Extension offers online guidance for farmers, ranchers during COVID-19 | NevadaAppeal.com
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Extension offers online guidance for farmers, ranchers during COVID-19

University of Nevada
University of Nevada, Reno Extension is offering online sessions, “Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic,” to assist producers. Pictured: Ranchland in Gardnerville, Nevada, with storm clouds rolling overJob’s Peak.
Photo by Lindsay Chichester<

RENO – The nation’s farmers and ranchers are accustomed to weathering storms in their industry – droughts, floods, wildfires and price fluctuations, to name a few. But, the COVID-19 pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges for many of today’s producers.

To help them through this daunting time, University of Nevada, Reno Extension is offering free online updates and question-and-answer sessions with various experts each Tuesday, 10–11:30 a.m.

Lindsay Chichester, Extension educator in Douglas County, Nevada, put together the series, “Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic.” Known as “Dr. Lindsay” to many in the country’s agriculture industry and on social media, Chichester understands the ups and downs of farming and ranch life, growing up on a cattle and sheep ranch in northern California, and going on to earn a master’s degree in animal science and a doctorate in agricultural sciences. Lindsay said this is truly a baffling time for many of the nation’s agricultural producers.

The sessions will be offered online via Zoom. Chichester will open each session with a brief introduction about the current issues surrounding that session’s topic, followed by brief presentations by the speakers. Then, the majority of each session will be driven by questions from participants.

Future session topics include:

May 5 – Meat packers, pricing and availability

May 12 – Backyard poultry production

May 19 – Pork industry update

May 26 – Dairy: milk dumping and National Dairy Month

Details on future sessions will be posted at https://extension.unr.edu/program.aspx?ID=186, where those interested in participating can also register. For information, email Chichester at lchichester@unr.edu or call 775-782-9960 (leave a message and she will call you back).

Extension offers weekly online town halls and webinars to help small businesses 

RENO – Besides needing funds available for small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, small-business owners need additional support and guidance, as well as opportunities to talk with other small-business owners.

The University of Nevada, Reno Extension is offering virtual question-and-answer “Coping With COVID-19 Town Halls” for small businesses every Wednesday, and webinars on specific topics for small businesses every Friday. The town halls and the webinars will be offered in Spanish and English and are aimed at helping small businesses “pivot and adapt” during this challenging time.

“What we are finding is that Nevada’s small businesses are so focused on the funding aspects of their business, and they should be, that they may be overlooking other aspects and opportunities to improve their overall business, during and after COVID-19,” said Buddy Borden, economic development specialist with Extension’s Business Development Program. “Our goal is to provide resources and educational platforms to help our small businesses, statewide, cope and retool during this unprecedented pandemic. Ultimately, our goal is that when things begin to return to normal, our state’s small businesses will be even stronger.”

Borden said that during the Wednesday town halls, which begin at 9 a.m. for English speakers and 2 p.m. for Spanish speakers, there is usually a short presentation on a given topic or a preview of the Friday class during the first 10 minutes. Then, the participants network with one another and drive the discussion, with a panel of professionals and educators helping them troubleshoot challenges they are encountering.

The Friday webinars provide information on specific topics to help businesses plan strategically, adapt and succeed. The first town hall and webinar were held last week, and Borden said there was a lot of participation from urban areas in the state, but not much from the rural communities.

“While we were really happy to connect with so many businesses in our urban areas, we really want to let our small businesses in the rural areas know that we are here to assist them as well,” Borden said. “In fact, they may need our help even more, so we want them to get online and connect with us. We’re here to help. It’s a great time to go in and reassess and readjust.”

Both the town halls and the webinars usually run about an hour. To register or for more information, go to the Extension Business Development Program website at extension.unr.edu/busdev. There are also other resources at the website to assist businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, email Borden at bordenb@unr.edu.