Dale Miller, Marion County Extension Education Director
More and more people in Iowa own horses for leisure, recreation and work. The Iowa equine industry includes 47,000 horse owners with nearly 200,000 horses valued at $1.03 billion. The impact of the Iowa horse industry is sizeable with 145,000 people producing goods and services valued at $862.5 million. Yet, the growing horse industry has been long overlooked by Iowa agriculture. Beyond our 4-H program and a few specialized seminars, ISU Extension has not offered a comprehensive equine educational program for horse owners.
Staff designed and delivered a multiple-session Master Equine Manager program at two regional sites (eastern and western Iowa). A partnership between ISU staff and equine industry professionals provided quality educational instruction and learning experiences. Divided into six core sequential sessions on Nutrition and Feeding, Health Care, Selection and Evaluation, Facilities and Equipment, Exercise and Conditioning, and Hoof Care, the course covered basic equine education including two additional sessions tailored to meet the participants specific needs. Participants received 24 hours of training to be certified as Master Equine Managers. A bimonthly e-newsletter provides educational updates to program graduates.
Eleven of the fifteen pilot program graduates volunteered their educational services in local communities during the following 6 month period. As a revenue generation program, the program had to meet the demands of the equine industry plus the paying customer ($550 registration fee/participant). Current participants strongly encouraged continuation of the program and were willing to help promote future programs. The following are just a few of the comments about the Master Equine Manager program received from the 19 participants:
the program was well organized and had great handouts. Most of all, thank you for having the foresight and taking the initiative to organize and host such a program.
made me go back to some of the basics to break info down better for my lesson kids.
This is a nice way to get further education to understand the equine industry and be better able to relate with others in business.
Program evaluations revealed that participants scored the overall program at 3.56 on a four point scale and placed an average value on the training of $1200. Many participants wanted to continue to maintain their support network for equine education. To help maintain the connection, a MEMO (Master Equine Manager Overview) e-newsletter was created and distributed bi-monthly to 34 program graduates.
The next program will begin this Fall in Central Iowa and plans are underway for three regional programs in 2007.
September 28, 2006
121 Adding Value and Enhancing Agricultural Products
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October 2, 2006
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