Winter Agricultural Meetings Go Virtual: Suggestions and Guidelines for Zoo

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During the winter months of 2021, NC State Extension events will be virtually by the Zoom platform. As such, one may attend the regularly scheduled county meetings or any other meeting date that fits one’s schedule. For all meetings, registration is required. Registration will likely be some form of electronic registration by Eventbrite or Google Forms. Links to the recording and passwords will be sent after registration.

In some cases, the N.C. Cooperative Extension agent will get the password 2-3 days prior the meeting to share only with those registered. Realize that all Extension agents will not get the link and password for all meetings. Rather agents will receive only for the ones they are hosting or participating in. Two, this password is not likely to be shared with others within the office since many offices are still closed. As such, if one needs a password and link to attend a meeting, and it is not provided by email upon registering, then it will be necessary to contact the Extension agent serving as host to obtain the password.

It is important that the links and passwords are not shared with others via social media, email, or text since this greatly risks the security of the meetings. If security is breached, the meeting will fail and will need to be rescheduled. This may or may not be possible given the number of meetings and the presenter’s schedule.

Realize that Extension has been coordinating over the past 3-4 weeks trying to plan these meetings efficiently and easily. Even so, there will be a tremendous variation in what each meeting will and will not provide. It will be your responsibility to make sure the meeting you attend provides the credits and information you need. Below are some suggestions in a FAQ format.

 Zoom Protocols

What information do I need and how do I sign up for Zoom? 

Zoom can be downloaded free at Zoom. All you need is an email.

How do I sign into a scheduled meeting?

All events will require some sort of registration. Once registered, a link will be sent to the email you provided. You must use the same email you provided to log into the event. Simply click on the link sent to you via email at the scheduled meeting time to enter a meeting.

Will I need a password? If so, how do I get it? 

Passwords will be required for most meetings. If the password was not provided in the email sent to you when you registered, then you will need to contact your local NC State Extension agent to obtain the password. (See critical password information in Extension’s Roles)

When is it too late to enter an existing meeting? 

This will vary by meeting but generally, moderators will not allow one to enter a meeting 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.

What is a “Waiting Room?” How do I get out? 

Many meetings will have what is called a “Waiting Room.” This is simply a means to verify that the person trying to enter a meeting has indeed registered for this meeting. Due to the nefarious individuals that aim to interrupt these meetings with inappropriate content, this is a necessary precaution. To leave a waiting room and enter a meeting, simply be patient. The moderator will begin allowing folks to enter once registration is verified. Some meetings may not allow entry until a designated time.

 I’ve waited and waited but still am in the Waiting Room. Why can’t I get out? 

One possible explanation is that your internet connection is not stable. Try logging out and rejoining the meeting. Another possibility is that you are trying to log into the meeting with a different email or name than provided on the registration. If so, the moderator will not let you into the meeting. The last possibility is that every meeting has a limit of 300. While this is a large number, it is still possible to reach. For example, if every farmer within the state just happens to choose the same date to attend an auxin training then only the first 300 will be allowed to attend. All others will need to select another date.

 My internet is not stable and the program stopped. What do I do? 

In most cases, if the screen freezes or the program stops, simply wait. Seldom does this last more than one minute. If you are kicked off the meeting for some reason, most computers will simply restart the Zoom session automatically and the moderator will let you back into the meeting.

Why is the sound on the presentation horrible. Everyone sounds like Max Headroom!

Internet connection, either yours or the presenters, determines whether the sound and video are clear or full of digital noise and interference. If this occurs only occasionally, simply wait. The problem usually corrects itself. If it is a poor connection from the presenter, then the moderator will alert the presenter.

If internet speed or connection is poor, try logging into the Zoom session with the computer video but use phone audio. This has been helpful for those in rural areas with stronger cellular signal than internet capabilities.

 What is Zoom Bombing and how can I help prevent it?

Zoom bombing is when someone takes over a Zoom session to insert political views, inappropriate videos, images, obscene language, or other content rather than the intended presentation. To aid in the prevention of this, do not share the Zoom links via social media or forward the email information with the link and password to others.

N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Pesticide or Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Credits

Will all meetings offer NCDA&CS pesticide credits? 

No, in fact, the same general presentation may or may not offer credits. For example, the required auxin training has multiple presentation dates. Some may be live events while others may be pre-recorded sessions. Each will provide training that will meet the auxin requirements. However, only folks that attend a “live” session with video and audio equipment will be provided both auxin training credit and NCDA&CS pesticide credit. Similarly, other meetings will follow this protocol. If a presentation is not “live” or you attend a meeting with equipment that does not allow the presenter and moderators to view and interact with you, then no credits will be credited to you.

How do I receive NCDA&CS or CCA credits for live sessions?

Several requirements will ensure proper credit(s). The first is that attendance must be via equipment with both video and audio capability. One may attend a meeting via phone but if the phone does not have this equipment, attendance will be noted but no credits will be allowed.

In addition to the video and audio requirements, any classes that offer credits require interaction. As such, polls every 10-15 minutes will be part of the presentation. Those that fail to participate in these polls will not receive credit(s). These questions simply ensure that those attending are participating in the meeting.

For NCDA&CS pesticide credit, one will need to enter their own NCDA&CS Pesticide License Number. Depending upon the presenter, other information may be required. Simply have your license number or other information with you at each meeting so you can supply this information. Specific instruction will be provided at each meeting.

Those seeking CCA credits will be asked to scan a QR code provided at the meetings. If you are a CCA and do not have the CCA app on your phone, download the app in advance of the meetings. If the code is not offered, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension agent to obtain credits.

If multiple people share a computer screen to attend a meeting, can everyone attending obtain credits? 

Yes, in fact, some N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers where face-to-face meetings are allowed may provide “watch sessions” to project the meeting onto a large screen for viewing. In other cases, several family member or workers may share a screen. Simply follow the instruction of the presenter or moderators. Make sure to enter the license numbers of all when requested. (Note: In some cases, it may be necessary to confirm multiple attendances via camera. Too, this policy may change. We will provide updates as necessary)

What is the NCDA&CS policy for credits?

  • Registration is required before an attendee can join the Live Zoom training.
  • Attendee must include name, email address, phone number, county, and NCDA&CS Certification/License number at registration.
  • Identity verification at the beginning of the course and after any breaks.
  • Active participation by each attendee throughout the course to ensure the attendee is present (polling questions will be used for Live Zoom meetings).
  • Attendance must be taken at the end of the course.
  • No partial credit is given for those that arrive late or leave early.

Extension’s Roles 

Which meeting can I attend? 

Each county within the state has selected dates for agricultural commodity production meetings. In most cases, NC State University faculty will customize presentations to meet the needs for those counties. However, if the chosen date is not convenient for you, then you may attend other scheduled meetings.

If the instructions require a password to be provided by the agent, why doesn’t the NC State Extension office know the password? 

Restrictions for office openings, face to face meetings, or other work related tasks differ greatly within the state. For this reason, and to ensure protection from Zoom bombing, only the Agricultural agents or a designated individual(s) associated with the appropriate meeting(s) have been provided the password.

Why can’t I get the Extension agent to send me the password? 

There are many reasons why receiving a password may be delayed or prevented. First, many agents will host or moderate at meetings. As such, this often occurs an hour or more before the actual meeting begins. In this case, request for a password just prior to a meeting may not be possible. Keep in mind that NC State Extension agents and NC State faculty will participate or moderator multiple meetings and dates across the state.

Another reason for delay is that many passwords will not be provided to the agent until a few days prior to a meeting. Again, this is to ensure the safety of the password. In most cases, requesting a password several weeks or months ahead of the meeting will not be honored, simply because the agent does not yet have the password.

Lastly, all agents will not be provided passwords for all meetings. The N.C. Cooperative Extension agents within each county will know the password of the meeting the county will host but not necessarily other meetings. Contact the NC State Extension agent of the hosting county(ies) to obtain a password.

Why have some faculty provided pre-recorded presentations for us to watch?

Some meetings will have live presentations using video or slides. Others will offer links to pre-recorded sessions for participants to view prior to the meetings. For example, the tobacco production meeting will consist of recorded sessions that growers can view prior to the scheduled meeting dates. The scheduled tobacco Zoom meetings will provide any new updates, Agent comments, and a question and answer session from a panel of NC State faculty with tobacco responsibility. This format will allow greater interaction to address specific grower questions. Having said this, all meeting formats may vary. Again, the main point is to provide the data and new information to producers easily and to facilitate the ability for participants to ask questions.