October 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 3
Extension Education and Unbiased Research
The question of what Extension educators should do when their judgment of best available research conflicts with grassroots beliefs is addressed. If Extension is to be an objective educational resource, we must be careful to understand that we extend knowledge and not truth. Our educational programs must recognize that the best research is limited in its applicability, that diverse audiences will appropriately respond differently to the same research, and that we are biased in what we believe is the best available research.
Effective Public Relations in Extension
Communicating the impacts and accomplishments of Cooperative Extension programs is vital for the continued support of these programs by legislators, community leaders, and the general public. This article outlines the steps which one county office followed in developing and implementing a proactive public relations program, which resulted in a 116% ($75,000) increase in local support for the office. Included in the article are some simple, low-cost ideas which almost any county Extension office could implement.
Do Local Realities Clash with Federal Expectations?
KIDS' TEAM, a federally funded youth-at-risk grant, is used as a case study for examining differences in expectations of federal, state, and local level participants. A qualitative approach was used to analyze expectations at three levels. Results indicate that while the basic program philosophy and goals were similar at the federal and state levels, participants at the local level raised some questions regarding the vision of Cooperative Extension and its role in addressing youth-at-risk issues. Further emphasis must be placed on helping the public understand this role and how it impacts them as clientele.
Training Needs of Area Specialized Extension Agents
The purpose of this study was to determine the training competencies needed by area specialized agents in the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Eighteen competency areas were rated on importance and training need. A total of eight competencies were rated 3.0 (important) or above on a Likert-type scale by area specialists, administrators, and subject matter specialists. Program planning received the highest grand mean of 3.37. It was concluded that all three groups generally agreed on the competencies. It was recommended that six specific elements within the program planning competency be included in area specialist's training.
Migrant Farmworker Training Needs and the Pesticide Worker Protection Standards
The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently released new worker protection regulations to protect agricultural workers from exposure to pesticides. The study was conducted to assess the farmworkers' level of pesticide safety knowledge and to identify factors which influence their learning process. Four recommendations were provided to strengthen the effectiveness of the education component of the worker protection standards: assess and build on learner knowledge; stimulate interest through relevancy to real life issues; recognize the effectiveness of the existing communication system; and utilize established state contacts, resources, and programs.
Research in Brief
Job Satisfaction of Kenya's Rift Valley Extension Agents
This article reports on a study of the factors underlying the job satisfaction of Kenya's Rift Valley Extension Agents. A questionnaire was used to collect this information from a sample of 325 agents, stratified by rank and gender. Factor analysis indicated that eight factors explained 24% of the variance in job satisfaction and included: evaluation, dependable supervisors, work incentives, pay, praise and work location, housing and transportation, job security, and administration and supervision. Agents' personal characteristics were not found to contribute to their job satisfaction. Kenya Extension supervisors should give attention to these factors in working with their agents.
Ideas at Work
Strength Runs in Families
A day-long event in Ashtabula County, Ohio, showcases groups and organizations in the county that help to strengthen families, provide educational programs in the area of strengthening families, and encourage families to do things together. In an attempt to increase the participation by men and teenagers and to increase awareness of family strengths, the planning coalition added a "fun run" as an annual activity. The overall event increased in attendance, with a notable increase in male and teenage participation. The 10th annual Family-A-Fair and fifth Family Fun Run are scheduled for May 1995.
Adaptation of EFNEP Curriculum for Blind Participants
The EFNEP curriculum was adjusted to accommodate a group of four blind participants. A braille machine was used at each lesson to record notes and copy recipes. Braille markers were made of washable plastic for measuring spoons, cups, and canisters. Kitchen order was found to be extremely important for the participants, so kitchen order was added as a lesson. EFNEP, which encourages all limited resource people to participate, should take into consideration the complex problems of some participants, especially those with disabilities.
I Love My Village
"I Love My Village" is a successful community based program in Taiwan. Community physical development and spiritual and psychological well-being are the main emphases. Collaboration, focusing on the family and community as a whole, and empowerment are the key implications for the Cooperative Extension System in the United States. They were also the key to implementing this program to empower individuals, families, and villages to be self-reliant and self-improving.
Evaluating Curriculum Effectiveness by Asking the Users
To judge the effectiveness of 4-H materials, it is important to evaluate whether they are easy to use and are enjoyable, as well as the traditional assessment of change in knowledge and/or practices of users. This article reports results of an assessment involving 4-H members (ages 9-11), their parents, and leaders who participated in a food safety education program "Operation RISK." Findings indicate that 4-H food/nutrition lessons that actively involve learners are enjoyed more and are easier to use than activities in which the leader is the information-giver and members are passive receivers of facts.
Abandoned Well Plugging Demonstrates Environmental Concern
Protection of groundwater used by private water users was the focus of an educational program entitled "Safe Water for Kansas." The central theme of the program was to encourage people to properly plug abandoned water wells. Each event resulted in at least one plugged abandoned well. Other topics included water testing, new well site selection, and well construction. Over 175 demonstrations were conducted with around 6,000 individuals in attendance.
Tools of the Trade
Using a Market Simulator in Extension Programs
This article discusses the use of an experiential tool in an Extension agricultural marketing program. A brief description of the market simulator, its relationship to experiential learning, and a summary of its evaluation is discussed. On a seven-point scale (one being best), 92% of participants rated its teaching effectiveness a three or better. Success of the Fed Cattle Market Simulator provides evidence that it is one experiential tool with considerable potential as an alternative method for teaching/learning agricultural marketing and pricing.
Resources for Growth Management Programming
During the booming period of the 1980s, local officials asked for help with problems stemming from rapid growth and change. Growth management has emerged as a concept to seek a responsible "fit" between development and the infrastructure needed to support the impacts of that development. This four volume report was compiled to provide a comprehensive, current review of growth management issues and information. Extension educators can use this information directly in their programming to facilitate decision-making by local elected officials.
Using Non-reactive Methods to Study and Improve 4-H Programs
Non-reactive measures, which minimize bias and concern among respondents are a valuable tool for evaluating and improving 4-H programs. This article identifies non-reactive measures that are feasible within Extension 4-H programs and can help balance the over-emphasis on surveys, tests, and questionnaires. Sources of information include registration forms, analysis of exhibits, observation of participants, project or record books, and judges' decisions. Use of electronic databases (e.g., PENpages) and other resource materials can also be creatively monitored to provide program information.