Carmen Fortney

Carmen Fortney

JASPER COUNTY — The Jasper County Extension Office’s new Health and Human Sciences educator is ready to expand her horizons in her new position.

Carmen Fortney, who was hired as the office’s new educator last month, is excited to deliver educational programs, applied research and resources to the community. Programs will focus on issues related to food, family, money and health.

A graduate of Governors University in University Park, Illinois, before obtaining a pair of masters degree with Purdue Global, Fortney comes to Jasper County after working with the Cook County, Illinois, extension office for five years.

There, she worked in the nutrition education program, focusing on SNAP-Ed. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is available to limited resource individuals and the SNAP-Ed program focused on nutrition education and obesity prevention in an interactive, evidence-based and behavior-change format.

Fortney worked with schools, youth centers, community centers and more.

“We focused on a SNAP-eligible audience from preschool to adulthood,” Fortney said. “We give ideas on how to eat healthier, making healthier food choices and how to stretch their benefits. We showed how to save money and focused on physical activity.”

But after several years at Cook County, Fortney decided to make better use of her education. She was hired by Purdue Extension in October.

“I was looking for something where I can use my degrees,” she said. “Basically get a return on my investment.

“I’m still doing some of the same things. I’ll continue to teach, which I love.”

Working in Jasper County also opens Fortney up to a variety of people, including community leaders as well as its residents.

“I’m looking forward to expanding my field and working with a different level of people; working with community leaders versus working only with the community,” she said.

She’s already had a discussion with Jasper County Sheriff Pat Williamson, who would like to initiate programs centered around parenting and youth.

“There’s a lot to learn,” Fortney said. “I feel like I’m learning a lot of things I never really knew or maybe forgot about from school.”

Just weeks into her new position, Fortney has found plenty of things to do even as the country deals with the COVID pandemic. She has spread the word on a virtual diabetes program provided by Purdue Extension and would like to start up a walking program in the spring, especially if the number of COVID cases drop.

“The other educators seem to be busy already,” she said. “Once I learn everything, I’m sure I’ll be right there with them.”

To reach Fortney, call the extension office at 866-5741 or email her at cfortney@purdue.edu.

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