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A century ago, Carolyn Tyler's task as a Henderson County extension agent might be giving instructions on how to can vegetables and make preserves.

Tyler told the Athens Kiwanis on Tuesday that as the AgriLife Extension Agent for Family and Community Health, her job reaches into many areas of home life.

"I like to say that I'm the Life in AgriLife," Tyler said. "I program to anything that's going to affect the family."

She is one of three county agents based in the Athens extension office. The others are Spencer Perkins, who deals mainly with agriculture and Angela Hemphill, who is heavily involved in youth and 4-H activities.

"We're very fortunate that we can be diversified and plugged in to different areas of our community and reach a broader audience," Tyler said.

Tyler's realm includes healthy lifestyle and food preparation, nutritional education, chronic disease management and prevention and child passenger safety.

Tyler said she presents a federally funded program called "Better Living for Texans."

"In Henderson County there are more than 18,000 people who receive some kind of supplemental nutrition assistance, such as food stamps.

"The goal of this program is to teach those families how to stretch their family food dollar and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet," Tyler said.

Tyler said diabetes is a serious health concern, with more than 6,200 residents in Henderson County dealing with its effects. Tyler's office offers "Do Well Be Well" classes presented by health care specialists. In 2019, 15 people completed the course and all showed an improvement in their blood glucose levels by the end of the month of classes. All of the participants rated the class as excellent or good.

A new class offered last year, Tyler said, was "Cooking Well With Diabetes." The participants learned about carbohydrate foods, healthy side dishes and how to celebrate sensibly."

Also dealing with food, AgriLife offered a Food Handler's Certification Course. The course was given to 78 people who obtained a food handler's certification.

One of the favorite programs I do is go into the schools for a program called "Learn Grow Eat Go," Tyler said.

The course teaches the students how to grow a vegetable garden.

"They plant their seeds on a paper towel so it's properly spaced," Tyler said.

The students taste fruits and vegetables and learn that they might like it steamed, or prepared in a way they haven't experienced before.

In 2019, AgriLife also offered community child car seat check up events. There were 21 inspections given in which no child was found correctly restrained. A total of 16 new car seats were issued for the sake of the children's safety.

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