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Proceedings available at: http://www.extension.org/67569
The Anaerobic Digester Workforce Development Project is a project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, aimed at developing and delivering high quality educational programs targeted to a range of workforces within the dairy farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) sector of the clean energy field.
A goal of the project was to form a farmer driven discussion group among existing AD owners and operators. Farmers value and learn from the insights of fellow producers because they trust the experience and knowledge of others who are in situations similar to their own. This is especially true when adopting new technology. The purpose of this discussion group was to allow farmers an opportunity to learn from each other by sharing their real world experiences integrating and operating an anaerobic digester system into their farm business. Realizing that frequent, long-distance travel of all involved was a barrier to continued, dedicated involvement, the group opted to pursue a virtually-based discussion group platform. Farmers from across the state were linked via an online meeting site. This is an efficient method to allow farmers to interact with each other in a meaningful way without leaving their farm. The use of high definition video conferencing enhanced the interaction considerably. There have been many lessons learned from this challenging venture, as well as many successful communication strategies to share.