Extension Disaster Education Network & eXtension offer resources to provide aid during disaster

When disaster strikes, people often turn to Extension for reliable information and educational resources to aid in recovery efforts.

Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) was created as a direct result of lessons learned when catastrophic floods occurred along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in 1993. Citizens looked to Extension for resources and expertise related to disaster recovery, mitigation and preparedness, but the individual states lacked the capacity, research-based information or expertise to address the multitude of issues and needs resulting from a major disaster such as this.

Development of a collaborative system first began in 1994 as a regional effort involving twelve states in Extension’s North Central Region. By 1997, EDEN had started becoming a national, rather than regional, network. By 2005, all 50 states and three territories had their land-grant institutions as EDEN members. Currently, more than 270 Extension specialists at 70 plus land-grant institutions are part of this valuable network. Each university designates one point of contact acting as the primary conduit of information and is responsible for communicating information and issues of interest to colleagues within their institution. This person can name fellow Extension professionals representing different program areas at their university as EDEN delegates, encouraging them to serve as committee members and perform other organizationally related functions in EDEN.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has been actively involved in EDEN since its inception. Mark Hansen, retired MSU Extension wildfire specialist, not only served many years as MSU’s point of contact, he chaired EDEN’s executive committee from 2002-2004 and has been an active participant on several other EDEN committees. Elaine Bush, MSU Extension Firewise project director, serves as the current point of contact for MSU.

 While Extension is not considered an emergency response agency, it is often called upon before, during and after disasters to provide objective education. EDEN equips county-based Extension educators to participate in local disaster management and recovery efforts. EDEN links Extension professionals from across the U.S. and various disciplines to use and share disaster-related resources. EDEN’s website , allows instant access to a searchable database of Extension resources, offers educational materials tailored to help people deal with a wide range of hazards and provides website addresses of disaster agencies.

A related online resource eXtension is an educational partnership of 74 universities in the U.S. providing objective, research-based information; eXtension is organized around resource areas, also known as communities of practice.

EDEN and eXtension are complimentary systems, each providing a wealth of disaster education resources with EDEN’s primary audience being Extension professionals while eXtension’s is the general public. EDEN provides structure and support for eXtension’s Disaster Issues Community of Practice (CoP) which was established in 2006.

Visit EDEN and eXtension websites today to familiarize yourself with the many resources they offer. Hopefully, you will never experience a tornado, earthquake, wildfire, floods, extreme snow and ice, or food safety issues. If one of these disasters does strike, remember these resources are available with a click of the mouse.

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