Extension Family and Consumer Sciences

Jennifer Bridge:

Meade County Extension Office


 Over 100 years ago, the Home Economics profession was formed to reduce illness and improve the overall quality of life. It was not formed so women would know how to clean or keep a better home. It was formed by men and women, primarily scientists, who connected water and air quality issues such as open sewage, lack of indoor ventilation and other environmental concerns directly to the health of individuals. While I will not get into the politics of how the profession became “women’s work,” Home Economics professionals have, and continue to make, a tremendous impact on quality of life all around the world.

 In the early 1990s, the professions’ title was changed in the United States from Home Economics to Family and Consumer Sciences to bring back the focus to improved quality of life. FCS professionals can be found in industry, education and extension settings. You may have noticed written articles or Facebook posts titled “Bring Back Home Ec.” It’s still here; it just has a different name.

 As an Extension Family and Consumer Sciences professional, my role is to bring research-based information as well as practical life skills from the university to the people in the county I serve. I do this in a variety of ways such as newsletters, media, phone calls, face to face interaction and educational meetings or programs. I answer food safety questions year-round. For example, if the electric goes out or a freezer malfunctions, I answer questions on whether foods will still be good or if it should be thrown away. This past week I received a call from a person who had prepared a venison roast in the crockpot. When she started to shred it, she was surprised to find a bullet lodged in the middle of the roast. Was it safe to eat? If the bullet had been removed prior to cooking, then yes. However, the heat coupled with the myoglobin (the red stuff often referred to as blood) released during the cooking process greatly increased the chance of lead absorption making it unsafe to the consumer.

 I test pressure canner lids to make sure the pressure gauge is accurate. I teach hands on workshops on how to preserve foods along with the latest researched based recommendations and the science behind the process. Botulism is deadly but easily preventable. We have up to date written publications on most any food and nutrition topic you can imagine. These publications are given out at no additional charge to you.

 But food safety and preparation are only a small portion of my profession. This winter I am presenting a series of programs on healthy homes. Some issues consumers experienced in 1900 are still commonplace but preventable. You may have noticed we are focusing on textiles through sewing classes, and techniques such as knitting and crochet. Many consumers have requested these classes as they are part of FCS programming, but we will also be offering other related programs this summer on the science of fibers along with care and preservation. Estate planning has always been a popular program, but this year I will be expanding the area by offering digital estate planning.

 Advancements bring about the need for change and additional knowledge. For those who wished they had taken “Home Ec” in high school, it’s not too late. Call me – you are never too old to learn.

 Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

see story here (week 9)

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