Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy Easter

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Visual Veggies DTR Exam Prep Program.

My name is Tony Scornavacco.  I graduated in January of 2016 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.  In order for me to become a Registered Dietitian I need to undergo a 1200 hour supervised internship, and then sit for a registration exam.  An individual  in my position has about a 51% chance of being matched to a Dietetic internship, which occurs in early April with start dates usually in August or September.  In order to gain more experience in the field of Nutrition and Dietetics I want to work as a Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR), which is an individual who performs many of the same tasks as a Registered Dietitian apart from prescribing Medical Nutrition Therapy as well as a few other tasks. 

 In order to become a DTR I must pass a registration exam similar to that which a Registered Dietitian must pass.  One of the biggest problems with becoming a DTR is the lack of resources available to use to study.  Very few organizations compile and sell study materials for this exam because it is a small niche field.  One company that has gone to great lengths to provide a comprehensive set of study materials for the DTR exam is VisualVeggies from Ryan T Hartz MS, RD, CSSD.  This program covers each of the five domains that DTR hopefuls will be tested on and does so in a way that mimics the DTR exam itself.  It it chalk full of features that help students adequately prepare for the DTR exam in as efficient a way as possible.  I was fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Hartz and receive a copy of the program in order to prepare for the DTR exam.  Below is what I found through completion of the 800+ question program.

What I Liked

Pre Test: Before delving into the meat of the program you have the option of taking a pretest composed of questions from each domain of the exam.  This is excellent for two reasons.  First, it allows the student to see which domains are his/her strengths and weaknesses.  Second, it gives the student a glance at what to expect from the DTR exam because it mimics what the exam will be like.  This is a great feature for individuals who like to see how far they have come since the beginning of studying.

Test Timer:  Each test has a timer with a set amount of time depending on how many questions are being taken.  This is great because it allows the student to feel the pressure of being timed, which primes him/her for the DTR exam.  Test taking skills are an important part of taking the exam.  Content is not the only aspect that is important.  Also, the timer can be stopped if you want to read the logic behind why the correct answer is the correct option, or need to take a break.  This is a handy feature for studying and preventing burnout.

Full Random Test:  If you want to experience something similar to the pretest and the actual DTR exam you can take the DTR “Full Random Test”, which is composed of 130 random questions from each of the five domains.  This test has a 2.5 hour time limit (the same as the actual DTR exam), which drives home the idea that this program mimics the actual exam.  Again, this is great for building test taking skills and increasing testing endurance.

Progress Tracker:  The program will keep track of how many questions you have gotten correct and incorrect from each of the five domains so you can see where you need to focus your attention most.  It will display your percentage correct each time you take a set of questions regardless of how many times you take it, which allows you to see how much progress you have made.  Furthermore, when you click on each domain or test you can see all the questions you answered incorrectly, what your answer was, what the correct answer should have been, and the explanation for why it was correct.

Different Domains:  The program is broken down into the five domains of the DTR exam and allows you to tackle them one at a time and by sub domain.  This is especially helpful when you know what domain on which you want to focus.  

What I Loved

These three features of the program make test prep significantly easier and allow the student to completely understand the reasoning behind why each answer is the correct one.  The program truly shines because of these three features. 

Incorrect Answer Redemption:  When you take any of the tests and incorrectly answer a question the program bookmarks that question into a separate section called “redemption”.  Here, all your incorrectly answered questions are stored for you to go back to in order to correctly answer and analyze.  This saves countless hours of writing down questions or searching though previously answered questions to find the ones you answered incorrectly.

Correct Answer Explanation:  This aspect of the program is beyond helpful.  First, after you answer a question, whether it is right or wrong, you will see the explanation for why the correct answer is the right one.  This allows the student to receive a full understanding of the content.  Furthermore, this description often gives additional information related to the question.  For instance, one question asks about how many cups of dairy a fully grown adult needs per day.  The answer is 3 cups per day.  The description goes on to reveal that children 2-3 years old need 2 cups/day and those 4-8 years old need 2.5 cups per day.  So really this question gives you 3 pieces of pertinent information that may come up on the DTR exam.  This occurs repeatedly throughout the program, which means that the 800+ question program truly gives 1000+ questions worth of information.

Just Math:  Outside of the five Domains of this program exists another section titled “Just Math.”  Here, the student can take 171 math dedicated questions from across the 5 domains to practice basic to complicated mathematical equations needed to complete the DTR exam.  I personally feel math is one of those areas that many students struggle with so this is an absolute gem in the world of studying for this exam.

What Could Be Improved

Randomized Answers:  If I would change one single thing about the program it would be that the answers to each question became randomized each time the exam is taken.  The answers correlating with A, B, C, D are always the same, which serves as a mental cue for which answer is the correct one.  I personally feel that this impedes absolute material comprehension and makes the program a bit easier.  However, this is simply my opinion, and not everyone will find this to be a negative aspect of the program.

Formula Bank:  An addition to the program that I would have personally found helpful would be a section that lays out all the formulas covered on the DTR exam.  I went into the program without much of a background in the business/management aspect of nutrition so I found Domain 5 (management) very difficult because it is formula heavy.  As I took the exam I became familiar with the formulas because they are given in the description of why the correct answer is the right one, so the formulas are in fact given.  However, unless you write down each formula (like I did) as you go through the questions you will need to retake the exams in order to see the formulas.

Final Thoughts

This program is an excellent tool for preparing for the registration exam to become a DTR. I will definitely be purchasing the program for the RD exam when it comes time for me to take it.  It was truly difficult to find anything I would change about this program because it was so well designed, and had so much thoughtfulness put into it.

I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to Mr. Hartz for the opportunity to review his program, and for offering my readers a $20.00 discount on his program.  Visit the Visual Veggies website for more information and use the discount code.

$20.00 Discount Code: SNUGHARBORBAY

4-3-16 update - Tony took the DTR test and passed on his first try!!!   Way to go Tony.

Monday, March 21, 2016

PapaNonny Reach 2500 Geocaches

Last week my parents reached a new geocaching milestone - 2500 geocaches!

We were in Kentucky and mom chose Last One Standing  for their milestone cache.

St. Stephen's Church was originally built in 1900 and served the community until 1945.

It was empty and ignored for years and was then overlooked when the Land Between The Lakes Area was formed in 1963.

The Church stood vacant and deteriorating until 2000, when volunteers donated over 3800 hours of their time to restore the church to its original design and construction.

Today the doors remain unlocked so anyone can enter and visit.

We had to travel down an old winding, rarely used road for over a mile in order to reach the church.

Let's just say I'm glad I have a truck with 4 wheel drive!

But the jolting ride was well worth the effort.

The geocache was hidden down the hill near the church....

I think it was a fitting cache for mom and dad's 2500th milestone, don't you?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Geocaching in Missouri March 2016

We're thrilled that spring is starting to show up so we hit the road with mom and dad and headed to Missouri for a day of caching.  Here's a look at some of our favorite caches of the day.

The cache at Trucks Galore was a clever hide....

Dad made quick work of Kiss a Prince.......

It was hidden near this pretty water fountain....

My favorite cache of the day was No Value Meal Here.   It was hidden in the front yard of the cache owner.  Can you guess the meaning behind the cache name???

Fir Real  was quick and easy....

In all we found 9 caches and then we headed over to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch - Lambert's Cafe  in Sikeston, Missouri.  I've written about this fun restaurant before.  This is the place where they throw huge rolls across the room for you to catch.  Check out the giant drink mugs.  Don't worry, if you don't finish it, they will give you a take home cup for your leftover drink...

They walk around with large bowls of sides for you to choose from, like fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, or black eyes peas.  And you can have as much of any of those sides as you want, in addition to your meal.

Here's an order of fried shrimp with cottage cheese and beets....

This is the meat loaf, mashed potatoes, applesauce and peaches.....

They give  you so much food that we all took half of our meals home and heated them up for dinner.  I'm telling you, if you are ever in southeast Missouri, stop at Lambert's Cafe.  Just get there early.  By noon there was a line going out the door!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review - National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States

Book Review - National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States  8th Edition

This 8th edition of the guide has been published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.  It's been completely redesigned with updated information and maps.  Did you know that there are 59 National Parks?  Pull out your notebook and start making plans because once you open the book, you're going to want to visit a large majority of the parks.  

The guide is broken down into 8 sections:

  • East
  • Midwest
  • South Central
  • Southwest
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Pacific Southwest
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Alaska
Each section is then further broken down by individual park, which each has a thorough description, a map, and pertinent information such as How to get there, When to go, Visitor Centers, Headquarters, Camping and Lodging.  Furthermore, the entire book features 80 full color maps and over 220 color photographs.   Let's take a look at some of my favorites...

Mammoth Cave
Kentucky Established July 1, 1941 52,830 acres
A Mammoth Cave lantern tour.

One of the world’s great natural wonders, Mammoth Cave National Park sits beneath Kentucky hills and hollows. It earned its grandiose designation in the early 19th century, when tourists marveled at the enormity of its underground chambers. With more than 400 miles of mapped passageways, Mammoth Cave National Park encompasses the planet’s longest known cave system, with five levels and caves yet to be discovered.....

Grand Canyon
Arizona Established February 26, 1919 1.2 million acres
View from Desert View Drive, on the South Rim

Like the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon is an American icon. (It’s almost as if the majesty of the American West has been poured into a limestone riverbed.) Theodore Roosevelt considered it his civic duty to urge every American to see it. And around five million people come to Grand Canyon National Park every year, from all over the globe. Indeed, the canyon is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world....

Great Sand Dunes
Colorado Established September 13, 2004 149,137 acres
Dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Undulating sweeps of sand—the tallest sand dunes in North America—rise precipitously and improbably from the rolling grasslands of the San Luis Valley in mountainous south-central Colorado. Craggy spires of the Sangre de Cristo range soar directly behind the dunes, reaching skyward more than 13,000 feet. A coalescence of grass, sand, water, forest, and rock forms the visually striking ecosystem that is Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve....

Death Valley
California & Nevada Established October 31, 1994 3.4 million acres
Badwater Basin
Hottest, driest, lowest, largest . . . Death Valley dazzles, even intimidates, with superlatives. The largest national park in the Lower 48 has indeed recorded the world’s highest temperature (134° F), nets less than two inches of rain a year, and contains the lowest spot in North America. But those extremes can add up to fascination. Death Valley National Park is nothing short of spellbinding....

California Established January 10, 2013 27,214 acres
The park’s namesakes are the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano.
Pinnacles—America’s newest national park—is a geologic playground, a rumpled volcanic landscape of protruding lava spires, massive rocky bastions, and crenellated cliffs interlaced with dense, woody chaparral and woodlands of oak and pine. Located in west central California, in the Gabilan Range (part of the Coast Range), Pinnacles National Park offers 32 miles of hiking trails and an impressive roster of fauna (there are more than 500 species of moths in the park alone)....

Sequoia & Kings Canyon
California Sequoia Established September 25, 1890 Kings Canyon Established March 4, 1940 865,964 acres (total)
Horses work the trail.
The largest tree on earth (by volume). The highest mountain in the contiguous United States. One of the deepest canyons in North America. Some of the most remote wilderness in the Lower 48. It’s all about grand scale in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks—and yet these adjoining and jointly administered parks also offer a multitude of intimate natural treasures and experiences, in the backcountry as well as closer to the heart of things....

Crater Lake
Oregon Established May 22, 1902 183,224 acres
Snowmelt feeds Crater Lake.
More than 5 trillion gallons of water fill the crater— what remains of Mount Mazama. With a surface area of 21 square miles and depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. In addition the size of Crater Lake National Park, it is the stunning sapphire water that etches itself in memory...

One of the things I liked best about this guidebook is the size - with dimensions of 5.3 x .8 x 8.4 inches and 496 pages it's perfect for carrying in the car, a suitcase or a backpack.  As I read through the book I found myself making lots of notes of the places I'm adding to my bucket list.  Somebody give me a camper - I want to leave now!

All of the images are from National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States 8th Edition.  All photos credit:  Photo by Phil Schermeister/National Geographic

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.   Get your copy here

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 

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