The conception, development, and growth of the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) were a direct result of the lessons learned by the land-grant system responding to the catastrophic Mississippi and Missouri river floods of 1993. The major lessons learned were:
Long-term community recovery efforts would rest with three key groups/agencies - local government, the faith community and Extension. These three were in those communities long after the water receded and the disaster was no longer national news.
Citizens looked to Extension for resources and expertise related to disaster recovery, mitigation and preparedness, but the individual states lacked the capacity, research-based information or expertise to address the multitude of issues/needs resulting from a major disaster such as this.
The emergency management community discovered that the Land-Grant system could be a tremendous asset.
Extension had a role related to emergency management, but the faculty was not technically prepared to play that role.
There was a need for more coordination and standardization of recovery recommendations by the various emergency response agencies - Departments of Health, Extension, Red Cross, Salvation Army, FEMA, etc.
The impacted states lacked the capacity and resources to effectively deal with the magnitude of requests for information, expertise, recommendations, technical assistance, community planning, recovery issues, etc.
Based on these lessons learned, it was obvious that the Land-Grant system would have an ongoing expectation to be involved locally and nationally in the emergency management arena.
A.J. Dye of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) asked Peter Bloome, University of Illinois; Jerry DeWitt, Iowa State University; and David Baker, University of Missouri, to develop a proposal for the use of remaining special funds to build on the lessons learned and to position the region to more effectively prepare for and respond to future disasters.
The three leaders initially envisioned that one or more centers would be established in the North Central Region where states could pool their technical and educational resources to more effectively respond in times of a disaster. During the 1993 disaster, the states did share some important human resources, but they thought that they could do better.
DeWitt submitted a multi-state proposal for $80,000 to CSREES. Shortly after the grant was funded, DeWitt changed jobs, and it was agreed that Illinois and Missouri would move forward with the proposal. The University of Illinois sub-contracted with ISU, and Peter Bloome agreed to serve as the new PI.
The NCR Extension directors were asked to designate one representative per state to serve on a regional committee and to attend a fall 1995 meeting in Kansas City. The main issues that surfaced during that meeting were:
How can we share the resources we already have that apply to disasters?
What resources are available or missing that would be used by the North Central states in the types of disasters that we typically experience?
How can we provide training to Extension staff members in emergency management?
How can we promote scholarly research and efforts that would support this area if Extension were to play a role in it?
Where can we go to find funds that might support these efforts?
At a second meeting in Kansas City in May 1996, the representatives brought more ideas for collaboration. On the last day, participants agreed the “disaster reduction group” needed a name. The key driving principle was development of a network or collaboration between the 12 NCR states to respond as a system/region to future disasters. Four key words described that vision - “Extension... Disaster ... Education...Network,” thus the name and acronym of EDEN were born.
The first annual meeting of EDEN was held in Minneapolis during the fall of 1996. Other annual meetings have been:
1997 - New Orleans (in conjunction with the National Housing Conference)
1998 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
1999 - Emmitsburg, Maryland (at the Emergency Management Institute)
2000 - Portland, Oregon
2001 - St. Louis, Missouri
2002 - Charleston, South Carolina
2003 - Denver, Colorado
2004 - College Station, Pennsylvania
2005 - Fargo, North Dakota
2006 - Nashville, Tennessee
2007 - Hilo, Hawaii
2008 - Burlington, Vermont
2009 - Indianapolis, Indiana
2010 - Lexington, Kentucky
2011 - Portland, Oregon
2012 - Tunica, Mississippi
2013 - Madison, Wisconsin
2014 - Florence, Alabama
2015 - Las Cruces, New Mexico
Future annual meetings will be:
2016 - Ithaca, New York
2017 - Illinois
Chairs who have served EDEN are:
1994-1998 - Peter Bloome, Illinois and Oregon
1998-2000 - Pat Skinner, Louisiana
2000-2002 - David Baker, Missouri
2002-2004 - Mark Hansen, Michigan
2004-2006 - Ed Jones, North Carolina
2006-2008 - Becky Koch, North Dakota
2008-2010 - Dave Filson, Pennsylvania
2010-2012 - Virginia Morgan White, Alabama
2012-2014 - Rick Atterberry, Illinois
2014-2016 - Mike Yoder, North Carolina
2016-2018 - Scott Cotton, Wyoming
EDEN’s growth can especially be related to three events:
Joe Wysocki, then NPL for Housing and Environment, arranged for the NCR EDEN committee to meet in New Orleans as third party to a 1997 joint meeting of the American Association of Housing Educators and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Mitigation Task Forces. EDEN asked Louisiana to provide leadership for beginning its move to a national rather than a regional network. By 2005, all 50 states and three territories had institutions as EDEN members.
September 11, 2001, raised the profile of disaster management and, of specific relevance to EDEN and USDA, the importance of protecting the nation's food supply. EDEN's principle support since that time has been from the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative (FADI).
From July 2002 to June 2004, CSREES Special Needs funds provided grants to 17 member states to provide disaster education/emergency management training for their Extension educators, and continues to require that recipients of Special Needs funding extend the benefits of their project using the EDEN network and its resources. For a number of years NIFA (formerly CSREES) has provided EDEN with funding to support EDEN coordination and communications, Web development and maintenance, curriculum development, training, and resources development.