Working for Missourians

Whether dealing with asset development, housing, health care, or personal
and family relationships, HES Extension offers educational programs, information and resources that give Missourians tools for better living.

Human Environmental Sciences

Source: MU Extension Annual Report, FY 2009

Human Environmental Sciences Extension develops educational programs that improve the quality of life for more than 280,000 Missourians each year. Through face-to-face contacts, the Internet, interactive television and other technology outlets, as well as the mainstream media, the program addresses statewide needs in financial education; design of living and working environments; family development; community support systems; and nutrition, health and physical activity improvement.

During the job losses and other recession-related challenges that millions faced throughout FY 2009, the program’s faculty members focused their efforts on providing education to empower Missourians to make informed decisions — from managing household money issues and personal financial planning to undertaking home repairs, improving nutrition and strengthening relationships.

Human Environmental Sciences Damaris Karanja, nutrition and health education specialist in the East Central Region, instructs Stay Strong, Stay Healthy participants at a workshop held at the Shepherd’s Center of Webster/Kirkwood in Glendale, Mo.

Through the financial education program, participants studied techniques for saving, borrowing and responsible spending to gain more control over and improve their financial health. Educated consumers help build safer and more self-reliant communities, reducing predatory lending, reliance on public assistance programs and crime.

In FY 2009, nearly 1,000 participants in the Healthy Homes initiative learned how to remove radon, mold, lead, carbon monoxide and other hazards from their residences. Removing one toxin from a family’s living environment saves $187 per year in medical expenses. The program has saved Missouri consumers an estimated $42,000 in medical expenses.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy encourages Missourians to increase their physical activity. Changing sedentary behavior reduces an individual’s risk of falls, heart disease and osteoporosis; decreases measurable stress; and improves weight control and overall quality of life. In older participants, these new health benefits decrease the likelihood of entering a nursing home, which cost an average of $24,455 per individual in FY 2009.

The fallout from tough economic times often puts additional strain on personal relationships among families. Participants in the relationship education program discovered ways to strengthen their relationships despite the professional, financial and health challenges they may have faced throughout the past year, thereby decreasing their likelihood of divorce by 50 percent. Missouri saved an average of $30,000 for every couple that remained married in FY 2009.