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SUCCESSFULLY TAKING THE CENTRAL FLORIDA CISMA GRASSES WORKSHOP VIRTUAL

T. McIntyre, and M. Pinkerton UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL.

Situation: The Central Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CFCISMA) membership is made up of land managers, Fl. Dept. of Ag. and Consumer Services pesticide license holders, residents and Master Gardeners. Many of them rely on the CFCISMA Steering Committee to offer educational programming and obtain the necessary Continued Educational Units (CEUs) to maintain their licenses for invasive species management. With changes in the Steering Committee and the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a need to host an event virtually that also offered CEUs. Methods: UF/IFAS Extension in Seminole County stepped up to lead the free 2020 CFCISMA 1st ever Virtual Grasses Workshop. The Zoom webinar was utilized by an array of UF and state experts to present on a variety of topics. Strategic marketing was employed, and a flyer was developed. The class was registered with FDACS and approved.  Results: The workshop was a success with over 400 attendees, over 570 CEUs (aquatic pest control, natural areas weed management) issued and many questions answered. In a post webinar survey 97.5% (312/320) respondents increased their knowledge on invasive species and 100% (322/322) on grass/sedge identification, 98.1% (310/316) were more confident they could distinguish between grasses and sedges, 96.7% (266/275) would adopt proper pest identification prior to applying pesticides and 97% (259/267) pesticide safety practices (PPE). Conclusion: This workshop is usually limited in capacity, however going virtual allowed us to serve professionals from all over Florida. The agents took a bigger role in the Steering Committee and are now using these lessons learned to plan a fall virtual webinar for 2021. With contact information for the participants, we were able to double the size of the Steering Committee and gain excitement around other events, such as Weed Wrangle. Ultimately, the members will retain their licenses and be able to properly manage invasives.​