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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

August 16, 2022

The “Agriculture” Side of Hybrid/Virtual Program Planning/Delivery

Submitted by Sandra Wick

Wow, where do I begin? The topic of delivering and planning programs in a hybrid or virtual environment can be overwhelming, but if you truly just think about our producers and clientele -- their demographics and what they truly need -- it makes the daunting task a little easier!

Thinking back on my 33-year K-State Research and Extension career, delivery methods and technology have changed significantly, and if you aren’t willing to try new and different things, you are missing the opportunity to keep your current producers and get new clientele and producers. That's the bottom line.

Our clientele and producers simply just want the research-based information to help them make the challenging decisions in the field of agriculture.

Now, I am not saying it has been easy. So how did I get started?

First, you need to be willing to accept the challenge of delivering information in new ways and increase your skills to make that happen. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone; honestly, it is very difficult to do it by yourself.

You need a team of K-State Research and Extension specialists, agents and office professionals to help YOU make it a success. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many of our co-workers that are more than willing to help if you just ask them.

You may be wondering: But do I have the right equipment? Of course, that is a very important component of producing “high-quality” virtual/hybrid delivery methods.

You would actually be surprised how simple it can be and that you probably have the equipment to get started on a very simple level. You don’t need to start out with everything, start small and then continue to build your virtual/hybrid programming efforts gradually!

I would strongly encourage a very good microphone. There is nothing worse than not being able to hear the presentation or speaker. I remember the first time I decided to use Facebook Live at one of our wheat plot tours out in the field. I just used my own personal cell phone and hit the “LIVE” button on our Post Rock Extension website.

Believe me, it was scary, and I look back on that first broadcast and I think, 'Wow, did I really do it that way?'

The idea of using Facebook Live was brought up about five years ago at one of our ag Program Development Committee meetings. They told me it was easy. Maybe that was the encouragement that it took to get me started. So just like with everything else, the more you use a skill or something different you will become so much more comfortable.

So how do I determine if I go live, record the program or hybrid? That is probably one of the most difficult decisions that you will need to make.

It won’t be easy and once you make the decision and go with it, after the program, maybe you find that you should have gone a different way. But sometimes we learn by our mistakes; there is nothing wrong with that.

The venue or the location of the meeting becomes very important, especially if you choose the virtual or hybrid format. Good Internet access is critical. If you have limited access, you can record the program and post it online later.

We also need to remember that our clientele can be 18 to 100 in age, so they have many different preferences on how they would like to receive our research-based information. That is truly what makes it somewhat challenging.

So, I simply try to use many different delivery methods and not focus on one. This will hopefully provide the information to many of our audiences.

I continue to have a personal column in the newspaper and submit special feature articles in the newspaper as well. But I also do many Facebook Live special reports in the field, on hot topics or timely things that producers would like to know.

Live broadcasts are actually “real-time” and take less time because no editing is done. Other examples of how I have used different delivery methods in agriculture programming include recording meetings (if internet access is limited) and hybrid, where the meeting was in-person, but we also broadcasted live on many of the extension Facebook pages.

The recorded meetings are posted on our Post Rock Extension District crops website along with our YouTube channel.

Honestly, the pandemic forced us to look at different ways to deliver our information. So we embraced that challenge and came up with a plan. I would like to thank our team of northwest agriculture and crop agents, as we have worked together the past two years in developing and implementing our Crop Talk  webinar series.

Was it easy when we first started? Absolutely not. But we were all willing to learn from each other to make this happen for our producers in northwest Kansas and the entire state, around the nation and even the world.

Yes, that's right: Over the last couple of years, participants from 10 states and seven countries have joined in the webinar series. Who would have thought?

We have gained so many new producers and clientele with this format, especially the 25-45 year olds, that have their cell phone with them at all times, in their hip pocket, in their vehicle or in their office.

So, what is the next step? Well, we don’t want to lose what we have gained, so we will continue to provide many different delivery methods of 'taking the University to the citizens of Kansas and beyond.'

So don’t think you can’t also make this happen. Feel free to give me a call if you have any further questions. Thanks!

In this issue

From KSRE Administration
Health and Wellness
Extension Professional Trainings
Publications Update
Calendar of Events