We got a chance to connect with another fabulous extension agent, Kendra Conley, who is working in Hardeman County, Texas to solve the problem of childhood obesity. We think you’ll enjoy getting to know her just as much as we have!
Kendra: I have been working as an FCS (Family and Consumer Science) agent for Texas AgriLife Extension in Hardeman County now for 7 years. This job has been a wonderful experience for me and has helped me grow close to my community. In summary, we provide our counties with educational material through programs and personal contact. We have a large variety of information that we share in the fields of home life, family, health, and nutrition and we also are in charge of our local 4-H youth clubs. This job has taught me how to live a healthier lifestyle. I see the importance of it, and I want to help others improve how they live by making heathier choices.
OWG: What was your first impression of the OWG programming?
Kendra: I was at a FCS program training when I came across The Organwise Guys curriculum. I immediately fell in love with the characters and the message that they were putting out there for the younger ages on nutrition and self care. I was very impressed that not only was the curriculum teaching children about health, but also through the lessons and activities, the youth were learning about math, science, reading and many other important areas in which teachers are required to cover. I honestly thought to myself as I sat through the training that day, “This program is perfect and I have to have it!”
OWG: How did you introduce it to your schools and what was their first reaction to the program?
Kendra: Once I got my hands on all the curriculum items I was so amazed at the quality. I knew that the schools would be just as impressed as I was, and I was right! I had conducted a special meeting with school officials and teachers to demonstrate the material and present this wonderful educational opportunity. After I had finished explaining everything, the administration staff left the room with all smiles. It made me feel as though I had just given them a pot of gold! Everyone agreed that they thought the program would be a great addition to their classrooms.
OWG: One of the challenges that many health educators like yourself face is ensuring that the lessons learned by the kids in the classroom are relayed into the home setting. How do you think we help facilitate that?
Kendra: After the teacher training meeting was complete, I went into the school and conducted the big general assembly for the three grades; Kindergarten through 3rd grade. The children were ‘all ears’ throughout the program and when I returned to school a week later the children ran up to me and were telling me what they were doing now after learning about making healthy food choices. I know that children take what they are taught at school home with them and talk with their families about it. With this program, children are taught what foods are better for them to eat. While shopping with their parents or even at home looking thought the pantry for a snack, children will remember these important messages and talk about it with their families.
OWG: What motivates you to be a part of the solution to the childhood obesity crisis?
Kendra: It is a well-known fact that this nation is becoming more susceptible to the fast life. That includes fast food which in most cases includes a large amount of calories and fat. Children are not coming home anymore to a designated hour for the family dinner each night. Over the years, matters such as health have been thrown to the wayside. Knowing these facts really bothers me and I will do all that I can to see that children see how important it is to stay fit and take care of their bodies.
OWG: Who is your favorite OWG character and why?
Kendra: This is a tough question because I love them all! If I had to choose one though, I would say Hearty Heart. He is the leader of the pack and the children that experience the program ALWAYS remember him when we talk about The OrganWise Guys. That’s another great feature of this program; the children learn – and remember – about the different organs and their functions.
We appreciate the work that people like Kendra are doing in the field to empower kids to be smart and healthy from the inside out. Below is Ms. Thompson’s first grade class with whom Kendra works with to implement the OWG programming!