Reflections on NACAA
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of County Agricultural Agents professional improvement conference. The conference was held in Overland Park, Kansas and we had the opportunity to tour some of the area. My husband, Kurt and I went on the “high tunnel tour” which provided lots of great ideas that either traditional farmers expanded on their current operation or new agricultural producers started. Nonetheless, it was a very interesting tour which showed how value-added agriculture or niche markets have their place. We also noticed how much the corn was suffering from drought and feel fortunate for the irrigation we have in our part of the state.
It was great to network with agricultural extension professionals from across the United States. Whether it was discussing programming ideas, learning different types of agriculture and issues foreign to Nebraska, or discussing potential program collaborations, a lot of knowledge was exchanged. One general theme seems to be the same… reduction in resources, while remaining current and relevant. Extension has been at the forefront of providing research-based, relevant and current information to clientele; however you might see different delivery methods.
With the increase in technology, we have been able to reach a larger audience through webinars, podcasts, YouTube, blogs, social media, etc. While we recognize that face to face programs are still important, we must have materials available so that the younger generations can have access to information 24/7. For example, my news column which goes into traditional newspapers also can be found on our Fillmore County Extension website as a pdf, on my blog, (vandewalleviews.wordpress.com) and small pieces of information tweeted on twitter. The major advantage of using multiple methods of delivery is that it reaches a larger audience and is accessible 24/7 and the best thing is most of these are free!
I was fortunate enough to present to my colleagues on some of my work involving crop science investigation with youth. Many other Nebraska Extension professionals presented posters, served on national or regional committees or received other awards. I was honored to be selected by my peers to receive the Nebraska Achievement Award. This year, Nebraska definitely had its presence known and I look forward to implementing some of the ideas learned and continuing to provide high quality, dynamic programs and research-based information to the great people of Nebraska.