- Author: Maifeng Yang
- Editor: Emily Harris
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.
Working with the various communities here in the Central Valley through the UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno and Madera Counties has been a great experience! The two weeks I've had here flew by fast, but I suppose that's what happens when you're having fun while learning on the job. I enjoyed being part of this working environment because of the great interactions I had with the UC Cooperative staff and participants. Due to my past work experience working with the Butte County UC Cooperative Extension, I was very familiar with the types of events and projects this program offers, so I didn't hesitate jumping in where I was needed.
One program that I participated in was the Veteran Affairs Mental Health Program. From there, I helped teach the Eat Healthy, Be Active Community Workshops. For each lesson, I taught the veterans about food safety and I provided tips on how to be successful in changing their current lifestyles. The veterans brought up many wonderful discussions about trending food topics and even shared their food experiences at home. With our help, many of the veterans talked about making small goals to live their life better and make healthier food choices.
This is a great place for interns to interact with adults that are committed to making changes to their eating lifestyle despite their other health issues. I can tell that these individuals really value the nutrition educators and seek their advice and knowledge on food and nutrition.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to go out of town to teach at Annie E. Cheney Kindergarten in Coalinga. For the day, I spent time with kindergarten students, teaching them about MyPlate. In the lesson, I read them a book called A Feast for Ten and I taught them to shop for healthy food items at the grocery store. Another great teaching opportunity I was exposed to was at Leavenworth Elementary School in Fresno. For my 1st and 2nd grade students, I taught them the benefits of drinking water. As for my 4th grade class, I taught them the importance of MyPlate. At the two schools, I was highly impressed by the knowledge and energy each student possessed, and I was glad to hear that they enjoyed all of the activities and lessons that were given to them. From this experience, I learned that teaching nutrition to youth is fun, but one must have a loud projecting voice and be energetic at all times! When the educator is interactive and upbeat, so are the students.
On an early Thursday morning I participated in the Walk to School event at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Madera. The nutrition team and I engaged the students in physical activity while talking to them about Myplate with a MyPlate parachute. Afterward, we walked with the children (along with other health educators, officials, and parents) to their school to ensure that they arrived safely. This event was held to bring awareness to the public of the issues the students face while walking to school. For example, one side of the street did not have a proper sidewalk installment, therefore, the children had to walk on the dirt road. Also, many of the children were afraid of the dogs around the neighborhood and would step on the road to avoid being barked at. Being part of this experience, empowered me to try and attend more events like this to help make the school community a safer and better place for their students.
All of these different experiences helped to remind me that as a health educator and advocate, I need to see and explore the daily problems these communities face every day. As I continue on to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, it is my job to understand my community and seek out the best resolution that will help the people I serve. One important thing that I learned from this is that no two communities work the same way, so to be an effective educator I need to know the community I am working with. The only way I can do that is be active on the field and go out to talk to the people about their concerns and the issues they face. Overall, this was a fun and aspiring rotation, and it brought me great joy to be part of the UC Cooperative family again.