‘Just in time’ tips that help bring out the best in America’s parents


Moms and dads seemingly do it all: teacher, psychologist, nurse, defense attorney (or prosecutor, depending upon whose hand was in the cookie jar), coach, cook, etc. How they manage it all is a question for the ages, considering children don’t often come with a set of instructions. Despite that, they are not without resources.

North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T) is home to one of these NIFA-supported programs, where extension educators are using Evans-Allen funds to mentor teen mothers on well-being and nutrition education. NC A&T is also the recipient of a $250,000 NIFA grant to develop new ways of using technology to deliver parenting information. The new format delivers material traditionally taught in classrooms and allows statewide training for extension educators.
Mississippi State University hosts a unique program, “eBaby4U.”  With the help of a $158,000 NIFA grant, Project Director Kathleen Ragsdale is among the first — if the not the first — to use social media to bring accurate, culturally-relevant information to low-income, first-time teen/young mothers.  
“There are a handful of posts that discuss issues affecting pregnant and parenting teens; however, a number of these posts aren't written in a ‘voice’ to capture a teen's attention,” Ragsdale said. “I decided to adapt content from eXtension into nine videos and a website that would be culturally relevant for minority teen moms.”
So far, so good, Ragsdale reports. “We've received positive anecdotal feedback that people like the site,” she said. “When people see the site and view the videos they get as excited about Baby4U as I am – so this means that our team has produced something that resonates with other folks, from teen moms to public health promotion experts.”
The eBaby4U project is doing so well, in fact, that a sister project has sprung up. Ragsdale is teaming up with Dr. Melanie Loehwing of Mississippi State’s Department of Communication to create a service-learning project called the “eBaby4U Sustainability Project” to develop a social media campaign to sustain eBaby4U.
NIFA’s mission: Invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and Extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s vision: Catalyze transformative discoveries, education, and engagement to address agricultural challenges.  For more information, visit http://nifa.usda.gov/.

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