Meet a Delegate Monday: Beverly Samuel

National Program Leader Beverly SamuelWe recently interviewed Beverly Samuel, NIFA liaison to EDEN. Beverly is National Program Leader, Housing & Community Living in the Division of Family & Consumer Sciences of USDA NIFA.

Beverly, how did you become involved with EDEN?

I was assigned to work with EDEN as a result of becoming the National Program Leader at USDA NIFA for Housing & Community Living.  Disaster Education is a part of the program portfolio and becoming the Liaison was a natural alliance.  Housing and Community Living programs identify issues, develop solutions, and share promising practices to promote sustainable housing initiatives, safe and affordable housing, air and water quality, energy efficiency, and disaster education.

You’re a National Program Leader (NPL), Housing & Community Living in the Division of Family & Consumer Sciences of USDA NIFA.  What do you do?  

I provide international and national leadership in advancing research, extension, and education. I execute leadership networking through participation on federal task forces including the President’s Taskforce on Environmental Health Risks to Children, Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality, Federal Healthy Homes Work Group, and the Federal Radon Action Taskforce.  Collaboration on these taskforces has resulted in developing policy and outreach information that have national impact. I also serve on the Coalition of Organizations for Disaster Education (CODE) and a Federal Emergency Management Agency work group to collaborate around disaster preparedness. I am Chair of the State Energy Extension Partnership (SEEP) and have worked with a team to facilitate connections between USDA NIFA, U.S. Department of Energy and USDA Rural Development through a MOU. The purpose is to promote joint collaboration between State Energy Offices and Cooperative Extension for acceleration of adoption of energy efficiency technology. I am the NIFA Liaison to University of Connecticut for their Plan of Work and Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results for Extension and the Agriculture Experiment Station. I Co-Lead a NIFA Continuous Process Improvement project to streamline the grant award grant process, which is being piloted and will be implemented in FY16.  I provided national leadership in working with Montana State University (MSU) on development of the Master Family & Consumer Sciences Volunteer program, which modeled after the Master Gardeners Program.  I also serve as the NIFA liaison to Energy Specialist, Housing Specialist and EDEN. I manage the Smith Lever Special Needs Grants and secure funding through Interagency Agreements to support for the Healthy Homes Partnership that currently involves eight states in a pilot project. I coordinate with Purdue University for EDEN funding through a Cooperative Agreement for the Food & Agriculture Defense Initiative funding.  I manage capacity projects, which include a number of Multi-State Research Projects. I serve as a liaison to several eXtension Community of Practices. Finally, I work with Visiting Scholars to address critical emerging issues and am currently working with a team on establishing an EDEN model in the Philippines. Most importantly, my work is cross cutting and addresses a variety of critical issues facing families and communities.

What has been your favorite part of being the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Liaison to EDEN?

My favorite part of being the Liaison to EDEN has been visiting sites to see the examples of grant project implementation and attending workshops that highlight the projects. Also, when the Office of Secretary staff traveled to North Dakota recently, I was able to highlight examples of Special Needs grant projects, National EDEN Issue Leaders: Flooding Educational Support led by Ken Hellevang and the Winter Storm App led by Becky Koch.  It is very rewarding to highlight the work that EDEN delegates do.  It is also very rewarding to hear from partners the difference that the funding has made in their communities. Last, I enjoy reading the Final Technical Reports from all of the grant projects. 

In addition to your other work, you are responsible for the Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants Program.  What advice do you have for delegates interested in applying for 2015 funding?

My advice to delegates interested in applying for this funding is to review the RFA thoroughly and follow closely the suggested guidelines for what should be included in the proposal.  A panel of experts that include EDEN delegates review the grants and make the recommendation for funding.  Matching funding is required from the applicant institution at 100%, even if there is collaboration with others.  There is no exception for this match requirement.   This funding is limited to 1862 land-grant universities, but collaboration may occur with 1890 (Historically Black Colleges), 1994 (Tribal Colleges), and/or Hispanic Serving Institutions.  Projects that have the ability to be scaled up nationally or have a multi-state regional scale are more favorable.  Also, applicants should allow plenty of time for developing the application, including ample time for submitting the application.

From your national perspective, what advice in general do you have for EDEN delegates?

The following are tips that I have for EDEN delegates:

  • Attend the National EDEN Annual Conference. The networking and collaboration that results is invaluable. 
  • Collaborate to make a difference in your state/regionally/and nationally.
  • Maintain your State EDEN website with up-to-date information.
  • Apply for USDA NIFA Smith Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants.
  • Seek other funding opportunities to expand or enhance the work in your state.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Kenneth Hellevang

We recently interviewed Dr. Kenneth Hellevang, EDEN delegate from North Dakota State University. Ken is an extension engineer, professor, and Fellow, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

Dr. Kenneth HellevangKen, how did you get involved with EDEN?

I had been working with preparation for and recovering from flooding in North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota with a primary focus on the engineering aspects and mold. In the early development of eXtension, EDEN as a Community of Practice identified flooding as their initial topic for eXtension. EDEN identified and recruited a team to development educational material on flooding. I agreed to serve as chair of the team which included Carol Lehtola, the University of Florida; Shirley Niemeyer, University of Nebraska – Lincoln; and Joe Ponessa, Rutgers University. Claudette Reichel, Louisiana, was initially recruited to be on the team, but had to focus on local needs after hurricane Katrina.

What is your disaster preparedness role in North Dakota?

I am part of an informal disaster education team led by Becky Koch, North Dakota EDEN Point Of Contact. Our team has developed a disaster preparedness recommended practice document for each extension office. Unfortunately, with disaster education only an extremely minor aspect of every team member’s responsibility, a limited amount is done related to disaster preparedness and most of our effort is related to preparation for imminent disasters or in response to disasters.

How well does that fit with your other Extension responsibilities?

My Extension responsibilities are about 70% on grain drying and storage, about 25% related to structures including both farmstead and residential structures, and about 5% related to energy and the bio-industry. Disaster education is a minor aspect of the structures part of my responsibility. It fits, but due to the multitude of other responsibilities, it is only a focus area due to a disaster.

What advice to you have for new EDEN delegates?

I encourage them to become involved, network and volunteer for projects. The relationships that are developed through involvement become the foundation for professional growth and creating a group of people who you feel comfortable contacting.

Any final comments for our readers?

Flooding occurs somewhere every year and if we are going to provide people with the resources they need, we need to continually be updating the material. Unfortunately, there seems to be a small group of people who have developed expertise related to disasters and they are involved in whatever is the most critical disaster at the time. I encourage people who have an interest to develop a specialist level of expertise and become involved with the national need to keep resources updated and a serve as resource that Extension staff across the country can contact as they are facing their local disasters.


Meet a Delegate Monday: Andrea Higdon

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

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?Disasters, Preparedness, Andrea Higdon

University of Kentucky’s Point of Contact, Tom Priddy, highly recommended I attend the EDEN Annual Meeting in Fargo, ND, in 2005.  At that first meeting, I recall a very warm welcome from Pat Skinner who immediately pushed me into the deep end of the pool by recruiting me for the Information Clearinghouse Committee.  At the time, I was just beginning to learn about Extension’s role in disaster preparedness.  The innovative ideas and enthusiastic educators at the meeting really motivated me to get more involved and helped mold my career path in disaster preparedness in the food and agriculture sector.

2. What is your role in disaster preparedness in your state?

I currently serve as the Emergency Management System Director for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.  In that role, I am responsible for all safety and emergency management activities in the College, including emergency action plans, business continuity, training, and compliance.  I also serve as the College liaison to internal and external local, state, and federal stakeholder emergency preparedness groups.

3. Tell us a little about your role in developing and implementing the SCAP Program.

The EDEN Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Planning (S-CAP) program began as a concept driven by the EDEN Agrosecurity Program Area Work Group.  A need was identified to help local emergency managers address animal and agricultural issues in their emergency operations plans, as its importance is often overlooked.

In 2008, I was part of a team of educators from the University of Kentucky and New Mexico State University that led the development of the program, with significant support from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Clemson Extension, The University of Tennessee Extension, Colorado State University Extension, Montana State University, and Utah State University Cooperative Extension.  The product resulting from the team effort was a 2-day workshop to enable community partners to build capacity to handle agricultural issues during an emergency or disaster, improve networking among stakeholders who can plan for and respond to emergencies, and develop community agrosecurity planning teams to establish or enhance agrosecurity components within existing local emergency operations plans.

Since its inception, the S-CAP program has been delivered in 20+ states and 50+ trainers have been through the train-the-trainer program.  S-CAP is recognized as a strategic theme in practice to empower local action in the December 2011 FEMA document titled “A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management:  Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action (FDOC 104-009-1)”.  The workshop has undergone several revisions to continue to improve upon the original concept.  The most recent revision was approved by FEMA’s National Training and Education Division for inclusion in their state/federal course catalog.  Over the course of the program’s lifetime, we’ve received critical financial support from USDA NIFA and DHS.  I maintain my role as the S-CAP program director and communities continue to host our program with critical support from extension educators across the nation.

4. What has been your favorite part of getting involved with EDEN?

This is an easy question.  Without a doubt, my favorite part of getting involved with EDEN is the people.  EDEN delegates are so passionate and knowledgeable about their craft, one can’t help but walk away feeling energized and excited about disaster preparedness after talking with any one of them.  Over the years I’ve developed deep professional and personal relationships that will last a lifetime.  I truly appreciate and value my time spent in EDEN.