Emerald Ash Borer University: Providing Webinars and Information on Invasive Forest Pests

Guest post provided by Robin Usborne, Michigan State University; Amy Stone, The Ohio State University Extension; and Jodie Ellis, Purdue University

What’s “Bugging” You?

EAB University logo
EAB University, offering free webinars, and information on invasive forest pests

Sometimes they hide in wood packing material from shipping ports all over the world. Other times they hitch a ride in a load of firewood going to a campground or summer cottage. But once they’re here, the trees are never safe.

Sounds a bit like a horror movie, but invasive forest pests like the emerald ash borer (EAB) can wreak havoc on North American woodlands and urban forests. As the pest invasion continues across the U.S. and Canada, communication and outreach is vital to combat the onslaught, but in these days of slashed travel budgets and increased conference expenses, it takes some creative thinking to get this information to those who want it.

EAB University – Free Webinars and Invasive Forest Pest Information

That’s where Emerald Ash Borer University comes in. EAB University is a series of free webinars that bring information on the latest issues surrounding EAB and other invasive forest pests to anyone needing the information. The webinars are given by scientists and experts in the field, and anyone with a computer with Internet access can view them. EAB University was developed by Michigan State University, Purdue University and the Ohio State University communications specialists who have been dealing with the invasive pest since it was discovered in North America in 2002, and is funded by the USDA Forest Service, Forest Health and Economics Division. Webinars are much like a presentation given at a conference, but the conference room encompasses the world. Participants are able to comment and ask questions via a “chat” function during the webinar, and the presenters provide contact information for anyone needing additional information.

EAB University was launched in 2010, and quickly became a hit. More than 1,200 people registered for the sessions, and those who weren’t able to “attend” the live webinars were able to watch the recorded sessions, which are archived on the www.emeraldashborer.info website.

New this year –  expanded curriculum covers more invasive forest pests

This year, EAB University has expanded the curriculum to include webinars on other wood-boring pests and diseases, such as hemlock wooly adelgid, thousand cankers, Asian longhorned beetle and viburnum leaf beetle.

Extension educators, arborists and tree care specialists have offered EAB University webinars as part of their education and outreach meeting schedules. Continuing education credits are available for many of the live webinars. These sessions are the next best thing to having the experts in person.

Visit Emerald Ash Borer University on the www.emeraldashborer.info website. You can watch an archived webinar, or mark your calendar for an upcoming session of interest. These webinars bring experts from around the country right to your computer, anytime and anywhere. Thanks for your
interest in keeping those bad bugs at bay!

Webinars as Master Gardener Continuing Education

In an effort to continually educate Master Gardeners in a state with many rural communities, Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Master Gardener program are trying something new this year. A three part Summer Webinar Series: Gardening Green 2010 highlights a few current sustainable gardening topics: green roofs, organic gardening, and rain gardens. We hope this monthly series will reinforce basic horticultural principles in these popular contexts.

Webcasting is no longer novel to the Master Gardener volunteers across Iowa – the core Master Gardener training uses webcasting to deliver training to county Extension Offices. But inviting the public to the county extension office for a two hour live webinar with Master Gardeners is new. Since approximately 20% of the audience members from the first webinar were not currently Master Gardeners, this series is also turning into a recruitment opportunity for the Master Gardener program. Nearly half of them expressed an interest in becoming a Master Gardener in the future.

Succulents on the roof of a birdhouse intrigued Master Gardeners

The first webinar was on green roofs, which literally means a vegetated roof surface. A five minute introductory video, Green roofs 101, covered the fundamentals and history of green roofs. Based on comments after the session, one of the highlights for viewers was the pictorial illustration of how a small household pergola was renovated to become a green roof. The program ended with a small birdhouse green roof project, shown in the image provided. Many audience members across Iowa said nearly the same thing about the first webinar, “This was far more interesting than what I expected.”

July 21, 2010 Free Webinar: Late Blight Control in Your Organic Garden

Extension Master Gardeners and home gardeners can learn how they play an important role in controlling the spread of late blight, a serious disease of tomato and potato crops worldwide. July 21 at 6PM Eastern Time (5PM Central, 4PM Mountain, 3PM Pacific), eOrganic presenters Dr. Sally Miller of Ohio State University and Dr. Meg McGrath of Cornell University are offering a free Webinar to learn about the late blight disease cycle, how to scout and diagnose the disease, how to control the disease in your garden, and the important role of home gardeners in controlling the spread of late blight.

Gardeners who would like to attend this Webinar on organic control of late blight can reserve your space now. Space is limited. Please REGISTER @: http://www.extension.org/article/28624.