Thursday, February 5, 2015

Engage. Communicate. Educate: Bringing Extension Into the Digital Age

UF/IFAS Extension Agents and Master Gardeners recently attended an in-service training focused on learning social media basics and getting hands-on time with several UF/IFAS apps. The IrriGator project also took center stage in both website and blog form.

The IrriGator Project: All irrigation. All the time. All across FL. 
Knowledge on-the-go
What do weather, horticulture and irrigation have in common? UF/IFAS has apps for those! My FL Farm Weather keeps growers attuned to weather information from across the state. FL Gardening Solutions lets the user create a virtual garden, and then periodically push notifies handy information about garden plants for care and maintenance. 

What's cooking? Smart irrigation!
Smartirrigation Turf is like having a weather-based controller on your mobile device. The user creates an irrigation system, programming geographic information and system parameters, and then the app does all the work – push notifying irrigation scheduling adjustments based on details about the local weather and your system.

Sharing is caring
As a means for promoting projects and expanding the reach of educational content, social media platforms can be very useful for Extension Agents. 

Orange County Extension's Jennifer Pelham defines the terms.
Training attendees learned the ABCs of Twitter, with many live-tweeting during the event using #waterIST. Then IFAS Communications’ Social Media Manager Tiffani Stephenson talked about how to manage a social account successfully and the benefits of “official account” status. She also shared her top 5 Twitter tips for Extension Agents.

This is a call…
A training is valuable insofar as it prepares you to put a useful skill into practice. Training attendees whom braved the hours to the event's conclusion enjoyed a spirited presentation on blogging. 

...and by spirited I mean there were bunnies
The takeaway: blogs offer an opportunity to share and educate in detail about your field of expertise. And because the web is teeming with great content to help make your posts as polished and engaging as possible, there’s no reason to not get in the game.

Fire up those phablets
Initiate your own platform or benefit from IrriGator’s existing infrastructure and editorial guidance. Extension Agents are invited to contribute water-related content to IrriGator! Contact Kati Migliaccio with an article pitch or to claim a publishing date.

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