The Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) has received a grant from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will allow it to continue and expand its work serving military family service professionals around the world.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialist Sarah Baughman and Extension Project Associate Brigitte Scott are working with the MFLN as part of its leadership team. Baughman is the national project leader, while Scott is the evaluation and research leader for the network.

Kyle Kostelecky, project director at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Elbert Dickey, principal investigator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, announced that the new award will be housed at the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education on the University of Illinois campus. 

The MFLN originated as a special project of eXtension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010, and work will continue there until it is completed.

“The University of Nebraska and eXtension were the perfect place for this project to form and grow into the tremendous resource it is today," said Kostelecky. "The Center for Wounded Veterans at the University of Illinois is a fantastic next step, bringing the innovation of eXtension to a new educational effort serving one of our nation's most important resources — our wounded, ill, and injured veterans. The current and new programming the MFLN will develop will be a great fit for the center as it works with transitioning service members and their families into the next stage of their lives."

“We are very proud that Virginia Cooperative Extension is part of the important work being done to support military families around the world,” said Edwin Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

The MFLN currently serves to increase the availability of research- and evidence-based educational resources to connect with and educate military family service professionals. These professionals currently serve military families and communities in the areas of personal finance, family development, and military caregiving, supported by work in network literacy.

“We are excited that our new funding will allow us to expand our work to include providing online professional development and educational programming and engaging communities in the areas of community capacity building, families with special needs, transition, and nutrition and wellness,” said Baughman.

In addition to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Illinois, and Virginia Tech, the MFLN includes Cooperative Extension faculty at Auburn University, Cornell University, Fort Valley State University, Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, University of Nevada-Reno, University of New Hampshire, Valdosta State University, Washington State University, and West Virginia University.

The MFLN was created through eXtension — an initiative of the U.S. Cooperative Extension System — in partnership with the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.