Let's Grow Webinars Offer Education for All
January 19, 2018

Education can be expensive, but a lack of knowledge usually costs more in the long run. With that in mind, Optimal Ag Consulting, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Let's Grow Committee have teamed in recent years to offer a series of free, online webinars covering a wide range of topics important to the industry.

In 2017, the group offered four webinars on various topics relevant to American sheep producers. The four webinars received a total of 1,957 registrations with live attendance of 854 participants. All 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam were represented among the registrations, along with all 10 Canadian provinces plus one Canadian territory. Forty?nine out of 50 states were represented in the webinar attendance statistics as only the state of Mississippi did not have someone attend at least one of our four events live. Eight of the 10 Canadian provinces were also represented in the live attendance.

All four webinars were hosted by Dr. Jay Parsons of Optimal Ag Consulting, an associate professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska?Lincoln. The webinars included guest speakers covering these topics: sheep milk production; lamb meat quality; selection for parasite resistance; and replacement ewe selection and culling of underperforming ewes.

Prior to 2017, 19 webinars were offered in 2012?2016 in cooperation with ASI and the Let's Grow Program. In total, the 23 webinars offered since August of 2012 have resulted in live audience attendance of 3,032 participants. In 2017, the seminars reached 616 individual people attending live webinars with more than 300 of them being new to the webinar series. We now have more than 1,400 individual people represented in our live attendance numbers.

These webinars are recorded and made available for later viewing with links located at http://www.GrowOurFlock.org. In addition, anybody who registered for one of the webinars received a follow?up email after the webinar with links to the recording and to the PowerPoint slides. Web statistics showed 2,181 people accessed the 2017 webinar recordings during the 2017 calendar year. All webinar recordings are posted to YouTube and the links on the Let's Grow website point to those recordings. Since 2012, the combined total of all webinar recordings being viewed on the internet is 27,362 with a total of 5,658 views occurring during calendar year 2017.

Participants are encouraged to fill out an exit survey after each webinar and the results for 2017 showed 321 completed surveys received with 81 percent (260) of survey respondents giving the webinar a positive score (above average or excellent) in terms of quality. The average rating among all respondents was 4.3 on a 5 point scale. The comments received included the following:
  • "Excellent webinar. Speaker was extremely knowledgeable and was a great presenter. She spoke to us as peers and not as the unapproachable expert. Very well done."
  • "I will definitely point some of my sheep raising friends to this seminar and to Let's Grow."
  • "Information included in the slides was really up to date and relevant. Thank you for a great webinar folks."
  • "The presentation was excellent, thank you, it is clear that Mr. Thomas has a wealth of research knowledge to share."
In summary, the Sheep Producer Webinar Education Program continues to be a success with 2017 representing more attendance and registrations per webinar than any previous year. The 5,658 views in 2017 of the posted recordings also set a record.