FCS Connections, February 2023
This fall we enthusiastically celebrated the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences (previously the Department of Domestic Science and later Home Economics). Beginning with a day-long symposium followed by an outstanding, standing-room-only presentation by our 2022 Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker (and previous director of FCS) Linda Kirk Fox, our celebration continued into the evening with a gala dinner featuring our very own students, staff and faculty.
Like our celebration, by all accounts the historic Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences has been and continues to be a shining success. Beginning with its humble beginnings in the 144-square-foot Ridenbaugh Hall kitchen and first led by Mrs. Mary Young, our school was founded in 1902. It was initially housed in the (then) College of Letters and Sciences, the university’s first college which was established in 1900. Quickly outgrowing Ridenbaugh Hall, classes and offices were soon moved to the floor directly above the auditorium in the Administration Building, and eventually in 1952 into the Home Economics Building (now the Mary Hall Niccolls Building) with its collegiate gothic exterior and modern, practical interior.
Through the years, our curricula have expanded and been transformed to reflect societal and student needs as well as shifting employment outlooks. Today, we boast seven multidisciplinary undergraduate majors, three minors and two graduate degrees. And we are actively pursuing offering our first doctorate degree. Today we are housed in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to better serve the citizens of Idaho through our varied FCS Extension and outreach programs as well as the research and teaching we do.
But progress has not always been easy. From the very start, around the country faculty and students in “home economics” were forced to justify their existence on college campuses to university administrators. After all, the topics taught and studied were severely undervalued because they were considered “women’s work.” In the 1980s, many colleges and schools of home economics in the United States were disbanded, and junior high and high school home economics classes discontinued. This public disregard for teaching and studying the timeless disciplines that we now collectively refer to as family and consumer sciences had serious consequences, as whole generations could no longer balance a check book, cook a meal, sew on a button, feed a family or raise a child.
Luckily, the pendulum has swung back in the direction of common sense when it comes to validation of the importance of family and consumer sciences. What we do is more important than ever, and our students leave us with not only critical life skills but jobs.
We would not be enjoying this newfound success without the persistence of those who came before us, and without leaning on our own resilience. This last year has been both wonderful and extremely difficult, and resilience has become a mantra and buzzword. Our 120th anniversary celebration and our many successes were tremendous. But we lost four precious students (Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen) who will never be forgotten and whose passing continue to be mourned.
We must remain resilient to life’s challenges while fully embracing and celebrating its joys. Embracing and studying the disciplines comprising the family and consumer sciences can go a long way in helping make this life goal a reality.
I hope you enjoy this edition of FCS Connections.
Director and Professor of Nutrition
University of Idaho’s Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences hosted a series of educational and community events Sept. 16-17, 2022, in recognition of its 120th anniversary.
Activities included a symposium featuring family and consumer sciences experts, a keynote address, a celebration dinner and a pregame tailgate and open house to round out the weekend.
“We are quintessentially a multidisciplinary field of study, encompassing everything from nutrition to clothing to personal and family finance to human development and early childhood education. We are a beautiful blend of basic life skills and highly employable disciplines,” said Shelley McGuire, the school’s director. “The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences is 120 years old and stronger than ever.”
Linda Kirk Fox served as the Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker, delivering a speech on the symposium’s theme “Celebrating the Science of Living Well.” Kirk Fox started her career as an FCS educator for UI Extension in 1981 and became the school’s director until 2001. She later served as dean of the College of Human Ecology at the University of Georgia, retiring in 2021. The Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker series is an annual event that returned after being on hold due to COVID-19.
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) hosted a tailgate party at the Niccolls Building featuring complimentary food and music before the Vandal football game against Drake University. Tailgate guests were invited to an open house inside Hays Hall and the Niccolls Building.
Other symposium speakers included Jan Fleener Scholl, Kirstin Jensen, Shelly Johnson and Sonya Meyer.
The school was founded in 1902 as the Department of Domestic Science, before being named the Department of Home Economics. Its name was changed in 1993 to honor Margaret Ritchie, who headed the Department of Home Economics from 1938-1959. The school was incorporated into CALS in 1982.
“We’re always trying to make sure we’re honoring that long history we have, while keeping us up to date with what’s going on with humans, families and children for over a century,” said Sara Matthews, a senior instructor of early childhood development and education and chair of the anniversary celebration’s planning committee.
A radiator leak provided the inspiration for the recent display of World War I- and World War II-era military uniforms at University of Idaho’s Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center.
The faulty radiator spewed steam and water into a storage room housing menswear items from the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Leila Old Historic Costume Collection. Sonya Meyer, a professor of textiles, apparel and design who curates the collection, had to clear the room in a hurry, drawing her attention to the impressive assortment of uniforms.
Meyer displayed the best of the collection’s military uniforms in the second-floor classroom of the Sandpoint facility’s main building from early October through Nov. 28, 2022.
“That gave us the opportunity to start looking at things that were stored in there,” Meyer said. “We realized all of the uniforms we had in our collection.”
They also discovered a box of postcards originating from the Farragut Naval Training Station, which was located on Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint during World War II. Lori Wahl, a senior instructor in apparel technology and design, produced posters from the postcards to include as a backdrop. The display features three Navy uniforms from the costume collection, as well as an Army officer’s uniform from WWII, a WWI Army uniform and a Lady Marine uniform.
A WWI Red Cross uniform on display came with a recipe for oatmeal cookies. A note with the recipe explains the Red Cross Canteen in Sandpoint made the cookies for recruits who passed through by train. The recipe makes an exceptionally large batch, calling for a pint of eggs and 5 pounds of flour.
“I don’t care where you’re from, what your background is, what your income is or what your education is. Clothing is a common denominator for all cultures,” Meyer said. “It becomes a universal language, and it’s a great way to start telling a story.”
Local historian Ken Conger, who volunteers as a military specialist for the Bonner County Historical Society and Museum, drew from both his personal collection and the museum’s collection, providing uniforms and military artifacts — including photographs, mess trays, compasses and other gear.
“Artifacts are always fun because people forget a story and they see an artifact and the memories come pouring back,” Conger said.
One of the Navy uniforms originating from the museum once belonged to Donald Samuelson, who was Idaho’s 25th governor.
Conger is writing a book on the history of the base, which opened in August of 1942 to help the Navy undertake a dramatic expansion in support of the war effort. The base was named for David Glasgow Farragut, a U.S. Navy flag officer during the Civil War who became the Navy’s first admiral. At the base’s height, about 30,000 sailors underwent bootcamp there. Most of the base property was sold after the war, but the Navy retains an underwater acoustic research facility within Lake Pond Oreille.
Prior to hosting displays in Sandpoint, Meyer had just two small display cases on campus available for showing off collection items. She’s been especially pleased by collaborations forged with the Sandpoint community in planning exhibits. For example, the local Bosom Buddies Quilt Group and Pend Oreille Arts Council aided in developing a display on sack quilts — made with fabric from old feed or sugar sacks. Kyle Nagy, superintendent and orchard operations manager at the Sandpoint facility, has introduced Meyer and her colleagues to several leaders of local organizations.
“That is the essence of the land-grant system — you teach, you research, you do outreach and you take the information out to the people, but it’s important to get those in the community involved, as well,” Meyer said. “We’re fortunate to have groups in Sandpoint that are willing to do that.”
The first Sandpoint display, which opened in July of 2021, featured garments from the most influential women in the school’s history. The display included the iconic red suit worn by Margaret Ritchie, head of the university’s former Department of Home Economics from 1938-1959. The display also included garments from Sara Annette Bowman, who was one of the first two women hired to teach at U of I, and Belle Sweet, U of I’s first trained librarian who sought donations and funding to rebuild the library after it was destroyed by fire.
Dietetics graduate students Sara Schumacher and Sophia Raasch admit their initial attempt at creating an original recipe — whipped feta dip — was a disaster.
The cheesy mush they concocted lacked aesthetic appeal and a suitable texture — until, at a professor’s suggestion, they tried baking the feta rather than whipping it. That simple tweak transformed a flop into the winning entry in the 2022 Holiday Recipe Challenge.
As the judges’ choice in the 15th annual recipe competition golden, baked feta will undoubtedly grace the holiday dinner tables of many Vandal donors and advocates. Visit the Advancement Services Holiday Recipes website for this year’s winning recipe, other entries in the recent competition and past recipes.
The competition is open to Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences undergraduates in food and nutrition and graduate students pursuing a master’s degree in dietetics. They must be enrolled in the Quantity Food Production and Equipment Lab class, which meets in the Carmelita Spencer Foods Laboratory. All the recipes entered in the competition have been posted on the university’s Advancement Stewardship website, along with recipes from previous years.
Schumacher, of Lewiston, and Raasch, of Troy, are both in the first year of the dietetics master’s degree program.
Contest rules require participants to submit recipes that are holiday appropriate and show Vandal pride. This year’s recipes also had to comply with the theme of the university’s current capital campaign, “Brave, Bold and Unstoppable.”
The recipe’s creators noted it features the university’s love of dairy and the honey, which lends it Vandal-gold color, is sourced locally from Moscow’s Woodland Apiaries. Cranberries and fresh basil lend holiday color. Shumacher and Raasch believe the unusual flavoring pairings and the method of preparation qualify as bold and brave.
The competition originated in 2008, inspired by the university’s former first lady, Ruthie Nellis, who collected cookbooks. It became a tradition for food and nutrition and dietetics students to host a competition to submit the favorite recipe, though every year many recipes are worthy of sharing.
Students compete in teams of two or three and are expected to test their recipe at least three times, before trading recipes and attempting to cook entries from the competition to offer suggestions.
About 20 university leaders and supporters comprise the judging team. During the second week of October, the judges tour the Niccolls building, home to the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, sampling and scoring every entry, based on taste, texture and creativity.
A University of Idaho researcher who is internationally acclaimed for her work in maternal and infant nutrition has been inducted into the renowned National Academy of Medicine.
Michelle (Shelley) McGuire, director of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences and a professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, is the first faculty member inducted into the academy while employed at an Idaho institution, according to the organization’s records. McGuire was nominated by colleagues from Yale University and the University of Illinois, who praised her long-term research on human milk.
As a new academy member, McGuire will help inform national health policy and offer guidance on human health research priorities. She also will help select future academy members and will be granted priority to serve on committees of experts commissioned by the academy to draft reports on pressing scientific questions.
The National Academy of Medicine is a private, nonprofit organization that includes more than 2,400 worldwide members elected by their peers. It is among three academies that comprise the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
“Her being in the academy is a demonstration of what an incredible scientist she is and what incredible scientists we have at the university and in the state of Idaho,” said Christopher Nomura, U of I’s vice president for research and economic development. “Reputationally, it demonstrates that we have one of the top biomedical faculty on the planet here at University of Idaho. Her work is literally having global impacts.”
McGuire’s induction will help attract top faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to U of I, Nomura said.
The National Academy of Medicine officially announced the 100 members of the 2022 class during its annual meeting Monday. The National Academies will host an induction ceremony honoring the 2022 inductees in fall 2023. McGuire’s membership began immediately.
A recently published University of Idaho study finds consuming beef during the critical first year of life strongly correlates with improved cognitive function among 3 to 5 year olds.
The paper, “Early Life Beef Consumption Patterns Are Related to Cognitive Outcomes at 1-5 Years of Age: An Exploratory Study,” was published Oct. 26, 2022, in the scientific journal Nutrients.
Annie Roe, a UI Extension specialist focusing on nutrition and cognition research and an assistant professor in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, was the study’s principal investigator. The research team also included the school’s director, Professor Shelley McGuire, as co-principal investigator and Victoria Wilk, a Moscow resident who worked on the project to earn a master’s thesis in family and consumer sciences and is now enrolled in medical school through the WWAMI program. The study was funded with a $50,000 grant from the Idaho Beef Council.
“From birth to 5 years old, what is fed is critical for brain development. There is reason to believe that what is eaten early on carries on through life,” Roe said. “There are times in brain development if we do not provide these key nutrients in the right amounts then there are deficits that can’t be overcome later in life.”
The researchers evaluated 61 children, about half of whom were 3 to 5 years old and the rest of whom were under three. Parents completed surveys explaining their perceptions about nutrition and the types of foods they fed their children between six months old and 1 year old. The team also administered tests assessing the cognitive ability of children. They used the National Institute of Health Toolbox to assess cognition of children in the older age group, who played five different games on an iPad.
While results were inconclusive with children under three, the researchers found a strong correlation between beef consumption during the second six months of life and the ability to pay attention and inhibitory control — the ability to demonstrate proper responses to stimuli — in 3 to 5 year olds. Consumption of the key nutrients zinc and choline was also correlated with better cognition.
The team calculated nutrient values of diets using specialized software. Because infants eat small servings, it’s crucial to feed them nutrient-dense foods.
“We were really looking at food rich in those nutrients for brain development. Beef happens to be one of those foods,” Roe said.
While the study provides Roe and her colleagues with evidence that the benefits of feeding beef to infants warrants further research, it wasn’t designed to indicate causation. It didn’t include a control group and socioeconomic status wasn’t factored. Other external factors, such as whether families dined together and engaged in conversations during meals, could also have influenced cognitive function.
“I’m really cautious in the conclusions of our study,” Roe said. “We’re not saying beef is the miracle developmental food everyone has to include. We’re saying beef, probably because it is rich in these nutrients that are important for early childhood development, is related to improved cognition later in life.
“I think this is the beginning of a series of studies that can help us have a bigger picture of how we should feed young children.”
University of Idaho’s Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences hosts a pair of workshops akin to attending summer camp for several teachers from throughout the state.
Ten family and consumer sciences (FCS) teachers got a refresher on the topics of food nutrition and the culinary arts at the university’s first annual Culinary Base Camp, which was hosted on campus June 13-14, 2022. Fourteen FCS teachers participated in the university’s fifth annual Textiles Base Camp June 15-17, 2022.
The workshops, which also provide the opportunity to earn professional development credits, are among the many ways in which the school is seeking to address an extreme shortage of FCS teachers at a time when interest in FCS subjects is enjoying a renaissance.
Throughout Idaho and across the nation, school districts are restoring FCS programs that previously fell victim to the budgetary ax, while FCS teachers are retiring in droves. This has resulted in an abundance of job openings for FCS teachers both in junior high and high schools.
In addition to keeping current in their disciplines and learning new approaches to teaching, participants in the base camps make good friends. Some of the camps are also available virtually, enabling out-of-state FCS teachers to participate.
“I gave a lecture on microbiome and nutrition. That is a topic almost no FCS teacher learned in college because it’s a new area,” explained Shelley McGuire, director of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences. “In addition to being a great educational opportunity, it is a great recruiting event for the University of Idaho to be honest. These teachers had a great experience at U of I, and we hope that they’re going back to their classrooms and sharing these wonderful things about U of I with their students.”
McGuire attributes much of the rapid growth in her school’s apparel, textiles and design program over the recent years to positive experiences during past Textiles Base Camps.
The school’s enrollment declined precipitously from 2012 through 2018 before beginning an upswing in 2019. These enrollment gains correlate in large part with renewed investments in Idaho’s middle school and high school FCS programs, including those in cities such as Boise, Lewiston, SandPoint and Coeur d’Alene. In many cases, restoring FCS programs requires significant investments by school districts, such as restoring kitchens and other facilities that were previously repurposed. McGuire attributes the resurgence in FCS programs to a growing societal awareness of the importance of teaching life literacy skills, such as those related to food, nutrition, clothing, personal finance, sustainability and early childhood development.
“The programs are coming back and they’re all looking for teachers,” McGuire said, adding placement of students across all FCS disciplines is also high. “There are so many jobs. There are so many FCS teacher openings. We could place every single student we have for years to come.”
McGuire considers it fortunate that the school she heads remained intact, given that FCS disciplines have been moved under other units at many institutions. U of I’s FCS teaching program, however, was a casualty to declining enrollment and university budget cuts, until it was restored in the fall of 2021.
That’s when the school’s previous director, Sonya Meyer along with John Cannon, coordinator of career and technical education programs with U of I’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, spearheaded the effort to resurrect the FCS teaching program as a dual major. Graduates earn both a degree in education and family and consumer sciences. They all get jobs.
Currently, about 10 students are enrolled in the program, which was officially launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. McGuire said the program’s capacity is about 60 students.
“We are at the stage now of just getting the word out that we’re doing this again,” McGuire said.
The school has also reorganized and added new majors, such as nutritional sciences and human development and family studies.
Idaho lost more than 20 FCS secondary programs between 2008 and 2012, due to the economic downturn when all districts had to make hard budget choices. Many did not replace retiring teachers according to data from the Idaho Division of Career Technical Education’s Family and Consumer Sciences and Human Services program. Program Quality Manager Theresa Golis said in addition to districts reinstating programs, new schools — including Thunder Ridge High School in the Bonneville School District and Owyhee High School in the West Ada School District — have started FCS programs.
Statewide, more than 25,000 students are enrolled in FCS middle and high school programs, and filling teaching vacancies is a constant challenge. At one point in the past year, Golis was sending emails about filling 15 FCS teacher openings, and those were just the vacancies that she knew about.
A few special programs are helping the state license new FCS teachers. Golis explained many FCS teachers are licensed through a program that allows industry professionals to obtain a career technical teaching license and teach while simultaneously engaging in teacher pedagogy coursework and mentoring. This route to certification allows these certified instructors to teach FCS pathway programs such as culinary arts, hospitality, early childhood education, and apparel and textiles. Another certification route, called CTE Alternative Authorization — Teacher to New, allows a certified teacher to obtain an FCS endorsement. A third route, called CTE Alternative Authorization — Content Specialist, enables content-knowledgeable candidates to earn the broad field FCS endorsement while working as an FCS teacher.
With the career and personal growth focus in family and consumer sciences, Idaho has placed a greater emphasis on teaching career-oriented skills to make students ready for the workforce. For example, Golis said three years ago U of I was instrumental in helping Idaho launch an occupationally based high school apparel and textiles program to prepare students for roles beyond sewing in the apparel textile industry in Idaho.
“I think the No. 1 thing that’s holding us back is people don’t understand who we are and what we do,” Golis said. “They assume we are the same home economics program they experienced when they were in middle school and high school 30 years ago. Clearly, that is not the case.”
Ashley Jelliffe has known she wanted to work with children since she was a child herself. She started helping at her aunt’s daycare in Meridian when she was in grade school and later became heavily involved in family and consumer sciences programs at Meridian High School. She also participated in HOSA-Future Health Professionals, took sports science courses and became a certified nursing assistant while in high school.
Those experiences led her to the University of Idaho as a medical sciences student. However, during her first semester she realized medicine wasn’t the right fit.
“I knew I loved children and wanted to go into pediatrics, but then I realized that I didn’t really like medicine as much my freshman year,” she said. “I started exploring different majors and ideas that still dealt with kids.”
An entry-level course in U of I’s Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences introduced Jelliffe to different career paths for working with children. She’ll earn a bachelor’s degree in December 2022 in child development.
“I like this major because of how broad the options are,” she said. “I can do so much with it. I can explore into the daycare/teacher role or go into counseling. There are a variety of options.”
Gaining Hands-On Experience
Internship and undergraduate research experiences at U of I helped Jelliffe realize that teaching young children was the right fit for her.
“I like at this age, 3-5 years old, they are just sponges,” she said. “You’re the first ones to catch anything that might be developmentally wrong, which I really like.”
During her sophomore year, FCS Assistant Professor Shiyi Chen contacted Jelliffe about participating in undergraduate research.
Jelliffe worked on two projects with Chen, including a Farm to Early Childhood Education professional development program. The goal of the project is to enhance rural educators and students’ food and agricultural literacy. The team is developing a curriculum for teachers, focused on teaching preschool children about agriculture and where our food comes from.
As a resource specialist for the project, Jelliffe was responsible for procuring fruits and vegetables from local farmers and collecting data from participating teachers.
“Not many kids know about different fruits or vegetables and where they come from,” she said. “Science, especially in preschool, isn’t taught enough. And that’s why we started this project. I want to teach children about science and where we get food and why it’s important to have farmers.”
Jelliffe also gained experience working with children as a work study student at the U of I Children’s Center, as a group leader with Adventure Club — an afterschool program for K-5 students in Moscow, and through an internship with the U of I Child Development Lab — a requirement for her degree.
“It was nice to have all those different forms of working with children,” she said. “I had a daycare setting, an after-school program with different ages, then I had a research project as well. I feel like it was pretty well balanced.”
Jelliffe credits her decision to join the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority as a freshman for pushing her to gain new experiences.
“I loved being a part of my sorority,” she said. “I love the community that Panhellenic has. I love the leadership opportunities. I don’t think I’d be sitting with two research projects under my belt if I wasn’t in a sorority because I was so recluse and sorority life makes you get out of your bubble.”
Jelliffe hopes to settle in Idaho and start a career as a head start teacher or lead teacher at a daycare facility. Wherever she ends up, she’ll remain a part of the Vandal Family.
“The community here is so different from all the other schools I visited,” she said. “All the professors here really care about their students and want them to succeed. This campus and the professors and students — it’s something special.”
Article by Amy Calabretta, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Faculty and student success
CALS 2022 R.M. Wade Teaching Award: Katie Miner
CALS 2022 R.C. Heimsch Research Award: Shelley McGuire
Athena 2022 Woman of the Year Award: Erin Chapman
2022 Outstanding Club Advisor Award: Chelsey Lewallen
The first University of Idaho Child Development Conference took place in Coeur d’Alene on June 18, 2022. This event was presented by the child development and human development & family studies faculty of Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Center on Disabilities and Human Development, attracting more than 150 early childhood educators.
Erin Chapman elected vice-chair of U of I Faculty Senate.
FCS Director Shelley McGuire was a keynote speaker at the International Milk Genomics Consortium meeting held in Davis, California, in October 2023. She spoke about "hot topics" in human milk, including COVID-19 and the milk microbiome.
Thanks to generous contributions from two anonymous donors, our Diversity in Dietetics scholarship is now fully endowed. This scholarship supports students from underrepresented populations interested in achieving a master’s degree in dietetics. With this endowment of $25,000, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will be able to award a $1,000 scholarship to a student every year.
Shiyi Chen and Sara Matthews were recipients of the Linda Kirk Fox Faculty Excellence Endowment. With her award, Sara attended the National Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference Nov. 16-19 in Washington, D.C. The conference had an overall focus on equity in early childhood and the importance of stories and books in the lives of young children. Over 3,000 participants were in attendance. Shiyi used her fund to purchase licenses for statistical software SPSS and HLM for analyzing her research data.
2022 FCS Students of the Year: Audrey Hawes (freshman), Rikenna Williams (sophomore), Kaylee Flodin (junior), Rachel Houle (senior)
Luke Erickson, 2022 AFCPE outstanding Symposium Practitioner’s Forum Award.
Sara Matthews was elected vice-chair of the Idaho Infant Toddler Coordinating Council
Ginny Lane was awarded a $52,000 grant to complete secondary analysis of data collected from a Native American cohort to study the impact of the provision of a DASH diet food box on dietary intakes.
Ling-Ling Tsao and three FCS UI Extension educators were awarded a $48,516 grant to develop and test a parent education training from Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Yimin Chen was awarded $25,000 from the ASPEN Rhoads Research Foundation to conduct a study entitled "Effect of Early-life Feeding Types on Neurodevelopment Mediated by the Gut-brain Axis."
- Vandal Giving Day | April 4-5
- Summer Design Days | June 14-17
- Child Development Conference | June 18
- Culinary Base Camp 2 | June 26-27
- Textiles Base Camp 6 | June 28-30
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