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I am in Extension and I am just borrowing your idea

This blog is a bit of a self-serving advertisement while at the same time telling an important story about a successful extension program. I am still a newbie in terms of service years as I just finished my sixth year as a state specialist. Over this time I have learned an important fact, an idea or concept does not have to be your own to be applicable. Case in point, ever since grad school I’ve had a tent card, 4”x 3.5” card folded in half to equal the size of a business card, from Potash and Phosphate Institute (PPI), now the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) pinned to my wall. The Plant Food Uptake card has the nutrient concentrations of the primary grain crops grown in the Great Plains. During my research, it was a handy piece of information. Today, it still hangs on my board today with a series of out-dated photos and thank you cards from former students.

Plant Food Uptake (PPI)

Plant Food Uptake (PPI)

It is from the Plant Food Uptake card that I developed the concept of the first Pete’s Sheets Do’s and Don’ts of using N-Rich Strips and N-Ramps in 2008. I personally thought this was a great idea but did not know if it would be well received by my audience. The results have been more than I could have ever imaged. Since 2009, I have developed 10 additional Pete’s Sheets with the latest out for print. I keep close tabs on how many I have ordered, and the latest order brings to total 38500 Pete’s Sheets. I currently have 8000 Pete’s Sheets on hand, which means there is approximately 30,000 cards in circulation. I doubt any fact sheet I have ever written has that level of distribution.

Cover of the first Pete's Sheets produced.

Cover of the first Pete’s Sheets produced.

Pete Sheets for business card size tent cards Fact-Sheet/Research based information.  The Nutrient Management Field Guide is a spiral bound compilation.

Pete Sheets for business card size tent cards Fact-Sheet/Research based information.
The Nutrient Management Field Guide is a spiral bound compilation.

I am able to travel to meetings and speaking engagements with relevant Pete’s Sheets easily in tow, and I also provide bulk quantities for free via request. Another enjoyable aspect of the Pete’s Sheets is I am able to place them in a tray on my office door. It is always a good day when I have the need to refill card holders, and this happens surprisingly often.

The spin-off from the PS has also been quite impressive. One of the best complaints I have ever received was from a producer who quipped he could no longer carry all of the Pete’s Sheets in his wallet. I took that as a major complement and went to work at compiling the cards immediately. The outcome was the 5″x 8″ spiral bound Nutrient Management Field Guide which has been equally successful. Not only did I “borrow” the tent card concept from PPI/IPNI, but I have also “borrowed” the idea of providing a customized logo just as Purdue has with its fields guides. The most famous is probably the Purdue Corn and Soybean Field Guide. While the custom logo has not been widely utilized, the times it has the revenue has been used to purchase more standard cards.

Office door with the Pete's Sheets tray.  Always free to a good home.

Office door with the Pete’s Sheets tray. Always free to a good home.

My take home from this experience is in extension old ideas can easily be incorporated into new educational tools. Often, it takes just a little time and imagination to be successful. Pete’s Sheets now greatly aid both my extension and teaching programs.

Now to the self-serving portion of the blog an announcement for the newest card titled Nitrogen Cycle. Within the Pete’s Sheet is a visual representation of the N-cycle, which every student enrolled in my Soil Nutrient Management course must learn, and the back of has a list of important N-cycle terms with definitions. I will mail Pete’s Sheets to anyone requesting a set, with a maximum of 100 per style. I continuously look for new ideas and topics and welcome any suggestions. View pdfs of the cards and booklets or download the custom order form on my NPK website at http://npk.okstate.edu/petesheets. To receive sets of the standard Pete’s Sheets, simply email me your request and provide a mailing address.

Nitrogen Cycle Pete's Sheet

Nitrogen Cycle Pete’s Sheet


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