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Family Science News and Information Archives

Strenthening Family Relationships


Extension Specialist Receives $1.6 Million Grant to Teach Healthy Marriage Skills

Dr. Brian Higginbotham, extension specialist at Utah State University, received $1.6 million to teach healthy marriage skills to low-income Hispanic and Caucasian couples in stepfamilies. Dr. Linda Skogrand, also an extension specialist, is a co-investigator. Three Head Start/Early Head Start agencies offer marriage education classes (at six different sites) in various counties throughout Utah. The Head Start agencies already serve the targeted population. The project utilizes the Smart Steps curriculum, a 12-hour research-based program developed by Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder, extension specialist at Auburn University. Adults, children, and adolescents (up to age 17) meet separately for the first 1 ½ hours of each class and then combine for the last half-hour for family-strengthening activities. The curriculum focuses on commitment, communication, (step) parenting, management of family budgets, conflict management, and other elements to enhance family stabilization. The classes are presented in Spanish. The English version of Smart Steps is used at sites with English-speaking-Hispanic and non-Hispanic families, which serve as comparison groups.

In light of the rates of divorce, cohabitation, and out-of-wedlock births, the rationale for this project is that stepfamilies are becoming an increasingly common family formation in the United States. There are, however, few educational programs that help couples prepare for remarriage and/or enhance their relationships in the context of stepfamily-life. There are even fewer programs, if any, that provide these services for low-income, Hispanic couples in stepfamilies. By addressing the barriers that have historically hindered these couples from participating in marriage education, this project provides low-income, Hispanic couples in stepfamilies with unique opportunities to learn healthy marriage skills. The project also includes a longitudinal study of participant outcomes and a formative evaluation of effective strategies to reach and teach these fragile families.

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Financial Security Community of Practice Wins National Award

The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) awarded the eXtension Financial Security for All Community of Practice Leadership Team the “Outstanding Consumer Financial Information Award” at its annual conference November 14-16, 2007, in Tampa, FL. Team Chair Debra Pankow, North Dakota State University, accepted the award. Other team members are Nancy Porter, Clemson University; Barbara O’Neill, Rutgers University; Sharon Seiling, Ohio State University; Judy Branch, University of Vermont; and Erik Anderson, University of Idaho. Jane Schuchardt, NIFA, and Linda Kirk Fox, Washington State University, advised the team. eXtension is the Cooperative Extension System’s electronic delivery system for current, unbiased, peer-reviewed information and education. The financial security portion of the site includes learning and assessment tools, nearly 1,000 frequently asked questions, and the opportunity to ask questions of an extension personal finance expert. The eXtension Web site, which includes the financial security portion, will be formally launched at the USDA Agriculture Outlook Forum in Crystal City, VA, February 21-22, 2008.

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Revised Community Nutrition Map Available

The revised Community Nutrition Map (CNMap), provided by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, provides user-friendly information on food and nutrition indicators by state—compared to national levels—for nutritionists, researchers, educators, and consumers.

Anyone on the Internet can access easy-to-read customized tables and color-coded maps. Indicators include data on estimated nutrient intakes, eating patterns, physical activity, body weight, demographics, and food security. Food security is defined as an individual's ability to access enough food to lead an active, healthy life. Policy makers and public health workers can use these profiles to investigate diet and health issues that may be of concern both at the local and state level.

Indicators were obtained from a variety of sources. The primary source of data for Version 2 is "What We Eat in America," the dietary intake interview component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This data was combined with data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service.

The Map Gallery provides percentages of individuals, state-by-state, who meet ChooseMyPlate.gov food group recommendations, which include specified amounts of vegetables, grains, fruits, meats, and dairy. Users can also look up percentages of individuals, state-by-state, who are at risk of nutrient inadequacy, or excess, for specific nutrients from food sources.

Contact Marilyn A. Swanson, NIFA national program leader, for more information.


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Strengthening Families, Youth, and Communities: Putting Knowledge to Work Training Opportunity

Clemson University, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service, the College of Health, Education & Human Development, and the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management are sponsoring  the fourth national “Strengthening Families, Youth, and Communities: Putting Knowledge to Work.” The dates for the conference are February 11- 14, 2008. Keynote speakers and workshop presenters will share information and showcase programs and curriculum that focus on families, youth, and communities.

Conference Themes

  • Strengthening Families, Aging, and Financial Well-Being
  • Community Development and Public Policy
  • Improving Family Nutrition and Wellness
  • 4-H and Youth Development


Request for Proposals (RFP) for presentations are due by November 15. Additional information and registration forms is available on the conference Web site.


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2007 4-H Families Count: Family Strengthening Awards

The National 4-H Council is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2007 4-H Families Count: Family Strengthening Awards, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The foundation funds these awards with the understanding that winners will spread knowledge of working family strengthening practices throughout the 4-H system, help other programs recognize themselves as family strengthening programs, and infuse family strengthening into programs that may improve through use of best practices. To accomplish this, the awardees will participate in a special National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) seminar at their annual meeting on October 25 in Atlanta, GA; write a flexible replication plan; and conduct at least four additional training and information-sharing sessions with their colleagues (regionally or nationwide).

The award winning programs are:

For more information, visit http://www.fourhcouncil.edu/4HFamiliesProgram.aspx

Overview and Program Goals

In rural America, being isolated and disconnected socially and/or geographically from opportunity and support can thwart the efforts and aspirations of even the most resourceful families and lengthen the odds against their children doing well. Therefore, it is critical to connect families to programs, resources, and support that can help them succeed under disadvantaged conditions.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, through their partnership with the National 4-H Council, rewards programs that improve outcomes for rural, disadvantaged families by fostering the social networks, economic opportunities, services, and support families need to be successful. Parents who have access to economic opportunities and the support of strong informal networks and accessible, effective services are much more likely to succeed at giving their children the better futures that all parents want for them.

4-H youth development programs have always involved parents and family members. The exemplary 4-H programs recognized by this awards program place special emphasis on increasing opportunities and supportive networks for families, and with 4-H children and youth in their educational programs and activities.

The overall goals of the program are:

  • To reward innovative, exemplary, and effective 4-H youth development programs that strengthen families, foster new opportunities, and provide support through one of the following 4-H Programs of Distinction categories:
    • Leadership, Citizenship, and Life Skills
    • Science, Engineering, and Technology
    • Healthy Lifestyles
    • Youth in Governance
    • Organizational Strategies
  • To reward 4-H youth development programs that reach disadvantaged youth and families in rural areas who are struggling with economic and social success.


The Award

With the help of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, five outstanding 4-H youth development programs that successfully meet the criteria outlined in the application receive awards of $15,000. These awards give financial recognition for existing programs, not funding for completely new programs. The financial award will be given to the 4-H extension unit (county extension office, state 4-H program office, state, or local 4-H foundation, etc.) that is involved in the planning and implementation of the award-winning program.

The developers of each award-winning program receive $10,000 at a recognition event during the annual NAE4-HA meeting. Recipients receive the remaining $5,000 after they successfully share the program's best practices/technical assistance with others within the Cooperative Extension System or with other youth-serving partner agencies.

Funds are unrestricted once received. The primary requirement of awardees is to be available and

Forum for Family and Consumer Issues Special Issue Released: Cultivating Healthy Couple and Marital Relationships

Members of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) authored articles in a special issue of the Forum for Family and Consumer Issues to help Cooperative Extension educators and partnering professionals acquire the knowledge needed to effectively conduct relationship and marriage education programming. This special issue, Cultivating Healthy Couple and Marital Relationships, includes examples of theoretically- and empirically-informed implications for developing, delivering, and evaluating relationship and marriage education programs for diverse audiences.

A complete announcement about the special issue is available online.

The special issue is available online; click on Current/Past Issues (Spring 2007, Vol. 12, No. 1).

More information about NERMEN is available on their Web site.

The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues is now located at www.ncsu.edu/ffci/, so please change your bookmarks.

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Iowa State University Healthy Couple and Marriage Education Web Conference

Iowa State University Extension invites you to participate in a national Web conference focused on community planning for healthy couple and marriage education programs and support on May 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. central time. There is no charge to participate.

Family professionals spend a lot of effort helping parents learn the skills to guide their children's development and behavior. Often, little time is spent on nurturing the parents' relationship with each other. Why should we focus on the quality of their couple relationship and foster the development of skills to strengthen the relationship?

This national Web conference, entitled “Going Further: Community Planning for Healthy Couple and Marriage Education Programs and Support,” will help family professionals:

  • better understand this connection and begin to build the case for supporting families in this critical area; and
  • explore strategies to bring community members together to plan for couple and marriage education programs and support.

This Web conference is a follow-up to the December 2005 national satellite program, The Impact of Couple and Marital Relationships on Parenting and Child Outcomes. A lesson guide to bring community partners together around this topic will be available.

Registration is limited to 75 people. The Web conference will be archived and available after May 25.

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NERMEN Launches Web Site

The National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) has launched a Web site. It provides information on healthy relationship and marriage education efforts and resources available across the extension system. NERMEN strives to support extension educators, as well as our professional partners, who are working with youth and adults in relationship and marriage enrichment programming. The Web site includes:

  • extension-based resources and training materials available to support educational programming in this area;

  • linkages to collaborative efforts and programs within extension that are emerging across the country, and;

  • access to colleagues across extension who are also working to support healthy couple and marital relationships.

Visit the Web site to learn more!

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Smart Marriages Conference Features Extension Sessions

Interested in learning more about a variety of relationship and marriage education programs and resources? Then plan to attend the Smart Marriages Conference in Denver, CO, June 28 - July 1, 2007. Brochures are being sent to extension family life specialists in each state. As in the past, extension is represented on the program. Scheduled presentations are:

  • Partner With Cooperative Extension: Create Capacity, Francesca Adler-Baeder (Auburn University) and Ted Futris (University of Georgia).
    This vast network of educators and researchers offers free to low-cost programs and information and obvious partners for your community, marriage-strengthening, coalition-building efforts.

  • Smart Steps for Stepfamilies, Francesca Adler-Bader (Auburn University).
    Learn key strategies to supplement any marriage education program or create a stand-alone class for step-couples and children. Effective for work with ethnic minority populations.

  • Married and Loving It, Barbara Petty (University of Idaho).
    This 5-week, skill-based program always has full classes and waiting lists. Learn what makes the program so successful and how to replicate it in your community.

  • The Marriage Garden, Wallace Goddard and James Marshall (University of Arkansas).
    Easy to teach, innovative, flexible, FREE(!), and based on new discoveries in positive psychology and Appreciative Inquiry. Includes commitment, nurture, and communication activities.

  • Intentional Harmony for Dual Earner Couples, Angela Wiley (University of Illinois).
    Help couples take a team approach to balancing work, household tasks, childrearing (including a new arrival), and romance! Tools, red flags, and practical strategies.

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Funding for Extension Relationship and Marriage Enrichment Programs

Extension colleagues of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) recently received federal and/or state funding to support their relationship and marriage enrichment programs. During the past 2 years, extension has been awarded more than $20 million to support multi-year projects that will serve youth and adults through statewide and county-based relationship and marriage enrichment programs. Below is a list of some of those that were funded:

  • Alabama: Francesca Adler-Baeder, Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative. Federally funded in 2006 for $8.3 million over 5 years.

  • Alabama: Jennifer Kerpelman and Francesca Adler-Baeder, The Impact of Relationships/Marriage Education on Ethnically-Diverse, Low Resource Youth. Federally and state funded in 2005 for $1.2 million over 5 years.

  • Arkansas: James Marshall and Wally Goddard, Marriage and Fatherhood Education for Arkansans. State funded in 2006 for $1 million.

  • Colorado: Janet Benavente, Family Success in Adams County. Federally funded in 2006 for $2.5 million over 5 years.

  • Michigan: Karen Shirer and Dawn Contreras, Together We Can: Creating a Healthy Future for our Family, Child Support Enforcement Special Improvement Project. Federally funded in 2006 for $299,000 over 3 years.

  • Missouri: Kim Allen and Carol Mertensmeyer, Connecting for Baby. Federally funded in 2006 for $2.4 million over 5 years.

  • Utah: Brian Higginbotham and Linda Skogrand, Teaching Healthy Marriage Skills to Ethnically Diverse, Low-Income Couples in Stepfamilies. Federally funded in 2006 for $2.3 million over 5 years.

If you have recently (or in the past couple of years) received funding to support programming in this content area and are not listed above, please contact Ted Futris. NERMEN is creating a Web site to showcase extension's success in relationship and marriage enrichment programming and to offer resources and support to others within extension who wish to conduct programming in this area.

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Healthy Couples, Healthy Children: Targeting Youth Project

Faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University are conducting an innovative, Federally funded evaluation project, "Healthy Couples, Healthy Children: Targeting Youth" (HCHCTY).  The program is part of a school-based, relationships education curriculum (Relationship Smarts Plus, adapted from Pearson, 2004) targeting high school students across the state of Alabama . This 5-year evaluation study (October 2005-2010) is funded by the Office for Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Implementation of the educational program is supported by an additional grant from the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (Children's Trust Fund of Alabama) and is offered with the cooperation with the State Department of Education.

As part of the National Healthy Marriage Initiative, this is the first-ever longitudinal study of relationships/marriage education for youth.  In addition to documenting both immediate and sustained impact, this evaluation study will permit the curriculum to be enhanced through careful evaluation and revisions to its content and implementation from year to year, based on teachers' and students' experiences with the program.  This intensive project should result in meaningful impacts for Alabama adolescents by increasing their understanding of healthy and unhealthy dating patterns, and of factors related to healthy and stable committed relationships and marriages.  Another goal is to reduce adolescents' negative interactions and increase their use of positive interaction skills within their dating relationships, and to reduce their favorable attitudes towards, and engagement in, risky sexual behaviors. The final outcomes of this evaluation project will be used to construct a model for youth-focused relationships education across the nation. For more information, contact Jennifer Kerpelman, Francesca Adler-Baeder, or Joe Pittman.

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National Program Leader to Co-Chair Family Strengthening Peer Network

Caroline Crocoll, NIFA national program leader for Family Science and Human Development, will co-chair the Family Strengthening Peer Network of the National Assembly of Health and Human Services-Family Strengthening Policy Center (FSPC). Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the FSPC is part of the Foundation's Neighborhood Transformation/Family Development and Making Connections initiatives. Casey initiatives improve outcomes for children and families living in low income, rural, and marginalized communities by advancing and promoting family strengthening practice. The Family Strengthening Peer Network, comprised of more than 50 national service organizations, is dedicated to enhancing the lives of American families and promotes family strengthening from the perspective that strong families raise children to become responsible, productive, and caring adults.

According to FSPC, universal access to affordable, quality services, support networks, and educational opportunities, such as those provided through the knowledge base of land-grant universities, are imperative components to a family's economic success, health, and well being. They are also essential for positive child and youth outcomes. Family strengthening incorporates high quality research evidence into a model that focuses on the entire family system within the context of its community. Prevailing human service interventions have been problem-specific, fragmented, and crisis oriented; family strengthening practice gives priority to the delivery of community based, preventative, and comprehensive services and education.  

The Family Strengthening Peer Network provides opportunities for member organizations to share knowledge on family strengthening strategies, learn what other organizations are doing, and find synergies and potential areas of collaboration to promote the health and well-being of families across the nation. For more information, visit the FSPC Web site.

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NIFA Partners with the Land-Grant University System

Through NIFA and its partners in the Cooperative Extension System (CES) at the Land-Grant Universities, research and education programs are developed and delivered through local extension offices that help families and individuals deal with many challenges. The growing number and diversity of U.S. families suggest the importance of these programs. These programs are centered around the following issues:


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4-H Family Strengthening Distinguished Lecture

The National 4-H Council, National 4-Headquarters, USDA, and NIFA hosted the inaugural 4-H Family Strengthening Distinguished Lecture September 26 in Washington, DC. Dr. Stephen Small, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Human Development and Family Relations Specialist at University of Wisconsin-Extension, addressed applying land-grant university research to family strengthening through youth development. Dr. Small, who holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Cornell University, has served as a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature's Special Committee on Teen Pregnancy Prevention, the National Research Council's Committee on School Violence, and the National Academy of Science's Forum on Adolescence. He is currently a commissioner for the City of Madison 's Community Services Commission.

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Healthy Child Development


Outreach and Extension from Cornell Department of Human Development

Adolescents and Risk: Helping Young People Make Better Choices: For decades, adolescents have been bombarded by facts about the risks they face. Yet efforts to scare young decisionmakers into safe behavior have met with limited success. Research by Valerie Reyna and colleagues explores how adolescents consider risk and offers suggestions for new intervention strategies.

The Effects of the Physical Environment on Children's Development: Research by Gary Evans shows that the physical environment—noise level, overcrowding, and housing and neighborhood quality—profoundly influences child development, including academic achievement, cognitive, social and emotional development, as well as parenting behavior.

What Parents and Professionals Need to Know about Children's Testimony: Children are increasingly called upon to testify in courts, most commonly in cases of maltreatment or divorce and child custody. Research by Valerie Reyna and Charles Brainerd provides insights that can help parents, guardians, law professionals, and others assess the validity of children’s testimony and protect children’s memories during questioning.

Dyslexia and the Brain: Research Shows that Reading Ability Can be Improved: Elise Temple, former faculty member in the Department of Human Development, uses brain-imaging techniques to understand what is going on in the brain as children develop language and reading skills. Her pioneering research provides encouraging news for children with developmental dyslexia.

Research Sheds Light on How Babies Learn and Develop Language: Research by Marianella Casasola provides a window into how babies learn and develop language skills during the first 2 years of life. Her findings demonstrate that infants are learning about their language well before they speak their language.

Using IT to Meet Educators Needs

Human Ecology Hot Topics

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Partnering with Parents ONLINE Training

Iowa State University Extension invites you to strengthen your knowledge and skills in working with families, and specifically in facilitating parenting education, through participation in Partnering with Parents ONLINE.  Undergraduate and graduate credit, social worker hours, teacher renewal credits, and a Parenting Education Certificate of Completion are available.

This comprehensive research-based, 11-module training series focuses on nationally recognized competencies for parenting educators. The National Extension Parent Education Model (NEPEM) and the National Extension Parenting Educator's Framework (NEPEF) are incorporated into the training. 

Learners interact with facilitators from various states and expertise.  Each module contains a variety of interactive learning tools and resources you can use in your work with families. Program evaluation data shows that the training incorporates recommended practices for online learning and strengthens participants' parenting education knowledge and skills.

Topics include culture and parenting, parenting with special challenges, critically examining and selecting parenting curricula, measuring program outcomes, feeding children and physical activities for families, relationship of financial stability to family well-being, understanding parent and child development, guiding children, and much more.

To encourage participation from Cooperative Extension System colleagues across the nation, the registration fee is reduced to $400 (from $600) for cooperative extension employees for the full online series.

Contact Kimberly Greder at Iowa State University, at kgreder@iastate.edu or (515) 294-5906 for more information.

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eXtension launches Just In Time Parenting site

Finding reliable parenting information on the Internet just got easier! eXtension is pleased to announce the “soft” launch of its newest online resource, Just in Time Parenting (JITP).

“We're very excited to have this newest addition to the eXtension ‘storefront,'” said Dan Cotton, eXtension director.  “This is a great example of a long standing team recognizing the power of virtual collaboration and information delivery.”

Building on more than 30 years of evidence-based practice in distributing age-paced newsletters in over twenty states, the JITP Community of Practice has transformed Cooperative Extension's trusted parenting information into a national interactive Internet resource.  When eXtension is publicly launched in February, monthly “just in time” e-newsletters will reach parents -- keyed to the age of each subscriber's child.

The eXtension parenting content has been written and peer-reviewed by a multi-state team of Extension faculty at leading universities.  JITP content is developed to attract low-literacy readers as well as very busy parents.  The content highlights information and strategies identified by researchers as those most crucial to helping children thrive – promoting healthy growth and development, preparing children for school success, reinforcing positive parenting behaviors and affirming healthy interpersonal and family relationships.

The eXtension Just in Time Parenting site features:

  • Age-paced newsletters that can be downloaded and printed
  • More than 175 Frequently Asked Questions
  • Ask the Expert
  • Facts sheets

Although the current focus is infants, the JITP team plans to extend the resources from pregnancy through parenting in the teen years.

To check out the JITP site visit http://www.extension.org and choose Parenting.

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Expert Committee Releases Recommendations to Fight Childhood and Adolescent Obesity

On June 6, an expert committee on the assessment, prevention, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity released recommendations for the management of overweight and obese children. The committee, made up of representatives from 15 health professional organizations, was convened by the American Medical Association and co-funded with the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease ical public health issue for those who care for children and adolescents. The CDC will take the expert committee's recommendations under advisement.

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New Research Briefs on Improving Attendance and Family Involvement in Out-of-School Time Programs

Improving Attendance and Retention in Out-of-School Time Programs
The benefits of out-of-school time programs are well documented, but children and youth cannot gain those benefits without first breaking through the barriers to participation. The Improving Attendance and Retention in Out-of-School Time Programs brief provides ideas for overcoming common barriers and outlines an action plan to measure attendance and retention in out-of-school programs.

Building, Engaging, and Supporting Family and Parental Involvement in Out-of-School Time Programs

The Building, Engaging, and Supporting Family and Parental Involvement in Out-of-School Time Programs brief describes family involvement and why it matters for out-of-school time programs. It also examines some of the issues that program staff face when attempting to engage parents and offers suggestions for how to encourage family and parental involvement.

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National Center for Children in Poverty Releases Report on the States

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) recently released a report entitled, “State Early Childhood Policies: Improving the Odds.” This report highlights some of the key finds from NCCP's database of state policy choices.

NCCP is the nation's leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America 's low-income families and children. NCCP uses research to inform policy and practice with the goal of ensuring positive outcomes for the next generation. NCCP promotes family-oriented solutions at the state and national levels. The NCCP envisions families that are economically secure; are strong and nurturing; and promote healthy child development.

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Purple Wagon Research and Resources on Children's Understanding of and Parent-Child Communication about War and Peace

The Purple Wagon Web site provides information on the research that Dr. Judith Myers-Walls and her colleagues at Purdue University have conducted since 1989 regarding children's understanding of and parent-child communication about war and peace. That program of research is outlined in the research studies section of this site. The educational methods used by Purple Wagon are part of the Purdue Extension mission, an organization that provides educational outreach from research grounded in the land grant universities to people in each state of the U.S. and beyond.

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Why Fathers Count: The Importance of Fathers and Their Involvement with Children

Why Fathers Count: The Importance of Fathers and Their Involvement with Children (edited by Sean E. Brotherson and Joseph M. White) is a 27-chapter anthology dealing with the most important work men ever do--being totally involved in the lives of their children and families.  It is men's strengths, their capacity to care and protect and give, that are needed by children, women, and men themselves. In a culture that questions that value of men in family life, this book provides a unique and compelling perspective on what men can contribute to their families and communities, and insight on the ways in which fathers and father figures make a meaningful difference. 

Why Fathers Count offers that insight, giving a fresh and powerful perspective on the meaningful contributions of fathers and father figures to the lives of children, youth, and families. For more information, contact Sean Brotherson.

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Help Child Care Facilities Prepare for Emergencies

Many states now mandate that child care facilities have emergency preparedness plans in place. The Penn State Better Kid Care Program has developed materials for 2-hour workshops to assist child care centers, group homes, and family child care homes write facility emergency preparedness plans. The materials include training workshop outlines, copy-ready handout materials, and a motivational DVD See the Better Kid Care Web site for more information and for ordering details.

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Spring Satellite Workshops for Child Care Providers and Parents

Penn State University's Better Kid Care program offers the following satellite workshops for child care providers and parents:

  • “Your #1 Priority: keeping children healthy and safe” -- March 29, 2007

  • “How to Turn Good Play into GREAT Play” -- April 26, 2007

Information for workshop facilitators, copy-ready handouts, and DVD's of the broadcast are available.

See the Better Kid Care Web site for satellite coordinates and more information.

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National Parenting Education Training

Extension professionals and parenting educators may participate in a national Web-based training opportunity on applying National Extension Parent Education Model (NEPEM) and National Extension Parent Educators' Framework (NEPEF) to Strengthen Parenting Educators' Competencies through Partnering with Parents. The event is April 16, 2007, 1-3 p.m. central time.

The presenters will be:

Karen DeBord, Ph.D.
Professor and Extension Specialist
Four-H/Youth and Family and Consumer Sciences
North Carolina State University

Charles A. Smith, Ph.D.
Professor and Extension Specialist
School of Family Studies and Human Services
Kansas State University

Kimberly Greder, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist
Human Development and Family Studies
Iowa State University

The presentation will:

  • provide an overview of Partnering with Parents, an in-depth training for parenting educators that is available online, and face to face, in Iowa;

  • review NEPEM and NEPEF and how they are integrated into Partnering with Parents; and,

  • discuss ways people can participate in Partnering with Parents online, as well as opportunities for extension in other states to purchase, and implement, the Partnering with Parents curriculum.

The event will take place via the on-line meeting environment, Adobe Connect. To participate, you must have a computer, a connection to the Internet, and a telephone.

To learn more about the program and register online, visit the Iowa State Extension Web site.

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Self-Injurious Behavior – Research to Outreach

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) seems to be increasingly common among youth. Not generally intended as a suicidal gesture, many youth are drawn to use the practice to cope with emotional pain, numbness, and isolation. At an unconscious level, they may be seeking the palliative effect of natural painkillers – endorphins – which the body releases in response to pain.

The fact that seemingly healthy young people exhibit self-injurious behavior is of great concern. Research shows many self-injurious youth are functioning well enough on a day-to-day basis to avoid detection and formal treatment. That does not, however, mean they are coping well.

Self-injury trends suggest that a significant number of young people in communities are struggling with serious psychological issues and that many of them are struggling alone. The Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behaviors Web site summarizes work and provides links and resources for understanding, detecting, treating, and preventing SIB in adolescents and young adults. Janis Whitlock, in the Family Life Development Center at Cornell's College of Human Ecology, directors the program.

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National 4-H Learning Priorities Announced

National 4-H Headquarters has announced five National 4-H Learning Priorities for 2007-2012.  The goal of the learning priorities, in addition to efforts in the mission mandate areas, is to increase the knowledge, skills, and leadership of 4-H educators, 4-H military program staff, and 4-H after school providers in the field of youth development. Teams will use the expertise and resources of the 4-H and extension system to recommend and implement learning solutions. Those solutions will include face-to-face training, continuous learning using technology, online tools, and knowledge sharing­across the system.  Mary Williams, University of Florida , Nassau County, and a past president of NAE4-HA is the project leader. Co-leaders for each of the National 4-H Learning Priorities are:The Essential Elements of Youth Development (4-H PRKC: Youth Development): Elaine Johannes, assistant professor and extension specialist, youth development, Kansas State University; Lori Purcell, 4-H program development coordinator, University of Georgia; and Craig Dart, 4-H youth development specialist, Utah State University.

Volunteer Development for the Next Generation (4-H PRKC: Volunteerism): Sheri Seibold, extension specialist, 4-H Youth Development, University of Illinois; and Doug Swanson, extension educator, 4-H Youth Development, University of Nebraska.

Evaluating for Impact (4-H PRKC: Youth Program Development):  Mary Arnold, associate professor and 4-H youth development specialist, Oregon State University; and Suzanne LeMenestrel, national program leader, youth development research, National 4-H Headquarters.

Expanding Outreach to New and Underserved Audiences (4-H PRKC: Equity, Access, and Opportunity):  Manami Brown, city extension director, Maryland Cooperative Extension-Baltimore City, University of Maryland; and Beverly Hobbs, professor and 4-H youth development specialist, Oregon State University.

Building Effective Organizational Systems (4-H PRKC: Organizational Systems):  Robert Richard, professor and unit head, organization development and evaluation, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service; Ellen Rowe, community and leadership development, University of Vermont; and Kendra Wells, extension specialist, 4-H Youth Development, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension.

Teams, resembling Communities of Practice, will be established for each learning priority.  The learning priorities are drawn from inputs from across the country. They reflect the national strategic plan and the ECOP-supported goal of doubling the number of young people in high-impact 4-H club experiences.  The national learning priorities are also consistent with the domains found in the 4-H Professional Research Knowledge and Competency model (4-H PRKC, 2005).  National 4-H Council, the national, private sector non-profit partner of 4-H and the Cooperative Extension System, is providing additional financial support.  For more information, contact Barbara Stone, national program leader, professional development, National 4-H Headquarters.

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NEFE High School Financial Planning Program®

The National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE) and JA Worldwide™ (Junior Achievement) in late September announced their partnership to expand the outreach of the NEFE High School Financial Planning Program® (HSFPP). The agencies formed a 5-year affiliation through the mutual belief that teens with financial education are better prepared to meet life's challenges. JA volunteers will introduce the program in conjunction with JA's Economics for Success curriculum, which provides practical information about personal finance. JA Economics for Success also highlights the importance of identifying education and career goals based on a student's skills, interests, and values. This agreement will not affect current partnerships with NIFA, USDA, participating land-grant university cooperative extension services, or the Credit Union National Association and America 's credit unions. Visit the NEFE Web site for more information about the HSFPP or visit the NIFA Financial Security program page (under Partnerships).

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Adult Development and Aging

Lucille Bearon selected as 2007-2008 AGHE Fellow

Lucille B. Bearon, North Carolina State University, has been selected by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) as a 2007-2008 AGHE Fellow in Gerontology and Geriatrics Education.  Fellow status is an honor conferred by AGHE, which recognizes outstanding leadership in gerontology/geriatrics education by established scholars and educators.  Qualifications include outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship, and research on educational issues; influential research publications or theoretical contributions used in gerontology/geriatric education and training; or leadership in administration and funding of gerontology/geriatrics educational programs, including development of new programs.  Applications for the 2008 AGHE Fellowship Program are due October 17, 2008. 

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New Intergenerational Programs from Penn State University

The Penn State Intergenerational Program, rooted in Penn State Cooperative Extension, provides leadership and resource support for organizations interested in developing intergenerational programs and activities that enrich people's lives and help address vital social and community issues. The Web site provides information on intergenerational research, new program models, curricular resources and fact sheets, conferences, and trends in the intergenerational field.

Several new publications are now available:

FRIDGE — Food, Family, and Fellowship

This is a 16 – 20 hour program to help youth (10 – 15 years) and their parents and grandparents work as partners to achieve their healthy eating goal. The program is designed to be conducted with a group of 4 – 8 families. Activities are fun, hands on, and stimulating for family communication. “Take Out” activities encourage follow-up at home.

The FRIDGE curriculum has three sections, each with 4 – 6 activities.

Section 1: Enhancing family communication about food

Section 2: Learning together about food and nutrition

Section 3: Working as a team to improve family eating practices

FRIDGE can be incorporated into nutrition education or family strengthening programs.


From Me to We – A Game of Intergenerational Discovery

This is a simple game designed to help family members of different generations discover activities they can do together. 4-H leaders who have their clubs involved in visiting nursing homes or engaged in other types of service projects with older adults can also use this game as a tool. The game provides a fun and easy way to begin interacting with someone from a different generation.


Intergenerational Unity Forums: An Intergenerational Approach for Addressing Community Issues

The Intergenerational Unity Forum is a strategy for planning intergenerational programs tailored to meet local needs and build upon local assets. The approach involves conducting an intensive half-day meeting with a diverse group of local stakeholders, including representatives of youth organizations, elderly groups, ethnic groups, civic organizations, schools, social service agencies, business groups, and local government officials. This publication is an action guide for facilitators of Intergenerational Unity Forum events.

If you have any questions about these or other intergenerational resources or initiatives at Penn State, contact Matt Kaplan, associate professor of intergenerational programs and aging at Penn State University, at 814-863-7871 (phone), 814-863-4753 (fax), or msk15@psu.edu. For more information, visit the Intergenerational Programs and Aging Web site.

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Population Reference Bureau Monthly Newsletter

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) recently launched a new monthly e-newsletter, Today's Research on Aging, to increase awareness of research results and their applications to major public and private decision-making. Past issues have covered the topics of healthy aging, prescription drugs and Medicare, and savings and the elderly.

PRB informs people from around the world and in the United States about issues related to population, health, and the environment by transforming technical data and research into accurate, easy-to-understand information.

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A Blueprint for Action: Developing a Livable Community for All Ages

A Blueprint for Action: Developing a Livable Community for All Ages provides cities and counties with detailed strategies, practical tools, and proven solutions they can use to prepare for the large Baby Boomer population.  The blueprint, produced by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Partners for Livable Communities with funding from MetLife Foundation, covers housing, planning and zoning, transportation, health and supportive services, public safety, civic engagement, culture, and lifelong learning.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Aging Trends

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released Trends in Health Status and Health Care Use Among Older Women. In addition, the CDC's Trends in Health and Aging Web site provides comprehensive information about health status, health behaviors, health insurance coverage, health care expenditures, and the use of health services by the aging population in the United States. The National Center for Health Statistics maintains the trends data, and the National Institute on Aging supports the initiative.

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NIFA and AARP Work Together to Educate Employers and Employees

Prepare to Care

More than 80 percent of all care provided to older people in the United States is provided by family and friends. About 64 percent of caregivers of older adults are employed. The AARP Foundation and NIFA, the federal partner in the Cooperative Extension System, are working together in a 2-year pilot program to educate employers and employees about caregiving's impact on people's work and personal lives.


Employers in many communities are poised to play a vital role as “distribution channels” to build awareness and provide information about preparing for eldercare. This project targets both current and future employee caregivers. The partners in this project will reach small business employers and employees through the workplace using a set of shared strategies, including educational materials and activities, collectively called, “Prepare to Care—I'm READY are YOU?: Employers supporting employees who care for family members.”


The pilot program team will identify the most effective outreach strategies for working with small business employers to distribute family caregiving information and educational programming. By educating employers, it is expected businesses can reduce absenteeism and disruptions in the work schedule, increase retention of employees, and improve employee morale. Employees will have the knowledge, skills, and motivation to plan and care for elder family members, friends, and neighbors and improve their work-life balance.


The pilot program team includes the AARP Foundation, NIFA, state and local AARP offices, and Extension Service offices in New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wisconsin.


There will be a national rollout campaign of the Community Educator's Guide after 2 years, based on the best practices from the pilot program. The guide will include an assortment of educational materials and templates; national, state, and local resources; and proven outreach strategies for both employers and employees.

Contact Information

For more information about this project, please contact Sally Bowman or Dianne Weber.

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Five-State Medicare Education Team Wins NEAFCS Award

For a number of years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has had an ongoing partnership with NIFA to help educate Medicare beneficiaries, family caregivers, and rural and limited-resource families to make informed consumer and health care decisions. These audiences often lack access to social services, technology, transportation, and contact with a professional whom they trust regarding financial and health care matters. Informal educational outreach has helped families make informed decisions, reduce health care costs, and has helped elderly and disabled people to receive the benefits they are eligible for from the federal government. 

CMS has again partnered with NIFA and cooperative extension teams in Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, and Idaho to educate Medicare beneficiaries and their family caregivers about new benefits stemming from recent Medicare reform. The innovative work of this multi-state, multi-disciplinary team is being recognized at local, state, and national levels. As a result, the team will receive the 2006 National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Community Partnership Award as National Winner and Western Region Finalist in the NEAFCS Annual Awards Program. As collaborative work is encouraged at all levels of cooperative extension, NEAFCS Community Partnership Awards recognize members for outstanding community partnership efforts in meeting the needs of families through collaboration with groups, agencies, and consumers. The Medicare Education Team will receive its award at the NEAFCS Annual Session & Exhibits, in Denver, CO, at the awards banquet October 6.

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You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging Campaign

NIFA's Family 4-H and Nutrition Unit works with the Administration on Aging (AoA) to promote the You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging campaign. To help older Americans make healthier decisions, the campaign uses resources such as a guidebook that suggests weekly healthy activities, an activity log to track progress, and certificates that encourage participation. AoA provided NIFA and other partners a publicity guide, letterhead, and logos to help publicize the campaign and recruit individuals.

The Administration on Aging developed the You Can! campaign as a strategy to build on the commitment and local experience of community organizations in every state.

The campaign, launched in 2003 by Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, is part of the Department of Health and Human Services' Steps to a HealthierUS initiative. AoA will also sponsor a related national challenge evenans and can reduce the onset of chronic diseases and their risk factors such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.

In addition to the NIFA F4HN Unit, current Cooperative Extension System partners in the campaign include:

  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Urban Affairs New NonTraditional Programs
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County
  • Michigan State University Extension
  • Michigan State University Extension, Crawford County
  • Michigan State University Extension, Montmorency & Presque Isle Counties
  • Michigan State University Extension, Saginaw County
  • Missouri State University Extension, Barry County
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
  • Ohio State University Extension
  • Ohio State University Extension, Knox County
  • Ohio State University Extension, Lorain County
  • Ohio State University Extension, Paulding County
  • Ohio State University Extension, Pike County
  • Oregon State University Extension, Morrow County
  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Pima County
  • University of Kentucky Extension Service
  • University of Kentucky Extension, Monroe County
  • University of Kentucky, Bath County Cooperative Extension Service
  • University of Kentucky, Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service
  • University of Kentucky, Muhlenberg County Cooperative Extension Service
  • University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Kent County
  • University of Missouri Extension
  • University of Missouri Extension, Camden County
  • University of Vermont Extension
  • University of Wisconsin Extension
  • University of Wisconsin Extension, Green County
  • University of Wisconsin Extension, Portage County
  • University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension

To become a You Can! partner visit the You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging Web site.


Professional Development Opportunities and Information


Graphic Recording Charts from the Futuring for Families Think Tank Now Available

To access the Futuring for Families charts, visit https://Visual-Logic-Net.clientsection.com

User name: FuturingForFamilies

Password: 2007Atlanta

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NCFR Launches New Journal: the Journal of Family Theory & Review

The National Council for Family Relations (NCFR) announces its forthcoming third scholarly journal, the Journal of Family Theory & Review (JFTR). The inaugural issue is slated for publication in March 2009. JFTR will be peer-reviewed and published quarterly. The journal's editor, Dr. Robert Milardo, professor of family relations at the University of Maine , invites submissions on theory and review in any area of family studies. The journal is especially interested in publishing emergent theory or work that reinterprets or integrates existing theory.  Interested writers and reviewers may contact Milardo with questions by e-mail or phone, at (207) 581-3128. 

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Call for Papers - Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal - Theme: Celebrating Cultural Diversity and FCS

The Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal (FCSRJ) is a peer-reviewed journal seeking manuscripts for Celebrating Cultural Diversity and FCS Special Issue on strengths and challenges of culturally-diverse individuals, families, and communities; exploration of cultural diversity through family and consumer sciences and related field perspectives; and examination of the demographic shifts in population and how these shifts have impacted individuals, family life, community, and society. Deadline for abstracts is November 15, 2007. Visit the NCFR Web site for more information.

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Futuring for Families Think Tank and National Extension Family Life Specialists' Conference Held in Atlanta

A Futuring for Families Think Tank and the 2007 National Extension Family Life Specialists Conference were held in Atlanta from July 30–August 2. Hosted by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia and co-chaired by Drs. Ted Futris and Diane Bale, these events brought together nearly 100 state and regional extension faculty and administrators from land-grant universities around the nation working in family and consumer sciences. National program leaders and administrators from NIFA's Families, 4-H, and Nutrition; Economic and Community Systems; and Plant and Animal Systems Units attended the think tank event as well.

Participants in the think tank event engaged in a "dream big" family and consumer sciences approach to visioning for successful family outcomes via facilitated discussion. They recommended and prioritized action strategies that lead to positive outcomes for families by discussing the benefits of approaching family issues from a multidisciplinary perspective; gained exposure to multidisciplinary extension programs with the potential for national reach; and helped frame priorities for national program leadership and local applications in the future.

Speakers from NIFA included Mary McPhail Gray, deputy administrator for Families, 4-H, and Nutrition; Caroline Crocoll, national program leader for family science; Jane Schuchardt, national program leader for family economics; and Joseph Wysocki, national program leader for housing and indoor environments. A multidisciplinary panel included NIFA national program leaders, as well as Don Bower, Ted Futris, and Pamela Turner from the University of Georgia; and Jeanette Tucker from the Louisiana State University Ag Center. Bower, who serves as professor, department head, and extension specialist in child and family development at the University of Georgia, facilitated the think tank event, which was graphically recorded by Martha McGinnis of Visual Logic in Atlanta.

Following the think tank, participants of the National Extension Family Life Specialists' Conference shared strategies, research, and programs that address contemporary and emerging family issues; formulated grant proposals for multi-state projects; connected and networked with representatives from NIFA and partner organizations, including the National Fatherhood Initiative. Attendees also engaged and collaborated on the eXtension Initiative and shared resources, challenges, and successes with valued extension colleagues.

Highlights of the family life conference included a new faculty and student orientation discussion, Orienting to the System, with Caroline Crocoll; New Ideas and Program Directions, providing background information and an overview of the eXtension Initiative, by Jane Schuchardt; Overview of Resource Support Through the eXtension Initiative by Craig Wood, associate director of the National eXtension Initiative; and eXtension Communities of Practice as Models of Multidisciplinary Programming by Carla Craycraft, associate director of the National eXtension Initiative.

Conference working groups included Adolescent Health and Development, facilitated by Jackie Davis-Manigaulte, Cornell University; Adult Development and Aging , facilitated by Deb Sellers, Kansas State University, and Mary Brintnall-Peterson, University of Wisconsin; Early Childhood and Child Care, facilitated by Diane Bales, University of Georgia, and Jane Lanigan, Washington State University; Parenting Education, facilitated by Tanner Nelson, University of Delaware, Aaron Ebata, University of Illinois, and Stephen Green, Texas A&M University; and Relationship and Marriage Education, facilitated by Francesca Adler-Baeder, Auburn University, and Ted Futris, University of Georgia.

The North Central Regional FCS directors participated in the Futuring for Families Think Tank on the opening day of the family life conference and also held their annual business meeting in conjunction with the conference. The meeting was hosted by Jo Britt-Rankin, associate dean, state specialist, and associate professor in nutritional sciences at the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Following the synthesis of information gathered at both events, NIFA's Families 4-H, and Nutrition and Economic and Community Systems Units hosted a Web conference for FCS leaders on August 23 to share the results.

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National Council on Family Relations Extension Pre-Conference Announced

The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Extension Pre-conference Committee has planned an exciting Extension Family Life Pre-Conference for November 6, from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Pittsburgh (PA) Hilton, site of the NCFR Annual Conference. There will also be an optional evening field trip.

The afternoon meeting will feature a visit by the Ambassador of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Mr. McFeeley, sharing and discussing the use of various technologies by extension faculty across the United States, an extensive look at the pros and cons of collaboration (a topic frequently discussed at previous conferences), and the annual awards ceremony and the share fair.

Extension family life specialists will receive registration information by e-mail after September 1.  Cost will be reasonable.

The planning committee members are:

Aaron T. Ebata
Ann Bruce
Beth Van Horn
Caroline Crocoll
Heidi Radunovich
Jane Lanigan
Jim Van Horn
Jodi Dworkin
Maureen Mulroy

For more information, contact Jim Van Horn, Penn State University.

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Journal of Youth Development Seeks Articles

The Journal of Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice is an online resource for youth development researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. The multidisciplinary, applied refereed journal is published three times a year by the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents and focuses on the development of school-aged youth through the transition to adulthood (ages 6-22). The Journal of Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice is interested in receiving papers for publication consideration in the following categories:


  • Research and Evaluation Strategy Articles – 1,000-word articles that describe innovative methodologies and strategies in the collection and analysis of quantitative or qualitative research and evaluation data.
  • Resource Reviews – 300-word critical reviews of resources and tools that would be helpful to youth development professionals.


Manuscripts are accepted at anytime. Please visit the Web site to access submission guidelines and the first three issues of the journal. Please contact the editor, Patricia Dawson, with questions.


Partnering with Parents ONLINE Begins June 11th

Are you a professional who works with parents? Do you want to increase your knowledge and sharpen your skills in facilitating parenting education? Do you want new ideas and resources to use with parents you work with?

If so, then Iowa State University's Partnering with Parents ONLINE is for you! This program consists of 11 interactive training modules based on principles of family centered practices and parenting education theory and research. In addition to professional development, each module contains activities and other resources you can download and use in your work with parents.

The National Extension Parent Education Model (NEPEM) and the National Extension Parenting Educators' Framework (NEPEF) are incorporated in this training. The modules are facilitated by various extension specialists and other parenting professionals. A Parenting Education Certificate of Completion is available from ISU Extension, as well as continuing education units, undergraduate, and graduate credit. Contact Kimberly Greder or visit the Iowa State Extension Web site for more information.

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Human Nutrition and Obesity NRI Funding Opportunity

NIFA's National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program maintains a database of potential grant reviewers. One of the research areas, “Human Nutrition and Obesity” (see announcement for 2007 below) is looking for more reviewers who have advanced degrees and research experience in family science and human development. The process is time consuming—it requires reading and writing reports, which give constructive feedback on about 20 proposals, and a week in Washington , DC , on a multidisciplinary panel to evaluate all the proposals received - usually 80-90. Funding the best work is an important and gratifying job. If you are interested in contributing your time and expertise in this way, please send an e-mail message with your name; the name of your department, institution, organization, or business; and area(s) of expertise (limit to four or five keywords) to newreviewer@nifa.usda.gov to be considered as a potential reviewer in the future. If you are interested in serving on the panel this year, please cc your information to Susan Welsh . This year, the panel will meet in October. 

31.5 Human Nutrition and Obesity

Investigators are encouraged to contact National Program Leader(s) Dr. Etta Saltos or Dr. Susan Welsh regarding questions about suitability of research topics and integrated activities. Proposed research project budgets must not exceed $500,000 (including indirect costs) and proposed integrated project budgets must not exceed $1.5 million (including indirect costs) for integrated projects for periods of 2-4 years. Budget requests of more than $1 million must be multi-investigator and/or multi-institutional. Application budget requests must not exceed $500,000 for research projects and $1.5 million for integrated projects. Application requests that exceed the guideline limits will be returned to the applicant without review. The total amount of support available for this program will be approximately $10.5 million, with approximately $9.5 million for integrated projects and $1 million for research projects. Program Deadline: Electronic applications must be submitted by 5 p.m., eastern, June 5, 2007.


This crosscutting program addresses the complex problem of obesity prevention. Projects funded by this program are intended to lead to a better understanding of the behavioral and environmental factors that influence obesity and to the development and evaluation of effective interventions to prevent obesity. Obesity is the number one nutritional problem in America . Food is an integral part of the process that leads to obesity, and USDA has a unique responsibility for the food system in the United States .

To meet the identified needs of agriculture, the long-term (10-year) goals for this program are: that behavioral and environmental factors that influence obesity will be sufficiently understood to develop effective obesity prevention strategies; valid behavioral and environmental instruments for measuring progress in obesity prevention efforts will be available; and effective strategies for preventing overweight and obesity will be available. The ultimate goal of the program is to stem the rising tide of obesity.

The milestones toward reaching these long-term goals include: developing theories on how behavioral and environmental factors influence obesity; testing the validity of behavioral and environmental measures for evaluating success in obesity prevention efforts; and testing the effectiveness of strategies for preventing overweight and obesity.

FY 2007 Priorities for Integrated Activities:

  • improve our understanding of the behavioral and community environment factors that influence obesity and use this new information to develop effective intervention strategies for preventing obesity; and
  • develop and implement behavioral and environmental instruments to measure progress in obesity prevention efforts.

Potential study areas for factors that influence obesity include social and psychological factors, the role of lifestyle, and the influence of economic factors and agricultural and public policy issues. We are particularly interested in the role of the family in preventing childhood overweight.

FY 2007 Priorities for Research:

  • improve our understanding of the behavioral and community environment factors that influence obesity. Examples of priority focus areas for research are the same as for integrated projects; and
  • epidemiological studies related to these priorities may involve secondary analyses of large national databases.


Other Key Information - Research and Integrated Activities

Integrated project proposals must include research, education, and extension/outreach objectives (at least two of three). In general, strong integrated projects will be stakeholder driven, issue focused, and outcome based. They will exhibit a collaborative team approach, will contain strong plans for project management and project evaluation, and will produce sustained education/extension initiatives. Applicants are encouraged to visit the Integrated Programs funding opportunity page for an example of an integrated proposal and other grant-writing resources.

The NRI encourages integrated projects that develop content suitable for delivery through eXtension. This content is for end users, as opposed to staff development, and must align with the eXtension Guiding Principles, Implementation Plan, and other requirements as presented on the eXtension Web site. Funds may be used to contribute to an existing Community of Practice or to form a new Community of Practice as appropriate.

Complex projects involving multiple institutions or functions should include a management plan that demonstrates that the project will be carried out efficiently.

Because food is an integral part of the development of obesity, all projects should address some aspect of food from production to consumption.

It is expected that most projects will be multidisciplinary because obesity is such a multifaceted problem. It is expected that the project team will have appropriate training and experience in the disciplines represented, especially nutrition.

Graduate student participation in projects is encouraged.

The development of effective instruments for assessing progress in preventing obesity may necessitate the development of new instruments or the modification and validation of existing ones related to food, physical activity, and the community environment. Intervention may target individuals, groups, market segments, or communities. Of special interest are population groups at increased risk for the development of obesity, such as children, racial and ethnic minorities, and those who are economically or educationally disadvantaged, such as those served by USDA's nutrition assistance and education programs. The rationale for the selection of a particular population group should be documented.

Applications that focus on the use of functional foods to prevent obesity should consider submission to the Bioactive Food Components for Optimal Health program (31.0). Applications that focus on food processing or production related to energy balance should consider submission to the Improving Food Quality and Value program (71.1). Applications that focus primarily on medical therapies for disease should not be submitted to this program.

If a project is funded, beginning in the first year of funding, the project director will be required to attend annual investigator meetings. Reasonable travel expenses should be included as part of the project budget.


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University of Minnesota Parent Education Courses

The University of Minnesota is offering graduate level parent education courses online for the first time. The parent education courses are offered in sequence beginning in June of each year. The instructors and students engage together immediately and actively build relationships as they complete the sequence of courses. This program prepares parent educators to work in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) programs, other Minnesota settings, and in other states and countries. Online Parent Education courses include:

  • CI 5932 Introduction to Parent Education – 1 semester credit (Summer 2007)
  • CI 5942 Everyday Experiences of Families – 2 semester credits (Summer 2007)
  • CI 5943 Parent Learning & Development: Implications for Parent Education – 2 semester credits (Fall 2007)
  • CI 5944 Parent Education Curriculum – 2 semester credits (Fall 2007)
  • CI 5945 Teaching and Learning in Parent Education – 2 semester credits (Spring 2008)
  • CI 5946 Assessment & Evaluation in Parent Education – 2 semester credits (Spring 2008)
  • CI 5949 Parent Education Practicum – 2 semester credits (Spring 2008)

A Certificate in Parent Education program is in the approval process for those completing the online parent education courses and the related courses. Visit the University of Minnesota Web site for information about registration and the online parent education program, or contact Chris Buzzetta at (612) 624-1294.

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National Extension Family Life Specialists Pre-conference

The National Extension Family Life Specialists pre-conference at the NCFR annual conference was held in Minneapolis, MN, on November 7, 2006. There were more than 45 participants representing 27 states. The pre-conference was organized by Jodi Dworkin, University of Minnesota and Lenna Ontai, University of California Davis (co-chairs); Brian Higginbotham, Utah State University; and Andrew Behnke, North Carolina State University.

The agenda included an update from Caroline Crocoll, NIFA national program leader, and updates from working groups and communities of practice involved with eXtension. Ten share fair exhibits highlighted the range of research-based programming in extension's family life programs - from balancing work/life issues, to family-based business, to working with Latino families. Two panel presentations focused on the use of technology in family life programming. The first dealt with meeting the needs of professionals with technology, and the second was on meeting the needs of families with technology.

Two colleagues received awards at the pre-conference:

Dr. Jodi Dworkin, assistant professor and extension specialist at the University of Minnesota, received the Early Career Achievement Award for her contributions to translating adolescent development research into valuable guidance to parents. Dr. Dworkin's leadership was vital in the development of Web-based programs and information for families dealing with the challenges of parenting teens.

Dr. Mary Brintnall-Peterson, professor and extens to translate research-based knowledge on caregiving for and by our aging population, for use by practitioners.

Other resources shared at the conference included:

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Family and Consumer Sciences Assistant Directors Meeting

The national meeting of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) assistant directors was held October 6th at the 2006 National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Annual Session in Denver, CO. The 1-day meeting of FCS leaders served to:

  • Reinforce connections within the FCS community;

  • Share important information relevant to FCS program leadership;

  • Share creative and effective program ideas and resources;

  • Enhance the professional development of FCS leaders;

  • Enhance the visibility of FCS in Cooperative Extension and in the partnership more broadly; and

  • Continue the work of selecting and utilizing national impact indicators for FCS programs.

A Federal Partner Update was provided for attendees. Program snapshots included updates on the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program, Obesity and Physical Activity, National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE®) High School Financial Planning Program®, and the eXtension initiative.

Attendees also shared in an update on the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Informed Partnerships: Effectively Tapping National Program Leader Resources, professional development for FCS Leaders, CREATE-21, and a panel discussion on energy and bio-based fuels.

Planning committee members for national meeting were Co-Chairs Mary McPhail Gray and Caroline Crocoll, NIFA; Shirley Gerrior, NIFA; Karla Trautman, South Dakota State University; Carolyn Nobles, Prairie View A&M University; Kasundra Cyrus, Southern University and A&M College; Charlene Baxter, University of New Hampshire; and Gerald Chacon, New Mexico State University.

The 2007 national meeting of FCS assistant directors will be in conjunction with the NEAFCS Annual Session in St. Paul, MN, the week of September 17-20, 2007.

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NIFA Completes the 2006 Family Science and Human Development-Related Portfolio Review

The President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed a review of all Federal programs under the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). In 2003, NIFA began a systematic portfolio review of its progress in achieving its mission, as outlined in the NIFA Strategic Plan. The portfolio review process involved a self-study written by NIFA national program leaders. External panelists met to discuss and judge portfolio accomplishments after examining a portfolio's self study document and supporting evidentiary documentation of outcomes. The portfolio accomplishments were judged on the key OMB research and development criteria of relevance, quality, and performance and their dimensions. For information on the 2006 FSHD-related portfolio review, visit the NIFA Portfolio Review Expert Panel Report.

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New HDFS Degree Program from NCSU and UNCG

North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro introduced a new masters of science degree program in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Family Life and Parent Education. This degree is a jointly administered program between the NCSU Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and UNCG's Department of Human Development and Family Studies. This is a non-thesis program with a unique combination of core courses in human development and family theory with specialization courses, applied research, and professional development technical content. All students take a core of courses from both NCSU and UNCG.  Electives may be taken through either university and are partially Web based. For additional information, visit the program's Web site.


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Registration for Futuring for Families and National Extension Family Life Specialists Conference Closes July 6th!

Registration is now open for the Futuring for Families Think Tank and National Extension Family Life Specialists Conference which will take place in Atlanta from Monday, July 30th through Thursday, August 2nd. Take a look at the draft agenda!

Hotel Information & Reservations

Crowne Plaza Ravinia
4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Road
Atlanta GA 30346
For Reservations Call: 1-800-972-2404

Reserve a room at the conference rate of $124.00/night plus taxes (single or double). Our block of rooms is held under "Futuring for Families" or "Family Life Specialists Conference" until July 9, 2007. For more information about the conference hotel, go to www.cpravinia.com.

Futuring for Families Think Tank

Monday, July 30th
1:00 PM-8:00 PM

Through this unique event, National Program Leaders at NIFA will seek to gain perspectives from various disciplines in Family and Consumer Sciences (particularly Human Development, Family Life, Family Economics, Housing and Environment) on opportunities for multi-disciplinary work in the future.

This is your opportunity to take a Family and Consumer Sciences, "dream big" approach to visioning and positioning for success. Via facilitated discussion and exposure to model, multi-disciplinary programming, FFF Think Tank participants will recommend and prioritize action strategies leading to positive outcomes for American families.  Whether you are an Extension specialist or educator, administrator, or national program leader, you will:

  • Understand the benefits of approaching family issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

  • Gain exposure to multi-disciplinary Extension programs with potential for national reach.

  • Frame priorities for national program leadership and local applications.

2007 National Extension Family Life Specialists Conference

July 30th, beginning with dinner at 5:00 p.m., through August 2nd ending at noon.

Here Family and Human Development Specialists will have working group time to discuss strategies, research, and extension programs addressing contemporary and emerging issues; formulate grant proposals for multi-state/multi-agency programs and research; connect and network with partners; engage and collaborate on the eXtension Initiative; and share resources, challenges, and successes with valued colleagues.

All Specialists attending the Futuring for Families Think Tank are invited and encouraged to attend the National Extension Family Life Specialist Conference!

The University of Georgia will host the NEFLSC in Atlanta, GA, from July 30-August 2, 2007. For more information, contact Caroline Crocoll, Diane Bales, or Ted Futris.  To review past events, visit 2005 NEFLSC Highlights and 2002 NEFLSC Highlights.


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