Penn State Intercom......August 8, 2002

Federal grant aimed
at rural health initiative

The University's Creating Health initiative, a new, multidimensional and multimedia health education outreach project aimed at motivating people to change their behavior for improved health, has been awarded a $365,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service.

"The grant will provide computers and other communications equipment to Penn State Cooperative Extension agents in 31 of the most rural and economically disadvantaged counties in Pennsylvania," said Ted Krichels, assistant vice president for outreach and general manager of Penn State Public Broadcasting. "The extension agents will use the equipment and Creating Health materials generated by the Penn State units involved in the project to work with local community groups."

The equipment is being ordered, configured and managed by the Information and Communication Technologies unit in the College of Agricultural Sciences. The unit also will be developing publications, exhibits and other supporting materials for the Creating Health project.

When the new equipment is in place, Public Broadcasting will be able to broadcast materials to the Cooperative Extension offices in the 31 counties using digital television technologies. Extension agents then will be able to transfer the broadcast materials to laptop computers to use in community activities and presentations.

"Each Cooperative Extension office will receive a multimedia laptop computer, a desktop computer and a portable video projector," Krichels said.

"Access to high-bandwidth Internet service is limited in many areas of rural Pennsylvania," Theodore R. Alter, associate vice president for outreach, director of Cooperative Extension and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences, said. "While this equipment does not eliminate the need for high-bandwidth services, it does offer an alternative solution for information delivery."

For information about the Creating Health initiative, check the Web at