Quick Guide to Extension Impacts: FCS
Introduction: Family and Consumer Sciences
Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) programs at Utah State University Extension are all about families and helping them solve the complex and diverse challenges they face in today's world. Research-based information is combined with practical know how by FCS professionals to create current, relevant programs and resources that families can use. Whether delivered through a traditional or online class, a blog, website or Facebook page, families can access the information they need. For information on health and wellness, building strong relationships, preparing nutritious meals, managing finances, caring for a home or dealing with an emergency, turn to your county USU Extension office for help.
– Ann Henderson
Extension Associate Professor
Utah Extension Association of Family
Consumer Sciences Past President
The PowerPay.org website and app developed by USU Extension faculty members are powerful, self-directed debt elimination tools that help families reduce debt and save money. If just 24 percent of the 23,500 debt plans created on the website in 2014 were followed and those people saved $450 in interest the first year, their projected benefit would be $2,538,000. In addition to financial improvement, research findings indicate greater marital satisfaction among couples when they reduce debt.
In 2014, the PowerPay website hosted more than 151,000 sessions spread across 157 nations, and the PowerPay App was downloaded 158 times by users in 13 countries. The projected savings to PowerPay App users is $17,060.
Extension provides reliable information for Utah families interested in home food preservation and storage. Canning and food storage classes attracted 1,836 participants last year. More than 550 pressure canner gauges were checked for safety, a service that is available in many county Extension offices. In addition, 63 volunteers were trained as Master Food Preservers.
The Utah Prepare Conference, held at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, is Utah’s largest preparedness conference and expo and includes speakers, workshops and emergency preparedness vendors. Sponsored by USU Extension, the conference began in 2009 as a way to help people learn what they can do to be in charge in the event of an emergency, even when there is much out of their control. At the 2014 fair, there were more than1,500 participants, 27 presenters and 75 vendors. Participants were taught what necessary items to have on hand and the skills they need to better "ride out the storm."
The virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was developed by a team of Extension county faculty to make income tax assistance available to rural Utah sites that lacked certified volunteers. Working with Extension offices in Grand, Wasatch and Summit counties, tax returns were prepared for 144 low- income households through the program. Those individuals received $196,021 in refunds and saved an estimated $30,384 in tax preparation costs, for a total benefit of $226,405.
In addition, Dean Miner, Extension faculty in Utah County, was invited to teach IRS personnel about the process in an effort to expand the filing method to those in need. Data for 2014 show17,038 returns were completed via some form of virtual VITA. Assuming VITA was not previously available to these taxpayers, preparation cost savings alone to these households is $3,578,000. Including average refund amounts would add another $39,200,000 to the total.
Family relationships are valued in Utah, and Extension plays an important role in helping families strengthen those relationships. Whether it’s learning how to blend a stepfamily, strengthen a marriage or raise a child, more than 11,300 people participated in family-strengthening classes last year.
For instance 2,623 teens and single adults have learned how to follow their hearts without losing their minds by participating in “How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk/Jerkette” dating education classes.
4,094 Participants in Other Relationship Education Class
Relationship Survival Skills • Fill Your Bucket • Family Fun • Family Councils • Couples and Money Communication and Relationship • Relationship Education • Couples Education • Elder Abuse Effect of Alcohol on Families • Building Strong Children • Summer Fun with Children • Dinner Date Night • Celebrating Marriage Date Night • Date Your Mate • Marriage Education • Fearless Marriage • Townsend Retreat One-time Presentations • Assertiveness Training • Post Trauma Stress • Domestic Violence Conference
Every business that prepares and serves food is required by Utah law to have a certified food safety manager. In rural areas, access to education and exams is limited; however, Extension's Food Safety Manager Certification made it possible for 625 managers to receive training and complete a certification exam close to their home.
Many Utahns were able to live the American dream because of participation in homebuyer education courses that taught them to be buyer savvy. A total of 1,129 people participated in online homebuyer education courses, and160 attended classes. In addition, 46 households were able to receive down payment assistance and11 participants attended home repair cost presentations.
Many Utah residents have sharpened their financial management skills by participating in a variety of USU Extension financial education classes. Last year, 250 people completed education required to apply for an Individual Development Account (matched savings account), 660 piloted the new Change Makes Sense curriculum and 2,030 learned about everything from basic budgeting to estate planning.
Other Finance Classes
Teaching Kids about Money • Debt-free Holiday • Distribution of Personal Property • Identity Theft Managing Transportation Costs • Budget Like a Pro • Financial Management for Seniors • Coupons and Rebates Military Saves • Smart Money Moves • Avoiding Financial Abuse for Seniors • Grab and Go Boxes