AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – The phrase “go wash your nasty hands” has special meaning in the South as many of us have heard our parents or grandparents say it just before dinner. Now, it has taken on new urgency under the threat of coronavirus. It is also the current mantra from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Kent Stanford, who has become a bit of an internet sensation.
In mid March, Alabama Extension began its alternative operations plan in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since that time, Stanford, with the help of his teenage daughter, has been lighting up social media with informative videos.
These video have been published through the Alabama Cooperative Extension Forage Focus Program and Alabama Beef Systems Extension Facebook pages. While the topics vary, the tag line remains the same, “wash your nasty hands.”
In the first video, Stanford used elements of agriculture biosecurity to encourage consumers to practice enhanced hygiene.
“I try to present simple concepts in a way that get people thinking,” Stanford said, “We want to encourage people to think. In addition, every video points people back to the Extension website for more information.”
Simple Concepts, Big Impact
These videos have been a hit thanks to Stanford’s plainspoken blend of science and humor. This series has generated hundreds of shares and a total projected reach in the tens of thousands.
“It’s an opportunity to reach people that Extension has never reached before,” Stanford said.
Early on, Stanford produced a daily video to build momentum and audiences. Now, viewers can expect to see one or two videos a week from him.
“Kent’s messages are resonating with people,” said Alabama Extension director Gary Lemme. “People are learning about biosecurity, food production and even how pine trees become toilet paper.”
Extension’s New Delivery Methods
Lemme noted that face to face meetings and interactions have served as the basis for Extension education efforts since its inception in the early 20th century.
“This disease has forced a massive shift in our delivery methods,” he said. “Alabama Extension professionals, who had already been using technologies such as apps and other digital methods to reach audiences, have embraced new ways to teach.”
Lemme said Stanford is one of many Extension professionals adapting their methods to meet the needs of the state’s residents.
“We are seeing 4-H clubs hold meetings, weekly horticulture workshops and other trainings, such as pesticide safety, happen in the virtual world through Zoom meetings and Facebook Live,” he said.
For more information on Extension programs, visit www.aces.edu or follow and like the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama 4-H Facebook pages.
Also, visit the Extension directory to find your county Extension office. Links to county social media platforms are on the county directory page just below the office address and telephone number.