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Story in Brief

During Georgia’s shelter-in-place guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals were staying home and seeking information on growing food crops. The Fannin County Extension agent collaborated with faculty from UGA Extension, LSU Extension, North Carolina State Extension, University of Tennessee Extension and Auburn University to coordinate a multi-state webinar series on backyard fruit production. The series featured crops, including blackberries, blueberries, muscadines, bunch grapes, strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums and citrus; and specialty fruits, such as figs, persimmons and kiwifruit. Each session included about one hour of instruction coupled with a question-and-answer session at the end. Recordings of each session were captioned and made available on the UGA Extension YouTube Channel, where program participants, as well as those who did not register for the live webinars, could view and share the videos. Additionally, many educators across Georgia, and other states, were seeking opportunities for professional development. So a Certificate of Completion was made available for any program participant who attended all eight sessions, equivalent to eight hours of online learning. The Backyard Fruit Webinar Series garnered national interest and participation. Over the course of the program, 2,152 client contacts were made, 28 states were reached, and attendance ranged from 85 to 74 percent of those who registered, which was an average of about 269 participants per session. Certificates of Completion were furnished to 43 participants. As of October 2020, the videos have been viewed 1,528 times. In a follow-up survey, 84 percent of participants preferred the online learning option over in-person. All of the participants who attended all eight sessions of the program reported they gained a better understanding of the major factors that impact successful backyard fruit production, and planned on using the information presented throughout the program.