Working Differently: eXtension Introduced New Technology to Ohio State’s Linnette Goard

Linnette Goard
Linnette Goard

Cindy Bond
Cindy Bond

Reduce health care costs. Increase wellness and productivity of employees. That seems to be today’s mantra for every industry and organization but that was the goal in 2006 when the wellness coordinator for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio asked Ohio State University Extension for help in lowering health care costs and having healthier, more productive employees.

Since that beginning, OSU Extension educators have developed lessons, a blog, an email challenge and a Facebook page to help people live healthier.

The OSU Extension Live Healthy Live Well Workplace Wellness Program works to
• encourage healthy lifestyles through research-based workplace programs,
• develop new or strengthen existing partnerships,
• empower individuals and communities to make informed choices about healthy behaviors, and
• use online communications to reach busy adults.

Linnette Goard, Assistant Professor and Field Specialist for Food Safety, Selection and Management, and Cindy Bond, Extension Educator in Community Development with Ohio State University Extension, shared their methods and results at the Priester Extension Health Conference last month.

Lunch and Learn Lessons
Working with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, OSU Extension developed an online health needs questionnaire. The survey results were used to develop lessons for onsite lunch and learn workshops. The lessons were peer reviewed by out of state reviewers. The lessons covered topics including
Physical Activity: A Good Fit!
Stress Management
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Cooking for One or Two
Planning Healthy Meals for Meetings

Wellness Challenge Started in 2007
There are three wellness challenge periods (fall, Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and spring) each year. Two short email messages go out each week on themes such as eat more vegetables and fruits, cut out fast food and consider your portion sizes.

“The challenge is a new way to link face-to-face classes with technology so people get the information from the lessons via email,” said Goard. Extension educators promote the challenge at all their programs, through the university at large and at national Extension events so the challenge includes people outside Ohio. In 2012, the challenge had more than 1,100 participants per session.

Challenge participants survey responses
94% Learned new information
98% Recommend participating in an online challenge to others
54% Lost weight, 42% maintained current weight
Respondents lost 406 pounds in Zero Weight Gain Challenge –and the goal was just maintenance!

Blog, Facebook
In November 2010 the blog, Live Healthy Live Well, went online. The blog, with twice weekly posts, averaged 55 views per day. In September 2011, the initiative added a Facebook page,

OSU Live Healthy

“I went to the first eXtension conference in Louisville,” Goard said. “eXtension opened my eyes to technology that I didn’t even know about. When I came home and talked to my (then) teenage children, they encouraged me to try the technology. We started this program with six OSU Extension educators. Other educators got excited about this and now we have 16 working on it. This is really exciting. We have enough people to create subgroups to work on the different aspects.”