Location: Sand Springs, Okla.
FCS Educator: Michelle Bonicelli (pictured)
History: “The Extension service for Family and Consumer Science educates and helps Tulsa County residents. Originally, educators were called agents though they have taught individuals and groups for over 100 years which has included everything from making feather beds to learning to can and garden as well as helping with sewing and child rearing. Now the Family and Consumer Science Department of the Extension Service is trying to overcome the image of teaching only cooking and sewing. We now focus on overall wellness, which also includes finances in addition to physical, social, emotional and occupational wellness. Every day is different and fun. As a Family and Consumer Science Educator, I have a variety of state specialists who provide research-based information. An example is one individual who asked about the difference of acidity between green tomatoes and red tomatoes and how to adjust recipes to fit the acidity of each.”
Services: “My job is to educate using research-based information about everything from financial wellness to nutritional cooking, to the opioid crisis. I often recommend one or two financial freeze days per week where people spend zero money and therefore teach their children to say no to spending. Once a month I present a 3-minute spot on our local TV station to encourage the use of seasonal produce such as blueberries or pizza crust made of zucchini. Another important aspect of our educational services has to do with digital detox, that is choosing to look people in the eye and have discussions rather than being bound to our cell phones, computers, etc. Additionally, we help with job skills such as interviewing techniques and practice as well as writing resumes. Perhaps our most important current thrust is the opioid crisis. In a report from October 2017, more opioid deaths occurred among the rural population than the urban, with Oklahoma surprisingly ranking ninth in the nation while ranking 28th in population in 2018. A likely explanation is self-medicated use of prescription opioid medication to combat farm-related stress and injury.”
Philosophy and future: “The philosophy of my part of the Oklahoma Extension Service is to provide education individually and to groups of all kinds from young families or seniors to Master Wellness Volunteers or cattlemen in order to improve their lives. The current thrust of Extension improvement is in using technology to get more information to more people through modern channels such as podcasts. Because the younger generations often won’t go to meetings, many are not aware of our wide variety of educational services.”