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University of Minnesota Extension

Global Initiatives update

Guatemalans counteract the negative with positive youth and family approach

Alma Lilian Rodríguez
Pictured left to right: John Vreyens, Extension Global Initiatives director; Alma Lilian Rodríguez, University of San Carlos of Guatemala School of Social Work director and members of her team

Past Extension work with Guatemala highlighted the U.S. national school lunch program and ways to build market systems that expand trade between the U. S. and Guatemala.

Now, Extension family development and youth development leaders have been working with leaders at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala to create a program serving youth and families in communities.

“Of Guatemala’s 14.6 million inhabitants, more than half live in poverty and are vulnerable to crime, violence and natural disasters,” says Silvia Alvarez de Davila, U of M Extension family relations educator. It’s also a nation with a strong sense of family that has been hurt by the need for family members to move to other countries for jobs.

This initiative will also strengthen Extension work with diverse communities across Minnesota, according to Trish Olson, University of Minnesota Extension family development program leader.

The San Carlos faculty team visited Minnesota in June, 2018, to learn about successes here in Extension family and youth programs. San Carlos and Extension faculty and educators drafted a pilot plan to serve youth and families in selected Guatemala communities in 2018-2019.

Extension is strengthening the abilities of the faculty and staff in San Carlos to bring about community change, and improving their student intern experience. Social work student interns will use culturally adapted research on youth needs in underserved communities. The goal is to counteract negative forces with research-based approaches to education, parenting and positive opportunities for youth in Guatemala.


Kenyan women get greens to market

Kenyan women farmers
Yobensiah Moraa Maranga (pictured with grandson) is one of the 10 lead farmers in a project with UMN Extension and Kisii U, she hosts a research demonstration plot in Kenya

In southwestern Kenya, women farmers support their families by growing leafy greens and other vegetables they sell at local markets. In this food-insecure part of the country, it’s a big problem when up to half of the crop is lost between harvesting it and getting it to the market.  

University of Minnesota Extension’s participation in solving this problem began with cooperation with the Minnesota Kenyan International Development Association (MKIDA) and Kisii University, where local experts have documented causes such as bruising, water loss, and wilting due to poor handling and storage.

One Extension project improves food security for farmers through postharvest technologies, such as drying greens in solar dryers. The USDA Scientific Cooperation and Research Program provided funds. Improving handling and storage practices may reduce losses by 25 percent and improve quality of produce taken to market.

Related topics: Source Fall 2018 Youth
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