EDEN Internationalizes Extension Disaster Education

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.

 

 

Meet a Delegate Monday: Sonja Koukel

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.

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.