Diversity Spotlight

Find out what kind of work CFANS faculty are doing within the University and in the broader community.

CFANS Faculty and Staff

Craig Hassel 

Craig Hassel is associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. He explores issues of food and health with cultural communities that hold knowledge that lies beyond Eurocentric science constructions.

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Paul Porter: Tour d'Afrique 2010

Paul Porter is a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. From March 14 until May 15, 2010, Paul traveled by bicycle through six African countries while teaching the course, Food and Agriculture from Cairo to Cape Town at 10 mph.

Ingrid Schneider 

Ingrid Schneider is a faculty member in the Department of Forest Resources and The Director of the Tourism Center at the University of Minnesota.

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Michele Schermann, RN MS

Michele Schermann, a public health nurse researcher and educator, works at the intersection of human health, agricultural safety and natural resource management, with a special focus on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and preparing growers for food safety audits.

Extension Services

The White Earth Math and Science Academy

White Earth middle school students get excellent career preparation learning about topics from gardening to building rockets. Results include reduced dropout rates, better math and science performance in school, and a 103% increase in the students’ feelings that they would like a job involving science, math, and/or engineering. Read more.

Pesticide Overspray on Hmong Family Gardens

Several Hmong families were renting land to grow vegetables in rural Winona County. The crop was growing nicely when a neighboring farmer had his corn sprayed by a commercial applicator. The spray drifted and damaged more than five acres of vegetables. University of Minnesota Extension was contacted for help. Educators facilitated a farm visit by an MDA inspector and explained the process to the families. They worked with organic certifiers to have the crop appraised. Extension supported the families through a major financial settlement with the applicator’s insurance carrier and laid the foundation for more education on applying pesticides in a safe and lawful manner.

Master Gardeners and Community Corrections

In several Minnesota counties, volunteers from the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program partner with prisons and detention centers. Master Gardeners in Olmsted County work with juvenile and adult offenders on growing vegetables. Those in the program sell produce from the gardens at several locations in Rochester, and proceeds are donated to victims of crime in the county. Extra produce is donated to homeless shelters and food shelves.

Ramsey County Extension Master Gardeners

Last year:

    • taught 42 classes to Native American communities on organic food gardening and vocational horticulture

    • through Habitat for Humanity, taught 19 Hmong, Somali and Ethiopian adults to landscape their Habitat home

Food Safety Success in Spanish

University of Minnesota Extension-taught ServSafe® courses proved successful for English language speakers, but up until early last year, a Spanish version of the course had low passing rates in Minnesota. Something needed to change. Extension food safety educators worked with Courtesy Corporation – McDonald's and Olmsted County Public Health to revamp the course for this growing audience.

Even before exam results from the Rochester pilot rolled in, it was clear the revised course was an improvement. What made the difference?

Key to the course success were shorter training sessions, which meshed better with restaurant workers' schedules, and on-the-job assignments, which presented opportunities for managers and employees to learn together, according to Glenyce Peterson-Vangsness, Extension food safety educator. In addition, instructor Claudia Diez, a Mexico native, used life experience and unique perspective to address cultural barriers.

The new workshop was beneficial for managers and staff alike, according to Jessica Alexander, general manager of a McDonald's restaurant in Byron. "The managers have been able to explain why we do things the way we do, which has helped the employees to remember the proper procedures of food safety," Alexander added.

Word of the newly improved course has spread—much to the delight of Extension's Food Safety Team, which has received requests from food industry workers all over the state.

Before Extension and its partners redesigned the ServSafe® Spanish curriculum, only 40 percent of Spanish speakers passed. But since the new course was developed:

    • 90 percent passed a pilot program in Rochester with an average score of 93.19 percent.

    • 100 percent passed a recent metro area series with an average score of 91.43 percent.

    • 100 percent of participants say they have changed their work habits. Reported changes include more attention to proper hand washing, personal hygiene, cleaner facilities and increased attention to proper cooling of foods.

    • 100 percent of participants say they have shared what they learned with co-workers.

"I know my people are hardworking people," said Diez. "They are people with high energy, who want to play by the rules, and who have a wealth of knowledge. I emphasize behavioral change and not just passing the exam and getting a certificate.”