USDA, DOD Officially Launch Military Extension Partnership

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) officially launched the USDA/DoD Military Extension Partnership supporting military service members and their families in their communities at the 2011 USDA/DoD Family Resilience Conference in Chicago, Ill. As a part of this official launch, eXtension launched the Military Families Learning Network (www.eXtension.org/militaryfamilies), a virtual community made up of content and support specialists, educators, researchers, Military Families partnering faculty, and military family service professionals. Over 25 members of the Learning Network were directly involved in nearly 30 presentations, meetings, and events at the conference.

The networking, interaction, and engagement that occurred between the Extension and military family service professionals surrounding the launch were exciting. The Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/MilitaryFamilies) and Twitter account (http://twitter.com/#!/MilFamLN) associated with the Military Families Learning Network were unveiled during the conference as well and continue to show considerable activity. There were nearly 5,000 Facebook post views in the two weeks surrounding the conference and “likes” from as far away as Canada, Germany, and Iran. The Learning Network is growing, especially with new members coming from the service branches and the Department of Defense.

The primary goal of the Military Families Learning Network is to create opportunities for Cooperative Extension professionals and military family service professionals to engage, discover resources, and collaborate around issues pertinent to the unique needs of military families and those serving them. The first priority areas for the Learning Network are childcare, personal finance, and family and youth development.

For more information about the Military Families Learning Network, please contact Kyle Kostelecky at kyle.kostelecky@extension.org.