Tara Agama interacts with child during educational program

Tara Agama, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Education Instructor

agama@illinois.edu

“I teach preschoolers and early elementary students about healthy eating and how to take care of their organs. Many of my students and their parents tell me they have made healthy changes at home because of our program. I know that I am making a difference.”

School staff learn about challenges of living in poverty

For those who have never experienced poverty it is hard to imagine what is involved in navigating that day-to-day life. The stress and uncertainty play out in such ways that drastically impact high school graduation and college attendance rates for children and young adults in Illinois. University of Illinois Extension recently partnered with Dream Center Peoria and East Peoria Junior High to walk the school’s 200+ teachers and staff through a poverty simulation to help participants rethink poverty and become part of the solution.

Extension Master Naturalist Julie Robinson documenting outdoor public spaces

“I just want people to spend more time outside,” explained University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Julie Robinson.

This was the passion driving Robinson to build a website called Local OPAL, which stands for Outdoor Playing And Learning, www.localopal.org. She created an online resource that helps everyone easily find publicly accessible outdoor locations in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell, Marshall, and Woodford counties.

Teens help a senior citizen use an electronic device.

A new program called 4-H Tech Changemakers was launched in University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit to empower youth to help close the broadband internet gap. This nationally led program is a partnership between Microsoft and National 4-H Council in which trained teens assist adults to learn new technology and how to use it safely.

SNAP-Ed staff member with display booth with resources on healthy eating

With a priority of focusing on food as medicine, University of Illinois Extension staff teamed up with two partners to provide Heartland Health Services pediatric families a bundle of fresh produce in conjunction with nutrition education and resources as part of a 10 week pilot project. Extension staff involved are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Education (SNAP-Ed) effort serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. The two partners were University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP) and Peoria Area Food Bank.

4-H youth distributing gifts to farmers

Local 4-H members showed their thanks to area farmers in a big way this season. The gift looks small but in reality, it comes with a life-saving message.

Volunteer Master Gardeners at Farmers Market

Master Gardeners from University of Illinois Extension serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties share a mission to “help others learn to grow.” Perhaps nowhere does this mission play out more directly than at the Peoria Riverfront Farmers Market (PRFM), where they answer hundreds of gardening questions posed by visitors from across Central Illinois and beyond.

Profile picture of Jo Elyn Smith

Jo Elyn Smith, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program—Instructor

josmith@illinois.edu

“I reach people in the Peoria community to help them better understand what tools they need to become healthier. This is important to me because each person I reach is different in what they need to become healthier.”