ISU Crop Adviser Institute to Offer Interactive Continuing Education

October 25th, 2002

AMES, Iowa - The Crop Adviser Institute (CAI) at Iowa State University is offering interactive continuing education modules for crop advisers certified through the American Society of Agronomy (ASA).

"The mission of CAI is to provide computer-based, quality learning materials for certified crop advisers and agricultural professionals," said Ken Moore, Iowa State agronomy professor.

In 1993, the ASA created the certification program for Certified Crop Advisers (CCA). Since then more than 14,000 individuals have been certified. To maintain certification, crop advisers are required to earn 40 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every two years.

Until recently, these CEUs were earned through a combination of workshops, field days and seminars. Faculty associated with the Brenton Center for Agricultural Instruction and Technology Transfer at Iowa State recognized the need for more flexibility in providing CEUs to professionals who want to maintain certification.

"The advantage of this program is the flexibility for the learner, who is able to complete the course on their schedule. We have effectively removed the time and space restrictions associated with most CEU courses," said Brent Brueland, CAI program coordinator.

The CAI program provides modules in several areas including crop management, nutrient management, integrated pest management and soil and water management. The information is delivered to participants via CD-Rom.

Crop advisers who evaluated the program said they would take another CEU class through the CAI program, 96 percent said the material was relevant to their work and 92 percent said they learned more than going to an on-site class. Along with flexibility, evaluators said the program was easy to use and the interactive elements added to the learning experience.

Mark Pettinger, a crop consultant in central Iowa, said he gets more out of the CD than a classroom setting but still sees the need for the classroom experience.

"This gives crop advisers an added option," Pettinger said. "The CD has a classroom session on it that you can watch on your computer at your convenience."

The Iowa Certified Crop Adviser's Board provided a $15,000 grant to assist in the development of the CAI courses. The program will be marketed through the CAI Web site at http://www.cai.iastate.edu. The site also provides up-to-date information on crops and weather during the growing season and links to other on-line resources and industry news.

Contacts: 

Brent Brueland, Crop Adviser Institute, (515) 294-7546
Barbara McManus, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0707

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