Growing the eOrganic Community: Annual Report 2013

Organic Agriculture January 27, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

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Annual Report 2013

2013 marked eOrganic’s fifth year of providing information on organic farming and research to the public. Our eXtension Community of Practice now has approximately 1,000 members, including researchers, Extension educators, agency personnel, organic certifiers and inspectors, farmers, and other agriculture professionals. More than 200 members have actively contributed to eOrganic by authoring and/or reviewing articles and FAQs, producing or reviewing videos, answering Ask an Expert (AaE) questions, presenting webinars, and/or attending outreach and leadership events. Read on to learn about our accomplishments in 2013 and upcoming plans for 2014.

Views of eOrganic Content

eOrganic did a great job in attracting visitors to our websites in 2013. On pages published to our public website at http://www.eXtension.org/organic_production there were 175,000 unique visitors who generated a total of 328,500 page hits. The eOrganic.info website, the home of our project and host of various research project websites, recorded 51,000 page hits by 10,914 visitors. The eOrganic YouTube channel surpassed 1.4 million total views on the 400 videos hosted there and now boasts 2,600 subscribers. There are 7,500 subscribers to our monthly newsletter. In the social media realm, eOrganic has roughly 2,400 followers and likes on Twitter and Facebook

Outreach to Farmers and the General Public

eOrganic showcased its available articles, videos, and other content at exhibits at organic farming conferences in 2013, including the annual MOSES and PASA conferences, NOFA-Vermont winter conference, the Oregon Small Farms Conference, and the Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa. Special thanks to conference workshop presenters and exhibit volunteers: Lily Calderwood, Sonja Lallemand, Betty Marose,Jim Riddle, and Ingrid West!

The following workshops and presentations were given about eOrganic at the American Society for Horticultural Science on July 22-25, 2013:

  • Daley, C., H. Darby, S. Flack, A. Denney and D. Heleba. 2013. Development of Technical Training and Support for Agricultural Service Providers and Farmers in Certified Organic Dairy Production Systems through eOrganic. Abstract. American Society of Horticultural Science Meeting, July 22-25, 2013. Available at http://ashs.confex.com/ashs/2013/webprogram/Paper15797.html
  • Stone, A. (Coordinator) eXtension/Ecampus/On Campus: Synergies in Curriculum Development. Workshop. American Society of Horticultural Science Meeting, July 22-25, 2013. Available at http://ashs.confex.com/ashs/2013/webprogram/Session5932.html
  • Stone, A., A. Azarenko, H. Atthowe. 2013. Problem- and Planning-based Learning in Organic and Ecological Agroecosystems: An Eorganic and OSU Ecampus Partnership. Abstract. American Society of Horticultural Science Meeting, July 22-25, 2013. Available at http://ashs.org/abstracts/2013/abstracts13/abstract_id_15804.html

In addition, Betty Marose gave an invited talk about eXtension at Chesapeake College, and Jim Riddle promoted eOrganic in his keynote speech at the Ecofarm conference, as well as at the MOSES conference, and farming conferences, farmer training classes, and Master Gardener meetings in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Expanding our Reach with Webinars and Broadcasts

Starting in late 2009, eOrganic began offering free web-based presentations, or "webinars." A webinar allows people from all over the world to hear a presentation, view the presentation slides, and type in questions--all while sitting at their computer. The presentation is recorded and available for viewing at any time from eOrganic's YouTube channel. To date, eOrganic has delivered more than 100 webinars attended by over 10,000 attendees, of which, on average, about 27% were farmers. Our webinar topics range from practical farming methods to the latest in organic research.

Highlights of the 2013 Webinar Season

In 2013, 31 eOrganic webinars were presented on a range of topics, including how to develop an organic systems plan, ancient grains production, pest and disease management, organic dairy nutrition, pasture management and economics, and the performance of organic in long term systems trials. Many of the webinars showcased current NIFA funded research projects. A series of four webinars was presented in collaboration with North Carolina State University Extension on Excellence in Organic Extension, attended live by a total of 618 people. eOrganic also hosted Miles McEvoy who presented a National Organic Program Update on their recent activities. Some of the highlights of our 2013 season included the following presentations:

eOrganic live conference broadcasts expand the reach of in-person presentations to online viewers. In 2013, 107 people listened online to the International Quinoa Research Symposium, held at Washington State University. Fifteen presentations from the conference were recorded and archived in a playlist which is available on eOrganic’s YouTube channel (which were viewed over 2100 times). eOrganic also broadcast a live presentation from the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference by Lynn Clarkson of Clarkson Grain entitled How Can Organic, non-GMO and GMO Crops Coexist?

Webinar Evaluation

An evaluation is sent to each participant immediately following each webinar to assess whether or not the participants liked the quality, utility, and accessibility of the webinar, and whether they would recommend the webinar to others. For select webinars, an impact survey is sent the following winter to evaluate any participant behavior change as a result of attending the webinar. Read eOrganic's complete evaluation report at http://eorganic.info/evaluation.

Across all topic areas, feedback from participants of 2013 eOrganic webinars was positive. In surveys administered immediately after the webinars, an average of 97%  of participants agreed that their understanding of the topic had been improved to some degree, and 96% reported that they intended to apply the knowledge they gained in the webinars in their work. The technical level of the webinars was viewed as 'just right" by 80% of participants, and 78% of participants reported that webinars were" very easy" to access. Averaged across all webinars, 79%  participants stated that they would recommend the eOrganic webinars they attended to others, and 17% said they might recommend them.

Webinar Participant Feedback in 2013

  • "This was timely and useful information as we are launching an educational project for dairy farmers on transitioning to organic"
  • "This was really well done! Did not realize why some of my strawberries look the way they do."
  • "A very great detailed description of grazing behavior and ways to take advantage of grazing behavior."
  • "Great adult education content and delivery; a very effective presentation about delivering effective presentations! I appreciated that the presentation team made an effort to engage the audience and to provide opportunity for participants to interact despite some of the limitations of the environment."
  • "Another quality presentation. Glad to see organic work of this quality gaining a presence in the land grants."
  • "Very interesting research. I've not followed projects like this in many years and am impressed with new analytical tools (for me, anyway) that are being used in the field to understand complex relationships between variables in a farm setting."
  • "Just a little bit too technical for me, but only because I'm pretty new on the block and just getting started in orchards. But, the info surely opened up the view to organic possibilities that I can learn more about and use in the orchard."

Looking Ahead to Webinars in 2014

Scheduled webinars in 2014 include an update of recent occurences of Late Blight of Tomato and Potato, 2 days of live broadcasts from the Organic Seed Grower's Conference, a series of webinars on research about food safety in orgaic production. More webinars from USDA funded research projects will also take place: examples include webinars on organic blackberry production, spotted wing drosophila, greenhouse gases, and aneaerobic soil disinfestation. Find our complete schedule of upcoming and archived webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

eOrganic Online Courses

Introduction to Organic Dairy Production Course

Members of the eOrganic Dairy Team have launched an asynchronous online course, "An Introduction to Organic Dairy Production" as part of "Development of Technical Training and Support for Agricultural Service Providers and Farmers in Certified Organic Dairy Production Systems," USDA NIFA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) project. Course developers and instructors include: Cindy Daley and Audrey Denney, California State University-Chico; Heather Darby and Deb Heleba, University of Vermont Extension; Sarah Flack, Sarah Flack Consulting; Sid Bosworth, University of Vermont; and Karen Hoffman, USDA NRCS. The course is composed of 10 modules addressing a range of topics related to certified organic dairy production, including certification, soil health, pasture and forages, herd health and nutrition, milk quality, and calf management. Each module has required readings, a narrated powerpoint presentation from an expert on the topic, and recommended additional resources. CCA CEUs are available. Find a full description and a link to the course at http://www.extension.org/pages/69299

Video Production Course

In March, 2013, eOrganic conducted a second annual online Introduction to Video Production course. There were 16 participants, who were researchers and Extension educators who are supporting eOrganic with project funds from USDA NIFA OREI and ORG grants. The instructors, Lane Selman and Jeff Hino of Oregon State University, taught the basics of video planning, making storyboards, filming, and creating production plans so that participants can create videos about their research results for posting on eXtension.org and eOrganic’s YouTube channel. Materials from the course are now publicly available at http://eorganic.info/video.

In an evaluation following the completion of the class filled out by 9 participants, 71% of respondents said they “strongly agree” that they know how to write a storyboard, and 29% said they “agree”. 43% said they “strongly agree” that they know how to develop a production plan, and 57% said they “agree”; 29% of respondents “strongly agree” that they know when it’s a good idea to record audio separately from video and 71% said they “agree”. 14% said they “strongly agree” that they gained knowledge on how to avoid common mistakes and 86% said they “agree”. 100% said there was nothing that they hoped to learn from the course that wasn’t covered.

eOrganic Articles

All of eOrganic's published articles can be found at www.extension.org/organic_production. Before publication, every article is subject to two anonymous, peer reviews and National Organic Program compliance review. eOrganic published 90 articles in 2013, of which 20 were on organic poultry health, nutrition and recordkeeping, and 29 were on organic dairy production.

Notable articles published in 2013 include the following:

eOrganic Videos

Find eOrganic's 400 videos (including webinar recordings) on eXtension at http://www.extension.org/pages/18726 and on the eOrganic YouTube channel, where we have more than 2500 subscribers and over 1.4 million views.

New videos published in 2013 including the following:

Ask An Expert

The Ask an Expert service is a way for our stakeholders to get answers from Land Grant University (LGU) and Extension professionals through eXtension.org. Ask your question at https://ask.extension.org/groups/1668/ask--you can even submit an image to help with a diagnosis.

eOrganic provides oversight of all questions tagged with "organic production" within the Ask-an-Expert system. Our staff finds an answer by either answering the question directly or by soliciting the best response possible from our eOrganic members. In 2013, community members answered approximately 172 questions, and more than 1127 organic agriculture questions have been answered through the service since its inception in 2007.

Research Project Public Websites

eOrganic was funded by 20 NIFA funded research and outreach groups in 2013, for the provision of editorial support for and review for publishing articles and webinars to eXtension, video instruction and editing, webconferencing for meetings and broadcasts, workspaces for project management, and the hosting and creation of public websites. Public websites hosted by eOrganic for research and outreach projects include:

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Organic Farming Systems
  • Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture
  • NOVIC
  • Organic Cucurbit Research: Critical Pest Management Challenges
  • Organic Reduced Tillage in the Pacific Northwest
  • Tools for Transition

Letter from Fabian Menalled: New eOrganic CoP Leader

Dear eOrganic Community,

Starting January 1st 2014, I replaced Alex Stone as the eOrganic CoP leader. First and foremost, I would like to thank Alex for 7 years of hard work. Since its inception and under Alex’s leadership, eOrganic grew up and became a nationwide source of information to engage farmers and ag professionals in research and outreach activities in organic agriculture.

I am particularly excited about my new role as the eOrganic CoP leader. Currently, I am an Associate Professor in Weed Ecology and Management at the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University with a research and extension appointment. I received a BS in Ecology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a PhD in forest ecology from the University of Massachusetts. Before moving to Montana in 2004, I worked for almost ten years at Michigan State University and Iowa State University.

My current research focuses on understanding the ecological basis of sustainable agriculture and integrated weed management. This program embraces a multi-disciplinary approach to address both basic and applied problems facing the agricultural communities of Montana. Core areas of research include 1) Patterns and functional importance of weed diversity 2) Development of integrated weed management practices, 3) Role of wheat variety, weed biotype, and stress on virus transmission and crop-weed competitive interactions, and 4) Evaluation of new and existing herbicides for weed management and crop safety. The overall goal of my off-campus teaching program is to develop and deliver a research-based educational program addressing local, regional, and national concerns associated with the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the agricultural enterprise.

As the eOrganic CoP leader, it is my goal to follow in Alex’s footsteps. To do so, I will heavily rely on Alex, the rest of the eOrganic team, and most importantly the whole eOrganic community. Please do not hesitate in contacting me to let me know how we can push eOrganic forward.

Fabian Menalled  

Letter from Alex Stone, outgoing eOrganic CoP Leader

eOrganic is going on 7 years old!

eOrganic is an eXtension Community of Practice, and as such it is led by a land grant university faculty member with an extension appointment. I have acted as the Community of Practice leader of eOrganic since eOrganic’s inception in 2007. Being a CoP leader isn’t a job, it is a volunteer professional service role. I am the vegetable specialist (research and extension) at Oregon State University, and I have filled the CoP leader role as part of those job responsibilities.

The eOrganic CoP leader role has expanded over the years as eOrganic grew up into what it is today--a national organic agriculture information service. I have led the Leadership Team and the staff group, acted as the liaison to eXtension, developed funding processes with eXtension and NIFA, raised grant dollars, provided oversight over the activities of the OSU staff (John McQueen, Alice Formiga, Lane Selman and Roger Leigh, who coordinate/staff eOrganic.info, webinar and broadcast series, editorial process, video course and editing, outreach), and led the vegetable and vegetable disease groups. The role has expanded greatly over time and can no longer be filled by a single professional volunteer. So, after lengthy discussion, the eOrganic Leadership Team decided to expand the leadership base by recruiting a new CoP Leader.

The Leadership Team convened a search committee (Anita Azarenko, Brian Baker, Deb Heleba, John McQueen, Mathieu Ngouajio, Erin Silva, and Michelle Wander) in September 2013 that conducted a formal search for a new CoP Leader.

Fabian Menalled, the weed ecologist and extension specialist at Montana State University, stepped into the role of eOrganic CoP Leader as of January 1, 2014. He will lead the CoP and Leadership Team. I am very much looking forward to working with Fabian in his new role. I am not leaving eOrganic--I will continue to serve as a member of the Leadership Team, provide oversight over OSU staff and their activities, and focus more of my efforts on developing eOrganic’s vegetable cropping systems content.

Get Involved with eOrganic

eOrganic is a Community of Practice, which means it relies on community members like you to help it grow and better serve our farmer and agricultural professional stakeholders by developing and delivering critical and timely resources. If you are a researcher or Extension educator with expertise in organic agriculture, eOrganic wants you to write an article, shoot a video, deliver a webinar, or develop and teach an online course. All of our articles and videos undergo NOP compliance and peer review before publication. For more information on how to get involved with eOrganic, join eOrganic at http://eorganic.info or contact Alice Formiga at formigaa@hort.oregonstate.edu

Write eOrganic into Your Next Grant Proposal

For complete information on the diverse opportunities eOrganic offers project groups and how to write eOrganic into your proposal, visit http://eOrganic.info/proposal. During the past year, eOrganic received subawards from 20 ongoing OREI and ORG projects. We can also partner with you on regional IPM, AFRI, SARE, NRCS-CIG and proposals from other funding sources. A 2-page handout describing our services to funded projects which can be distributed at meetings can be found here.

eOrganic can offer your project:

  • Webconferencing
  • Webinars and webinar series to stakeholders and community members
  • eXtension publication editing, and peer and NOP compliance review
  • Video capture training, editing, review, and posting to the web
  • Online course development and support
  • Outreach for your articles, videos and webinars to our established network of farmers, extension personnel, ag professionals, and researchers from around the country and the globe - at conferences and through our newsletters and social networking activities
  • Ask an Expert support
  • Project workspace at eOrganic.info to facilitate project communication and management
  • Project websites that are easily managed by your project members from eOrganic.info (see http://eorganic.info/novic)

Stay in touch!

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.