DOD/USDA Award Goes to Military Families Learning Network
The Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), has been selected to continue and expand its work serving military family service professionals around the world, receiving a DOD/USDA grant that will further its success. Cooperative Extension faculty from Rutgers Barbara O’Neill, extension specialist in financial resource management, is working with the MFLN as part of the Personal Finance concentration area. O’Neill and her counterpart Michael Gutter, extension specialist at the University of Florida, are a part of the MFLN Personal Finance Team, which just received the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education’s “Outstanding Educational Program of the Year” award for their personal finance webinars for military family service personnel.
Kyle Kostelecky, project director, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Elbert Dickey, principal investigator for the current project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, announced here today that the new award will be housed at the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education on the University of Illinois campus. The current MFLN originated as a special project of eXtension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010 and work will continue at the University of Nebraska until completed.
“The University of Nebraska and eXtension were the perfect place for this project to form and grow into the tremendous resource it is today. The Center for Wounded Veterans at the University of Illinois is a fantastic next step, bringing the innovation of eXtension to a new educational effort serving one of our nation’s most important resources – our wounded, ill and injured veterans. The current and new programing the MFLN will develop will be a great fit for the Center as it works with transitioning service members and their families into the next stage of their lives,” said Kostelecky.
“We are very proud here at Rutgers to be a part of the important work being done to support military families around the world,” said Larry Katz, director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE). “The MFLN will benefit greatly from Barbara O’Neill’s extensive research and experience in personal finances, which led to her collaborative, award-winning Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ program designed to motivate Americans to take action to improve both their health and personal finances.”
“This collaboration with MFLN is one of several projects in which Rutgers Cooperative Extension is involved that support the military families and veterans,” added Katz.
The MFLN currently serves to increase the availability of research- and evidence-based educational resources to connect with and educate military family service professionals. These professionals currently serve military families and communities in the areas of Personal Finance, Family Development and Military Caregiving, supported by work in in Network Literacy.
“We are excited that our new funding will allow us to expand our work to include providing online professional development, educational programming, and engaging communities in the areas of Community Capacity Building, Families with Special Needs, Transition, and Nutrition and Wellness,” said Sarah Baughman, project leader, Virginia Tech.
In addition to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Illinois and Virginia Tech, the MFLN includes Cooperative Extension faculty at Auburn University, Cornell University, Fort Valley State University, Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, University of Nevada-Reno, University of New Hampshire, Valdosta State University, Washington State University and West Virginia University.
The MFLN was created through eXtension, an initiative of the U.S. Cooperative Extension System, in partnership with The Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) and the United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA).