- Murphy, James Thomas
Digitally delivered and socially distant programming was essential to meeting increased demand for home gardening information as a result of local and state level lockdowns during spring and summer 2020.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic was a nationally disruptive event that forced many Extension offices to close temporarily. However, a side-effect of local lockdowns and supply chain interruptions was an explosion in concerns over food security and self-sufficiency. This meant that Rockdale County Extension needed to rapidly respond in order to meet demand and deliver resources through previously underutilized avenues.
In order to deliver content during COVID-19 lockdowns, Rockdale Extension pivoted to digital delivery to directly address issues relevant to food security and home gardening during quarantine. This response centered upon the monthly delivery of hour-long lectures on the topics of vegetable gardening, hydroponics, organic techniques, water conservation, landscaping, composting, and mushroom farming. These webinars were archived, and subsequently uploaded to allow for repeat viewings hosted on our county website. Supplementary to these programs, registered participants were sent publication packets with relevant resources to the topic, and also given the option to opt-in to a bi-weekly mailing list providing COVID updates from both the county and state office. These updates included guidance on soil and water testing, upcoming digital events across the state, and guidance on how to support local farmers.
In total, eight webinars were conducted on the topics listed above. Across all live sessions 451 clients participated. Digital archives have been viewed 41 times collectively. A benefit of digital delivery meant that Rockdale Extension’s reach expanded from the local south metro region to other states including: Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Illinois. Additionally, we had one client on three separate sessions tune in from England, making this an international program. Registered participants were sent a follow-up Qualtrics survey to evaluate program effectiveness. Results from 255 Survey Responses (rounded to nearest percent): • Are you concerned about food insecurity? (55% Y, 40% N, 5% N/A) • Did COVID-19 influence your decision to register for this event? (68% Yes, 30% No, 2% N/A) • Was the information provided practical and understandable? (81% Y, 11% N, 8% N/A) • Was the information provided relevant to COVID-19 concerns? (63% Y, 31% N, 6% NA) • Were the supplemental publications useful and practical? (90% Y, 1 % N, 9% N/A) • Do you plan on to garden at home using the information from this lecture? (61% Y, 13 % N, 26 % N/A) • Will you use UGA Extension resources in the future for your home gardening practice (82 % Y, 7 % N, 10 % N/A) • Is this information useful in the context of home quarantine? (45% Y, 35 % N, 20% N/A)
- Year: 2020
- Geographic Scope: Multi-County
- County: Rockdale
- Location: College Station, Athens
- Agriculture & Natural Resources