Fresno and Madera Counties' UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program has a long-standing partnership with the Fresno State Dietetic Internship Program. This blog post is part of our Intern Reflections Series.
When I first arrived at UCCE I observed a new teacher practice session in the conference room. Everyone pretended to be first graders as a new employee read a book and taught the MyPlate introduction. They gave her tips at the end of her lesson on ways to be more effective. I thought it was a great way to offer constructive criticism and ensure that new employees are getting the hang of things.
On Wednesday, I traveled with Tacu to Jobs and Beyond and observed a nutrition class and cooking demo. Tacu is an excellent presenter and I really enjoyed watching him teach! He did a great job of encouraging the class to participate and be active in what they were learning. At the end, he made a veggie quesadilla for everyone to try and it tasted great! I got to teach the PA lesson at the end.
On Thursday, I traveled with Evelyn and Ruth to Firebaugh to observe and help teach K-2nd grade classes. Evelyn is a great educator and makes learning so fun for the kids! I co-taught a kindergarten class with Ruth and we introduced the MyPlate to the kids and did a MyPlate puzzle activity where the kids got to actively participate in creating the MyPlate. It was a ton of fun. I also got to help with a lesson that used a very large MyPlate mat.
On Friday, I traveled to Jobs and Beyond again and observed Austin and Sergio teach a nutrition lesson and do a cooking demo of an apple chicken salad. I led the spice activity and it was such a blast having everyone guess what they thought the spices were! Later in the day I completed my Nutrition Corner poster.
My completed Nutrition Corner on Food Safety
This week has been very fun. I spent the whole day with Chris on Tuesday teaching nutrition classes at Viking Elementary. I led a few different activities including food bingo for the special ed class. In the middle of the lesson, a student found a beetle on the floor and it caused a scene. Turns out, the teacher is a master gardener and happened to have two Venus fly trap plants in the classroom. She kept the beetle to feed to the plant!
The venus fly trap plant!
Most of Wednesday was spent with Mishelle at Hamilton Elementary teaching pre-K up to 4th grade.
Teacher Mishelle talking to the kiddos about My Plate!
On Thursday I helped Nora and Yolanda at the Turkey Trot for Hamilton Elementary school. We passed out mango & mint infused water and had props on display to show students and parents how much sugar is in soda and other drinks. It was so much fun!
Ready to serve kids infused water!
The biggest thing that I've learned so far from UCCE is how easy and fun teaching children can be. The kids classes are such a blast and I really love how high energy they are. I often get nervous public speaking or doing education lessons, but I haven't been nervous with the kids at all.
I've also been surprised at how quickly children pick up and retain information. Chris and I went into a classroom that he had taught once the previous year. The children remembered almost everything with just a little prompting! I was so impressed.
Overall this has been a great two weeks going out to the community and teaching nutrition. I've been reminded how vital nutrition education is and why it is needed so badly in the community. Thanks UCCE for having me!
UC CalFresh has an immense impact on the well being of local communities and is a valuable resource to in the Central Valley of California. My two week rotation offered many hands-on learning experiences that deepened my appreciation for and enhanced my skill set in nutrition education. All UC CalFresh staff members were incredibly friendly and their passion and enthusiasm when teaching at different facilities was inspiring. The impact they are making on their audience was apparent and it was wonderful to be part of it.
One of the classes I got to teach was a Jobs and Beyond class for adults. The curriculum focuses on educating participants on skill sets that can aid them in their personal and professional life. It was interesting to interact and listen to the participants' input. It allowed me to have a better understanding of their situation and how to keep the material relevant to them. At the end of the class, they were very appreciative of our time spent with them. It felt fulfilling knowing that we had made a positive impact on them.
Prior to this rotation, I had limited experience educating small children. However, the fun and engaging lesson materials provided by UC CalFresh made it easy to adapt and teach to various grade levels. The fun songs used by the staff are perfect to educate young children about the importance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy in their diet. We also had a lot of fun playing games that encouraged physical activity. With lots of giggles and laughter, the kids got to learn about the importance of a healthy diet in their lives.
When not traveling to different school or community sites to provide education, there is plenty of opportunity for creativity at UC CalFresh. I created a poster board with the key message of “All Vegetables Come From Plants” to help educate children about where our vegetables come from and to better understand the anatomy of plants. The poster board will be displayed at a local school site.
My favorite experience was a Jog-a-thon event at a local elementary school. I love being silly, so when I found out I get to dress up as a strawberry and exercise with the kids I was immediately got excited. As you could imagine, a running strawberry was very entertaining for the kids and motivated them to keep going. There is nothing better than having fun while promoting healthier lifestyle choices and at UC CalFresh that is the focus!
During my time at UC CalFresh, I was exposed to a stimulating variety of opportunities. I taught classes ranging from pre-kindergarten to adults, all of which I really enjoyed! I loved watching the kids eager to learn about MyPlate and physical activity and the adults asking questions on how to make their families healthier. I was also extremely impressed by the UC CalFresh staff; their passion for nutrition and health education radiated inside and out of the classrooms.
These pictures are from a few of the classes I taught at Bailey Elementary in Firebaugh. The kindergarteners in the picture above loved learning about fruits and vegetables. I read them a book about buying different fruits and vegetables at the market and then we played the Colors of the Rainbow game where they put their assigned fruit on the rainbow according to its color.
The picture below is from a second grade class at Bailey Elementary. We had a fun, interactive lesson where I taught them about different vegetables and then we played the Mystery Vegetable game after.
I was also able to co-teach and conduct food demonstrations at two classes for the Jobs and Beyond program. These individuals all had families to take care of and were truly invested in the lessons. I was encouraged by how many questions they all had and I was eager to answer them all. We discussed how to save time and money when cooking healthy meals for their families.
The pictures below are from my moringa project. I created two different smoothie recipes that contained moringa, then the staff taste tested and provided feedback on their favorite version. This was a really fun project and forced me to get creative with the recipes. I have never created a recipe from scratch, so this was a great learning opportunity for me!
Overall, I had a very pleasant experience during my two weeks at UC Cooperative Extension with the CalFresh program. This rotation forced me to go outside of my comfort zone, and I ended up enjoying everything I did! These last two weeks have exposed me to the importance of community nutrition and have left me with an eager drive to potentially work in community nutrition once I become a registered dietitian. Thank you to all of the staff who warmly welcomed me into their office and for showing me how health educators can make a huge difference in the community.
- Author: Sergio Perez
UC Calfresh joined Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC) to promote a new vegetable to the Calwa Elementary students during the Fresh Grub event on February 28th. Fresh Grub links with school cafeterias to provide students with locally grown produce. At this event, the new vegetable that was introduced to children, teachers, and parents was jicama. The event was hosted by Fresno EOC, and UC Calfresh was there to support in providing direct education and facilitating a jicama taste test with the students. Others that played a big part in developing the event include Fresno State Community and Economic Development, Fresno Unified School District, and Fresno County Farm Bureau. ABC30 News was also present to film the event.
Calwa's UC Calfresh Nutrition Program Educator, Sergio, is ready to present educational information on jicama.
UC Calfresh Nutrition Program Educator, Mishelle, shows a picture on how jicama originally looks like before being cut.
Tasting 1: Plain Jicama
Tasting 2: Jicama with Lemon
The grade levels that participated in the jicama taste testing were 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade students. There were two types of tastings the students were exposed to. The first tasting was jicama by itself, and the second was jicama with lemon. The UC Calfresh team recorded the student's response of ever trying jicama, if they tried it at the time, were they willing to eat it again, and if they were willing to ask for it at home. Afterwards, ABC30 News asked the students' feedback and opinion on the tasting. At the end of the students taste test, we had teachers and parents taste both tastings and give us their response on whether they would serve the plain jicama or jicama with lemon at home.
To record students' responses accurately and prevent students from influencing one another, UC Calfresh educators would have them have their heads down, and show a thumb up for ‘yes.'
Students were excited to try new foods. For those who have tried it, they were surprised at seeing other ways jicama can be eaten. Different ways jicama was represented included eating it in a form of French fries, salad, or a taco shell.
Parents and staff from Calwa Elementary tasting the jicama with their children.
Group photo with the staff members of Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Fresno Unified School District, and UC Calfresh.
The Fresh Grub was a successful event. There were about 200 students who participated, as well as parents and teachers who did the jicama taste test at the end. Fresno's EOC and UC Calfresh did a great job coordinating the event. UC Calfresh will continue to push healthy eating to the students in the cafeteria, as this can help make healthier decisions and explore different foods.
Over the last two weeks at UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, I learned fun and innovative ways to provide nutrition education to children and adults. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program helps families, adults, and children by teaching nutrition lessons at schools and community events. During my time interning at UC CalFresh, I had the opportunity to learn about the program through teaching children nutrition classes.
On my first day, I was introduced to the staff and was given a tour of the facility. I knew very little about UC CalFresh; so, it was good to learn about an organization that teaches nutrition education to the local community. I was told that I would be teaching the following day at Roeding Elementry school for youth lessons. I was a bit nervous because I had very little experience working with young children; but after watching the staff educator Nora teach Pre-K, kindergarten, and 5th-grade classes; I was able to get the groove of things and quickly picked up on some of her teaching strategies and classroom management techniques.
The following day I traveled to Bailey Elementary in Firebaugh to teach preschoolers about MyPlate and Potter the Otter. I was astonished by the students' ability to remember the MyPlate model and the key messages provided during the lesson. When reviewing MyPlate we helped the students associate certain foods with specific food groups. For example, we would point to the grains group and ask the students the color, the name of the group, foods found within the group, and the key message as to why it's are important. I was amazed by their knowledge of nutrition. Not only did they know the foods within the groups, they understood the key messages associated with the different food groups. Awesome!
For the second half of the lesson, I read the book Potter the Otter Goes to Market. This book talked about the importance of eating healthy with friends and family. The students loved the story and I made sure to engage the children by encouraging participation and answering questions about the book.
The following week I taught youh classes at many different sites in Fresno. I also participated in a Moringa project, where I created overnight oats and spiced morning oatmeal. These two breakfast entrees were infused with moringa and taste tested on my last day. I found the overnight oats recipe to be my favorite.
I also created a UC CalFresh Nutrition Corner poster board that emphasized the importance of whole grains and physical activity. The Nutrition Corner poster board will be used at a school site for nutrition outreach.
I would like to thank UC CalFresh Nutrition Program for this opportunity. I had not had much experience with children prior to this rotation so I felt that it was beneficial to me as a future registered dietitian. I had the opportunity to visit different school sites while teaching nutrition education to various age groups throughout the week. This rotation helped me to step out of my comfort zone and I truly felt that I was teaching the kids the importance of nutrition. I am grateful for this unique rotation and to be able to work with students in the classroom; it has made me more confident in working with this age group. This rotation has shown me the impact that community nutrition can make. Thank you!