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Volume 50 - Number 4 - 2009 | DOI: 10.5032/jae.2009.04086

 

Abstract:

This study assessed needs, knowledge, and interests of agricultural professionals who were likely to enroll in an online extension course in sustainable agriculture. The objectives of the study were: to (1) describe their demographic characteristics, (2) identify their concerns and interests related to farming, (3) evaluate participants' knowledge and adoption of sustainable farming practices, and (4) use the evidence to implement a distance education program in sustainable agriculture. A questionnaire was distributed electronically through mailing lists and Web sites. Responses were analyzed using a text analysis and a Chi-square test to evaluate the existence of associations between interests and knowledge in sustainable agriculture. Despite the study participants' diverse professions and backgrounds, they identified similar constraints impeding the adoption of sustainable farming practices. They further proposed solutions, many of which are supported by current agroecological research, indicating a vast knowledge base regarding sustainable farming. The findings were used to develop and deliver an online extension program in sustainable agriculture. This study highlights the importance of understanding the levels of knowledge, concerns, and interests of the targeted audience. Incorporating this understanding into an extension program through peer-to-peer collaboration in discussion forums and electronic mail could facilitate the dissemination of innovate education approaches to teach sustainable agriculture.

Keywords: Evaluation, Agricultural Professional, Perceptions, Knowledge, Sustainable Agriculture, Development, Online, Extension Program

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