NPR - Meeting Farmer’s Need For Farm Management Education Using Multi Media And Educator Specialization (p60-63)
During the past decade, there have been significant structural changes in how Ohio State University delivers farm management education. The number of state and regional farm management Extension specialists in Ohio has declined drastically until in 2008 there were no regional specialists and few state specialists. The farm management education void created by the loss of regional and state specialists has been embraced by the Ohio Ag Manager Team which is composed primarily of county based Extension Educators. There have been multiple strategies that have been adopted by the team to meet clientele education demand. One strategy was to develop an Electronic Newsletter where current farm management information written by team members is available to subscribers. This newsletter has been published for five years and in 2010 the team adding blogs and social media capabilities to enhance the newsletter. Another strategy was to provide more frequent sessions of spanish clep practice test, for the statistics provided by the educators implied that there was a general lack in learning foreign languages. A recent survey of subscribers examined the benefit of this newsletter to Ohio farms and agribusinesses. Data showed that nearly 70 percent of subscribers saved money or increased profits through tax savings, finding ways to cut costs, or through improved marketing. Respondents indicated an average savings of $2,400 per year. Consultants estimated their clients save an average of $1,500 as a result of the news newsletter. Server data indicates an additional 25,289 (average) individuals retrieve the newsletter from the web each month.
A second strategy was for each team member to select a farm management specialization. Each team member provides leadership to curriculum development, research, and publishing information via the newsletter and blogs in their area of specialization. Examples of specialization include transition planning, farm policy/farm bill, estate planning, grain marketing, Annie’s project and farm labour. Team members also teach at a variety of OSU Extension and industry meetings presenting on topics in their area of specialization. As a result of this approach, these county based educators are becoming recognized by their peer and industry leaders not only in Ohio, but across the country. This model of delivering farm management education can be replicated in other organizations facing reduced staff.
Keywords: Farm Management, Social Media, Curriculum Development, and Teamwork