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New family life agents get training for duties
JACKSON – Families can find it difficult to eat healthy and watch their wallets while meeting the demands of everyday life.
Mississippi State University’s Extension Service family and consumer sciences educators can help.
“It may be trendy and easy to look online for guidance and answers for everything, but just because it is on the Internet does not make it valid advice,” said Susan Cosgrove, Extension family resource management area agent. “Extension family and consumer sciences educators have research-based information about all family and consumer sciences topics, including healthy meal planning, financial management and child and family development. MSU’s Extension Service has an office serving every county, which makes our information very accessible…and it’s free.”
About 50 family and consumer sciences educators from across the state gathered at the Mississippi Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences meeting in Jackson recently for a professional development workshop. Association officers and committee members designed the workshop to help agents newly charged with family and consumer science duties.
Extension realigned the delivery of its educational programming in 2013. Each county Extension office will soon be staffed with at least two agents, one responsible for agricultural programming and the other for family and consumer sciences programming. Both will share responsibility for 4-H and community development programming.
“This is the first statewide professional development program we’ve had for family and consumer sciences agents,” said Carolyn Conger, Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Covington County. “As we move to the new structure of program delivery, it’s really important for all of us that we have a method of sharing ideas and resources.”
This year’s one-day session included examples of nutrition and financial programs by seasoned family and consumer sciences agents. Informational booths introduced agents to Extension and external resources that can be used to provide educational workshops in any county.
“This training was one of the most beneficial I’ve attended,” said Simpson County Extension agent Amanda Blakeney. “As Extension agents we have an abundance of resources, and learning how to use those resources is crucial to implementing the programs in an effective manner.”
Blakeney is already planning a few nutrition programs for her county as a result of the training. The Eating Out Smart program helps the public understand how to make smart choices when eating at a restaurant.
“Obesity causes an abundance of health problems,” she said. “If we can educate the community about choosing healthier foods, we can decrease their chances of becoming obese. Many people lack the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier choices. Family and consumer sciences agents have the resources to provide our clientele with the materials they need.”
Organizers plan to have the training every year and will likely expand the program to span two or more days, depending on the needs of counties and agents.