Precious few things look the same as they did at this time last year. The pandemic has affected everything from how we work to how we spend our time away from work. As we all know, Agriculture is an essential industry and MUST continue. To that end, Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative remains committed to performing outreach and education functions that advance soil health on Indiana cropland.
I think we all miss the days of in person field days where we meet new people, reconnect with others and learn from each other. Enjoying camaraderie and sharing experiences allows us all to feel united while also learning about conservation practices and learning firsthand what has or has not worked for others in our field. Educational workshops and trainings have also not been able to occur in person for months now. What hasn’t changed, is the need for those in Agriculture to continue to learn from one another, to share ideas and best practices, and to form a network of professionals we can rely on to advance conservation on the ground.
With the cancellation of the CCSI-SARE Core Cover Crops and Core Soil Health Trainings in mid-April, the curriculum committee quickly got to work planning a virtual training to address those topics. What is normally a 2-day in person training, became 3 virtual meetings, 2 hours each, held over the course of 3 weeks. Zoom was the platform used for the sessions. Some presentations were pre-recorded, while other presenters were live on Zoom with participants. Power points were shared, as were videos. Response thus far about the effectiveness of this training has been positive. While I don’t think anyone would argue that virtual events are more effective or more beneficial than in person trainings, there certainly is value in continuing to learn in whatever manner possible.
Some of the guidelines in place for Indiana are beginning to loosen, but social distancing is still being encouraged. County Fairs have been canceled. Very few in person events currently populate the calendar. During this time, CCSI is here to help you continue your outreach and education efforts. Our staff has been working with Women 4 the Land to potentially continue their women’s learning circles in a virtual platform this fall.
Completely changing the format of events requires a great deal of planning and a lot of help! If your organization has had to cancel a workshop or a field day or another event due to the current health crisis, and you’re interested in the possibility of holding your event virtually, please let us know! Our staff is more than happy to discuss this option with you and how we might be able to assist.
We eagerly await a time when we can safely gather in person for fellowship and learning. Until that time, we can continue our important outreach utilizing the means we currently have available. CCSI maintains accounts on several different platforms and we are happy to work with you to determine the best fit for your unique needs.
Sheila Schroeder CCSI Nothern Program Manager