Innovative SARE Coordinator Program: Virtual Field Days to Improve Farmer-Researcher-Extension Linkages

Final Report for SW07-501

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Jonathan Deenik
University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Project Information


Our original proposal called for holding a statewide video workshop to link researchers, extension specialists, CES agents, and NRCS staff with Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers. A summary of the workshop would be available. After the workshop, five “virtual field day” narrated PowerPoint presentations with a fact sheets would be made available.

Project Objectives:
  • Sustainable Ag researchers will improve skills to conduct educational programming with their clientsExtension agents will learn to use a lower cost new visual medium for educating farmer/ranchers
    Increased integration of PDP and R&E programs at the local level

    Virtual field days and project summaries will accelerate the delivery of tropical SA information to extension agents and local farmers

    Virtual field days will accelerate the adoption of SA technology.


Research results and discussion:

(1) Polycom video workshop

Discussion: Early in the project, we contacted CTAHR researchers to set up a polycom meeting with Hawaii farmers to attempt to better connect the two. Only one researcher expressed interest in attending this meeting. Near the completion of the project we offered to set up a polycom meeting and on island visits with extension agents and researchers to show them how to do a video virtual field day. Again, little to no interest was found. If there is interest, we will feature the virtual video field days at the annual Hawaii extension conference later this year.

Challenges: Ideally, research should correlate closely to the needs identified by farmer clients. In reality, grant money sources tend to drive the direction of our research program. We are pleased to report that our Western SARE subregional conference held in Kona (9/08) actually did an excellent job of linking farmers, extension agents, and researchers.

(2) Written Summary of video workshop: See above.

(3) Five narrated PowerPoint research presentations: “virtual field tours.” Substituted with 5 video “virtual field tours”

Early in the project, we determined that we could actually provide a higher quality “virtual field day” product than was originally proposed (narrated PowerPoint). The iMovie technology from Apple is easy to use, relatively low cost, and was substituted for the Articulate product, yielding a much higher quality virtual field day video. This was accomplished by purchasing a low cost MacBook which comes loaded with iMovie software (video editing program) and Garageband software (sound editing program). The laptop was available for loan to the researchers for their use. In addition, our education specialist was available to assist with video training and editing.

To avoid expensive video equipment purchases, researchers were encouraged to take short video clips with their own digital cameras. This footage was used in conjunction with still photos, combined with a narration by the researcher, to produce a short video.

Researchers who are involved in the Western SARE program immediately took advantage of this opportunity, learning many new skills. The following virtual field days were produced:

Vermicompost in Hawaii: It’s Production and Use
Sunnhemp for Soil Health and Nematode Control
Posted on: 1/28/08
Researcher: Dr. Ted Radovich
Hits: 641 (YouTube) 701 (CTAHR website)

Sunnhemp for Soil Health and Nematode Control
Posted on: 8/22/08
Researcher: Dr. Koon Hui Wang
Hits: 205 (YouTube)

Part 1: Evaluating Native Hawaiian Groundcovers
Posted on: 12/30/08
Researcher: Dr. James Leary
Hits: 85 (YouTube)

Part 2: Evaluating Native Hawaiian Groundcovers
Posted on: 12/30/08
Researcher: Dr. James Leary
Hits: 50 (YouTube)

Part 2: Evaluating Native Hawaiian Groundcovers
Posted on: 12/30/08
Researcher: Dr. James Leary
Hits: 162 (YouTube)

• Our researchers are very comfortable with the PowerPoint presentation software, so the first step for each project was for them to develop a PowerPoint of the topic. From there, researchers were encouraged to insert additional photos and video segments shot on their digital cameras to drop in between the still text slides. Finally, the researcher would narrate their program. The education specialist did the editing to pull it together in a uniform product.
• The videos are amateur, meaning that they do not have the elegant professional polish that many expect (high quality audio, smooth transitions, well shot footage, etc.) This has been a bit of a problem, where the viewing audience subconsciously expects a more refined product. In contrast, these virtual field day videos are informal, have some rough edges, yet convey scientific information. Our CTAHR researchers and staff have different levels of comfort with the informality of the final video products. Our farmer and student “clients” have accepted them and encouraged us to continue producing them. Extension agents in general are positive about them as well in using them for extension outreach.
• There is some reluctance by some researchers and extension to invest time in preparing video products as there is no consensus within our college as to their status as “products” for promotion and tenure. Until this is resolved, adoption will be stymied.
• The amount of time required to learn video technology discourages some from attempting this. Our younger extension agents and researcher seem more interested in video production in general.
• There is a bias against Mac computers within our college, with the vast majority of our scientists being PC users reluctant to devote time to learning how to use Mac computers (even though they are very user friendly). The education specialist learned the Apple system and products, and served as intermediary for those who didn’t wish to invest their time to learn.
• There are several videos players available making the project much more confusing. PC users prefer videos which can be played using windows media player or real time player. Mac users prefer QuickTime. The product with the greatest market penetration at this time appears to be Flash (due to the extraordinary popularity of YouTube). There is also confusion and phobia about video players, with some being reluctant to download a new/different video player to their PC. Time and money was spent converting videos from one format to another and several versions of each product were made available. Now we are moving to preparing only Flash versions.
• CTAHR currently has no videographer on staff (the position was lost during the course of the project). This informal method of video extension may be able to fill some of the extension needs of the college.
• Putting the video products on YouTube greatly accelerated their distribution to the public and was very helpful to all the researchers.

(4) Five research project summaries. Discussion: We left this as an option for researchers; they chose not to prepare them. All of the researchers conducted field days about their topics.

Research conclusions:

Sustainable Ag researchers will improve skills to conduct educational programming with their clients.

This outcome was met for the three researchers who became actively involved in the project. Two other extension agents (forestry, fruits) are actively using this video extension method as well as a result, one of whom is tapping into resources external to the college.

Extension agents will learn to use a lower cost new visual medium for educating farmer/ranchers.

Although repeatedly invited to participate, and assured that mentoring and equipment would be provided to assure the delivery of a virtual field day video, none of our extension agents involved in sustainable agriculture elected to participate in the project.

Increased integration of PDP and R&E programs at the local level

This outcome was not met (however we feel that the Western SARE subregional conference did fill this need).

Virtual field days and project summaries will accelerate the delivery of tropical SA information to extension agents and local farmers.

Feedback from our participating researchers indicate that there is a rapid increase in number of people who are becoming familiar with the extension information via the on-line videos.

Virtual field days will accelerate the adoption of SA technology.

Feedback from our participating researchers indicate that there are some increases in adoption of the SA method (vermicomposting in particular).

Participation Summary

Research Outcomes

No research outcomes

Education and Outreach

Participation Summary:

Education and outreach methods and analyses:

Virtual Video Field days were made available in multiple formats and through many venues, which is a strength of the project.

Available at the CTAHR website as .wmv and realplayer files (Vermicomposting)

Available at the CTAHR website as flash files (Groundcovers) (Vermicomposting)

Available at the HIsustainag YouTube channel (all five videos). These five virtual field days have WSARE as a keyword.

University of Hawaii iTunesU (Vermicomposting)

• Vermicomposting – distributed by Dr. Radovich at HOFA annual meeting, and by Kali Arce, CES agent on Moloka’i
• Sunnhemp – distributed by Dr. Wang at field days

Education and Outreach Outcomes

Recommendations for education and outreach:

Areas needing additional study


This project had an influence on other programs with our college. Dr. James Leary adopted the technology as a major venue for his research and extension activities in weed control. His expertise is primarily in invasive weed management for conservation, so his other video products don’t strictly fall within sustainable agriculture. To date, he has produced eleven additional videos, which are viewable under newly established YouTube HawaiiRREA channel.

Undoubtedly, there will be many more video products by this young, energetic researcher. Dr. Leary is a Western SARE grant recipient for the project “Promoting adaptive management with ‘Tropic Sun’ sunn hemp (Crotolaria juncea) in Hawaii for ecological strategies in weed control, nematode suppression and nutrient management.”

In addition, Dr. Leary worked with our Extension Forester, Dr. J.B. Friday to jointly prepare a virtual video field day on “Thinning, Fertilization, and Herbicide Trials to Improve Koa Production.” Dr. Friday’s name will be familiar to you as one of Craig Elevich’s major participants for many successful WSARE funded agroforestry projects. Hawaii RREA Channel:

As a point of interest, Dr. Skip Bittenbender, our Extension Specialist for coffee, ‘awa and cacao performed the slack key music featured in the groundcover video and the koa production video. We are fortunate to have him share his talents with us on this project.

Virginia Easton-Smith, CES extension agent in Kona, partnered with Ken Love to produce a video called “The Produce Problem-Solver ( with 175 views. This was funded by the County of Hawaii. Other extension agents have also expressed interest in using this video technology.


I think I have fun making it. The reward is no doubt. I used it to distribute to farmers during field days and I received comments once in a while when interested person come across it. One student use it as an example for his seminar on how to do extension. I cited it on my progress report, so the acknowledgment part is really important. Definitely want to do it again but it will be better if the software is more readily available and easily operable. Seriously, I don't know how Jody convert what I did into the final format, but it is amazing. Of course time is a major constrain and we are all lacking of that.


Koon-Hui Wang, Ph.D.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Dept. Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
Theodore J.K. Radovich, Ph.D.

I loved it and would do it again. We can improve quality through equipment, software, training etc.

Theodore J.K. Radovich, Ph.D.
Sustainable Farming Systems Laboratory
Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Hawaii at Manoa
James Leary, PhD

In short, the virtual field day concept has served as a real boon to my own research and extension program. Within the last 8 months, I have been able to efficiently produce 15 video virtual field day segments with over two hours of edited footage and a viewership audience exceeding 3000 individuals worldwide. I feel that the future of extension in our land grant mission is to become globally integrated through the internet with streaming video personality.

James Leary, PhD
Assistant Specialist
Invasive Weed Management
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management

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.