In days past, the Greene County Cooperative Extension Agency conducted field days for the various crops grown in the county, but with the advent of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the agency has turned to technology to overcome the challenges of social distancing.
“We have been doing virtual field days through the University of Arkansas,” said Dave Freeze, County Extension Agent, Agriculture. A few weeks ago they did one on rice, and last week they did one on corn.
On Sept. 17 another virtual field day for soybeans is scheduled. A virtual field day for cotton is to take place Oct. 1. Freeze explained that virtual field days take place through webinars and the use of the Zoom application.
The one last week on corn started with a live introduction, Freeze explained.
“And then there were five speakers, each in a prerecorded 12-minute presentation on a specific aspect of the crop under discussion, so that’s an hour,” he said. Following the presentations, there was a 30-minute period for questions and answers. In that period, individual viewers could send questions to the moderator, who would in turn forward them to the appropriate presenter for an answer. “Anyone that’s registered for it can watch,” Freeze said.
Each virtual field day starts at 6 p.m.
An added benefit of the virtual field day is that a video of each one is saved at the web page https://aaes.uark.edu/field-days/ after it occurs. “So if you can’t view it at the time it’s happening,” Freeze said, “you can look at it when the time works for you.”
Freeze said that Phase 2 COVID restrictions have prevented the gathering of more than 10 people in a given place, and have therefore scotched face-to-face meetings for the most part.
“We are still doing one-on-one meetings with families and with farmers,” Freeze said, “because we have found face-to-face meetings are more effective.”
Noting the current year’s COVID-driven problems have been “discouraging,” Freeze nonetheless said the Greene County Extension Agency was doing all it can to provide its services to the county’s residents.