Extension adjusts to online lifestyle

Resources available after in-person events are canceled

In response to the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension has temporarily overhauled its service delivery model.

By moving youth development trainings to an online format and preparing easy-to-use roadmaps for financial assistance, Extension researchers and educators provide valuable resources at a difficult time.

School and business closures in addition to the Safer at Home order prompted Extension to cancel or postpone all in-person workshops, trainings, consultations, and visits. This also applied to the volunteer and partner groups affiliated with Extension, such as 4-H, Master Gardener, and more.

These events serve as a touchpoint between university knowledge and the public; continuing to provide that link is a key priority for Extension during the pandemic. Recognizing the usual collaborative opportunities aren’t available, Extension staff is engaging with stakeholders and their neighbors in new ways.

“Extension remains focused on sharing trusted resources and strengthening communities as we adapt and learn in response to this emergency situation,” said Karl Martin, interim dean and director of UW-Madison Extension.

Shawano County residents can assess COVID-19 information and resources at https://shawano.extension.wisc.edu. The links to resources can be found within the Being Calm and Prepared for COVID-19 section at the top of the page.

Additionally, examples of these innovative delivery methods from across the state are being captured on an online Extension resource dedicated to COVID-19 response, https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/covid19.

Managing your personal finances in tough times is an Extension program and one that takes on a new importance in the face of sudden unemployment and financial insecurity. Extension researchers developed a roadmap of guidance for finding answers to questions.

“Most of us have our daily spending on autopilot. Having to change our routines can also provide an opportunity to rethink our household spending for the coming months,” said Peggy Olive, UW-Madison Extension financial capability specialist.

Extension provides a number of tools for managing animals and a farm workforce in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension researchers have produced business preparedness, worker safety, and commodity price resources for farmers and agriculture workers across Wisconsin to use.

“Farms have unique challenges with the rapidly spreading COVID-19. We are telling farm managers and owners to make sure their employees understand the primary concern is their health and the health of their families and measures are in place to ensure long and productive careers at the farm,” said Trisha Wagner, farm management outreach program manager for Extension.

Extension’s resource site for responding to COVID-19 also lists tools for families, personal health, and more, such as:

• Navigating COVID-19 for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

• Helping children feel safe and talking about emotions during scary events.

• Virtual meetings and trainings for 4-H youth and clubs.

• Food safety and the implications of COVID-19 on grocery stores and takeout.