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Family and Consumer Economics News National Institute of Food and Agriculture, March – April 2012

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) works with land-grant university partners and others to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities through national program leadership and federal assistance. Among the agency’s goals is to support increased economic opportunities and quality of life in rural areas. Family economics aligns with this goal by focusing on how individuals and families obtain and use resources such as money, time, human capital, material resources, and community services; by exploring the relationship between individuals and families and the larger economy; and by studying the impact of public issues, policies, and programs on family economic well-being.

NIFA ContactSusan Shockey, national program leader (NPL) for Family and Consumer Economics, and Beverly Samuel, NPL for Housing and Community Living

Back issues of Family Economics News are available. To submit items for consideration for this newsletter, contact Cameron Briggs, NIFA program assistant.


NIFA– Division of Family and Consumer Sciences Updates

  • Appointment of New Director of NIFA
  • Sally Maggard and Mary Irvin Retire
  • Celebration of Small Steps to Health and Wealth
  • MOU Signing of NIFA/NEFE


Research/Program Evaluation

  • Survey on Personal Finance Important Topics



  • Celebration of America Saves Week
  • Cooperative Extension Reality Store
  • Financial Management Webinars
  • Small Steps to Health and Wealth Online Challenge Begins April 15



  • CYFERnet
  • Jump$tart Newsletter – Financial Literacy Month


  • CFPB Assembling Consumer Advisory Board
  • Funding:
    • FINRA Investor Education Foundation
    • MMI Financial Education Foundation

  • Funding:


    • FINRA Investor Education Foundation

    • MMI Financial Education Foundation



President Obama recently announced his intent to appoint Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy as Director of NIFA. Ramaswamy has served as the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University since 2009 and also serves as director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. Previously, he was the associate dean of Purdue's College of Agriculture and directed the University's agricultural research programs from 2006 to 2009. Prior to joining the Purdue faculty in 2006, Ramaswamy was head of the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University from 1997 to 2006, where he held the title of Distinguished Professor. He also served on the faculty of Mississippi State University, was a research associate at Michigan State University, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Entomological Society of America. Ramaswamy earned his B.S. and M.S. in entomology from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, and earned his PhD in Entomology from Rutgers University.

Dr. Sally Ward Maggard retired from NIFA December 31, 2011. As the NPL for Regional Rural Development, she provided leadership for the community revitalization and economic regional innovation programs carried out by NIFA and its partners in the land-grant universities and cooperating institutions. Maggard’s most recent work focused on integrating NIFA with President Obama’s rural development agenda and responding to the administration’s emphases on regional innovation and collaborations. She was also the program manager for the Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDC) and recently helped to broker collaboration with USDA Rural Development to create the jointly funded “Stronger Economies Together” program operated by the RRDCs and USDA’s federal and state staff.  Other partnerships included a disaster preparation and recovery project called “Ready Communities” that was jointly funded with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a new National Broadband Research and Extension Team in cooperation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. She was instrumental in the formation of the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) and received NACDFEP’s 2010 National Award for Excellence in Community Development and the 2007 Friend of NACDEP Award.

Mary Little Irvin also retired from NIFA on December 31, 2011. Mary was a program assistant who worked with many of our Family and Consumer Science programs, including Public Policy, Sustainable Farm Enterprises, Regional Rural Development, and Military Family and Veterans Programs. Mary had been employed with USDA for 38 years and saw our agency go from the Extension Service to Cooperative State, Research and Extension Service, to National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Both Sally and Mary will be extremely missed here at NIFA.

On February 15, 2012, NIFA’s Division of Family and Consumer Sciences hosted the USDA in-service program, Small Steps to Health and Wealth, for all USDA employees. This interactive workshop featured Dr. Barbara O’Neill, co-author of SSHW.  With nearly 200 participants in attendance, O’Neill delivered an engaging session on improving health and finances and provided dozens of strategies for participants to use.  Survey results showed that most of the participants found the workshop very helpful to them and found the information very useful to their everyday life. A recording of the workshop is available. 

On February, 15, 2012, on the heels of the Small Steps to Health and Wealth in-service workshop for USDA employees, participants witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and NIFA. This MOU renews the existing partnership between NEFE and NIFA’s program focus by identifying issues, developing solutions, and sharing promising practices. The MOU includes the personal financial core competencies published in the National Financial Literacy Strategy written by the U.S. Financial Literacy Education Commission and the High School Financial Planning Program. The MOU addresses the personal financial issues and decision-making challenges that individuals, youth, adults, and family members deal with daily.  



The National Cooperative Extension System has a website that provides news, information, online courses, and other educational materials and tools. The Financial Security for All eXtension team is conducting an online survey to help design timely and relevant personal finance programs to meet the public's needs. The survey will gather information on important topics around personal finance. Please complete the survey and encourage your staff and clientele to complete the survey as well. The survey will close on April 30, 2012. 



USDA celebrated America Saves Week part of a government-wide effort, February 19-26, to help all individuals learn more about personal finance and help build a secure financial future for themselves and their families. This year’s theme was “Set a Goal, Make a Plan, and Save Automatically.”

“Through these tough economic times, programs offered by the Cooperative Extension System (CES) are helping families learn about sound money management,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting director of NIFA. “We are working to provide people with the information, education, and tools they need to make smart financial choices for their future.” As part of the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission, NIFA’s Division of Family and Consumer Sciences partners with the CES to deliver programming in local communities. Programs focus on five core areas: earning income, spending, saving and investing, borrowing, and protecting finances. This programming helps support the nation’s financial stability because financial literacy among individuals and families has a dramatic impact on the financial health of local communities and regional markets. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

Each year, America’s high schools graduate thousands of young adults who are unprepared in matters of employment and financial decisions. In response, Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H Youth Development educators have written and are delivering a results-oriented program known as “Reality Store” or “Real Money, Real World.” These personal financial curricula simulate real-life experiences to help youth become aware of the money management skills they need. All programs are designed to be a partnership between the county Cooperative Extension office, the school, and the business community. You can view the video from here  (Quicktime required) or here.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the Cooperative Extension system are launching an online Small Steps to Health and Wealth (SSHW) Challenge called “Spring 2012 SSHW Challenge.”  This free 6-week online program will be held from April 15 through May 26. Prizes will be awarded for participants who report the highest point totals. 

To sign up for the SSHW Challenge, follow the “Challenges” link on the Small Steps to Health and Wealth website. Set up a user name and password and download a simple 1-page user’s guide with instructions about how to proceed. Enroll in the Challenge titled “Spring 2012 SSHW Challenge.” The SSHW Challenge is part of Small Steps to Health and Wealth, a national Cooperative Extension program developed to motivate Americans to take action to simultaneously improve their health and personal finances. 



The Arizona Center for Research and Outreach at the University of Arizona is unveiling its innovative and interactive site.  NIFA funds as part of the CYFERnet Evaluation work that supports the Children, Youth and Families At-Risk initiative.  This site features interactive tools and vetted resources that are designed to build the evaluation capacity of program providers, practitioners, and evaluators, especially those who work with at-risk youth and families. 
Please visit this new and improved website to learn more!

  • Explore all aspects of Program Evaluation. Peruse the evaluation learning modules to watch videos from experts in the field and take quizzes to test your knowledge.
  • The Logic Model Builder walks you through the steps of creating a CYFAR-approved logic model, to preview, edit, and print to pdf.
  • Preview 160 Evaluation Instruments in the online, searchable database.  Each instrument has been vetted by experts and includes citations and psychometrics.
  • Use the online Survey Builder to select the appropriate CYFAR Common Measures for your program and develop on-line printable pre- and post-surveys.

The CYFERnet Evaluation team includes  Dr. Lynne Borden; Christine Bracamonte Wiggs, MPH, MS; Amy Schaller, MA; and Bryna Koch, MPH

Jump$tart Newsletter — Financial Literacy Month Issue
Available here.


CFPB Assembling a Consumer Advisory Board

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is assembling a group of experts and needs your help. If you know anyone with innovative ideas and a keen perspective on how consumer finance markets affect American consumers, CFPB wants to hear from you! The Consumer Advisory Board will offer outside guidance and advice on emerging financial trends, concerns, and practices.They are seeking experts in a variety of fields: consumer protection, fair lending, consumer financial products or services, and community development. The board will include people from diverse backgrounds with varying viewpoints. Their input will help to better understand consumers' financial needs. If you would like to nominate someone or are interested yourself in serving in this capacity, submit a nomination today.

FUNDING: is your source to find and apply for federal government grants. There are more than 1,000 grant programs offered by all federal grant-making agencies.

FINRA Investor Education Foundation Project concepts can be submitted on an open basis. The foundation will respond within 4-6 weeks.  

MMI Education Foundation. The foundation uses its resources to serve the public interest and strengthen the communities where we live and work. The foundation provides periodic announcements and grant guidelines.





FEMA – National Homeland Security Webinar highlighting Financial Preparedness “The Financial Toolkit,” April 10, 2-3 p.m. (More details will be sent via List Serve)

AAFCS (American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) 103rd Annual Conference & Expo, June 24–27, Indianapolis, IN (Registration deadline – April 16)

Financial Literacy Day on Capitol Hill, April 17, Hart Senate Office Building, noon – 3:30 p.m.  The NIFA display represents the Land-Grant University and Cooperative Extension Systems.

National Financial Capability Challenge (March 12–April 13)

24th Annual University of Maryland Extension Personal Finance Seminar for Professionals, May 16–18 at the Doubletree Hotel, Annapolis, MD. Visit the seminar website for more information.



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).  To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.