Category Archives: Advocacy

Happy Easter!

It’s Easter – a time for new life! A time to rejoice and celebrate!!

My boys hunted around the yard this morning for Easter eggs. We hung up some homemade bird feeders in the yard. We enjoyed playing games as a family this afternoon. What a great day! I have been marveling at how much these guys have been growing recently. Just yesterday I put a size 6 pair of pants on my 4 year old…that still kind of fit my 8 year old. It’s crazy how bit they are getting.


Here’s my story: My boys, 8 and 4, need yearly checkups like all kids. So I make appointments, pile them into my SUV, and drive them all of five minutes to our medical clinic. While my health insurance can be frustrating and hard to understand, it pays for most of their care. My boys are evaluated – blood pressure, pulse, say “Ahhhhh”, and all that. And then they receive appropriate vaccinations during their appointment if it is time. They pick out a sticker and a lollypop, and we all head home.


There. Done. I hardly even had to think about all of this. I even had my iPhone remind me 30 minutes prior to the appointment so I wouldn’t forget.

So far, so good. Each year the doctor has deemed my boys perfectly healthy. Aside from the occasional cough or stomach virus picked up at school (or at Walmart, or at the mall), or some stitches from one of the many times my guys have tried to ignore the laws of Physics, my boys really haven’t had much go wrong in their lives.
I tend to think of all of this as being “normal” – an average experience for an average family…IN AMERICA.
I was startled to learn that 1 in 5 children in the world DIE from a vaccine-preventable disease. PREVENTABLE. Why? There are a number of reasons, but the bottom line is that these kids don’t have access to vaccinations. I’m a big believer in the idea that all kids are the same everywhere – all kids deserve the same shot at life as every other child.

We need to get vaccinations to these kids! Shot@Life, UNICEF, the GAVI Alliance, and other organizations are all working hard to make this happen. The United Nations Foundation has made childhood health a priority, and people like Ted Turner and Bill and Melinda Gates have all put large sums of money into this issue.

You don’t have to give a billion dollars to change a child’s life. Did you know that $20 will cover vaccinations for four diseases for one child? Measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, polio – all can be prevented. 1.5 million lives could be saved each year by people like you and me. $20 to save a child’s life.

You can also sign up on Shot@Life’s webpage: Lend your voice to those who need to be heard! Or put your information here so that your congresspeople will hear about how important global health is to you, their constituent.

What are you willing to do for a child today?

Emily, Doer of Stuff


My Issue With the Latest Issue of ‘Popular Science’


The March 2014 edition of Popular Science, a magazine I subscribe to for the benefit of my children, ages 4 and 8, contains a hard-to-miss ad for cigarettes. Because ‘Popular Science’ is bedtime reading material at our house, I decided to tear out the ad and mail it back to the editors of ‘Popular Science’ with a note of explanation.

If you don’t like something, DO STUFF.



Doer of Stuff

“Get a Shot, Give a Shot” – How Walgreens and Shot@Life Work Together for Your Health

Anyone who has ever read back through my blog posts probably realizes that Shot@Life, a program of the United Nations Foundation, is very close to my heart. I’m going to talk about Shot@Life again, but this time for your personal benefit.

Shot@Life has partnered with Walgreens in order to bring vaccinations to more people. How does this work? You are already planning to get your seasonal flu shot, right? So go get it at Walgreens through October 14th, 2013 and Walgreens will donate a vaccine for another person.

How do you benefit? Well, first off, you now have your flu shot…so you won’t get that nasty coughy-hacky lungish flu this year. Awesome! Who wants that nonsense anyway?!?

Next, you don’t have to make an appointment ahead of time, so you can get your shot when you have the time – no messing with your already busy schedule. Most insurances are accepted, and you can even receive 500 Walgreens points for each immunization you and your family receive.

And finally, you can feel great knowing that another person in the world is going to receive a vaccine that will give them…a Shot@Life!

[Editor’s note: Did you know that one child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease? Why does this happen? Because not every child has access to vaccines. In fact, 1 out of every 5 children in the world doesn’t receive the very vaccines that our kids in the United States can easily get. I’m not just talking about the flu shot here. I’m talking about Measles, Polio, Pneumococcal Disease, and Rotovirus – all vaccine-preventable diseases. 1.5 million lives can be saved each year if these children receive vaccines.]

Do you ever read fine print? There is some pretty cool fine print at the bottom of the page that outlines the partnership on Walgreen’s site. It reads: “Donation limited to $500,000 which is the value of 1.35 million polio vaccines and 1.35 million measles vaccines.” Look at how many millions of vaccines Walgreens is willing to donate! Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Thank you Walgreens! And thank you Shot@Life for continuing to make sure that the least of us are receiving a shot at…another birthday! …being a best friend! …going to school! …learning how to ride a bike!

Respectfully submitted,
Emily, Doer of Stuff

Shot@Life Keeps On Birthday Bashing!

Here is the text from The Maker Mom’s blog interview of…ME!

Written by Kim Moldofsky

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shot@Life UN Immunization Campaign, Geography and Emily White: STEM Girl Friday

When I was at the Blissdom Conference I agreed to help out with a post for Shot@Life’s birthday and World Immunization Week. I was thrilled when they paired me with a Shot@Life Champion, Emily White, who is also a mom, a geographer, and this week’s STEM Girl Friday.
How long have you been involved with Shot@Life and how did you get involved?
I was introduced to Shot@Life at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs [GFWC] Conference in Charlotte, NC in the summer of 2012. I brought information home to my local GFWC Club, and we have some fundraiser and awareness events in the works for later on this year. I became a Shot@Life Champion after attending the Champion Summit in Washington, D.C. I will become the State President of GFWC South Dakota in another year or so, and am so impressed with what Shot@Life does and how they market themselves that I knew I would want to choose this program to deliver life-saving vaccines where they are needed most as my major focus during my presidency.

You are a geographer! Tell me a bit more about that. I AM a geographer! I love what I do – I am the Operations Manager for the South Dakota Geographic Alliance. My job is to promote geo-literacy in K-12 classrooms. I believe that my work is important. Being a Geography Educator is probably one of the most important jobs out there, though most Americans would disagree. Or not realize that the field of Geography actually encompasses more than memorizing ‘states and capitals’.
Geography is a skill that allows a person to develop critical thinking and solid decision making skills. All a person has to do to understand this is watch the evening news. Why are particular countries at war? Are these wars strictly about culture and religion? How does the location of natural resources factor in? Where are water resources located? Other people depend on the outcome of these decisions. This is why a geographic background is so important.
During Geography Awareness Week (last November) I went to 1st and 2nd grade classrooms and taught them about global interdependence by using a pencil as an example of how we are all connected across the globe. A pencil has five parts, each manufactured in a different country. I used Google Earth to “fly” the classes to countries where the pieces are made. Then we talked about how the decisions we make here in the United States affect other people in the world. Educated decisions are better decisions. A solid background in geography makes educated decision makers.
This is the same message that I promote when talking to people about Shot@Life – we are all connected across the globe. In order for a disease to be eradicated, we all have to work together for the benefit of all because diseases don’t respect borders and boundaries. A disease eradicated in one country is a disease eradicated for all countries.

What would a worldwide polio map look like now and how would it look different than, say, a 1950 map? Going back to the early 1900s, polio was spreading across the globe, especially in cities, and especially during summer months. Scientists were working on a vaccination for polio and finally came up with an effective vaccine in the 1950s. Those countries that effectively used the vaccine saw a dramatic drop in polio cases since then, including the United States, where polio has been eradicated since 1979. In 2013 endemic polio cases exist in three countries: Afganistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. So a map of polio now would only highlight three countries, whereas a map from the 1950s would highlight many countries, all over the globe. I’m not sure what the exact number would be, but it would be a very colorful map. In contrast, the more recent map would kind of boring to look at. Let’s eradicate polio in those last three countries and get rid of the polio map all together!

Using your knowledge of maps, terrain and shifting boundaries what are biggest barriers to childhood immunizations in developing nations? When you look at a map of Afghanistan, the first thing you may note is that this country has a lot of mountains and deserts, and not much transportation infrastructure in place. Combine these factors with political unrest and fighting taking place in various regions, and you have a huge barrier to country-wide health care, let alone distributing childhood vaccinations equally.
While not all developing countries are in the same situation as Afghanistan, many of these countries don’t have the country-wide health care infrastructure in place to make addressing issues like immunization easy. The children who are least likely to receive immunizations are going to be rural kids whose families simply don’t have access to health care, clean water, sanitation, proper nutrition, and so on. Immunizations are only one issue of many for people in developing countries.
What has been your proudest moment working with the Shot@Life campaign?
My proudest moment working with Shot@Life was when a group of us went to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and shared the Shot@Life message with our Congresspeople. I was the only Shot@Life Champion from South Dakota, so I got paired up with some fantastic Champions from New Jersey. We got to share our message as both advocates and moms with the people who are most in-touch with the pulse of the Nation. As the Shot@Life campaign continues to grow, I like knowing that I was one of the earliest supporters and that I helped plant the seeds of the future for healthy children around the globe.
Thank you, Emily! Would you like to become a Champion? Learn more about becoming a Shot@Life Champion here.

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The Shot@Life Birthday Bash Continues, Cyber-Style!

Mad props to all of my Champion friends out there who are taking the time to celebrate Shot@Life’s first birthday in high style! This post continues from yesterday’s post, and I’ll be putting content up each day this week to help pass the celebration on to others.

As you can tell from my Blog title, I DO STUFF. Sometimes I take physical challenges for fun, sometimes I try new things to experience this world that we live in, and sometimes I do stuff simply because it’s important. Shot@Life is in the latter catagory – Shot@Life is important.

What Do I DO for Shot@Life? I advocate, I fundraise, I educate – I speak at events, I reach people through Facebook, my Blog, and through the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. I pass my passion on to others.

Not to brag, but this past weekend I spoke at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs South Dakota State Meeting, and, after my 1/2 hour powerpoint presentation, a woman in the back row raised her hand about wildly and announced at the top of her lungs that she would donate $100 to Shot@Life in honor of her very brand-new great grand baby twins. She caught my passion and became a Doer of Stuff.

Nuts and bolts right here: $20 pays for the procurement, shipping, and distribution of vaccines that cover four major diseases: polio, rotovirus, pneumonia, and measles. $20! That’s all it takes to give a child a Shot@Life – a Shot at birthdays, a Shot at playing soccer, a Shot at hugging their mother.

Take some time out of your busy day today and become a Doer of Stuff: check out and learn how you, too, can become a Champion for all those kids in the world who need their childhood vaccinations.

Here are some awesome and inspiring stories celebrating Shot@Life’s 1st Birthday….

1. Angela Youngblood, whose own mother threw her fantasic birthday parties when she was a child, interviews Suzanne Chan, who is both a mother and a lobor and deliver RN, on her blog ‘Jumping With My Fingers Crossed’. Giving Kids A Shot@Life

2. Elizabeth Atalay of ‘documama’ gives us all a list of a few ways that we can help give kids a Shot@Life. Happy Birthday Shot@Life!  #BirthdayBash – you can catch her passion by reading this article.

3. Courtney O’Donnel interview Sili Recio on her blog ‘thesunnysideoftheroad’, right here on WordPress. Happy Birthday Shot@Life talks about Sili’s life being raised in a developing country until she turned 5.

4. Homegirl Quel (Kel) in Austin interviews Yolanda Gordon, a mother of two children with Autism, and discusses the importance and safety of early childhood vaccinations. Shot@Life Champion Spotlight: Autism Mom Supports World Immunization

5. Yolanda Gordon was then inspired to interview Ellen Marshall (right here on WordPress) in her blog ‘lesser known feats of awesomeness’. Shot@Life Champion Spotlight: Ellen Marshall

6. Kimberly Murray, of Kimberly Murray Photography, interviews Documama’s Elizabeth Atalay for Shot@Life’s Birthday Bash. Celebrate Shot@Life’s First Birthday With Documama (Then check out Kimberly’s fantastic photography throughout her website. WOW!)

7. World Mom’s Blog (a tremendous resource, all you moms out there) interviews Courtney O’Donnell, who is currently living in Berlin, Germany, about the importance of vaccinations. A Birthday Wish for Every Child: a Shot@Life

8. Anyone from Utah? Check this out: Shot@Life Champions will be giving away FREE cupcakes at The Sweet Tooth Fairy gourmet bake shops in honor of Shot@Life’s 1st birthday! Locations and times are posted here. How cool is that??

9. formerly phread posts about Shot@Life and how it’s a totally legitimate charity backed by some very real people. What is the Global Mom Relay?

10. Dad Labs (taking back paternity!) interviews Melissa Gardner about why she joined the Shot@Life campaign. Interview with Shot@Life Champion Melissa Gardner

11. My Mommy Reads posts from her 4 year old’s perspective. Kids deserve a shot@… …swinging, dancing, playing an instrument, swimming in the deep end, climbing trees and so much more! Kids Say It Best!

12. I have to list My Mommy Reads twice because she also interviewed my friend Amy Baxter, who invented a pain-reducing gadget called the Buzzy. So, rather than being the “Evil Needle-Wielding Fiend”, she can just be a great doctor. Dr. Baxter is also a Shot@Life Champion! Gettin’ Buzzy!

13. Julie the Wife interviews Jenny Eckton who traveled to Uganda with Shot@Life last year. It’s a Shot@Life Birthday Bash & You’re Invited!

Emily, Doer of Stuff

Shot@Life Turns the big 1!!!!

For those of you who know me, you know that I am a big supporter of childhood health issues, particularly childhood immunizations. Earlier this year I took a big step and became a Shot@Life Champion, which means that I am now officially devoting some time each day/week finding ways to reach out to others to educate people about the importance of childhood vaccinations across the globe.

Because this week marks the 1 year “Birthday” of Shot@Life (and World Immunization Week) a number of us bloggers are taking to the blogosphere and writing up essays and interviews with people who are also passionate about childhood health. It’s kinda a big deal! A child dies every 20 seconds (statistically) because of a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s so sad…and so rediculous because their death could have so easily been prevented! Every child deserves a Shot@Life! Every child deserves to reach their 1st birthday.

I am going to post a number of links this week to other bloggers out there who are posting content in celebration of Shot@Life’s Big Birthday Bash. I encourage you to take some time to read what others are saying this week about the importance of childhood immunizations. Thanks for doing this for me…and for you!

1. My friend Myrdin Thompson, who admittedly is not usually a birthday kind of gal, interviews Lois Alter Mark in her blog “Roots and Wings”. Every Child Should Have A Shot@Life

And here Lois interviews Myrdin via StyleSubstanceSoul in a cross-pollination posting extraveganza! Myrdin Thompson: Change Agent and Shot@Life Champion

2. Barb Hoyer of “a life in balance” interviews my New Jersey buddy Sarah Donza Hughes. Shot@Life Birthday Bash

3. Jessica Peace-Urgalles sums up the benefits of Shot@Life beautifully in her blog “Ms A: Charity Meets Style” with her post Shot@Life Birthday Bash: Celebrating Birthdays Through Global Vaccination.

4. Holly Pavlika interviews Champion Lee Reyes-Fournier in her blog “momentumnation” in a piece called The Shot@Life Birthday! Meet A Champion.

5. Jessica at Found the Marbles interviews Lisa Lightner in Happy Birthday, Shot@Life!

6.  Sili interviews Courtney at My Mammihood with an article entitled It’s the Shot@Life #BirthdayBash!

7. Fadra from All.Things.Fadra celebrates this birthday in mad-video style! Celebrating One Birthday So We Can Celebrate More!

8. CoupleDumb Interviews Shot@Life Champion Holly Pavlika – and if you’ve never read CoupleDumb before, you are in for a treat!

9. Adriane Gentlicore of adrianescrazylife interviews Lori Harding in Shot@Life 1st Birthday Bash.

10. Elena Sonnino of LiveDoGrow interviews Lyssa Sahadevan, Former Teacher of the Year in her state, in Happy Birthday Shot@Life!

11. Mushy Mamma interviews veteran health practisioner Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco DNP PNP-BC CPNP FAANP (I love all those letters!) in Shot@Life’s 1st Birthday! #GetVax.

12. Jessica of Blog of a Bluegrass Belle (one of my favorite blogs to read each week) writes about the connection and support between Shot@Life and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, a volunteer organization that she and I both belong to (in our spare time!). Shot@Life and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs: A Shot at Sisterhood

13. more coming….

I Am A Geographer

I attended the 44th Annual South Dakota State University Geography Convention last week, representing the South Dakota Geographic Alliance. I love this opportunity to see what the grad students are working on for their research projects and to hear guest speakers talk about issues in Geography. This year seemed particularly great – Fred Shelley, University of Oklahama, talked about the electoral geography of the most recent Presidential election, John Fraser Hart, University of Minnesota, shared his research about the changing landscape of farming in rural Wisconsin, Trisha Jackson, South Dakota State University, showed the effect of Perennial plants and root mass on the viability of soils, alongside other colleagues from across the country. I love the sharing of information in a smaller setting than a national conference.


[Joseph Kerski, ESRI, and myself at the 44th Annual SDSU Geography Convention]

I believe that my work is important. Being a Geography Educator, in my case supporting geo-literacy in K-12, is probably one of the most important jobs out there, though most Americans would disagree. Or not realize that the field of Geography actually encompasses more than ‘states and capitols’ or knowing the population statistics for the largest cities. People with geography backgrounds are urban planners, transportation specialists, environmental scientists, disaster risk analysts, emergency planners, economic developers, Geographic Information Systems analysts, teachers, professors, remote sensors, and others. Geographers work for the military, government, private industry, defence sector, homeland security, the census, the USGS, education institutions, non-profits, and so many other places across the globe.

The National Center for Education Statistics released their results from the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress, and the lack of geography skills and knowledge was , unfortunately, well documented. Daniel Edelson, Vice President of Education at National Geographic commented that “…we have not invested in geography education at all in the last decade. Both for workforce preparedness and national security, there are big costs to neglecting geography education,” he said. “You need people who can reason about geographic challenges … people who understand water and energy systems. The more we wait to make these investments, the more we’re going to have to catch up to the rest of the world.”

Geography, as it turns out, is a rather critical subject for today’s young people if they want to be competative in the global job market. Other countries understand how Geography fits into the larger world around them and invest heavily in geographic education in both K-12 and at the University level. The United States? Not so much. Of the nine areas mandated by No Child Left Behind, only Geography has remained unfunded since the beginning of NCLB. Why? One reason I have heard for this lack of funding (while hanging out with academics for a few days) is that the United States has the ability to hire well-trained people from other countries to fill critical geography, GIS, and remote sensing positions stateside.

This “plan” is very short-sighted, though. According to ‘ESRI Insider’ (Oct 15, 2012), “…the need for geoscience jobs will grow far faster than the current stream of incoming geoscience graduates are entering the workforce. The combination of rapidly advancing Baby Boom generation retirements and constrained flow of new qualified entrants equates to a potential gap of 145,000 to 202,000 geoscience jobs left unfilled by 2021.” Has anyone heard about unemplyment issues in the U.S. lately? I’m willing to bet that there are a number of unemployed professionals out there right now that would love to have a career in the geo-sciences. Perhaps if we, as a country, had been taking Geography seriously in the past decade, we wouldn’t have such a high unemploment rate nor a growing gap in the number of geo-related jobs and the number of people in this country qualified for them.

Geography is one of those skills that allows a person to develop critical thinking skills and solid decision making skills. All a person has to do to understand this is watch the evening news. Why are particular countries at war? Are these wars strictly about culture and religion? How does the location of natural resources factor in? Where are water resources located? Take Israel, for example. If a person were to look at a political map, one that shows man-made boundary lines that seperate countries one from another by a nice, neat purple or green line, one might not understand why there is conflict in this region. After all, all of the countries have these very clear and well-defined lines drawn on the map. One must delve deeper into the layers of information out there to really be able to understand what is going on in the world around them. This is what a geographer does well.

israel map

Why does this matter? And what do I do with this information? If our government, for example, did not understand the importance of this kind of information (and some may argue that our government doesn’t), our country would not be able to take educated action in situations that require the U.S. to move quickly. But these questions are also very important to ask when planning long term projects as well.

Think with me on these hot topics for a moment:

Is it important to know if an area is likely to develop sinkholes in the future?


Will proper intelligence allow us to plan better when moving our military into a war zone?


Do we need to understand where flood zones are?


Questions like these are important for decision makers. Other people depend on the outcome of these decisions. This is why a geographic background is so important. Educated decisions are better decisions. A solid background in geography makes educated decision makers. Geography is important. And that is why I am a Geographer.