Attendees receive training to provide community health, wellness outreach
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bexar County recently hosted its third annual Master Wellness Volunteer training, which provided 18 new volunteers with an abundance of health and wellness information they will now share with the community.
“AgriLife Extension is committed to improving the health and wellness of Texans and others through relevant, research-based education,” said Angie Gutierrez, AgriLife Extension family and community health agent, Bexar County. “The agency has various programs to help people learn and adopt behaviors that can positively impact their health and wellness, but we need help in bringing those programs to audiences in need. That’s why we started the Master Wellness Volunteer program.”
Gutierrez said the program is designed to provide participants with diverse health and wellness instruction through a combination of online and in-person training. After receiving 40 hours of training, volunteers commit to giving back 40 hours of service to the community.
The in-person portion of the instruction was given at the AgriLife Extension office located in the Conroy Square office complex, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, San Antonio.
Training was conducted by the agency’s county agents and health professionals. Training topics included nutrition, dietary guidelines, food safety, heart disease, diabetes, healthy lifestyle choices, and adult and child health.
Participants were also introduced to the agency’s Growing and Nourishing Healthy Communities curriculum and its Learn Grow Eat & Go! curriculum.
“The goal of the Growing and Nourishing Healthy Communities program is to increase the availability of healthy foods, specifically fresh produce, through the use of community gardens,” Gutierrez explained. “And the Learn Grow Eat and Go! program helps youth through an interdisciplinary program combining academic achievement, gardening, nutrient-dense food experiences, physical activity, and school and family engagement.”
One of the participants in the training was Laryssa Dandeneau, director of quality at Alamo Biologics.
“I’ve always been passionate about health and wellness, and became involved in outreach when I was attending Schreiner’s University and working with the Boys and Girls Club of Bandera,” Dandeneau said. “I enjoyed the training and, although it was a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and professions, everyone had the same desire to give back to the community.”
Dandeneau is currently taking online courses toward a master’s degree in science and health education from Texas A&M University in College Station.
“Businesspeople, retirees, homemakers, and current and former teachers and other educators are among those who have taken the training,” Gutierrez said. “But all that is really required is an interest in healthful living and desire to help others improve their health and wellness.”
She added volunteer opportunities are diverse, including giving presentations for local community groups, assisting with healthy cooking demonstrations, distributing information at health fairs, working with schools and afterschool programs and data entry.
ClaudiaDee Holtz, also one of the 18 volunteer trainees, is the health promotion manager for Lackland Air Force Base as well as an exercise physiologist. Holtz learned about the Master Wellness Volunteer training through a volunteer services site.
“We got a lot of good training on evidence-based programs that have been tested and work in real life,” Holtz said. “I’m looking forward to working with people of all ages, especially toward promoting wellness activities for the entire family – from gardening to meal planning and food budgeting.”
Gutierrez said research shows at least 50 percent of health status is due to lifestyle factors such as physical activity, tobacco use, nutrition and weight.
“These trainings provide the volunteers with the tools and knowledge needed to bring practical and objective health and wellness education to the community, and to change those behaviors that are keeping them from being healthier individuals,” she said.
For more information on the Master Wellness Volunteer program, go to https://agrilife.org/mwv/.
To get information on the next Master Wellness Volunteer training in Bexar County, contact Gutierrez at 210-631-0400 or email@example.com
Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Angie Gutierrez, 210-631-0400, email@example.com