The University of Minnesota and Extension are continuing their work in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. In every county and region, we are doing our best to adjust teaching situations and continue to serve participants and volunteers.Every day we are responding to new challenges, starting with ensuring that our Extension staff are equipped to work remotely, even in areas where internet access is uneven. We have held virtual meetings, staff trainings and consultations with our partners and customers and will continue to do so. Extension’s priority has always been to provide opportunities for learning and growth, even when hands-on programs cannot be delivered.
A few examples of the innovations Extension staff have provided so far:
Extension developed a toolkit for rural grocery stores and residents that allows for delivery of nutritious, low-cost ingredients for 14 days of staying home. The toolkit includes best practices for rural groceries to safely get food to high-risk residents in their communities.
Join Extension’s leadership and civic engagement team to explore topics that will help community leaders navigate this health and economic crisis. This is a free online series, open to anyone who wants to learn and connect with others across Minnesota to talk about the challenges and opportunities that exist in their work and communities. You can see all of our topics and register on our events page.
Crystal Reith, an Extension educator in Cottonwood County, has engaged video technology and social media to keep teaching and spread the importance of animal agriculture knowledge with young people. "I have been doing ag in the classroom for years. Every spring, our family raises chicks and I bring them into first-grade classrooms to teach with. The students watch them grow and ask questions." Because classes have now gone online, Crystal decided to use this opportunity to bring students onto her farm using video and social media.
Extension’s community economics team is hosting a series of webinars featuring positive community leadership for business retention. Click here to register and access the 30 minute session scheduled for Tuesday, April 28 beginning at 9 am.
You can read more about how Extension staff are working hard to serve Minnesota at the Extension website, which is updated everyday. You can also stay up to date by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
I’d also like to address some of the questions my team and I have been asked.
As you know, all University of Minnesota non-curricular events have been cancelled through the end of June. University leaders consider many factors when they make decisions like this, but the health of University—and Extension—participants, volunteers, faculty and staff is the primary concern.
Thank you for your continued support of Extension and the programs we offer. Your partnership and support is greatly appreciated.
The work currently being done by Extension staff might look different, but they are still teaching, sharing and learning to help Minnesota get through this crisis and beyond.
I hope this update has been helpful and that you will share this information with your neighbors and colleagues. I plan to send similar updates at least once a month as long as we are working through this "new normal." Please feel free to contact me with your questions and ideas.
Director, Statewide Operations
University of Minnesota Extension