Program Advisor Shares Fuel Up To Play 60 Experience
As the nation’s number one in-school nutrition and physical activity program, Fuel Up To Play 60 teaches students the importance of fueling their bodies with nutritious foods while implementing at least 60 minutes of physical activity into their daily routine. The program remains as an influencer in keeping kids on track to live a healthy lifestyle, while allowing them to be leaders at their school. Additionally, Fuel Up to Play 60 provides exciting opportunities for students to get involved with their Program Advisors, teachers, and teammates to ultimately create a healthier generation.
Milk Means More sat down with Dawn Earnesty, a Program Advisor for Fuel Up To Play 60, to share with us how she got involved in the program and also chat about the positive changes she has seen firsthand from the Michigan Fuel Up To Play 60 teams. Check out the exclusive interview below!
MMM: Can you share with us a little bit about yourself? Why did you decide to get involved in Fuel Up To Play 60?
D: I serve as an Extension Educator with Michigan State University Extension. Nine years ago when I started with MSU Extension in Saginaw County, I began collaborating with local schools. I was sent a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant opportunity and decided to approach a local school about applying. I met with St. Charles Elementary five years ago to see if they were interested and still work with them today!
MMM: Why did you decide to become a Program Advisor?
D: Being a Program Advisor allows me to use my skills and knowledge to provide leadership to a student team. Although I do not work in any of the schools directly, I serve as a Program Advisor in each one, where I work alongside a teacher or foodservice director. Being able to share the experiences from other schools, past work, and statewide efforts allows the schools to expand their efforts for school wellness.
MMM: Do you feel students should be involved in Fuel Up To Play 60?
D: Yes! I had the opportunity to watch a State Student Ambassador grow from a shy and timid student to a leader, which has been an amazing experience. Even if not on the local Fuel Up To Play 60 school team, students have opportunities to participate in nutrition and physical activity challenges through the online dashboard or contribute to local activities. A local school I work with is in its third year and had over 100 applications to be on the team! The excitement and engagement of the students is contagious and motivates me to want to do more with each school.
MMM: What a very cool experience! What do students learn or what skills do they gain by being a part of this program?
D: They gain a lot of beneficial leadership skills. The students get to lead presentations, give announcements, and talk to the school leaders about the program.
MMM: What do you enjoy about being a Program Advisor most?
D: Definitely the excitement and engagement of the students and teachers is the best part of being a Program Advisor! I have been on three dairy farm tours with my student teams, hosted over 15 kick off events and implemented over 20 plays. I have to say, the teams come up with amazing new ideas every time!
MMM: What have you and your students learned being a part of this team?
D: There are so many things to choose from! I think most importantly, we learned the impact of a healthy lifestyle and the importance of physical activity as a kid in school.
MMM: What activities or programs have your students done that have been successful?
D: Our two most successful events were the Farm to School Play and the Marathon Kids Running Club. In the Farm to School Play, we visited a dairy farm in Michigan, and the students learned the journey of milk from farm to table. In the running club, we got the whole community involved, and $5,000 worth of scholarships were provided to the kids on the team. Other activities include choreographing dances to help us stay active, and we also do cooking classes with healthy recipes. The activities always bring excitement to the teams!
MMM: What advice do you have for someone who is interested in starting a Fuel Up To Play 60 program in their school?
D: Start small and work your way up! You don’t have to take on the world, but focus on easy to reach plays and, each year, build upon your successes.
MMM: Finally, do you have any favorite moments to share with us on being a Program Advisor?
D: Definitely when a calf visited a local school! Many students said this was the first time they had ever petted a cow.
To learn how you can start a Fuel Up To Play 60 team, click here. To discover more information on the National program, click here.