University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension presents research and pest management results at in-person field days, meetings and conferences. To extend the reach of these efforts, UC IPM offers monthly live webinars, UC Ag Experts Talk, on pests and their management presented by Cooperative Extension experts and hosted by members of the UC IPM content development team Petr Kosina, Cheryl Reynolds, and Stephanie Parreira. The webinars are currently focused on pests of subtropical tree crops, but it is anticipated that the scope of topics will broaden over time. Participants are pest control advisers, growers, Cooperative Extension advisors, UC Master Gardeners, industry representatives, and federal and state agency members.
The benefits of webinars are numerous. Live webinars allow experts to talk about timely issues, such as a new pest outbreak and the latest trends in pest management. Webinars offer the same information as presentations at meetings but save speakers and participants time and money by cutting out travel costs and journey time. Webinars can be attended from any location and with no restrictions—from the office, home, or when out-and-about.
UC Ag Experts Talk webinars last one hour and include interactive polls and chat. Webinars allow participants to ask questions freely and anonymously, receive clarification on difficult issues, and provide feedback. Participants receive continuing education hours from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) as well as Certified Crop Advisor (CCA). Participants must register in advance and participate in the entire webinar to receive continuing education credit.
As the host, UC IPM consults with webinar presenters about technology needs and how to prepare for the webinar. UC IPM provides assistance developing poll questions and works with the presenters on a test run before the webinar to assess the connection and audio quality and familiarize presenters with the established webinar flow. During the webinar, UC IPM briefly goes over the logistics for the participants, introduces the presenters, and moderates questions during and after the webinar.
The webinars are broadcasted via Zoom, a communications software. Attendees link to the webinar with audio and video online via their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Details for connecting are emailed to participants following their online registration. The webinars are recorded to reach those that could not attend the webinar and as a refresher resource for those that did attend but are not eligible for continuing education credit. Snapshots of the polls are added to the recording. The webinar recording is then posted on YouTube. Closed captions are added to the recording to meet accessibility standards.
Feedback from the presenters and participants over the last year has been very positive. The following (bullets) are feedback from participants about poll questions, from a UC Master Gardener, and about the recorded video as a resource of information.
The poll questions assist with interactivity between presenters and participants.
While the information is directed towards agricultural pest managers, we were excited to find that UC Master Gardeners, a key UC IPM partner, find the information useful.
The feedback also supports the choice of extending information via webinars and recording it allows participants to revisit the information.
In 2019, webinar attendance was 945 participants. We estimate that about half of the participants participate in more than one webinar. UC IPM hosted 13 webinars and 12 different presenters. In 2019, we had 700 subscribers to our UC Ag Experts webinar mailing list. Webinar topics included Fuller rose beetle, plant-parasitic nematodes in citrus, laurel wilt disease, management of glyphosate-resistant weeds, slugs and snails, management of weeds in citrus, citrus dry root rot, simulations for effective citrus spray application, California red scale, avocado cankers, pesticide label reading for safe applications, and Asian citrus psyllid for pest control advisers and a separate webinar for backyard growers and UC Master Gardeners. Upcoming webinars can be viewed on the UC Ag Experts website. Contact UC IPM if you are interested in working together on pest management webinars.