2020-2021 UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Pandemic Response

University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Digital Presence and Pandemic Response

In 2020, University of Maine Extension’s website at extension.umaine.edu – a composite of 58+ interconnected websites – received over 2.8 million page views. More than 50,000 followers followed or were subscribed to UMaine Extension’s 58 county and program-specific social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. More than 93,000 web visits were referred from social media. More than 400 educational videos were available to visitors on our YouTube and Kaltura channels or embedded on our web pages. More than 8,350 clients used our online registration system to register for classes, workshops, events, and more. In the wake of COVID-19, UMaine Extension quickly moved its workshops, classes, and events online. Between March 1 and December 31, 2020, unique pageviews on the UMaine Extension website increased nearly 30% over the same period of time the previous year.  

  • New resources were created and added to the website and social media, including COVID-19 support for Maine farmers, livestock producers, U-pick operations, cut flower and seedlings industries, and consumers.
  • Weekly Zoom meetings allowed producers to share what was happening on their farms. New “Learn at Home” resources provided educational opportunities for parents, teachers, and youth during school closures.
  • Horticulture and food preservation videos, webinars, interactive forms, and virtual office hours provided answers to an increased number of questions from home gardeners.
  • A new interactive locations map allowed clients to find Maine farm and seafood products; the map has been viewed 190,000+ times since it became available to the public on March 20, 2020.
  • With the closing of state and county fairs, the first-ever Maine State Virtual Fair was created to recognize 4-H’ers for their efforts on projects they completed and the skills they gained over the past year.
  • More than 180 online events were promoted through Facebook, which had a reach of 470,000 views and 11,7000 responses.
  • Our popular Ask the Expert online form received 346 questions from Maine home gardeners between March 1 and December 31, 2020, nearly twice the number during the same period in 2019.
  • 42 new publications were published specifically in response to the pandemic. These included: Finding New Markets for Maine Farmers, Managing Garden Centers and On-Farm Seedlings Sales Safely in Maine, Best Practices for Washing Produce, Use of Sanitizers on Commercial Farms, Tips for Starting a Healthy Garden, and Maine Maple Tours: Guidance During COVID-19. UMaine Extension typically publishes 22 new publications in a 12-month period.
  • Piscataquis County Staff contributed by writing and editing new publications and websites; conducting and promoting online events through newsletters and social media, and responding to individual clients that had questions.