Saturday, February 11, 2017


According to the definition of backlog is 


  (băk′lŏg′, -lôg′)
1. reserve supply or source.
2. An accumulation, especially of unfinished work or unfilled orders.
3. large log at the back of a fire in a fireplace.

Well, guess what?  I have been spending January taking care of a backlog, as in an accumulation of unfinished work.  I had over-scheduled, and under-planned for any interruptions, when all of a sudden this fall I had some.  We had a change in staffing in our office and I had to go into triage mode dealing with the most critical issues first.  Therefore, I did not get posts to this blog completed in a timely fashion.  

Even though many of the posts I'm publishing are now outdated, I wanted to complete the task just the same.  So, please forgive the multiple postings ...

Put a large log at the back of your fireplace and enjoy catching up.  I am!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Feeling Stretched as a Caregiver?

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself.

This program helps family caregivers reduce stress, improve self-confidence, communicate feelings better, balance their lives, increase their ability to make tough decisions and locate helpful resources.

Classes consist of six sessions held once a week.  The class will be led by Jane Wolery, MSU Extension Teton County, and Alice Burchak, MSU Extension Toole County. Interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming will help you take the “tools” you acquire and put them into action for your life.

You will receive a book, The Caregiver Helpbook, developed specifically for the class.  A donation of $30 to help defray the cost of the book is suggested, but not required to attend the class. The classes are offered at no cost.

Classes will be held at Choteau City Hall from 10-11:30 a.m.  Sessions are held on Tuesdays and will run from November 8 to December 13. For more information or to register, contact the MSU Extension Office in Teton County at 406-466-2491 or email  Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.

All Shook Up!

I have been thinking about snow globes.  Sometimes they just sit there so pretty on the shelf and then someone comes by and shakes them and the snow falls softly until it settles again.  Other times someone comes by and really, really shakes them up.  You wonder how the little figurines inside don’t fall out of place.  At times my home finances feel like a snow globe – sometimes calm and settled and then sometimes something happens and it feels like our finances have been shaken up again.  The vehicle breaks down, someone needs surgery, there is a job change … it often doesn’t take much for serenity to be turned upside down!  

If you’d like to take control of your finances, MSU Extension has great resources in our Solid Finances series.  The Solid Finances program was started in 2013 and includes weekly financial webinars.  This year’s series includes topics such as health care insurance options for those nearing retirement, avoiding financial scams, Banking 101, and estate planning and family legacies.  Each webinar can be joined live on Wednesdays at noon.  This year’s webinars started on October 5, but the great news is that all webinars are recorded.  In fact, you can listen to any of the 50 webinars that are posted on the MSU Extension Solid Finances webpage.  Some of the recorded webinars include topics such as understanding credit scores, teens and money and how to reduce debt.  

There are topics for every stage of life. If your financial world is pretty settled, like a snow globe on shelf, it doesn’t hurt to dust it off every once in a while and take a look at it to be sure.  If your financial world is a little shaky, it might just do to take advantage of the free resources to establish Solid Finances.  

Babysitter Boot Camp

MSU Extension in Teton County is planning a Babysitter Boot Camp for Thursday, October 20 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Choteau Baptist Church.  Registration can be made at or 466-2491.   The class is being offered free of charge and will be filled on a first-registered basis.  Class limit is 25 participants, with a minimum required of 10 registered by Monday, October 17.  Participants need to bring a lunch and beverage to the class.

During the Babysitter Boot Camp, babysitters will learn basic training in first aid.  Babysitters will learn how to get marching orders from the families they serve, and will receive ammunition to become Purple Heart babysitters.  
All participants will have a chance to learn about how to plan enrichment activities (including crafts, games, singing, and science activities) to keep the children in their charge occupied. Babysitters will also learn about providing nutritious and safe foods for a variety of ages and will learn about foods that are common choking hazards.  Sitters will learn skills to provide top-notch customer service and to keep themselves safe as they develop their babysitting business.  

Members will leave the Babysitter Boot Camp fully armed with ideas for safe fun and tips to use throughout the year when in charge of kids.  To enlist in Babysitter Boot Camp, contact the MSU Extension Office in Teton County at or 466-2491.  

Autumn Update

While I was at the Senior Center in Fairfield last week teaching a class with Brent Roeder on frauds and scams, a woman mentioned how much she enjoyed reading the Extension articles in the newspapers.  I admitted that I have been absent from newsprint recently, which she had noticed.  I felt it would be worthwhile to do an update on the family consumer science side of MSU Extension in Teton County.  After the full 4-H summer season of educational events, I took a few days off in early August, but did write a grant application during that time.  I am excited to announce that we received a $10,000 grant from 3 Rivers and CoBank.  About the same time I received word that the grant application I wrote for Montana Financial Education Coalition was funded at $750.  Both of these grants were written to further efforts primarily in financial education from preschool age through the lifespan.  We will be purchasing a traveling iPad lab to enhance the student learning experience.  The traveling technology lab will be used by Extension throughout the region.
In August, I was invited to teach teamwork lessons for the Shelby School faculty and staff, and the Choteau volleyball team graciously let me practice the team building activities with them first.  I had the pleasure of teaching the Real Colors™ personality inventory for the Dutton-Brady faculty.  The class helps participants decipher their natural strengths, but also look for ways to appreciate and communicate with those who have very different strengths and approaches.  The class improves relationships.  The faculty will use the information to create classroom lessons for various personality strengths.
This past year, I have been involved in mental health training and attended the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) training in Conrad and Youth Mental Health First Aid classes in Shelby.  I have been working with Mark Schure from MSU on the Thrive program.  Shure was in Teton County to hold two focus groups on the potential benefit of online cognitive behavior therapy for rural communities.  Sandy Bailey, MSU Extension Family and Human Development Specialist, is part of a team at MSU who has received a sizable grant to further work in mental health in Montana.  I look forward to learning the next steps at MSU Extension Annual Conference in Bozeman and to bringing the information to Teton County.
September was a very full and productive month.  Montana hosted the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science conference at Big Sky.  I chaired the promotional committee.  More than 700 colleagues from across the nation attended.  Planning the conference was nearly a two-year effort.  I applied and was selected to teach a four-hour session on the Art of Science and how to use science concepts to enhance FCS, 4-H and youth development programs.  My colleague, Roubie Younkin, and I were selected for a Showcase of Excellence session with Operation Concession Intervention and connected with more than 200 colleagues during that session.  I also taught Assistive Devices during one of the concurrent sessions.  You may be asking, “What difference does that make to our county?”  It allows the Extension work being done in Teton County to be shared on a national platform.  Hosting the event was an opportunity for the FCS Extension professionals in Montana to build even closer relationships, which really help as we share educational programs across the state.  During the conference I was able to attend sessions and bring back ideas for more educational programming in Teton County.  For years, I have been using classes and materials from my Extension colleagues across the nation to teach in Teton County.  It was great to meet the people behind the research and lesson plans, as well as be able to share knowledge from our county.
On the heels of the NEAFCS conference, I attended training Helena on Chronic Disease Management.  Glenn Deuchler, from Teton County Public Health, Betty Deuchler, volunteer, and I are preparing for the third session in a six-part series for people in Teton County to learn management tools to assist as they cope with a chronic disease or condition.  A total of XX people are attending this first series.  In September, Glenn Deuchler and I also continued our research with Cornell and MSU Extension through the Strong Hearts program.  The program is a National Institute of Health funded research project on cardiac disease prevention for rural women.  MSU Extension in Teton County is starting into the third year with this research project.  
Teton County 4-H was one of six counties responsible for hosting the Montana 4-H State Leadership Forum in September.  Our county handled registration, budget and finance, and evaluation.  The office staff was integral in preparing for this event that trained 170 4-H volunteers and members.  Seven Teton County volunteers and members attended the event in Lewistown.  Watson Snyder represented Teton County in his position as State 4-H Ambassador President.  While at the leadership forum, my colleague, Alice Burchak, Toole County, and I were able to unveil the 4-H communication curriculum we have been working on for nearly a year.  Other Extension colleagues joined the team and have created additional lessons for youth in the public speaking and communications area.  I am very excited to get the new curriculum in the hands of 4-H volunteers and members in Teton County and that it will be used across the state.
In October, I have been teaching a variety of classes in Teton County including the chronic disease management class, hand-washing and germ reduction at preschools, fraud and scam protection as Senior Centers and the recent Babysitter Boot Camp where twelve area youth received six hours of instruction.  We have had our planning meetings for 4-H for the year and are working on the teen leadership program.  The 4-H Food Drive in Choteau was last week and brought in nearly 1700 pounds of food and close to $500 in donations for the Teton County Food Pantry.  A team of 4-H youth plans the event each year and gains leadership skills coordinating the event. Brent Roeder, Ag Agent, and Susan Antonsen, 4-H volunteer, chaperoned six Teton County 4-H youth at the Ambassador Fall Training in Bozeman last weekend.  Research shows that the youth who learn leadership skills through 4-H apply those skills when they become adults serving in a variety of capacities in their communities.

I am looking forward to a new line up of classes in November including Strong People, Powerful Tools for Caregivers and Cooking in the Slow Lane.  

Building Strength: Strong People

The MSU Extension Office in Teton County plans to offer the StrongPeople strength training class in Choteau starting November 1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Class will be from noon-1:00 p.m. and will continue through December 20.  This strength training class is a one-hour class, two days a week and will be held at Choteau City Hall.  Participants work through a series of weight-lifting and strength-training exercises.  Strength training improves:  muscle mass, strength, balance, bone density, arthritis symptoms, metabolic rate, glucose/lipid profiles and mental health.  The class is based on research from Dr. Miriam Nelson of Tufts University. The program, which uses free weights, is adaptable for a variety of fitness levels, and is available to both men and women.  The strength training class, taught by Jane Wolery, is for participants who are ages 16-100.  A minimum of 10 registered participants is required to offer the class.  

Please call the MSU Teton County Extension for registration packet and information about the StrongPeople class. The StrongPeople class does require a series of paperwork, including medical release forms.  The registration packets can be mailed or emailed to potential participants, as well as picked up at the Extension Office. The first 20 people with completed registration materials are guaranteed a spot in the class.  Others will be put on a waiting list. If there is ample interest, a second session may be added at 8:30 a.m.

Participants of previous classes have reported a variety of improvements, including relief from chronic pain, improved strength, increased sleep quality and an uplifted mental attitude.   

The StrongPeople participants will get an educational bonus with a variety of daily discussion topics from MSU Extension Family Consumer Science.  

eParenting -- Free Parenting Information Sent to Your Email

MSU Extension offers parenting education via free email subscription
Teton County, MT, January 6, 2017– Montana State University Extension has partnered with University of Wisconsin-Extension to deliver “eParenting® High-Tech Kids,” which provides ideas on using digital media to stay close to children and strengthen family relationships.
Beginning mid-January and running through mid-June, weekly emails will describe short, practical and positive tips on parenting and using digital media with children. The short emails will contain links to more resources for parents.  A parent who participated in Montana last year said, “"It helped me realize that I am not the only parent having these issues with my children and it offers strategies that can get you back on track with teaching and helping your child develop into an adult.”  Another parent added that the messages “reminded me to take a minute to simply reflect on being purposeful in my parenting whether technology was involved or not."
In Teton County many schools participated in eParenting last year by sending messages directly to families.  Several schools plan to start the eParenting emails soon.  People not automatically receiving eParenting messages through their schools can subscribe for the free information by visiting,   Grandparents and other adults are welcome to register, because we know having more caring and informed adults in the life of a child is a benefit.  You do not need to live in Montana to sign up, either, so feel free to share this opportunity with friends and relatives in other locations.    
To learn more about eParenting, watch the video at:
MSU Extension is a statewide educational outreach network that applies unbiased, research-based university resources to address community needs. Visit for more information.