AMES, Iowa -- Thanks to dedicated professionals like Kim Greder, Extension and Outreach education strengthens families and communities not only in Iowa, but across the U.S. The Human Sciences Extension and Outreach specialist and associate professor at Iowa State University has been selected to receive the North Central Region Excellence in Extension award. Greder will receive the award in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Nov. 9.
The award is given to nominees in specific regions who have far reaching impact on Extension nationally. Twelve states, including Iowa, are in the North Central Region.
Greder was selected for her long-standing dedication to developing and implementing science-based Extension education that has improved the lives of families. Her work cuts across disciplines, from building capacity of professionals who serve families to increasing community awareness and response to families who have difficulty meeting their food and health needs.
“I’ve done work around helping parents understand how children grow and develop and how to advocate for family needs, to helping community leaders understand how food insecurity impacts family functioning and what they can do to help families meet their food needs,” said Greder.
Greder has researched the health and well being of rural low-income families across the U.S., in particular Latino immigrant families in rural Iowa. “My colleagues and I work with local Extension educators to interview rural low-income families and to monitor their health and well being,” said Greder. “We develop materials to inform local leaders of health related issues facing rural low-income families and how policies and programs enhanced or presented barriers to health.” Greder said the team helps Extension educators think through educational strategies to help families not only meet their needs, but to thrive.
When Greder shared findings with local leaders in one community about the high level of food insecurity among families in their community, leaders took action. They started a weekly community meal site for families to not only help families meet their food needs, but to develop and strengthen relationships between community leaders and families. In another community, Extension educators brought immigrant families together to strategize how they want to learn about issues important to them such as health and raising children. Findings from Greder’s research at food pantries contributed to the development of the annual Iowa Hunger Summit, as well as the implementation of a diabetes nutrition education program for adults who visit food pantries, and the creation of a food pantry designed for people with special health needs.
Through Partnering with Parents, Greder and colleagues assisted more than 600 professionals in Iowa and across the U.S. in strengthening their knowledge and skills to work effectively with families and help parents improve their parenting skills. She initiated the Science of Parenting, an online resource where more than 300 parents on a monthly basis learn about and discuss issues related to raising children. Greder now is focusing energy on strengthening co-parenting relationships among young unmarried parents through the program, Together We Can, as well as increasing high school graduation rates and college access for Latino youth through Juntos: Together for a Better Education. She continues her research on the health of rural low-income families.
Over her Extension career, Greder has secured approximately $5 million to support ISU Extension and Outreach education and research focused on families, and produced more than 200 manuscripts, extension publications, videos and presentations to inform research, policy and work with families.
“I see immediate and long term impacts,” said Greder. “The focus in Extension and Outreach is really to keep creating a better Iowa, better country and a better world.”
Photo caption: Kim Greder conducts a focus group in Cass County.