Hail Know, a project developed by a team of inventive Nebraska Extension faculty, received the Excellence in Extension Team award at the Nebraska Extension Fall Conference Annual Banquet Nov. 27 in Kearney.

Faculty team members from the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture include Roger Elmore, Extension cropping systems agronomist and agronomy professor, Chris Proctor, weed management Extension educator and Daren Redfearn, Extension forage crop residue specialist.

Hail Know was developed and launched in January 2018 to create timely and relevant programming to answer growers’ questions when hail storms strike. Hail storms cause catastrophic damage across North America, and in particular, Nebraska. Hail events are unpredictable and regionalized with variable degrees of damage. With these uncertainties, it is challenging for Extension programming to deliver relevant, just-in-time learning.

Coupled with actively engaging Nebraska crop producers, the team developed creative strategies to address this problem. The project team identified resource gaps and developed a hail resource package consisting of a new website, cropwatch.unl.edu/hail-know/, that serves as the resource hub for hail-related information. This online resource features videos, graphics and articles in climate science, agronomy, engineering, agricultural technology, economics and disaster education.

An infographic and video series, targeted to producers, was created to focus on six hail event components: 1) The Hail Storm; 2) Assess My Damage; 3) Handle My Insurance; 4) Replant My Crop; 5) Manage My Recovering Crop and; 6) Are Cover Crops For Me?.

“Hail Know was created to build upon and expand Nebraska Extension’s hail-related programs,” said Ashley Mueller, Extension’s disaster education coordinator and project lead. “In the aftermath of a hailstorm we want growers to know that they can turn to Nebraska Extension for the answers and certainty they need to make sound, research-based decisions to manage their crop.”

The team diligently and consistently shared resources with their target audiences at outreach events and on social media using #HailKnow. During the 2018 growing season, team members contributed to three post-hail workshops in Holdrege, York and Central City. Workshop information was used to develop four additional post-hail presentations, specifically for late-season hail events in corn and soybean systems.

According to nominator Roch Gaussoin, agronomy and horticulture professor, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Hastings expressed the value of the project deliverables, sharing “they meet a documented need in the region.”

“The Hail Know team embodies the meaning of timely, relevant and innovative, serving as an example of a cohesive and successful interdisciplinary team for university outreach and stakeholder engagement," said Gaussoin.

The team is currently preparing for the winter program season and beyond. Additional grant applications are being prepared to expand the objectives of the original project.

Other Hail Know team members include the following county-and campus-based educators and state extension specialists:

  • Ashley Mueller, team leader, Extension educator and disaster education coordinator
  • Tyler Williams, cropping systems Extension educator with Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska State Climate Office
  • Nathan Mueller, Extension educator
  • Al Dutcher, associate Nebraska state climatologist
  • Robert Klein, Western Nebraska crops specialist
  • Paul Jasa, Extension engineer
  • Justin McMechan, crop protection and cropping systems specialist
  • Jenny Rees, Extension educator
  • Corey Walters, assistant professor of agricultural economics

This project was created through partnerships within the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and included IANR Media and the Jacht Ad Agency, the student-managed advertising agency in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

The development of Hail Know was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Smith-Lever special needs grant with matching funds from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Story courtesy of Lana Koepke Johnson, Agronomy and Horticulture Department at Nebraska