I absolutely loathe exercising. That said, I try to force myself to do at least some sort of cardiovascular workout every day in an attempt to fend off the weight gain that seems to come with age (and my inability to stop eating everything bad for me in sight). One thing that (sort of) makes my workouts tolerable is a fitness app that I have downloaded onto my cell phone that allows me to track my steps, minutes of exercise, calories burned, and other sundry exercise-related statistics. As I achieve goals that I have set for myself, the app plies me with cool-looking electronic medallions (and other bright and shiny visuals) to reward me for my efforts.
How on earth does this have anything to do with plant diseases? Well, about a year ago, I was contemplating how to entice people to learn more about plant diseases, and how to make it more fun in the process. I already had plenty of plant disease-related materials to learn from in the form of the UW Plant Disease Facts fact sheets. There are 130 titles in that series waiting to be consumed and digested. But, what might encourage people to partake and learn? My fitness app, with its rewards system, came to mind.
Thus was born the UW Plant Disease Facts Medallion Project. For each of the 130 facts sheets in the UW Plant Disease Facts series, I have created a unique electronic medallion. In addition, for each of the 130 fact sheets, I have written a brief quiz. Earning the medallions is really simple. Read a fact sheet. Then, pick the corresponding quiz, and answer the questions. If you get all of the answers right, you are rewarded the corresponding medallion. The medallions are automatically emailed to you, and you can save them to your computer or other electronic device. I am hoping that earning the medallions will make learning about diseases not only educational but fun as well.
The medallions will be rolled out in stages, just to make sure the launch runs smoothly and to efficiently manage any bumps that come up along the way. The first set of medallions will be those (roughly 30) that have to do with fruit crop diseases. These will launch this month. Additional sets will be made available throughout 2023. Hopefully all 130 medallions will be available by the end of the year. And then, who will be the first person to earn them all?
Go to the UW Plant Disease Facts Medallion Project overview page to get started earning your medallions.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to Dixie Lang, who does IT and web support for my clinic, for all of her efforts in making this project possible. She’s the person who figured out how to set up the quizzes online and automate the delivery of the medallions. Also, many thanks to subscribers to my clinic listserv (UWPDDCLearn). Late last year, I sent out a request through the listserv for help in proofing the quizzes, and many subscribers helped with this. In particular, my colleagues Diana Alfuth (Extension Pierce and St. Croix Counties) and Lisa Johnson (Extension Dane County) spent a lot of time reviewing quizzes.
If you have any questions about the Medallion Project, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 262-2863. Happy learning!!