Around The South

Compiling SRDC and national news, recent publications, upcoming conferences and events, and job opportunities, this monthly newsletter furnishes a brief overview of announcements from the Southern region.

Recent Issues
September 2018 Main Topics

Coming Together for Racial Understanding Launches First Pilot Effort

On August 27-31, 2018, teams of three from 20 states participated in the first cohort group of Coming Together for Racial Understanding. The purpose of the training is to build capacity with in Cooperative Extension Service (CES) to help communities engage in civil dialogues around racial issues. The week-long training was designed to prepare participants to build capacity within their home states’ CES, working across the borders of the Land-Grant Universities (LGU) within a given state (where there are multiple LGUs within a state). Following the train-the-trainer, the process for expanding capacity is two-fold:

  • Build capacity with the CES system in the home state
  • Build capacity within at least one community
The 20 pilot teams will be working collaboratively to measure impacts from this initiative under the leadership of the Southern Rural Development Center. Impacts will measure how the effort has built capacity both within CES as well as within the participating communities.

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Southern CRD Webinar:
Chalk and Talk: A Different Approach to Community Engagement

September 28, 2018 @ 2pm CT/3pm ET

The ‘Chalk and Talk’ program seeks to engage people in a creative and accessible way about their feelings, thoughts and views on their city’s downtown. In essence it is a way to informally gather and summarize the varying views and experiences of attendees of local festivals and events about the city while they are immersed in it. The intent is that this information can inspire dialogue and help inform the preliminary steps taken towards longer term design, planning and revitalization initiatives.

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Launch Issue

August 2018 Main Topics

Webinar: Marketing Cooperative Extension Organizations and Extension Local Foods Educational Programs

In this webinar, discover how Extension Services are using Facebook, Twitter, and websites to market ANR, 4-H, FCS, and Community Development Programs, and the types of content Extension Services are using to promote Local Foods Extension Programs.

This research was created as part of Sera 47 - Strengthening the Southern Region Extension and Research System to Support Local & Regional Foods Needs and Priorities. This applied research was financially supported by Mississippi State University Extension, the Department of Agricultural Economics, and the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.

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Call for Proposals Now Open: National Sustainability Summit and National Extension Energy Summit

Deadline to apply: October 1, 2018

Share your experiences, stories, and insights at the inaugural National Sustainability Summit (NSS)—formerly the Extension Sustainability Summit—and biennial National Extension Energy Summit (NEES). Hosted by the University of Florida IFAS Extension and the Southern Rural Development Center in partnership with USDA-NIFA, this joint conference will be held April 16-19, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.

This national conference will bring leading sustainability and energy educators and practitioners together to showcase land grant university Extension and research program successes, share challenges, and identify opportunities to strengthen our collective impacts. Participants will hear from dynamic plenary speakers with expertise in sustainability and energy issues, enhance their professional knowledge and skills through pre-conference educational tours and/or mobile workshops, attend inspiring abstract presentations and networking sessions, and learn from local exhibitors and sponsors. Extension professionals from all national associations will benefit from the cross-disciplinary and process-oriented structure of the joint Summits.

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Launch Issue

July 2018 Main Topics

Understanding Communities: Online Course Offers Tools for Community Development

The four Regional Rural Development Centers and a team of nationally recognized Community Development professionals are presenting Understanding Communities and Their Dynamics, a unique seven-week online course beginning Wednesday, September 12, 2018 and concluding Wednesday, October 24, 2018.

Each week features a 90-minute webinar focusing on topics including demographics, economic development, strategic planning and power structures. Supplemental resources and online discussion opportunities will be available on the course website. Participants are encouraged to log in at their convenience throughout the course to explore these topics further, pose questions, investigate additional resources and visit with colleagues in similar situations. All sessions are recorded and available on the website. Understanding Communities and Their Dynamics is an introduction to community development. It is appropriate for individuals working with community groups in any subject area.

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Overview of Local Food Systems Training Program

Sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Clemson Cooperative Extension, and Virginia Cooperative Extension, this Overview of Local Food Systems Training Program is appropriate for those who are just getting started in their local food systems career, or for those who have experience but want to gain a broader or more complete perspective. The following professional development courses focus on core competencies, identified by a national group of local food leaders (NAFSN, 2017), needed to support high functioning and sustainable local food systems development.

These courses are designed for working professionals and utilize various types of engaging activities, including lectures, readings, forum posts, podcasts, and virtual field trips. The estimated time for completion is 15 hours for Foundations in Local Food Systems Development, and approximately eight (8) hours for each of other courses. These are "asynchronous" self-paced, online courses, meaning that there are no scheduled meeting times. Once open enrollment is available (anticipated spring 2018), you can sign up when you are ready to start and begin interacting with the learning content at your own pace.

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Launch Issue

June 2018 Main Topics

Working with Virtual Teams: 3 Part Webinar Series

Increasingly Land-Grant University professionals are called on to work on joint projects where the majority (if not all) of their communication is one through virtual linkages (as opposed to face-to-face meetings). While these virtual connections can save time and financial resources, they are not without specific challenges. This three-part webinar series will explore key elements that characterize effective virtual teams and will demonstrate both processes and technological tools that can help leaders guide their virtual teams to success. Each one-hour webinar will build on the next, so participants are encouraged to plan on viewing the entire three session series.

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Bricks-To-Clicks™ Extension Program Powers Businesses with Online Marketing Plans that Work – Mississippi State University

Most entrepreneurs struggle to develop effective online marketing plans, so we created an easy, step-by-step formula that helps entrepreneurs clarify their marketing message and attract customers. A clear message helps customers remember your products and services, engage online, and buy more often.

The BRICKS-TO-CLICKS™ Extension program uses a 3-step formula to help businesses with online marketing. The 3-step formula is:

  1. Clarify your marketing message by attending a strategic marketing workshop.
  2. Build a sales funnel using your website and social media.
  3. Implement the funnel and watch your business grow.
Recently, several Mississippi companies and communities have used the 3-step formula including HogEye Cameras, Hernando Farmers’ Market, and the Up-In-Farms Food Hub. HogEye Cameras, a company located in Crawford, Mississippi, recently implemented the 3-step formula in January 2018 and the impact has been significant in only a few months.

Dr. Barnes recently collaborated with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at Mississippi State University to support their U.S. Small Business Administration project “Boots to Business Revenue Readiness Virtual Classroom Course.” Part of the Bricks-To-Clicks™ social media training will be shared with participants in 2018/2019.


Launch Issue

May 2018 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar Series Continues:
Increasing Stakeholder Involvement to Build Capacity and Promote Sustainability of Healthy Communities

May 24, 2018 @ 9:00am CT/10:00am ET

How do Extension agents engage stakeholders in significant roles to address community health? What are the challenges and benefits of community based participatory research focused on healthy communities? What do county agents gain from involving stakeholders to achieve policy, systems and environmental changes? This webinar will share lessons learned and successful strategies from county Extension programs currently focused on building healthy communities.

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Identifying Assets in Rural Texas: Texas Rural Leadership Program – Leaders in Action

Rural Leadership Program (TRLP) was formed in 1989 to provide leadership development opportunities in underserved areas of rural Texas. Through its Leaders in Action curriculum, TRLP guides community members to develop a more inclusive style of leadership and promote participation in community development efforts, emphasizing “learning together” about personal and community assets in order to activate and shape a collective future.

As a 501c3, in partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M University Public Partnership & Outreach, TRLP utilizes a three-tiered model to build leadership capacity in rural communities. The model includes a training of local leaders to facilitate the TRLP curriculum in their communities. These trained facilitators deliver a series of seven 90-minute informative and interactive sessions to members of their community who want to learn how to improve the well-being of their distinct area of Texas. Topics include: Asset-based community development, appreciative inquiry, leadership competencies, management functions, systems thinking, non-violent communication, community engagement, group dynamics, deliberative dialogue, building trust and shared vision, and designing and implementing asset-based projects. Each session involves activities and dialogue to engage participants in using the concepts presented.

Individuals desiring to learn and expand their leadership potential are encouraged to participate. Age is not a factor. The program is targeted to adults, but high school youth are welcomed to learn an inclusive approach to leadership. Communities often have businesses and organizations seeking leaders, and can benefit by sponsoring employees or members, who have potential and interest to serve in leadership roles, to participate in the TRLP class. Neighborhoods, communities, churches, emergency services, hospitals, and government agencies at all levels have encouraged their potential and developing leaders to participate. Participants are expected to actively engage together in each class session and, as a group, plan and complete a class project using the competencies learned in the program. A recent example of a TRLP class project was the creation of a Crossroads Hometown Festival in the rural community of Hearne (Population 4,483; Robertson County), with the purpose of highlighting the assets of Hearne and the surrounding communities and to promote local businesses and regional entertainment. A local news story on this festival can be found here. Additional information about the Texas Rural Leadership Program can be found here.

Launch Issue

April 2018 Main Topics

National CRD Indicators Webinar:
Evaluating Community Development Impacts Using Qualitative Indicators

Measuring the impact of work community development professionals engage in is critical to ensure its continuation. While many focus on quantitative measures, this webinar will provide successful examples of using qualitative methods to evaluate this work. A pilot evaluation study that used newly developed qualitative indicators will be shared. Additionally, two specific case examples will be provided; one of a community foundation education program evaluation and one of a community health assessment on the Crow Indian Reservation. Discussion will focus on challenges and opportunities in working with organizations outside of Extension, as well as the context for applying qualitative approaches and communicating outcomes across settings. Presenters: Rebecca Sero and Paul Lachapelle.

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Understanding Population Shifts Across Tennessee: A 100-year Analysis, University of Tennessee

People are the most important element of a community and are often mobile. In the past century, population shifts have changed the landscape considerably in communities across Tennessee. Researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture examined the underlying reasons for these spatial and temporal shifts in population across Tennessee in the past century.

In a span of 100 years, Tennessee’s population more than tripled, transforming it to one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. At the beginning of the 20th century, a majority (84 percent) of the population in Tennessee lived in rural areas; around mid-century, the population was about evenly split between rural and urban areas. However, by the end of 20th century, the sprawl continued, resulting in 64 percent of the population living in urban areas of Tennessee, and this trend has continued into the 21st century.

Between 1900 and 2010, while the population in 86 counties across Tennessee grew, nine counties experienced population declines. Around 1960, more people lived in urban areas than rural areas across the state. While the population in Tennessee grew the fastest between 1970 and 1980 (17 percent), the growth was slowest between 1980 and 1990 (6.2 percent). Population grew in Rutherford; Williamson (Nashville metro region); Cumberland (Cumberland plateau); Blount (Knoxville region); and Bradley (Chattanooga metro region) counties, which are predominantly urban, along major interstate highways, and are rich in natural resources. At the same time, rural counties such as Hancock, Haywood, Jackson, Stewart and Giles experienced the greatest population declines. Incidentally, the Highland Rim region (around the Nashville basin), which is predominantly based on agriculture and contains no urban centers, experienced the highest declines over the years. The population decline in these communities may have led to a decline in taxes for school, roads and other publicly supported projects.

In 1900, Tennessee’s population was predominantly younger with children and young adults (under 24) representing 60 percent of the population, followed by a working-age group (25-64) totaling 36 percent, and seniors (65 and over) comprising up to 4 percent of the population. By mid-century, the working-age group caught up with the younger population, surpassing them by 1970 to become the majority. As of 2010, the working-age group accounted for 53 percent of the population and, with a low unemployment rate, contributed to a more robust workforce in Tennessee. The dependence of children and seniors on the working-age population has declined consistently over the years. Among the three cohorts, the proportion of seniors, although small, grew at a steady pace to 13.4 percent of the population by 2010.

By the turn of the century, a majority of Tennessee’s population lived in urban areas, with slightly more women than men and a thriving working-age population supporting children and seniors. The findings from this study serve as a basis for future analysis on workforce, education, healthcare, housing, and tourism across communities in Tennessee.

A tool to visualize county population changes over the past century was developed as part of the study. The poster and data visualization tool can be accessed here.


Launch Issue

March 2018 Main Topics

Rural America Counts: A Blueprint for Reinvesting in Rural America

Vibrant, resilient, and sustainable rural communities are the focus of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report and resulted in five priority areas: e-connectivity, quality of life, workforce development, technological innovation, and rural economic development. All of these priorities are being addressed at various land grant universities through the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and Experiment Stations and many of these activities are coordinated by the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs). At the suggestion of CES leadership, the RRDCs developed Rural America Counts, which serves as a blueprint for reinvesting in rural America, using the above priorities as a framework for mobilizing the resources of the land grant system.

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The North Carolina Farmworkers Health and Safety Education Program - North Carolina State University

Farming and agriculture workforce constitute an important core of North Carolina’s economy as about 17% of its income comes from the agriculture and agribusiness industry. The state is recognized as the number one tobacco and sweet potato producer in the country, and the second in Christmas tree production. In 2016, there were 83,723 total farmworkers in the state and North Carolina ranks second in the number of H2A workers. Because of the sheer size of this population and the critical role they play in our agriculture system, facilitating this group’s health and safety is imperative.

The agriculture workforce also constitutes a vulnerable group as they face risk factors such low socioeconomic status, i.e. average income is $10-12,499.00 and limited access to health care; health risk factor, i.e. exposure to pesticide, harmful weather, and nicotine and mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Farmworkers suffer from the highest rate of toxic chemical injuries. In one day, workers can absorb the amount of nicotine found in 36 cigarettes. One in four farmworkers report having been injured on the job in their lifetime. Farmworkers have a 20% increased risk of developing symptoms of Heat Stress.

Furthermore, farmers and their families are also exposed to stressors that may affect their life. Harvest and planting seasons may add tension to the family’s dynamic as well as stressors related to farming, such as, uncontrollable weather, exposure to pesticides, variable crop prices, and machinery breakdowns.

Consequently, there is a need to provide educational programs to promote preventive behaviors among farmworkers, farmworkers' employers, and their families to improve agriculture workforce health and safety. This is essential for the farm economy, but also the quality of life of much of our rural community.

The Farmworkers Health and Safety Comprehensive Program addresses the need by developing a program model where the farmworker, his/her family, growers, crew leaders, Cooperative Extension, Philip Morris International, and the community work together to enhance the quality of life of the farm community. Furthermore, the program has offered NCCE an effective mechanism to connect and engage with the farmworkers community.

The Farmworkers Health and Safety Education Program is based on the belief that everyone involved in the agriculture industry, which includes farmers/producers, crew leaders/contractors (“farmworkers’ employers”), farmworkers, and their families are exposed to risk factors, stressors, and educational needs that call for an education program that recognizes and includes all of them. The program builds and strengthens relationships between all parties involved as well as community partners in order to enhance the well-being of the Farm Working Community. The program has six primary components:

  1. Improve communication between farmers, farmworkers, crew leaders, contractors, and Extension agents about important safety and health practices on the farm.
  2. Provide health and safety training on pesticide, heat stress, green tobacco illness to farmers, crew leaders, contractors, farmworkers and their families.
  3. Serve as a resource to growers as they work to provide a healthy work environment on their farm.
  4. Promote the development of a stakeholders’ network to identify educational needs and opportunities for farmworkers and their families.
  5. Connect farmworkers and their families with other Extension resources such as youth development, nutrition and food safety programs, as well as with other community resources.
  6. Serve as a resource to farmworkers' employers to meet EPA Workers Protection Standard and U.S. Tobacco Agriculture Practice farmworkers training requirements, i.e. annual mandatory training for workers and record keeping of worker training.

NC Cooperative Extension has successfully implemented this model for educating farmworkers’ employers, farmworkers, and their families through grant funding. In 2012, through a partnership with AmeriCorps SAFE Program and Pender County Extension, 892 farmworkers were training on pesticide training, 295 received training on heat stress, and 20 José Aprende trainings were conducted. In 2015, through a partnership with the NC Farmworkers Health Program, 192 workers were trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness in Ashe and Alleghany counties. Since 2014, through an ongoing partnership with Philip Morris International, 2133 workers have been trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness in Wayne County, 475 community members including the families of farmworkers were educated on pesticide safety through community events, and 500+ participants attended the First Farmworkers Health and Safety Festival. Additionally, 115 workers were trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness through a partnership with Universal Leaf, 205 workers were training on WPS through a partnership with GAP Connections, and 275 workers were trained on WPS through collaboration with Ashe and Alleghany Farmworkers Safety Day.

In addition to on-farm training, our bilingual educators have become integral members of the local extension offices and are essential team members in the work to find innovative solutions and approaches to improving the lives of NC Farmworkers.

 

Launch Issue

February 2018 Main Topics

Bonnie Teater Award Nominations Due March 20, 2018

Each year, the SRDC honors someone who has excelled in community development work within Extension Service in the South. On even numbered years, we seek to honor a person with the Bonnie Teater Community Development Lifetime Achievement award. We need your help! Nominations are now open, so please consider nominating someone that has excelled in this arena. The nominee must be currently employed by one of the 29 land-grant universities located in the Southern Rural Development Center region; serve as an administrator, specialist or agent who has worked in the Extension CD area for at least TEN years at the state, multi-county and/or county levels. An individual who has retired over the past 12 months and who, at the time of his/her retirement, met the conditions outlined, is eligible for consideration.

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Tackling the Opioid Epidemic in Virginia from a Community-Based Perspective – Virginia Cooperative Extension

Like many other states, the opioid addiction crisis in Virginia has been declared a public health emergency. In 2013, it became the number one cause of unnatural death in Virginia. And the trend has continued to increase, with opioid deaths rising 40.3 percent from 2015-2016. To address these challenges, Virginia Cooperative Extension launched the Preventing Opioid Abuse in Rural Virginia project, with USDA Rural Health and Safety Education funding. With partners, we are implementing the PROSPER evidence-based delivery system in Grayson and Henry Counties and the city of Martinsville. Through PROSPER (Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience), local community teams are formed in each PROSPER community to guide programming and build sustainability. The teams are led jointly by an Extension agent and a representative from the school system. As the teams guide programming, all 6th graders and their families are recruited to participate in family-level education, for which we are using the SFP 10-14 evidence-based curriculum. It’s a universal, community-wide strategy, targeting all youth in the 6th grade, as well as their families. There is also a school-based component for Life Skills Training for all 7th graders. The research evidence for PROSPER indicates that there is a ripple effect, in that even youth who do not participate are positively impacted by the program.

In addition to PROSPER and its related components, a research-informed approach is being implemented through the Virginia Rural Health Association as a partner on this project. The Hospital Patient Education Program (HPEP) is being used to train health-care providers at rural hospitals to deliver a low-literacy training to patients arriving at the hospital that are taking a prescription opioid, or are being prescribed one at the visit. The one-on-one education, which often will include family members, explains the risks associated with taking an opioid, the importance of taking it only as prescribed, and how to avoid overdose.

As the work is occurring, we are also working closely with all Extension partners on complementary projects in the localities being served, as well as statewide to maximize resources and foster sustainability. Expanding the vision of the PROSPER community team to this project will provide opportunities for greater interaction as the team focuses on ways to address the opioid misuse and abuse problem through multiple community approaches.
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Launch Issue

January 2018 Main Topics

The 2017-18 Southern CRD Webinar Series Continues:
How Can I Be of Service? Determining the Best Role for Community Engagement

January 25, 2018 @ 1:00pm CT/2:00pm ET

Cooperative Extension has a mandate to assess community needs and assist with community issues, but how agents engage with communities will vary by topic, need and situation. This webinar is an interactive session that will explore different roles agents might fill as they work for community change. We will discuss the different roles Extension can serve when creating community change including: informing, being a catalyst for change, innovating change; or orchestrating change – and when and how these roles may change.

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Healthier Together in Calhoun and Taliaferro Counties – University of Georgia

In 2016, the University of Georgia received a two-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to boost obesity prevention efforts in Georgia's most impacted rural counties—Calhoun and Taliaferro—each with an adult obesity prevalence of over 40 percent. Involving multiple University and community partners, a cross-programming approach was crafted to address obesity through Cooperative Extension. Fittingly, the project was named Healthier Together. University partners include Cooperative Extension, the College of Public Health, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The primary goal of Healthier Together Calhoun/Taliaferro is to implement environmental changes to promote healthy eating and physical activity in places where youth and families spend their time. Interventions involve forming a community coalition to work with schools, community organizations, local government and businesses to serve and sell healthy food, create places to be physically active and address local policy issues that influence healthy living.

A multi-sector community approach promotes robust outcomes and long-term impact. After the first year of implementation, notable outcomes include the following: six community groups have installed 30 raised bed gardens, walking trails are being constructed, walkability of communities is being addressed by local officials, and new physical activities for youth and adults are being offered. Fresh Stop, a structured CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) style farmer’s market is underway through partnership with the Georgia Farmer’s Market Association. In addition, school cafeterias are adopting Smarter Lunchroom policies and practices, cancer prevention cooking schools are being offered and 4-H youth development activities have increased. Success stories are taking on a very personal nature in this project: a volunteer at the community garden, who also participated in the cooking class, used veggies from the garden and recipes from class to improve her family’s diet. This volunteer’s husband had pre-diabetes, and with lifestyle changes supported by Healthier Together, he has lost 20 lbs. Calhoun and Taliaferro counties are enacting sustainable, evidence-based practices for increasing the health of their residents. These outcomes also have positive impact on the economic vibrancy of the communities and their capacity to address issues through inter-agency collaboration as residents engage in addressing health concerns together.
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Launch Issue

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