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Eco-Family Virtual Conference

Healthy Environments = Healthy People! Imagine learning sustainable living at your kitchen table and your teacher is on his own front porch! After a failed attempt to hold a face-to-face weekend sustainability conference for families in rural Iowa, Extension Family specialists opted for a virtual conference using Adobe Connect to reach people statewide. We converted the original conference topics and speakers into 6 monthly broadcast presentations. The 90-minute sessions featured experts in Local Food Systems, Connecting with Nature, Green Schools, Rainscaping, Edible Landscapes and Compost 101. Anchored in family development theory, the sustainability theme resonated with a variety of audiences. Twenty-three families from 9 urban and rural counties engaged in the monthly discussions focused on healthy people, environments and economies. Evaluations indicate increased knowledge and skills relating to environment and human health including human ecological footprints, and improved familial wellbeing. The interactive sessions included virtual breakout rooms, chats, note pods, polls, videos and microphone/headsets for participatory learning. Sessions were recorded and archived for participants who could not attend or for those who wanted to re-view the material. Extension offices were available for those with limited access to internet. Focus groups are enthusiastically designing the next virtual conference series.

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