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Emails Sent to Purdue EMG Coordinators During COVID-19 Crisis

Hi EMG Coordinators,

Volunteers working in gardens that grow produce for food banks during the Indiana stay-at-home order.

Sharing ideas for coordinating Purdue EMG Programs

Example Plant Sale Order Form (courtesy of Amanda Mosiman)

Example Plant Sale Order Form (courtesy of Michele Jones)

Plant Photos Sheet for Remote Sales (courtesy of Michele Jones)

MG Manager Update

  • Officer/Committee member title was added to the volunteer profile page. Coordinators or EMG’s can add their committee/officer title to their profile information which will also be visible on the county directory page.
  • Purdue branding was updated to the site.

Hi Purdue EMG Coordinators,

After further guidance from Rick Foster and the Purdue Extension Leadership Team, I wanted to make some revisions and clarifications to the Coordinator update sent yesterday, March 19.

“Meetings” vs. “Events” clarification:

  •  “Events” – all face-to-face Purdue Extension events where the public are invited to attend are to be postponed or cancelled through May 17.
  • “Meetings” – Face-to-face meetings of less than 10 people may be held, when absolutely needed and when the people involved observe social distancing guidelines (no physical contact and stay at least 6 feet away from another person). However, I would encourage you and EMG volunteers to meet virtually through May 17. Keep in mind that this date may be extended.

Demo garden workdays:

  • Given the “meeting” guidelines above, EMG volunteers may hold work days in demo gardens (at the same physical address), if there are less than 10 people working in the garden and they observe the social distancing guidelines (remain 6ft apart and no physical contact).
  • Again, please ask volunteers to bring their own garden tools to avoid contamination.
  • But, please consider local health department guidance and restrictions on travel before organizing small crew work days in gardens.

Plant sales:

  • Given the “meeting” guidelines above, ask EMG volunteers to be creative with plant sales options such as online or phone ordering, remote pick-up location(s) that minimize face-to-face contact, etc.. For example, they could set up an unstaffed pickup location for plant pickup by customers or if there is a need for an EMG volunteer to monitor the pickup location, observe all social distancing and “meeting” guidelines mentioned above.
  • Once again, consider local ordinances, health department guidance, and restrictions on travel before organizing plants with online/phone orders and remote pick-up locations or delivery.

I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. We are all trying to adjust and offer guidance that protects Extension staff, volunteers, and the public.

Dear Purdue EMG Coordinators,

I’m sure most of you have read Dr. Karen Plaut’s email (sent on 3/18/20) with further Covid-19 updates for the College of Ag. In her email, she mentions the extended no face-to-face date until May 17th for all Purdue Extension related meetings and events. All Purdue Extension related meetings and events (including all Purdue EMG association meetings and events) from now through May 17, are to be canceled or postponed. This is effective immediately. I would continue to prepare our valuable Purdue EMG volunteers that this situation is changing rapidly. This no face-to-face contact date may be extended further as the situation evolves.

I wanted to give you some more updates on resources and guidance on some questions I’ve received from our colleagues:

How should we handle Purdue EMG demo garden work days?

  • Demo garden work days are considered face-to-face meetings and should be canceled or postponed through May 17th when they involve more than 1 person per garden location with the exception of 2 people who live in the same household.
  • An option would be to allow only 1 volunteer per garden location (at a physical address) to work in the garden alone (except when 2 people who live in the same household). If you elect to do this, ask the volunteers to bring their own garden tools in order to avoid possible contamination of shared tools. You could use Doodle Poll or some other scheduling tool to schedule the work times for volunteers.
  • But, please consider local health department guidance and restrictions on travel before organizing lone workers in gardens.

What can we do with plants ordered for a plant sale that is now postponed or canceled?

  • You should cancel or postpone any plant sale that is scheduled between now and May 17th. Keep in mind that this date may be extended.
  • If you don’t have any plant material on order or in the possession of the EMG association, I would advise the group to just cancel the plant sale. This situation is too fluid to allow for adequate planning. If your volunteers have not dug plants for the sale, I would advise them not to dig and pot plants.
  • Some EMG associations have ordered plants that are to be delivered soon or have already been grown for their sale. What can they do with the plant material? Here are some options:
    • Investigate whether you can sell most of the order to another organization, municipality, or business. Consider selling them at cost or lower to cut the losses.
    • Donate the plants to the local park or another organization, plant them in a demo garden (see guidelines above for working in demo gardens), etc.
    • Investigate setting up a remote sales station and take orders online or by phone. I’ve done just a little research on this option and have found it to be a bit complicated.
      • Here are some items to consider when thinking about organizing a remote plant sale:
        • Maintain NO face-to-face contact throughout the process.- No one should be stationed at the pickup location, only one person working with the plants at a time, etc.
        • Taking orders - If the EMG association has an online method of taking payment (not one that runs through a personal account), then they may be able to take orders online using this method. If they do not have an online method of taking payments, then it would be acceptable to take payments/orders using a mail in order form and check payment to the association not an individual. I would advise against any unsecured payment or order method, like a payment box at the pickup site or accepting cash.
        • Getting orders to customers – Prepare a un-staffed pick-up location where people pick-up orders labelled with their name. You may also be able to do a NO face-to-face delivery of the plants to people’s homes.
        • Nonprofits are limited to no more than 30 selling days in a calendar year to avoid collecting sales tax. Orders should be limited to a timeframe of less than 30 days. No orders taken or accepted before or after a specified date range. There may be some restrictions on out of state sales as well. Refer to or an attorney for more information.
        • EMG organizations should consult local ordinances and advisories such as non-essential travel restrictions that might affect their eligibility to conduct remote sales.
        • The following article written by the DFFS team for commercial businesses may be helpful:
        • Once again, please consider local health department guidance and restrictions before moving forward

 For those in the middle of a EMG Basic Training, what if participants don’t prefer to take the remaining classes virtually or don’t have internet access?

  • I would recommend that participants  finish the training virtually now, if they are able. Coordinators could offer free attendance at a future in-person EMG Basic Training hosted by your county. Their attendance could be approved toward their continuing education hours requirement. They will get the training twice!
  • Currently, we don’t have another method of providing the video recordings for those without internet. If they don’t have internet capability, Coordinators could allow these participants to finish their training free of charge at a future in-person EMG Basic training. Coordinators could also schedule special makeup sessions using live instructors, recordings, or other virtual methods after the face-to-face meeting restrictions have lifted.

Video Resources Added!

Please don’t hesitate to call or email me with any questions you may have!

Dear Purdue EMG Coordinators,

Like all of you, I’ve never dealt with this situation before. I feel as though I’ve been trying to catch up and wrap my head around this for the last few days. I’m sure many of you feel this way too. I have also been so blown away by yours and our volunteers’ cooperation and patience!

Here is some information and a few updates to help you finish out your Purdue EMG Basic Trainings and work with existing volunteers through this crisis:

  • Supporting Purdue EMG Basic Trainings currently in progress
    • Thank you to Amy Thompson for her leadership to gather an inventory of recorded training sessions and to Karen Mitchell, Phil Woolery, Valerie Clingerman, and others for sharing videos. You can find them here:
      • The archived video page above should NOT be shared with the public but with current EMG Basic Training participants. Coordinators can choose to use these to provide training or use a live virtual method like WebEx.
      • You may also use these for “make-up” classes for those participants that miss a class due to illness or some other reason.
      • There are multiple versions of some topics. I wanted to give you some choices.
      • I will encourage all coordinators to record their upcoming WebEx trainings for future use. We will continue to update this archive with new recordings as they are made available.
      • Recordings for Plant Nutrition, Invasive Species and Fruit Gardening are coming soon.
      • Please visit the T drive for quizzes and handouts for each topic. Keep in mind that they may not completely match the video presentation on this page but that’s the best we can do for now.
    • What if participants don’t have internet access to access to watch videos or WebEx to finish their training?
      • After the face-to-face shutdown, I would allow those participants to come to their respective county Extension offices to finish their training by watching recordings of the missed classes.
    • What do we do if the shut-down extends past the final exam? Here are some options:
      • Send a printed copy of exam and the instructions page to each participant by mail. (found on the T drive)
      • Postpone final exams to a later date when face-to-face meetings resume.
      • We are working on developing a Qualtrics version of the final exam. I will send it out when its ready.
    • What if the shut-down extends past the time to administer the post-test and post-program survey. I am waiving the requirement for the post-test and post-program survey. If you can get it done, fine. If not, please don’t worry about it.
  • Providing virtual volunteer opportunities to Purdue EMG’s. Some ideas…
    • Writing home horticulture articles for websites, social media, etc. Purdue EMGs should be sure to follow all pesticide information policies and have coordinators review the articles.
    • Continue with association and committee meetings using virtual meeting options.
    • Virtual home gardening question hotline via email for the public. (supervised by coordinators)
    • You might have other ideas to share?
  • I have prepared a Purdue EMG Program Virtual Resources Page here:
  • Canceled or postponed events.
    • I have removed all EMG events between March 16 and May 2 from our website.
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