The distance education program SowBridge begins its ninth year in February 2017, and Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist Ken Stalder said ongoing suggestions from subscribers help maintain the program’s value.
“Each year, we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers and follow through as much as possible to provide current content that people are interested in,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”
Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, said the program is intended for people involved in managing or caring for boars, sows and/or their litters, including operation owners, employees, technicians, managers and technical service providers. SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.
“People from the U.S., Canada and Ireland took part in the 2016 program, and they told us they appreciated having the opportunity to participate in these learning opportunities without requiring any travel or other expenses,” he said. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants do not need internet access and can take part from anywhere.”
Before each session, subscribers receive details on how to access the speaker’s presentation online. A CD containing that session’s presentation also is available by request. For the session itself, most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. (Central) and lasts approximately 45 minutes.
The cost is $250 for the first registration from an entity, but those with more than one location have the opportunity to add additional locations at a lower rate of $125 for each subsequent subscription from the same entity. The cost provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration.
Stalder said the materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses, and he encourages potential subscribers from outside the U.S. to contact Sherry Hoyer at the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) by phone at (515) 294-4496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The yearlong program is offered by subscription only, with a Jan. 16, 2017, deadline to ensure that participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 1. An informational brochure and a registration form are available on the IPIC website at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/SowBridge/2017SBbrochureIPIC.pdf.
SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 state universities from the major swine-producing states.