BARCO, N.C. — Programming offered by N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center certainly looked different in 2020 but staff pulled together (virtually) to utilize the situation as an opportunity and a catalyst to develop new skills, try new delivery methods, and reach audiences that have never before attended Extension programs. Their efforts received recognition in the form of two statewide awards presented at the recent NC Extension Award Ceremony held online on November 19. The Currituck Extension staff received the Dr. Russell King Teamwork Award and the County Performance Award for their staff-wide, innovative approach to programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlights of the programming that was recognized included the “Live from Currituck Extension” Youtube class series (https://currituck.ces.ncsu.edu/live-from-extension-videos/). These classes rotated among Extension staff and topics and were held daily from 11:30 until 12:00 p.m. from March through October.
Staff also began offering hybrid classes which featured live participants and synchronous online participation. Registrants also received recordings of the classes so that they could still participate if their schedule or internet access did not permit them to attend at the prescribed time. Recordings of these classes were then re-released as “on-demand” classes.
Finally, staff redesigned what was to be the Currituck Harvest Festival into the “Fall Family Fun: A Virtual Fair Experience” program. This three month long Currituck Fall Fair featured a standalone website (go.ncsu.edu/currituckfallfair) updated weekly with new content. There were traditional fair elements like food, contests, and games as well as educational content that could be used by classroom teachers and the general public. An innovative highlight of this effort was a weekly interactive virtual main stage presentation where contest awards were presented and new content was highlighted.
As a result of these and other efforts, during the 9 month COVID period, staff developed 57 educational articles produced 124 recorded educational videos, hosted 79 live videos and launched an online fair with an immersive virtual experience. Staff also conducted 21 registration based classes with 1021 individuals attending. These numbers represent enormous gains over traditional only classes. Subscribers to the Currituck Extension YouTube channel (@CurrituckCES) have increased by 78% and videos have been viewed over 12,500 times during the COVID period.
The Currituck Extension team has truly made the most of this unfortunate experience to learn new skills, try new methods, and creatively reach new audiences. Staff wish to thank award donors and the selection committee for providing this recognition of all the hard work conducted over the last 9 months.
–Cameron Lowe, N.C. State Extension, Currituck County