Bibb County Extension completed its annual Grassroots input meeting yesterday evening, in a virtual format.  Though we interact with our Grassroots Committee members regularly throughout the year, the annual input meeting is where we gather input specifically for the regional and state program planning process for the coming year.

We look forward to resuming face to face programs, hopefully soon.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to shift to virtual programming, which will continue to comprise the majority of our programming for the forseeable future.

One of the feedback items was the great question:  “How can we find out about and participate in virtual Extension programs?”

The short answer is Zoom, Extension YouTube videos, and Facebook live presentations.

1)Zoom is an interactive video platform that allows participants to receive educational presentations, or participate in meetings—our Grassroots meeting was a Zoom meeting. It is NOT necessary to download Zoom to participate, although a free account is available.  Visit the Zoom website for more information

You only need an internet connection, audio and video to participate in a Zoom meeting.  Most smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops have audio, a camera or built-in webcam for video, or the capability to add a webcam or video inexpensively.

Participants in a Zoom meeting or program can interact with each other verbally, see each other, and even use the chat feature to communicate.  Zoom usually requires a good broadband connection for optimal quality, which unfortunately not everyone has.

To preserve internet security and reduce instances of hacking, Alabama Extension requires public meeting participants to register online for Zoom programs through Auburn University.  Meeting participants then receive an automatically generated email with a unique Zoom link to connect the desired meeting.

How can you find out about Zoom meetings offered by Alabama Extension? 

There are a several good ways:

a)Visit our Coronavirus resource page Alabama Ready and click into the subject areas.  Often, Extension virtual programs are listed within those areas, and each listing contains a link to register in advance for the desired program;

b)Visit our Events/Calendar page You can search for programs of interest by date, or by topic using the search feature at top right;

c)Subscribe to our monthly Bibb County Extension e-newsletter We often post local or regional programs or meetings in advance, keeping you in the loop on what’s going on in our ‘back yard.’

2)Facebook Live—Many Extension educators also use Facebook Live, sometimes in conjunction with Zoom.  Facebook live does not allow direct interaction among participants, or with the presenter(s).

However, content can be heard and viewed live, and viewers can like and comment.  Facebook Live often does not require as strong an internet connection as Zoom, making it more accessible.  Of course, it is necessary to have a Facebook account or watch with someone who does to use this option.

How can you find out about Facebook Live presentations by Alabama Extension? By far the easiest way is to visit the Alabama Extension Facebook Social Media Directory find the page(s) you’d like to connect to by county or subject matter, like or follow the page, and get notifications about programs. When you see a program you’re interested in, you can register to participate by Zoom (when that option is offered) or simply visit the desired Facebook page to watch/listen;

3)Alabama Extension YouTube Channel—Visit here to search, like or subscribe to the Channel for numerous videos or topics.

 

Finally, if none of the above works for you, or you have questions about Extension programs, feel free to reach out to us by phone at 205-926-4310, visit our lobby at 183 S.W. Davidson Drive, Centreville, or you can email mdh0007@aces.edu

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As the Bibb County Coordinator for Alabama Extension, Matthew D. Hartzell coordinates the implementation of all Extension programs in Bibb County in many program areas. These program areas include 4-H and Youth Development, Animal Sciences, Food Safety and Quality, Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, Family and Child Development, Family Resource Management and Workforce Development, Commercial Horticulture, Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, Farm and Agribusiness Management, and Community and Economic Development. Hartzell has served in his current position for 12 years and held primary program assignments in Community and Economic Development, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, and Forestry Wildlife and Natural Resources.