Carol Erickson is an Extension educator with the Illinois Nutrition Education Programs (INEP). Ms. Erickson believes that healthy food should be accessible, affordable, and plentiful to all people. Where you live should not determine the quality or availability to healthy food. Through community engagement and collaboration, Erickson is working on making environmental and systems changes that make choosing the healthy food the “easy” option. She works with community agencies, schools, youth programs, food pantries, grocery stores, and faith-based institutions to assess, develop, and implement changes that lead toward making healthy food choices.
Erickson has spent her adult life working with limited-income families to improve their lives through making healthy choices. Ms. Erickson has worked for the: State of Missouri, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC), Ogle County Health Department as Director of Health Education, and for University of Illinois Extension, Family Nutrition Program and SNAP Education in Tazewell and Winnebago Counties. She also taught Child Nutrition at Illinois Community College.
Erickson is skilled at writing, procuring, and implementing community-based grants. Some of the grants include Illinois Department of Public Health (Heart Smart for Women, Women out Walking, Bodyworks, Smoke-free Illinois, Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer) and Illinois School Board of Education (Summer Food Service Program). Other grants have provided funding to sustain a food pantry and community garden.
Erickson earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in Elementary Education from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. She attended Western Illinois University and studied nutrition and education. Her graduate thesis paper at Western Illinois addressed weight management behaviors and attitudes of youth in rural Illinois. Most recently, Erickson completed a master’s of science in Adult and Higher Education from Northern Illinois University. “Engaging Adult Learners in Policy, Systems, and Environmental Changes for a Healthier Community” was the title of her capstone research paper. In 2014, Erickson attended the Institute for Faith and Public Health Leadership at University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health along with a delegation from Winnebago County Health Department. She is a lifelong learner and passionate about engaging adults in education and dialogue that leads to community change.
Expert in: Food insecurity, community engagement, Smarter Lunchroom, emergency food, farmers’ market, community gardening, and adult education.