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Bryce Knorr talking at Farm Progress show on laptop screen Holly Spangler/HAKINMHAN/Getty Images
GOING VIRTUAL: Access to experts on a range of topics is going to be easier this winter, and you won't have to leave home.

Lifelong learning just got a lot easier

Another Voice: The rise of virtual events and meetings will be a boon to your 'education' this winter.

As I write this, everyone around is in the flurry of fall work, from seeding winter crops to planning and working on harvest. But as you park that last piece of equipment to rest until spring, you have new opportunities this winter.

Those long, cold days when you’re not doing chores could be an opportunity for you to build on your knowledge. The rise of virtual meetings and events is doing something else — it’s making it possible for you to have access to more information than ever. Yet you can engage it at your own time.

Most land-grant universities have ramped up their “webinar game,” providing frequent meetings timed to key issues during the cropping season. Major farm shows — like our own Husker Harvest Days and Farm Progress Show — have gone virtual, too. And while at first it appears that you may be at the bad end of a fire-hose flood of information, the beauty is that you can control that flow.

Heard your university just did a new report on ways to control cheatgrass? Great, you can go back and watch or listen to that recording.

Looking for some help with that spring weed control strategy for your specialty crop? Chances are, someone reputable has prepared a presentation you can see at any time.

We're living in a Zoom world, it seems, where Extension experts can reach out as needed in new ways to help you farm. Companies are upping their game, too, with new reports, podcasts and other information you can use to farm better.

It’s a lot to digest, but there’s value in all of it. I have some ideas for maximizing that information, so here are a few tips.

Don’t be afraid to register. Most sites these days that offer this type information need you to register. There are solid rules about passing along your information to outsiders, and that should be spelled out when you register. If you don’t like what you see, head to another site. But registration is the “cost” of entering a free event. Yet, it’s also how you’ll get alerts to new content that you may find useful for your farm.

And most virtual event sites will require some form of registration.

Consider a schedule. You could probably take a leisurely look at different parts of a virtual event or catch a webinar from time to time. But perhaps this winter, dedicating some screen time to a webinar or two for your operation would be time well-spent. Depending on where you farm, your options for winter meetings — in person — may be limited. Virtual meetings may become more common; and if that happens, registering for those events so you can watch when they happen or return later to see the recording will allow you to better manage your time.

Reach out. There are interaction sections in most virtual events, whether they’re an email address or web address where you can get more information. And at the university level, Extension experts want to help you solve problems. Listening to an expert on a webinar may spark a question. You may find that the same expert is happy to connect to help you out.

We’re moving into a virtual world. We will go back to live events again; you can count on that. But for now, if you’re getting virtual lemons, consider squeezing yourself a virtual-event lemonade and enjoy.

Oh, and you might pour yourself a real lemonade and think of a field day come summer 2021. It could happen.

TAGS: Farm Shows
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