2020 Newsletter Fall Edition


NACDEP Newsletter


Fall Edition


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2020 Fall NACDEP Newsletter

NACDEP Colleagues,

Greetings.  As I enter my tenth year as your newsletter editor, the entire world is in the grip of the worst infectious disease pandemic in over a century.  COVID-19 has already killed more than a million people, and sickened numbers beyond our ability to count.  But even for those who have not been infected, COVID-19 has shaken the very foundations of our lives.  It has changed the ways we work, travel, socialize.  In fact, it has changed the ways we do virtually everything.

Our organization has responded in a number of important ways.  Like many groups, we held our annual conference virtually this year instead of getting to go personally visit with each other as we used to in the pre-COVID days.  The changes we make come at a heavy cost.  We missed a chance to see the wonderful state of New Hampshire, and to patronize many of the businesses there.

Another way we are responding is by way of this current issue of the newsletter, which features a section with submissions from the membership on the pandemic, how we are responding, challenges, and more.  It is a modest response, but the responses of all groups and organizations must range from the modest to the extreme.  Such is the nature of things that COVID-19 is forcing upon us.

The remaining section of the newsletter will look more familiar to you.  We have information on available programs, upcoming events, and other items you will find important.  Even in the world of COVID-19, some work must go on as usual, and the work of Community Development is no exception.  In fact, for the first time in my nearly ten years as editor, I have included an entry on a program I am offering.  It is on another topic with worldwide ramifications: global climate change.

Stay safe and enjoy the newsletter.


Thomas W. Blaine, PhD
Newsletter Editor


Letter From NACDEP President Adam Hodges

Submitted by Adam Hodges, NACDEP President

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you all well. I am certain that we are all equally busy supporting our communities in these uncertain and ever-changing times. We at NACDEP are continuing to move forward on development of the 2021 Conference in Coeur De Lane, Idaho with a watchful eye on the continuing pandemic. Be assured that we will continue to provide this important opportunity for learning and networking regardless of what format it might take. This month, we are in the process of migrating our "MemberClicks" software so that it will be more mobile friendly, which we hope will make it more useable for our membership. As you look to renew your membership at the end of the year, we hope you will take time to respond to a short series of questions we are preparing to give us a better idea of who our members are and what your needs might be. When considering tax-deductible donations at the end of the year, please do not forget the NACDEP endowment. This endowment is critical to assure NACDEP's future financial stability and provide scholarships for future conferences. The holiday season is soon upon us and my hope for the New Year is that we all arrive safe and healthy in the life we want to live in.



The Future of Extension Climate Education

Submitted by Paul Lachapelle

The National Extension Climate Initiative (NECI) continues to meet monthly to network, discuss current trends and share relevant information and resources about extension climate education.

Please join the next meeting on Thur. Oct. 8 (3:30pm ET) featuring Dr. Debra Rowe, President of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, Founder and Facilitator of the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability, and Co-founder and Program Director of the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium who will discuss her programs and engage NECI subscribers in an Futuring exercise related to Extension and Climate Education.  During this session, Dr. Rowe will lead the group through 5 questions of:

  1. What Possible futures can we imagine for Extension and Climate Education?
  2. What Probable futures can we imagine for Extension and Climate Education?
  3. What Preferabilities do we want to see regarding Extension and Climate Education? 
  4. What Prioritizations can we imagine for Extension and Climate Education?
  5. What Preparations do we need moving forward to make it happen?

The group and meetings are open to all and free.  For more information, contact Paul Lachapelle at [email protected]


Host a Virtual Global Climate Change Presentation

Submitted by Thomas Blaine, Ohio State University

I have been teaching about global climate change for over 30 years.  My latest fact sheet on the topic (Update 2020) is here: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/cdfs-203  Feel free to download and read this fact sheet, and to circulate it to your colleagues and clientele.

I have lectured on climate change in diverse parts of the world including the former Soviet Union, South America, and to the US Navy while at sea returning from surge deployment.  Until recently, all of these presentations involved me being personally present with the audience.  That all changed recently with the advent of COVID-19.  An Extension educator in Ohio who had scheduled me for an in person presentation in her county on a date this past August got in touch with me to tell me the presentation was still on!  It was just that we were shifting to Zoom.

It was a great experience for me.  We had over 60 people attend, with lots of audience participation. Someone in the audience raises a hand virtually, we unmute their mic and there they are asking detailed and very relevant questions.  Follow ups are welcome.  It's a wonderful platform.  We are very fortunate to have this technology.  The evaluations we collected showed the audience believed that the program was excellent to outstanding.

This experience led me to decide to take this opportunity to the nation.  As a result, I am offering it to all NACDEP members for delivery to your clientele or colleagues.  For the most part, my typical presentation follows the outline of the fact sheet I have linked above.

Some commonly asked questions I answer are:

  1. Isn't it true that Earth has been much warmer in the past?  So why are few degrees now such a big deal?

  2.  Earth's climate always changes, so again, why is climate change now so important?

  3.  How do we know that the climate change we are seeing now is man-made, since climate change has always occurred?

  4.  What can we do about man-made climate change?

  5.  What is El Nino, and what role does it play in global climate?

  6.  How is agriculture/gardening affected by warming/climate change?

    Not so commonly questions include:

  1. Who came up with the idea of global warming/climate change in the first place?

  2.  Who was it that first put the concept out there that human activity, by changing the atmospheric chemistry even minutely, could cause Earth's climate to change so radically?
  3.  Is this a new concept, or a not so new concept?

    Even if you do not plan to host a presentation, I urge you to read my fact sheet.  It is current and offers the best overview of the topic of global climate change you can get in a  reading of thirty minutes or less.  And remember, since the presentations I am offering are virtual, there is no cost for the presentation.

    Feel free to email me at [email protected] or phone me at 330-466-7877.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Fall Leadership Refresher Series at University of Minnesota Extension

Submitted by Lori Rothstein, University of Minnesota Extension

Start your mornings with us by refreshing your leadership skills. Join us October 19-23. Learn more and register today


Kansas Association of Community Development Extension Professionals Offers "Essential Strategies for Building Racial Justice and Inclusion - A Six Week Webinar Series"

Submitted by Marlin Bates, Professional Development Committee Chair, Kansas Association of Community Development Extension Professionals, [email protected]

The KS Assoc. of Community Development Extension Professionals invites you to join them in their upcoming series of six one-hour webinars exploring core competencies of diversity, equity and inclusion in Extension work. We are once again proud to partner with the University of Kansas Center for Community Health and Development to bring you lessons from their Community Toolbox. This offering will focus on lessons from their chapter on "Working Together for Racial Justice and Inclusion."

This professional development opportunity is for any Extension Professional - regardless of your role within the Cooperative Extension System, so feel free to invite your colleagues and officemates. Through this approachable format to strengthening your cultural competence, you'll gain exposure to new ways of viewing the world, strategies to employ in your Extension work and we'll engage your connection between the lessons and your work.

Each webinar will cover one or more of the lessons listed below:

  • Understanding Culture and Diversity in Building Communities
  • Building Relationships with People from Different Cultures
  • Healing from the Effects of Internalized Oppression
  • Strategies and Activities for Reducing Racial Prejudice and Racism
  • Learning to be an Ally for People from Diverse Groups and Backgrounds
  • Creating Opportunities for Members of Groups to Identify Their Similarities, Differences, and Assets
  • Building Culturally Competent Organizations
  • Multicultural Collaboration
  • Transforming Conflicts in Diverse Communities
  • Understanding Culture, Social Organization and Leadership to Enhance Engagement
  • Building Inclusive Communities

Registrants will have access to all six one-hour webinars which will be held on Thursdays from January 28, 2021 - March 4, 2021 at 1:00 PM Central. The registration fee is $20. You can visit this site to register: https://tinyurl.com/y3d5kgfw.

JCEP Extension Leadership Conference


The NACDEP Member Services Committee Announces its Schedule of Monthly Webinars for 2020-2021

Submitted by Michael Dougherty, Chair Member Services Committee
([email protected])

These "Webinar Wednesdays" cover subjects that members identified as ones of interest in a recent survey. They feature expanded versions of presentations that had been accepted for the 2020 conference but could not be fit into the virtual schedule.

Each webinar will take place on the third Wednesday of each month at 3 p.m. ET. The schedule of webinars is below with title and lead presenter:

  • October 21, 2020: "Promotion and Preservation: Best Practices in Rural Destination Management." Daniel Eades, West Virginia University.
  • November 18, 2020: "Tribal Nations Lead! Leadership Development in the Great Lakes." Lead presenter: Emily Proctor, Michigan State University.
  • December 16, 2020: "Arts Extension Toolkit: Combining Placemaking, Arts, and Community Design in Extension Programming." Lead presenter: Melissa Bond, University of Kentucky.
  • January 20, 2021: "Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development - A Program for Municipal Accreditation." Lead presenter: Laura Brown, University of Connecticut.
  • February 17, 2021: "Communicating our Message to Stakeholders." Lead presenter: Kenzie Johnston, Ohio State University.
  • March 17, 2021: "Seizing Opportunities for Community Readiness." Lead presenter: Eric Walcott, Michigan State University.
  • April 21, 2021: "Agritourism Success Factors for Entrepreneurship and Community Development." Lead presenter: Lisa Chase, University of Vermont

More details, including the full list of each presenter and the Zoom link, will be shared via email blasts leading up to each scheduled webinar.

Additional webinars may be added to this schedule later.

These webinars are one part of an effort to add value to the NACDEP membership.



International  Workshop on Agritourism Postponed Until 2021

Submitted by Lisa Chase, University of Vermont Extension

As a result of the pandemic, the International Workshop on Agritourism scheduled for October 2020 in Vermont was postponed until 2021. To continue to build the global network and share research, resources and best practices, we have been hosting a series of virtual agritourism gatherings.  This is a description of the ongoing 2020 program.


Agritourism Gatherings: A virtual series for farm, food and travel communities will address issues of interest to agricultural producers, farm stay operators and other agritourism industry professionals although anyone is welcome to participate. Sessions are free to attend, but advance registration is required for each session.

For program details or to register, visit http://go.uvm.edu/agtourism-gatherings. To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Becky Bartlett at (802) 257-7967, ext. 301, or [email protected].

The fall program includes:

Sept. 22--Welcoming Guests Back on Our Farms and Ranches During COVID-19; 12-1 p.m. Farm stay owners from India, Italy and the United States will share what they are doing to prepare for overnight guests to offer them a safe experience during the pandemic.

Oct. 8--Regenerative Tourism and Agriculture; 1-2 p.m. The session will focus on the global regenerative tourism movement and how regenerative agricultural practices have helped shape this movement. Speakers are from a Costa Rican sustainable rainforest ecolodge, a California meat company, a New York farm-based hospitality business and Vancouver Island University.

Nov. 19--Indigenous and Tribal Perspectives on Agritourism; 12-1 p.m. Presenters from the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, La Paz on Foot (Bolivia), the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (Guatemala) and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin will discuss indigenous-led agritourism initiatives, best practices for integrating agro-biodiversity conservation in tribal communities and how ancient culture and history can apply to contemporary travel company design and marketing.

Future programs in the series are Experiential Education/Experience Economy (January), Social Justice in Agriculture and Tourism (February), Virtual Farm and Food Experiences (March), African Perspectives on Agri/Eco Tourism (also in March), Culinary Lens on Agritourism (April) and the Future of Nature-Based Tourism (May).


Drive In Wi-Fi Hot Spots in Washington

Submitted by Michael Gaffney - [email protected]Monica Babine - [email protected] Christina Sanders - [email protected]  Brian Anderson - [email protected]

Among its myriad other impacts, COVID-19 has elevated the importance of access to broadband internet. Where available, access to the internet has enabled adaptations to the realities of the global pandemic such as online school, remote work, telemedicine, and connection with friends and family at a distance. However, those without adequate access to broadband internet do not have these options. The pandemic has highlighted these inequities, and the need to increase the availability of publicly available, and safe, broadband internet access. This is especially true in areas without broadband infrastructure, such as rural communities.

An idea to provide WiFi access to WSU students at Extension sites across Washington quickly grew to include a host of public and private entities, all working to bridge the "digital divide" more broadly by providing free community drive-in WiFi hotspot parking lots. Through this effort, spearheaded by the Washington State Broadband Office with collaboration from WSU, over 260 new sites have been added, and a like number of existing sites made available for public use at no charge. These sites allow access, while still supporting the social distancing made necessary by COVID.  Using a Drive-In WiFi location finder web portal supported by the Washington State Broadband Office, the public can find the nearest available site. Partners contributing to this project include Washington State University Extension, Microsoft, Avista Foundation, the Washington Department of Commerce, the Washington State Library, a division of the Secretary of State, the NoaNet, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center,  the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as telecommunications providers, local schools, county governments, businesses and nonprofits.

            Evaluating the impact of the sites has also been an important aspect of this work. Evaluation efforts include a user survey and a dashboard of usage data. Users are asked to indicate the reason for utilizing the hotspot, such as K-12 education, entertainment, small business activities, etc. In addition, the number of users and total amount of data transferred is recorded. Evaluation of the usage of drive-in WiFi hotspots has underscored the value of providing public broadband access, especially in rural areas. This evaluation, along with other data gathered during the project, has already helped focus efforts on long-term, permanent broadband solutions in the state.

            If you have questions about the Drive-In WiFi efforts in Washington, please contact Mike Gaffney ([email protected]) or Brian Anderson ([email protected]). 



Submitted by Tamara Ogle, University of Purdue Extension

This year we will be featuring a few of our National Award winners in each of the newsletters.  This is another opportunity to share some of the great work of NACDEP members in community development.  We want to congratulate all of National and Regional Award winners for 2020!


2020 NACDEP Cross Program Award Individual Winner
Building Community through Climate Change
Dr. Paul Lachapelle, Montana State University

The 4-H Weather and Climate Youth Learning Lab is a youth (grades 3-5) climate curriculum, developed under the direction of Dr. Paul Lachapelle of Montana State University (MSU) with assistance from Extension faculty at 4 Land Grant Universities (Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado) with expertise spanning 5 programs areas.   This hands-on learning experience allows a community leader to guide youth participants through 9 activities to explore and understand weather and climate connections and impacts in communities.  The curriculum was funded by the USDA Climate Hub Office (Northern Plains) based in Ft. Collins, CO and was awarded national peer-reviewed status by the National 4-H Council.  The curriculum can be downloaded free at the National 4-H website and additional information including details on the laboratory kits, evaluation forms, and additional resources can be downloaded here.  For each activity, the curriculum shows the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Climate Literacy Framework associated with the topic.   Each activity is meant to take approximately 1-hour, and the complete learning labs can be completed in approximately twelve hours.   Dr. Lachapelle now works through the Department of Political Science at MSU where he is a tenured professor and continues to provide research and education assistance to colleagues interested in promoting climate education including the new National Extension Climate Initiative.  He is also continuing his LGBTQ+ outreach work through the annual youth Rainbows Over the Rockies LGBTQ+ Virtual Conference involving extension colleagues from across the United States.  For more information about his work, please contact Dr. Lachapelle at [email protected]

2020 NACDEP Diversity Award Winner
Purdue Extension Navigating Difference Partnership
Purdue Extension, South Bend Community Schools, and Indianapolis Public Library

Purdue Extension's Navigating Difference Team trained the entire staff (600+) of the Indianapolis Public Library System in cultural competency as part of an intentional investment in mission-related organizational change. All 108 managers and supervisors completed the 18-hour intensive training. 500 staff built Cultural Awareness skills in a half-day workshop. https://cdext.purdue.edu/signature-programs/leadership-civic-engagement/navigating-difference/

Special Section on Covid-19

Thoughts on the Post Pandemic Future

Michael Dougherty, WVU Extension Service and Long-time NACDEP Member

Trying to predict the future under normal circumstances is a fool's errand.  Trying to predict the long-term impacts of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on communities and community development is the definition of foolishness.

A year ago, the virus which had caused the pandemic was not known.  A year from now, we hope the virus is under control if not completely gone from our day-to-day life.  But we cannot say for certainty anything because we don't know what we don't know.

Still, the one thing that is certain is that there will be change. That is because change is sometimes the only constant in life. It is consistent and unrelenting, even if sometimes it is unnoticed.

The pandemic has already brought out the best and worst in communities. We have seen sacrifice and generosity to help neighbors and those in need.  We have also seen divisions in society many thought had been overcome - and their associated philosophies many thought been confined to the dust bins of history - return with a vengeance.

Nevertheless, those of us who are working in community development need to be prepared in order to do the best for the places and people we serve.  Below are some quick thoughts about the direction of change.

  • People will return to group settings once they feel it is safe.  After all, people are social creates. The key is risk tolerance.  As younger people have higher risk tolerance - and statistically appear to have less adverse impacts from the virus - that age cohort will be among the first to resume these activities. And as the ability to treat (and eventually prevent) the virus increases, so too will social interaction.

  • Government will focus on what it must do as opposed to what it would like to do. This will be particularly felt at the local and state level.  Revenues will be constrained by the reduction in economic activity.  Additionally, new expenditures because of the pandemic, such as extra cleaning or special services, will reduce monies available for discretionary spending.
  • Education will return to the classroom setting.  Virtual schooling is less than optimal in a PK-12 setting, particularly for the primary grades.  Additionally, non-educational benefits to the students (socialization) and those who care for them (child care) make a return to the school building not only desirable but inevitable. As for college classes, the on-line option will continue to grow but will remain a supplement to in class learning in the vast majority of cases. Complaints about the conversion to and quality of on-line college classes (especially from those paying the tuition) will hasten that return to campus.

  • Work will return to a more traditional setting, but not completely.  Some people will like the "freedom" of working at home. But this will not be the norm for everyone as the need to collaborate and the need to compartmentalize life.  What is more likely is that there will be an increase in "hybrid" workers who go to the office occasionally but still must go there sometimes. And many jobs that are location-dependent have and continue to be done. That will not change.
  • Workers will tend to be younger.  Older workers who are in position to retire may be more likely to do because they want to enjoy life. Already anecdotal evidence suggests this is happening in some fields (e.g., education) as older workers who have that option decided to step away rather than risk their health.  The need to reduce expenses may also lead to organizations offering "buy outs" to older workers to remove their typically higher salaries from payrolls.
  • Businesses and other entities that survive will be stronger. The pandemic has led to business failures which is not surprising.  In many cases, the current situation has just exacerbated existing trends as these failures these firms were either already in a precarious financial position or had business models that could not adapt well to situational changes. (There are certainly exceptions to this generalization, e.g., food and beverage establishments).  As a result, those firms that remain will have found a way to survive tough times and will be ready to flourish as things situation improves.
  • Opportunities will abound for to provide new products and services.  This could be new businesses filling niches that were previously handled by firms that failed. This could be in the manufacturing or distribution of new products that make people feel more safe and secure. This could be in services that were being offered during the pandemic (e.g., curbside pickup, shopping services) which could be expanded and made widely available.
  • Travel will be both down and up from traditional levels.  Business travel will remain depressed. The cost-value proposition of making site visits, marketing calls, or conference trips will be reevaluated. The technology that enabled remote work and learning will be used much more extensively than it was previously. Conversely, the pent-up desire to go somewhere different will be met with through leisure travel.  This could lead to an increase in both day-trips and longer junkets.
  • Settings for all activities will be somewhat different. Even as people reengage with social interactions, many will be cautious. So being in a packed, congested space, particularly inside, will be for everyone.  Outdoor spaces and more open inside places will be favored.  As a result, activities such as blocking off streets for dining and community gatherings to using an appointment system for transacting business as opposed to just accepting walk-ins will become more common (if not the norm).

    Community development will have to be flexible because of these new and different challenges. In this case, there is no real change for CD. 



Kansas State Pride Program and the Pandemic

Submitted by Jaime Menon

Kansas State

For many years the Kansas PRIDE Program has been the flagship Community Vitality program for Kansas State Research and Extension (KSRE). A partnership between K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Kansas Masons and Kansas PRIDE, Inc. the program has served communities in the areas of education, leadership and recognition. 2020 was supposed to be the program's 50th Anniversary. Instead of a major celebration, the program's anniversary was overshadowed by the recent pandemic. But did this slow the program and communities down? Yes, it did...but it did not stop them. It only created opportunities for innovation!

Surveys and Support

Gaining an understanding of basic needs, staff helped develop and gather resources to guide communities in the areas of health and safety. Surveys were developed and distributed to measure economic impact and the loss of local fundraising efforts. Kansas State Research and Extension Community Vitality staff went to work addressing these needs.

What came of that?

Community Confidence in Extension   

Through our participating communities' social media traffic and e-mails, we can see they are exercising the remote work, meeting, and fundraising tactics we've researched, developed, delivered, and promoted. On being a research/fact-based source of information, one of our contacts stated: "It is such a relief getting your emails, especially the one about the COVID-19 resources. I know it is all fact based and I'm not going to be sold something."    

Impact of the Ask   

Concerning the COVID-19 Economic Impact Survey created jointly between Northwest Kansas Community Vitality Specialist Nadine Sigle and Kansas PRIDE Program Staff: 

From Cade Resnick, Director of Central Kansas District: "The Executive Director of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce caught wind of the effort and asked for my help in writing and submitting a CDBG-CV application.¿ We used direct data from the KSRE-CKD Economic Impact survey in preparing the application. ¿We were notified that Saline County and the City of Salina, together, was allocated $301,200 for economic development and meal programs!!!"   

New Business Speculation   

Another individual, from the River Valley District, reached out to Kansas PRIDE staff to learn how they might grow and promote their local beef cattle business. Using guidance from staff they worked on their branding, reached out to River Valley District Extension educators to learn how to price their product.  After creating an online presence, they were quickly invited to join the Shop Kansas Farms Facebook. Now their business is booming! Quote: "We are sold out through the end of August...and the phone won't stop ringing!" 

First Impressions

Communities still must assess needs...and still want to know what a visitor experiences coming into their community. Before the pandemic started, a grant was written by the Kansas PRIDE program to support the work of First Impressions. This grant has provided a drone to create an opportunity to assess communities from many angles and capture aerial footage for the community to use in what manner they might see fit for promotional efforts.

Grant Writing and Crowdfunding

When you are stuck inside what else do you have to do? One option is to put grant writing skills to use. Over 18 months communities took advantage of KSRE Grant Writing (often promoted by Kansas PRIDE, and many of the program communities participated) workshops to raise over $6 million in grants, and that went up to $11 million when measured again during the recent pandemic. Either way they were at home enough to either apply OR report their successes! The Kansas PRIDE Program also collaborated to produce an educational opportunity on crowdfunding for communities. Now many communities are taking their fundraising online!

Kansas communities more than do justice to the state motto "Ad Astra per Aspera" (to the stars through difficulties)! These examples are just the tip of the iceberg!

For more information, visit the complete report for Kansas PRIDE here. 






Cultivating Hope in Times of Crisis: The Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation

Submitted by Kim Niewolny, PhD, Virginia Tech University

The Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation has been engaged in special outreach to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia and beyond. As an Extension and Outreach Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Center works at the nexus of food, community, and society to explore and catalyze new food system possibilities through a values-based and systems-approach.  Our goals and activities emphasize the environmental sustainability of food systems; the quality of life of food system workers; issues of food access, justice, and health; and the emancipatory potential for socially just food systems. For the past several months, the Center has focused on three specific initiatives that focus on providing pandemic-related information and resources relevant to food systems stakeholders. Our team has also created space for learning and reflection on the current conditions in the food system to fully understand how this pandemic impacts our lives now and into the future.   

The first initiative is The Food System and COVID-19 Compendium. This online resource aims to 1) serve stakeholders with curated public resources, news, and articles related to COVID-19 and the food system; 2) share critical ideas and inspiration through position articles about food system and social change possibilities written by Center associates and fellows; and 3) encourage ongoing dialogue about structural changes needed to address the inequities COVID-19 is revealing in our food system. This work is a partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension's Community, Local, and Regional Food Systems  Program Team, and highlights Extension programming and community partnerships.

Second, the Food Systems Stories in the Pandemic project's aim is to capture and share stories and lessons learned about hope, resiliency, and mutual aid in Virginia's food system in response to the pandemic. We collected news articles and conducted interviews with people in our Virginia food system to learn how people and organizations are responding and adapting in their communities. These stories are published and shared as vignettes on our website and through social media.

Lastly, our Center organized a virtual learning circle series on Racial Justice in the Food Systemas part of the Center's commitment to fostering cultural change for social justice and racial equity through university-community dialogue. Our learning circles are a peer-to-peer learning environment with active engagement from participants in large and small group discussions. With the health pandemic informing the dialogue, the series focused on the intersection of food, agriculture, and racism in our society. The series also offered space for educators and practitioners working in the food system to learn from one another and build anti-racist practices in their own communities. 

For more information about the Center and our initiatives, please contact:

Dr. Kim Niewolny, Director of the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation and Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech ([email protected])

Mr. Eric Bendfeldt, Associate Director of the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation and Extension Specialist, Community, Local, and Regional Food Systems, at Virginia Tech. ([email protected])

International Association for Community Development Practice Insights Magazine Special Issue on Community Responses to Covid-19

Submitted by Paul Lachapelle

The International Association for Community Development is planning its next issue of Practice Insights which will focus on community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the Call for Proposals for abstracts was issued late this summer, the issue can still accommodate short articles or reflections.

Topics for the upcoming issue will focus on local responses to supporting families impacted by COVID due to illness, loss of income, or other special needs; re-thinking of public services and community needs as it relates to system weaknesses illustrated by COVID; the role of children as caretakers, community organizers, and advocates in COVID and; creative innovations to protection, social connection, and communication.

The issue should be available in late November at the IACD Practice Insights website.  For more information about the IACD or upcoming issues, please contact Paul Lachapelle at [email protected]



A Webinar Series Addresses Extension Professionals' Capacity to face a Pandemic 

Authors: L. Seals, UF/IFAS Extension Southeast District, R. Madhosingh-Hector, UF/IFAS Extension Southwest District, A. Betancourt, UF/IFAS Extension Monroe County, and C. Roberts, UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County

In March 2020, Florida Extension professionals were wondering what was going to happen to their work as the reality of a pandemic took hold. By April, nearly all Extension professionals and staff were mostly, if not entirely, working from home. Anxieties were running high, agents were struggling to focus on work-children were home attending virtual school, partners were also working from home, Internet services were stretched beyond capacity, sofas and kitchens suddenly became home offices and classrooms, the politics of the pandemic permeated every form of media, and people were worried that they or someone they loved would contract the virus.

A team of UF/IFAS Extension Community Resource Development (CRD) agents developed a weekly one-hour lunchtime webinar series titled Chew on This to provide a place for Extension professionals to gather and share their experiences-professional and personal-while also learning and building skills to deliver programs virtually. The series began as a weekly program on April 15, then transitioned to monthly in June and concluded on August 12.

Using the Zoom platform, each webinar consisted of a short educational lesson in the beginning and ended with discussion time. The first webinar focused on strategies for working from home; subsequent topics were selected based on the concerns that were expressed during the discussion time and by participant recommendations. Participants learned about planning for economic setbacks; building effective teams and partnerships; navigating burnout and using coping strategies; creating resiliency in program planning and assessments; reaching diverse audiences; and developing skills for constructive dialogue on difficult issues.

A total of 10 sessions were delivered to 323 participants. The most well-attended session was the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion session (n=90), which was held just two weeks after the killing of George Floyd on May 25.  Participants were evaluated at the end of each webinar by answering questions via Zoom's polling feature. Ninety-nine percent of the participants said they would implement one or more of the strategies or skills learned; 98% increased knowledge, and 64% formed a new collaboration.

Ninety-three percent said the webinars helped them feel more connected with other Extension professionals. Initially, participants feared that their supervisors would assume they were not being productive at home, so they felt like they had to "over produce", but as the series progressed, those fears were replaced with optimism. Participants began to accept that the "new normal" was going to exist in a virtual world for the foreseeable future, and we had to adapt to survive. The comments below reflect the evolution in participants' attitudes as creativity and innovation replaced anxiety and stress.


  • I put more pressure on myself now that I'm working from home. I feel like if I'm not producing X number of items a day, I am not proving my worth. It's crazy!

  • This gives me the opportunity to change and do things differently.

  • Our county wants stories about our economic impact.

  • I appreciate you are willing to tackle the difficult topics and share how to approach them.

  • I agree...be willing to be vulnerable. It's hard, but it leads to greater understanding

  • Thank you all very much, this is a much-needed meeting. Really couldn't have been a memo.

    The webinars provided a space for Extension professionals to share their feelings while learning new strategies and building skills for developing and implementing virtual Extension programs. Participants connected with each other amidst the social isolation and built new relationships with colleagues statewide. This webinar series demonstrated that as community development professionals, we can also serve our internal audiences-our Extension community-by building the capacity and resilience to face challenging issues.  


From Jennifer Russell, Illinois Extension

Dear NACDEP members,

We are nearly 6 months into the pandemic and my work as a community development professional supporting businesses, developing collaborations to address local challenges and assisting our state and federal partners continues. Over the past several months, I have:

  • Started a biweekly roundtable discussion bringing together the business community, local leaders and the local health department. This group utilizes the Zoom meeting platform to share resources, provide feedback on the impact of the virus on local business and support the needs of the local health department.

  • Kicked-off a regional entrepreneur network aimed at reaching entrepreneurs using a late-night Zoom call starting at 8PM to share resources, network and increase business skills.

  • Connected with faculty members to initiate a grant proposal looking at the motivations and needs of tourists coming to our rural destinations.

  • Worked with our community and economic development team to develop a Facebook page so we can reach new audiences. Considering following us @ILExtensionCED

  • And lastly, I've worked to provide resources for restaurants impacted by virus from webinars and blogs to an upcoming Customer Service Training: Navigating Customer Service through a Pandemic.

During the July edition of this newsletter, I wrote about Illinois Extension's partnership with campus faculty in Food Science and Human Nutrition along with the Illinois Restaurant Association to develop a series of webinars to help restaurants impacted by Covid through both the Scaling Up Restaurant Operations: Financial Considerations webinar followed by the Scaling Up Restaurant Operations: Safety Considerations webinar. Now restaurants who modified their operations to include outdoor dining are looking for options to keep their businesses viable as winter weather approaches. We have shared with our social media audiences the City of Chicago Winter Dining Challenge, which has accumulated over 600 innovative ideas that modify outdoor dining and dining experiences during the upcoming cold-weather months. We are asking our communities to identify new ideas that could work in their hometowns.

On August 25 2020, I posted the blog article "Business reopening tips help customers feel safe," to help businesses understand the needs of their customers who have not returned to their normal buying activities. Below is excerpt from that article:

You have worked hard to stay in business and prepare to reopen during this pandemic. Now, you are challenged with the fact that many customers are nervous about returning to their favorite restaurants and retail stores.

A McKinsey, Survey: US Consumer sentiment during the coronavirus published on Aug. 7, 2020 shows that "there is a renewed sentiment for health, safety and care" of the customer, and nearly "73% of customers have not fully reengaged with out-of-home activities" due to concern of contracting the virus.

So how can you create a clean and safe environment where your customers will feel comfortable returning?  (Check out the full text of the article by visiting our Building Entrepreneurial Communities Blog for this and other community development articles).

As a new member of NACDEP, I am quickly learning that this organization is informative, supportive and encouraging to its members. Please feel free to reach out to me with additional questions about the programs and projects listed in this article.


Jennifer Russell is a University of Illinois Extension educator in Community and Economic Development, serving communities in west central Illinois. Russell is a graduate of both University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. With over 20 years of experience, Russell works with businesses, non-profits, and government and focuses her efforts on customer service training, strategic planning, and tourism development.