AMES, Iowa -- Following a successful first year, the distance education program SowBridge begins anew this fall. Iowa State University (ISU) animal science associate professor and extension swine specialist Ken Stalder said the program received great reviews from a wide range of participants and that helped solidify the decision to continue offering it.
“People from 15 states and a Canadian province took part in the 2007-08 series, and they told us they really liked not needing to travel to hear from expert presenters,” Stalder said. “By combining electronic information viewed on computer with live presentations over a toll-free phone line, people can attend individual sessions without leaving home or their workplace. And, Internet access is not required.”
Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, said the year-long program is offered by subscription only, with monthly sessions beginning in November. Before each session, subscribers receive a CD containing that session’s presentation, along with information on accessing the live speaker presentation. Participants call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Cost is $250, which provides access to one phone line and all materials. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and lasts for 45 minutes. Registration by Oct. 20 is required in order to participate in the first session set for Nov. 5.
An informational brochure with subscription information is available on the IPIC Web site at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/SowBridge/2008brochure.pdf Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at (800) 808-7675.
He said the program is intended for people involved in managing or caring for boars, sows, and/or their litters, including operation owners, employees, technicians, managers, and technical service providers. SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.
“We asked first-year participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and are happy to provide an even greater variety of session subjects and speakers from university, public and private entities this year,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity not only to hear directly from experts, but to contact them following the individual sessions.”
Stalder said a single registration can be used to reach a number of people.
"We encourage farm managers and owners to enroll in this program and invite several of their employees to take part over the noon break through use of a speakerphone and computer projector," Stalder said. "People have told us they like the ease and convenience of this program. For example, one person said ‘At home, at work, or the road I can still participate.’ Another said the program provided support, confirmation, and/or correction of their operating practices.”
SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 state universities with Mark Whitney and Lee Johnston of the University of Minnesota serving as program coordinators. The program is coordinated through ISU.
IPIC was established in 1994 as a coordinated effort of the colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University (ISU.) Its mission is to promote efficient pork production technologies in Iowa, maintain Iowa's pork industry leadership and strengthen rural development efforts. IPIC focuses its efforts on programs that are integral and complementary to ISU Extension. Through IPIC, Iowa producers receive accurate and timely information to make their operations more efficient and profitable.