The beauty of EDEN lies in its networking capability. When there’s a need expressed by a delegate, whether it’s for content for teaching 4-Hers about disaster preparedness, for Spanish-language recovery documents, or something in between, colleagues in the land-grant and sea grant systems respond with ideas, resources, and contacts. In general, requests are relayed through the EDEN list serv and responses are sent directly to the delegate who asked the question. This can lead to updates to the EDEN resource catalog, new contacts, discussions about identified education gaps, and other collegial activities.
In some instances, a third party serves to facilitate the question-and-answer correspondence, relaying the consolidated information to the inquiring delegate and then sharing it with the rest of the organization. This facilitated response is especially helpful when a disaster strikes and the network goes into high gear. Last spring, we added a more formal system that allows us to better track needs and actions following a disaster.
The Response Notes system was first used following spring 2010 tornadoes in the southeast and has continued to provide a means for EDEN to capture the needs and actions of a state during a disaster. To date, 65 response notes have been submitted, 55 of which have been submitted since January. These response notes are more “rough-draft reporting” than polished document, but the content is valuable as-is. What happens to that information?
Once a response note is submitted, it is reviewed to see if there is a need for resources. However, the request for assistance can also be sent via e-mail. Following the Joplin, MO tornado, a need for Spanish-language resources was identified. That need was relayed to delegates using the EDEN list serv. Within two hours of the request, several resources were identified and relayed to Bev Maltsberger – and then linked on our Tornado Topic Page (Resources Collected).
While the content remains in the EDEN Intranet, it is also forwarded to our NIFA liaison, Bill Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman uses the notes, which closely mirror the format of the USDA Incident SITREP/SPOT report form, to inform his updates to the USDA Secretary’s office. The result has been increased visibility for EDEN (and cooperative extension in general) at top federal levels.
The moral of this story? The “network” part of our name is real and it is effective—use it!