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Extension Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Outreach Recognized Nationally
North Dakota Ag Connection - 11/24/2021

North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension staff were recognized at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Annual Session held virtually from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences, received the Communications Written Media Award for her news column Prairie Fare, receiving first place in the Central Region and second place in the nation.

NDSU Extension Family and Community Wellness professionals recognized with the Innovative Youth Development Programming Award were: Garden-Robinson, food and nutrition specialist; Ellen Bjelland, Ward County agent; Danielle Dinger, Dickey County Extension agent; Ronda Grippentrog, Richland County Extension agent; Kari Helgoe, Pembina County Extension agent; Marcia Hellendsaas, McKenzie County Extension agent; Courtney Hoikkala, McLean County Extension agent; Vanessa Hoines, Morton County Extension agent; Cindy Klapperich, Sargent County Extension agent; Deb Lee, Ransom County Extension agent; Lu Morehouse, expanded food and nutrition program and family nutrition program assistant; Susan Milender, Barnes County Extension agent; Molly Soeby, Grand Forks County Extension agent; Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension agent; and Rita Ussatis, Cass County Extension Agent.

They received awards for On the Move to Better Health Cooking and Baking Schools Go Virtual, placing second in the Central Region and third in the nation.

"Eating nutritiously and knowing how to prepare food can increase quality of life and save millions of dollars in collective health-care costs for North Dakotans," said Carrie Johnson, NDSU Extension interim assistant director and family and community wellness program leader. "These outreach initiatives provide practical, applicable tools for individuals and families."

"I'm very proud of our team for their innovations in delivering hands-on nutrition, food safety and health content in afterschool or summer programs, especially during the pandemic," said Garden-Robinson. "The multisession cooking and baking school programs were updated to be delivered both in-person using social distancing or online using platforms such as Zoom. Each child received a kit with measuring equipment, kitchen tools, an apron and a recipe book."

"Often, parents were involved at home as the children learned about healthful food preparation in their own kitchens through Zoom," said Garden-Robinson. "Parents sent emails about the increased skills and confidence they observed as their children learned valuable life skills they can apply now and in the future."

The On the Move to Better Health Cooking and Baking Schools Go Virtual were made possible through funding received to support youth outreach programs from the National 4-H Council through the Walmart Foundation and also from many North Dakota commodity groups, the North Dakota Farmers Union, the Department of Health and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Garden-Robinson belongs to two multistate teams that were recognized regionally or nationally. The 12-state North Central Extension Food Safety Network received the first-place food safety award for their work in home food preservation education and outreach.

Garden-Robinson's work with Florida State and Virginia Tech received first place in the Southern Region and first place nationally in the multistate award category. The team coordinates national professional development workshops for Extension professionals nationwide to bring the latest research-based health information back to their states and communities.

Garden-Robinson also received an NEAFCS Continued Excellence Award during the conference. The award recognizes outstanding professional development and leadership involvement.

"Receiving this recognition speaks volumes about the quality staff, the work that they do and the programming that NDSU Extension provides to North Dakotans," says Johnson.


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