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Creation of a National Training Program in Crop Biosecurity for First Detectors


Our goal is to design and deliver a high quality, national educational program that trains and certifies crop consultants and county educators as "first detectors" in crop biosecurity. We will determine training curriculum content and standards for certification through regional workshops and design instructional materials and delivery systems utilizing a learning content management system (LCMS). Our goal is to train 20 percent of crop consultants and 40 percent of county educators in basic biosecurity awareness, and certify 5 percent as first detectors. We will also create a national on-line catalog for biosecurity information and training resources.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: U.S. agriculture is vulnerable to bioterrorism, for which the best defense is surveillance, early detection and rapid response. U.S. agriculture is under constant surveillance by producers, crop consultants and cooperative extension educators. They represent individuals most likely to "first detect" an unusual agricultural event. This proposal seeks to enable this population to play a pivotal role in helping prevent and minimize the impacts of crop bioterrorism. Our goal is to design and deliver a high quality program to train and certify crop consultants and county educators as "first detectors." With a target audience of 25,000 nationwide, we will work in collaboration with a broad array of partners (e.g., NPDN regional directors, the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and Regional IPM Centers, subject matter specialists, crop consulting organizations, and the National Agricultural Library) to achieve our objectives.

APPROACH: Our target audience is County Educators and Crop Consultants throughout the U.S. (approximately 25,000 individuals). We will work in collaboration with a broad array of partners (e.g., Regional Directors of the National Plant Detection Network, USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and Regional IPM Centers, subject matter specialists, crop consulting organizations, and the National Agricultural Library) to achieve our objectives. This program would extend beyond the funding period to eventually certify the majority of crop consultants and county educators in the U.S. Producers will be trained by county educators in a variety of ways based on local needs and conditions. This approach will lay a solid foundation for future efforts.
PROGRESS: 2004/05 TO 2008/04 <BR>
OUTPUTS: 1. Curriculum Content: There were 6 training modules created: 1) Mission of the NPDN; 2) Monitoring for High-Risk Pests; 3) Diagnosing Plant Problems; 4) Submitting Diagnostic Samples; 5) Photography for Diagnostics; and 6) Disease and Pest Scenarios. Each module takes 50-60 minutes to complete. The training modules are media-rich with well over 350 individual screens that contain over 500 photographs and illustrations. In addition, there are many interactive features including over 100 questions that incorporate rich images to quiz learners during the training. A "Learn More" feature allows learners to explore additional information at 60 different points in the training. Training modules are complete and available online at . 2. Instructional Design: The online training was organized and delivered via a trio of technologies: a content management system (Lyra), a learning management system (Moodle), and a custom-developed, flash-based web-delivery system. We integrated these three systems so that we would be able to manage the learning content, track and manage the learners, and display the content on the internet. The integration of these three technologies was a significant milestone in our ability to provide training in the manner outlined in our original proposal. These three interfaces are fully functional and integrated, have been tested and refined, and are currently being used in the delivery of the online training. 3. Training & Certification: The training was advertised to several groups, including the NPDN, the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC), the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA), and State Departments of Agriculture. We have also applied for CEU credits through the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) organization and they are in the process of reviewing our application and training courses. Members from all of these organizations worked with us to contribute to, review, and pilot the training materials. Each of the modules contains post-training assessment questions that can be used for self-evaluation of content mastery, or as with the CCA, as measures for course and/or CEU certification. 4. On-Line Catalog: The on-line catalog has been implemented using a system for categorizing subject headings relevant to crop biosecurity training. Training resources are listed under relevant subject headings, and users can browse to related subject headings to find related resources. A search engine is also available for searching metadata associated with training resources (title, author, media, subject, etc.). The catalog is being used to organize existing training resources on the NPDN training web site. Web-based facilities for submitting new resources are provided and are open to the public. All new resources are subject to review by the NPDN training coordinators prior to being made available through the catalog. The catalog is currently being populated by members of the IT Training Committee and is being incorporated as the basis for managing the NPDN Training Site. This site is being rebuilt to better integrate various web-based training functions for NPDN. <P>
IMPACT: 2004/05 TO 2008/04 <BR>
The development stage of this project is complete. The result is an online training program in crop biosecurity that trains first detectors (i.e., crop consultants and county agents) to detect and report suspected acts of crop bioterrorism. Furthermore, a method for adding additional content in the form of new modules or enhancements to current modules is established. The catalog of biosecurity training materials and metadata associated with training resources will enable both students and instructors to rapidly locate relevant instructional resources and incorporate them into their plan of study. The method and tools used for this training serve as a model for other online training efforts. The ability to deliver more effective training materials is enhanced through the use of the combination of a content management system and a learning management system. New authoring tools simplify the process of creating educational materials, and minimize the time required by subject specialists as they prepare training materials. New material is even now being put into the learning management system as additional training modules for timely topics and training needs are being identified. Students are directed more efficiently to lessons appropriate to their needs, and assessment capabilities that are part of the learning management system document and report on student progress.

Holmes, Gerald
North Carolina State University
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