Virtually There: Enhancing the Online Capacity and Impact of Hawaii Agricultural Professionals

Final report for MW18-005

Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2018: $24,965.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Hawaii
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Jensen Uyeda
University of Hawaii
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Project Information


The Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH CTAHR) remains committed to conducting annual professional development educational opportunities for agricultural professionals (AP) in cooperation with WSARE. We plan to revise and expand our website to increase access to training materials and other resources by our agricultural professionals, and improve their ability to post their own resources to the web. We also anticipate expanding our annual AP educational events
by organizing an additional workshop on effective use of online resources, including social media, to extend the capacity of our agricultural professionals to reach their stakeholders and increase adoption of sustainable agriculture (SA) technologies. 

Project Objectives:

Our goal is to enhance the online capacity and impact of Hawaii’s agricultural professionals.

To realize this goal we seek to use this supplemental WSARE funding to achieve the following objectives:
1. Complete revision of SOAP webpages to new format (months 1-12),
2. Train 25 agricultural professionals in use of web-based tools including website posting, video development, newsletter distribution, social media literacy, etc. (months 3-10),
3. Quantify the impact of web based extension activities by Hawaii-based agricultural professionals (months 6-12 and beyond).


Educational approach:
  1. Educational workshops for extension agents on new technology, mainly website based, training and methods to increase their effectiveness and reach for wider range of stakeholders.
  2. Improving the Sustainable and Organic Agriculture (SOAP) program website to increase efficiency and include additional links
  3. Improve and link new farmers educational programs with SOAP website to improve their ability to attract new farmers.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Training Workshop

To improve the skills of new and current extension agent throughout Hawaii in website based and online training technologies.


Electronic and Social Media:

Agricultural professionals are geographically separated and located across the island chain of Hawai’i. Electronic publications continue to be one of our best investments for information & technology delivery. We have made a concerted effort to provide information and handouts from WSARE/ SOAP’s educational workshops available online. However, we have recently learned that effective January 2018, all educational materials from the SOAP program (past and future) that is linked to university and college’s online website must meet ADA requirements. The SOAP Program has not been able to meet ADA requirements, to date. However, we are still assessing our options. 

  1. WSARE funding provided partial support for the following enterprises:
  • Execution of Ag Professional (AP) Training Event at Leeward Community College on August 1, 2018.
  • Support to work on compliance and content updates to the SOAP Website: Considerable effort was put into moving the website to the university’s CMS system and modifying items to be in compliance with the University’s ADA policies.
  • Compliance updates to “Hānai‘Ai”, the Statewide SOAP Newsletter 
  • Maintenance of Twitter account: @SOAPHawaii: Established 2013. As of December 2019, we have 2,219 followers.
  • Maintenance of Facebook page: Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at CTAHR. As of December 2019, we have 904 followers
  • Maintenance of Instagram account:  @SOAPHawaii: Established 2013. As of December 2019, we have 399 followers; @soapgramhi: Established 2019. As of December 2019, we have 128 followers with currently 40 posts. Currently ⅓ of extension agents have adopted the use of  an Instagram account to promote their own programs.
  • Maintenance of YouTube account:
  • SurveyMonkey subscription by our program and made available to partner programs for project evaluation and input.
  • Picktochart team subscription to create infographics, flyers, posters, presentations and reports to build and promote online presence and outreach.
  • Exhibitor booth to showcase SARE and SOAP programs at the Hawaii Agriculture Conference held on October 15 & 16, 2019.
Outcomes and impacts:
  1. Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Intention and Action

(1) Acquisition of new knowledge and skills:

The flagship program from this Enhanced State Grant was the organization of a daylong event to bring statewide farmers, agricultural professionals, ag agency partners, Master Gardeners and other interested parties up to speed on the latest research-based practices and latest technology transfer technologies. The event included twenty-four presentations and table top demonstrations on topics ranging from new government regulations to the new agricultural technologies. Government and non profit organizations were in attendance and provided table top displays for participants. The top three highest rated topics were: resistance management, new specialty crop development, and merging agriculture with tourism.

A total of ninety-four individuals participated in the daylong event at Leeward Community College. There were forty agricultural professionals, 44 farmers and the remaining 10 participants were made up of Master gardeners, urban gardeners and other interested members of the agriculture community. Post event surveys indicated that 100% of participants rated the event as good to excellent, based on usefulness of information. Ninety one percent of participants found the Ground Support Educational Workshop to be excellent with the remaining nine percent rating the conference as good. 

(2) Changes in attitudes or understanding:

One hundred percent of participants indicated that the event increased their knowledge of sustainable and organic agriculture. Ninety-four percent agreed that the conference helped them learn new ways to manage their respective agribusiness operations.

Testimonials from the event included: “Well organized, on-time.  The diverse speakers and experts were great!; The variety of info, presentations; Brief talks on relevant topics; Every speaker did a great job of being succinct yet getting the heart of their message across.  Thank you to all!; The number and diversity of topics; Short quick topics (15-20 minutes), ideal time; Gaining knowledge while earning certification points; Speakers were tops; The expertise of all the presenters; All presenters passionate and prepared with their materials for sharing of info; Focused on helping farmers; Well organized; The subject merging Ag with Tourism; Interacting with lots of growers and CTAHR researchers, specialists, and agents; Lots of info in 1 day, Great topics; Excellent Room and location, lots of free parking; Vegan lunch; Many speakers/topics; Quick format and broad coverage of multiple topics; Interesting presentations and good pace/length for each presentation; and credits opportunity; Broad range of topics yet focused on crop production. Thank you for including organic, sustainable methods; Great information!  Very useful and practical.  Good range of topics covered.; Location for today's event good.  All presentations good; Very good updates on numerous topics.  Enjoyed them all; Kept on time.  Short fast presentation; Variety of topics; This event was excellent!; I thought it was great!.”

3) Changes in behavior and action:

On average, growers and agricultural professionals indicated they learned 5-9 new things that could be applied to their respective agribusinesses or work in Cooperative Extension.

One hundred percent of ag professionals at the training indicated their intention to use this new knowledge, in making changes to their use of technology and tools in Cooperative Extension and other outreach work.

The multiagency event produced 24 online resources (PPT) that was converted into an online resource (PDF) which the SOAP Program host on its website below.

Educational & Outreach Activities

22 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Online trainings
1 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: Educational Exhibit

Participation Summary:

13 Extension
3 Researchers
3 Nonprofit
15 Agency
4 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
44 Farmers/ranchers
10 Others

Learning Outcomes

94 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
40 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

6 New working collaborations
4 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
822 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

In quantifying the impact of web based extension activities by Hawaii-based agricultural professionals surveyed, respondents cited the adoption and use of Eventbrite to advertise and attract participants to their in-person and online educational events as well as conducting online education events via their adoption and use of the Zoom platform. To date ⅓ of extension agents have adopted the use of Instagram to promote their agricultural extension education programs. Examples below:

  • Zoom Distance Educational Workshop Series for immigrant farmers- 11 workshops/year 
    • 2018- 25people  
    • 2019- 20people
  • The UH-CTAHR Farm Food Safety team-webinars hosted via zoom (100ppl joined), vidoes have been recorded with added subtitles and to date 1 video posted online. Youtube video posted October 4th, 2018 with 248views (December 2019)
  • Eventbrite tool as a means to promote and advertise extension educational events has led to 20% increase in attendance from a new demographic that are finding events by browsing or being notified of an event by eventbrite in their area as opposed to being notified through UH, SOAP or Ag-community based listservs.
  • On December 13th, 2019 a collaborative meeting with extension agents on Maui to plan integration of multiple program initiatives and websites under a centralized location to increase visibility and awareness to stakeholder groups. This initiative is called G.E.T (Grow, Eat, Think) local integrating FNEP (Food and Nutrition Education Program) and our Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP) to take a holistic approach in educating consumers and producers on locally produced and healthy fruits and vegetables in turn supporting our local farming industry while promoting healthy eating.


Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Each quarter, the SOAP Program sends out its Hanai'ai newsletter which promotes the work and contributions of WSARE in Hawaii. We reach approximately 1,300 individuals and organizations via this media. 

Agricultural professionals who participated in this training activity hosted and supported by this WSARE Enhanced State Grant were informed about our new and improved SOAP web-pages and were connected to our social media channels. Participants understand the role WSARE plays in supporting sustainable and organic agriculture in Hawaii. 

Each year, the Hawaii Farm Bureau invited the SOAP Program to participate in the at AG Day at the Capitol event. We educate policy makers about the role WSARE plays in Hawaii supporting research, education, outreach and agricultural professional training. 

Additional IT support and training was provided, on site for any participant who expressed need for such additional support. Through this grant, we have been able to support Extension agents requested in creating their own web pages and e-newsletters. 

Additional IT support is also provided, using zoom and skype, for participants from different islands in Hawaii, when requested. 

1,000 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
300 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.