Outreach and Extension Priorities

CYAF Students presenting at the Apple Jack Festival

CYAF Outreach and Extension Priorities

Consistent with the Land-grant mission of UNL, CYAF faculty have vibrant outreach and extension activities that are enhancing the lives of children, youth, adults and families in the state, nation and world. CYAF faculty use innovative tools to reach diverse audiences and to assure that needs for accurate information and accessible programming are being met. CYAF outreach and extension can be categorized into the following three areas:

4-H/Positive Youth Development

Faculty members provide leadership and support program development and evaluation of signature programs within the 4-H and Youth Development UNL Extension action team devoted to this area. The objective of this action team is to empower youth to reach their full potential working and learning in partnerships with caring adults. CYAF faculty with UNL Extension appointments focus on supporting 4-H through program evaluation and curriculum development, supporting community agencies that focus on youth within the context of families, and in developing educational materials that translate empirical research to consumer-friendly programs and materials. Faculty within the department also focus on supporting adults who play key roles in the lives of youth (e.g., parents, teachers, mentors) in developing supportive contexts for their development.

The Learning Child/Early Childhood Education

CYAF faculty provide leadership and support program development and evaluation of the signature programs within the UNL Extension action team for the Learning Child. The objectives of the Learning Child Team are that 1) young children will gain necessary skills as families and caregivers implement strategies to support children’s learning and 2) young children will have seamless educational connections between home and educational settings as families, caregivers, and early childhood personnel implement effective strategies. This action team is intended to address issues impacting children between the ages of 0 to 8, and includes Extension educators from across the state. The long term goal for the work of this team is for Nebraska's children to grow and thrive in a responsive, stimulating and affirmative environment.

Community outreach is also provided through the department's Ruth Staples Child Development Laboratory and Angeline Anderson Children's Garden. These facilities serve both UNL and the broader community through full-day early care and education programs. Faculty work with children ages 18 months through five years and their parents in providing an environment which supports child development. The primary mission of these facilities is to provide an environment where pre-service teachers have an opportunity to apply and refine skills under the instruction of a master teacher.

Mental Health and Well-being for all Nebraskans

Graduate student therapists in the master's degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy deliver mental health care to rural communities in Nebraska using videoconferencing as the treatment delivery medium. Through this innovative project, people in rural counties can receive needed mental health treatments where accessibility to such treatment may otherwise be limited. This project is funded by a grant from the USDA's NIFA Higher Education Challenge Grant program.

Using Community Based Participatory Research, department faculty are also building capacity within underserved rural communities throughout Nebraska to address mental health disparities. This project is funded by a grant from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN).

Family Resource Center provides mental health counseling to students, staff, and faculty of UNL and community members. Mental health services are also provided to five rural communities in Nebraska through videoconferencing thereby increasing accessibility to mental health care for underserved rural populations.