New programs will build off existing Extension expertise

To address critical needs in health, well-being, youth development and education, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension is re-orienting some of its programmatic work to better serve the Granite State.

“UNH Extension is pleased to announce the formation of two new programs: the Health and Well-Being Program and the Youth Development and Education Program,” said Associate Director of UNH Extension Amy Loader.

Work in these two areas has been ongoing for the past decade through the framework of Youth and Families and under the guidance of Mike Young, Ph.D., who has served as the program team leader. Moving forward, Young will lead the Health and Well-Being Program.

Health and Well-Being Program

Across the nation and the state, demand for health and well-being services and support has never been more important. Mental health challenges, substance abuse and chronic diseases like obesity, combined with crippling healthcare costs, are disrupting the lives of families and stressing state resources. These issues, and their inequitable distribution, have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“UNH Extension is uniquely situated to leverage New Hampshire strengths to face these challenges,” said Young. “We have the expertise to deliver educational programming, the experience to train practitioners and the partnerships to influence systems-level change. By creating a team with an exclusive focus on health and well-being, we can strengthen people and communities in New Hampshire by providing trusted knowledge, practical education and cooperative solutions.”

Aligning with Extension’s National Framework for Health Equity and Well-Being, UNH Extension will continue its work in these areas:

• Nutrition, SNAP Education and food access

• The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which offers evidence-based workshops to help caregivers and people living with chronic health conditions like arthritis, asthma, diabetes, fibromyalgia, hypertension and multiple sclerosis

• The NH Opioid Prevention Project, which builds upon existing opioid prevention efforts in NH in partnership with the State Opioid Response Team

• Social, Emotional and Mindful Learning for children and youth, as well as Mental Health First Aid®

• The Master Wellness Volunteer Program, which provides training for community members interested in service opportunities focused on creating community change for health

• Well Connected Communities — a national well-being initiative of the Cooperative Extension System in partnership with the National 4-H Council and with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

•  Health and well-being for older adults

Youth Development and Education Program

The Youth Development and Education Program will be led by Kate Guerdat, Ed.D., who has served as the state 4-H leader and 4-H youth development state specialist/associate professor. This new program area will continue to improve learning opportunities for youth and professional development for educators.

Long a beloved feature of Extension, New Hampshire 4-H helps young people acquire knowledge, develop life skills and form attitudes to become self-directed, productive, contributing members of society. Professional 4-H youth development educators located in each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties provide subject matter support, volunteer management and event planning for more than 20,000 school-aged youth.

4-H’s offerings are expanding into six 4-H Youth Development Pathways: Animal Science, Horticulture, Outdoor Recreation, Nutrition, STEM and Teen Leadership.

“Especially given the educational, social and emotional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is paramount that Extension renews its commitment to blazing new trails in youth development and education,” said Guerdat. “We are working day in and day out to provide positive, high value experiences that respond to current challenges and anticipate future needs.”

To help increase the state’s STEM career pipeline, Extension is heavily invested in experiential STEM learning through:

• The STEM Discovery Lab at UNH Manchester, which offers innovative programs for students and adults and partners with local organizations

• Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), which partners UNH Extension science-based volunteers with NH elementary teachers to implement citizen science projects that relate to New Hampshire's natural world

• Building Equity Leaders for STEM in New Hampshire (BELS in NH)—a program that supports STEM teachers in building STEM instruction, building leadership skills and understanding equity pedagogies (funded by the National Science Foundation)

• Teaching Through Inquiry and Science — a K-12 teacher workshop series focused on the fundamentals of inquiry-based instruction and the Next Generation Science Standards for science and engineering practices

• 4-H STEM Docents and Marine Docents – teaching programs that provide specialized trainings for volunteers and K-12 educators and serve as links between UNH’s research community and the public

In addition to UNH Extension’s Health and Well-Being Program and the Youth Development and Education Program, Extension supports NH through the Natural Resources Program (led by Darrel Covell), the Food and Agriculture Program (led by Amy Papineau) and the Community and Economic Development Program (led by Charlie French).