Statewide Training Session for Health Educators in Virginia Cooperative Extension

November 4, 2015


Statewide Training Session- 101 Years in the making


Cooperative Extension is associated with every state and territory in the United States. Now in its 101st year, Extension personnel recognize the social ecological implications of health and wellness. The model of Extension started in the fields: Teaching farmers best practices for American agriculture. As each Extension system is associated with a land-grant University, these best practice approaches were informed by robust scientific inquiry and the best available evidence. While in the field, other family members often joined the conversation, which paved the way for food safety and handling, nutrition and cooking education, etc. Now, it is well established that nutrition and physical activity play an important role in health and wellness.


In 2014 'physical activity' was added to the Farm Bill. In addition, the CE’s National Framework for Health and Wellness (also released in 2014) states that "this same system of Extension can do for the nation’s health what it did for American agriculture."





There are a plethora of ways for you to receive or request programming. 


The use of social media in Extension has been a topic of interest through eXtension multiple times as well as in the Journal of Extension (e.g., overcoming barriers to social media and improving program reach).


I currently serve as the chair for the NIFA Nutrition and Health Committee for Planning and Guidance. Click here to learn more...and comment below if you have any questions or topics of interest to share.


What does this Cooperative Extension history have to do with me?


I hold a partial appointment as the physical activity specialist of Virginia Cooperative Extension... There are less than a dozen doctorally trained specialists with an emphasis on physical activity within the nationwide Extension system. As a behavioral scientist with a special emphasis on translating programs into their intended delivery system, health educators are a key determinant in program uptake. 


Health educators are county-based and provide credible information for community members.


Among other Extension related endeavors, our lab has completed steps toward training health educators on physical activity programs. Chronologically, we have completed:


1. Needs assessment

Mixed-methods evaluation of VCE health educators’ perceptions of physical activity programming. Andrey Esakia, first year Master’s student, is the lead author on the paper, and we hope to have it published and available for your review shortly!


Overall results: Health educators need to know

a. What evidence-based programming exists;

b. How to deliver said programs;

c. How to evaluate the programs.


2. Re-boot of the Physical Activity Leadership Team of VCE

An integrated research-practice partnership has the potential to improve the feasibility and uptake of interventions. Representatives from the four VCE districts provide their expertise on the feasibility and logistics of delivering evidence-based programming components.


3. Development of 2-day In-Service training

VCE health educators met in Blacksburg, VA to learn about physical activity (definitions, liability, recommendations) as well as branded evidence-based programs from the Physical Activity Research and Community Implementation Laboratory. 

Was this training successful? Tune in to find out more!


What components of "training" do you find most helpful as an attendee? What strategies have worked best for you when delivering training?

Until next time....



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