Working Differently— How do the dairy cattle leaders get so many people involved in their community of practice?

To date, 348 dairy professionals representing 35 universities and allied industries and the top 25 states for milk production have contributed to DAIReXNET, www.extension.org/dairy+cattle.

Nancy McGill

Nancy McGill, University of Kentucky: “In short, we ask! We ask people to serve on the leadership team. We ask people to serve as subject area leaders. We ask people to contribute content or speak for webinars or answer specific Ask an Expert questions when the need arises.

“I think that we get our best results when we ask people to perform specific tasks, such as writing or reviewing an article, sourcing specific material in a defined time frame, or speaking for a webinar on a particular topic. It gives our contributors a better sense of the work we would like them to do, and helps minimize the time commitment required from busy professionals. If someone says they’re too busy to do a particular task, we respect that. Asking someone to commit to a task that they’ve told us they don’t have time for is just asking for a stressful situation for everyone.”

Robert Van Saun

Robert Van Saun, Penn State University: “I rely heavily on my colleagues at my university as well as other universities to provide help in peer reviewing information.

“Our success with webinars is due to the team we have, each person providing his or her unique perspective on current information and having the contacts with people across the U.S. I have thought this process was one of the best ones I have participated in.

“Another concern is getting the word out about what we do. I gave an overview presentation at the Bovine Practitioner conference to Extension veterinarians. A number of the participants went to the site, watched archived webinars and sent me comments on how good the information was. They now use the website for teaching purposes with students and clients. I know I can now tap these people to help with reviews or contributions.”