- August 2022
Community Wellness Planner
Office of Nutrition Education
MSU Extension Service in Coahoma County
Years in Position: 2.5 years
Years at MSU: 2.5 years
Kellie Burke found her dream job when she began working for the Office of Nutrition Education, although she said the job found her.
“This career chose me,” she said. “I was at my previous job for eight years and was unhappy. A friend of mine who works for Extension saw the job was posted, thought the job would be great for me, and called me.”
As a community wellness planner, Burke delivers nutrition information through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed. Delivered through the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the program teaches people about kitchen basics, the importance of a healthy diet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture My Plate food guidance model, and how to shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget.
“I enjoy working with people and teaching them how they can improve their diets while staying on a budget,” Burke said. “Being a community wellness planner is a perfect fit. I love teaching adults how to feed their families healthier options, teaching children the importance of eating healthy, and introducing new foods to them.”
Two of her adult clients who attended Cooking Matters classes stand out in her memory. One was a gentleman who was an avid griller but had no experience in the kitchen.
“He told me his wife asked him to boil a chicken, and he had to Google how to do it,” Burke said. “He left the class with a good knowledge of how to cook in the house.”
The second was a lady who is raising her grandchildren after her daughter died at 35 from coronary artery disease.
“She wanted to be able to serve her grandchildren soul food without all the fat and sodium of traditional southern cooking,” Burke said. “She learned how to season foods with herbs and other seasonings.”
In this job, Burke said, it is important to be a self-starter who thinks outside the box and can work with people from all different backgrounds.
“It’s important that you meet people where they are, in terms of what they’d like to learn and where they are physically located,” she said. “We try to offer our classes in different areas of the county so that everyone who wants to can participate. I try to recruit people and network every chance I get.
“I have worked in various jobs since I was 15 years old, and this is the best job I have ever had,” Burke said. “The people are great to work with. Growth in yourself and the job are encouraged.”
Burke and her husband, Bob, dated throughout high school and college before marrying in 2004. Their children Graydon, 13, and Ella, 10, keep them busy with sports, Scouts, and any new adventure that they want to try. She and her family are active in their church and community. She teaches Sunday School and is the local Cub master.