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Simone Frei, MPH, MA, is the Manager of the Healthy Youth Program. She has worked in mental health and social services for almost 20 years before she started the Healthy Youth Program in 2009. Her passion for teaching families and youth about an active and healthy lifestyle and her belief that "it takes a village" to fight childhood obesity have been crucial in developing the Healthy Youth Program. She believes that a family centered and strength-based approach will empower families to be active caretakers of their children, helps build trusting and affirming relationships between family members, and supports sustainable and long-term behavioral change. Her commitment to provide evidence-based and high-quality programs to all youth and families ensures that every family in need will be able to receive full or partial scholarships for their children.
Candace Russo, Garden Manager
Candace Russo, MS, is the Healthy Youth Program’s Garden Manager. She has more than 15 years of professional experience in environmental education, science and horticulture, and has enjoyed gardening and healthy eating since she was a child. Candace is committed to sharing and exploring the process of "soil to seed to plate," which highlights environment and lifestyle links between quality soils, wholesome food and healthy bodies. At the Healthy Youth Program, Candace is involved in the Spartan Garden, Lincoln Garden, and Chefs in the Garden.
She also provides food for the Fresh Grown Cooking classes, and works on program development, writing, art and design work.
Casey Bennett, MPH, is the Program and Internship Coordinator at the Healthy Youth Program. Her background is in food banking, developing programs to meet the food security needs of children and families. A passion for improving access to healthy, affordable food for low-income populations and supporting healthy and active lifestyles brought her to the Linus Pauling Institute. At the Healthy Youth Program, Casey coordinates OSU student interns and volunteers as well as supports the team in various capacities, from cafeteria research to program development, and helps with day-to-day, behind the scenes logistics so that all of our programs run smoothly.
Gerd Bobe, Faculty Advisor
Gerd Bobe, PhD, MPH, and MS, is the Faculty Advisor of the Healthy Youth Program. He has more than 10 years of professional experience in public health nutrition, specifically dietary disease prevention. His passion is to “translate scientific knowledge into healthy choices” and support people to be successful and achieve their goals. He works with the staff of the Healthy Youth Program to evaluate family and youth programs to better serve our communities and families. He believes that empirical and evidence-based theoretical approaches ensures better formulation and evaluation of effective and efficient health programs to influence health behavior among individuals and populations as “better theories lead to better practices”. Learn more about Gerd Bobe's research
Julie Patterson Jacobs, BA, is a Nutrition Educator for the Healthy Youth Program. She has a background in teaching and mentoring children of all ages. Her nutrition education, through the Cleveland Clinic, led her to become a nutrition coach, which she has been doing since 2011. She is eager to combine these various skills into a single position as a Nutrition Educator. She enjoys sharing the principles of healthy living with others through the practice of healthy eating and exercise. Julie loves to play sports, like soccer, and hiking with her husband and dog. She is also a certified Zumba instructor, which keeps her moving and grooving every day! As a Nutrition Educator for the Healthy Youth Program, Julie is involved in educating children and families about healthy living using the evidenced-based nutrition research from the Linus Pauling Institute. She leads cooking classes at the programs' various garden sites and in the schools during the school-year. She loves cooking with the wonderful kids and families of this great commun
Rebecca Fallihee, MS, is a Garden Educator at the Healthy Youth Program. She has experience and interests in teaching agricultural and food literacy, gardening, horticulture, and science. A passion for aligning awareness of food and agriculture with nutrition and healthy lifestyles brought her to the Linus Pauling institute.
At the Healthy Youth Program, Rebecca works with both teachers and students at the Spartan and Lincoln gardens, and is also involved with Chefs in the Garden and the Fresh Grown Cooking for Families program.
Anais Alexander, Nutrition Educator
Anais Alexander, BA, is a nutrition educator for the Healthy Youth Program. She brings with her 18 years of experience as an educator, working with children, parents and mentoring teachers. In her time working with families, she has learned that the two most essential building blocks for student success are a supportive family, community, and nutrition, and that healthy, active, and well-nourished children are more likely to thrive and are more motivated to learn. She is excited to work with the Healthy Youth Program and be able to help families gain knowledge and skills that will guide them toward healthier lifestyles through hands-on nutrition education. As a nutrition educator for the Healthy Youth Program, Anais will be involved facilitating cooking and nutrition classes and education with youth and families in the community.
Garden and Nutrition Education Assistant
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Nutrition Education Assistant