Extension -- Positioned to React
Posted: June 28, 2011
The steady increase in bed bugs throughout the nation in the past several years has not gone unnoticed by the media or the public.
Lehigh County Extension experienced a gradual rise in bed bug calls as people became aware of the severity of the issue and the bugs began striking closer to home. Extension was able to facilitate a nimble response due to the flexible structure of the organization and the agility of the Educators who saw an opportunity to combine the resources of the University with the mobility of Extension.
A county Extension Educator sought out advice and guidance from the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Department at Penn State. Working with PSCIP, the Philadelphia School and Community IPM Partnership, a joint venture between the City of Philadelphia and the University, Lehigh County Extension organized a preliminary meeting to acquaint local agencies with the problem and to get the Educator equipped to develop and deliver programming specific to the needs of this area. Initial contacts were made by personal phone calls to individual agencies and groups. Subsequent leads were self-generating; each meeting providing additional inquires for a program.
In two months, Lehigh County Extension has reached 176 individuals who represented schools, hospitals, private and public housing managers, county and municipal employees, shelters, in-home nurses, rehab centers, probation personnel, day care centers, nursing homes, Master Gardeners, used furniture stores, non-profits, public and private camps, churches and concerned citizens. Interviews on local radio and regional television brought in more calls for educational programming.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Pre- and post-session evaluations prove the effectiveness and utility of the trainings for the attendees. This fast and efficient response clearly illustrates the value of an Extension organization poised and ready to take on whatever issue confronts the community.