Four OSU Extension staff promote health in Ohio
Shannon Carter, Marie Economos, Barbara Hennard and Dan Remley, all with Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), won national awards for their quality contributions to improving lives in Ohio.
They received their awards at the most recent conference of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“The association’s Distinguished Service Award and the Continued Excellence Award are two of the most prestigious presented,” said Lora Lee Howard, president of the organization.
"Members who have attained these pinnacles in their career exemplify best practices in educational programming and professionalism. They are serving and meeting educational needs of their clients each day with unbiased, research-based information.”
“I am especially pleased that Shannon, Marie, Dan and Barb received this national recognition,” said Pat Bebo, assistant dean for Outreach and Engagement in the College of Education and Human Ecology and OSU Extension assistant director for Family and Consumer Sciences. “As we continue our Excellence to Eminence, these individuals exemplify characteristics of great leadership while serving thousands of Ohioans.”
OSU Extension FCS educator, Fairfield County
2017 Continued Excellence Award
An OSU Extension educator for 15 years, Carter has a special interest in stress reduction, particularly the Mindful Wellness program. She and two other Extension educators adapted research by Ohio State Professor of Family Medicine Maryanna Klatt on combining mindfulness and yoga.
With the adapted curriculum, Carter and seven other educators formed a core team that trained 15 more OSU Extension colleagues. Together, they offer the program across Ohio.
Carter considers the program important because, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average American can expect to live in good health for only part of their lifespan. The Mindful Wellness curriculum equips healthy adults with practice and skills to strengthen the mind-and-body connection and promote holistic health and wellness across the lifespan.
“Mindfulness gets ahead of stress by changing your thought patterns,” Carter said. “It helps us avoid getting our fight-or-flight response to situations stuck in the on position.”
Because mindfulness is especially helpful to those in high-stress work environments, Carter and colleagues offer Mindful Wellness to company and organization personnel at the request of their employers.
Carter developed her newest program, a three-part series on gluten-free eating, after her two children were discovered to have celiac disease. Her favorite opportunity, she said, is helping people who are newly diagnosed and need guidance.
At the NEAFCS conference, Carter presented this program to 85 Extension educators from 32 states. They all have access to curriculum and are working together to gather evaluation data.
OSU Extension director and FCS educator, Trumbull County
2017 Distinguished Service Award
Economos, an OSU Extension educator for 17 years, specializes in health and wellness for all ages. She enjoys meeting people where they are in life, sharing her expertise with groups of all ages, from providing parenting education to teaching students about healthy cooking and nutrition.
Her special interest in early care and education led to her work with Project KIND, a professional development curriculum for preschool and kindergarten children. Economos prepares teachers to use KIND, or Keys to Improvement for Necessary Development, to support children’s social-emotional skills that impact their development.
Economos says pre- and post-assessments allow teachers to see where their students are socially and psychologically. Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Health, the program is offered statewide.
“During this past school year, we offered Project KIND in 128 classrooms around Ohio,” Economos said. “What I love about teaching it is the difference it makes in growth and development of our young people. More than 2,000 children benefitted.”
Economos also is a member of the statewide teams for Dining with Diabetes and Mindful Wellness, teaching both in her county. She offers trainings with colleagues at national and state Extension conferences, so others can present the programs.
OSU Extension FCS educator, Auglaize and Mercy counties
2017 Continued Excellence Award
Hennard served as FCS educator for both Auglaize and Mercer counties for 16 years before retiring July 31. During her service, she enjoyed teaching ServSafe, the food safety program for restaurant employees and other foodservice professionals.
She regularly taught a six-week nutrition education program for youth engaged with Mercer County Juvenile Court, as well as court-ordered parenting classes.
Hennard is particularly proud of her involvement with the statewide team that created Dining with Diabetes: Beyond the Kitchen. Created at a time when few programs were offered online, the program provides the next step after the in-person course.
The program emphasizes how to make healthy choices when eating out and grocery shopping. Hennard made many national presentations about the program and assisted with making updates and refinements over the years.
Hennard also served on the leadership team for the multi-county Grand Health Challenge, a five-month, multicounty weight-loss and healthy lifestyle challenge. She created and summarized pre- and post-surveys to document participants’ behavioral changes. She also wrote weekly wellness and motivational tips.
In 2017, the 550 participants in the challenge lost a total of 3,409 pounds. In retirement, she volunteers to help with the challenge, working through its hospital sponsor.
OSU Extension FCS assistant professor, field specialist for Family Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension South Centers, Piketon
2017 Distinguished Service Award
Remley helped create the Rainbow of Choice food pantry system. While serving as the Butler County Extension FCS educator, he used his nutrition background to work with a coalition of social service agencies and local food banks to develop this new approach to the choice pantry system. The choice system allows clients to select food rather than receive preselected items.
“Rainbow organizes the pantry choices by food groups,” he explained. “It integrates nutrition education into the choice process by showing clients what a healthy plate looks like as they choose.
“The system also helps food pantry staff think about food groups and target their food drives to the food groups.”
Remley continues his involvement with Rainbow of Choice via a six-state grant. He is collecting data from food pantry clients to see if the pantries make a difference in helping people eat healthier.
HEAL MAPPS, a project Remley supervises, stands for Healthy Eating and Living Active Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys. Community members take pictures with their phones of community attributes that they think support or prevent healthy eating.
“It’s a quick-and-dirty assessment for communities to look at obesity,” Remley said. “The results are then presented to the community with recommendations for improving the built environment, healthy food access and opportunities for physical activity. We use this approach all over the state.”
In a third project, Remley serves as chair of the national Dining with Diabetes program. He also leads the state FCS Dining with Diabetes team and provides leadership for Beyond the Kitchen, the online course. The current goal is to unify the curriculum and have a standard assessment so collected data can show the program’s national impact.
Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences is housed in the College of Education and Human Ecology and is affiliated with OSU Extension and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.