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Resource Toolkit to Support the Wellness of Extension Employees Following a Natural Disaster
Principal Investigator: Holly Hatton-Bowers
Co-Principal Investigators: Lorey Wheeler, Gilbert Parra, Michelle Krehbiel
Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Award Date: Sep 1, 2019
End Date: Aug 31, 2021
In March 2019, 81 of 93 counties in Nebraska were declared states of emergency due to significant flooding and blizzards.
Extension employees play critically important roles in supporting community members during disaster response and recovery. While many Extension personnel are well-poised and feel competent to draw upon the various resources and strategies available to them, there are fewer resources for supporting their own mental health.
The goal of the project is to support the psychological wellness of Extension employees following a natural disaster by developing, implementing and evaluating a toolkit of resources that provide strategies of coping and reaching out to supportive others.
Three sustainable products will be developed: an Extension employee Support and Wellness Needs Assessment, a Disaster Recovery Self-Assessment and a Reach Out for Wellness course. The resources mitigate the negative impact of the floods on burnout, compassion fatigue and wellness.
After using the resources, Extension employees are expected to have improved understanding of their own wellness, the impact of the natural disaster on them and how to use their support system to cope with stress related to the natural disaster. Extension employees’ improved wellness is expected to translate to more supportive work with individuals and communities recovering from the natural disaster. The unique contribution of this toolkit is that it targets Extension employees’ use of their support systems.
Nebraska Extension and community volunteers combine flood relief efforts in spring 2019, after floods ravaged much of the state. (Photo by Jason Wessendorf, Verdigre Eagle)