Initiating Cross-Platform Recertification Opportunities for Licensed Irrigation Contractors
Extension Irrigation Specialist
Over the last few decades, automatic in-ground irrigation of Louisiana landscapes has become popular despite annual rainfall averaging 45-65 inches per year. With state level regulatory requirements in place since 2005, Louisiana is one of four states that mandates annual licensure for irrigation contractors, which is dependent on receiving six full hours of in-person continuing education every third year. Louisiana Irrigation Association partnered with LSU AgCenter to meet these educational requirements. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed continuing education toward an online platform for the first time. Thus, this project’s immediate goal was to develop and utilize versatile educational material appropriate for cross-platform delivery (in-person or virtual) that is educational, interesting, applicable to their businesses, and relatively new to Louisiana contractors while meeting the regulatory requirements of recertification. The primary metric was measured through direct feedback about the quality and delivery of the educational material as well as the overall experience with the cross-platform structure. A majority of the 115 participants, which represent a third of the licensed landscape irrigation contractors in the state, thought the educational content was interesting and informative (89%), teleconferencing software was suitable (90%), they could see/hear content appropriately (89%), class was at the same level or an improvement to previous classes (69%) and preference for future virtual class options (80%). As a secondary metric, basic technical questions were asked after each covered topic to assess attendance and attention. The educational content was designed to introduce the newest technologies, connect nationally conducted research to Louisiana’s climate and culture, and relate familiar basic concepts from irrigation scheduling and system auditing to the functionality and automation of smart technologies and two-wire systems. Out of five classes, the correct answer for each technical question was selected by most contractors (60%-93% correct response rate). Ideally, knowledge implied through quiz results would directly translate to water, energy, and labor savings for both the contractor and irrigator.
Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC
This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.
Click to view Poster
Authors: Stacia Conger
Conger, S. Extension Irrigation Specialist, LSU AgCenter, Louisiana, 71112