2012, Vol. 17, No. 1 
ISSN 1540 5273

Parent education for vulnerable rural families

Kay Bradford, Utah State University, Carole A. Gnatuk, J. Douglas Burnham, Claire Kimberly, University of Kentucky, Amy Laura Arnold, University of Georgia


Parent education has been shown to increase parents’ competence and build parent-child relationships. However, there are special challenges in teaching at-risk parents with acute needs, and research has not shown a conclusive positive impact of parent education with families with multiple long-term challenges. This mixed-methods exploratory study evaluated the implementation of the research-based Nurturing Parenting Program with three small groups of at-risk families in rural counties, taught by Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Science (FCS) agents. Quantitative analyses showed that parents improved in terms of their expectations of their children, parental empathy, and attitudes regarding corporal punishment while maintaining strong instructor-participant relationship quality. There were no significant differences with parents who had in-home coaching. Instructor-participant working relationships were relatively strong, and instructor-participant relationship scores predicted outcomes for participants in the “treatment plus in-home coach” group but not for the “treatment only” group. Qualitative findings suggested participant improvements in terms of family time together, parent-child communication, and child behavior. Practice implications are discussed. Full Text

Annie Peters Hunter: One of the first Extension home demonstration educators

Jan Scholl, Penn State University, Tanya Finchum, Oklahoma State University


Annie Peters Hunter was the first federally appointed black home demonstration agent in the country. The purpose of this historical study was to learn more about her work, community, and family. She began her home demonstration career January 23, 1912 in Boley, Oklahoma, two years before the passage of the Smith-Lever Act established federal funding for Cooperative Extension programs. Annie Peters Hunter paved the way for other home demonstration educators. By all accounts she was physically and mentally strong. She lost her first husband, was a single parent, a caregiver, and later held two jobs and became part of a blended family – all while helping other families survive and thrive. There is evidence that at least one of her innovations lasted through several decades. The nearest black home demonstration agent was 50 miles away. Though only a few sources and artifacts still remain from that time, the authors provide insight into her life and work. Full Text

The aftermath of the Great Recession: Financially fragile families and how professionals can help

Pam Bennett, University of Central Arkansas


This article is an overview of the recent economic trends regarding the recession spanning from December 2007 to June 2009, commonly referred to as the Great Recession. The article focuses on the changes in home ownership, employment, household debt and wealth and ways that professionals can help financially fragile families. Each of these areas has greatly affected individuals and families, and they are in need of caring professionals who are well educated on crisis as well as intervention techniques. Information in the article is designed to illuminate the magnitude of the crisis and ways to make improvements. Areas of education and tools to help professionals serve families and individuals are highlighted. Full Text

Bringing university innovation to the retirement community: An outdoor walking program for older adults

Nobuko Hongu, Kristin D. Wisneski, Barron J. Orr, The University of Arizona


Regular physical activity provides multiple health benefits for older adults (65 years and older). However, motivating sedentary older adults to become active, or even getting active older adults to the recommended levels of physical activity, is particularly challenging. We have developed an outdoor activity using GPS receivers (GPS Treasure Hunt) for older adults in a retirement community. Participants were recruited from our successful Walk Across Arizona community program, which promotes walking and physical activity. Residents of the retirement community (n=16; the mean age, 74.9 ± 10.8 years old) participated in the GPS Treasure Hunt as part of Walk Across Arizona. During the GPS Treasure Hunt, participants averaged 1,848 ± 437 steps. Most participants reported enjoying the GPS Treasure Hunt. This article presents information to assist Extension educators and professionals who are interested in working with older adults to encourage outdoor walking on individual and community levels. Full Text

Increasing the effectiveness of nutrition educators in meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities

Michelle F. Brill, Kathleen T. Morgan, The State University of New Jersey


Educating individuals with developmental disabilities requires specific knowledge and skills. The high prevalence of obesity and other nutritional concerns due to the limitations to functioning associated with disabilities, sometimes coupled with low income and low literacy, puts this population at high risk for chronic disease. A professional development program was developed to provide an overview of the most common developmental disabilities and their implications for nutrition, behavior, and learning. Effective teaching strategies with an emphasis on the importance of using visual supports were provided and demonstrated. Following training, participants indicated increases in knowledge, ability to adapt teaching strategies, and feelings of effectiveness and confidence in teaching individuals with developmental disabilities. Appropriately trained educators are more likely to create knowledge, attitude, and behavior change in their students. The public value of this program is its contribution to improving the health of communities and furthering the independence of Americans with developmental disabilities. Full Text

Connecting for families: A pilot relationship education program for low-resource Latino families

Kim Allen, North Carolina State University, Alejandra Gudiño, University of Missouri


Research in the field of family studies shows increasing evidence that the quality of the couple relationship in a family has a significant impact on children’s development. In practice, however, addressing this vital part of healthy family functioning and stability is often overlooked, especially in programs serving Latino couples. While many curricula exist to provide families with healthy relationship/healthy marriage education, often the teaching materials, the format, and the facilitation need adaptation to be successful in working with a Latino audience. Connecting for Families is a pilot program specifically designed for low-income parents with the goal of building healthy relationships, which helps foster healthy development in children. In the process of developing this program for all low-resource couples, the authors also created a program specific to Latino couples. As such, a number of effective recruitment strategies and innovative learning opportunities for Latino families were identified. This article will showcase the program as well as lessons learned. Full Text



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