When Oregon State University transitioned to primarily remote learning in late March 2020, TerraAnne Johnson had been president of the Nutrition and Dietetics Club for less than three weeks.
“Information from last year didn’t apply to this year,” she says. “It’s been a lot of building and seeing how we can move forward.”
To ensure the club continued to deliver external health messages and explore professional development, TerraAnne, a third-year dual kinesiology and nutrition major and transfer student, engaged her six officers and got creative.
These leaders are working to engage more undergraduate students earlier in their education and are bringing in expert speakers with diverse perspectives. Because of Zoom, they’re able to recruit speakers from just about anywhere, and with no travel costs.
“They’ve really turned a negative into a positive by tapping voices that the on-campus platform could not traditionally involve due to travel and other logistics,” says Clinical Assistant Professor and Dietetic Program Director Neilann Horner. “Virtual works better for some interactions.”
They also reached out to University Housing and Dining (UHDS) dietitian Tara Sanders and are working on events related to university dining halls, eating healthy on campus, internships, reducing food waste and using reusable water bottles. They’re partnering with UHDS and Waste Watchers on an initiative to encourage the use of reusable, personal utensils. In response to feedback received from students in dorms saying they can no longer rent cookware, the club is creating recipes for one-pot meals.
This winter, their focus is on the business aspect of nutrition and dietetics. “What we do doesn’t happen in just a hospital or clinic,” TerraAnne says. “A lot of nutrition degree programs don’t provide much foundation for creating and being your own business owner. Focusing on the professional development aspect of being a dietitian gives us another dimension.”
The club is currently planning for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This is a timely topic because disordered eating has been compounded by the pandemic and eating primarily alone at home, TerraAnne says. “Not all disorders are anorexia; spending nine months in quarantine, you may no longer know what lunch is.”
If you’re a nutrition or dietetics student, you can join the Nutrition and Dietetics Club for FREE by contacting TerraAnne Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students in other majors are welcome to join as well.
“No matter what you do, you may work with a dietitian in a clinic, hospital or elsewhere,” she says. “The club is a good place to get an understanding of the professional landscape of nutrition. You’ll also hear about new therapies and discoveries, as well as opportunities to be part of academy panels and attend conventions at reduced rates. It’s a lot of fun and an experience that most people have to go out of their way to find.”
Learn more about the club and its upcoming events.