After 10 years of holding as many as 14 live demonstration programs throughout the state, sheep and goat farmers in Ohio now have a way to keep more farmers across the state up-to-date on the latest sheep and goat information, as well as save time and money.
The sheep and goat WebEx series was put together by Ohio State University (OSU) Extension and OSU Sheep Team along with the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA). This lecture-based series involved having one location where an expert lectured using a PowerPoint presentation and then broadcasting the presentation to 14 other locations throughout the state.
“We received very positive responses that it was a great way to get updated on information,” said Roger High, OSIA executive director and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) director of livestock programs. “We probably reached more people doing it this way than doing it the way we did before.”
The WebEx series replaced the more traditional district programs that had occurred for a decade. The district programs were time consuming and costly for the staff and organizations involved. The programs also made it difficult to keep all of Ohio’s sheep and goat producers up-to-date on the most recent information. An expert might speak in a district one year, and not make it back around to that district for more than 6 years.
“(The WebEx series) came as an outgrowth of the district programs and so we decided to work with county Extension offices. I worked with them to coordinate locations,” said High.
Another benefit of the new format — the lectures were able to reach two other audiences. For an animal science class at Morehead State University, students received extra credit if they came to the remote WebEx lecture. The other audience reached is the Amish.
“We have a large number of Amish entering the sheep industry in Ohio. One of the remote sites was at a feed store in New Bedford where there’s a large number of Amish nearby. We got a projector and computer to the feed store and they were able to watch the presentations, close to home,” said High.
With the first year having been such a success, those involved are looking towards next year.
“The future of the program is to have another series next year with different topics. We should be able to bring good speakers from across the country and maybe even the world with the WebEx capabilities,” High said.
There may be some new technology that would allow live demonstrations with the WebEx series. If live demonstrations could be broadcast there would be endless opportunities, according to High.
“We will still do live presentations with good speakers and information at the Ohio Sheep Day and Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, but if there is a topic area with an expert in California we could do a WebEx without having all of the time and travel costs,” he said.
The WebEx series occurred every Monday in February, and this year was primarily sheep and goat health programming.
All of the sessions were also recorded and are posted to the Ohio Sheep Team’s website.