Heather A. Johnson

The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS) at UC Davis has continued to provide much-needed training to rural communities as a member of the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC) in 2021. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unexpected change in how training was delivered, WIFSS persevered to convert in-person training to an engaging and effecting online virtual format. As a result, WIFSS has trained two hundred and twenty nine participants from twenty seven states including Alaska and Hawaii since June 2021. The new online format has allowed training events to be attended by professionals in disaster preparedness, planning, and response from a multitude of states and agencies from the local level to the federal level, and everything in between.

All courses taught over the past six months online were very well received by the participants. The favorite part of the classes continues to be the mini tabletop exercises that allow participants to work together in groups to plan how to best respond and prepare for disasters that may impact animals, agriculture, and food production in a fictional rural jurisdiction: “Osburn County.” On course evaluations, participants report high levels of engagement and interest being able to problem-solve with colleagues and other professionals who are experienced in disaster response and planning. In the online environment, participants were able to talk with colleagues in other parts of the country and share ideas, experiences, and resources. This was a unique and exciting development for our classes that have previously been taught in-person and were attended primarily by local participants.

Courses taught this past year included “AWR 328-V: All Hazards Preparedness for Animals in Disasters” and “MGT 448-V: All Hazards Planning for Animal, Agriculture, and Food Related Disasters.” The “V” that has been added to the course number stands for “virtual”. WIFSS is proud to be able to deliver trainings online now – an option that allows us to meet the needs of our audience as sometimes in-person training is not convenient or accessible for all.

Locations that hosted the virtual training classes in 2021 include the following:

WIFSS has been given the go-ahead to resume in-person trainings, as well, starting in 2022. The WIFSS instructors are ready to get back out on the road to meet in classrooms with participants, as well. We anticipate a very productive and busy training season meeting the recent requests for our classes across the U.S. Our lead instructor, Tracey Stevens, started off the New Year with a full travel schedule and the completion of four classes in the state of Utah. Both AWR 328 and MGT 448 were taught back-to-back in two different rural locations: Duchesne, UT and Herriman, UT. All classes were well attended and helped to meet the state training needs of the peace officers in the state. 

The RDPC training calendar is filling up quickly! Additional locations that will be hosting in-person training classes in 2022 include the following:

Georgetown, TX (February 2022)

Jefferson City, MO (Training dates TBD)

Dover, DE (Training dates TBD)

Orland, CA (Training dates TBD)

Newport, OR (Training dates TBD)

The registration for the above classes will soon be open, and those interested in attending should check the RDPC website for more information.  https://ruraltraining.org/

If there isn’t an upcoming offering near you, and you’d like to request training online or in your area, please complete the “Request Training” form online at the RDPC website. https://ruraltraining.org/request-a-course