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South Dakota Ag News Headlines
Extension Recruiting First Class of Master Health Volunteers
South Dakota Ag Connection - 02/19/2021

Looking for an opportunity to volunteer in public health? SDSU Extension has launched a community changing volunteer program that will help South Dakotans not only learn how to facilitate educational programming, but also become a master in health knowledge and skills. Similar to the Master Gardeners or Master Food Preserver programs also offered through SDSU Extension, the Master Health Volunteer program will certify individuals to provide program-specific workshops and educational opportunities for their communities.

"With South Dakota being a large state geographically, the Master Health Volunteer Program was built to expand program reach to rural communities," says Hope Kleine, SDSU Extension Health Education and Food Safety Field Specialist.

When signing up to become a Master Health Volunteer, individuals can choose from one of five program tracks to become certified to lead:

- Better Choices Better Health: Facilitate self-management education workshops to help improve other's quality of life.

- Fit & Strong!: Instruct a program focusing on cardiovascular fitness and strength training to improve overall health.

- Walk With Ease: Help those who suffer from arthritis by being active through this walking program.

- Money Mentor: A network of trained volunteers who will provide one-on-one money management guidance and group personal finance education.

- Growing Healthy Families & Communities: Offer evidence-based program to youth and adults that focuses on healthy eating, physical activity, food resource management, food security and food preparation.

Training for this program includes an estimated 40 hours of online instruction. Following the completion of this training, Master Health Volunteers are considered an intern until 40 hours of volunteer hours are completed within the first year of service. After those hours are completed, the volunteer becomes a certified Master Health Volunteer.

"As a leader, hearing participant success stories from our programs is so rewarding. When you hear these successes, there is an innate desire to spread the reach of these programs to help others," says Kleine. "The Master Health Volunteer program was developed to onboard others who are passionate about health and wellness to bring these programs to their communities."

SDSU Extension plans to onboard new volunteers every year. This year, registration will begin in March.

To kick off the program, SDSU Extension will be hosting the webinar "The Master Health Volunteer Program: A Way to Expand Health Programming in Your Community" on March 24 at 11 a.m. CST. Individuals interested can register for the webinar here on the SDSU Extension Events page. (https://extension.sdstate.edu/events)

"Our team has been working hard with this program over the last year, and seeing it come together is very exciting," says Cheyanne Roth, AmeriCorps VISTA Master Programs Developer. "I believe this program will benefit South Dakotans for the long run."

For additional information, visit the Master Health Volunteer Program page or contact hope.kleine@sdstate.edu.


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