|Karlen, Douglas - Doug|
Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2001
Publication Date: 8/10/2001
Citation: ANDREWS, S.S., NISSEN, T.M., WANDER, M.M., WALTER, G., CAVANAUGH-GRANT, D., KARLEN, D.L. USING FOCUS GROUPS TO DESIGN AN EDUCATIONAL WEBSITE FOR AGRICULTURAL PROFESSIONALS. AVAILABLE FROM: www.esa.org/meetings. ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA ABSTRACTS. 2001. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: To help agricultural professionals achieve their sustainability goals, we designed an educational website with input from our target audience. We chose the Internet as our dissemination tool because of its importance as an information source. At the beginning of this project, we met with NRCS state and field office staff, cooperative extension & conservation district personnel, crop advisors, and farmers. Individuals were divided by profession into concurrent focus groups. We asked specific questions about their needs for information and assessment tools. The most common desired uses for the site were to gather general information about the interdisciplinary nature and importance of soils (termed soil quality), to find educational support materials, and to assess soil quality (SQ) at benchmark sites or one's own farm. Downloadable slide sets, teaching modules, and links to related sites were mentioned frequently as desirable support materials. There was a general desire to tie information to management practices, common problems, and economic return. Advisors and farmers were more interested in using SQ assessment tools than agency personnel, who thought farmers would have little interest in this. All groups wanted access to reference or benchmark data that would allow them see the effect of specific practices on SQ according to soil type. "Market research" to assess the needs of our target audience aided website design. Participants echoed the collaborators' assumption that an interactive website that seeks to both educate about and aid in the assessment of soil quality and agricultural integrity could be a major step toward promoting sustainable agroecosystem management.