Now you can attend a field day without even leaving the comforts of your own home.


Thanks to a program from the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, field days have gone virtual.


“It capitalizes on the notion that what they see and touch and do in real life is a lot more likely to stick with them than reading about it or hearing somebody lecture about it,” says Bob Hochmuth, a multi-county Extension agent in Live Oak.


Attendees of virtual field days don't have to worry about its geographic location or taking time away from farmning operations.


The university recently unveiled its updated virtual field day site at http://vfd.ifas.ufl.edu, according to a news release.


For the new field day site, Hochmuth, an expert in hydroponics based at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Live Oak, says he and other extension agents boiled down what had been 30- to 40-minute field day presentations into easier to watch 5- to 8-minute versions.


The original site was organized by geographic region; the new version is organized by topic.


UF extension agents with expertise in a particular subject are often swamped with questions from people from all over the state—and beyond.


Al Magrum of Lambertville, Mich., used Hochmuth’s online instruction several months ago to guide him as he started a hydroponic growing operation in his home.


He says he used the video as a guide and later e-mailed follow-up questions to Hochmuth.


But don't look for the old fashioned field day to go away, says Joan Dusky, associate dean for Extension in Gainesville.

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