Above: Some work-from-home scenes from our CCSI staff.
CCSI Regional Teleconferences for March were held recently. The March teleconferences differed markedly from those held in February because our world has changed drastically during the last month due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. Partners came together over the past few days to discuss what changes they have experienced as a result of a pandemic, how they are dealing with the situation, and to brainstorm ways to continue working with one another during this time of social distancing.
Many partners reported they are utilizing teleconferencing, including one SWCD Annual Meeting conducted via teleconferencing! Some groups are using Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebX, as well as texting, telephoning and emailing. These methods of communication aren’t necessarily new to members of our industry, but the use of them INSTEAD OF in person meetings rather than in addition to in person meetings is something new. CCSI does have a teleconference line available for use by partners, as well as WebX. If you are interested in scheduling something to use either of these resources, please let us know!
Meg Leader, NACD Projects and Partnerships Coordinator, joined one of the teleconferences. She shared information about the response of the national agency during the pandemic. Meg shared a website that is an excellent resource for all of us in agribusiness: https://www.nacdnet.org/covid-19/. There you will find CDC guidance, a rumor control page, resources for remote work and much more. I encourage you to take a look at this valuable resource.
Stephanie McClain, State Soil Health Specialist, was able to join all the regional teleconferences. Stephanie shared a valuable website as well: https://www.govexec.com/management/2020/03/crisis-leadership-playbook/164005/. This is a crisis leadership playbook by Scott Eblin that outlines specific strategies for remaining focused and productive during these uncertain times. This is a great read for all of us!
Walt Sell, ANR Assistant Program Leader with Purdue Extension, shared an excellent resource, particularly for teachers, but many parents are finding themselves in the role of teacher! Take a look at https://www.asec.purdue.edu/soilhealth/soil-basics.html for excellent materials to GET OUTSIDE and teach kids about soil and soil health. Topics include color cues, erosion, soil organisms and so many more.
One thing that would be helpful to us for our education and outreach efforts is PICTURES! If you are out doing field work and come across sites that would make for great side-by-side comparison photos, we would love for you to send them to us! Things like cover crop vs. no cover crop; erosion and lack of erosion or other soil health indicators would be perfect! You can cruise to our contacts page for an easy upload https://www.ccsin.org/contact .
One thing that was apparent during all the regional teleconferences is that Agriculture is an essential industry and MUST continue, even if things look completely different than they normally do. Take precautions. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Take good care of yourselves and each other, and keep doing the important work that you do! We are all in this together!
Northern Program Manager, Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative