From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone

3 circles to demonstrate 3 zones

From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone was presented by two Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educators, Melissa J. Rupp, Fulton County  and Patrice Powers-Barker, Lucas County on Wednesday October 23, 2019 at the 2019 Family and Consumer Sciences Annual Conference.  The theme of the two-day conference was Growing Our Comfort Zone. The goals for the annual FCS conference:

  • Enhanced ability to create meaningful connections and relationships that enable strong internal and external collaborations
  • Clarify and strengthen our roles within Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Find new ways to relate and adapt to diverse audiences
  • Identify and examine what you would define as your comfort zone and determine ways of reaching outside that zone

The goals From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone lunchtime group activity focused on identifying and examining personal definitions of comfort zones in a non-judgmental way. Comfort zones are not good or bad. After identifying some personal zones, colleagues were encouraged to envision ways to help others when they are making the stretch to grow from the comfort zone to a growth zone.

This activity was inspired by the group training offered by Scott VanderWey, Associate Professor and Director, 4-H Adventure, Washington State University Extension. He presented in Fulton County Ohio in the summer of 2019. He shared a wide variety of resources including the workbook, Building Successful Learning Communities, Educator’s Handbook, 2019, Washington State University Extension. The information on comfort zones is on page nineteen of the handbook.

This link outlines the 4-H Challenge Model including the previously quote on “comfort and growth circles” and the simple theories of education: Adventure-Based Learning, Experiential Education, Full Value Contact, Comfort & Growth Circles and Challenge by Choice. In addition, this blog notes Challenge by Choice as one of the five elements of Brave Space. The goal of Brave Space is to create a supportive environment for all members to participate in dialogue.

Live Smart Ohio Blogs:


4-H challenge model. Washington State University Extension. Retrieved from

Ali, D. (2017). Safe spaces and brave spaces: Historical context and recommendations for students affairs professionals. NASPA Policy and Practice Series. Issue 2. Retrieved from:

Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (Ed.). The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135-150). Sterling, VA: Stylus. Retrieved from:

Building successful learning communities, Educator’s handbook (2019). Washington State University Extension. Retrieved from

Franc Cyr, L. (2004). Bulletin #6103, Effective Communication, GroupWorks: Getting things done in groups. University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from

Naden, Y., & Stark, M. (2017). The pedagogy of discomfort: Enhancing reflectivity on stereotypes and bias. British Journal of Social Work, 47 (3). Retrieved from

Navigating for Success Lesson 1: Getting acquainted and facilitating learning (2017). Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

Seery, M. D., Holman, E. A., & Cohen Silver, R. (2010). Whatever does not kill us; cumulative lifetime adversity, vulnerability, and resilience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99,6. 1025-1041

Torretta, A., & VanderWey, S. (2019). Creating group norms by using full value commitments in experiential education programming. Journal of Extension, 57 (3), 3TOT8. Available at

Treber, M. (2015).  Are there connections between stress and your heart health? The Ohio State University, Live Smart Ohio Blog. Retrieved from

Tugend, A. (2011). Tiptoeing out of one’s comfort zone (and of course, back in). New York Times. Retrieved from

White, A. (2009). From comfort zone to performance management. Understanding development and performance. Retrieved from

Zembylas, M., (2015). ‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: The tensions of ethical violence in social justice education. Ethics and Education 10 (2):163-174.

Extension Educators Partnering with Local FCS Teachers

In Ohio, OSU Extension work is divided by counties across the state. There is not necessarily an FCS Educator in every county. In an attempt to build a stronger working relationship between FCS Extension staff and FCS teachers, this post will “collect” ideas, suggestions and ways to continue to connect and strengthen our work in the community.

2019 Contacts:  Melissa J. Rupp, Fulton County and Patrice Powers-Barker, Lucas County 

photo of hear and connecting with "heart and soul" of FCS, the teachers


The current team of FCS Extension Educators in Northwest Ohio designed presentations to share “about” and “how to” organize an annual one day FCS Teacher In-Service. The 2019 team would like to acknowledge and thank all of the former FCS Extension colleagues who started the educational event and kept it going for over 20 years. We think the work they started is worth continuing and worth sharing with newer staff and colleagues.

Previous Presentations and Resources:

  • Ignite presentation at 2019 annual OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences conference on Extension Educators Host Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher In-Service Day, Thursday October 24, 2019.  Coming Soon: Ignite PowerPoint
  • NEAFCS (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) annual session 2019 presentation link. 

February is Family Life Education Month

hearts family life educationAs a member of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) I celebrate February as Family Life Education Month. I am fortunate to serve on the NCFR affiliate board, the Ohio Council on Family Relations (OHCFR). Last year (February 2018) I was highlighted as a board member and asked to share my Family Life Education story. Below is a copy of the interview.

Happy New Year! To kick off 2018’s Meet-the-Board series, let’s get to know Board Member Patrice Powers-Barker, Certified Family Life Educator and Ohio State University Extension Educator. Read on to hear how her strengths in work and family intertwine and build on each other!

On studies:
“I don’t think I fell into family sciences (studies and work) by accident but the steps to my current position in Family Consumer Sciences meandered. For my Bachelor of Arts, I studied Social Justice at Hiram College. My interdisciplinary major included classes in a variety of departments including Communications, Religion, Education and Sociology. It wasn’t until years later, as I was working full-time and raising a family that I landed in Family Life Education at Spring Arbor University for my Master of Arts. It was during that time I learned about the National Council for Family Relations (NCFR) and Certified Family Life Education (CFLE).”

On career:
“When I started working for Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County (Toledo, OH), I didn’t expect that it would be my place of employment for almost two decades! I currently serve as an Extension Educator in Family and Consumer Sciences. I love this quote by Ruby Green Smith as she described home economics in the 1940s; ‘this is ‘where science and art meet life and practice’. I am privileged to serve families in Lucas County and in the state of Ohio. I love that my work is practical, educational, interdisciplinary and rooted in science.”(To learn more about Lucas County Extension, visit

On family:
“I am the granddaughter of farmers and immigrants. I am the daughter of educators and community volunteers. I met my husband and two daughters at a community garden. We married seventeen years ago and within the last five years our family has added three boys: a son, a son-in-law and a grandson. I share my family story here because they taught me about families long before I knew there was an academic program for it! Just like every family, we’ve had our ups and downs. As an adult, a couple personal messages have kept me anchored during the rough times. ‘This is family, this is holy’ was a very clear message that came to me during a particularly hard time. It reassured me that we were in it together – and that things could be good even as they were challenging and imperfect. Another was a conversation I had with my (step) daughter during her teenage years: ‘aren’t we lucky? We can define this relationship of family in whatever way we want.’ I don’t necessarily share those specific quotes when I’m at work, but they summarize my values. My career allows me to educate and encourage others to identify their own struggles and solutions in order to build strong, healthy families.”

“Like my day-to-day work, I hope that what I bring to the OHCFR board is practical, educational, interdisciplinary and rooted in science. I am proud of two infographics that a team created in an effort to help make the Family Life Education (FLE) Framework approachable and easy to access for students as well as professionals. The infographics are designed to complement, not replace the NCFR FLE Framework materials. In a similar way to the team that designed the infographics, the OHCFR board is a collaborative, hard-working group of people who are really enjoyable to work with!” (Check out Patrice’s webinar from last year’s Family Life Education Month:

On life outside of work:
“Is it funny that in this type of work, I continue to think and ‘work’ on similar topics during my free time? I like to read about families, practice mindfulness, dig in the garden, try new recipes and spend time with my family. We like being outdoors, whether it’s camping at state parks or visiting the playgrounds and paths at our local metroparks or state park on the Maumee River and Lake Erie. Here’s my shameless plug for Toledo/Lucas County: In my family’s free time we have so many awesome opportunities right in our own community that we try to take advantage of (and not take for granted) all the local benefits. If you have never been to Northwest Ohio, consider a day/weekend trip. If you want any recommendations for family activities, send me a message!”

Thank you for your input on two new Family Life Education Infographics

If you have completed the online survey to share your thoughts on the infographics – Thank You!

The Family Life Education (FLE) Framework has successfully guided program development, delivery, and assessment. In an effort to help make the FLE Framework approachable for students and professionals, a team of Certified Family Life Education (CFLE) practitioners have designed two infographics. The goal is to share the value and content of the conceptual model in a way that FLE students and professionals can easily access, view, and implement FLE methodology in their classroom assignments. These infographics are designed to complement, not replace the National Council on Family Relations’ current FLE Framework materials.

Click on the links below for a full size view of the two Infographics

Family Life Education Framework Infographic





Family Life Education Methodology: The Planning Wheel

The Planning Wheel photo










Fall 2016: We are looking for people in the field of FLE (including students) to view and respond to two new infographics. The online response/survey should take less than five minutes to complete. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts, please email Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences at for a link to the online survey.






Lucas County Celebrates The International Year of the Pulses


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has named 2016 as The Year of the Pulses. Key Messages:

  • Pulses are highly nutritious
  • Pulses are economically accessible and contribute to food security at all levels
  • Pulses have important health benefits
  • Pulses foster sustainable agriculture and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Pulses promote biodiversity

Great! Right? Do you know what a pulse is? (We’re talking about a food, not the heart rate). Even if you’ve never used the title “pulse” before, you are probably familiar with dried beans, peas and lentils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shares a one page Surprising Facts About Pulses You Might Not Know

So, how and why do we celebrate this #IYP2016 in our Northwest Ohio county? Although there might not currently be a lot of pulses grown in our county, they can grow here. From a community nutrition point of view, we value the nutrition, health benefits, accessibility and affordability of pulses. From an agriculture point of view, they promote biodiversity and from a social point of view, the diversity of pulses and recipes make them a valuable food item to many individuals and families.

To promote the value of pulses in our community we used the following poster about pulses in 2016: Pulse Poster, Lucas County

pulse Lucas Co 2016

We are so appreciative of our Master Gardener Volunteers! This summer they staffed the “pulse guessing game” at the Lucas County Fair and they featured pulses at their annual picnic. Can you guess the pulses in this picture?

guess the pulses game

For those interested in learning more about cooking with pulses, including the steps to take from dry seed to final product, a really helpful recipe book used by our Lucas County SNAP-Ed program is titled, The Bold and Beautiful Book of Bean Recipes by the Washington State Department of Health. The recipes are easy, tasty, healthy and low-cost!

2016 articles written by Ohio State University Extension professionals:

International Year of What? by Jenny Lobb, January 28, 2016

From International Celebration to Personal Favorites by Patrice Powers-Barker, February 16, 2016

Do You Eat Pulses? by Patrice Powers-Barker, The Sojourners Truth Newspaper, volume 37, no 1 (page 7)

Our “Maybe” Family Garden

Earlier this year Family and Consumer Sciences Extension staff promoted the Manage Your Money online challenge.  I wrote “Why I Am Bringing Work Home” to show how I value FCS programming professionally as well as personally.

On the first full day of spring 2015, I spent some time with my family in the yard pulling out some toys that were in storage and raking some wayward autumn leaves.  Although we’re not far into the steps of “turning family dreams into reality” in regards to our backyard plans, we did start discussing and mapping out some future projects.  For a new project to work in our urban backyard (with two full-time working adults) it has to be low-maintenance, low-cost and high-impact.  I’m posting this “before” picture with some apprehension.  Basically, the “before” indicates there will be an “after” and as a family we haven’t set SMART goals for this “maybe” garden space yet.

Spring cleaning in a drizzle.  Leaf covered herb spiral in foreground.

Spring cleaning in a drizzle. Leaf covered herb spiral in foreground.












Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County is offering a lesson titled The Maybe (Family) Garden. This class will be offered in partnership with the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio. Not only does the 577 Foundation offer excellent classes for all ages on all topics, they are also a free community resource (although there is a cost for classes) with too many opportunities, activities and tours to list in this paragraph.  The Maybe Garden will be offered on May 3, 2015 for adults and their children in grades two through five.  Please register with the 577 Foundation.

The “Maybe” Family Garden program, in addition to some of my current backyard dreams are inspired by the book The Maybe GardenThe Maybe Garden was written by Kimberly Burke-Weiner and illustrated by Frederika P. Spillman. The book cover describes, “A beautiful, poetic story about a young child’s quest to become an independent and creative thinker. The child uses Mother’s ordinary suggestions for a garden as a springboard for unique and original ideas. Through the child’s creativity, the spirit of the rest of the neighborhood is also sparked and the magic blooms in other gardens as well”.

In my backyard, one “maybe” project for this summer is an outdoor play kitchen.  We will call it either our “Summer Kitchen” or the “Mud Pie Kitchen”.  This idea reminds me of a merger of the two rhymes describing little boys and little girls.  At different times, don’t all young boys and girls have a mix of some “sugar and spice”, “snips and snails”, “everything nice” and “puppy dog tails”?  Our outdoor kitchen will have a combination of toys like cups and spoons and trowels and rakes. In addition, there will be plenty of nature made toys like stones and soil and sticks and buckeyes. I am excited to welcome a new season in Northwest Ohio and to share one more example of “why I am bringing work home” this springtime.

Gardening is a great activity for all ages. Gardens can be simple or elaborate – choose the best options for your interest, time and space. Looking for Theme Garden Idea Starters? In this list, some of the gardens have edible plants, some focus on learning; some are for beautification and most are for sharing. What will you grow? Theme Garden handout 2015

For ideas on gardening with youth, read the Parents’ Primer from the National Gardening Association. For tips on planning the family garden, click here Planning Garden 2015

Why I Am Bringing Work Home

As a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, I feel strongly about finding a balance between work-life and home-life, but since my work is about families, sometimes it all overlaps! When my daughters were growing up and I was working with community nutrition education, they would often ask about a container of food in the refrigerator: “Is this for home, or is this for work?”.  In January 2015, I’m bringing work home as I asked my co-spender to join me in the OSU Extension Manage Your Money Email challenge. I reassured my co-spender that I was not planning to share any of our personal financial information as it won’t be asked of any participants.

The risk of personally promoting and participating in a financial challenge is that it looks like we’ve got it all together!  We don’t have it all together, but as we work on areas where we need to improve, we will not forget to applaud the past choices and decisions where we got it right. Even for individuals and couples who have extensive experience and success with a household budget, it’s always a good idea to do a regular review, especially when there are changes in who is living in the house or with income or expenses.

Why I'm Bringing Work Home

Why I’m Bringing Work Home


One activity asks participants to think about money and values and agree or disagree with a list of statements. “Agree” or “Disagree,” what would you decide about these two statements?

  • My household needs a better way to manage money.
  • I feel good about how my household handles money.

If you agree, sign up today to bring this work to your home. (this link was removed after the 2015 online challenge. For current information, please email

“Meshing different styles of handling money doesn’t just happen because people love each other. It takes effective communication, time and effort” (Manage Your Money 1-2). I am pleased that my co-spender is joining me in this challenge to continue to mesh our spending styles! For those who do not have a co-spender, the material can easily be adapted for a single person.  For you parents of teenagers, the material focuses on adults, but you can introduce these and additional topics to working teens. The information and motivation to strengthen one’s personal finances is beneficial to all.