While all 46 county offices are closed to the public, Clemson Cooperative Extension remains open for business and will continue delivering unbiased, research-based information to the people of South Carolina.
In service of that mission, Clemson Extension has created a COVID-19 website for Extension programming and fact sheets related to the novel coronavirus, along with resources aimed at helping South Carolinians and the state’s agribusinesses cope with the crisis.
As the nation works to slow the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, Extension agents and staff may not be able to respond to all calls in person but will continue to be available by telephone and email. Resources available on the website include a fact sheet for sending photographs to Extension agents to request the identification of a plant or animal species or the diagnosis of diseases infecting them.
“As they have since the advent of email and text messages, agents frequently receive photos from the public asking for the identification of a species or the diagnosis of a disease or pest,” said Clemson Extension Director Tom Dobbins. “Even if an Extension agent is unable to perform a site visit during these trying times, we are still working to solve your problems and answer your questions. We are still on the job to serve you.”
By following the tips on the fact sheet, residents can make it easier for agents to meet requests in a timely manner by ensuring the photos they receive are in focus, well-lit and from sufficient angles to identify species or diagnose a disease or pest issue.
The website also includes a link to food systems and safety resources as COVID-19 precautions increase throughout the state and nation. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report no evidence of food or food packaging associated with the transmission of COVID-19, information related to consumer food safety such as safety precautions for dining out, purchasing food and hygiene in the kitchen are available.
Resources for farm food safety, what growers should do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, frequently asked questions for consumers and financial assistance are also available.
Other resources available include information for registering young people for Extension’s 4-H @ Home program, which offers free, daily educational activities via email that can be completed using common household materials with lessons designed for elementary, middle and high school students. The program is open to youth ages 5-18 regardless of location or 4-H membership status.
As parents and guardians seek options for keeping young people busy and engaged in learning, the program has been a big hit in its early stages. Within the first week after the program began March 16, more than 1,570 youth from every South Carolina county, 25 U.S. states and Mexico registered.
The Extension COVID-19 resource website also includes resources for agribusinesses, as the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team is committed to providing South Carolina’s farmers and agribusiness professionals support during this difficult time, and information for handling soil samples while county offices are closed.
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