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Olson helps families to live well throughout her 45 year career

Kathy Olson

"Living Well" is the focus of University of Minnesota Family and Consumer Science Extension Educators across Minnesota. The Living Well campaign is celebrated in March and promoted by the Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, both at the national level and in Minnesota.

Kathleen Olson of Red Wing has helped families "live well" for 45 years. As a family and consumer science professional and family relations Extension educator her educational efforts focus on parenting education and partnering for school success.

Olson pursued a career in home economics education, graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1972. Searching for jobs, she was offered a contract to teach home economics and an Extension position at the same time.

"I chose the Extension position and never looked back," Olson said.

"I went into this profession to make a difference in people's lives. I feel I have done that in so many ways; probably more than I will ever know," Olson added. "It has also made such a difference in my own life. Extension believes and provides lifelong learning opportunities for others. However, in the process of engaging with families and partnering agencies it's made a difference for me as well. I feel I have been a better person, wife and mother through this professional journey. I can't imagine doing anything else!"

One of Olson's most significant programming efforts to help families is the school success project. This project focuses on student achievement through parent education for families of color.

Olson partnered with the Latino community to gain their perspective by hiring Latino cultural navigators to be a bridge between the community and Extension work. She partnered with school administrators, parents, and university faculty to consider a wide range of solutions for a community to consider and discuss as they come up with their own solutions to school disparities.

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