Category Archives: Communication

Meet a Delegate Monday: Andy Vestal

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

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN? Dr. Andy Vestal

I got involved in EDEN about a month before Hurricane Katrina, in July of 2005. I was immediately led to the effort because of a six-year grant for animal disease and homeland security response and recovery. Within a month of being in this position, Hurricane Katrina hit followed by Hurricane Rita, and we realized we had a lot to do preparedness-wise. The fall of 2005 was my first visit to the EDEN Annual Meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. It was an experience for me to see the overall mission and goals of the organization: to help people help themselves.

2. Without divulging too much of your annual meeting material, can you tell us how the strike teams were formed?

After any incident an after action report is filed. After [Hurricane] Ike the report stated there was high priority to establish mission ready teams of seasoned County Extension Agents, CEA, that were deployable. The first teams were established in the Gulf Coast, where 7 million Texans live.

3. What are some of the disasters that have affected Texas over the past few years and how have you been involved?

In 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit us it was a challenge; 32,000 families lost their homes along with a large agricultural loss. Hurricane Ike, though only a category 2 hurricane, was about 450 miles wide. It pushed an 18 foot wall of water 20 miles inland, covering mostly ranchland that had about 35,000 head of cattle. We realized that within 72 hours the cattle would have saline toxicity, because all they had to drink was salt water. We deployed our strike teams to create Livestock Supply Points, LSP’s, and from September 13 to 30 we received and distributed over 125 semi-truck loads of feed and hay. By week 3, we started shipping about 15,000 head of cattle into other parts of the state.

In 2011 every geographic region of Texas had challenges with wildfires; there were over 32,000 in the state, and dozens were 50,000 acres or greater; over 3 million acres burnt. Our Livestock Supply Points and CEA strike teams were again activated to stand up 13 LSP’s. Our goal was not to put out fires, but to help landowners with displaced livestock. We received and distributed approximately 120 semi-truck loads of hay and feed. We were much better prepared, because we had about 50 County Extension Agents that were seasoned, trained, and mission ready.

4. What has been the most rewarding thing you have done in terms of disaster preparedness for your state?

The Hurricane Ike recovery, “Operation No Fences” on YouTube shows the land and livestock owners response, along with county agents and other volunteer organizations. The support we built for them was rewarding to our county extension agents because we had farmers and ranchers that had lost everything. To find that we had a mobilized team supporting them was unexpected, but extremely helpful. We estimate we saved the USDA indemnity program more than $10 million by shipping cattle out, since it saved their lives, and it costs about $600 a head to bury cattle. Also about 80% of the cattle shipped out had brands and/or ear tags; we had brand inspectors to help identify the rightful owners. Through these efforts we were able to maintain the strong fabric of the local agricultural economy in that area.

5. Have you worked on any multi-state projects through EDEN and what have those been?

I have had two major multi-state projects through EDEN. Both were funded by the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, at Texas A&M. The goal of the first was to strengthen crisis communications. We adopted the Association for Communication Excellence, ACE, group’s curriculum called “Media Relations Made Easy.” We incorporated an animal disease issue scenario into the training and partnered with multiple land grant universities to host a series of six workshops using that curriculum. We had about 180 Ag communicators from 29 states and Canada attend.

The second project was partnering with 22 state veterinarians and extension programs to test and establish an animal health network in those states. This program is still up and running. The mission of that project was to improve upon the state veterinarian’s capability to have early detection and rapid response to animal diseases, especially in smaller, hobby farms.

6. What do you think is the most important thing EDEN delegates can do to help the citizens in their states?

Learn from other state’s experiences. There’s a lot of different material and experiences that states can learn from each other. When we learn from each other we may reinvent something we learned from Washington State to fit our state, but the fact that we have guidance is extremely valuable.

If you haven’t yet registered for 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting, follow this link to register.

 

“Managing #Drought” Tweet Chat with @EDENTweets

The heavy flooding in Denver and surrounding areas have temporarily focused national attention on Colorado. In the meantime, the EDEN Drought Team continues to focus on #drought recovery and mitigation resources.

 

September 10, 2013 drought map

On Tuesday, September 24, the Extension Disaster Education Network (@EDENTweets) will host its inaugural tweet chat. The one-hour chat, Managing #Drought, will begin at 3 PM Central, 2 PM Mountain Time.

Co-hosts are New Mexico State University Extension, the National Drought Mitigation Center (@DroughtCenter) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the National Integrated Drought Information System (@Drought_Info).

The chat will provide an opportunity to share resources that can help people and communities respond to an ongoing #drought or reduce vulnerability to future #drought.

Follow and join the conversation on Twubs.com (hashtag #drought).

We look forward to chatting with you!

Family Preparedness Friday

This September You Can Be The Hero

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September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for emergencies and disasters. If you’ve seen the news recently, you know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We’ve seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages in U.S. cities affecting millions of people for days at a time.

Police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly in an emergency or disaster. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover.

This September, please prepare and plan in the event you must go for three days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, or local services for several days. Just follow these four steps:

  • Stay Informed: Information is available from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial resources. Access Ready.gov to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency.
  • Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on, and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For sample plans, see Ready.gov. Work together with neighbors, colleagues, and others to build community resilience.
  • Build a Kit: Keep enough emergency supplies – water, nonperishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight, and battery-powered radio on hand – for you and those in your care.
  • Get Involved: There are many ways to get involved especially before a disaster occurs. The whole community can participate in programs and activities to make their families, homes and places of worship safer from risks and threats. Community leaders agree that the formula for ensuring a safer homeland consists of volunteers, a trained and informed public, and increased support of emergency response agencies during disasters.

By taking a few simple actions, you can make your family safer. Consider planning a Ready Kids event in your community to encourage families to get prepared with their children.September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for emergencies and disasters.  #familypreparednessfriday #edenotes

  • Volunteer to present preparedness information in your child’s class or in PTO/PTA meetings.
  • Invite officials from your local Office of Emergency Management, Citizen Corps Council, or first responder teams to speak at schools or youth events.

Use local emergency management resources to learn more about preparedness in your community.

  • Contact your local emergency management agency to get essential information on specific hazards to your area, local plans for shelter and evacuation, ways to get information before and during an emergency, and how to sign up for emergency alerts if they are available
  • Contact your local firehouse and ask for a tour and information about preparedness
  • Get involved with your local American Red Cross Chapter or train with a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

For more information, check out:

Family Preparedness Friday

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It’s Off to School We Go

#Safety #checklist for when your kids get ready to go #backtoschool. #familypreparednessfriday #edenotes In my neck of the woods, kids headed back to school this week. And I’m guessing if yours haven’t started yet, they soon will be.

While I know for many parents back-to-school planning means meeting the teacher, buying cases of #2 pencils and notebook paper, and learning the new bus driver’s name, but have you considered starting the new year off buy learning your child’s school emergency plan or brushing up on your family emergency plan?

Remember, while no one likes to think of a disaster occurring, we like even less to think about a disaster occurring when we aren’t with our family.

Back to School Disaster Preparedness Checklist

Take the time now to:

  • Learn what your child’s school or day care emergency plan is.
  • Find out where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
  • Update your emergency contact information is at your child’s school or day care.
  • Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency and make sure the school knows who that designated person is.
  • Have a family communications plan.
  • Review your family communication plan with your child; the plan should include contact information for an out-of-area family member or friend, since local telephone networks may not work during a major disaster.

What have you done to prepare your child for going back to school?

National Disaster Recovery Framework Webinar — February 1, 2013

The National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF)  and Drought Response Across Agencies and Organizations Webinar

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 1 PM Eastern

 

The  National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) offer a chance to take a closer look at how the National Disaster Recovery Framework was used to respond to the drought of 2012 and how it continues to be applied in 2013. This Webinar was requested by members of the  National VOAD  Drought Task Force and the EDEN Drought National Extension Issues Leadership Team. The Webinar is open to anyone, but may be of special interest to VOAD and EDEN members, and federal, state and local agencies involved in drought response.

  • Introductions:  Steve Cain
  • Colleen Callahan: USDA’s perspective on NDRF and drought
  • Ryan Velasco, FEMA’s perspective on NDRF and drought **
  • Arlan Juhl,  State of Illinois’s Drought Task Force and cross agency cooperation,

 

About the speakers:

  • Colleen Callahan is the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator at USDA
  • Ryan Velasco is Emergency Management Specialist, FEMA
  • Arlan Juhl is Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Steve Cain is the EDEN Homeland Security Project Director and National VOAD drought Task Force Chair.

** Because Ryan is subject to Hurricane Sandy deployment, there may be a substitution.

 

The link for the webinar is —  https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/EDENDrought

Kim, Chair Drought NEIL

EDEN Snow and Ice Web Page Updated with University and Federal Resources

As cold, snow, ice and wind blanket much of the nation, the EDEN Snow and Ice page has been updated with University and Federal Resources with reminders about safety outside, in the home and on the farm.  Not a new “disaster” for most,  but with so many folks visiting and traveling these resources are a good reminder of safe practices in the home and on the farm.  Of course if not travel is advised, folks should heed the warnings but when traveling in winter weather folks should travel with a winter survival kit.

 

Kim Cassel

Helping Children Cope with School Violence

December 14, 2012 was a horrific day for children and families in Newtown, Connecticut, and vicariously for the rest of the world as people learned of the school shooting. By day’s end, authorities said 20 children and eight adults were dead, shot by a 20-year-old.

Kindergarten girls standing togetherIn this age of 24-hour news, it is hard to keep such horror away from children. Their reactions will vary based on their age and development levels. Extension has resources for parents and teachers to help the children cope with their feelings and fears.

MissouriFamilies.org provides a table showing ages, developmental stages, and the children’s possible responses, and practical things you can do to help children and teens cope.   Other resources may be found on the University of Minnesota Extension and the EDEN sites.

What web sites and resources are you using?

 

Ag In UncertainTimes: Webinar 2 — Tax and Financial Risks Due to Drought and Disaster

A reminder of the  Ag in Uncertain Times webinar Friday December 7, 2012, 12:00 Eastern/11:00 Central/10:00 Mountain/9:00 Pacific  – Tax and Financial Risks Due to Drought and Disaster

The webinar is part of a series by the North Central Risk Management Education Center and co-hosted by the Agriculture and Applied  Economics Section (Extension Section)  and is being hosted by Montana State University Technology at this link – http://msuextensionconnect.org/aginuncertaintimes

 

The third webinar is set for January 22, 2013 and will address strategies for the coming production year with uncertain institutional, production, and market risks.

Kim Cassel         Dec 7 AgInUncertainTimes_FLYER