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Purdue Extension seeks to build community resilience after a natural disaster

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue Extension is continuing its role serving as an administrative lead for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) and expanding disaster education response throughout America. EDEN, a multistate collaboration of land-grant Extension Services, including 1862, 1890, 1994, Hispanic-serving institutions and Sea Grant programs, aims to reduce the impact of disasters through research-based education.

Since 2003, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided EDEN with funding to support coordination, communications and resource development. Principal investigator Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and senior associate dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture, and co-principal investigators Michael Wilcox, program leader of Purdue Extension’s Community Development Program, and Abby Lillpop, National EDEN project coordinator, recently received additional funding to advance agrosecurity and community resilience through Extension program innovations.

As part of its national coordination of EDEN, Purdue Extension has outlined new goals to ensure its effectiveness and long-term success. The first goal is to protect U.S. agriculture and food systems during all phases of disasters by expanding Cooperative Extension’s educational resources and programming. Secondly, Purdue plans to expand opportunities for Extension to engage and improve the quality of life in underserved communities by furthering the capacity of the current 1890 Extension system to deliver disaster programming.

“Rural communities and agriculture are disproportionately vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters as damage is often not covered by risk-management agencies. Through partnerships at the local level, EDEN is vital in helping communities recover when disaster strikes,” Henderson said.

Purdue Extension has invested in developing Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) to prepare communities to rapidly respond to weather-related disasters, resulting in coverage of nearly 75 percent of Indiana’s 92 counties. In partnership with the University of Illinois, University of Nebraska, University of Missouri and Washington State University, EDEN is prioritizing developing COADs across the nation to partner with local emergency management and nonprofits.

“Since responding to the catastrophic Mississippi and Missouri river floods in 1993 to launching educational programming to protect our nation’s food supply after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Purdue Extension has been a driving force for the evolution of EDEN. Our capacity and strength to serve communities efficiently and rapidly in times of need is critical for addressing agrosecurity challenges,” Lillpop said.

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