Sound Living is a weekly public affairs program, hosted by Jeff Wichman, and distributed to radio stations throughout the area. It addresses issues related to families and consumers.
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CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION– Child Care Aware of Kansas reports a lack of educators is one of the primary barriers to filling childhood care openings in Kansas. As part of a grant-funded project, Kansas State University is working to rebuild the state’s early childhood care and education work force. Associate dean for academic and faculty affairs in K-State’s Department of Applied Sciences, Bronwyn Fees, is the principal investigator for Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities, which received more than $5 million in initial funding for a collaborative project involving K-State. The project will implement a career pathway for those currently in the early childhood care and education field – or those thinking about it. Fees and K-State Research and Extension child development specialist, Bradford Wiles, discuss the project and Extension’s role in the project.
A NEW PLANT HARDINESS ZONE MAP– The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which is used for nearly all aspects of agriculture, horticulture and natural resources research and Extension recommendations, has been updated. Kansas State University nursery crop and marketing specialist, Cheryl Boyer, was on a USDA technical review team that helped develop the map. She discusses the process for updating the map and the slight shift to a broader half zone warmer recommendation for parts of Kansas.
INTERGENERATIONAL CONNECTIONS– Intergenerational connections can help both older adults and children feel cared for and valued. Research shows that intergenerational programs increase self-esteem and feelings of well-being for both older adults and children. K-State Research and Extension child development specialist Bradford Wiles says intergenerational connections can reduce loneliness and boost happiness for older adults and help children develop life skills, confidence and a sense of who they are.
3 B’s TO A HEALTHIER BODY AND MIND– No matter what you’re making, having a list of ingredients makes any task much easier. The same is true when you’re trying to build a better body and mind. In this case, the list of ingredients – all starting with the letter “B” – is just three. Johnson County Extension nutrition, food safety and health agent, Chelsea Reinberg, is offering a program that helps participants learn about the importance of good nutrition, benefits of moving their body and the negative impact of stress on their health. She says the 3 B’s to a Healthier Body and Mind focuses on building a better meal, boosting physical activity and balancing stress.
EATING SMART AND STAYING ACTIVE– Because it’s easy to eat too much and be less active, the holiday season is sometimes jokingly referred to as belt loosening and elastic waistband season. However, modifying some favorite dishes to reduce sugar, fat and salt, being mindful while eating, staying active and following our normal routine as much as possible can make the holidays more enjoyable. K-State Research and Extension family and consumer science specialists, Christina Holmes and Ashley Svaty, share tips for eating smart and staying healthy during the holidays.
WINTER WEATHER CHALLENGES– Transitioning from fall to winter creates a variety of weather conditions across Kansas. This might include above average temperatures, frosts and freezes, rain, snow, ice and winds that can create dangerous wind chills. Kansas State University meteorologist Chip Redmond says we need to be for rapidly changing conditions. For example, he says this year an El Niño could lead to a cooler winter and more snow. He discusses how to dress for frigid temperatures, why it’s necessary to be prepared for potential problems when traveling, being mindful of how physically exerting it is to shovel heavy, wet snow and what we can do to keep our homes warm this winter.
COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS– K-State Research and Extension recently held its annual conference on the K-State campus in Manhattan. Three agents from the Southwind Extension District, Tara Solomon-Smith, family and community wellness agent for the Erie office, Amanda Clasen, community vitality agent for the Erie office and Cassidy Lutz, family and consumer science agent for the Yates Center office, discuss some of the community conversations they’ve been facilitating in Allen, Bourbon, Neosho, and Woodson counties on child care and community vitality.
FALL LAWN AND GARDEN TASKS– With leaves beginning to fall and form a thick layer on the lawn, it’s a good idea to have a strategy for removing those leaves before they cause long-lasting damage. Leaf removal is just one of many lawn and garden tasks that should be tackled this fall. K-State Research and Extension horticulture agent for Johnson County, Dennis Patton, discusses what can be done now to prepare our lawn and gardens for winter.
VAPING: THE NEW YOUTH EPIDEMIC – According to the latest data, 25% of Kansas high school students currently vape or have vaped. Additionally, one in seven reported using some type of tobacco and one-third reported using two or more tobacco products, including vaping. The October Living Well Wednesday virtual learning series, hosted by K-State Research and Extension Family and Consumer Sciences professionals and experts from across the state, explored the health risks associated with vaping. Donna Gestner, LiveWell Finney County CDRR Grant Coordinator and the E-Cig Prevention Grant Coordinator, explains why vaping is popular among teenagers and what parents and communities can do to help curb this harmful trend.
ADDING VALUE TO FOODS– The Kansas Value Added Foods Lab, located on the Kansas State University campus, offers a variety of services to help small businesses and entrepreneurs develop their products to sell commercially. The lab also offers training, such as Better Process Control School for Acidified Foods, which is being conducted online November 2nd and 3rd. Kansas State University food scientist, Karen Blakeslee, and associate professor, Dr. Kelly Getty, co-directors of the Kansas Value Added Foods Lab, discuss how the lab works with individuals and businesses to test and develop safe food products.
REMOTE ONLINE WORK INITIATIVE– Kansas State University and the North Central Regional Planning Commission are launching the Remote Online Initiative (ROI) project in four north central counties to boost income for participants through expanded work opportunities while providing increased economic support for rural communities. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State and ROI coordinator, and Deb Ohlde, strategic development advisor with the North Central Regional Planning Commission, discuss how this initiative benefits employees, employers and rural communities.
AGE-RELATED SENSORY CHALLENGES – A decline in the senses doesn’t happen to every individual as they age, but it can be an issue for many. Kansas State University Extension specialist in adult development and aging, Erin Martinez, says Gray for a Day, a program provided by Extension agents across Kansas, provides a hands-on educational opportunity for people of all ages to experience age-related sensory and functional challenges older adults might face.
EDUCATION FOR PARENTS– The Living Well Wednesday virtual learning series continues this fall with a focus on education for parents. Topics for the October, November and December webinars include vaping – the new epidemic among youth, teen stress and anxiety – what’s normal and when professional help may be needed, and importance of early experiences for babies because of their rapid brain development. K-State Research and Extension northeast family and consumer sciences specialist, Sharolyn Jackson, and family and consumer sciences agent for Pottawatomie County, Erin Tynon, preview the upcoming fall series and how each program helps educate parents about difficult issues facing today’s children.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A SCAM– Scammers are using technology to trick Americans out of more money than ever before. In 2022, according to the most recent data from the Federal Trade Commission, reported consumer losses to fraud totaled $8.8 billion – a 30 percent increase from 2021. However, there are steps that can be taken to keep your money and private information safe. K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist, Elizabeth Kiss, (kish) discusses the common signs of a scam and how to avoid becoming a victim.
REDUCING THE RISK OF FOOD POISONING– National Food Safety Education Month is an opportunity to educate people about ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning – whether it’s at home or in the parking lot at a tailgate party. K-State Research and Extension food scientist Karen Blakeslee says if we follow four simple steps, the risk of getting sick from a foodborne illness can be dramatically reduced.
CIVIC HEALTH ENGAGEMENT– Civic health is the way communities are organized to define and address public problems. The Robert Wood Foundation has been collecting research for years that shows a little over 50% of our health is related to places that we live, learn, work, play and pray. Elaine Johannes, the Kansas Health Foundation’s Distinguished Professor of Community Health at Kansas State University, says civic health provides opportunities for people to participate in their communities, and can be summed up in three areas: places, processes and people. She explains how those three areas can strengthen a community and improve personal health.
STAY STRONG, STAY HEALTHY– Some things we can easily do when we’re younger, such as putting on socks or reaching around to get something out of a back pocket, can become a greater challenge with age or inactivity. K-State Research and Extension has an eight-week exercise program that helps older adults build strength and improve balance. K-State Research and Extension northwest regional family and consumer sciences specialist and state coordinator of Stay Strong, Stay Healthy, Ashley Svaty, (swat-ee) and northeast family and consumer sciences specialist, Sharolyn Jackson, explain how the program helps keep the body and mind functioning at its best.
INCREASING CHILDCARE IN KANSAS– Since 2017, the Kansas Department for Children and Families reports that the state has lost 5,044 childcare slots – an overall loss of 6% – and 84,000 slots are currently needed to meet the demand for childcare. According to K-State Research and Extension child development specialist Bradford Wiles, there are many challenges associated with increasing childcare availability across Kansas. However, research shows families and communities both benefit when quality childcare is available.
NAVIGATING THE STAGES OF RETIREMENT– Kansas State University Extension adult development and aging specialist, Erin Martinez, says retirement is one of life’s most stressful events – and it’s not all tied to how much you’ve saved. Researchers have been focusing on more than just managing retirement accounts and are exploring retiree’s life experiences and they’ve found several distinct stages of retirement that many retirees face. Martinez discusses those stages and why it’s important to have a plan for your retirement years.
BACK-TO-SCHOOL ON A BUDGET– As students return to the classroom, parents of school-aged children are facing a fairly large added expense. The National Retail Federation reports that back-to-school shopping for families with children in elementary grades through high school is expected to increase from last year’s previous record high of $864.35 to just over $890. However, K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) says there are ways to start the school year without breaking the bank.
TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN EDUCATION– Teachers play an important role in a child’s education. However, a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. Research shows support from the child’s family is critical to success. K-State Research and Extension child development specialist, Bradford Wiles, describes parental involvement as an effort to understand what’s happening in their children’s lives. As students prepare to return to the classroom, he says parents can help their children do well in school by connecting what they’re learning in school to their everyday life and activities at home.
MEN SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT HEALTH– Studies show that men are twice as likely to go two years between doctor visits and 40% only go if they have a serious issue. So, what keeps men from seeking routine medical care? Elaine Johannes, the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Professor of Community Health at Kansas State University and Brad Dirks, the associate director of the Physician Assistant Program at K-State, say society’s norms – telling boys to brush it off, walk it off or don’t cry – may be a reason why men don’t take better care of their health.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR HEALTHY EATING– An abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables make summer the perfect time to add something we rarely get enough of in our daily diet. We can also fight the summer heat by using alternative ways to prepare meals that reduce the heat in the kitchen. And, we can combat the boredom that’s setting in for kids by getting them involved in preparing healthy meals and making snacks. According to K-State Research and Extension northwest regional family and consumer sciences specialist, Ashley Svaty, families can also use summer as an opportunity to change their normal eating patterns and make that way of eating a habit.
FINANCIAL WELL-BEING– Financial literacy is defined as the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being. There are several key terms that comprise what’s known as a personal finance ecosystem, including financial well-being – which K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist, Elizabeth Kiss, (kish) says is the ultimate goal of financial education and financial capability.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR EMPATHY– As a parent, you want your child to understand and respect that other people have thoughts and feelings. K-State Research and Extension child development specialist, Bradford Wiles, says when children learn to take another person’s perspective and then empathize they’re better equipped to successfully manage peer and adult interactions. Empathy, sympathy and tolerance are often considered to be interchangeable. However, Wiles says there’s a difference.
FOOD PRESERVATION: DO IT RIGHT!– Harvesting garden produce at its peak freshness and then canning it as soon as possible results in the highest quality product – if it’s done right. Kansas State University food scientist and coordinator of the university’s Rapid Response Center, Karen Blakeslee, says there are a lot of steps involved in safely preserving food. That includes properly working equipment, jars, lids and using tested recipes.
CHOOSING POTTING MEDIA FOR OUTDOOR USE– Whether you’re selecting potting media for a small, medium or large container, the landscape flower bed or a raised vegetable garden, your local garden center has a lot of options. Unfortunately, if you don’t exactly what you’re looking for, reading the label may not be much help. K-State Research and Extension nursery crop and marketing specialist, Cheryl Boyer, has a few tips for screening the available choices down to one that works best for your needs.
ELDER ABUSE AND NEGLECT– Physical and emotional abuse, neglect and financial exploitation are some of the most common categories associated with elder abuse. According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans over age 60 – an estimated 5 million elders – is a victim of elder abuse, neglect or some form of exploitation. K-State Research and Extension specialist in adult development and aging, Erin Yelland, says only about one in every 24 cases of elder abuse is reported to any agency. Today, she discusses the warning signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
BE READY FOR AN EMERGENCY– It may seem like a daunting task, but organizing your important papers, documents and family photographs and placing them in a waterproof, fireproof container offers protection and peace of mind. K-State Research and Extension resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) offers suggestions for making a “grab-and-go” box, compiling a household inventory, and steps that can be taken to make life less stressful in the event of an emergency.
CONVERSATIONS ON MENTAL HEALTH– Officials with the Kansas 4-H Foundation and Healthy Blue are partnering to invest in the mental health and well-being of Kansas youth. Healthy Blue – a collaboration of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue KC and Anthem Partnership Holding Company – has pledged $100,000 to the initiative. K-State associate professor and K-State Research and Extension specialist in youth development in the department of Applied Human Sciences and Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Professor of Health at Kansas State, Elaine Johannes, and Kansas 4-H youth development specialist in the Southwest Research-Extension Center, Amy Sollock, (saul-ick) say youth will be invited to participate in a series of “community conversations” in which they’ll be encouraged to share their views on what it looks like to live a healthy lifestyle, issues they struggle with, and more.
MEDITERRANEAN EATING STYLE– This year’s Walk Kansas, a K-State Research and Extension health and nutrition program that helps participants improve their physical and mental health, includes a six-week virtual learning series on the Mediterranean eating style. The Med Instead of Meds curriculum includes seven steps to eating the Med way. Extension family and consumer science specialist for the northeast region and state leader for Walk Kansas, Sharolyn Jackson, covers the seven steps and Extension’s plans to offer the program throughout Kansas.
A CHANGE IN GARDENING PRACTICES– Even the most popular guides eventually need updating. That’s the case for the Kansas Garden Guide. K-State Research and Extension has just released the 2023 Kansas Guide. Rebecca McMahon, administrator of Kansas State University’s local food systems program and one of the authors of the guide, says the new publication reflects changes in gardening practices as well as the way people think about and approach gardening.
OUTDOOR SKIN PROTECTION– Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 5-million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States – that’s more than all other cancers combined. Skin cancer rates are also on the rise over the past few years. K-State Research and Extension northwest regional family and consumer sciences specialist there are several steps we can take to protect ourselves outdoors, including applying and reapplying sunscreen, seeking shade and wearing sun-protective clothing.
WARM-WEATHER FOOD SAFETY– Picnic and barbecue season offers lot of opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends. However, these events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in warmer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee says keeping food at proper temperatures – indoors and out – is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. She discusses keeping food out of the “Danger Zone” and offers tips for reducing the risk of foodborne illness by following four simple steps: clean, separate, cook and chill.
DINING WITH DIABETES ONLINE– According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, diabetes is an epidemic in the United States – affecting over 34 million Americans. There are approximately 255,000 Kansans with diagnosed diabetes. In addition, 66,000 have diabetes but don’t know it and every year another 20,000 people in Kansas are diagnosed with diabetes. K-State Research and Extension offers a self-paced, online series of its Dining with Diabetes program to help address the health concerns of a disease that affects one in nine Kansas adults. Southeast family and consumer sciences regional specialist and Kansas Dining with Diabetes coordinator, Christina Holmes, says the first of five weekly sessions begins May 1st.
PROMOTING FINANCIAL SUCCESS– We all make day-to-day decisions about money. While most of the decisions are small – buying a coffee on the way to work, going out for lunch or hitting the vending machine for an afternoon snack – the choices we make impact our financial success. April is Financial Literacy Month and K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) shares five tips to promote financial success, as well as how parents can help children understand finances by discussing the family’s short, medium and long-term goals.
MAKE FAMILY MEALS A HABIT– Family meals play an important role in helping children develop healthy habits around food. In addition, they provide opportunities for children to learn about healthy, nutritious foods, build a menu, help in the kitchen and form stronger bonds with their family. K-State Research and Extension family and youth development agent in the Chisholm Trail District, Tristen Cope, says you can make family meals a habit – just start slow and keep it simple.
NOT GROWING OLD; AGING WELL– The nation is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2040, about one in five Americans will be 65 or older – up from about one in eight in 2000. K-State Research and Extension offers a variety of programs and publications to help people grow old gracefully, successfully and with increased longevity. K-State Extension aging specialist and interim director of the university’s Center on Aging, Erin Yelland, says some of the keys to aging well are healthy eating, positivity, and being physically and socially active.
BEING MINDFUL ABOUT NUTRITION– March is National Nutrition Month. Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics creates an annual campaign to help people learn about making informed foods choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. K-State Extension assistant professor in the Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health and state program leader in nutrition and health for youth and adults, Priscilla Brenes, says this year’s theme, Fuel for the Future, emphasizes eating with sustainability in mind.
WALK KANSAS ENCOURAGES CHANGE– K-State Research and Extension’s Walk Kansas program has been helping participants improve their mental and physical health for more than 20 years. One of the keys to the success of the program is that participants are able to make small changes over an eight-week period that become a habit. In addition to being physically active and eating healthy, Walk Kansas state leader, Sharolyn Jackson, says the program provides information on chronic disease prevention, stress management, and how to select and prepare healthy recipes.
HYPERTENSION AWARENESS– According to Kansas Health Matters, nearly one-third of adult Kansans have been diagnosed with hypertension – or high blood pressure. K-State Research and Extension is in a pilot program that focuses on hypertension awareness, self-monitoring and prevention. Sara Sawer, nutrition, health and wellness agent for Sedgwick County, and Stephanie Gutierrez, Extension Program Coordinator in the K-State College of Health and Human Sciences, are co-coordinators of the Hypertension Awareness and Prevention Program pilot project being offered in 11 counties throughout the state. They explain the need for the program, what participants will learn about hypertension and they’ll benefit from the four month program.
LEARN IN NATURE’S CLASSROOM– A Kansas State University child development specialist says children benefit both physically and mentally from spending time outdoors with parents and other children. According to Bradford Wiles, children learn through play and being outdoors, in nature, offers children an opportunity to play and learn in a variety of fun and creative ways.
ARE YOU READY FOR TAX DAY?– If you’ve prepared your taxes and know that you’re getting a refund, it may be tempting to spend it all at once. However, a tax refund isn’t a bonus check from the government. It’s money you worked hard for and should be treated as a regular paycheck. There are several ways a tax refund can be used. The key is to do what makes financial sense for you. K-State Research and Extension Resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) says that might include paying down debt, building your savings and having some fun.
HAVE A PLAN FOR SEVERE WEATHER– Weather forecasts aren’t perfect; they can change very quickly. In Kansas, that means an increased chance for tornadoes, damaging winds, severe thunderstorms, lightning, large hail and flash flooding. The National Weather Service in Topeka has designated March 6-10 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Kansas, including a statewide tornado drill March 7th. K-State meteorologist and manager of Mesonet, a network of environmental monitoring stations across Kansas, Chip Redmond, says having a plan for what to do in the event of severe weather is the first step in protecting you and your family.
VALENTINE’S DAY AND KINDNESS– Valentine’s Day typically centers around red roses, chocolates, greeting cards and romance. However, Kansas State University child development specialist Bradford Wiles believes it can also be a time for kindness. While Valentine’s Day celebrates love, he says kindness is a key component of love. Wiles talks about how parents can show kindness toward their children and themselves.
GEARING UP FOR WALK KANSAS 2023– Making just a few lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on our health. In fact, two-thirds of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and others, can be prevented by making lifestyle changes. K-State Research and Extension’s Walk Kansas program, an 8-week, team-based challenge to be physically active most days of the week and eat more fruits and vegetables, has helped thousands of participants make lifestyle changes to improve their mental and physical health. Walk Kansas state leader, Sharolyn Jackson, says the program enables participants to make small changes over several weeks to improve their health and well-being. This year’s Walk Kansas begins March 26th and runs through May 20th.
MAXIMIZING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS– Surveys continue to show that the top benefits employees want from employers are health insurance, paid time off, retirement, vision, dental and life insurance, parental leave and health savings accounts. The three primary employee benefits are vacation or paid time off, health insurance and retirement. K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) discusses how employees can maximize these benefits.
BE PRESENT AND RESPONSIVE– As we begin a new year, Kansas State University child development specialist Bradford Wiles suggests reflecting on the things we do well because we want to maintain those things while we try to improve in other areas. For parents, he recommends they pause and reflect on ways that will best help children develop as they work through adolescence. He says engaging in a daily dialogue with children from a young age demonstrates parents are really interested in their lives. It’s by being present and responsive to their needs that parents can model life skills to their children.
A FOCUS ON LIVING BETTER– K-State Research and Extension family and consumer science agents and specialists offer a variety of programming that can improve our health and well-being, including physical, mental and financial health, relationships and parenting. This winter, the 2023 Living Well Wednesday series will feature webinars on radon gas, legal documents, hypertension awareness, prevention and management, mental health, stretching food dollars and positive parenting. KSRE family and consumer science specialist for the northeast region, Sharolyn Jackson, previews the winter series and Brian Hanson, the K-State Radon Programs Coordinator, has an overview of some of the material he’ll cover on January 11th.
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