plants for Human Health Institute, and Leah Chester-Davis, Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture at the N.C. Research Campus, work closely with the campus farmers market. The two headed up the N.C. State University team that hosted the event.

Posted by Natalie at 09:35 AM

Zucchini 500 draws crowd to Kannapolis market

zucchini cars
A participant in the Zucchini 500 points out her car among the field of zucchini creations.

Fifty zucchini cars, outfitted to compete in four categories, packed the judges tables prior to the Zucchini 500 at the N.C. Research Campus Farmers Market in Kannapolis. The race itself was the big draw, with children of all ages enjoying the fun. Planned and hosted by N.C. State University and N.C. Cooperative Extension, the event was packed with imagination, creativity, local foods and loads of fun. The organizers planned the fun event to help raise awareness of the N.C. Research Campus Farmers Market and to encourage people to support their local farmers.

Bobby Waltrip, of the legendary Waltrip racing family, called the races. Jay White, Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners; Dr. Mary Grace, senior researcher with N.C. State's Plants for Human Health Institute; and Renee Goodnight, community outreach coordinator for the city of Kannapolis, were the judges. In addition to the races, zucchini cars were judged in the categories of Most Nutritious, Best School Spirit, Best NASCAR Theme and Most Creative.

zucchini race
Gentlemen, start your squash! Two contestants shake hands before the Zucchini 500 race in Kannapolis. (Photos courtesy of Leah Chester-Davis)

Every child who participated received a certificate, a coupon for a free ice cream sundae from Bruster’s Real Ice Cream and a fruit-themed stuffed animal from the Dole Food Co. Winners of the prize categories received Summer Shootout Series tickets from Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Other prizes included a free three-month family membership to the Cannon YMCA for one lucky family and an ice cream cake from Bruster’s.

Both Tara Vogelien, with the Plants for Human Health Institute, and Leah Chester-Davis, Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture at the N.C. Research Campus, work closely with the campus farmers market. The two headed up the N.C. State University team that hosted the event.

Posted by Natalie at 09:35 AM

July 02, 2009

Extension responds to interest in home food preservation

canning workshop
Susan Condlin, right, Lee County Extension director, teaches participants how to can tomatoes at a recent workshop. (Marc Hall photo)

With a renewed interest in home gardening and purchasing local food across North Carolina comes renewed consumer interest in preserving food at home, through canning, freezing or drying North Carolina Cooperative Extension centers are responding to this interest by offering canning classes across the state.

Once a hallmark of extension programming through Tomato Clubs for girls, canning and other home food preservation techniques had largely fallen out of favor with consumers in recent years. But this year, Cooperative Extension centers are reporting enrollment in canning workshops is up, and many extension agents are adding classes to accommodate demand.

Cabarrus County has scheduled nine workshops, up from the usual four, and all filled quickly. Several television news groups taped the Cabarrus workshops to use as on-air instructional pieces. Five workshops will be offered in Lee County, including one focusing on canning green beans and two on canning tomatoes. In Buncombe County, workshops are scheduled throughout the summer produce season on canning strawberry jam, dill pickles and relish and tomatoes, along with several lectures on home canning.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, 14 participants crowded the kitchen of Lee County's Cooperative Extension center for a lesson on canning tomatoes. All participants went home with their own quart jars of fresh-packed tomatoes canned during the class.

Dr. Ben Chapman, food safety Extension specialist based in N.C. State University’s Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences, reports that about 20 percent of inquiries he receives have been about home food preservation. Chapman came to N.C. State from Canada in January.

removing jars
Two participants in the Lee County workshop remove processed jars of tomatoes from a pressure canner. (Marc Hall photo)

Earlier this year, he led a home food preservation workshop for Extension agents some of whom had never taught canning before. He believes that nearly every agent who has participated is offering community food preservation workshops this summer.

Chapman attributes this renewed interest in home food preservation to three factors: The rise in home gardeners, who want to preserve what they grow – home vegetable seed purchases are reportedly up by 40 percent around the country; the local foods movement, which has encouraged consumers to purchase and eat more local produce; and the economy, which is bringing out new tendencies toward thrift in many consumers.

“The resurgence of local foods and home food preservation is good news for both the health of North Carolinians, and the economic health of the state,” Chapman said. “However, there are areas of potential concern related to food safety.”

For Web-based canning information, consumers can visit www.homefoodpreservation.ncsu.edu, a site developed by Cooperative Extension agents and specialists. The site includes information on how to evaluate a pressure canning gauge, how to can various products and how to prevent illnesses caused by improper canning practices.

jars of canned tomatoes
The finished product. (Photo courtesy of Susan Condlin)

In addition to offering canning workshops, many Extension centers will check the gauge on pressure canners to determine if they are calibrated properly. An accurate gauge will assure a safe product if correct canning procedures are followed. A pressure canner is required for safely canning low-acid foods, and Condlin says the gauge should be checked each year prior to the canning season.


To locate your county Extension center, visit the Web site: www.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=countycenters or look in the government section of your phone book under “North Carolina Cooperative Extension.”

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:00 AM

June 29, 2009

Camp helps children acheive a healthy weight

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and North Carolina State University are working together to provide a healthy lifestyle camp for overweight youth to be held at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia.

Read more from The Daily Reflector.

Posted by Suzanne at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2009

Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina releases Road Map to Health

image of outdoor map

North Carolinians who want to improve their health by enjoying outdoor activity will benefit from a new resource developed by Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina. The group has just released Eat Smart, Move More NC: Your Road Map to Health, a foldable state map illustrated with North Carolina sites and opportunities for physical activity and outdoor recreation.

The Road Map, which doubles as a progress report on obesity in North Carolina, folds and fits in a car glove box like a regular street map. The map’s appeal to outdoor enthusiasts is that it highlights walking, hiking, biking and paddling trails throughout the state. The document also engages readers with the personal success stories of individuals who have been agents of change in their own communities -- making healthy improvements to work sites, schools and neighborhoods.

N.C. Cooperative Extension is one of 60 organizations that lead the Eat Smart, Move More NC (ESMM) movement. The shared vision among these partner organizations is a North Carolina where healthful eating and active living are the norm, rather than the exception.

Two years ago, ESMM released its five-year plan, North Carolina’s Plan to Prevent Overweight, Obesity and Related Chronic Diseases 2007-2012, which aims to establish state, local and organizational policies and to improve community environments. The Road Map is an innovative tool that updates the public on the progress of this plan and tells the stories of people whose lives were changed by it.

“Many people assume obesity is a problem that starts and stops with individuals and the lifestyle choices they make,” explains Dr. Carolyn Dunn, nutrition specialist with N.C. Cooperative Extension and ESMM chair. “The point of the Road Map is to show how we are influenced by the world around us – the rules, traditions and expectations of where we live and work or go to school. Oftentimes, the healthy choice is not the easy choice. Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is trying to change that.”

Health experts have long maintained that many American neighborhoods lack safe places to walk or bike and that fast food and unhealthy snacks are the cheapest and most common items to eat. The Road Map to Health shares success stories of North Carolinians joining forces to make their communities healthier places to live.

“The Road Map could have been another report that sits on a shelf somewhere collecting dust,” says Maggie Sauer of the N.C. Medical Society Foundation and ESMM vice chair. “But we wanted to create something dynamic, educational and useful that people could keep with them for ideas on how to make healthy changes in their communities.”

In addition to success stories and the physical activity map, the Road Map offers information on parks and recreation facilities, state parks and state farmers’ markets in North Carolina. These resources are supplemented by statistics on physical activity, healthy eating and obesity in North Carolina and an introduction to Eat Smart, Move More NC. To request a free copy of the Road Map, visit www.MyEatSmartMoveMore.com.

Eat Smart, Move More NC is a statewide program that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray. More information about the program and its partner organizations can be found at www.EatSmartMoveMoreNC.com.

Posted by Natalie at 09:02 AM

December 10, 2007

Priester call for presentations deadline extended

The Call for Presentations deadline for the 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference has been extended to Dec. 14, 2007.

The conference is April 8-10, 2008 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, which serves Raleigh and Durham. It is sponsored by the North Carolina State University Family and Consumer Sciences Program, North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES).

The 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference theme, "Building Healthy Communities, One Person at a Time," celebrates Cooperative Extension's long history of promoting health and preventing disease for individuals of every age and background, in families of all types, living in rural, suburban, and urban communities. The conference showcases the successful programs of Extension professionals, their community and organizational partners, and their students.

Conference Tracks are:
- Successful Aging
- Global Health
- Growing Up Healthy IRL (in real life)

Presentations that share health-related educational programs and resources, applied research, collaborative strategies and integrated programming ideas are welcome.

More information about the Priester Conference, including presentation proposal submission information, is available on line at http://continuingeducation.ncsu.edu/PNEHC/index.html

Named in honor of retired CSREES National Program Leader Jeanne Priester, the conference has drawn participants from the Cooperative Extension System state and county offices, CSREES/USDA, departments of public health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Rural Health, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. EPA, HUD Healthy Homes Program, National Cancer Institute, National 4H Council, National Rural Health Association, public school systems, local governments, non-profit and private organizations, faith-based organizations, and other university departments of health-related disciplines.

Priester Conference Coordinating Committee members are Dr. Sandy Wiggins, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Specialist for Environmental Health and Housing (sandy_wiggins@ncsu.edu); Dr. Robert Williamson, Extension Natural Resources Specialist (robertw@ncat.edu); and Ms. Julia Storm, agromedicine information specialist (julia_storm@ncsu.edu).

Posted by Dave at 11:24 AM

November 29, 2007

New guide brings snacking health to consumers

student at vending machines
(Photo courtesy WNCT.com)

Many of us make poor food choices when we turn to vending machines or snack bars in search of a quick bite to eat. Now there's a free guide to help busy consumers make better decisions when facing rows of colorful snacks and drinks.

The N.C. Division of Public Health and N.C. Cooperative Extension has announced the release of Eat Smart North Carolina: Snacks and Drinks, available online on the Eat Smart, Move More…NC consumer website at www.MyEatSmartMoveMore.com.

"Calories from snacking can wreck someone’s best intentions," said Carolyn Dunn, a nutrition specialist with Cooperative Extension and one of the co-authors. "We are trying to raise people's awareness that something as simple as the beverage you choose at a coffee shop can make a big difference in total calories eaten for a day."

Read more from WNCT - Eyewitness News.

Posted by Suzanne at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2007

Priester Conference issues call for presentations

A “call for presentations” has been issued for the 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference to be held April 8-10 in Raleigh/Durham. The deadline for presentations submission is November 30. The presentations instructions and forms are attached are available at http://continuingeducation.ncsu.edu/PNEHC/presentations.html

The 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference theme, “Building Healthy Communities, One Person at a Time,” celebrates Cooperative Extension's long history of promoting health and preventing disease for individuals of every age and background, in families of all types, living in rural, suburban, and urban communities. The conference showcases the successful programs of Extension professionals, their community and organizational partners and their students.

This year's conference tracks are:
* Successful Aging
* Global Health
* Growing Up Healthy IRL (in real life)

The conference focuses on programs that address today's challenges. Our communities, families and youth are facing challenges such as baby boomer retirement, caregiving for aging parents and other sandwich generation issues, new immigrant health, global consumer product safety, green living and growing up healthy in a world of unprecedented affluence and communication technology, yet growing disparities among rich and poor.

Please respond to the call for presentations for the opportunity to share your health-related educational programs and resources, applied research, collaborative strategies and integrated programming ideas with your colleagues. Named in honor of retired CSREES National Program Leader Jeanne Priester, the conference has drawn participants from the Cooperative Extension System state and county offices, CSREES/USDA, Departments of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Housing and Urban Development's Healthy Homes Program, Office of Rural Health, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. EPA, National Cancer Institute, National 4-H Council, National Rural Health Association, public school systems, local governments, private non-profits, faith-based organizations and university departments of health-related disciplines.

Thank you! We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Sandy Wiggins
Dr. Robert Williamson
Julia Storm
North Carolina Cooperative Extension, N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University

Posted by Natalie at 10:45 AM

January 17, 2007

'Families Eating Smart and Moving More' offers training

Those who missed 'EFNEP's Families Eating Smart and MovingMore' curriculum training last August are welcome to attend a repeat training on Friday, Feb. 16, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Onslow County Extension Center in Jacksonville. By attending the training, you will receive the curriculum CD and a copy of the new EFNEP cookbook. Please register for the training using the LMS system. Note that you do not have to have EFNEP in your county to attend.

Posted by Natalie at 09:38 AM

November 16, 2006

'WAGES Gets Fit'

'WAGES Gets Fit' kickoff
Wayne County's Christine Smith, right, dances with employees at the kickoff of 'WAGES Gets Fit.' (Photos by Daniel Kim)

Wayne employees set health goals
On a warm September afternoon in Wayne County, employees of WAGES –- Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency -- celebrated a day away from the office by walking the track of a nearby school, playing volleyball or basketball and participating in an aerobics class. This was the kickoff of WAGES Gets Fit, a workplace wellness program developed with the help of Christine Smith, family and consumer sciences agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.

Employees who registered to participate in the first quarterly wellness program set their own goals for lifestyle changes. They were asked to choose at least one goal for improving physical activity, healthy eating or work/life balance, though some chose more than one goal.

At the kickoff, WAGES employee Jackie Baldwin told the story of her wakeup call last summer. Baldwin was on the agency’s Royall West playground with a group of children when she got stuck while trying to crawl through a tunnel with her young charges.

Baldwin told her story, giggling at the memory, but said the experience made her realize she needed to make lifestyle changes to lose weight. The following week, she planned to attend her first WAGES wellness meeting. “My goal,” she said, “is to get through the tunnel at Royall West.”

WAGES is a private, non-profit organization in Wayne County that administers community programs such as Head Start for children and Meals on Wheels for senior adults. Last fall, the group turned to Smith to help develop a wellness program for employees.

Brownie Doss, leader of WAGES’s Older Adult Services Division, said the organization has been concerned for several years about obesity among staff members. But with recent publicity about the epidemic of overweight youth, employees decided it was time to get their own house in order.

They called on Smith, with whom they had partnered on other projects because of her community involvement and passion for helping citizens improve their health. WAGES asked Smith to help develop a workplace wellness program. She told employees that in order to be successful, the program had to have buy-in from administration and staff. A planning group made up of representatives from every WAGES program area helped plan the program.

At the WAGES Gets Fit kickoff, Smith invited the employees to “get on board with us today, to go on a journey for better health.” Yet Smith cautioned them to take small steps and choose an achievable goal. “The journey of a lifetime begins with just one step,” she said. “We will help you to live your best life.”

WAGES Gets Fit was patterned after Cooperative Extension’s “Moving Towards a Healthier You” curriculum. Wellness sessions have been offered twice on Wednesdays every other week. The 27 planned sessions cover topics like “What Should I Eat?” “Fill Up, Not Out” and “Cooking with the Light Touch.”

“Moving Towards a Healthier You” is a statewide initiative implemented by Smith and Geissler Baker, Guilford County family and consumer sciences agent. The program was designed to challenge, motivate and inspire fellow agents, support staff, nutrition program associates and specialists to start practicing what they preach.

Smith said the rationale behind the effort was to help agents become more effective educators by modeling appropriate behaviors that help consumers move toward a healthier lifestyle. This statewide effort has been supported by Dr. Sandy Zaslow, Cooperative Extension’s retired associate director for youth and family programs, and Dr. Carolyn Dunn, associate state program leader and nutrition specialist.

Dunn provided technical expertise in the design of the project and support materials. There are 158 agents and nutrition assistants across the state participating in the challenge to “get fit,” inspired by Smith and Baker.

Employee gets blood pressure checked
After enrolling in WAGES Gets Fit, this employee has her blood pressure checked.

Among the first WAGES group to register, 38 people set physical activity goals; 36, both physical activity and healthy eating goals; one person set a healthy eating goal; two people set both physical activity and work/life balance goals; and 25 people set goals for physical activity, healthy eating and work/life balance. Physical activity was by far the most popular, with 101 employees choosing that as their goal.

Smith will lead most of the sessions, in conjunction with a select group of WAGES employees. Four train-the-trainer sessions will be conducted for WAGES staff to provide them with the subject expertise, support materials and tools to enhance participants’ experience of the program.

WAGES Director Bryan Sutton has agreed to provide incentives for employees who make changes: 30 minutes per workday for physical activity, drawings for cash prizes for those who met their wellness goals and days off for wellness success.

In addition to attending wellness programs, participants are asked to keep a journal documenting their efforts to meet their goal. Each quarter, those who meet their goals will be entered into a drawing for $100 prizes.

Smith is committed to helping other Wayne County businesses and organizations implement wellness programs for their employees. Since the WAGES Gets Fit kickoff, two other local agencies have asked for her help in developing similar programs.

“As healthcare costs continue to rise, more and more employers are realizing that a short-term investment in their employees’ health will yield long-term savings,” Smith said.

And with education, support and personal determination, by spring Jackie Baldwin may be able to crawl through that tunnel at the Royall West playground.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 02:23 PM

June 28, 2006

Master Gardeners help students learn

Student with tomato plant
A student at Brunswick County's Supply Elementary School shows off the tomato plant he potted at a workshop, with help from local Master Gardeners. (Daniel Kim photo)

Brunswick County Master Gardeners helped teach youth at Supply Elementary School about growing things during a special education event held in April. Supply is the only Brunswick County school to receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant, designed to introduce students to fresh fruits and vegetables. Brunswick’s North Carolina Cooperative Extension center provided education for the program, combining the efforts of 4-H, family and consumer sciences and Master Gardeners.

“Extension has been involved from the beginning,” said Susan Morgan, family and consumer sciences agent in Brunswick County. “The success of this program has been that it involved students, parents, teachers and a number of volunteers who reinforced or enhanced the classroom activities and instruction.”

A total of 669 students, 55 teachers and staff members and more than 30 volunteers were involved in three outdoor workshops, led by Brunswick Master Gardeners. One session provided was a "hands on" opportunity for students to see a worm bin, where earthworms aerate soil. Students also learned about recycling kitchen wastes through composting, and everyone got to pot a tomato seedling to take home and plant.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:35 AM

June 27, 2006

Youth, leaders participate in SESAMM

Youth present plan
Two youth present a plan during a workshop at the SESAMM workshop in May. (Becky Kirkland photo)

About 100 youth and adults participated in a statewide summit on Students Eating Smart and Moving More, held May 5-7 in Greensboro. A total of 24 county groups were selected participated in this first-ever summit. Teens and adults worked together at the summit as advocates for healthy eating and physical activity in North Carolina's schools and communities. County groups returned home to implement a program to improve the health of citizens in their home communities. The program is a partnership of the State 4-H Project and 4-H’s 2005 TRY-IT! Obesity-Overweight initiative, the state Department of Public Instruction's Child Nutrition Services, and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:34 AM

June 15, 2006

Six FCS agents participate in 'Move More Scholarship Institute'

Move More Institute participatns
Extension's participants in the Move More Institute are pictured, front row, from left, Sandi Sox and Margaret Allsbrook; back row, from left, Robin Taylor, Arthenia Booth, Ann Simmons and Phyllis Smith. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Allsbrook)

Six family and consumer sciences agents with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, along with 22 other health educator/wellness coordinators from across the state, recently participated in the Inaugural Move More Scholars Institute: North Carolina’s Course for Physical Activity Professionals. The course was held May 8–11 at the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro.

Selection to the course was highly competitive because it was open to all North Carolina health promotion coordinators, physical activity and nutrition coordinators, and FCS Extension agents. Agents attending were Margaret Allsbrook, Halifax County; Arthenia Booth, Bertie County; Ann Simmons, Iredell County; Phyllis Smith, Chatham County; Sandi Sox, Polk County; and Robin Taylor, Onslow County.

The institute was coordinated by the N.C. Division of Public Health and sponsored by Get Kids in Action, a partnership between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Gatorade Company, which aims to increase physical activity among children to reduce and prevent obesity.

The institute featured state- and national-level speakers who focused on taking a multi-level approach to creating communities that promote and support physical activity for North Carolina families.

All participants learned to collect data, bring together interested parties, conduct needs assessments and evaluations within a community, educate the public and advocate for specific policy and environmental change strategies. A cornerstone of this course was the opportunity for networking and small-group interaction with other participants and faculty.

Posted by Natalie at 02:06 PM

May 18, 2006

Haywood County program helps participants 'Shake off the Holidays'

Jean Burton weighs participant
Jean Burton, left, helps weigh a particpant in Haywood County's 'Shake off the Holidays' program.

Most Americans find their pants fitting a little tighter after the holidays, resulting in those well-intentional New Year’s resolutions to lose a few pounds. Jean Burton, Haywood County family and consumer sciences agent, developed a nutrition education program called “Shake Off the Holidays,” to help people shake it off and keep it off longer.

In January, Burton began the 10-week program to help participants develop long-term healthy lifestyles to help with weight management. Many members of the original group of about 20 chose to participate in the program because of concern over serious weight-related health problems.

Out of the 20 original participants, only one or two had a normal body mass index, two were considered overweight, while most were extremely overweight or obese, Burton said, adding, “This is truly a health issue with them.”

Twelve participants completed the entire course, with an average weight loss of 8 pounds. The average was lower because a few participants did not have much to lose, Burton said. However one participate lost 20 pounds and another lost 17.

Participants reported a variety of behavior changes as a result of the class, including eating smaller portions, reading food labels, watching fats, drinking more water and increasing activity. One participant reported having less back pain as a result of weight loss.

After the first class, participants were encouraged to record everything they ate. The second class offered participants a chance to make observations about changes they could make in eating or exercise pattern changes. Other class topics included physical activity, facts about fat and cholesterol; water, fiber and sleep; grocery shopping, holidays, restaurant dining. They wrapped up with a class on “shaking it off: how to keep it up.”

Burton, who has a nursing and health education background, has decided to continue the class through 2006, meeting in the evening every other week. New members of the community continue to join the group.

“These classes have helped to support and encourage changes I had already started making,” one participant said. “I am very happy the classes will continue.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 10:50 AM

May 11, 2006

Extension helps seniors with Medicare drug benefit

Client gets help with Medicare drug benefit registration
A member of the Stanly County Extension staff, right, helps a client register for her Medicare Part D benefit. Registration will end May 15.(Photo by Daniel Kim)

Cooperative Extension has a history of involvement with North Carolina’s older adults, so it comes as no surprise that Extension agents and volunteers have been heavily involved in helping seniors in their counties register for the new federal Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Enrollment in the program began in November and continued through mid-May. Through a long-standing relationship with the state Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), several Extension agents, staff and local volunteers provided assistance and information on the new Medicare Part D plan.

The Medicare Part D enrollment, which ends May 15, is very complex, with more than 30 plans to choose from in North Carolina alone. SHIIP volunteers help enrollees examine their choices in relation to the prescription drugs they purchase regularly.

SHIIP provided counties with training, a laptop computer and $1,000 to counties participating in the program.

The effort in some counties has been overwhelming. Several agents reported spending as much as 95 percent of their time helping seniors enroll in the program.

In Stanly County, Extension Director Lori Ivey reported that her trained staff and volunteers worked one-on-one with nearly 700 seniors between November and mid-December. Candy Murray in Wilson County alone had registered about 175 seniors by mid-March, with two months yet to go.

Murray says that normally SHIIP offers a six-week training for volunteers, who then provide assistance. For the Medicare Part D, few volunteers felt they had the necessary computer skills to assist seniors with the program. So as the county’s SHIIP contact, Murray took on the program herself.

“I started making appointments, and I can honestly says that since Nov. 15, this program has consumed just about 95 percent of my time,” Murray said. “It has been both rewarding and stressful. I have learned something new about the program everyday.”

Each one-on-one enrollment session takes about one to two hours. In Wilson County, FCS agent Murray reports that seniors save an average of $2,000 each year under the prescription drug plan. She estimates that savings for those Extension has enrolled to be about $380,000 with two months enrollment yet to go.

Marilyn Gore, area specialized FCS agent in Gaston County, said the time required to do an enrollment depends on the number of prescriptions that have to be entered. One client she enrolled required 17 medications. Most clients in her county also save an average of $2,000.

In Lincoln County, FCS agent Melinda Houser said that a dedicated group of nine volunteers had been busy since December answering questions and helping seniors enroll in the new drug plan. Houser has been involved with the SHIIP program for many years, and the program helped train enrollment volunteers.

“We’ve reached individuals who never would have walked in the door of Extension. This is one of the most successful things we’ve done,” Houser said.

In addition to the information seminar, Houser got word out through radio programs, newspaper announcements and speaking engagements.

“The volunteers are busy and they are dedicated,” she said. “They’ve saved clients thousands of dollars (in prescription drug costs).”

Chowan County’s Shari Farless enrolled about 200 people by mid-March, in addition to presenting information to groups totaling about 500. She estimates average savings at about $1,200. Most importantly, the program has made a difference.

“This has been one of the most high-impact efforts I have done in a long time, and it is getting me a lot of mileage. I have met some wonderful people during this process and have reached an audience I may not of had before,” Farless said.

Georgia Kight of Currituck County had the help of three volunteers, an Extension program assistant and an intern from Elizabeth City State University for enrolling seniors in Medicare Part D. She estimates the average savings per individual to be about $2,000, though clients have saved as much as $20,000.

“I had one example of a disabled individual on Medicaid, who was auto-assigned a plan,” Kight said. “When I did his individual assessment, he was enrolled in a plan that would have cost him $21,916, and the plan that I enrolled him in only cost about $168 for the year. Now that is a success story!”

In Stanly County, Ivey said volunteers and Extension staff members were busy throughout November and December, sometimes enrolling as many as 35 to 40 people a day.

“Extension is the only source in the county for information,” Ivey said. “We’re the resource in the community. Even some pharmacists have called us for information.”

Stanly County clients have generally saved some money – usually hundreds of dollars, Ivey said. She knew of a man who had saved $9,000 on an expensive medication, though some saved as little as $100 or less.

The system is complicated, Ivey said, and enrollment can only be done by computer or by telephone. She believes the program should have been test-piloted to avoid some of the glitches that have occurred.

Yet, she and the others involved in the effort are glad to be of help.

“This is good for Extension because people don’t traditionally see us involved in Medicare,” Ivey said. “We’ve seen lots of new faces.”

Greene County FCS agent Shenile Rothwell said the experience gave her new appreciation for what seniors are paying for prescription drugs. “It was astronomical -- I honestly do not see how they were paying for their medications,” she said.

“I feel that this was the most rewarding work that Extension could do and see firsthand how putting knowledge to work can improve the lives of citizens,” Rothwell said. “There are still some glitches in the system, but it has saved seniors a lot of money in prescription drug costs.”

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 04:00 PM

April 17, 2006

EDEN provides West Nile Virus site

With all the news related to avian influenza, the Extension Disaster Educaton Network urges Extension professionals to remember the efforts being made to combat West Nile Virus (WNV). As a human health concern, it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to transfer the disease.

Thanks to Kim Cassel – EDEN's point of contact for South Dakota State University – EDEN now has a complete Issue page on WNV: www.eden.lsu.edu/wnv. This is an informative page that provides an overview of the virus and answers the following questions:

* How many kinds of mosquitoes are in the United States?
* Why do mosquitoes bite?
* What disease-causing microorganisms can mosquitoes transmit?
* What is the most effective way to prevent mosquito bites and control mosquitoes at home?

A number of helpful and informative resources are accessible through this page, including a report titled "Public Health Confronts the Mosquito: Developing Sustainable State and Local Mosquito Control Programs."

As the summer season approaches and mosquitoes once again become the seasonal obstacle, this page may prove a valuable resource for Extension professionals.

Posted by Natalie at 08:02 AM

February 17, 2006

4-H, FCS departments to merge July 1

In keeping with the spirit of Cooperative Extension’s change management and marketing initiative, the departments of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences will become one department within N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on July 1.

The merger was announced Feb. 16 by Dr. Jon Ort, director of North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. (Dr. Ort's message -- opens in PDF) Dr. Marshall Stewart, head of the 4-H Youth Development Department, and Dr. Sandy Zaslow, head of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, announced the change to their staffs that morning. County agents in both programs received the announcement by email.

Stewart and Zaslow said their faculty and staff members had reacted well to the news. Stewart will head the new department, which will retain both department names. Zaslow, who also announced on Feb. 16 her intention of retiring from the university in October, will serve as Extension’s associate director of family and youth programs. When she retires, the title will be added to the title of department head and state program leader for the combined department.

“We began strategic dialogue about the future of CALS departments at the dean’s retreat in October 2005,” Ort said in his announcement to Extension. “When Dr. Sandy Zaslow notified me of her retirement this fall, it made sense strategically to think about how we might move ahead with bringing these two departments under one administrative umbrella.”

Stewart read Ort’s prepared statement to his faculty and staff. “They were positive,” he said. “This had been in some people’s minds for a number years and so seeing it was not a total surprise.”

Zaslow and Stewart praised Ort and Dean Johnny Wynne for their efforts to move the merger along and address concerns that employees would likely have, including leadership, department name and titles. Employees of both departments will retain their rank and titles. And both disciplines will continue to have their distinct identities on campus and in county centers.

Zaslow said the merger news, coupled with the news of her retirement, came as a double
surprize for campus and field faculty and staffs. She shared with them that “when they wake up on July 2, their world will seem very much like it was on July 1 – and that was the intent of both department heads.

“Marshall and I have a very strong commitment to making this a positive transition for all our employees. We are very aware of the strong program identities and brands that agents, their associations and their foundations have worked to develop. Each program has many assets and resources to bring to the table,” Zaslow said.

“We believe there will be a synergistic effect that will occur from new opportunities to collaborate and be advocates for youth and family issues,” she said.

Zaslow was pleased that an associate director’s position had been created for youth and family programs and that she will help set the direction for that position to benefit youth and family programs. In the Cooperative Extension Service at N.C. State, there has been an associate director’s position for agricultural programs.

“Adding an associate director’s position truly indicates the value that Dr. Ort and Dean Wynne place on youth and families and their relationship within agricultural programs,” Zaslow said.

She looks forward to working with Stewart in merging the two departments. “I really want Marshall to be successful and for the programs to be successful,” Zaslow said. “Our intent is to look for the best environment to support and sustain the programs.”

Both programs have traditionally shared some programming initiatives. The Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program includes youth and adult components and has faculty in both the 4-H and FCS departments. And with growing concern over the issue of child overweight/obesity, the two departments have discussed collaborating on the issue, bringing together their strengths in youth programming and nutrition education.

“This puts Extension, the college and the university in the strongest position to address families and youth,” Stewart said. “Statewide, no one has the network of paid staff and volunteers focused on these issues that Extension has.”

The combined department also will have a stronger academic component, Ort said in making the announcement. FCS and the Department of Human Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are creating a master’s degree program in parenting education. Dr. Karen DeBord, FCS associate professor of child development, has been active in the initiative and serves as the department’s director of graduate programs.

In addition, 4-H Youth Development has created a youth development leadership specialization within N.C. State’s College of Education. Courses are taught by faculty in 4-H Youth Development.

“The degree programs that we bring to the table and the one that 4-H offers bring new opportunities for our agents to earn advanced degrees,” Zaslow said.

Stewart and Zaslow praised each other, as well as Extension and college administrators for creating a smooth plan for the merger. “Sandy has been a champion for this,” Stewart said. “She sold me on it. She wanted to create a structure that will endure, and this will endure.”

“Marshall is a perfect match, with his energy, enthusiasm and genuine commitment to both programs,” Zaslow said. “Our vision has been the same from the beginning.

“This is a very bold step forward, and I salute Dr. Ort’s leadership to support us and for the vision to create an associate director’s position for youth and families,” she added.

“I wanted to credit Jon (Ort) and administration for having the courage and foresight to put us in a stronger position,” Stewart said. “They led the charge, and I appreciate their vision.”

Questions or comments? Scroll down to post your response. Online News will work with Stewart and Zaslow to answer your questions.

--N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 01:20 PM

January 03, 2006

Agents join forces to teach food safety

mollyandlisa.jpg
Lisa Childers, left, and Molly Alexi answer food safety questions at a recent health fair.

"Step right up, and test your food safety knowledge" was the shout from Molly Alexi, Stanly County family and consumer sciences agent, and Lisa Childers, Harnett County family and consumer sciences agent, at the recent SandHills Mental Health Wellness Day held at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst. Taking over the display in the afternoon were Agnes Evans, Moore County FCS agent, and Susan Condlin, Lee County Extension director. The group presented food safety information using "the Wheel of Fortune" format. Prizes were awarded for correct answers. The agents answered questions about food safety and fighting bacteria during the event that reached more than 350 employees of SandHills Mental Health.

Posted by Natalie at 09:39 AM

December 22, 2005

Color Me Healthy wins national award

Color Me Healthy graphic

The "Color Me Healthy" nutrition program has received the 2005 Nemours Vision Award for Excellence in Child Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The award was presented to Dr. Carolyn Dunn, nutrition specialist with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, and Cathy Thomas with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, co-authors of Color Me Healthy.

The Nemours Vision Award recognizes the work of one U.S. community organization or government agency from outside of Delaware that have developed visionary and effective programs for children and their families. Debbie Chang, Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Nemours Health and Prevention Services presented the award at an awards ceremony in Wilmington, Delaware on December 9, 2005. "Color Me Healthy" received a crystal statue and $5,000 to be used for the program in the coming year.

"Color Me Healthy" is a program developed to reach children ages four and five with fun, interactive learning opportunities on physical activity and healthy eating. It is stimulates all of the senses of young children: touch, smell, sight, sound, and, of course, taste. Through the use of color, music, and exploration of the senses, Color Me Healthy teaches children that healthy food and physical activity are fun.

To date, more than 6,000 North Carolina child care providers have been trained to use the program. "Color Me Healthy" is being used in 40 states across the nation.

Posted by Natalie at 08:37 AM

August 30, 2005

Extension is partner in 'Move More' standards

Photo of Jon Ort
Dr. Jon Ort of Cooperative Extension speaks at the announcement of the 'Move More'standards for physical activity. (Photo by Daniel Kim)

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and two partner organizations announced new standards last week to get the state’s K-12 students out of their desks and moving more in schools.

Cooperative Extension, the Division of Public Health and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction announced the new “Move More: North Carolina’s Recommended Standards for Physical Activity in School” on Aug. 26 at Carroll Middle School in Raleigh. These standards follow last year’s standards regarding all foods sold in schools.

“Serving as a partner in this ‘Move More’ initiative for public schools is a natural fit for us,” said Dr. Jon Ort, Cooperative Extension Service director. “We all realize that to truly have a healthy lifestyle, we must ‘eat smarter’ and ‘move more,’ the focus of these two initiatives.”

The physical activity standards relate to teacher qualifications, class size, school time spent in physical activity, equipment and facilities. Based on these criteria, schools can rate their programs from “needs improvement” to “minimum standard” to “superior standard.” The standards also call on school personnel and students’ families to model healthy lifestyles for students.

Ort described how Cooperative Extension’s long history in nutrition education and its commitment to improving the lives of young people made the “Move More” initiative a natural fit. Extension’s involvement in the “Move More” standards includes the expertise of professionals like Dr. Carolyn Dunn, N.C. State nutrition specialist, and Dr. Carol Mitchell, Cooperative Extension in Wake County, who helped develop the standards.

Throughout the state, a number of Extension professionals serve on their local School Health Advisory Councils – or SHACS – to help implement the school food and physical activity standards in their communities, he said.

Ort also described how the Pamlico County schools and Cooperative Extension had partnered to pay the salary of Sherry Howlett, program assistant, who teaches nutrition and activity lessons to the school system’s 1,700 students. School officials report that, as a result of the program, students perform better in school and make healthier choices in the cafeteria.

More than 30 percent North Carolina’s children struggle with overweight or are at-risk for being overweight, according State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin who hosted the “Move More” standards announcement. Increasingly, children are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, a disease normally associated with middle age. The costs of obesity and overweight to North Carolina exceed $2 billion.

Delvin said the “Move More” program is not about rating schools with “A’s and F’s. This is about moving everyone forward.”

Howard Lee, chairman of the State Board of Education, related his personal experience with diabetes and the discipline it requires to exercise and eat well. Visiting schools across the state, he says, he sees a number of students who are overweight.

“Youngsters who put on a lot of weight are toying with getting diabetes, and it is a dangerous and chronic disease,” he said.

That is why the State Board of Education has passed a requirement that students must spend 30 minutes a day in physical activity, Lee said. The rule will go into effect for the 2006-07 school year.

“The password of the day must be ‘activity,’” he said. “Unfortunately, the password seems to be ‘passivity:’ television, computers, video games, cars and fast food.”

More information on the "Move More" standards can be found on the Web at http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/.

--Natalie Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 03:50 PM