Category Archives: Families and Communities

Spring 2015 EDEN Newsletter

In This Issue

Cappadocia Balloons Thinkstock2015 EDEN Annual Meeting
Call for Proposals Deadline April 10

 

From the Chair

Greetings,

March 2-4, the EDEN Executive Committee conducted its mid-winter meeting in Saint Dr. Mike YoderAugustine, Florida.  This meeting is an opportunity for the committee to evaluate EDEN’s progress towards the fulfillment of current projects, evaluate partnerships, membership and any other ships that may be appropriate.

As EDEN begins assess its role for the next 20 years, the primary topic of discussion was development of a new strategic plan.  Plans were developed to conduct this strategic plan during the summer and fall of 2015.  To conduct this plan, we have asked Dr. Nick Place, EDEN’s representative to ECOP, to bring a number of State Extension Directors to the table, to meet with the EDEN Executive Committee and our NIFA representative.  Since the Directors have been major supporters of EDEN, it is imperative that we have an understanding of their vision for EDEN’s relationship with Extension.  Once the strategic plan has been developed, it will be presented to the membership for approval at the EDEN Annual Meeting in October, in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

A number of agenda items were discussed at this year’s mid-winter meeting including but not limited to:

  • Use of “Response Notes” during a disaster to inform not only our Federal partners but EDEN delegates and State Directors.
  • EDEN’s response to “climate variability.” As Extension seeks to determine it’s proper role in addressing the issues of climate variability, what can EDEN bring to the table?
  • Inviting greater participation in EDEN by our 1994 sister institutions.
  • Re-writing our “standard operating procedures” to help direct operations and guide new officers.
  • Strengthening support for EDEN delegates at the state level. Being sure delegates receive needed support for participation in EDEN activities, including the annual meeting

As EDEN prepares for the next 20 years, it is important that we remember our roots, an integrate lessons learned into the strategic planning process.  We look forward to this process and to sharing the results with all delegates at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

Best wishes,

Mike Yoder

EDEN Chair

America’s PrepareAthon!

Disasters can happen at any time and take us all by surprise, so the time to prepare is now. America’s PrepareAthon! is working to help people, just like you, prepare ahead of time.

National PrepareAthon! Day is April 30, 2015 and there will multiple ways to prepare for six specific disasters: earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, and winter storm. The purpose of America’s PrepareAthon! is to help people understand what type of disasters can happen in their community, how to prepare for those disasters, how to recover from damage from those disasters, to increase their preparedness in general, and to prepare as a community.

Preparing for disaster is extremely important so America’s PrepareAthon! makes it easy to join. Just go to their website and join a group, then begin telling others about what you are planning. Participants can plan an event for themselves, their families, or their communities whatever they are comfortable doing. There are discussion forums for participants to share event ideas, along with disaster preparedness tips.

If you are interested in finding out more information, see their fact sheet and frequently asked questions. Don’t forget to join a group, follow the conversation at #PreparAthon, and be prepared to get prepared on April 30! —  Written by Michelle Buffkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant.

 

Webinars and Events

Upcoming Webinars & Events
Webinar Archives

Featured Resources

  •  Flooding: The Big Picture describes the phases of disaster response on the context of floods. Each phase links to additional information. Brought to you by the EDEN flood NEIL and CoP.
  • America’s PrepareAthon! also has flood resources, including a playbook for an organizational tabletop exercise.
  • Need a resource on basic disaster preparedness? Check out these two courses from EDEN. One is for families and the other for businesses.
  • Grant opportunities
    • State Farm Service Learning Grant. Closing date is May 1. Steve Cain is coordinating discussions.
    • Strengthening the Public’s and/or K-12 Students’ Environmental Literacy for Community Resilience to Extreme Weather Events and Environmental Changes. Contact Keith Tidball if you’re interested in this opportunity.
    • Specialty Crop and Organic Agriculture Research and Extension. Steve Cain is coordinating discussion on applicability of drought education to specialty and organic crops. Contact Steve for more information.

Weather Wednesday – Lightning

This is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in several states. Others may have just observed the week and still others may be doing so soon. Over the next several posts, we’ll cover several topics related to severe weather in greater depth.

NOAA
NOAA

As outdoor baseball and soccer practice, along other activities such as golf, gardening, boating will be on the upswing in coming weeks, we’ll start our coverage with lightning. Of course, the threat of being struck by lightning has been known for centuries. The History Channel recounts a particularly devastating lightning strike that killed 300 people.

The National Weather Service has a very good lightning resource page including actions you should take to protect yourself and others.

As our understanding of how lightning works, the different kinds of lightning and other aspects of the science involved improves, best practices have been refined and much more attention is being given to protecting participants and fans at outdoor sporting events.

NOAA
NOAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has developed some guidelines for when to clear the practice field and when to ask fans to leave a stadium. Some institutions have modified these to be even more conservative based on estimates of how long it would take to empty a stadium of fans and where the closest safer shelter is. During the 2014 football season lightning delays and even suspensions were fairly common.

Many states require the installation of lightning alarms at recreational facilities and sports venues. Participants and fans should follow the local guidelines when those alarms are triggered. However, as always, alarms are never a substitute for personal responsibility. There are a variety of smartphone apps that link to databases of recent lightning strikes. They can be a good tool, but be aware that there may be a delay in the process of detecting the strikes, assembling the data and posting in the app. So it is best to assume that the data may be a few minutes old and act accordingly.

As mentioned in the content in the links above, a good rule of thumb is that a 30-second lag between sighting the lightning bolt and hearing the thunder means the bolt was roughly six miles away. And at six miles, you should be headed to a safer place immediately.

Additional resources from eXtension.org are good reads.

Meet A Delegate Monday: Conne Burnham

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Conne Burnham.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?

I came to work for the University of Missouri disasters education recovery preparednessExtension in January 2004 and because I’m in an emergency management program in extension I was asked to join EDEN as a delegate. But I really did not get involved with EDEN for several years, about five years ago I became much more engaged. Currently I am a member of the Exercise Group and Agrosecurity Committee. I have also been working on a COAD Guidance Manual update that involves University of Illinois and Purdue University, and has been shared with the EDEN membership.

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

I work for two different programs in extension, one of them is a continuing education program. With that I manage training exercises that are specifically emergency management focused. On the other side I manage the community emergency management program, where regional teams throughout the state focus on assisting their communities in phases of the emergency management system. I coordinate that program and provide them with training and resources. On the state level I am a representative for the University of Missouri extension to the state emergency management agency. I am on three of their state committees. I am also on call in case they need additional assistance at the state emergency management agency.

3. Can you tell us a little about the work you are doing with the COAD manual?

I received a grant to work on the COAD Guidance Manual several years ago. Currently I am working to add an agriculture annex to the manual. I hope this will be helpful to people across the nation because when we have disasters in rural areas it seems that they seem to have the least amount of ability to recover. This is because they are living in a sparse area, and sometimes it is difficult to get them assistance. So this manual will cover how a community can help our rural areas more easily recover from some kind of disaster. I’m hoping the agriculture annex we are putting into the COAD manual will benefit a lot of people.

4. What has been your favorite disaster preparedness exercise and why?

My favorite exercises are the 12 exercises associated with Part 2 of the COAD Guidance Manual Project. Twelve local COADs signed up for the exercise and devoted several hours discussing their capabilities to assist their communities during a disaster. It was very fascinating to see the difference in organizational structures, what they had to offer, and how they would use the COADs. I think it gave me a much better idea about how COADs can really fit into a community. Before this I did not see how communities had engaged COADs as much as possible. I think this project really started getting more of them engaged.

5. What is your biggest piece of advice to other EDEN delegates?

Become engaged with the organization! If you just sit on the sidelines you get emails with all kinds of opportunities. Once you get more known in the organization you gain some credibility and validity. They are always looking for someone that has expertise in certain areas. I believe that if we are going to be a part of an organization we need to be able to offer the expertise and experiences we have, so we can help the organization as a whole. It helps educate all of our members, get engaged!

 

Weather Wednesday: When the Great Lakes Freeze

Satellite image of Great Lakes February 2015. NOAA.

 

As of February 25, 2015, the Great Lakes are over 85% ice covered and the coverage is growing weekly.  glsea_curOther than the obvious impact to shipping, what does this really mean?

When the Great Lakes experience heavy ice cover as they have in the winters of 2014 and 2015 there are a multitude of impacts.  Some are beneficial and some are problematic and some are both.

For example, evaporation takes place over open water even in the winter time.  At least partially because evaporation was inhibited in the winter of 2014-15, Lake Michigan water levels last summer increased dramatically over the summer of 2013.  Some of the impacts included reduced usable recreational beach areas. On the positive side, the higher water levels mitigated some of the need to dredge channels and harbor entrances especially along the eastern shore of the lake.  As of February 25, the water level on Lake Michigan was a whopping 21-inches higher than a year earlier and was 8 inches higher than the long term average.  Snow melt and rainfall also are a factor, but the reduced evaporation plays a role. lighthouse

Snowfall amounts are also affected when the lakes freeze.  Lake Effect Snow basically shuts down once the lakes freeze over, a welcomed break for motorists in the Great Lakes snow belt areas.

Heavy ice cover also tends to influence spring and even summer weather in areas close to the lakes.  The temperatures in communities near Lake Michigan were noticeably cooler than inland communities in the spring and summer of 2014, far cooler than the usually welcomed moderating effect of the lake.  One benefit of the late spring is to fruit growers.  The cooler weather delays the blossoming of fruit trees to the extent that the threat of frost damage from isolated cold snaps is mitigated.  And the normal micro-climate of shoreline communities is more pronounced in years when the lakes are ice-covered.

Arcadia, MI. Cool summer of 2014. Author.

Long lasting ice cover also affects the water temperature of the Great Lakes.   Even the normally more moderate lakes remained quite cool for swimming and other warm weather recreation in the summer of 2014.  It is worth noting that there was still visible ice on Lake Superior into June of 2014 and some water temperatures in Lake Michigan were still in the upper-30 degree range on Memorial Day weekend!!  The reduced water temperatures impact how anglers approach their prey.  And the development of algae can also be affected.

It is likely that the ice cover of the lakes will continue to expand for at least a few more weeks this year.

Weather Wednesday: Freezing Rain, Ice Storms and Black Ice

precip_types
NOAA graphic

Winter weather certainly has remained in the news this post-Valentine’s Day week. It’s been another major snow event in the Northeast, heavy snow from southern Illinois and Missouri to the south into Kentucky and adjacent states and freezing rain and ice, especially in Georgia, North Carolina and other states in the southeast. Multiple highway fatalities have occurred and over 100,000 people have lost power, mostly due to ice. Bitterly cold temperatures are plunging far into the south on the date this is posted, February 18, 2015.

We’ve written about heavy snow several times and we’ll revisit the topic of how climate change may affect that snowfall, but today we’ll focus on freezing rain, ice storms and “black ice,” all of which are being experienced in parts of the south and southeast this week.

According to the National Weather Service freezing rain and sleet occur when raindrops in a layer of warm air well above the surface fall into a layer of freezing air at and near ground level. Whether the liquid ends up as freezing rain or sleet is determined by the thickness of the layer of freezing air. When that layer is thin, the raindrops don’t have time to freeze so the water freezes on contact with the surface, coating streets, sidewalks, power lines, tree limbs and whatever else is exposed and below freezing. Complicating the situation this week is bitter cold temperatures to follow the snow and ice.

A freezing rain event is escalated to an Ice Storm Warning when ice accumulations of ¼ inch or more are expected. The National Weather Service considers ice storms to be high impact events and if you’ve lived through one or more, you know that to be true. Ice storms can occur across a wide area of the United States and can be very devastating. The single most destructive weather event ever to occur here in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois was the Valentine’s Day ice storm of 1990. The 25th anniversary of the event passed largely unobserved last weekend. Seemingly no one wants to relive that week.

The storm began during a home basketball game at the University of Illinois and ice quickly accumulated. The lights in the Assembly Hall flickered, but stayed on. I was the public address announcer that night and I vividly recall being handed a series of announcements to be read if the main power went off. The final announcement I did read was that game attendees should expect that many traffic signals would be out of commission across town after the game. When I left the Hall I could see the flashes and hear the explosions as electrical transformers failed.

I drove the few blocks to the radio station where I worked at the time. It was operating on generator power. We started to cover the event and things just got worse during the overnight. At one point around 2:00AM I decided to go check on my family and home. I followed a snowplow down a main street as it pushed trees and branches out of the road so emergency vehicles could get through. I turned down my street as limbs were falling behind me and decided to just keep going back to work before the street was completely blocked. Some areas of town were without power for a week. Damage to utility infrastructure, trees, traffic signs and signals and buildings and homes reached into the millions of dollars not counting the loss of productivity and dumpster loads of ruined refrigerated and frozen food.

I relate that account not because it was unusual, but rather because it is typical of major ice events. They can be extremely destructive and expensive.

Finally today I want to mention “black ice.”Black Ice accident Black ice can be every bit as dangerous as a heavy snow or ice storm. It is a very thin layer of ice that is nearly transparent. It frequently forms on bridges and overpasses because that pavement temperature may be colder as the cold air circulates above and below the pavement. Black ice often occurs when snow melts during the day and then the water refreezes at night. Or the temperature drops below freezing after a rainy day. Unlike during an ice storm, black ice is a much greater threat to pedestrians and vehicles than to structures. Multi-vehicle accidents are common when the pavement refreezes and emergency rooms are kept busy treating pedestrians who slip and fall.

Ice storm threats include:

 

Meet A Delegate Monday: Keith Tidball

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Keith Tidball.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN? EDEN. Extension Disaster Education preparedness
I was approached in 2011 by the leadership of the extension service in New York. Our state program was in need of “tuning up” and I was asked because of my research and activities in the area of natural resources management in disaster. With my background as a leader in the military and later involvement as a USDA Foreign Agriculture Service international affairs specialist who dealt with disaster in the agriculture and natural resources sector, I jumped at the opportunity to engage with the NY Extension Disaster Education Network. After I attended my first national conference, I was even more excited and focused upon working to make the NY EDEN an example of what a state program can do if they take the ball and run hard with it.

2. What is your role for disaster preparedness within your state?
In New York State, we see the national EDEN as a platform upon which to build a highly effective and visible state program. In that sense, we work with our state agencies closely not only in preparedness, but in all phases of the disaster cycle. Thanks to the national EDEN, we can confidently say that we have the very best science from the best universities in the country, and we are ready to serve the public at all times. This we feel is in keeping with the land grant mission and vision, and is actually a way of reacquainting a whole new generation with the land grant idea and the idea of cooperative extension.

Our role is to work at all times with preparedness. We anticipate needs based on past experiences and future threats, and we either develop our own materials or publicize excellent materials from other land grants via our website, webinars, social media, and through traditional county cooperative extension channels. As a threat, hazard, or vulnerability emerges, we asses it, develop tailored materials to address it, and act upon it, using our cooperative extension networks and the networks of our partners to disseminate preparedness and readiness educational materials. Once a threat or hazard materializes, we then take on additional roles to compliment other state and federal efforts to prepare for and respond to an imminent event.

3. Can you explain your role with dealing with the recent snow and cave ins, in your state?
My role was to serve as the incident commander for the state land grant’s role in the event. As the event became imminent, I worked with the rest of our state EDEN program leadership to strategize for the event – this entails a quick anticipated needs assessment and a social media blitz of warnings and resources to get people ready to navigate the event as resiliently as possible. I make the decision to request activation of our relatively newly instituted Standard Operating Procedures for Disaster /All-Hazards Recovery which is either approved or denied by our state Director of Cooperative Extension. Once he or she approves this request, I implement a very involved set of actions that include experts on campus, liaisons to state agencies, and our regional and county extension personnel. Among many other things, we serve as the eyes and ears for the first hand real time ways in which the disaster is unfolding and having an impact upon the agricultural sector in particular. In this role, we work hand in hand with our state and federal agricultural agency partners to direct immediate assistance as quickly as possible to where it’s needed, and to assist with the longer term process of damage assessment and recovery.

So in the recent snow event in Western New York, we had 90 dead livestock animals,
80 damaged or destroyed green houses, 38 barns down or damaged, with over 65 total farms in 6 Western NY counties affected. Our Agriculture Sentinel capability was used to communicate emerging needs regarding snow loads, collapses, livestock in jeopardy in real time. We are never first responders, however, we are involved in communicating and disseminating information as it becomes available so that first responders can understand and react appropriately to unique ag related issues and emergencies. In one case in particular, I remember helping to direct New York National Guard to a barn threatening to collapse. Farmers often aren’t going to call 911 about these issues, but it is still an emergency, so we are a part of a coordinated state approach to fill this gap. We can help get information to the right people quickly. Meanwhile, our county extension leadership act as the field element in these cases and play a central role in initial situation reporting which is so crucial in these events, and of course later assessment once the actual event is over. I act to coordinate all of this communication, first and foremost to make sure our stakeholders get the service and assistance they need (an applied or engaged research and extension role), and secondly to position extension as a preferred source of evidence-based educational materials. A major extension education outcome of this work is educating policy makers and emergency responders in New York State about the agile, nimble state-wide system of cooperative extension that exists upon a foundation of extensive subject area expertise, all of which is an already existing and is an already paid for public good.

4. What advice would you give to people about disaster preparedness and recovery, after being involved in recovery from the November snow storm, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and other recent natural disasters?
My advice is to extension folks who either have not embraced the idea of disaster education as a role or niche for extension, or to those who may understand the role of extension in disaster so far as developing and disseminating fact sheets are concerned, but shy away from further involvement.

Think of getting your hands dirty in disaster response and recovery as project learning, an important and accepted component of extension education. Experts believe that what takes project learning to the next level is when it’s real. We pride ourselves in extension on solving real problems we face in our world — problems that make the news and that our stakeholders really care about, giving them the power to turn their knowledge into action. I think that though some project-learning activities regularly miss the opportunity to be real life-changing experiences for learners in the extension system, people who get involved in EDEN in their state, these folks will experience tremendous satisfaction in their work because they will see that the extension educators they touch, the community members, the agency folks, all will be impressed by the resources available and the responsiveness of the extension system. But more important than being impressed, they will learn about what they can and should do in all phases of the disaster cycle and how extension can help.

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: Pat Skinner

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Pat Skinner. 

Pat Skinner photo

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?

In fall of 1997 the LSU AgCenter disaster mitigation and housing programs convened a conference in New Orleans called “Breaking the Housing Disaster Cycle.” Joe Wysocki, then program leader for CSREES housing education, mentioned that he was working with a North Central Region (NCR) committee called EDEN. EDEN’s three-year NCR committee life was coming to an end and the members wanted to explore taking the concept national. They joined our conference and – at the end – asked if Louisiana would take the leadership and begin expanding the membership. I became the first national chair and webmaster in January 1998.

2. Can you tell us a little about your role in disaster preparedness in your state?
My role in disaster management is primarily about risk appreciation and mitigation. I came to Extension in the early 1990’s for the specific purpose of conducting an education program associated with a river commission project to raise five structures “slab-n-all.” That program was funded by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for Hurricane Andrew. I had no Extension experience, but lots of experience with floods and the federal flood programs, primarily the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

In the late 1990s I led another project in which we developed and coached flood mitigation task forces in fifteen SE Louisiana parishes. The task-force project introduced our Extension agents to parish floodplain administrators (FPAs), and introduced both our agents and FPAs to their emergency managers and occasionally to local voluntary organizations active in disasters. The 1997 conference that brought EDEN to New Orleans was part of this task-force project.

My primary program since the 2005 hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) has been creation of an Internet-based Enterprise GIS system that provides flood- and wind-hazard information for any point in Louisiana; the point is specified by a user placing a pin in a map manually or by address lookup, using road and aerial base maps for reference. At www.LSUAgCenter.com/Floodmaps we host, read and interpret the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) of the NFIP for the entire state. We read the Basic Wind Speed (BWS) at a location from another Internet service we built for this application. We give the user ground elevation (consumed from the US Geological Survey), which the user can compare to Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on the FIRM to get an idea of how deep the 100-year flood would be at their point of interest. We even draw them a picture using our BFE Scenarios application. The BWS and BFE information is essential to people making building and restoration decisions because the statewide building code adopted in 2006 requires buildings to be designed and built to resist damage from these hazards.

Currently I have the privilege of managing a comprehensive disaster mitigation program that for the first time engages 4-H youth.

3. What was a highlight from your term as EDEN chair?
The highlight of working in Extension is always getting to work with really good, selfless people on a mission. That would be true for the early EDEN days, and still today. As I see how subsequent chairs have managed and led and hosted meetings I am horrified at what I didn’t know back then. But these are forgiving folk.

Louisiana took the leadership because EDEN asked us to. I took the lead role because my boss said I should. He believed in me, even though – or perhaps because – I knew nothing about Extension. I was unencumbered by notions of what was and was not possible at any level. So I guess the highlight was simply that over those early years we moved forward.

4. Can you tell us about the role you currently hold with EDEN?
My official role in EDEN is Web Manager and PD for the LSU AgCenter subcontract of Purdue’s NIFA funds for support of EDEN work. The LSU AgCenter hosts a number of EDEN Internet and Intranet web presences and provides networking support, working closely with the EDEN Communications group at Purdue. I gave up web-mastering many years ago and now just think up stuff for our very talented webmaster – Andrew Garcia — to do.
I am most active in the EDEN Exec and international committees, and now taking greater interest in the youth activities and disaster activation and communication planning arenas.

5. What was your favorite part of the 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting?
There were several high points, but my hands-down favorite part had to be bringing the 4-H’ers to the meeting and having the group receive them with such enthusiasm.

4th National Conference on Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships

Nathaniel Tablante, Extension Poultry Veterinarian and EDEN Point of Contact, University of Maryland College Park, attended this conference on EDEN’s behalf.  Below are his takeaways.

Welcome slide to the 4th National Conference Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships

 

The 4th National Conference on Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships was held on October 15-16, 2014 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C. I represented EDEN and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

This annual conference is a partnership between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Northern Command. This year’s agenda focused on our interconnected world, from neighborhoods to the global partnerships. Speakers discussed evolving risks to the infrastructure that powers, transports, informs, and otherwise connects organizations and the people they serve. Discussions involved emerging issues such as climate adaptation and cybersecurity, as well as innovative efforts to leverage philanthropy, technology, trained corporate volunteers, and information-sharing networks through public-private partnerships. It was good to see many representatives from both the government and private sectors as well as academia participate in lively and productive discussions on various ways to strengthen disaster resilience though public-private partnerships (P3s).

Here are some highlights:

Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security delivered a powerful keynote address, “The Road Ahead to Partnership.” He stressed the importance of public-private partnerships to homeland security. In particular, he pointed out that the American public is very anxious about the threats posed by ISIL and Ebola and encouraged calm, meaningful dialogue among public officials, the private sector, and the media regarding these threats to national security and public health.

The first session, “The Evolving Threat Environment,” involved three panelists, Thomas Fanning (President and CEO of Southern Company), Keith Squires (Commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety), and Francis Taylor (DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis). This unclassified briefing presented emerging threats from the perspective of government intelligence leaders, risk experts, and corporate CEOs, and set the foundation to examine how preparedness and resilience efforts can reduce the likelihood and/or impact of these threats.

Gen. Taylor provided a government perspective on threats to national security. He stated that the Al Qaeda core and its affiliates continue to be a major threat to the U.S. with aviation as the number one risk. He also warned that ISIL is a terrorist and military organization that has a Westernized propaganda arm that appears to be very effective in recruiting Westerners who become “lone wolf” threats. He stressed the importance of understanding threats at every level and that sharing information with local enforcement agencies is critical to the successful mitigation of these threats. For his part, Mr. Squires shared the State perspective on threats to national security. He cited that information sharing is critical to homeland security. He mentioned that there used to be a government monopoly on information on threat activity with absolutely no information being shared with the private sector prior to 9/11. He emphasized the vital role played by post-9/11 Fusion Centers, a “collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.” Mr. Fanning shared the private sector perspective and pointed out that cyber and physical threats are inseparable and recommended a “bottom-up, top-down” approach to addressing these threats. He also stressed that good corporate governance is the key to success and that everybody has the capability to deliver goods and services when necessary. Gen. Taylor shared a final thought on the importance of educating business and local leaders about risks and threats to national security. He mentioned that “low probability, high impact” events happen every day but we never prepare for them. Mr. Fanning also pointed out that threats are not fixed but continue to evolve and mutate, therefore we should be flexible and focus not only on preparedness but also on rapid response.

The second panel discussion, “The Interconnected World: Challenges and Opportunities,” involved William Beary (Chief of Engineer Operations, NORAD), Shoshana Lew (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation and Policy, DOT), and Nick Shufro (Director of Sustainable Solutions, PricewaterhouseCoopers). This panel discussed evolving approaches to risk management and innovative ways that the private sector and government can engage and collaboratively prepare and protect their organizations and communities from the threats outlined in the previous panel.

Two breakout sessions were held in the afternoon of October 15. The first set of breakout sessions focused on “Badging and Credentialing,” “Bridging the Cyber/Physical Connection”, “Business Continuity and Corporate Philanthropy: Why Resilience is Good for the Corporate Will”, and “Technology and Voluntary Capabilities.” I attended the “Technology and Voluntary Capabilities” session which involved Rakesh Bahraini (West Coast Lead, Cisco Tactical Operations), Deanne Criswell (Incident Management Assistance Team Lead, FEMA), Harmony Mabrey (Senior Operations Manager, Microsoft Disaster Response), Andrew Rasiej (Chairman, NY Tech Meetup), and Ted Okada (Chief Technology Officer, FEMA) who moderated the session. This session explored the role of technology volunteers in disasters as well as collaborations with government and non-government organizations focused on community resilience. Mr. Bahraini of Cisco cited the numerous benefits of involving company employees in disaster preparedness and response, among which are boosting employee morale, doing something tangible, and increasing employee retention. Mr. Okada of FEMA cited that the critical needs during disasters are volunteers and equipment such as cables and routers. Ms. Mabrey of Microsoft stated that employees want to get involved in this effort anyway so volunteers are always available. The panel agreed that Best Practices standards are essential, including pre-credentialing of volunteers and having a reserve of equipment.

The second set of breakout sessions focused on “Driving Mitigation and Resilience,” “Cross-sector Collaboration Opportunities Using Critical Infrastructure Big Data Analytics,” “Business Emergency Operations Centers – Maximizing Coordination at the State and Local Level,” and “Volunteers and Donations.” I attended the session on “Driving Mitigation and Resilience” which involved Michael Grimm (Director of Risk Reduction Division, FEMA) and Sean Kevelighan (Head of Government and Industry Affairs, Zurich North America). Mr. Grimm opened the session by stating that resilience is the ability to act on information. Mr. Kevelighan assured everyone that although insurance usually kicks in after a disaster, insurance companies such as Zurich are also involved in mitigation and risk assessment. He shared Zurich’s program on global flood mitigation and stressed that his company spends a lot of money on information gathering and risk modeling. He also pointed out that Zurich educates consumers on how to mitigate risks.

The second and final day of the conference started with a recap of the previous day’s session. The discussion was led by Assistant Secretary Caitlin Durkovich, Office of Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Director Randel Zeller, J9 Interagency Directorate, NORAD and USNORTHCOM. This brief recap was immediately followed by a panel discussion, “Public-Private Partnerships in Action” which was moderated by Dr. Mark Troutman, Associate Director, George Mason University School of Law’s Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security. The panelists included Susan Maybaumwisniewski (Vice President, Policy, Business Executives for National Security), Seth Miller Gabriel (P3 Analyst, Institute for Public Private Partnerships), John Odermatt (Managing Director, Office of Emergency Management & Fraud Surveillance, Citi), and Michael DeJong (Mational Cybersecurity Branch, Canada).

Mr. Odermatt stated that an all hazards approach works best for companies and localities and must include cyber events. Mr. DeJong reported that Public Safety Canada has a cybersecurity branch and that the biggest indication of a cyber-attack is its physical initiation. Ms. Maybaumwisniewski commented that the government can partner best with industry through planning and organization. Mr. Gabriel stressed the need for political leadership in order to extend resources to educate the right people.

The last panel discussion was a “Leadership Roundtable” involving a Q&A session with Robert Griffin (General Manager for i2, Threat and Counter Fraud Business Unit, Information and Analytics, IBM Software Group), Andrew Guzzon (Vice President, W.W. Grainger, Inc.), and Susan Hartman (Sr. Group Manager for Corporate Security Strategic Partnerships, Target). Russ Paulsen (Executive Director, Community Preparedness and Resilience, American Red Cross) moderated the session.

Q: (Paulsen)- How do your companies approach resilience?

A: (Guzzon) – Resilience is about communicating when an event happens. We help each other after an event and make sure that the supply chain is robust. We help the community and first responders.
(Hartman) – We think about it holistically as a team. We focus on educational awareness of our employees and strategic partnerships with the community which also meets our business objectives. Our team also practices for earthquakes and other natural disasters.
(Griffin) – IBM is a big company. We have a global and local crisis management team as well as a pandemic team for diseases such as bird flu and Ebola. We conduct table top exercises annually, provide essential support to our clients, and partner with government agencies such as the FBI.

Q: (Paulsen) – What are the keys to the success of P3s?

A: (Guzzon): Give yourself the ability to adapt to a changing environment—be flexible. Think of other things to do in times of disasters [other than the routine activities]. Invest in each other’s success.
(Hartman) – It all comes down to people. Focus on increased networking and the opportunity to connect.
(Griffin) – It’s all about relationships and people. As a corporation, make sure you are essential to what your clients do. Help solve local community problems. Identify critical areas to sustainability. Our guiding principle is “resiliency by design”, i.e. adapt to the local situation. Identify risks and liabilities and what you can do to address those.
(Hartman) – Businesses need resilient communities in order to thrive.
(Guzzon) – We are very customer-centric in California. We keep it simple. We keep the “invite” going.

Q: (Paulsen) – What is it that made you come here [to this conference]?

A: (Guzzon) – It’s personal because we have employees who lost their houses [during the forest fires in California]. We won’t exist if we don’t have stable and safe communities.
A: (Hartman) – We have a long-standing commitment to the community. We need communities in order to thrive.
A: (Griffin) – It’s about giving back to the community. It’s also personally gratifying. The character of a company is not built during good times but during bad times.

Wrap-up (Paulsen) – There is no “one size fits all” for public-private partnerships. We have to be more inclusive and get more involved in joint planning for disasters.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Becky Koch

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Becky Koch who will be presenting at the EDEN Annual Meeting.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?

Becky Koch March 2011After the 1993 Mississippi and Missouri River floods, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois got a grant from what is now the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study what they and other states could learn from the flood experience. They wanted to study how we could learn from each other, so each state did not have to start from scratch after a disaster like this. They sent letters to every extension director about a discussion meeting in Kansas City, asking each North Central Region state to send a representative. The NDSU Extension Service interim director came to me with this letter, stating that they needed communications people at this meeting and asked if I wanted to go. My first response,was, “disasters? That has nothing to with what I do.” But it was a free trip home for me, so I went to the meeting. Little did I know how much that spoof of an experience would impact my career and my life. I had no idea how important those connections and lessons learned would be beneficial three years down the road when North Dakota flooded. There was not an EDEN website in ‘97 when we flooded, so I emailed people every day for weeks with questions. I realized how important that network of states was when we experienced this similar disaster and I could turn to them.

2. In your opinion what is the most important part of preparing a business for a disaster?
One of the most important steps is having a communications plan. I’m responsible for 25 people in my department. I have not done everything I could for my “business” but we have a communications plan. Everybody knows how to learn if the university is going to be closed. We have talked about each of us taking individual responsibility to know what’s going on because I won’t have time to call everyone or the phones might be down. We also talk about being prepared at home. The university does fire drills, but they had never done a tornado drill, so we did a tornado drill to practice sheltering in place in addition to evacuating. Practicing where to go is so very important. A communications plan with staff and drills to practice the basics are necessary for any business to prepare for a disaster.

3. Can you tell us a little about your EDEN meeting material?
NDSU received a NIFA Smith-Lever Special Needs grant to develop an app for both Android and Apple smartphones and tablets to help businesses develop their disaster preparedness plans. The first question we always get is, “why do you need that as an app? All that information is online.” The nice thing about the app is that the business owner/manager can walk around the office, take pictures of equipment, write in what piece of equipment it is and when it was bought, and take inventory for a disaster. The app will make it easier, which will hopefully motivate small businesses to actually develop a plan. At the EDEN meeting, we will ask for volunteers to test the app, along with students in NDSU’s Emergency Management major.

4. Can you tell us about your role in handling disasters in North Dakota?
The disaster we get the most in North Dakota is flooding. We get blizzards, but the only thing you can do for those is prepare and shelter in place. We promote blizzard preparedness ,such as having a winter survival kit in your car, downloading our Winter Survival Kit app, keeping an emergency kit at home. It is easier to sell preparedness up here, because people have been stuck at home during a blizzard, so they take it more seriously. As a communicator, I send out news releases and notifications to our own staff. I also work very closely with Ken Hellevang to review what flood resources are online, and what else we need to post. We figure out what to send to the staff and public to get the word out about flooding that is occurring and how to be prepared and how to recover. I also work very closely with the subject matter experts, no matter the disaster, to see if other states have resources through EDEN or to help them create resources to give out to our staff or the public.

5. What piece of advice would you give to our delegates?
Utilize the network. I was at the meeting where we came up with the name Extension Disaster Education Network, and “network” truly is the perfect word. It is so important for us to work together, to ask questions of each other, to share resources, and to make sure we are telling the same story across state lines. Utilize the network: do not be afraid to just send out an email if you need information. Do not just wait for information to come to you, but reach out to others who might provide information and resources pertinent to your state and situation. Also utilize the courses online. You do not have to be an expert on something to teach it. Those courses provide the background and information you need to help you teach others about those topics.