I hope everyone is having a great summer. Our field days, hosted by the AgResearch and Education Centers, are well underway and providing valuable information to participants. I’m happy to report attendance at the field days has been strong this year, which points to the continuing relevance and quality of our programs. Today, the Tobacco and Forage Field Day will take place in Greeneville and next week, the 28th annual Milan No-Till field day will take place in Milan. For a complete list of field days please visit our website. Thanks to the faculty and staff who work so hard on these events.

Program reviews are important as we strive to increase the relevance and quality of our diverse missions. We recently completed a review of the Comparative and Experimental Medicine Graduate Program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. We thank Dr. Stephen Kania, CEM Graduate Program director, and his team for their hard work in preparing for the review. The review team was a diverse group of internal and external faculty members. Other reviews that have been conducted recently include the Department of Animal Science, Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, and AgResearch.

We frequently like to brag about the many volunteers who assist with programs across the Institute. One such program is H.A.B.I.T. (Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee) conducted through the College of Veterinary Medicine. H.A.B.I.T. is a nonprofit group of volunteers working together to promote the bond between people and animals. H.A.B.I.T. sponsors animal-assisted therapy programs for all ages in a variety of settings such as nursing and retirement homes, assisted living centers, hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, and schools. Check the program’s web page if you have an interest in being a volunteer. A volunteer interest meeting for Loudon, Tennessee, residents is taking place August 5. Thanks to the many volunteers who support this program.

UTIA was well represented at the recent National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association (NAADA) conference held this year at Penn State. We are proud to report that Dr. Keith Barber, vice chancellor of institutional advancement, was elected president of NAADA for a two-year term. In addition, advancement director Michelle Sides received the Bright Ideas Award for the Commodities for Communities program. Jean Hulsey, assistant director of Creative Services with Marketing and Communications received an award for the Four Pillars branding brochure. Marketing and Communications assistant director Doug Edlund, communications coordinator Sophie Willborn Schmidt and graphic designer Kim Stallings were recognized for our UTIA Metrics website. Congratulations to all.

For those on the ag campus, I wanted to give a brief update on the University Commons project. You may have noticed that the ramp joining the bridge is completed and the traffic light has been installed. The developer has indicated that Walmart will open July 30 and Publix will open August 8. We continue to work with the developer on traffic issues along Joe Johnson Drive.

If you live in Knoxville or plan to come to Knoxville for Ag Day on Saturday, October 4, mark your calendars also to attend our employee appreciation picnic the day before. The luncheon will be held inside the Brehm Animal Science Arena on Friday, October 3, and will be a great time to visit with co-workers and take advantage of an Ag Day sneak peek. Hope to see you there!

 

 

Healthier Families, Healthier Tennessee Focus of Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Programs

By Laura Stephenson, assistant dean, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences

Whether Tennesseans live in far western Shelby County or far eastern Johnson County, their health and wellness is foundational to the economic well-being of communities. Family and Consumer Sciences professionals are integral partners in local and state networks that promote healthy lifestyle choices. Tennessee Extension efforts are designed to impact individual, family and community health behaviors. Why use a multilevel approach? Evidence-based practice points to the positive outcomes of education and marketing on healthier behaviors when the person’s environment, friends and family are supportive of healthy choices.

Individual decisions that have proven long-term health benefits include healthy food choices, portion control, daily physical activity and regular health screenings. UT Extension offers a wide array of programs for life’s ages and stages to promote these healthy individual behaviors such as Tai Chi, PathWeighs to Health, Power U, Dining with Diabetes, TEAM UP for Health, and Living with Chronic Diseases. In 2013, Family and Consumer Sciences directly reached more than 332,600 Tennesseans with health-related educational programs. 4-H programs and projects such as Health Rocks! encourage youth to start early and commit to a lifetime of healthy living. UT Extension partners with the Tennessee Department of Human Services to teach limited-resource families food budgeting, wise nutrition choices and food preparation techniques through SNAP-Ed funding. Through this program, referred to as the Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education Program (TNCEP), 234,009 direct contacts were made in 2013. Of the 21,823 participants who responded to surveys, 79 percent reported eating more vegetables, and 87 percent indicated they adopted a healthier lifestyle by increasing their physical activity.

Families affect individual health behaviors through their traditions, values and priorities. To be effective, UT Extension incorporates expertise from human development, nutrition and financial management to influence family health decisions. One example of this multidisciplinary approach is to teach parents age-appropriate strategies to create a climate for positive health. Programs offered through Extension include parent skill-building to limit screen time, increase family physical activity, purchase and prepare healthy foods and invest in consistent family mealtimes.

Communities play a vital role in the health of their residents. Access to local opportunities for physical activity, healthy foods and quality health care has been proven to decrease individual health risks. Family and Consumer Sciences professionals are active facilitators of community action to support health. Programs such as Walk Across Tennessee help raise local awareness of accessibility and public support for a community dedicated to health. UT Extension is a partner with the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness to focus efforts on creating healthy environments at work sites and faith-based organizations called the Small Starts initiative. The foundation has created web-based tool kits for business and faith-based leaders to identify small steps to encourage healthier environments for their employees and congregations. Extension agents will be key in the recruitment and support of the local leaders as the Small Starts program is rolled out in the fall.

UT Extension is committed to improving the health of Tennesseans. Local Extension volunteers, county, regional and state professionals invest time, funds and expertise to support community well-being across the state. To learn more about programs, visit the UT Family and Consumer Sciences website.