The successful distance-education program SowBridge begins its fourth year this month. The program is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools, techniques and technologies involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.

SowBridge offers all participants an opportunity to hear directly from experts and to follow up with those experts during and following each session. “We asked participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and will provide current content that people are interested in,” says Ken Stalder, Iowa State University swine specialist.

Stalder points out that the program is intended for people involved in managing or caring for boars, sows and/or litters, including operation owners, employees, technicians, managers and technical service providers.

“People from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and West Indies took part in the 2010 program, and they told us they liked having all employees participate in the sessions without requiring any travel or other expenses,” Stalder adds. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants don’t need Internet access and can participate from anywhere.”

This year offers a special rate for entities with participants in more than one location. Cost is $250 for the first registration from an entity and $125 for each subsequent subscription from the same entity. The first session was March 2, but participation for the remaining sessions is still possible.

Before each session, U.S. subscribers receive a CD containing the presentation and information to access the live presentation. Most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central time and lasts approximately 45 minutes.

SowBridge, coordinated through Iowa State, is sponsored by a group of 11 state universities with Mark Whitney and Lee Johnston, University of Minnesota, serving as program coordinators. A brochure with information and registration form is available at bit.ly/hEacYo.

For more information, contact IPIC at (515) 294-4496 or e-mail shoyer@iastate.edu.