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3 PEMC Educators Work on Indiana Small Farm Conference


Purdue Extension Marion County is proud of our three staff members who assisted with this year's Indiana Small Farm Conference! Ashley Shufflebarger, Alex Pettigrew, and Brooke Alford all worked to continue this signature conference, even in the wake of the pandemic and transition to virtual learning. 

Brooke Alford, one of our Agriculture and Natural Resources Educators, worked on the Urban Agriculture track and was impressed by how well the conference worked virtually. 

"The conference was conducted in the Microsoft Teams platform. Having never used the platform, I was concerned.  But Marion Welsh, Administrative Assistant for ANR Extension, became an expert on the platform and trained us all up!  The conference went amazingly smooth, considering the multiple tracks, sessions, and virtual platform."

Ashley Shufflebarger, one of our 4-H Youth Development Educators, worked on the Youth track.

"During the Youth Track of the Small Farm Conference, it was such fun to facilitate a discussion with our Marion County 4-Hers, Tori and Kate. The girls, who are in 5th and 7th grade, talked with SFC attendees via Zoom about living on an urban homestead and taking care of their resident chickens, pigeons, goats, and more! The SFC provided a valuable opportunity for Kate and Tori - not only were they able to share information about homesteading, but they got to practice public speaking, which is an extremely useful life skill! Even though we couldn't be in person this year, I think the Youth Track of the Small Farm Conference was an inspiring forum, where people of all ages could share their experiences and learn from one another."

Alex Pettigrew, one of our Agriculture and Natural Resources Educators, worked on the Youth track as well. Pettigrew was interviewed by the Purdue College of Agriculture to talk about the focus on youth at this year's conference. You can read that article here

Pettigrew talked about how Purdue Extension provides agriculture content with the younger generation: "Purdue Extension is meeting the need to share agriculture with youth by continuing to create programs based on youth's interests in agriculture and continuing to train interested adults in the best practices for youth development (4-H). The youth track at the ISF conference is an example of how Extension is adapting to meet this need. Through our work in the community, we see what youth are interested in, and we have youth present on that topic. I often work with my 4-H colleagues in Marion County, and I admire how they give youth the opportunity to be leaders in their community while also providing resources related to topics the youth are passionate about. That's what we're striving for with the youth track. Youth being presenters gives them free admissions and the opportunity to attend any of the conference sessions that interest them."

This year's conference was notable not only due to the fully viral pivot, but because a free mental health presentation was included regardless of conference registration. The presentation focused on the opioid crisis, symptoms of stress, the stigma surrounding mental health, along with various resources for more information and further learning. 

The 2022 Indiana Small Farm Conference is scheduled to take place March 3rd to the 5th in Danville, Indiana. More information about the conference can be found on their website here

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