PRAIRIE VIEW, TX – Five members of the Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension staff made presentations and showcased the work that they do to help at-risk youth and families at the 2010 National CYFAR conference held May 4- 7 in San Francisco, California. They were part of more than 900 Extension staff, collaborators and volunteers participating in the annual Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) conference.
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) sponsors this event, which is planned by university and county faculty in the Land-Grant university extension system. “Our Cooperative Extension Program has a mandate to help limited resource audiences, and we tailor our educational programming to meet the needs of these individuals and families,” said Dr. Freddie L. Richards, Sr., administrator of the Cooperative Extension Program and dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. “The presenters that we had at this year’s CYFAR conference were sharing some of the work that they do on a daily basis to help our clientele raise their standards of living.”
Leticia Rolland-Hardy, Extension agent – Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS)– Grimes County, along with Tonya McKenzie of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, held a workshop on Nutritional Guidance for Pregnant Teens. “This is a program that we conduct to help teen mothers learn how to maintain their health during and after pregnancy,” said Rolland-Hardy. “We explained to the other educators who attended the workshop that this program is really helping our teen participants to reduce preterm labor, birth defects, low birth weight babies and death.”
Timothy Sandles, Extension agent – 4-H & Youth Development – Fort Bend County, talked about the 4-H Engaging Youth, Serving Community project. “This project, which is designed to empower young people to become effective change agents in their communities and to work in partnership with adults, has been working very effectively,” Sandles said. “I explained to the audience that this project can be conducted in rural and urban areas and young people can be very instrumental in coordinating neighborhood beautification projects, preserving the cultural heritage of their communities, and working with adults to address and resolve any problematic issues that are close to home.”
Three other CEP staff members, Carolyn Perkins-Frank, health coordinator, Dr. Crystal Wiltz, Extension agent – FCS in Travis County and Gussie McConnell, Extension agent – FCS in Cass County, were part of the conference’ Program Showcase where they exhibited the work that’s being done in Project DEAP (Diabetes Education Awareness Prevention). “Our exhibit called Walking Groups Foster Positive Diabetes Outcomes, emphasized the importance of physical activity to foster positive outcomes for people living with diabetes,” said Dr. Wiltz. “We had photos and a video of walking groups and dance-a-thons that our clients took part in to help improve their health.”
Several other staff also attended the 2010 National CYFAR conference. “We will continue to have our staff participate in these types of events to share what we do and, hopefully, help others incorporate some of our educational programming ideas into their own extension programs,” said Dr. Richards.
About the National Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program
Through an annual Congressional appropriation for the National Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture allocates funding to land-grant university extension services for community-based programs for at-risk children and their families. Since 1991, CYFAR has supported programs in more than 600 communities in all states and territories. CYFAR promotes the use of technology to improve programs, provide efficient access to educational resources, and provide essential technological skills for youth and adults in at-risk environments.
Writer – Gloria J. Mosby, program director – Communications, Cooperative Extension Program
Photo Credits – LaRachelle Smith, web content associate, Cooperative Extension Program and Tonya McKenzie, extension agent, Texas Agrilife