Written by Ann Marie Murphy –
The service was developed by eXtension in 2006 as a national online tool for all of Cooperative Extension and was launched in Oregon in March, 2011. Oregon is one of the top five most active users of the service.
Half of all inquiries come from people that are new to OSU Extension Service, making it an excellent tool for community engagement.
On average, 77 percent said their Ask an Expert question was very or critically important to them and 78 percent said the answer very much or completely answered their question. Questions range from “Should we eat expired tofu?“ to the more provocative “May I throw rocks at my husband to save our tree?”
Answers to Ask an Expert questions also have the power to change lives: 65 percent said they changed their behavior as a result of the answer to their question.
How does it work? Ask an Expert questions are forwarded to a national databank. The system then automatically assigns the questions to experts in the state from which the question originated based on their listed expertise.
“A team of local Oregon Question Monitors jump in to assist in the digital process, putting people-powered networking skills into the loop,” said Jeff Hino, recently retired learning technology leader in Extension and Experiment Station Communications, and coordinator of OSU’s Ask an Expert. Monitors help guide the questions to the best experts, which include a stable of more than 130 OSU faculty experts and more than 30 master gardeners. Their goal is to get the question answered in less than 48 hours, the national service standard. “On average, Oregon is doing better than that,” said Hino.
Ask the Expert has a high profile on county Extension websites and a “Question of the Week” is regularly featured on OregonLive, The Oregonian’s online edition, and in the newspaper’s home and gardening section (approximately 60 percent of the questions are garden related).
Other interesting and intriguing questions include:
- What is this unidentified beach object?
- Would my garden benefit from a java jolt?
- Heavy metals in urban soils: Best practices to stay safe
- I need a cat-free garden, is there a natural deterrent?
- What fruit and berries do well in my area and how do I protect them?
- What can I do to build better bones?
- Is raw egg yolk a good way to poison my family?
Thank you to all the experts that respond to Ask the Expert questions! And don’t forget, Ask the Expert is a resource if you need an answer to one of life’s pressing questions.