Cropwatch tribute Lisa Jasa

Debbie Borg (left), District 4 Director of the Nebraska Corn Board, presents Lisa Jasa (right), editor of UNL’s CropWatch, with the Media Appreciation Award in March of 2019.

“IANR Media, Lisa speaking.” Anyone who has called Lisa Jasa’s office would recognize those familiar words spoken with her kind voice.

Lisa became a communications specialist in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Communications in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1985, where she edited Extension publications and worked on other writing projects.

In 1994, Lisa Jasa not only edited CropWatch but also handled subscriptions. Anyone calling the CropWatch phone number since the early 1990s heard Lisa's voice on the other end of the line.

The pest newsletter named CropWatch was first published in 1992 as a six-page print subscription newsletter on integrated pest management. It was a little tedious, but that year Lisa started editing and laying it out on a computer. CropWatch grew out of a desire to directly and quickly extend University research findings and Extension recommendations to Nebraska farmers. It moved to online and print publication in 1996 with it being housed at cropwatch.unl.edu. The newsletter and website evolved a lot over the last 30 years as farming and new technologies evolved.

In a past interview, Lisa shared, “This (CropWatch) was really an outgrowth of department newsletters that originated just after WWII when growers wanted the latest information on ag advances. At some point in the 1980s, the individual department newsletters were combined as the Disease, Weed, and Insect (DWI) Newsletter. Eventually it changed to IPM or something else. Initially, these were related to pest management and agronomy stories were infrequent.”

Over time, the topics and contributors increased to encompass all aspects of crop production, pest and farm management. In 2009, the CropWatch newsletter became the home page of a one-stop shop website for all Nebraska Extension crop-related information. Lisa co-coordinated the development of this with Extension educators Gary Zoubek and Jenny Rees and programmers within IANR media. It was a large undertaking as around 25 individual websites were rolled into CropWatch. Around the same time, a CropWatch Twitter account (@UNL_CropWatch) and YouTube account were developed to extend information to clientele. Around 2017, Lisa worked to redesign the weekly CropWatch email and move it to a modern email distribution system. CropWatch yearly receives nearly 2 million page views from over 300 countries. Each year, survey respondents report changing a practice and gaining economic benefit from information first learned in CropWatch.

For more than 30 years, Lisa enjoyed working with communicators and agricultural specialists and educators from across the state, in addition to those representing Commodity Boards and Ag Industry. She sought timely topics and often worked late hours on Fridays or on weekends to ensure the most timely information was available to clientele.

In March of 2019, Lisa accepted the Nebraska Corn Board’s Media Appreciation award for CropWatch. This award recognizes an outstanding individual or organization that helps to tell the story of Nebraska corn and Nebraska’s agriculture.

A short bout with pancreatic cancer resulted in Lisa being unable to work with CropWatch in 2020, but she continued to follow the information being shared. She passed away on Sept. 28.

She leaves behind a legacy with CropWatch, not only through the timely stories released nearly every week for almost 30 years, but in the kindness shown to everyone with whom she interacted and the relationships she built along the way.

Lisa’s obituary can be found at: https://roperandsons.com/lisa-brown-jasa/. Condolences can be sent to Paul Jasa, 6101 S. 30th, Lincoln, NE 68310.