Christi Beilfuss is the new Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program coordinator in Waupaca County’s UW-Extension office.
A native of Fremont, Beilfuss graduated from Weyauwega-Fremont High School in 2008.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in community health education and a minor in nutrition.
On Oct. 1, Beilfuss began her job duties as the WNEP coordinator.
“The jobs I was interested in and appplied for ranged from a health coach to maternal and child health,” she said. “This was definitely the ideal of what I was looking for. It was the teaching aspect.”
The Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program is a federally funded program that works with low-income residents.
Extension nutrition educators conduct programs in counties throughout Wisconsin.
Participants in their programs include parents of infants or children, school-age youth, adults without children and senior adults.
Evidence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that after participants take part in a nutrition education program which teaches them how a good diet may benefit their long-term health, they adopt better shopping practices and also tend to make more healthful food choices when they are at the store.
In Waupaca County, Beilfuss will go into schools where 50 percent or more of the students participate in the free or reduce breakfast and lunch program.
Initially, she will focus on what her predecessor, who was Waupaca County’s first WNEP coodinator, did in the schools.
“My main focus this spring will be nutrition education programs in the elementary schools,” Beilfuss said.
She will do a series of lessons with two different second and fourth-grade classrooms in five different schools.
The subjects of those lessons will include My Plate, healthy food choices, physical activity, healthy fast food choices, the importance of breakfast and healthy beverage choices.
Lessons will begin on Jan. 6 and end in May.
In addition, once a month, Beilfuss will work once with WIC. She also works a bit with area food pantries, senior nutrition sites and with Healthy Beginnings.
Beilfuss will have the freedom to mold the program based on the needs of the county.
“I would like to work a little more in the area of maternal and child health – to focus on single parent moms, pregnant teens and do nutrition education for moms of infants,” she said. “I’m hoping to expand the partnership with WIC and Healthy Beginnings.”
In the summer, her hope is to begin developing new partnerships in the communities and to start promoting school and daycare gardens.
The daughter of Mike and Patti Beilfuss said she was undecided about what to major in when she began college but knew she wanted to go into the health field.
Her mother is a nurse, and Beilfuss remembered how family members would often call and ask her mother questions.
Beilfuss attended UW-Green Bay for one year before transferring to UW-La Crosse.
At UW-Green Bay, she discovered a class about human development.
“When I transferred to UW-La Crosse, I found community health education and fell in love with it from the beginning,” she said. “It was a hands-on major. I liked the teaching aspect of it, which is the perfect job for me.”
Beilfuss saw her minor in health as not just about teaching people to eat healthy but to teach them about how to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes healthy food choices, exercise and getting enough sleep.
“The biggest thing all through college was I wanted to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives,” she said. “I saw my mom do that.”
Beilfuss brings varied experiences to her position, including working with children who have autism three summers at Autism Matters. Last summer, she incorporate cooking into the program.
When she was applying for jobs, she was not sure she wanted to work close to home.
As Waupaca County’s WNEP coordinator, the fact she grew up here will be an advantage.
“It’s nice for me and for them to see a familiar face,” Beilfuss said of the program’s participants. “It helps to build trust with the families.”
She loves her job.
“Coming from La Crosse, which is such an active community, I realize I can come home and can start to make those differences back home,” she said. “I think I’m going to be able to bring what I learned in La Crosse back to Waupaca (county).”
In her free time, Beilfuss enjoys spending time with her family and with her boyfriend, Jake Gabrilska, who is a track coach at UW-Oshkosh.
“In the summer, I like to be outside as much as possible,” she said. “I love to cook.”