By Sharon DowdyUniversity of GeorgiaContinuing education for employees is important. But in hard economic times, many business owners can’t afford to train their staff. A new series of online videos from the University of Georgia provides training for workers in the landscape industry, and it’s free. Developed by the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, the five “Safety Makes Sense” videos cover topics like lawnmower and equipment safety, poisonous plants and animals, appropriate clothing, sun protection, heat stress, heat stroke and repetitive motion injury as well as communicating with supervisors. OSHA approvedThe videos are approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and were funded by an OSHA Susan Harwood Grant. They are offered in both English and Spanish.“We knew the Spanish versions of our training videos would be popular,” said Ellen Bauske, the center’s program coordinator. “And, with the state’s budget situation, we can’t hire a full-time Spanish-speaking educator. The videos allow us to provide this training despite that.”In January, the videos made their debut on the center’s Web site, www.ugaurbanag.com/safety. Three weeks ago, they were added to youtube.com. They will soon be available on UGA’s iTunes site at www.itunes.uga.edu.The videos were placed online first and foremost because that’s what the industry requested, she said.What the industry wants“We surveyed the landscape industry and found out they need rainy-day, any-day training,” she said. “It’s hard for them to attend trainings on specific days because they need to plan work around Mother Nature. The videos allow them to be in control of when and where they train their staff.”For the next phase, Bauske is working with University of Florida Cooperative Extension to offer video training for English-speaking supervisors of Spanish-speaking employees.“We’d also like to offer video training on best management practices,” she said. “Where we go from here depends on whether we find a fund source.”In addition to the online videos, the center’s Web site provides English and Spanish versions of the Safety for Hispanic Landscape Workers manual. It’s designed in an easy-to-understand format with images to ensure employees understand the information regardless of language skills or literacy level.Employees aren’t the only ones that can benefit from the Web site’s resources. It also has information to help supervisors better communicate with a Hispanic workforce.
The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is working across Vermont to help communities solve local issues with 21st century tools. On February 16 e-Vermont will host Vermont Communities in a Digital Age to highlight some of the projects taking place and bring leaders and learners together to share what they have discovered so far. Topics include mobilizing community resources during emergencies, a hands-on lab about digital tools for business, a showcase of how technology is expanding the classroom for 4-6th graders, and a preview of how town meetings can reach a wider audience. The all-day workshop takes place at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center.‘‘High speed Internet is the critical resource of the 21st century for business, education, community building, good governance and communicating with friends and family. It touches on all parts of our lives,’ says e-Vermont Project Director Helen Labun Jordan. ‘But making the best use of this resource takes the kind of creative thinking we’ll be sharing on February 16.’ Labun Jordan notes that this workshop is for people who are comfortable with computers and focused on applying those skills to larger community goals, not on learning basic skills. Anne Galloway is the keynote speaker. Anne is an award-winning journalist and founder/editor of VTDigger.org, a statewide news website dedicated to coverage of Vermont politics, consumer affairs, business and public policy.Registration is only $20 and includes course offerings, refreshments and lunch. For a complete schedule and to pre-register online visit the e-Vermont website at www.e4vt.org(link is external), call 802-859-3090, or e-mail email@example.com(link sends e-mail). Follow e-Vermont on Facebook (e-Vermont) and Twitter (@eVermont).e-Vermont partner The Snelling Center for Government is the lead organizer for Vermont Communities in a Digital Age.‘The whole day will offer participants new ideas about how digital tools can be used to create jobs, reinvent schools, attract visitors, improve civic involvement, and enliven Vermont communities,’ stated conference coordinator Joanna Cummings. ‘We hope that hearing directly from some of our communities about their projects will inspire other towns to adapt these tools for their unique needs.’The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and is made up of the Vermont State Colleges, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Small Business Development Center, the Snelling Center for Government, Front Porch Forum, Digital Wish, Evslin Family Foundation and Vermont Community Foundation.e-Vermont is supported by a $2.5 million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Additional support comes from the Evslin Family Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation, the Jan and David Blittersdorf Foundation, UVM’s Center for Rural Studies, the Vermont Rural Partnership and by donated services and equipment from Dell, Microsoft, and Comcast.