Live Well Alabama
Barbour and Henry counties SNAP-Ed Educator Michelle Puckett hit the ground running in October in her new career. Whether teaching in school classrooms or providing nutrition education in grocery stores, she has made an impact throughout her region.
Puckett found a creative way to engage pre-k students during the Learning About Nutrition through Activities (LANA) program at the Eufaula Early Learning Center in Barbour County. She chose to incorporate animals in the lessons with hopes to make it more memorable.
“I live on a farm, so I had all sorts of animals to help bring the lessons to life,” Puckett said.
The LANA curriculum includes activity-based lessons that engage children in hands-on learning. Activities are designed to enable children to make healthier food choices and try new foods.
Students in Puckett’s class enjoyed a surprise visit from Peppa, the potbellied pig, the most. After watching Peppa trying vegetables like sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes, the students were willing to try as well. Puckett would tell her students that they “don’t have to like every food — they just have to be brave enough to try it.”
After learning about the vegetables and being brave by trying them, each student got a few minutes with Peppa before returning to the farm.
“I feel it is important to help kids try healthy foods at a young age,” Puckett said. “I believe it helps them to be brave when it comes to trying new things as they get older, especially if you do it in a fun and exciting way.”
Altogether, Puckett has taught eight classes and reached about 150 students through the LANA curriculum.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Puckett also found herself in two grocery stores weekly in each Barbour and Henry counties. She said she would have a table set up with displays, perform recipe demonstrations, and provide educational resources for customers to take home.
“I was able to form some relationships with customers and really get to know them,” Puckett said. “They seemed to love telling me about their effort to live a healthier lifestyle, and I loved hearing them. I hope to get back to doing this soon.”
When schools closed in March due to COVID-19, Puckett searched around her counties to gather information on active food banks. Armed with that information, she prepared a document to send to area schools, which was sent to families with school lunches.
“I hope this effort helped anyone who needed it,” Puckett said. “I also partnered with the schools to share weekly health tip sheets with the school lunches.”
In addition, Puckett created Facebook pages for participants in her educational programs to stay connected. She used the pages to conduct lessons, read books, share healthy tips and recipes, and feature a few more guest appearances from animals.
Puckett also had her first experience with virtual education by teaching SNAP-Ed’s Eat Better, Move More curriculum to students at Camp Achieve in Eufaula. She taught them four virtual lessons over four weeks.
“It took working out some kinks, but I think the kids enjoyed learning about Go, Slow, and Whoa foods and how they affect their bodies,” Puckett said. “I feel because I did those summer lesson, I will be better prepared to teach Body Quest virtually in the fall.”
Kids Marathon Challenge
Due to partnership with Puckett and the Eufaula Community Center, local children in the region participated in a Kids Marathon Challenge in September. The children who signed up had three months to run, bike, walk, or swim 26.2 miles.
The challenge ends on Dec. 1 and when the students fulfill the requirements, they will receive a fun prize.
“I feel like kids sometimes need a little incentive to get off their devices and enjoy getting outside and being active,” Puckett said. “Getting healthier through diet and exercise throughout the past six years has changed my life. So, any time I get to help others develop a passion or at least tolerance to exercise, it makes me so happy.”
To find more success stories about SNAP-Ed educators, visit LiveWellAlabama.com.