Living on the Land

Video and audio podcasts bring publications to life and provide portable access to essential information for new landowners.

Situation

Nestled between Mount Hood and the Columbia River, picturesque Hood River County attracts residents seeking pastoral ambience and a few acres of land. But soon enough, they must face the challenges of muddy fields, sick animals, broken fences, and living far from the conveniences of town. That’s when these landowners—some of them novices—contact the OSU Extension Service for help.

And Brian Tuck, director of the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hood River, turned to EESC. He was looking for a way to offer research-based advice for new landowners on topics such as pasture management and animal feed requirements.

“I jumped into this thinking I wanted something pretty simple and straight to the point,” Tuck said. “Then we started working together to define what landowners needed, and I realized we needed more than a two-page sheet of paper.”

Our Approach

After exploring the idea with Tuck, the EESC team saw an opportunity to reach many more people through podcasts.

“We took the original material and created a version that was ear-friendly,” said Jeff Hino, EESC’s learning technology leader. “People can now listen to the podcasts on their car radio, in their tractor on an iPod, on their smartphones, or online.”

The Living on the Land project has grown from the proposed six fact sheets to an interactive set of fact sheets, 14 audio podcasts, and one video. Each two-page fact sheet serves as a concise reference tool to guide landowners’ planning and decision making. The companion audio podcasts and video provide the same information in shorter segments that are conducive to listening—or watching—on the go.

Here’s how it works: Tuck and colleagues write content for a peer-reviewed fact sheet. EESC’s publishing team edits and designs the fact sheet and works with EESC’s multimedia team to write and edit scripts. The multimedia team produces a podcast or video, using sights and sounds from the field, and Tuck’s team reviews that content for accuracy. Then people worldwide download the finished publication, audio, and video from the OSU Extension Catalog, iTunesU, and YouTube.

Results and Impact

As of January 2014, the publications have been downloaded more than 2,000 times, the podcasts more than 25,800. The video, which is the newest item in the series, has received 130 views since it was published in July 2013. But downloads don’t tell the whole story.

The podcast series attracted the interest of the National Immigrant Farming Initiative, which awarded EESC a grant to translate several of the podcasts into Spanish.

The series also won regional and national finalist awards from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in 2011 and 2012 and the Vice Provost's Award for Excellence in Innovation from OSU’s Division of University Outreach and Engagement in 2012.

“We had a concept for something easy to use and simple,” Tuck said. “EESC took it to a level we hadn’t anticipated. We would have done it old school. It was worth it to take it in a direction that was new and exciting for us.”

Partners

Brian Tuck, OSU Extension, Wasco County; Shilah Olson, Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District; Ellen Hammond, Oregon Department of Agriculture; Susan Kerr, Washington State University Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist; National Immigrant Farming Initiative