Wednesday, Feb. 16 is National Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Educator Day, a day to celebrate FCS educators in secondary, postsecondary and Extension programs; share the story of FCS education's importance and effectiveness in the United States; and encourage others to consider careers as FCS educators.
FCS is the field of study focused on the science and the art of living and working well in our complex world. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2015) estimates there will be over 9.7 billion people living on this planet in the year 2050. To effectively address our most pressing challenges at such a scope, we must ensure a thriving, diverse, well-trained workforce in FCS. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) continues to positively impact FCS and offers many opportunities to advance this work and fill the pipeline for a new generation of educators and researchers.
FCS educators are making a difference all over the United States with programs that target people of all ages. Here are merely a handful of examples of the impact that FCS education is having in communities nationwide:
Family Financial Planning
A group of FCS educators at five 1890 Land-grant Universities developed the FCS Distance Instructional Alliance to deliver an Online Family Financial Planning Certificate Program to increase financial literacy in minority communities. The team has recently increased enrollment to 45 students with three participants receiving their certificate.
Closing the Digital Divide
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, older adults purchased and used digital devices in their daily lives like never before. Alabama A&M University Extension was there to help them use those devices effectively. During the first year of the pandemic, 232 older adults were trained in how to use basic features of Zoom and were able to engage in activities they otherwise would have missed, such as religious studies, family gatherings, voter registrations, and other personal and business affairs.
Supporting Expectant Parents
University of Georgia Extension is providing universal support services for all expectant parents and children ages birth to 5 years, and their families in Georgia, including referrals to relevant resources and information in maternal health, newborn/child health, home and child safety, community and family safety, school readiness, and family economic self-sufficiency. Last year, 568 families were screened, resulting in 1,269 referrals to community resources.
Improving Childhood Obesity and Nutrition
Youth cooking interventions have been shown to have positive outcomes on diet behaviors. Since April 2020, the University of Georgia and the University of Idaho Extension offered live virtual cook-along workshops for youths, with nutrition and food safety principles taught through hands-on recipe preparation with adult supervision. Over 950 children and parents attended from five states.
Preparing Tomorrow’s FCS Educators
Supporting FCS educator recruitment and preparation is a priority to ensure that today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders. Through the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) group, the FCS student organization, students “say yes to FCS.” At a recent FCCLA leadership conference, 84 students shared their FCS projects that reached a cumulative 6,192 individuals. Eighty percent of the participants indicated that they intend to pursue higher education opportunities related to their project topics.
To learn more about the importance and impact of FCS programs, and FCS Educators Day, visit the Family and Consumer Sciences Educators website.