Meet a Delegate Monday: Scott Cotton

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Scott Cotton, who has two upcoming webinars.

Scott Cotton1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?
In 1997 Colorado had a large blizzard that swept across 22 counties and killed 35,800 head of cattle. The response to the blizzard was not ideal; it took about eight weeks to identify the livestock owners and dispose of the mass mortalities. The Animal Emergency Task Force was formed in response to the blizzard; it includes state and federal veterinarians, extension personnel, and brand inspectors. One of the university officials came to us and mentioned that we should get involved with EDEN. Since I had a background in emergency services, they sent me to find out more information. It was the third EDEN meeting, 11 people attended, but it was a helpful experience. When I returned to Colorado we decided to join EDEN, and that I should be the point of contact.

2. You have been with Extension in a few states (Colorado, Nebraska, and now Wyoming)? Have there been variations in the kinds of disasters and the preparedness needs of the people in the areas you have served? What are they?
The areas I work in are predominantly cow-calf, and dry-land farming areas, and it’s been that way in all three states I worked in. I experienced a lot of similarities, the differences are in each state’s structure and how they dovetail together with efforts to educate and develop resilience is dramatically different. In each state, each agency might have completely different roles.

Each state system is different, and yet similar. The reality of extension is continuity across the United States. Each area within the state is also different; my emphasis has always been the rural areas, where there is less readiness but more resilience. This is because ranchers and farmers are very self-sufficient; they are strong on neighboring, and helping each other recover. The drawback is when rural areas experience large disasters their resources are so small they get overwhelmed almost instantly. That’s where my big push has been over the last 20 years; to help livestock producers and farmers become more prepared and resilient.

In 1964, there was a national disaster guideline book sent out to extension offices that mentioned, especially in the western states, after a disaster the sheriff and extension will manage the disaster. A lot of our employees do not realize they may be called upon to respond to a disaster, but the community depends on it. Everything we do has a bearing on our community’s ability to recover.

3. You’ll be co-presenting two webinars this month. Tell us about them.
This month we are doing two webinars, both related to horses and disasters. Over my past 40 years I have had experience as a rural firefighter, EMT, and deputy sheriff. I then moved into extension where our role with responses is actually bigger than some people realize. We often end up assisting or coordinating shelters, evacuation patterns, and finding resources for disasters. I am using some of that experience to present with HorseQuest, an equine specialist group across the United States, two seminars: one targeting horse owners and the second targeting extension personnel. The first webinar will be focused on what owners can do to help their horses survive a disaster. We’ll talk about practice loading horses, having a predetermined evacuation route, having the right information in your horse trailer, having a horse trailer, knowing how to get out under different types of disasters, and more.

The second webinar will be using some of my experiences to help extension professionals. We will talk about experiences in Incident Command System and Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Preparedness Project. We will also talk about when extension professionals might be called upon to help plan disaster evacuation routes, providing educational materials about disasters with horses, including how to assess the impact area of a disaster, how to find where extension best fits into the emergency services role in their community, how to use our resources to help mitigate some disaster to horse owners.

4. As a veteran EDEN delegate, what advice do you have for new delegates?
Build your contact framework, because you will need it! The reality is that when a disaster occurs in your state it is not protocols and paper, it is relationships that help. It is everyone understanding their role, their resources and expertise available, and being ready to interact with each other. The most successful way to do that is to have a comfort level with the other agencies, organizations, and people in the community. Then when something happens there is a trust level, where they know you will help. The communities themselves will always recognize Extension stepping forward and taking an active role.

The people we work with are absolutely amazing. It does not matter if I have a flood and need to call Pat Skinner or Becky Koch, or a disease outbreak and need to call someone, or even after 9/11 when we bounced messages all across the nation. The group works together, they are very much a team even though we are scattered clean across the states, so use that to your advantage.

 

 

If you are interested in the webinar for horse owners (September 16 at 7pm ET) register here.

If you are interested in the webinar for Extension professionals (September 19 at 1 pm ET) register here.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Jamie Rathbun

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Jamie Rathbun, who will have a breakout session at the EDEN Annual Meeting.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?portraitweb

Kansas State Research & Extension’s Point of Contact (POC), Mary Lou Peter, knew that I had been involved in emergency preparedness efforts, so she recruited me to be a delegate. I receive EDEN emails and soak in and save much of the information. I keep note of the resources so that if Kansas ever needs it we will have resources or know who will be the best contact in certain situations. Also, if a question arises and Kansas has resources related to that topic I will respond with those.

2. Kansas has experienced several disasters in the past few years. What has been your role in helping people recover?

I serve as an extension agent two counties that have been lucky and haven’t experienced larger natural disasters. I have done timely news releases before tornado season starts, so that people know what to put in emergency kits. When a community disaster happens, I make sure that we get the message of preparedness out. We had a large downtown fire a couple years ago, so I wrote newspaper articles, about updating inventory and insurance policies, and other preparedness tips.

3. Without giving away your presentation for the 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting, can you tell us about Prepare Kansas?

Some coworkers and I wrote a lesson for Kansas titled Get Financially Prepared: Take Steps Ahead of Disaster. The lesson focuses on having an inventory, making sure insurance is up-to-date, and having a “grab and go kit” prepared. As it was taught across the state, we realized that we can talk to people about these steps, but they might not be motivated to inventory their home. For that motivation, we developed Prepare Kansas, to challenge our constituents across the state through the month of September. Each week during the month, they will have two challenges to complete that will help increase preparedness.

At the EDEN Annual Meeting, we are planning on outlining how we started, where we are headed, and how we plan to keep it fresh. We will also provide information in case anyone wants to implement something similar in their own states.

4. Do you have a favorite resource on financial disaster recovery?

The K-State Research & Extension lesson that I co-wrote, Get Financially Prepared. I also like to use a publication from University of Missouri Extension, Family Disaster Plan. I know it helped me in preparing a “grab and go kit” for my own home.

5. What is your financial advice to people who have never experienced a disaster?

The most important thing is to be organized. It is ideal to have the organization in place ahead of a disaster, for example having a completed home inventory. Organization is important after a disaster as well. Having a system to keep receipts of anything paid or purchased and of financial assistance a person receives to aid in the cleanup process is necessary. These documents are important for insurance and tax purposes after a disaster. Being organized is the goal of the Prepare Kansas challenge.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Mike Yoder

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.