Include Disaster Education in Your 2012 Plan of Work

Illustration of planning sessionAs the year comes to a close, many of us begin to think about our plans for the upcoming year. In my home state, Extension educators and specialists are working on their plans of work for 2012, deciding what they’ll be offering to clients; when and where they will provide face-to-face and virtual workshops; and how they will engage in social media and incorporate related and cross-programmatic education into their curricula.

We know that disasters affect people in rural and urban areas. Disasters have impact on families, individuals, businesses and governments. Disaster education should be addressed in all Extension program areas. What types of Extension work can be considered disaster education? Here are a few ideas.

If you work with small businesses, you may help them develop a continuity of operations or an emergency operations plan or you may help them develop employee training that includes an evacuation plan [planning and preparedness].  EDEN’s ReadyBusiness is designed for you to teach small businesses how to prepare for disaster.

If you work with families on financial planning, you probably already talk to them about insurance, savings, and other strategies that are helpful in disaster recovery. The Family Financial Disaster Toolkit is an excellent resource to use in those conversations. (Look for the  non-state specific version if you’re not in MN or ND.)

If you work with producers, you may help them develop a succession plan. Much of what goes into succession planning is also part of a continuity of operations plan. Or perhaps you consult with producers about premise security or biosecurity. These can be part of a mitigation or preparedness plan. See EDEN’s Animal Agrosecurity and Emergency Management and Plant Biosecurity Management courses.

Are you recruiting local feed and seed operations to the Animal Health Network? This can be considered planning, preparedness, response (if the network is activated), or mitigation (strengthening communications network).

Are you helping communities reestablish their landscapes following tornadoes, hurricanes, straight-line winds, or wildfires? Are you teaching individuals about right trees/right locations? That’s recovery and/or mitigation.

Do you coordinate or facilitate 4-H or youth clubs? They may be interested in weather or mapping projects. Depending on the direction such projects take, you might incorporate education about what to do in case of a ______ [preparedness] or how to map local evacuation routes [planning], which could then be distributed to targeted audiences/neighborhoods [preparedness]. Youth can also be involved in community projects that help disaster victims recover or community mitigation projects such as establishing green spaces.

How are you planning to incorporate disaster education in your 2012 work?

RFA OPEN: 2011 Extension Special Needs Competitive Grants Program

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has published the 2011 Smith Lever Extension Special Needs Competitive Grants Program request for applications (RFA). Submissions are due via e-grants by 5:00 pm on May 23rd, 2011. 

Here is some key language from the RFA:

Proposals are welcomed that add new or build upon existing web-based educational materials on the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) at This platform is ideal for staff development. Also, disaster preparedness and mitigation proposals intended for end users that contribute’s to and expand upon the current offerings of the Agrosecurity and Floods eXtension Community of Practice will be considered It is recommended that applicants contact the EDEN executive committee and/or the appropriate community of practice during proposal formulation to solicit support and guidance. The most competitive proposals will provide educational and communication leadership across an optimized mix of these and other resources (emphasis added).  

The RFA also discusses providing “regional/national education and communications leadership to develop or add value to current educational materials regarding disaster issues” in another part of the RFA. EDEN can point to several successful examples of teams who, rather than authoring a single product, developed a portfolio of products (an EDEN issue page, eXtension resources, a regular list-serve update presence) and provide ongoing communications leadership to serve the changing needs of multiple audiences.

Eligibility is limited to 1862 Land-Grant institutions. However, when appropriate, NIFA encourages collaboration with the 1890 and 1994 Land-Grant Universities.

I urge you to read the entire RFA before planning your project. As the request indicates, early contact with and support by the EDEN executive committee and/or the eXtension Community of Practice may strengthen your proposal. The best contacts for this purpose are Virginia Morgan (EDEN Chair) or Rick Atterberry (EDEN Chair-elect).

Best, Bill Hoffman – USDA/NIFA

Six Tips for Integrating Disaster Education Into Your Extension Work

One day you were minding your own business when a colleague came along and talked you into becoming an EDEN delegate. It sounded really good at the time, but now you may wonder how disaster education can be incorporated into your work.

Here are six actions you can take to help reduce the impact of disaster on your communities.

  • Teach your audiences how they can become resilient and resistant to disaster as part of your curriculum. Incorporate preparedness concepts in your regular education efforts. Preparedness is not limited to one Extension program area. Demonstrate how taking steps to protect property and homes from disaster (mitigation) is actually good practice for normal times. Show how determining what natural or man-made disasters citizens are most at risk of experiencing can be used to reduce their vulnerability to those same disasters.
  • Facilitate disaster planning discussions, meetings, workshops. Use ReadyBusiness, Stengthening Community Agrosecurity Planning (S-CAP), Coastal Community Resiliency Index, and other tools to frame the sessions.
  • Promote EDEN, eXtension and state resources that relate to disaster education. For example, states in the Central U.S. this spring can benefit from the Floods and Flooding EDEN topic page, eXtension flood articles and frequently asked questions, publications found on state websites, as well as from regularly scheduled webinars. Include resources in your newsletters, blog posts and other communication tools.
  • Develop partnerships with key people to make sure you are connected at the local, state and national levels. Local key contacts include your county/parish emergency manager, sheriff, fire chief, Citizen Corps, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and county officials. These connections will make communications between your agencies and organizations run more smoothly during a disaster. These partnerships also expand your opportunities to find funding to support your educational efforts.
  • Build and maintain inventory lists of supplies, suppliers, and contacts. Not only will this information be useful in an emergency, you will find it valuable in day-to-day work efforts.
  • Learn the chain of command used in an emergency or disaster. Most state and local responders use the Incident Command System for managing crises. Knowing the accepted protocol gives you credibility with your local emergency responders and emergency management agency. This knowledge is key to your access to those in need during a disaster so that you can deliver appropriate resources.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair