Improving Poultry Production through Regional Extension Education
by Ken W. Koelkebeck, Tony Pescatore, Austin Cantor, Richard Adams, and Mickey Latour
Poultry extension education is important in today's
industry because it helps maintain visibility with clientele and provide current
information. The poultry extension specialists at Purdue University, Michigan
State University, The Ohio State University, University of Illinois, and University
of Kentucky have formed the Multi-State Poultry Extension group. This group
has conducted eight regional programs and seminars designed to: 1) provide quality
education, 2) attract outside speakers, and 3) secure extramural funding. These
programs have helped poultry and game bird producers improve production efficiency,
and have provided them with information in many areas including management techniques
aimed at satisfying current environmental concerns.
ITS' EDUCATIONAL NEEDS, AND
HOW TO PROVIDE THE ANSWERS
The poultry industry in the Midwest has undergone extensive consolidation and
concentration in all segments within the past 10 to 15 years. The size of the
industry has grown very rapidly, while the number of independent producers have
been decreasing. To provide technical information for the rapidly changing industry,
effective means of delivering this information is important. Also, as the poultry
industry has expanded, the number of poultry extension personnel has decreased.
Thus, the concept of regionalizing poultry extension programs becomes more and
more important. This idea necessitates interaction among poultry extension specialists
in adjoining states to put together a meeting and bring in the best speakers
to present information on various subjects to industry personnel. Providing
the most current and accurate information to the clientele is of greatest importance.
Regionalizing extension programs in commodities other than poultry has been
successful. A four-state dairy extension program involving the states of Illinois,
Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota has sponsored the Four-State Dairy Nutrition
Conference for a number of years. In the poultry area, there is a New England
poultry regionalization effort involving the states of Maine, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. This group has sponsored
several programs for the poultry industry and one of them is called the New
England Poultry Management Conference. In the Midwestern states, a regional
poultry extension program has been conducting extension seminars and conferences
for the past 15 years. These programs have provided commercial poultry producers
in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio with information
to help them operate a successful poultry business. To our knowledge, there
has not been any published articles concerning the specifics of these regional
programs including how successful they have been. Therefore, the purpose of
this paper is to describe the poultry regionalization programs conducted in
the Midwest and present advantages and disadvantages of conducting poultry extension
programs on a regional basis.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FIVE STATE AREA
The poultry industry in the Midwest is dynamic and has been expanding. Table
1 depicts the number of eggs, broilers, and turkeys produced and the dollar
value for each. While the poultry industry is expanding the number of poultry
extension personnel are declining. Two Poultry Science Departments have been
absorbed into Animal Science Departments as well. Currently there are five Animal
Science Departments with eight poultry extension personnel with only 5.05 full-time
equivalents in extension.
A SUCCESSFUL REGIONAL POULTRY EXTENSION PROGRAM
The poultry extension specialists at Purdue University, Michigan State University,
The Ohio State University, University of Illinois, and University of Kentucky
have formed what is called the Multi-State Poultry Extension group. In 1984,
Dr. Richard Adams, Poultry Extension Specialist, Purdue University, contacted
Dr. Cal Flegal at Michigan State, Dr. Carl Parsons at Illinois, Dr. Ed Nabor
at Ohio State and Dr. Austin Cantor at Kentucky to see if there was interest
in putting on an industry-oriented meeting involving the area of poultry nutrition.
Everyone agreed that this would be a good regional extension programming effort,
so the first meeting was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984. Since that first
meeting, the Multi-State Poultry Feeding and Nutrition Conference has been held
every year with very good success.
In 1987, Drs. Adams and Flegal suggested that the group expand a Michigan Game
Bird Conference into a Multi-State Game Bird Conference. All states agreed to
do this and this has been a cooperatively sponsored meeting ever since. The
Multi-State Game Bird meeting is held in Michigan every other year and then
rotates among the other states. Another multi-state meeting, called the Multi-State
Poultry Health and Management Conference was also held in 1987. In order to
meet the educational needs of other groups, additional regional multi-state
meetings have been held and other states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota have
participated. One of the programs that was most successful, with respect to
the number of attendees, was the Multi-State Big Bird (Ratite) Conference. The
first of these conferences was held in the Fall of 1992 in Indianapolis, IN
and approximately 350 people attended the two-day meeting. This conference was
held every six months for the next three years.
Another multi-state regional project was initiated in 1989. Dr. Gerald Havenstein,
who at that time was the Head of the Poultry Science Department at Ohio State,
initiated what was called the AMulti-State
Poultry Extension and Research Newsletter.@
Poultry related faculty at each of the cooperating five state universities prepared
articles for publication in this newsletter. This newsletter received excellent
reviews by the poultry industry, but is currently not being published.
In addition to the above mentioned multi-state regional poultry extension programs,
several meetings were conducted in Michigan that were Atailor-made@
for several egg producing companies. Since the other multi-state meetings had
been so successful, several poultry companies have come to us to see if we would
put on a program dealing with specific subjects.
In Table 2, a complete list of the Multi-State regional conferences and programs
is listed. These programs have been nearly self-supporting, and with continued
cooperative efforts they will be entirely self-supported. Based on the attendance
and written evaluation of these meetings, they have been very successful in
delivering current educational information to our clientele. The goals of these
meetings are to: 1) provide high quality educational information, 2) provide
information for area poultry producers, 3) attract outstanding outside speakers,
and 4) secure extramural funding.
Conducting successful Multi-State meetings has several specific requirements.
The first is to obtain financial support from industry sponsors in addition
to funds received from registration. Contributions from companies for sponsoring
speakers, receptions, coffee breaks, meals, and other general costs is a must
to conduct the meeting. As is the case with the Multi-State Poultry Feeding
and Nutrition Conference, each state specialist secures funding in the amount
of about $1,000 to help defray these meeting costs. In addition, several major
companies solely sponsor receptions and meals functions for this meeting. Table
3 depicts many of the specific requirements which must be met in order to conduct
a successful conference.
These Multi-State programs and conferences have been successful because of
the work of the Purdue University Division of Conferences. The conference coordinator's
office is responsible for mailing out the program, assembling the proceedings,
taking registrations and taking care of many other specific tasks. So, it is
critical to the success of any regional extension program to have professional
assistance to take care of the details involved.
DISADVANTAGES AND PITFALLS OF REGIONAL POULTRY
There are some pitfalls and disadvantages with regional programs. When conducting
a regional extension program increased travel and expenses should be expected.
The five-state area is a large geographical area. In order to have a central
location for meetings some participants must travel a greater distance and for
a longer period than for a state program.
There is great state loyalty in the five-state area. Producers are reluctant
to travel to another state. Distance is not the limiting factor. Producers will
travel long distances within their own state, but a segment of the target population
do not want to travel out of state. To overcome this we have rotated some meetings
from state to state in order to attract a new clientele. Once they have participated
in a meeting they are more likely to continue attending the conference even
if it is held in a different state.
The administration procedures at Land Grant Universities were developed with
the idea that education programs would be developed at the local and state levels.
As an example, an extension specialist can travel 500 miles within their state
without any prior approval. However, out-of-state travel regulations require
prior approval for travel only 20 miles into the other state. This can reduce
the effectiveness of specialists to respond to request for help in a timely
When a regional project is conducted, the personnel of various universities
become interconnected. The staffing problems at one university can impact the
effectiveness of personnel at the cooperating universities. In the multi-state
program we have experienced retirements and resignations of key personnel, which
have impacted the work load of the remaining participants. Even though a close
working relationship between colleagues of the different universities is essential
for the multi-stage effort to be successful, input into the selection process
for replacements have not been solicited from cooperating institutions.
ADVANTAGES OF REGIONAL POULTRY EXTENSION PROGRAMS
The advantages of conducting regional multi-state poultry extension programs
are many. First of all, quality extension educational programs are conducted.
In our planning meetings, we decide which topics and problems are most important
to the industry, then decide who can address that problem or topic the best.
First we look for an individual who is a good speaker, then we decide if that
person has the experience and knowledge to address the topic. We try to choose
speakers that work in the industry as well as those who are employed at universities
in both extension and research positions. By adhering to these methods of picking
speakers, we know that we will have a high quality program.
Another advantage of conducting these regional educational conferences is that
we can reach a larger audience than if we were to conduct these seminars individually
in our own states. By doing this, we can address topics that are common to everyone
because these problems usually are regional in scope. Thus, these regional multi-state
conferences have increased the efficiency of our individual extension educational
An important task that university administration likes to see accomplished
is the securing of extramural funding. For our multi-state conferences, we have
been able to do this for every meeting conducted. The companies which give financial
support are recognized on the program brochure. These companies feel that this
support enhances their exposure to key industry clients, and they view this
as good advertising. Thus, the extramural funding we have received has been
sufficient to financially support these conferences.
Decreasing human and monetary resources for poultry extension programs will
require that more regional efforts be implemented. Regional programs can work
if they are developed over a reasonable period of time and if all participants
are committed to the program. The previous discussion about the success of the
Multi-State Poultry Extension group is proof that this type of regional extension
programming effort can be accomplished. Thus, this multi-state poultry extension
programming effort should serve as a model for other commodity, livestock, species,
and general extension groups.
Table 1. Characteristics of the poultry industry in the five
state area for 1999
||Dollar Value ($1000)
|Eggs (mil. eggs)
|Turkeys (1,000 birds)
|Broilers (1,000 birds)
|Ducks (1,000 birds)
Table 2. Multi-State regional conferences and programs initiated
||Poultry Feeding and Nutrition Conference
||Game Bird Conference
||Big Bird Conference
||Poultry Health and Management Conference
||Pet Bird Conference
||Pest Management Workshop
||Poultry Extension and Research Newsletter
Table 3. Specific requirements for conducting a conference
||Secure extramural funding from supporting companies to cover cost of
proceedings, sponsor speakers, coffee breaks and meals.
||Establish program brochure - printing and mailing
||Update and maintain accurate mailing list
||Determine location of conference
||Secure hotel/motel accommodations
||Develop proceedings of talks
||Work with conference coordinator