The Cooperative Extension System, working through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), has been addressing the needs of Gulf Coast citizens and affected communities in regard to the damage and impending risks resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

EDEN has been part of the picture since early on. The Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant directors in the Gulf Coast region recognized the strategic nature of the EDEN website and the EDEN network of state extension workers, and immediately designated the website as the central location for extension multistate task force work regarding this disaster.

Extension directors in the Gulf States have organized several multistate task forces to address oil spill issues, composed of extension and Sea Grant subject matter specialists. These taskforces were organized around three general topic areas of:

1) damage assessments and disaster assistance;
2) family and community educational needs; and
3) human health, food safety, and environmental quality. 

A fourth task force, communications, was given the charge to help coordinate and distribute messages that are released to the public. In addition to providing educational content for extension and community educators, content is also being developed for the public and posted to the EDEN website.

To extend its outreach to the public, extension specialists are establishing an Oil Spill community of practice on eXtension. In addition to news articles for release on this website, extension specialists and land-grant university scientists are also developing feature articles, fact sheets/articles, and FAQs with answers to populate the growing body of information on the EDEN and eXtension websites.

SOURCE: USDA.