You don't have to live next door to a university to get the information you need for a more productive, enjoyable life in the country.

All it takes is your computer and an Internet connection.

“Travel savings is one of the big benefits of e-learning,” says Dan Lane, Extension and education director for Iowa State University in Clayton County.

“It's tough to replace the physical presence between a student and a teacher, but there are a lot of courses now that can be taken right over the Internet,” he says.

Lane suggests farm families check out a new Web site: www.extension.org. It connects all the state Extension services nationwide under one easy-to-access umbrella site for production, families and farm youth. Click on the “Self Learning” button at the top of the home page.

In Iowa, for example, distance education has its own identity at www.agde.iastate.edu where e-learning seekers can review courses available, as well as register online. Additional Web locations like Ag Decision Maker (www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/) help farmers access timely information on a wide range of production options.

But, don't limit your e-learning search to just the Extension service. For production agriculture, you'll find a wealth of information by googling the major commodity associations (corn and soybean growers). These sites continually post educational information that goes beyond getting a better yield.

YOUNG FARMERS JUSTIN and Jennifer Dammann, Essex, IA, rely more and more on the Internet to access educational information, including both farm production and lifestyle.

Farm families like the Dammanns use the Internet to go beyond the farm gate, including reviewing four-year programs for college-bound farm kids.

A number of cyber-schools offer distance-learning programs, which are becoming popular in rural areas. Several sites list summary directories and links to help you get started and locate what's available in your interest area, including www.OnlineCollegeDegree.net, www.Degree.com and www.GetEducated.com.

The Internet, with more e-learning advances each day, makes living in the country better than ever. You're no longer out of the loop. Go ahead, log on.

FARM E-RESOURCES

STUDENT RESOURCES

For farm families, from high-schoolers to moms and dads, here's a quick Web site review for e-learning: