WVU Extension Agent –
Families and Health, Barbour and Randolph Counties
Hannah Fincham, West Virginia University Extension Service Families and Health agent, helps make a positive impact on West Virginians by educating them and spreading the word about the importance of health and wellness.
“Obesity and diabetes are two of the most prevalent health issues that people living in Barbour and Randolph Counties face,” said Fincham. “One of my goals is to provide health education and information to reduce their risk of suffering from these health concerns.”
Fincham is a double-county agent who helps improve the health and lives of individuals and families living in Barbour and Randolph Counties.
According to the Center for Disease Control, West Virginia’s obesity rate in 2013 was 34 percent—one of the highest in the nation. Typically, individuals who are overweight also currently have, or are at high risk for diabetes.
Reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes is highly dependent on proper nutrition. Fincham is discovering ways to educate and inform communities to lower their risk.
“Nutrition education is very effective when you start from an early age,” she said.
By using nutrition programs in schools, Fincham can connect with and teach youth why healthy eating is important, and how it affects their wellbeing.
Through her experience teaching children about proper diet and healthy lifestyle habits, she has encountered remarkable moments that let her know her programs are working on multiple levels.
“I have students try a new food during teaching sessions, so we made black bean and corn salsa,” Fincham explains. “Many were skeptical, but the majority really liked it, and one student commented ‘this is salsa heaven!’.”
With educational sessions and informative handouts and recipes, she has witnessed positive outcomes in adults, too. Dining with Diabetes offers information to individuals who are suffering from diabetes, those who are at risk and those who are living with individuals with diabetes.
A former participant from the Dining with Diabetes program she teaches stands out particularly well.
“The participant lost 70 pounds by using the information and recipes she gained while taking my courses,” Fincham explained.
She says that it’s moments like those that she is able to see the impact of WVU Extension programs, and how they make people’s lives better.
Fincham explains that it can sometimes be a challenge to fulfill the needs of two counties because of a large area and population, but she makes it work.
“I have a lot of support from faculty and staff in the county offices who go out of their way to assist me and help accomplish our goals of bringing health information and programs to each of our counties,” she remarked.
Another way Fincham informs county residents about health and wellness is through a local newspaper. WVU Extension’s Randolph County office has a weekly column in the local newspaper which is used to publish articles on relevant topics.
Fincham is one of three WVU Extension writers for the column that address topics or subject areas that relate to a specific time of the year, like Nutrition Month in March, or to recruit for upcoming courses being taught by her local office.
Connecting with local organizations, like newspapers, enables the office to get useful information into the hands of West Virginians who can benefit from it.
Before she was a WVU Extension agent, Fincham was a graduate assistant for WVU Extension’s summer reading program, Energy Express. Her efforts with Energy Express helped recruit 500 AmeriCorps members.
Fincham earned both a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from WVU.
To reach Fincham, email Hannah.Fincham@mail.wvu.edu or call her in Barbour County at 304-457-3254 or Randolph County at 304-636-2455.