In challenging times, Missourians come together

Parent Category: News Category: State and Regional News Written by Rob Viehman Hits: 178

Show Me Resilience. This simple phrase illustrates how University of Missouri Extension and communities across the state are showing up for each other. People, businesses and communities are working together in innovative and engaging ways – bringing the resources of the University of Missouri to the people who need them.

As we’ve seen our nation work to minimize the spread of COVID-19, faculty and staff have been finding new ways to serve learners and deliver programs. Here’s a quick sampler:
Within days of program suspension, MU Extension launched a statewide COVID-19 resources website (extension2.missouri.edu/covid-19-resources-public) to help Missouri families, communities, businesses and workers navigate this pandemic and response. This frequently updated centralized hub collects reliable and carefully sourced content from MU Extension and elsewhere.
When Chelsea Corkins, county engagement specialist in 4-H youth development in Saline County, heard that face-to-face programming was suspended, her immediate thought was, “We are educators. We are not going to stop educating. So what do we do next?”
“Next” was a brainstorming session with Blake Gazaway, Velynda Cameron and other 4-H specialists across the state. What emerged was an innovative nine-week plan for Missouri youths that includes brief daily lessons via Zoom on a variety of topics; 30-minute 4-H Facebook Live sessions, such as Simple Machines and Engineering Design, in which Corkins explores science-based topics through hands-on lessons kids can easily replicate at home; and a daily Demonstration Showcase, giving youths a forum to post videos showing their work on the “skill of the day.”
Agriculture specialists have moved workshops online, including Joseph LaRose’s daylong “Digging Deep on Cover Crops and Soil Health.” Essential pesticide applicator training continues, as agronomist Pat Miller presents the mandatory instructional video via Zoom, sharing her screen to ensure all those who’ve registered are present.
To help the transition to different ways of teaching and learning, MU Extension faculty are developing resources for their colleagues, including how-to tutorials on using new technology. Faculty are also providing important new content related to COVID-19 issues, such as best practices for safe food handling.
MU and the UM System are developing key resources such as Show-Me ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) sessions for Missouri health care professionals on how to protect, diagnose and treat patients with COVID-19 and how to safeguard their communities.
The UM System Presidential Fellows, a contingent of academic ambassadors originally tasked to speak at events throughout the state, will develop TEDx-like video talks that will be delivered online.
In Camden County, human development specialist Amy Bartels has shifted her Boost Your Brain Memory classes to Zoom. The course coaches older learners on skills and exercises for maintaining cognitive health. Live video sessions let her interact with learners, as well as share detailed slides and resources.
MU Extension in Cass County featured nutrition and health specialist Melissa Cotton’s Easy & Effective Ways to Reduce Stress on its Facebook page. The timely video offered calming tips on breathing, exercise and journaling.
The Missouri Small Business Development Centers website (sbdc.missouri.edu) has assembled a variety of relevant content, including the step-by-step guide Business disruption response: what’s next. Businesses can also find information specific to managing their workforces.
In Madison County, MU Extension specialists Shanna Sorg and Ashley Bales set up a Facebook group that’s become a hub for tracking and sharing individual and community needs; scheduling volunteers to help collect and deliver food to the homebound and the local food pantry; converting free library boxes into well-stocked community food donation boxes, and staffing the food pantry (observing CDC guidelines, of course).
“I have been extremely impressed by the response I have seen out of faculty and staff,” said Sarah Traub, interim director of off-campus operations. “Many, in less than a week’s time, moved classes online and started providing new information for Missourians.”
“Our work doesn’t stop just because we can’t do it in person,” Corkins notes. “Here’s a need. Let’s figure it out. It might not look as pretty on Day 1 as it will two weeks down the line, but in the meantime, families and youths have a need and we are ready to serve.”