Jim Fawcett, Crops Field Specialist, Southeast Area
It is increasingly important to train ag professionals to do some of the education and crop troubleshooting that has traditionally been the role of ISU extension ag directors and crop specialists. One program that assures that professionals have the base knowledge and experience to make good crop management decisions is the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) program. One requirement to become a CCA is to pass the international and state CCA exams. Many crop advisors have found it difficult to pass the Iowa CCA exam, and need additional education in order to have the knowledge to become a CCA. The first few years that the test was given, ISU Extension crop specialists conducted training courses across the state, but in recent years there have not been enough participants for each specialist to justify the many hours it takes to conduct the classes. Each year most crop specialists were getting requests from several potential CCA's, but didn't feel that they could justify spending many hours on class preparation and teaching for just 2-3 people.
I rejuvenated the CCA test preparation course by promoting the course statewide through the ICM Newsletter, web sites, and news releases. In order to reduce class time, a CCA Study Guide that included publications and web links to publications was sent out a month prior to the course, and participants were encouraged to spend many hours studying prior to the course. Study questions were also e-mailed to participants prior to the course and used as a method to teach each of the four study areas. The 2-day course was held immediately prior to the scheduled exam in August, 2004 and again in February, 2005. Having the course on 2 consecutive days was more convenient for people that had to travel far, since they would only have to make one trip and could spend the night.
Ten attended the 2-day course in the summer of 2004 and 22 attended in February, 2005. Participants attended from all parts of the state. Using the study questions as a basis for teaching helped prevent the course from being a lecture and led to more interaction among the students. Those that attended the February, 2005 course were sent a follow up evaluation to see how well they did on the test. Over 50% (N=9) of those responding to the survey passed the exam, compared with less than 20% passing for all that attempted the exam in February. Many of those who took the class had already failed the exam 2-3 times, so those that finally passed were very grateful. All those that responded to the survey thought that the course was worth the $90 registration fee, which helped with revenue generation. One participant wrote that the study course is worth its weight in gold. On average, those responding to the survey thought that the education received would result in their customers increasing their profits by about $8/A, which could add up to millions of dollars, considering the number of acres their customers farm.
August 9, 2005
142 Integrated Pest and Crop Management
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