In a constantly changing industry, Iowa pork producer Greg Carlson has identified the importance of convenient and effective continuing education. That’s why he has subscribed for two years to the distance education series SowBridge. This innovative program, coordinated by the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) at Iowa State University (ISU), provides Carlson and pork producers around the world with timely and accurate information in a highly efficient manner.
“As a smaller independent producer, I think this is the best way to help myself and my sow manager learn new things without having to leave the farm,” Carlson said. “SowBridge provides quality continuing education for my operation without the time and expense of traveling to meetings.”
Unlike typical informational programs, SowBridge brings the content to the producer. The first Wednesday of every month Carlson and the other SowBridge subscribers participate in a 45-minute teleconference on a specific topic. The presenter is a recognized expert on that specific topic, and may be a university faculty member or someone from private industry. Cost for the entire year is $250, with quantity discounts available.
Program subscribers receive materials pertinent to each session’s topic prior to the session, and use the teleconference as a way to gain information in a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere at home or in the operation. The ease of materials receipt, delivery of information and opportunity to follow up after each session are among the more valuable aspects of the program according to Carlson.
“It’s very economical in time and cost versus traveling to meetings or seminars,” he said.
Mark Whitney from the University of Minnesota coordinates the program, and helps plan program topics and speakers with representatives from the 10 other sponsor universities including Iowa State.
ISU Extension swine specialist Ken Stalder said the program’s intent is to address and respond to producer needs.
“For example, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus, or PRRS, is a problem in winter so that was a topic in a fall session,” he said. “By receiving accurate and current information in a timely manner, producers can use what they learn to save money or increase efficiencies in their operations.”
SowBridge begins its fourth program year on March 2. There still is time to subscribe and receive all session materials. See the program brochure on the IPIC website.