March is Living Well Month – Ideas to promote our Organization and Profession

February 14, 2018

Let’s create some March Madness energy and celebrate NEAFCS Living Well Month. The goal is to promote and support Extension local and state initiatives in nutrition, healthy lifestyles, food safety, financial management, parenting and environmental health. As family consumer science professionals, let’s share how we help Minnesotans gain knowledge and skills to make informed decisions to live productively.

Here are some ideas for you to promote Living Well Month living-well-logo-color-tagline-stacked

• Write a news release talking about your program and submit to local media. Use this template. Grab your year-end reports, award application or impact statements to write the article.
• Add the Living Well logo with the slogan, “Raising Kids, Eating Right, Spending Smart, Living Well” on your email signature. Get NEAFCS and Living Well Logo here.
• Wear your NEAFCS lapel pin to community meetings during your public workshops and meetings.
• Download bookmark template and give to participants.

Please share with us, how you promoting Living Well month during our NEAFCS-MN March Madness month.
Suzanne Driessen and Becky Hagen-Jokela,

NEAFCS – Minnesota Affiliate Public Policy Committee Co-Chairs


Focus on relevance, relationships and results from 2017 programming efforts

You do great work – share your impact with the nation!
Deadline is January 12, 2018

Are you busy reflecting and writing your 2017 accomplishments for your year-end professional assessment? As you write about your program’s’ reach and impact, please also complete this Share Your Story Template. Send to Becky by January 12th, 2018. (Becky and Suzanne will review and notify you if more information is needed.) Your great work will be shared with legislators at the 2018 Public Institute Leadership Conference in April.

You can complete more than one form. Categories are: childhood obesity includes prevention and youth SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, community health & wellness include PSE–policy, system and environment and adult SNAP-Ed, diabetes, financial management, food & nutrition, food safety, healthy homes & the environment include preventing falls, improving children’s lives, and protecting our resources – family life. Minnesota can submit three impact statement per category.

Tips for submissions

  • 40 word limit per section. Don’t repeat anything you already submitted on the form, ie. Program names, numbers reached, etc.
  • Consider three questions as you frame your story: (AFNR intranet, January 1, 2017)
  1. What was the need or problem you were trying to solve?
    a. Focus on one issue
  2. What service (course, conference, materials, curriculum, etc.) did you provide/facilitate to address the need?
    a. Pick 1 or 2 things that had the biggest bang.
    b. the Relevance to improve people’s health, the economy and the environment
    c. Use active verbs
  3. How did your service improve the lives of people in the community, etc.? The results
    a. Lay it out like a sports page—who’s playing– identify your audience, what happened and how, what was the score or so what, ie. Affect—numbers with $ or %. Why does this score (program) matter? What is interesting or surprising? (Top 9 Tips for your Impact Statement, Purdue Extension).
    b. Our impact statements ask for quotes on the benefit of the program. Include a quote from program participants, any partners or collaborators and the need and benefit of your program to illustrate or extend the story. Quotes should illustrate and extend your story. For example, “Though I was skeptical at first, planting cover crops improved my overall yields over the past three years.”
  • Community partners include volunteers.
  • Photos are optional but are very powerful. Submit high-resolution photos with some visible branding, ie. UMN Extension logo shirt, logo on curriculum, logo on screen or display.
  • You can submit any other supportive materials, ie. program summaries, reports, links, etc.

Information is compiled into a National NEAFCS Impact Statement report. This report is shared with our USDA stakeholders and legislatures. See previous reports here.

Becky Hagen-Jokela and Suzanne Driessen and NEAFCS – Minnesota Affiliate Public Policy Committee Co-Chairs

2017 Impact Statements Now Online

78% of Minnesota’s program impact submissions landed a spot in National’s final copy. The National NEAFCS Impact Statement reports are shared with our USDA stakeholders and legislatures. In addition, we created a Minnesota impact statement, which Anita Harris Hering will bring to Washington representing our association at the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference. Congratulations and thank you for your submissions.

The Minnesota programs featured in the 2017 NEAFCS Impact Statements are:

HEALTH AND NUTRITIONSchool food staff putting food on plate

  • Smarter Lunchrooms incorporates research-based strategies to increase healthy food choices by students. Extension Educators trained and certified 57 Smarter Lunchroom Technical Assistance Providers in Minnesota schools. As a result, children make healthier food choices.
  • Food pantries across Minnesota learned how to use techniques encouraging clients to make healthier food choices. Techniques include product placement on shelving, produce display containers, client choice, signage, recipes and support from volunteers. Through Extension’s Healthy Nudges at Your Food Shelf and Nudging to Health for Volunteers programs, over 200 staff and volunteers are now trained nudgers.


  • Parenting in the Age of Overindulgence online course taught 149 participants to identify and avoid overindulgence utilizing learning tools. 98% identified examples of overindulgence and 95% chose the “Test of Four” tool to determine overindulgence situations.


Lori, Becky, Sara webinar photo

  • 165 professionals use Taxes 101 while working with low- to moderate-income Minnesotans. 97% felt confident or very confident using Extension’s information to help their clients make the most of tax season.
  • Your Money, Your Goals financial toolkit trainings empowered 151 front-line staff from 77 agencies. 95% of the trainers agreed the training prepared them to use the toolkit.


  • Homemade food from cupcakes to pickles sold in Minnesota are safer because of Extension’s Cottage Food: Keep it Safe! Keep it Legal program. As a result, cottage food producer registrations increased by 95% to 1930 producers. Each producer can earn up $18,000/year—an economic impact of over $9 million to Minnesota’s economy.

These impact statements are an excellent resource to find out what other Extension educators are doing in your field. We look forward to seeing your impact stories from this year!

Suzanne Driessen and Becky Hagen Jokela
NEAFCS-MN Affiliate Public Policy & Relations Co-chairs

Public Policy and Relations Committee Update 3-3-17

Writing a good impact statement is hard to do

We had 11 impact submissions this year. Thank you! We will compile them for Anita to take to the Public Institute Leadership Development Conference in Washington, D.C.

NEAFCS impact statement template limits us to 40 words. This gives us no choice but to be concise. Many times our statements are too general. They read more like reports with not a lot of impact. True impact statements are hard to write.

Consider three questions as you frame your statement

(AFNR intranet, January 1, 2017)

  1. What was the need or problem you were trying to solve?
    • Focus on one issue.
    • Target the audience you want to reach.
    • One impact statement does not fit all audience. Select messages from statement and tailor to each audience.
  2. What service (course, conference, materials, curriculum, etc.) did you provide/facilitate to address the need?
    • Pick 1 or 2 things that had the biggest bang.
    • Include the relevance to improve people’s health, the economy, the environment.
    • Use active verbs.
  3. How did your service improve the lives of people in the community, etc.? The results
    • Lay it out like a sports page—
      • who’s playing– identify your audience
      • what happened and how
      • what was the score or so what–numbers with $ or %
      • Why does this score (program) matter?
      • What is interesting or surprising?
      • See Top 9 Tips for  your Impact Statement, Purdue Extension,

Quotes should extend the story

Our NEAFCS impact statements ask for quotes on the benefit of the program. Quotes should illustrate and extend your story.

This: “Though, I was skeptical at first, planting cover crops improved my overall yields over the past three years.”

Not this: “Of course, Food Safety Training was the main reason we attended this academy. These classes teach the specifics. It was very interesting and informative, as well as, being a requirement to legally sell cottage foods.”

Snap a photo

Pictures tell a story! Our Extension program story. Be sure to take action photos when out and about. Take photos to help educate your point. Take photos to tell the story about your program and its impact. Be sure to have your subject(s) complete Extension’s PhotoVideo Release form.

Resources for you

Impact statements tell a compelling story, gets attention (published in the national NEAFCS impact statement report) and gets funded. Check out Pitching your Story on our extension Intranet.

More to come! The professional development committee is exploring this topic for our professional development day.

Suzanne Driessen and Becky Hagen Jokela

Outcomes and Impacts: The difference between ho-hum and projects with punch!

Outcomes and Impacts: The difference between ho-hum and projects with punch! 

Focus on relevance, relationships and results

Outputs, Outcomes and Impact are easily confused, because they all sound results oriented. What is the difference? Outputs, generally, are numbers of classes you offered or the number of participants that were reached. Outcomes and Impacts answer the question, “So What?” Impacts, generally, are the numbers with “$” or “%” next to them.

Outputs show where you directed your efforts, but Impacts show the strongest results of your efforts! We need both Outputs and Outcomes and/or Impacts to tell a compelling story; one that gets attention, funding or continues to get funded.

If you only have Outputs to report and no Outcomes or Impacts, you need to take the time to plan for impact data collection when you plan your project. Think ahead and incorporate the generation of Impact data in your plan of work.

Impacts, the best quality data, considered the Golden Egg in reporting project results, is what our legislators and stakeholders need to make compelling arguments to support or sustain Extension efforts. Without a large industry base to advocate for FCS Extension, it is up to us all to share powerful results of our work.

Here are 2016 NEAFCS IMPACT example sections that show Outputs and Outcomes and/or Impact:

Kansas educated 7,117 Kansans through Medicare plan comparisons and benefits covered explanations. Nearly half of participants changed prescription drug or Medicare advantage plans to a plan that better met their needs. This resulted in total savings of $3,699,295, or an average savings of $1,180 per person changing plans.

Wisconsin has over 16,000 children experiencing their parents’ divorce each year. To help families in need, Supporting Children with Parent’s Divorce or Separation was offered in 268 co-parenting programs to over 3000 participants that affected over 2400 children. Results included a reduction of inter-parental conflict and increased cooperation.

Arkansas taught personal finance in 200 communities reaching 5,896 people. As a result, program participants reported a total of $15,553 saved and in reduced debt.

In 2000 classrooms in Michigan, Extension educators provided classes to 54,329 students. Ninety-nine percent of teachers reported that children have an improved awareness about good nutrition with 85% reporting improvement in trying new foods, 73% increase in fruit and 67% increase in choosing vegetables. Overall, children are making healthier food choices.

Join us to help elevate the quality of our 2017 NEAFCS IMPACT statements. Data is due to Suzanne Driessen, by January 20, 2017.

Adapted from: Hyde, G., Garden-Robinson, J. (2016). Outcomes and Impacts: The difference between ho-hum and projects with punch! A Memo to NEAFCS Members from the Public Affairs Education Subcommittee. National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.

Promote “Dine In” Campaign and Take the Pledge

Promote “Dine In” Campaign and Take the PledgeDiningInLogo.jpg

December 3rd, 2016 is “Dine In” day. National Extension of Family Consumer Sciences  and American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences, sponsors of the Family Consumer Science day, ask you to prepare and eat a healthy meal with your family on December 3rd. Here is checklist to promote this event:

  • Commit to dining in on December 3rd. Take the dine in pledge.
  • Take a photo of your family preparing a healthy meal and post it to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram using #FCSday and #healthyfamselfie.
  • Change your Facebook profile photo to the I’m “Dining In” logo.
  • Ask your friends and family to “Dine In.”
  • Pin your favorite family meal recipes to a “Dining In” Pinterest board.
  • Add the “Dining In” logo to your email signature.
  • Promote “Dining In” to family, friends and program participants.
  • Visit the “Dine In”  to access resources.
  • Send us photos and stories about your “Dine In” experience to

Thanks for getting involved in your association’s public relation campaign.

Suzanne Driessen & Becky Hagen Jokela, NEAFCS-MN, Public Policy/Public Relations Co-Chairs


Public Issues leadership Development Conference (PILD) 2011 Report

NEAFCS Scholarship Fund PILD Recipient Report
April 3-6, 2011, Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
By Suzanne Driessen, NEAFCS, Minnesota Affiliate
This was my first Public Issues leadership Development Conference (PILD) and my first trip to our nations’ capitol. I had heard from past attendees what a great experience it is to go to PILD. After attending I too will encourage others to attend this unique staff development opportunity. PILD brings together leaders from six Extension professional organizations and volunteers from across the nation to focus on how the Extension system and our government work at the federal level.
The theme Cooperative Extension: Relevant Now and Beyond explored relevant issues for Extension to prepare for meeting with federal and local decision makers. National Program Leaders from USDA held roundtable discussions which provided a networking time with these leaders and others that work on specific issues. I attended the Food Safety and Family Consumer Science round table discussions. These leaders were very interested in issues in our states. They wanted to know what USDA should include in future grant proposals to help us continue to respond to emerging issues.
This was an interesting time to be in Washington with the potential for a government shut down and Smith Lever funding at risk. Our ‘ask’ of our legislators was to restore these funds at 2010 levels. Some take-home messages and ideas that I learned about communications with decision makers include:
Smith Lever funding requires a 1:1 University match; most leverage 4 to 5 times that amount.
Research the issues and background of the legislator. Know who they are. My congresswoman is Michelle Bachmann. I went to her website and found out that a week earlier she presented a congressional statement to honor and recognize Coborns Grocery for receiving the Independent Retailer of the Year award. I tied that story into how Extension has worked with Coborns on a produce food handling practice research study explaining how private industry reaches out to the University to partner on research projects.
Visit with the legislature from your district and mention you are a constituent. Be sure to mention the town in their district where programs were conducted and its impact.
Allow times for the staffer to ask questions. Engage them in the conversation.
Extension makes a difference in the lives of individuals by proactively engaging communities to solve issues and problems.
Communicate public value with message that show value of programs to those who did not participate. We need to show why our programs are worthy of public funding by explaining how society benefits.
The session on Branding Counts: Ensuring Cooperative Extension is No Longer the Best Kept Secret key points includes:
A brand lives in the mind of the consumer.
A brand is everything your name evokes in the mind of your customer.
A brand is a promise you make to your customer, a promise of quality, of experience—good or bad.
Every employee is responsible to portray a positive brand everyday and in every interaction.
It takes 8 impressions to make someone remember you–each impression builds on another.
Strong brands deliver strong benefits including: 1) strong funding; 2) greater customer loyalty; and 3) greater flexibility and adaptability.
We need to get better at telling our story. We can’t afford to be the ‘best kept secret’ and it is our fault if funders do not know who we are.
Take the credit! We are essential to people lives.
ABCs of storytelling: A) Define the problem within the community and how you’ve begun to solve it. B) How are we part of the solution by explaining our relevance regarding issues of today? C) What was the impact on the community because of your involvement?