Source: Jesica Hollinger – Purdue Extension
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) recently awarded the Purdue Rural Emergency Preparedness program (IN-PREPared) with The Blue Ribbon Award for their efforts to provide disaster and emergency resources and training to Indiana residents, especially through their specially created website www.inprepared.org.
Founded in 1907, ASABE is an educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food, and biological systems with members in more than 100 countries.
Shawn Ehlers, Assistant Clinical Professor of Agriculture and Biological Engineering and IN-PREPared Program Leader said many members of ASABE are involved with Extension outreach in their focus area.
“Part of ASABE’s Pillars of Practice involve ergonomics, safety and health, as well as education outreach and professional development,” Ehlers said.
“The Blue Ribbon Awards are the society’s way of acknowledging impactful contributions and this year, IN-PREPared was chosen to receive the honors for Extension Websites and its impact on the community,” he added.
Previous university efforts to serve Extension educators, rural communities, and first responders stemmed from three primary sources which included Purdue Agricultural Safety and Health Program (PUASHP), Purdue Extension, and the National Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) materials and training. Each entity produced and distributed valuable resources and training, but the separate efforts lacked cohesiveness.
“The IN-PREPared program and website provide a publicly accessible and unified home for appropriate resources, and also serves to enhance the visibility, awareness, and usage of programming and resources offered by state or federal government agencies and non-profit organizations dedicated to rural emergency preparedness and response through partnerships and resource sharing,” Ehlers explained.
Ehlers also said this new program, launched in August 2019, was prompted by the need to be instrumental in bringing relevant material together on emergency preparedness for their specific audience – a key he believes to the successes of the IN-PREPared program.
“The past several months have demonstrated how our society can adapt to a situation to meet the needs of communities across the state and nation, because making informed decisions is at the heart of preparing for unexpected or emerging circumstances,” he said.
IN-PREPared has categorized content to be conveniently accessed by users with topics that include weather events, disease prevention (a COVID-19 specific resource page), rural specific hazard response, and links to online trainings, and PREP-Notes which are used by Extension Educators, teachers, and volunteers to craft news releases and share information on multiple platforms.
Other cohorts in this award-winning effort include former extension educator and staff member at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Ed Sheldon, who assisted in the overall resource development and website management. Sheldon also works with the National AgrAbility Project, the Ag Vets program, and IN-PREPared.
Bill Field, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, leader of the Purdue Ag Safety and Health Program, and Project Director for the National AgrAbility Project, and served as the co-developer and instructor of three Homeland/Agrosecurity graduate level courses at Purdue.
“Above all else, IN-PREPared is focused on collaborating with experts in our federal and state agencies, as well as universities and non-profits so we can bring collective knowledge to our rural Hoosiers so they can be “PREPared” for the unexpected—not possible without the reach of the Extension system in all 92 Indiana counties,” Ehlers emphasized.