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VOAD Members
Task Forces

National VOAD convenes ad hoc task forces as needed to respond to large scale incidents or whole community issues. Currently, those bodies are:

Drought Task Force
Training Task Force

March Drought Forum

Drought Forum for March. Please join or invite others:
The date: Tuesday, March 18 at 3 pm Eastern/noon Pacific (every MONTH on the third Tuesday until otherwise noted)
The toll-free line, 866-431-3918 passcode 9958751#,
To View any visuals: https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/droughtvoad/


* Drought and wildfire update – 15 minutes

* National VOAD Drought Task Force update – 5 minutes

* State leaders reports – 20 minutes

* Member and partner updates – 20 minutes

USDA Announces New Grants to Help Communities Meet Water Challenges in Coming Years

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make $6 million in grants available this year, and up to $30 million total over the next five years as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices, technologies and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality.

“Cutting edge research holds the key to tackling the complex challenges posed by prolonged drought and ensuring the future food security of our nation,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These grants will help arm America’s farmers and ranchers with the tools and strategies they need to adapt and succeed, and build on ongoing, cross-governmental efforts to provide relief to those impacted by severe drought.”

Today’s announcement builds on USDA efforts to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners mitigate the impacts of drought, including implementation of the livestock disaster assistance programs provided through the 2014 Farm Bill and $40 million in additional conservation dollars.

NIFA has identified three critical topics that will be funded through this new challenge area: 1) ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; 2) improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and 3) reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation’s water supply. NIFA’s approach will link social, economic, and behavioral sciences with traditional biophysical sciences and engineering to address regional scale issues with shared hydrological processes, and meteorological and basin characteristics.

NIFA is expected to make $30 million available over the next five years for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) water challenge area, with the expectation that the new projects awarded this fiscal year would receive additional funding in the following four years. All additional funding is contingent on future congressional appropriations and achievement of project objectives and milestones.

Building on its investment in water research, NIFA will also fund projects through the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP), which addresses critical water resource issues including water quality protection and water conservation. The RFA for this program is expected to be released in the spring of 2014.

The NIWQP supports research, education and Extension projects and programs that address critical water resource issues in agricultural, rural and urbanizing watersheds. These projects reflect the growing need to combine knowledge from biological and physical sciences with social and economic sciences to address complex water issues.

The NIWQP focuses on addressing water issues at the watershed scale. Projects funded by the NIWQP are outcome-oriented, aiming to increase awareness and change behaviors related to water resource management.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

2014 USDA Drought Designations

The National VOAD continues to monitor the drought and seek more ways for VOAD to engage in drought recovery. USDA Secretary has designated portions of 11 states in drought. We are engaged with contacts in many of those states.  As a reminder, keep track of the drought situation at the following USDA URL and join in on the National VOAD Drought Forum (see information below).


National VOAD to continue monthly Drought Forum Calls

The date: Tuesday, February 18 at 3 pm Eastern/noon Pacific  (every MONTH on the third Tuesday until otherwise noted)

The toll-free line, 866-431-3918 passcode 9958751#,To View any visuals: https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/droughtvoad/Drought and Wildfire Forum Agenda
  • Drought and wildfire update –  15 minutes
  • National VOAD Drought Task Force  update – 5 minutes
  • State leaders reports  – 20 minutes
  • Member and partner updates  – 20 minutes


USDA Announces Support for Mental Health Facilities in Rural Areas

Department sets goal of $50 million investment as part of President Obama’s effort to help improve access and treatment for mental health problemsWASHINGTON, Dec., 10, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a goal of investing up to $50 million to increase access to mental health care in rural areas over the next three years. The funding will be used for the construction, expansion, or equipping of rural mental health facilities and will be provided through the Community Facilities direct loan program. USDA’s effort to provide better mental health care in rural areas is part of President Obama’s ongoing commitment to address mental illness.


National VOAD Drought Forum

National VOAD conducted its third National Drought Forum call on Nov. 19. These calls are intended for volunteers, emergency mangers, and others engaged in drought issues from 2012 and 2013.

Brian Fuchs, Climatologist, with the National Drought Mitigation Center provided an update on the national drought picture.  Steve Cain provided an update on the National VOAD Drought Task Force.


About 32 percent of the U.S. is still in some level of drought. There was some improvement from a year ago, but it still remains an issues.

NDMC is introducing some new tools that show change while the year-long maps shows improvement, the country has been mostly dry for the last 30 days.

Impact on crops  comes from the World Ag Outlook Board : 22% of hay acreage is in drought, about 30% of wheat area is in drought.

The National VOAD Drought Task Force will continue to offer pilots to communities who want to use the Community Capacity-Building Guide for Drought Response. There are

The next update will be:

Monthly VOAD Drought Forum Call

The toll-free line, 866-431-3918 passcode 9958751#,

To View any visuals: https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/droughtvoad/


The date: Tuesday, January 21 at 3 pm Eastern/noon Pacific

Drought and Wildfire Forum Agenda

  • Drought and wildfire update –  15 minutes
  • National VOAD Drought Task Force  update – 5 minutes
  • State leaders reports  – 20 minutes
  • Member and partner updates  – 20 minutes


Monthly VOAD Drought Forum Call

Dial: 866-431-3918 passcode 9958751#
Date: November 19 at 3pm Eastern/noon Pacific
Drought and Wildfire Forum Agenda:
  • Drought and wildfire update – 15 minutes
  • National VOAD Drought Task Force update – 5 minutes
  • State leaders reports – 20 minutes
  • Member and partner updates – 20 minutes

9/17 Drought Forum Conference Call

“To view the National Drought Mitigation Center’s drought update during the September 17th call click here:

National VOAD Drought Forum: Sept 17

National VOAD members and partners will have a new forum to discuss issues concerning drought and wildfires. The toll-free line, 866-431-3918 passcode 9958751#, will be offered monthly for VOAD members and partners to openly talk and share ideas about drought and wildfire mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. These calls will start on Tuesday, September 17, at 3 pm Eastern (noon Pacific). Calls will repeat at the same time on the third Tuesday of every month for as long as members and partners feel the need to continue the forum. VOAD members from local, state, and national organizations are invited to attend, if they are operating in any of the above phases.
The calls will be moderated and will follow the agenda listed below. This is a forum for information sharing. Please note that when topics are introduced and there is not enough expertise on the call to adequately discuss it, the moderators will seek additional expertise and forward questioners to the National VOAD Drought Task Force web page and/or reintroduce the topic at the next monthly call. For questions about these calls refer to Jennifer Posten, Director of Member Services for National VOAD,  [email protected] .The VOAD Drought and Wildfire Forums will be managed by (from west to east) Tom Conrad, California VOAD; Bill Tolbert, Colorado VOAD; Steve Cain, Indiana VOAD and EDEN; Jennifer Posten.Drought and Wildfire Forum Agenda•Drought and wildfire update –  15 minutes• National VOAD Drought Task Force  update – 5 minutes•State leaders reports  – 20 minutes•Member and partner updates  – 20 minutes

Wildfires in the Northwestern Pacific Region

July 26th Webinar
Please join the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) in a webinar on Wildfires in the Northwestern Pacific Region. While the presenters will focus on northwestern United States wildfires, all members and partners in all states and territories are invited to watch and listen.This webinar is part of an on-going partnership of the two organizations to help address drought AND wildfire issues.
For more information visit:  EDEN at www.eden.lsu.edu/drought.

Access the Recorded Webinar:  https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/p1wrn4xtrcl/Speakers and their topics

For questions about the webinar content contact:  Tom Conrad  [email protected] .  For questions about access to the webinar contact: Abby Hostetler [email protected]


The First Step to Help Avoid Wildland Fire Disaster is Acting Wisely



 The U.S. Forest Service (Partners with the National Fire)


Protection Association on Firewise


Communities, a program that teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses.

May Update: Community Capacity-Building Program for Drought Response Is Ready!

Community Capacity-Building Program for Drought Response Is Ready!A team from FEMA, USDA, HHS, VOAD and EDEN built a “Community
Capacity-Building Program for Drought Response” that includes a guide for
community leaders on how to do the program locally and a toolbox to
benchmark the community’s capacity to do something about the drought.View this six minute webinar that walks you through the program guide
To access the guide, please visit the Extension Disaster Education Network
resource page.

February 14th Update

– The taskforce is working on a wildfire Webinar with a target delivery
date in April.
– The drought work group will present that taskforce’s findings on the
drought at the National VOAD Conference in May.
– Past and Future Webinars: There have been several webinars on


Community Drought Capacity Building Program

A team from FEMA, USDA, HHS, VOAD and EDEN are building and reviewing a Community Drought Capacity Building Program that includes a guide for community leaders on how to do the program and a toolbox to benchmark the community’s capacity to do something about the drought.

Materials should be avaialble on this page in March.

How To Setup a Long-Term Drought Recovery Group

Click HERE for Webinar Recording
The intended audience for this webinar is anyone interested in the process of setting up a long-term, drought recovery group whether they are from a community affected by drought or from an organization wanting to assist a community in setting up an organized, long-term drought recovery group. The audience is for those providing assistance rather than those requesting assistance. The audience will learn about resources from National VOAD and EDEN and hear points from Lutheran Disaster Response on how they have used long-term recovery groups to help in past droughts. This webinar is jointly hosted by National VOAD and EDEN (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the Extension Disaster Education Network).
  • Opening and introduction – Bill Hoffman, USDA National Program Leader
  • Updates on VOAD Drought Task Force and EDEN Drought NEIL – Steve Cain, Indiana VOAD President and EDEN delegate
  • Resources update – Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, Texas VOAD President and member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul- South Central Region
  • Experiences in drought long-term recovery — Joan Buchhop, Lutheran Disaster Response, North Dakota
  • Wrap up and questions – All on the above panel

Questions: Please contact Steve Cain [email protected] or Abby Hostetler [email protected]

Recommendations to NVOAD Board

Presented at Fall Board and Member Meeting (October 16, 2012)
(Work in progress! Comments are welcome to Steve Cain, Task Force Chair [email protected] )
1. Select a small group of about four to five people to conduct the business of the four C’s.There is precedent for National VOAD to assist with communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration. This smaller group should consist of people from National VOAD staff, Members (includes traditional and state members), and Partners; This team will conduct functions such as:
a. Survey the membership
b. Collect information and share through the Website, email and/or social media
c. Liaise with other national organizations and agencies
d. Advocate for the VOAD movement to be involved in the drought recovery
e. Organize a Webinar(s) about the National VOAD and drought for November
f. Work with the National VOAD drought task force to identify future efforts in the primary work group areas of:i. Community Issues
ii. Family and Individual Issues
iii. Farm Operations Issues
iv. National VOAD Procedural issues2. Considerations for actionsa. Seek funds to help deliver services.
b. Roll out a national Case Disaster Case Management program/model or guideline (North Dakota and Ohio examples).
c. Focus now is on Drought – wildfire is a subset; but we need to do more3. Survey questions:a. Is your organization actively responding to the drought? Wildfires?
b. If yes, please briefly describe your efforts and provide a point person who could be contacted for more information?
c. Please indicate the number of people you are assisting?
d. Do you have emails, newsletters or other outreach informing people about drought issues? ___ yes ___ no ; If yes can you give an estimate of your audience reach? _____
e. If yes to Question A, please provide a URL, if you have one, that highlights these efforts.
f. What are your financial and non-financial needs to support your efforts in the drought recovery?
g. Do you know of developing success stories from individuals or communities dealing with the drought? Can a Best Practices webpage be developed or a data bank to include best practices.

Drought Task Force

National VOAD as established a Drought Task Force following our declaration of this nationwide drought condition as a National Disaster.

Who Organization
Chris Gilbert American Red Cross
Tom Conrad Northern California VOAD and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Katie Oldaker Catholic Charities
Barry Shade Church World Service
Bill Tolbert Colorado VOAD
Kim Cassel EDEN
Patrick Crawford Feeding America
Steve Castaner FEMA
Jonathan White Health and Human Services Emergency Preparedness and ResponseAdministration for Children and Families (ACF)
Natalie Grant Health and Human Services Emergency Preparedness and ResponseOffice of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR),
Steve Cain (Chair) Indiana VOAD
Kevin King Mennonite Disaster Services
John Robinson National VOAD President
Dan Stoecker National VOAD Office
Jennifer Posten National VOAD Office
Bob Houser Presbyterian Disaster Assistance  and Nebraska VOAD
Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais Save the Children
Mike Patterson South Carolina VOAD and Salvation Army
Elizabeth Disco-Sheer St. Vincent de Paul-South Central Region (OK, TX, NM and AR) & Texas VOAD
John B. Pavek USDA Emergency PreparednessRural Development
Beverly Samuel USDA National Institute of  Food and Agriculture
Deborah Hill USDA Policy Analyst
Tom Hazelwood United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
Kathy Fulton American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN)
Zach Wolgemuth Brethren Disaster Ministries
Anna Tangredi Texas Division of Emergency Management
Curtis Hsing Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

August 10 Update

Situation August 10, 2012America is in the midst of the worst drought in decades. The United States Department of Agriculture has already declared natural disaster areas in 1,584 counties in 32 drought-stricken states. Dry weather and soaring temperatures have taken a toll on communities from Texas to the Dakotas and Ohio to California. The nation’s corn and soybean crops withers, cattle go hungry and herds are depleted, rivers and lakes dry up, and rampant wildfires bring further devastation. The declaration—which covers roughly half of the country— is the most widespread natural disaster in America.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than half the country (56 percent) experienced drought conditions—the largest percentage in the 12-year history of the service. And according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the period from January through June was “the warmest first half of any year on record for the contiguous United States.” The past 12 months have been the warmest the United States has experienced since the dawn of record-keeping in 1895, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The drought of 2012 is the most serious to impact U.S. agriculture since 1988. As of this week, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, nearly half of the nation’s corn crop and 37 percent of the U.S. soybeans were rated poor to very poor. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. cattle acreage is in drought-affected areas. The 1988 drought delivered a $77 billion loss due to crop, landscape, and other damages. The drought of 2012 is estimated to deliver a significantly larger impact, increasing worries about the prospect of another recession.

The results for rural America could be devastating. Families are losing their livelihood and businesses are looking for ways to stay afloat as sales fall off. For the rest of America, crop shortages mean food prices will go up. Families with marginal incomes could join the ranks of many Americans already struggling to access nutritious meals (over 7 million American households already struggle to put food on the table, including 1 in 4 children). The resulting psychological impact on communities will also escalate spiritual and emotional care needs.

National VOAD National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is a nationwide coalition of organizations that work together in all phases of disaster – preparedness, response, relief, recovery, and mitigation – to help communities prepare for and recover from disaster.

The National VOAD coalition includes the nation’s most reputable national organizations (faith-based, community-based and other non-governmental organizations) and 55 State/Territory VOADs, which represent Local/Regional VOADs and hundreds of other member organizations throughout the country.

The Call to Action

“National VOAD is now declaring the 2012 drought a national disaster,” says National VOAD President John Robinson, “and calling for all members to coordinate their response and prepare for what may yet come, including long term recovery.” National VOAD has formed a 2012 Drought Taskforce to bring attention to this disaster, to assess unmet and emerging needs, and to help focus talented people and the country’s resources for an appropriate response.

The task force is headed by Steve Cain, EDEN Homeland Security Project Director at Purdue University and Chair for the Indiana VOAD. “Many VOAD movement organizations and individuals are already taking action in communities throughout the country,” says Mr. Cain. “This Taskforce will rally resources where needed and spread the word on what actions make a difference for affected people and communities. We will also monitor the effects the national drought has on economic sectors, communities, and ecosystems and deliver recommendations for a whole community response.”

Task force Charge

  • Identify problems and opportunities to serve
  • Align it with the National VOAD mission
  • Design a process of engagement and proposals for action for the National VOAD member organizations and states.

Disaster phases There will be short-term and long-term needs, so we will look at all phases of disasters, such as mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

August 31 Update

The National VOAD Drought Task Force continues to meet and search for ways the VOAD movement is helping with the drought situation and find ways help in the future. We are currently working on:

  • Current issues, such as with logistic issues of relocating livestock feed resources, such as hay.
  • Short-term issues, such as finding out what member organizations are currently doing.
  • Long-term issues, such as addressing family, individual and community recovery from drought.

To do that, the drought task force has formed four sub-groups and identified team leaders to define the issues and potential responses under each subgroup. The sub-groups and leaders are:

  • Community Issues
    • Leader Elizabeth Disco-ShearerSt. Vincent de Paul-South Central Region (OK, TX, NM and AR) & Texas VOAD
  • Family/Individual
    • Leader Katie Oldaker of Catholic Charities
  • Farm Operation
    • Leader Kevin King of Mennonite Disaster Services
  • Procedural (how the National VOAD members approach the issues)
    • Leader Patrick Crawford of Feeding America

If you have input on these issues, please send them to the team leaders or to Steve Cain, Task Force Chair at [email protected] . Please put Drought Task Force in the subject line.