Back in April, Todd Peterson, like everyone else in Utah, was spending a lot of time at home with his wife and three kids in Cedar City. So, he jumped at the chance to be a guest for an online program offered through Southern Utah University.
“Mostly because I was feeling it too. We’d sort of been sequestered for our kids for a few weeks, we were just coming off winter and thought to myself, I’d kind of like to reach out and talk to people too,” said Peterson, who is an author and professor at SUU, where he teaches film and creative writing.
He was a guest on an episode of the virtual program, Community Reads. People chimed in with questions about his 2018 book, “It Needs to Look Like We Tried.” It turned into something like an online book group said Peterson.
Before COVID-19 the university offered a ton of community education programming like photography, guitar classes, even pet training. Now, it’s streaming.
“I think it helps for all of us to tune in and either take a break or tackle some difficult subjects that you may be dealing with at home, and know that you’re not alone,” said Susie Knudson, SUU’s assistant director for community and professional development.
Participants can pick up parenting and relationship tips. There are also art and science projects for kids. Professor Peterson also taught a class about rebooting your creativity when you’re stuck at home. He encouraged people to take a little time to do some writing and reflection.
“It’s almost like people would buy up toilet paper just in case. And I was like, ‘why don’t you be creative – just in case?’” said Peterson.
Even though the university’s online community ed classes were designed for locals, Knudson says they’ve been streamed over 10,000 times by people from all over the country. All of the programs are archived on the SUU Community Education YouTube channel. She also says that in-person programs will likely return in August, when students come back to campus.