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Development of a Grape Community of Practice for the Extension System

Stafne, Eric; Kelsey, Kathleen; Hellman, Edward
Mississippi State University
Start date
End date
The two year goals of this project are to expand upon the foundational efforts of the established Grape Community of Practice (GCoP). Our objectives in the next year will be to create a smart phone application to work in conjunction with the new Vineyard Dr. website ( This new "app" will assist growers in deciding how best to control pests in their vineyard with the latest recommendations. As these recommendations can, and do, change from year to year, an updated smart phone application will provide growers with the best information without needing to leave the vineyard. We also will continue our attempts to have all 50 states included in our community of practice. This is done through communications at conferences and meetings. Therefore, in 2013 we plan to hold another National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership /eXtension Grape Community of Practice Conference in Richmond, Virginia. At this conference we plan to invite extension viticulturists and enologists to attend and participate in the community of practice. This meeting will build upon the previous successes of similar conferences held in 2009-2012 (Oklahoma City, OK; Fresno, CA; St. Louis, MO; and Geneva, NY, respectively). We will continue to target our COI at grower conferences. As with other websites, continuing to update our current information is vital. We must also add more information where gaps currently exist. At this point, we have created a good framework of information with which to build more educational products that target advanced users. Our partnerships with the Northern Grapes Project (T. Martinson, PI) and the VitisGen Project (B. Reisch, PI) will help to create the advanced educational materials necessary to address the intended audience. Social media expansion is necessary as well. The Grape Community of Practice is part of the eXtension community and eXtension places a high priority on social media efforts. To date the GCoP, is using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flikr. Other, new avenues need to be explored and current offerings need to be expanded. The expected outcome is that a GCoP will contribute substantially to the long-term profitability of new and current grape producers through expedient access to proven methods and the most up-to-date research available on all aspects of viticulture and enology. Sustainability of grape production will be further impacted as the GCoP membership expands and integrates participation from not only viticulture experts, but those who are leaders in the fields of plant pathology, entomology, weed science, postharvest physiology, food safety, meteorology, soil science, and others. Sustainability of the GCoP will be a high priority as well. Important partnerships with universities, other educational institutions, and grape-related organizations will continue to be explored. Sponsorships with chemical companies, state wine and grape organizations, nurseries, wholesale operations, and processors will be explored to raise funds for continuation and expansion of the GCoP. External grants funding will also be applied for to supplement efforts.
More information

Our objective is to further strengthen the Grape Community of Practice (GCoP) that has already developed a national science-based repository of grape production information for the eXtension system through development of new education materials, social media efforts, and integration of new technological advancements. Our initial information repository is readily available to the community of interest, with more to come in the near future. The GCoP will continue to foster collaboration among institutions throughout the extension network through efforts such as the Northern Grapes Project and the VitisGen Project. Continued face-to-face conferences of the GCoP are critical to encourage new members to join and current members to remain engaged in the collective efforts.

A new leadership strategy is currently under development that will focus efforts in a more regional way and therefore spread out the leadership responsibilities and foster professional investment in the project. We believe this new structure will increase output of new, targeted information, including the smart phone application for the Vineyard Dr. and others. Members will continue to be recruited and added as the GCoP develops. A face-to-face meeting is a substantial effort to recruit and engage viticulture-related personnel throughout the U.S. and Canada. The face-to-face conference of all members will be on an annual basis at the joint NVEEL and GCoP conference. Already existing and new information pages (available at and have been written and assembled by the GCoP. In 2011and 2012, a "gap" analysis was conducted by members to determine areas where information could be added, thus strengthening our website offerings. This is an ongoing effort of completing articles and other educational segments that will help fill those gaps. Interactive learning modules creation is being investigated as a possible method to "package" our content into a more meaningful structure. GCoP members who have had experience in creating similar modules with other CoPs will have the task of making these available. Webinars have been shown to be a valuable method to dispense viticulture information and thus will be continued in conjunction with the two collaborating projects (Northern Grapes and VitisGen). The GCoP has initiated social media efforts, including FaceBook (, Twitter ( and others; however, the expansion of these efforts is paramount to creating our brand awareness and drawing in our COI. More emphasis will be placed on these efforts by doing more research into what makes Social Media successful, including time of day to post, including more visual elements (i.e. photos, videos, etc.), and ways to create interest.

PROGRESS: 2012/06 TO 2013/06
OUTPUTS: The eXtension grape community of practice (GCoP) was initially funded by a competitive grant through the USDA-NIFA-SCRI in 2009 and renewed in 2012. The project began in late 2009 with 16 participants, but has grown to 91 viticulture specialists from 32 different states and Canada in 2013. To date, 250+ articles have been written (including 100+ translated into Spanish), more than 400 glossary terms added, 113 FAQs, and other creative content is in development. The project reaches our community of interest (viticulturists) through various methods such as webinars, social media (Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook), and print publications (industry and academic). The GCoP also cooperates with other USDA-NIFA-SCRI funded projects (e.g. Northern Grapes Project, VitisGen, and Grape and Wine Quality Eastern U.S. Initiative) so that they can use the already established platform through eXtension to reach a broader audience. To keep our group engaged, annual face-to-face conferences for the GCoP are held in locations around the United States. The last meeting was held in Geneva, NY in 2012 with another scheduled for Richmond, VA in 2013. PARTICIPANTS: Eric Stafne, Mississippi State University, PI Lane Greer, Oklahoma State University, Project Co-ordinator Ed Hellman, Texas A&M, Co-PI Kathleen Kelsey, Oklahoma State University, Co-PI TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audiences are professional viticulturists and prospective grape growers of all skill levels. The online information developed by the grape community of practice target these audiences, as well as the collaboration with other USDA-NIFA-SCRI projects such as the Northern Grapes Project and VitisGen. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens