Agriculture Extension Programs and COVID 19

By EVANGELON JAMES
Posted 4/8/20

Agriculture Extension Programs and COVID 19

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Agriculture Extension Programs and COVID 19

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Hello everyone! First off, I’d like to say that I hope each and every one of you is doing well in this uncertain season of life. I pray we can use this experience we’re all going through as a way to pull together as a community and show our strengths. 

Even though this extension month did not go as planned, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the last piece of the extension puzzle: agriculture and natural resources. If you’re interested in what our program does and some of the ways we are working to help our community throughout COVID-19, then read on my friend.

At our extension office, we have two agricultural agents, myself and Jason Debusk who is our Tennessee State University agent. Though we are both ag agents, I tend to cover the horticultural end of the spectrum while Jason focuses on livestock and forage.
Jason offers an array of essentials to our community from providing pesticide recertification classes and acting as a strong advisor to our local farmers and residents to making farm calls where he will personally go out to properties and work hands-on with growers to find solutions to everyday problems. Given current situations, Jason (and the entire staff for that matter) have been working on ways that will allow us to meet the needs of our county.
In the meantime, Jason continues to safely work with farmers and answering questions to ensure food will be on the table.

My program involves working with Master Gardeners — a University of Tennessee-based gardening program that helps our community through dispersing horticultural knowledge and garden-based volunteer projects. I help run the 15-week long Master Gardener class and act as an advisor to the group. Our group attends local events like the Apple Festival and Cow Pea Festival and also hosts events such as Spring Fest. We understand the importance of teaching the next generation about gardening; so we partner with our local judicial court system to hold a Jr. Master Gardener class.
Much like Jason, I take in calls from local residents and in normal circumstances visit homeowners’ properties and meet with farmers.

There are projects that we have had in the works that we’re now working on transferring to being entirely digital so we can stay up to date with the current government and CDC guidelines. Our aim is to assess local needs and be as much of a help as we can through our knowledge of gardening. We’re currently having meetings to create ways that we can help teach our community how to grow their own food through YouTube, digital mentoring programs, social media and virtual plant clinics that will allow residents to ask questions about their lawn and garden.
I hope to have more information fleshed out by next week's article, as for most of us there isn’t really an S.O.P for COVID-19 so we are working as fast as we can to take new ideas and turn them into reality. Stay well and happy gardening!

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