By  March 25, 2020 - 11:53am

Dear State Extension faculty and staff, 

This week has been a physical, mental and emotional transition for me as I change to a primarily remote working environment to be proactive/reactive to the daily changes we face as a system, adjust to the daily changes implemented by the Governor and health officials, and balance family (babysitting grandchildren when needed and checking in more often on elderly friends and parents via phone). I wish the best for each of you as you transition as well to your new normal schedule. 

This message is directed to you as state faculty and staff, because I have been getting questions from some of you - how can you best help agents now? They are being inundated with emails as they transition as well.

You should:

  1. Coordinate with program leaders to ensure you are not recreating what they have been doing for agents and in conjunction with state agencies. When I get questions internally and externally about the program areas, they are the people I refer to in the system. They are:  ANR - Craig Wood, CED - Alison Davis, FCS - Jennifer Hunter and 4-H Youth Development - Mark Mains
  2. Be proactive in sharing information needed now, but also be thinking ahead to the future needs of producers, families and communities after this health situation resolves.
  3. Evaluate what is truly essential to share at this time versus in the near future as this situation resolves. So many organizations and people are jumping in to provide ideas and ways to be busy during this time. We have the opportunity to step back and be strategic in our messages and our help related to the real social, emotional, physical and economic needs of our clientele. Take time to be strategic. 

To communicate as an Extension system, we, as Extension administration, are:

  1. Implementing a weekly Monday email from me to make announcements and share updates.
  2. Beginning an electronic newsletter for agents to distribute entitled, “Healthy At Home: Navigating COVID-19 with Cooperative Extension.” (We have been given the Governor’s office blessing to use this title.) The newsletter will share content from you that is appropriate to the evolving situation. We have already seen excellent examples of content you have been providing to agents via email. We want to translate that to an easily shareable format. Please send your ideas for content to program leaders and they will coordinate together. The plan is to release the newsletter to agents each Tuesday, so content has to be submitted by Thursday the week before to go to the editor.
  3. Program leaders are working directly with agents on a daily basis to answer questions and make program decisions.
  4. District Directors are working with counties to transition to limited public access and remote work while keeping in contact with clientele and meeting their needs.
  5. Providing examples of successful Extension outreach in this situation to UK administration, news outlets (many are reaching out to us) and as news releases.  Let Hayley Pierce know any stories or successes you feel should be shared, especially when you are connecting your expertise to a solution for the producers, families and communities we serve. 

Thank you again for the tremendous work you have already done already! Please feel free to contact me if needed.