By Brad Bergefurd
Horticulture Extension Specialist
One of the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic was the wildly popular NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, simply referred to by many as March Madness. In the spirit of that event, “Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness: A Tournament of Education” (Ag Madness) was born.
Faced with the challenge of continuing to deliver programming in the midst of travel restrictions and Governor Mike DeWine’s stay at home order, Ohio State University South Centers specialists moved quickly to modify how they teach and assist clientele. Specialists began making themselves available electronically via social media, teleconferences, email, postal mail, phone calls and texting. Virtual farm and business visits, client counseling, and plant diagnostics have become the norm over the past 30 days.
One of the largest and most successful ways specialists have been delivering programming has been Ag Madness. It is a virtual training platform organized by OSU Extension that includes 64 educational events broken into daily brackets. Each day, a virtual educational session is held at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. The education tournament is provided free of charge and will likely continue until mid-May.
South Centers specialists Christie Welch, Gary Gao, and Brad Bergefurd taught topics on direct marketing, online marketing, drive-thru farmers markets, selling food to schools, strawberry, blackberry, apple, and hemp production, plasticulture and drip irrigation to help train and prepare farmers for the upcoming growing and marketing season. The hemp training has been one of the largest attended trainings to date with 1,115 participants.
If you missed these virtual trainings, recordings can be viewed by going to https://agnr.osu.edu/events/agriculture-and-natural-resources-madness/fu... and clicking on watch replay button.