Take Time to Read Extension, SWCD Newsletters

Hoosier Perspectives

It's the ideas they spark that count most.

Published on: November 1, 2010

The days of paper newsletters mailed out under a bulk mailing permit from the local Extension office or the local Soil and Water Conservation District, or maybe your church or even the Farm Service Agency in your county, are slowly going the way of the Pony Express. Everyone wants to send email. Since even email is getting to be old hat among the younger set, perhaps it will be in text message form or some sort of video delivery in the future.

I'm old fashioned. I still appreciate those who put things on paper. As long as I don't lose it, I can grab it without pushing buttons, and it's there until I decide I don't need it anymore and toss it. And there's just some things that shouldn't be electronic - in my humble opinion.

Take report cards for example. Our school system decided that even though we have a significant low income population, not all of whom have Internet, it would be a good idea and big money-saver to put report cards on a secure school Website system instead of sending out paper copies. Since my daughter keeps forgetting to bring home the password, here we are staring at turkey time and I still haven't seen the first grade for the year.

Besides, when my kids are old and their grandkids are sorting through their stuff, how are they going to laugh at the 'D' mom or dad got in some funky subject if there are no report cards to find? When my mom and dad gave up housekeeping, finding some old report cards and jiving them about it was one of the few highlights of an otherwise painstaking process.

Anyway, hats off to Dave Smith and the Johnson County Extension Service. He's the Extension ag educator. He still sends out a paper newsletter, filled with all kinds of useful articles and important dates and such. In fact, it was so full and had so many pages, that to get it mailed, they turned it into a Chinese puzzle. I had to piece it together to finish reading story A on the back of page 6.

But there was so much information there that it inspired stories for all 10 of the Indiana Web items I wrote for you to read on our Website this week. Normally, I like to base those items on my travels- comments I've heard here and there. And some of those are still in the stories you will read this week. But the inspiration for everyone, from how to sort out hybrids with a concrete, math-based method from Purdue University's Bob Nielsen to how to learn about improving goat and sheep health, came from the newsletter.

A newsletter doesn't have to cover all details of any one subject. It just has to peak interest so you will dig further. Hopefully that's what our local items on the Web do for you. The key is being timely. The stories about how to evaluate test plot results, and comments from Purdue's Tony Vyn about tillage in a dry fall were right on target.

So keep stopping in to see us on the Web everyday. But don't forget to look at our magazines too. There's something permanent about print, and it's an avenue where you can chock in tons of ideas. As long as you turn the pages, you're going to at least see an idea. Hopefully several of them spark your interest.

Until next time, happy surfing, but happy reading too!