LAMAR, Mo. — When COVID-19 paused face-to-face programming, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist Jill Scheidt knew producers would still need assistance with the growing season. Living by MU Extension’s mission of taking university research and knowledge to the people, Scheidt began brainstorming on ways her team could help.
“MU Extension specialists have weekly calls where we share what is going on in our area and ask questions to get research-based answers for our producers,” Scheidt explained. “I find these calls immensely helpful and thought, ‘What if we could open something like this to the public?’ I know if someone is asking the question, more are thinking it. With online town hall meetings, we could still answer pressing questions without risking public health.”
“We want to assist our farmers and growers through the thick, thin, and difficult times no matter the circumstance,” said Lee Miller, coordinator of MU’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. “From our home basement offices, we are striving to maintain a significant portion of our outreach programs that we hope can be of use and service.”
Miller and fellow MU Extension specialists have been gathering weekly since April 8 to host online town hall meetings that serve as public question-and-answer sessions.
Weekly forage/livestock town hall meetings take place Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. Horticulture meetings are 11 a.m.-noon on Wednesdays.
“I would encourage producers and industry leaders to join these calls so they can get relevant, research-based answers to increase productivity on their operation,” Scheidt said. “Even homeowners can benefit from these calls by making good management decisions in their lawn, landscape and home garden that can have a positive impact on water quality and the environment.”
Content delivered during these town hall meetings is also turned into short video snippets by MU Extension’s IPM team. Topics range from Asian giant hornets and cattle prices to nitrogen optimization for corn. Clips are uploaded to the MU IPM YouTube channel for viewing.
“We’re going to find a different way for producers to grab information any time they want to,” Scheidt said. “So, if that’s on a rainy day or at 10 o’clock at night, we’re going to put the information in a platform they can access at a time that’s most convenient for them.”
In that spirit, MU plant science extension teams are also working on delivering new digital content directly to the email inboxes of farmers and producers. For more information and to sign up for a virtual town hall, visit ipm.missouri.edu.
— Ashley Craft, University of Missouri Extension
For more news from Missouri, click here.