AMES, Iowa -- The successful distance education program SowBridge begins its third year in January 2010. 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.
“We asked participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and are happy to provide a 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 those experts following the individual sessions.”
Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, 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.
“People from 13 states, four Canadian provinces and Ireland took part in the past year’s program, and they told us they appreciated having all employees participate in the sessions without requiring any travel or other expenses,” he said. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants do not need internet access and can take part from anywhere.”
Before each session, subscribers receive a CD containing that session’s presentation, along with information on accessing the live speaker presentation. Most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each subscription costs $250 (U.S.) which provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and lasts for approximately 45 minutes.
Stalder said the year-long program is offered by subscription only with a Dec. 1 deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Jan. 6, 2010. He said materials, delivery process, and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses, and encouraged potential subscribers from outside the U.S. to contact the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) at (515) 294-4496 for more information.
A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the IPIC Web site at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/SowBridge/2009brochure.pdf . Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at (800) 808-7675.
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 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.