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Tamela D. Michaels and John D. Lea-Cox

Electronic information systems that take advantage of new technological developments on the Web are a key towards fulfilling the mission of the extension educator; i.e., to help individuals, families and communities put research-based knowledge to work in improving their lives. Webpages are one key to achieving this goal, but vertical searches using search engines are tedious and inefficient. There is a need for a) rapid and easy access to verifiable information databases and b) the coordination of good information resources that are already available on the Web in an horizontal format. NurseryWeb was developed as an open information resource within a frames environment that enables users to gather information about a variety of nursery-related material; e.g., cultural information, diagnostic criteria for disease and pest identification, data on integrated pest management and marketing data. In addition, a password-protected communication resource within the page provides nurserymen with conferencing and direct email connections to nursery extension specialists through WebChat, as well as providing time-sensitive data, alerts, and links to professional organizations. A number of critical issues remain unresolved—e.g., the integrity of information links, data and picture copyright issues, and software support. Nonetheless, the ease of use, availability of information in remote areas at relatively low cost, and 24-hr access assures that this type of information provision will become dominant in the future.