Category: Professional Development

Posted on April 8th, 2020

Extension educators have proudly been a pillar in their communities, whether that’s from attending city meetings to making guest appearances in classrooms. But in a time when communities are not gathering and Extension’s usual avenues for connecting are put on hold, how do you remain a local face in your community? Beth Chatterton, a 4-H program coordinator in McDonough County, Illinois has found one solution.

When the Coronavirus restrictions started happening, Beth knew she wanted to help: “I was trying to figure out what I could do to still be connected to my 4-H family. One of the things I was thinking about is during this time I’m in schools, I’m in public libraries doing storytime with my kiddos and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’m an 80s-90s kid; I had Reading Rainbow and Mister Rogers and thinking back, storytime was always just very comforting for me and something I really enjoyed. So I thought maybe we’ll just go on that.”

Beth’s top priority is keeping her connection to the community and supporting families navigating this difficult time. This goal, combined with her knowledge and experience led her to her solution: “I could do Facebook lives and read stories.”

Facebook live stories allow Beth to contribute from the safety of her home. She started doing Facebook live storytimes in mid-March. Though her process has adapted and changed, Beth is now doing storytime Monday-Friday at 12:15 CT. At the end of each story, Beth connects it back to 4-H with an activity because “one of the nice things about 4-H is there’s like a hundred projects. So if you’ve got a hobby, we’ve got a 4-H project to go along with it.”

Since starting storytime, Beth has been blown away by the response she has received. She has 15 families that tune in regularly and her videos get about 150 views on average. Families reach out to her with suggestions and requests, from both parents and kids.

“It’s something I think people can connect with. It’s just kind of an easy thing to just grab a story and try and figure out an activity to go along with it. As we do social distancing, it’s very easy to feel like you’re stuck and in a bubble and not really connecting with people. I’m hoping that them [families] seeing my face and having questions asked to them, they feel like there’s that connection still, that we’re still here.”

Beth is just one example of how Extension educators across the nation are adapting during this time. Many other educators are doing similar programs, but for those who are still exploring new options, Beth has some advice:

“Don’t get in the way of yourself. Sometimes when I talk to people about doing a Facebook live, it can be very intimidating because anything can happen and you can make a mistake and it’s there because it’s live. But I think that that’s one of the reassuring things—one of the genuine things. That when I hop on, I do make mistakes. I stumble over words when I read a book, one book I missed a whole page. But we’re all human and we all make mistakes and it’s just one of those genuine things. So just give it a go.”

See Beth’s Videos

If you or another Extension educator have adapted programming for COVID-19, responded to COVID-19, or just want to brag about your amazing innovations, be sure to fill out the form below to let the rest of the nation know just how awesome you are. Be sure to check out the COVID-19 page to see what other Extension systems are doing and find helpful resources from our partners.

Submit a response 
more COVID-19 resources

Posted on October 8th, 2016 in Professional Development


New EDEN PowerPoint Templates

screenshot-2016-10-17-11-45-22Are you making a presentation that represents the Extension Disaster Education Network? We have the template for you. The new EDEN PowerPoint templates are being used in new and updated EDEN educational programs, EDEN 101 orientation for new delegates, EDEN webinar slides and in other ways.

The 4:3 ratio presentation orientations are best used in typical powerpoint scenarios such as a presentation screen or an older laptop.  The 16:9 ratio is more appropriate for newer laptops and presenting on televisions.

Visit the EDEN Marketing Page at EDEN.LSU.EDU to download these templates.

New EDEN Fliers

screenshot-2016-10-17-16-47-24The EDEN Marketing committee was charged with developing a one-page flier for EDEN to be used as a marketing piece with internal and external audiences. The idea was to have a grab and go piece that would express what EDEN is, the goals of EDEN, how to access EDEN resources, and a snapshot of our collaborating organizations. Treye Rice from Texas A&M developed a total of six. They all have the same information about the EDEN organization, but include different photos depicting various disasters. They are designed to be personalized by users to reflect state needs. Please email us if you are interested in personalizing one of these pages for your state or university.

Download all six fliers as a PDF

Posted on December 16th, 2015 in Communication, Professional Development

Here’s a list of EDEN webinars that have taken place in the last several months and the webinar schedule for 2016. With topics on everything from livestock safety, preventing foodborne illnesses and exploring the Sea Grant Coastal Resilience toolkit, there is surely something for everyone! Don’t forget you can watch on your mobile devices on the go. Also, if you have a disaster education board on your Pinterest account, pin the image at the bottom of this page, so you can always get back here!

Livestock First Aid and Safety

Injured animals and animals under stress react differently than they do in normal circumstances. Scott Cotton, Wyoming Extension ANR Area Educator and Dr. John Duncan, Area Veterinary Medical Officer for USDA APHIS explained what to do in this 60-minute webinar.

Practical Livestock Evacuation

Scott Cotton, Wyoming Extension ANR Area Educator discussed practical steps to a safe and successful livestock evacuation in the event of a disaster.

Exploring Sea Grant’s Coastal Resilience Toolkit

Sea Grant Extension professionals have tried and tested the tools presented by Dr. Katherine Bunting-Howarth, Associate Director, New York Sea Grant and Assistant Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension. If you serve a Great Lakes or Marine coastal community, this webinar is for you.

Foodborne Outbreaks–What You Need to Know

Dr. Soohyoun Ahn discussed outbreak trends and how to prevent outbreaks. Keep your families safe from foodborne illness. Watch this webinar.


Posted on November 11th, 2015 in Disaster Education Planning, Professional Development

Photograph poles with of a lot of telephone wires rolled up and overlappingSometimes it feels as though eXtension, Extension, and EDEN do things in a willy-nilly fashion. But if we look at the big picture, we can see that there is a pattern and that the shifting is in response to clients’ changing needs in a manner that reflects where they are looking for information. That used to happen on paper and in person. Now it’s more online and virtual.

The 2015 EDEN annual meeting, held in Las Cruces, NM, provided opportunity for committees to develop goals for the upcoming year. The Professional Development committee is committed to supporting EDEN’s strategic plan, specifically through its goal to strengthen Extension’s capacity and commitment to address disaster issues. During our session in Las Cruces, we agreed that we should identify and develop training opportunities that will help all Extension professionals be personally better prepared for disaster and as a result, be prepared to help their communities be more disaster resilient.

In other words, we are seeking to create a systems approach which can be endorsed by Program Leaders towards eventual inclusion in institutional programs of work across the country. This system will facilitate more meaningful collaborations between state organizations and land grant institutions to guide emergency management planning and training. This approach will be particularly effective in rural communities and may enrich existing programs at the state level.

Two big questions surfaced during the committee meeting.

  • What are the basic disaster-related skills every Extension educator ought to have?
  • How can the committee provide training opportunities to Extension educators?

Let us know what you think here.

Coincidentally, eXtension has a new direction – help Extension professionals do their work more effectively. The new mission and brand reflect the new focus. For EDEN and the Professional Development committee, that can translate to increased opportunity provide training and resources through tools available to CES Professionals and increased reach and impact through participation in and with the new i-Three Corps on the 2016 focus issues climate and food systems.

Many EDEN delegates are aware that we’ve been involved in eXtension for at least a decade. We’ve contributed significant content to the website and the learning management system (Campus), and we support the Ask an Expert system. The content on the web site will continue to be available and, with your help, we will continue to respond to clients’ questions through the Ask an Expert system.

You may wonder how clients will access our content when you see the new web site design. “The content currently on will be seamlessly moved to a new subdomain and available using the Find Resources button,” according to Terry Meisenbach, eXtension Communication & Marketing Leader.

CEO Christine Geith recently presented the new strategy to the eXtension Board of Directors.

Posted on February 17th, 2015 in Disaster Education Planning, Professional Development

122451529 flattened worldEDEN has been exploring how international relationships serve our domestic audiences for five years or more, with two lines of endeavor running in parallel. Five years ago, USDA NIFA scientist, Dr. Caroline Crocoll, introduced EDEN to Bicol University while working as a USDA Embassy Science Fellow in the Philippines. Bicol University created Bicol-EDEN and shortly thereafter requested membership in EDEN.  In another part of the Pacific, Peter Barcinas, EDEN delegate from the University of Guam, was exploring possibilities for expanding extension disaster education activities in Asian Pacific Rim countries.

Several supporters of EDEN internationalizing emerged during discussions  between EDEN and NIFA leaders and among EDEN delegates; those discussions focused primarily on helping identify the domestic benefits of EDEN’s expanding internationally. Chief among the supporters at the federal level were Beverly Samuel, USDA NIFA National Program Leader (NPL) and Dr. Hiram Larew, NIFA Center for International Programs director (recently retired).

EDEN took a first step toward internationalizing in 2012 when it brought Bicol University into EDEN as a member institution on a three-year trial basis. Bicol’s three-year pilot membership ends this year (2015), and while all the parties involved feel the benefit of the relationship, EDEN, NIFA and Bicol University must now decide whether to renew and expand “EDEN International Membership,” or to identify a different path toward the goals of internationalizing Extension disaster education and responding to the needs and desires of the potential international member institutions.

Dr. Keith Tidball, EDEN delegate from Cornell, focused on this question last year when he was the 2014 Visiting Scholar with USDA NIFA Division of Family and Consumer Sciences (DFCS).  From that experience, he has produced a white paper,  Internationalizing Extension Disaster Education–The Bicol University Philippines Case Study.



Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Sonja Koukel

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?Sonja Koukel
My initial involvement in disaster preparedness and emergency planning occurred when I was employed as a University of Alaska Fairbanks Extension district agent based in Juneau (2005-2010). One of the most important roles I played in that capacity happened when an avalanche took out the hydropower lines affecting 30,000 residents. As the Extension agent, I provided information to the Governor’s office covering topic areas from keeping foods safe to safe use of alternative fuel heat sources. When I relocated to New Mexico, I approached Billy Dictson – then, the Point of Contact (POC) – and asked what I could do to help. I became an EDEN delegate, attended the 2010 Lexington, KY, annual meeting and have attended every annual meeting since. I also became the POC when Mr. Dictson retired.

2. Can you tell us a little about your role in disaster preparedness in your state?
This is another area in which Billy Dictson played a large part. He was a founding member of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center housed on the New Mexico State University campus. In a nutshell, the Center helps communities plan and exercise food protection planning and incident response, all hazards agriculture response and recovery planning, and risk assessment planning. When I arrived in NM, Mr. Dictson hired me to coordinate the Food Safety Initiative. Upon his retirement, 2012, I stepped into the position of Co-Director for the Center. As an Extension Specialist, and through my connection with the Center, I assist in helping raise awareness of disaster preparedness with Extension county agents and the general public, by providing materials, resources, and exploring the best use of social media in response and recovery.

3. How have you seen disaster preparedness differ from state to state?
While the nature of the potential disaster may differ – avalanches in Alaska / wildfires in New Mexico – I find the act of preparedness very similar no matter where you live. The greatest difficulty is in getting individuals to actively engage in preparedness as most have the “it will never happen to me” mentality. In both Alaska and New Mexico, my work revolves around raising awareness, engaging Extension agents and community members in training and exercises, and then keeping people involved during the absence of disasters.

4. What can EDEN delegates look forward to for the 2015 EDEN Annual meeting?
Bienviendos! The Annual Meeting will be held in Las Cruces, New Mexico – also known as “The City of the Crosses.” Located about 50 miles north of the Mexican border, with a population of just over 100,000, it is the second largest city in the state and is home to New Mexico State University – the land-grant institution of NM.

EDEN delegates have a unique opportunity to visit the Santa Teresa International Export/Import Livestock Crossing located on the U.S.-Mexico border. The border crossing is the busiest in the U.S. averaging over 300,000 animals a year. Visit their website for videos and more in-depth information. We are currently planning: a tour of the Santa Teresa “inland port” Union Pacific rail facility and a visit to Old Mesilla, NM, where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang. Visit the EDEN homepage for information on the post-meeting trip to Albuquerque – an EDEN excursion to the International Balloon Fiesta!

5. What was your favorite part of the 2014 EDEN Annual meeting?
Attending Annual Meeting is a source of motivation for me. Reconnecting with EDEN professionals who have become friends over the years, meeting new delegates, and attending the informational sessions are my favorite parts. I’m always amazed with the incredible work the EDEN group accomplishes year after year. Muscle Shoals, AL, is a fabulous place and a location I don’t think I would have experienced had it not been for EDEN.

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN Delegate Dr. Mike Yoder (North Carolina). Mike assumes EDEN Chair duties at the conclusion of the 2014 EDEN meeting.

Dr. Mike Yoder1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?
I was given the opportunity by North Carolina State University’s Point of Contact (POC) with EDEN, Dr. Ed Jones, to attend an EDEN annual meeting in Indianapolis. That was my introduction to EDEN, from that I became very interested in the work that EDEN and how the extension specialists from NCSU could interact with EDEN and both benefit from it.

2. What has been your favorite part of working with EDEN?
The people! Terrific people, that are very passionate and dedicated to the mission of EDEN and to improving and protecting the lives of the people in their states. You could not ask for a better group of people to work with.

I think that EDEN is one of the best kept secrets in the country, but I think we have a great deal more to offer than people know at this point. I would tell people to get involved, expand their own networks through EDEN and see what they could contribute to the organization.

3. You were the program chair for the 2013 EDEN Annual Meeting, can you tell us a little about what that entailed?
It’s always a challenge to put together a meeting that is informative and that challenges our delegates. That was the first meeting I was the program chair for, so there was a big learning curve with figuring out what types of information people want. But there was a great committee to help with that; they helped identify speakers and topics and helped define the order of the program. They made the task much easier to accomplish. It was a great experience, and hopefully this years program, which will be my second, will be even more challenging and informative for our delegates that come to the 2013 EDEN Annual Meetingmeeting.

4. What was your favorite part of the annual meeting last year?
I have to say that my favorite part of any meeting is the time I get to spend with the people in the organization, and that is especially true with EDEN. Whether that time is spent at one of the meals we eat together or a pre-conference gathering we have where we can catch up with each other and discuss interests and projects. It’s just always a good time.

5. Since you helped with the meeting last year do you have any advice or words of wisdom you would like to give to people planning on attending the meeting this year?
I think we have a great set of presenters lined up, and that includes the papers people have submitted and our keystone and capstone speakers that will make it very enlightening and challenge the organization. So I would say, come prepared to enjoy the time with the delegates, and to learn from the sessions we have prepared.

Registration for the 2014 meeting is now open!

6. What are you most looking forward to at this years annual meeting?
This is going to be repetitive, but again it’s the opportunity to network within the organization. And then also I’m looking forward to the papers that will be presented; to see what people have been up to, what kind of projects they are working on, and what progress has been made on those projects.

We hope to see you in Florence, Alabama.

Posted on November 4th, 2013 in Professional Development
Pyle Center was the location for the 2013 EDEN Annual Meeting

The Pyle Center was the location for the 2013 EDEN Annual Meeting

It turned out to be a beautiful week to be lakeside on the University of Wisconsin campus. While there may not actually be a correlation between the great weather and the great interactions that took place at the 2013 EDEN meeting, participants—including me—learned a lot from colleagues and came away with ideas for integrating disaster education into program areas.

We were honored to have three Extension directors (Drs. Rick Klemme, Nick Place and Ed Jones)  join us in Madison.

Rick Klemme

Dr. Rick Klemme (UWI) gave us a warm welcome and helped the meeting get off to a focused start by talking about how EDEN adds value to Extension’s work at the local and state level.

Nick PDr. Nick Place (UFL) gave an update on ECOP. He concluded his remarks by reminding us that we are communicators, facilitators, conveners, and re-framers—value added to the research-based education and information we bring to our communities.

Dr. Nick Place (UFL) gave an update on ECOP. He concluded his remarks by reminding us that we are communicators, facilitators, conveners, and re-framers—value added to the research-based education and information we bring to our communities.




CEO, National Pork Council, Neil Dierks

CEO, National Pork Council, Neil Dierks. Keynote speaker Neil Dierks talked about food security in a global economy. He noted that most of the agriculture sector is talking about feeding the world in the next 50 years. It is becoming harder for small producers to stay in business. In some cases, older producers are selling their land to developers, and in other cases, young people are not getting into the business because they can’t support their families. The result is fewer farms and ranches—but those remaining are becoming larger and more efficient enterprises. We saw two examples on our Tuesday tour.


 Many of the concurrent sessions highlighted curricula that can be adapted for other states. Here are a few.

  • The Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative (MyPI): Fostering Emergency Preparedness, Civic Responsibility, and Empowerment in Teens. MyPI is a 10-week curriculum designed for teens and with MS Citizen Corps that includes hands-on activities for the youth. (Ryan Akers, Mississippi State and David Nichols, MS CERT Program).
  • Local Government Financial Disaster Resiliency Program (Louisiana State University—Matt Fanin and Carol Franze)
  • What Will You Do When a Disaster Strikes? This is a comprehensive curriculum designed to help prepare consumers for possible food-related emergencies. (Tennessee State University—Sandria Godwin and Richard Stone)
  • Using Scenarios to Prepare Extension Personnel to Communicate during Disaster Situations was an interesting, realistic, and engaging what-if session.  (NC State—Sarah Kirby and Ben Chapman)
  • Incident Command System/Emergency Operations Center Interface & Extension’s Role was another hands-on what-if session. It was facilitated by the EDEN Exercise Committee (Linda Williams, Chair).


Larry Larson, Director Emeritus Association of State Floodplain Managers

An area to watch and perhaps enter the discussion is flood risk management. Larry Larson (Director Emeritus, Association of State Floodplain Managers) talked about  policy issues associated with the National Flood Insurance Program reform (BW-12).


There were 34 states, one territory, the Philippines and Japan represented at this year’s meeting. But this is not the first year we’ve had international visitors. That distinction belongs with the 2011 meeting in Portland, Oregon where three people from Bicol University (Philippines) and one person from China (Beijing Normal University) participated.  In 2012, EDEN delegates approved a pilot international membership for Bicol University.

Leilani Pavilando gives the Bicol University Extension Report.

Leilani Pavilando gives the Bicol University Extension Report.

While no one from Bicol was able to attend last year’s meeting, two delegates attended this year. In addition, a professor from the (non-member institution) Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology attended the Madison meeting.  Bicol Extension Director Leilani Pavilando reported that she and colleagues obtained a grant from USAID and WFP to adapt the Family Preparedness curriculum (Utah and ND) for program delivery in four local municipalities. A paper about the process will be written and shared later.


Capstone Speaker and VT Extension Director Ed Jones

Capstone Speaker and VT Extension Director Ed Jones is a former EDEN chair. He  helped us remember that we have accomplished a lot, encouraged us to carefully consider best paths forward, and sent us out with a reminder to stay focused on what we can do—do it right and do it well; constantly make it clear that we are connected to Extension in our states; keep working to institutionalize EDEN in our states.

The full agenda for the 2013 meeting is available online. What do you intend to do with what you learned in Madison?


IBHS Research Center Wind Test

Watch highlights from the 2010 IBHS Wind Test

EDEN delegate Claudette Reichel is the primary investigator for this 2012 Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant Program award.  The ultimate goal is to reduce the impact of natural hazards on southern region housing so as to enable and foster resilient communities and sustained economic recovery. Claudette noted in her proposal that, “Proactive mitigation and resilience … [will] minimize the impact of disasters on households, their employers, communities and regional economy. This is possible only with hazard hardy housing that not only survives but requires little time, expense, materials and work to restore.”

The project included a face-to-face collaboration meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at LaHouse. I’m not an Extension housing specialist, so attending the April 24-25 Southern Region Extension Resilient Housing Collaboration Meeting was a great opportunity for me to learn from the experts in the southern region. One thing I learned is that the Gulf Region’s humidity, high annual rainfall, high-wind and flood-hazard zones, and termite population are important considerations for building or rebuilding a resilient house here. Extension housing and environmental health specialists and agents have a lot to contribute to the conversation about making a home disaster-resistant and resilient.

Are you interested in learning what other projects were funded through the Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant Program last year? Maybe you’ve got a great idea to decrease the impact of disasters through cooperative extension programming. The FY 2013 request for application opened April 24, and closes May 31. Abstracts of funded projects and more information about applying for a grant this year are available from USDA NIFA.