i-Three Issue Corps – How do we get things done in Extension? We “Borrow, Adapt, Adopt”

All extension agents are familiar with the method of finding the best practices, adapting and adopting them to work in our communities. This is an efficient way to provide proven projects and methods with limited resources. While the idea of ‘Borrow, Adapt, Adopt’ may not be anything new, using it as a formal project method is.

Let me explain. I work with local governments to develop and implement climate change policies which increase community resiliency to climate impacts.

What is the problem? Climate

Climate change is felt at the local level; small governments often do not have the staff, expertise or time to devote to climate change preparation. Within my four county region in South Florida there are 108 local municipalities! Yep, 108 governing boards that need help with climate adaptation policies.



Is there a solution? Gato

Through the eXtension i-3 Issues Corps-Climate Initiative  I am developing a project called ‘Borrow, Adapt, Adopt” for Climate Policy. Creative, right? Here is how it works: the project provides easily editable tools for adoption at the local government level to implement best practices and procedures for climate resiliency. Tools are supported by workshops held 3-4 times per year to share, engage and support municipal action. The four tool kits consist of easy-to-edit documents such as policies, targets, ordinances and resolutions.  The tool kits allow communities to pick and choose areas in which to move forward based on their current engagement and interest. The tool kit areas are:

1. Intro to Climate Issues – These will be the top 10 (or so) tools to begin climate engagement at the local level. Here you will find adoptable documents such as: signing the Mayors Climate Agreement, operations emission and energy reduction targets and action plan development.

2. Next Steps – This kit will include tools to further climate resilience, mitigation and adaptation. Here you will find editable documents such as; environmentally preferable purchasing, comprehensive plan elements and more specific ordinances.

3. Tools for Community Rating System Points – This kit will include specific policies, implementation tools used in other communities which gain points if adopted in the CRS system.

4. Borrow, Adapt, Adopt; Energy – This kit will focus on documents which can further a communities energy strategy such as: PACE, Audits, and efficiency targets.

These tools allow communities to be more resilient to the effects of climate change.

We plan to measure the “Borrow, Adapt, Adopt” project outcomes by the number of communities using the tools to adopt local policies. Through the adoption of these best practices communities can prioritize projects like capital improvements, future investments and reduction of risk for vulnerable areas. Preparing for climate impacts has been a proven strategy in the reduction of risk and increasing cost effectiveness at the local level. So, although the model for this effort began with a UF IFAS Extension, Monroe County project, I have partnered with the SE Florida Climate Compact  to ‘pilot’ the model in Southeast Florida region. Our first workshop is next week, and the assistance from eXtension will wrap up in Aug-Sept. In the fall I will be working to see if the model is scalable to state and national Extension agents. Part of the evaluation process will be to track participant cities and see what tools were used and how they were implemented. This is a multi-year effort both regionally and as a model. Want to know more? Contact me at betancourt-alicia@monroecounty-fl.gov.

Images;Key West, Gato Building; Doug Gregory and Water Rising (https://pixabay.com/en/high-water-shield-setting-water-392707/)