Every step of her journey has led her to this point, beginning with a connection to people and communities and a strong sense of service.
Jenny Rudolph, associate professor of practice for PHHS and Extension Family and Community Health, is taking the reins in leading statewide outreach efforts for the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health.
She says she’s excited to serve in this new role as outreach coordinator in order to continue encouraging colleagues across the state to try new and innovative approaches in reaching Extension’s audiences, particularly underserved and at-risk groups.
“It’s an honor to be able to carry on the great work that [former coordinator] Renee Carr began,” she says. “Renee has been one of my mentors for the last 13 years.”
“I am also excited to link the fascinating research of the Moore Family Center more directly with community-based educators working in the field,” Jenny says.
Moore Family Center endowed director, Emily Ho, is also happy with the new relationship. “The Moore Family Center is a research center that is also committed to serving and engaging communities across the state, so having an endowed faculty member specifically committed to this relationship is extremely important in ensuring the work we do in the center has maximum impact,” Emily says. “Because of her history with Extension, Jenny understands the mission and vision of the center well, and her enthusiasm, expertise and trust in the community are a perfect fit for this position.”
Jenny first joined the OSU Extension Service in 2003 as an AmeriCorps Service Member providing occupational health and safety outreach to migrant farm workers out of the Washington County Extension Office.
“It was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for my career,” she says. “I learned valuable lessons about how to work together with community partner organizations to reach vulnerable and at-risk populations. Working with migrant farmworkers right out of college also opened my eyes to the hidden poverty that exists in our communities and the importance of promoting the health of the entire food system and ensuring that all those who contribute to growing the food that nourishes our bodies can have equal access to the health-promoting benefits of fruits and vegetables.”
After a year of service, she was hired as a bilingual education program assistant in the SNAP-Ed Program, where she taught hands-on nutrition classes in English and Spanish to low-income youth and families in Washington County. During that time, she returned to school and received a master’s degree in public administration from Portland State University. In 2008, she became an Extension Family and Community Health faculty member in Columbia County, where she continues to coordinate nutrition education, food safety, food preservation, childhood obesity and chronic disease prevention programs.
Jenny served as the principal investigator on a Moore Family Center Healthy Communities Outreach Project, which partnered with FoodHero.org to create a series of six award-winning videos depicting local families from 4-H and SNAP-Ed programs making healthy recipes. In addition, her team created a commercial for Food Hero, which was shown in movie theaters across the North Coast, Southwest Oregon and Southern Oregon regions. See foodhero.org/champion-family-videos for more information.
Jenny and her husband, Ben, have been married 11 years and have two boys, 2 and 4. Together, they love exploring Portland’s parks and playgrounds, gardening and taking the boys to local farms on Sauvie Island to pick produce and then preserve it in the kitchen.
“As a mom of two young boys I know personally the struggle that working parents face in putting a healthy meal on the table. I’ve probably failed just as many times as I’ve succeeded in that endeavor! Making time on the weekend to plan our menus has been the most important strategy. When I was pregnant with my eldest I set aside a whole day to prepare and freeze dozens of vegetarian lasagnas and chicken enchilada casseroles so that we wouldn’t have to worry about meal prep when our little guy arrived. The recipes that I’ve found most useful are often found on our Extension Service healthy recipe website, www.foodhero.org. I love the Overnight Oatmeal recipe because you can make it the night before and just grab it and go in the morning. And I always encourage busy families like mine – and parents of the dreaded ‘picky eater’ – to have compassion for themselves and to persevere. Don’t give up, just keep trying!”