Impact Reports

Ideas for Healthy Living

2016

The health and well-being of a changing society is a critical concern for Skagit County.  A recent community health needs assessment identified excessive weight, obesity, and improving nutrition (fruit and vegetable consumption) as priorities. Lack of access to healthy food is one contributing factor to the health status of community members. While the Skagit Valley is a rich agricultural area, access to food is difficult for many county residents. It is estimated that 1 in 9 households experience food insecurity, including the 27% of households with children who struggle to put food on the table. The Department of Health chronic disease profile of Skagit County reports that 27% of adults, and 13% of 10th graders are overweight. Only 25% of adults consume the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and just 1 in 10 youth report eating more than 1 serving of fruits and vegetables daily.

The health and well-being of a changing society is a critical concern for Skagit County and lack of access to healthy food is one contributing factor to the health status of community members. A recent community health needs assessment identified excessive weight, obesity, and improving nutrition (fruit and vegetable consumption) as priorities. While the Skagit Valley is a rich agricultural area, access to food is difficult for many county residents. It is estimated that 1 in 9 households experience food insecurity, including the 27% of households with children who struggle to put food on the table. The Department of Health chronic disease profile of Skagit County reports that 27% of adults, and 13% of 10th graders are overweight. Only 25% of adults consume the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and just 1 in 10 youth report eating more than 1 serving of fruits and vegetables daily.

The Ideas for Healthy Living (IFHL) program at Skagit County WSU Extension has designed interactive learning experiences for each step along the consumer food pathway – selection and purchase, growing and harvesting, preparing and cooking, storage and waste reduction, and movement and physical activity. Choosing healthy foods no matter where someone shops, whether at the supermarket, corner store, farmers market or food bank, is promoted through supermarket tours, recipe tastings, and educational displays. Culinary skills needed to prepare easy and delicious meals are presented in small, group classes for young and old alike. A food safety and food preservation advice phone line, instructional classes, and handouts present best-practices for preserving food, and information on how to reduce food waste and incidence of food-borne illness. Promoting healthy habits to reduce the risk of chronic disease and help maintain a healthy weight occurs in small, group meetings, after-school programs, early learning centers, and at health fairs. Skagit County WSU Extension incorporates best-practice theory in interactive learning that is engaging and meaningful to participants. Additionally:

  • Parents, childcare providers, and preschool teachers learn proper food portions and nutrition tips for preschoolers to support the development of positive eating habits for preschoolers and youth;
  • Food bank shoppers learn how to select and prepare items available at the food pantry through educational displays and recipe demonstrations;
  • Older adults and seniors adopt new strategies for meal planning and physical activity with the support of  a  lifestyle coach in the Diabetes Prevention Program;

» More …

4-H SeaTech

Leaders in Washington 4-H STEM

2016

For more than a decade the 4-H SeaTech club that operates in Skagit County, Washington, has offered young people a chance to gain valuable engineering skills and insight into careers in science and engineering. These efforts have had a significant impact on the career trajectories of many 4-H youth.

The numbers of high school graduates, particularly females and minorities, enrolling in computer science have been low and declining (Salamon, Kupersmith, and Housten 2008; Barker and Ansorge, 2007; NAS, 2007; NCES, 2005). Twenty-nine percent of teens surveyed indicated any familiarity with career opportunities in engineering, and 63% reported never considering a career as an engineer (Intel, 2011). To this day, a review of almost any state’s reported standardized test scores reflects that there is an ongoing critical need for enhancing science education, particularly for high school youth (NCES, 2005). Competence in science has a particularly noticeable decline between middle and high school, which might indicate a lack of rigor in earlier grades or a failure to consider the developmental needs of adolescents (Smith & Darflur, 2012). 4-H STEM activities can provide prolonged and in-depth exposure to experiential-based inquiry and design.

For more than a decade SeaTech has been a premiere robotics club in Washington State 4-H. Since its inception into 4-H in 2001, SeaTech 4-H Club has provided in-depth science mentoring to more than 115 youth. Most participants remain in the program for an average of two and a half years, receiving both intense and long duration exposure to science and engineering practices. The club’s name is an acronym for Skagit Exploration And marine TECHnology. SeaTech creates elaborately custom-designed underwater remotely operated vehicles that compete in numerous national events.

The hands-on experience offered by the club provides students an opportunity to learn and apply basic engineering skills essential to solving complex problems. Inter-club competitions promote teamwork and opportunities for collaboration between members involved in the same design challenge. The 4-H approach of promoting teamwork, encouraging public speaking, and providing public educational opportunities is designed to help youth apply their content, build connections, effectively communicate,  and contribute to their health and well-being, their futures, and their communities.

The impacts of effective and engaging science opportunities for youth cannot be underestimated. Eighty-five percent of the youth in SeaTech reported that science and math became more interesting subjects in school as a result of their participation in club activities. Approximately 66% of those indicated that their math and science scores improved as a result of joining the club. Seventy-one percent were motivated to take more science classes in school as a result of participating in 4-H. 4-H club activities in the STEM fields can vastly improve youth engagement and success in school learning environments.

Survey participants reported a greater understanding of what scientists and engineers do, and a greater understanding of the processes that scientists and engineers utilize to produce results. The 4-H framework was reported as essential in helping these young club members build teamwork and communication skills that became cornerstones of their success. They did not hesitate to report that learning to deal with challenges was an important lesson. Of youth still in school, 76% of the survey respondents indicated that their career interests were now science-related. Of those out of school, 26% indicated they were in science-related careers.

Since 2009, the SeaTech teams have consistently earned first through third place awards in regional competitions, and they have attained international recognition at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center competitions.

  • More than 60% of SeaTech 4-H club members reported doing better in science and math at school as a result of joining SeaTech.
  • 91% feel that being a member of SeaTech 4-H helped them have a better understanding of science.
  • 71% said they were motivated to take more science classes after they joined SeaTech 4-H.  
  • 74% of survey respondents entered into, or planned to enter into, a science, engineering, or technology field in college.

“SeaTech encouraged me to get into the electrical engineering field and challenged me to understand electronic theory and apply it to building and troubleshooting circuit boards. I have used these skills in both school and work.”

“I learned teamwork and a dedication to putting your all into a project. Commitment goes beyond just doing your best – you dive in, study, ask questions, test, and do thorough research until you have made your best better and, most of all, you never give up.”

“I have learned leadership, teamwork, dedication, CAD design, painting, critical thinking, brainstorming, compensating, delegating, social skills and being trustworthy.”

For more information, please contact Mike Wallace, WSU Regional Specialist, Whatcom County Extension, 1000 N. Forest Street, Suite 201, Bellingham, WA  98225, call: (360) 676-6736, Ext. 41 or email: mlwallace@wsu.edu.

Ideas for Living

2014

IFL was developed in response to requests from social service agencies for basic life skills for their clients on topics such as money management, parenting, food selection and shopping. IFL presentations are fast-paced, fun and engaging, and focus on developing self-sufficiency skills like time management, budgeting, supermarket savvy and healthy eating.

Since 1995, the Ideas for Living (IFL) program at WSU Skagit County Extension has offered interactive learning experiences for adults on 26 different topics. IFL was developed in response to requests from social service agencies for basic life skills for their clients. At that time, state and national welfare reform policies highlighted the need for basic skills to enhance the lives of people either going back to work or joining the work force for the first time. Topics included money management, parenting, food selection, and shopping. IFL presentations are fast paced, fun, and engaging, and focus on developing self-sufficiency skills such as time management, budgeting, supermarket savvy, and healthy eating.

While IFL is an invaluable program, an updated curriculum was needed. In 2013, a review of the IFL curriculum led to updates in lesson plans to reflect best practices and identified additional topics of relevance to community needs and interests. Research and surveys identified certain life-skills assistance programs that were being offered by other agencies, including budgeting, time management, and parenting, and also identified interest in, and a need for, health and wellness topics, particularly in learning how to use/prepare foods received from food banks. Survey respondents said they were interested in recipe ideas, cooking shortcuts, and feeding young children. The curriculum and educational materials also needed to reflect updates to best practices and access to information on the Internet.

For IFL, WSU Extension developed a curriculum based on adult learning theory that includes an active hands-on learning component. Audience members include seniors, parents of young children, young adults, and community members. IFL presentations have covered:

  • Developing positive eating habits for preschoolers: Parents learn proper food portions and nutrition tips for preschoolers;
  • Life Skills and Health and Wellness series: Young adults attending Transitional High School learn techniques for self-sufficiency and healthy living;
  • Health and Wellness classes: Participants learn about various nutrition-related topics and are encouraged to implement new knowledge and techniques in their own lives;

» More …

Latino Leadership Initiative

2016

Washington and other western states have experienced a rapid increase in their Latino populations in the past few decades. Washington’s Latino population is now 12%, and they are young, averaging 24 years old (versus an average of 36 years old among the White population). Despite their population growth, younger age, and visibility, Latinos lag behind all groups in civic participation and leadership roles in Washington State.

Washington and other western states have experienced a rapid increase in their Latino populations in the past few decades. Washington’s Latino population is now 12%, and they are young, averaging 24 years old (versus an average of 36 years old among the White population). Despite their population growth, younger age, and visibility, Latinos lag behind all groups in civic participation and leadership roles in Washington. For example, in 2012 their registration and participation of eligible voters was only 48%, compared with 62% for the electorate as a whole.

In addition to low election participation, Latinos are largely underrepresented in leadership at all levels, even in places where Latinos represent a large percentage or the majority of the population. Consequences of this situation may include a diminishing democracy, a lack of voices for an important and increasingly large group of people at the discussion and decision table, and feelings of alienation. Ultimately, little or no civic engagement worsens their acculturation challenges and increases the risk of discrimination, separation, and exclusion. Tensions and misunderstandings can escalate, as well as resentment, hostility, animosity, and sometimes even hate crimes.

To combat this gap in Latino civic engagement in our communities, Washington State University Extension’s Latino Community Studies and Outreach Program partnered with three community colleges, the Latino Educational Training Institute, and other non-profit organizations. Together, they launched a new program called “Latino Leadership Initiative” (LLI) in 2012. LLI provides multicultural leadership training that targets Latino college students with an emphasis on multicultural skills and the Latino culture. LLI participants meet with trainers and seasoned leaders once a month for hands-on learning during an academic-year-long program. Students design and implement a community project related to education. The community project has given LLI students the opportunity to become mentors of middle and high school Latino students and helps them better understand the value of higher education and being prepared for college.

So far, more than 50 students have graduated from LLI and gone on to apply their leadership skills in their communities, schools, churches, and neighborhoods in Snohomish and Skagit Counties. LLI continues to receive the attention and recognition of elected officials at local and state levels, foundations, 4-year colleges, business leaders, and the media.

LLI graduates participate in a truly transformational experience beyond increasing their leadership skills. Their testimonies and involvement demonstrate how they developed higher self-esteem, and became more involved and caring about their communities and education. In two LLI focus groups, all participants indicated a commitment to complete college and increase their involvement as leaders. One student became president of the Latino/Hispanic student club at her community college, and another moved on to a four-year college and started organizing a similar student club. Another student accepted an internship with a non-profit organization where she can apply her leadership skills including event coordination and organization, public speaking, and communication with legislators. Partially due to her participation in the LLI she applied to and attended a Hispanic Latina leadership conference in Washington, D.C. This student worked for LLI and organized a major event almost entirely on her own. She indicated that she felt much more confident in her ability to accomplish the task thanks to her newly acquired skills from LLI. She went on to work for a Latina House Representative in the Washington Legislature and sees herself as potentially following the same path of political leadership.

Two LLI graduates acted as MCs for our latest gala and fundraising dinner with guests such as college presidents, non-profit leaders, and organization executive directors. Further, a middle school teacher presented testimony and shared his gratitude for LLI participants’ impact on his middle school Latino students, whose behavior changed drastically from “trouble makers” to being more engaged, earning better grades, and talking about college and their futures as professionals.

These new leaders continue to work with middle and high school Latino students who receive individual mentoring to help them succeed in school and be motivated to attend college. Additionally, they work toward decreasing the dropout rate among Latinos.

  • Three participating colleges in Skagit and Snohomish Counties.
  • Fifteen organizations collaborating with LLI including non-profits, economic development associations, foundations, local and state agencies, and businesses.
  • $50,000 budget for 2013-2015 funded entirely by donations and grants
  • Provided 40 hours leadership training.
  • Participants spent 200 hours planning and implementing group community projects.
  • 25 community mentors participated.

“LLI has liberated me from the torment of hiding who I am, and where I came from. It has empowered me to speak and behave with new meaning. A flame was lit inside me, giving me newfound strength, courage, passion and truth. I will continue to try to ignite leadership in other people.”

“This experience has changed my life and the things I learned will stay with me from now on forward. Since this experience changed my life, I hope that I can change others’ lives by teaching them what I learned from this great experience.”

For more information, contact Jose Garcia-Pabon, Latino Community Studies and Outreach
600 128th St. SE, Everett WA 98208 | 425-357-6008 or garciajl@wsu.edu.

For more information on the Latino Community Studies and Outreach initiative, please visit http://ext100.wsu.edu/latinocommunity/.