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Family Living educator expands role

Katie Feuerhelm (standing) will take over some of the Pierce County Family Living educator’s duties as Lori Zierl (seated), who has held the job for 19 years, takes a temporary assignment, working with newly hired educators. (Rivertowns photo by Judy Wiff)

Things simply came together in the UW-Extension office as two Pierce County women decided to make minor changes in their careers.

Lori Zierl, who has been the county’s UW-Extension Family Living educator for 19 years, applied to take on additional regional duties. Ellsworth High School graduate Katie Feuerhelm, who had been teaching in New Richmond, decided that, with three young daughters, she’d rather be working part-time for now.

The result is Zierl will temporarily limit her Pierce County duties to 70 percent of fulltime and work 30 percent of her time at the state level, helping develop programs and guiding new workers in other counties’ Family Living and Nutrition Education programs. Feuerhelm, who taught family and consumer education classes at New Richmond High School for eight years, will focus on health and wellness programs, nutrition education and personal financial management.

“It will be really a quick start for her,” said Zierl, noting the similarities between Feuerhelm’s old job and her new duties.

“I’m still learning,” admitted Feuerhelm, who started in the extension office last month.

Years ago, the major function of the Family Living educators was to work with and help homemakers, in particular assisting a network of homemakers’ clubs.

“(The clubs) actually disbanded within six months of me coming,” said Zierl. “I always remind people it had nothing to do with my coming,” she joked.

Now the Family Living educators’ duties include parenting education, family financial management, health and nutrition-related education, and working with wellbeing of children and prevention programs for youths.

“It shifts a little bit to what our constituents are saying is the need,” said Zierl of the job. She said educators do regular assessments to tailor services to the needs of the particular county.

Zierl, who wrote the grant to start the local Hunger Prevention Council, said her job has moved toward building or working with coalitions.

For more please read the May 28 print version of the Herald. 

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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