April 1996 // Volume 34 // Number 2
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Creates a Blueprint for Change
Change is a way of life in Colorado and Colorado State University is charting the course for change with Cooperative Extension 2000, an innovative plan to identify and implement strategies to address Colorado's emerging priority issues. With this blueprint, we can better serve both our traditional rural audiences and our growing urban audience. Cooperative Extension educators, aided by the latest communications technology, will continue to deliver unbiased, research-based information while serving as change agents to help people identify solutions to critical local issues - issues that often focus on the interdependence of rural and urban communities.
Cooperative Extension System Creates Common Ground Through Search Workshops
The National Strategic Framework identified "common ground" on which the Cooperative Extension System has some agreement. Future search workshops engaged staff, volunteers, and customers in co-creating an ideal future. A sense of shared meaning emerged from the interests, values, and visions of individual participants.
An Analysis of the Use of an Incomplete Sentences Test for Employment Selection of Cooperative Extension Agents and Educators
A predictive validity study of an incomplete sentences test provided by the USDA as an aid in employment selection of Cooperative Extension Agent/Educators. Examines eleven years of experience using the instrument as a part of the employment process in a state COEX Service. Incomplete sentences test scores and performance data for the 76 individuals selected as Agents/Educators were examined as were scores for the 38 non-selected applicants. Analysis of the data provides no support for the use of this instrument in predicting either selection or performance. The validity of selection instruments must be carefully examined in the specific context of their use.
Mandated Financial Training for FSA/USDA Farm Borrowers
Penn State Cooperative Extension, in response to a farm legislation mandate, conducted financial management workshops at 18 sites with distance learning technology. Thirty hours of workshop instruction, a simplified presentation of financial statements, exercises to illustrate concepts, multiple-choice quizzes, homework based on own-farm records, and development of a four-year personalized farm plan, contributed to the success. Cash costs of $231 per borrower, and instructor-overhead costs, were reimbursed from a $290 tuition fee. The on-going mandate provides an opportunity for future Extension cooperation across state lines to a limited-resource segment of the farm population with a critical need for improved management practices.
Working Across Program Areas: Children-, Youth-, and Families-at-Risk
Following a survey of Extension agents regarding needed and desired competencies to work with children-, youth-, and families- at-risk, an experiential staff development component was tested. A cross-discipline agent team worked with state staff to develop and conduct a community assessment of assets as well as needs, designed to teach identified competencies. Staff development and program planning outcomes are discussed from the agents' points of view. Implications for programs and system change are included.
Research in Brief
Nutrition Education Needs of Elders in Illinois
This project's goal was to determine specific nutrition education needs of the elderly in Illinois through a cooperative effort between the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Respondents to the Illinois Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey 65 and older were asked additional nutrition-related questions to clarify hypertension/hypercholesterolemia-related behavior, obesity, fruit/vegetable, and dairy intake issues. Data from the 472 seniors were analyzed relative to sociodemographic variables and the U. S. Dietary Guidelines. Results suggest that the elderly in Illinois are at nutritional risk and should be targeted for education programs directed at cardiovascular health and fruit/vegetable and dairy consumption. These programs have been initiated in Illinois through ICES.
Life Skill Development Related to Participation in 4-H Animal Science Projects
An alumni survey was conducted to determine the affect participation in 4-H animal science programs has had on the development of life skills such as spirit of inquiry, decision making, ability to relate to others, maintain records, public speaking, positive self esteem, and ability to accept responsibility. Alumni were also asked how effective various events and activities were in developing life skills and if their involvement in 4-H animal science projects had any influence on their career choice. For all areas a positive relationship was indicated.
U.S. Extension Systems - Facing the Challenge to Internationalize
The purpose of the study was to identify the characteristics that will describe an internationalized state Extension system. The study used a modified Delphi technique to explore and describe the characteristics of an internationalized state Extension system. By consensus of the Delphi Panel, five critical elements were identified. Extension systems can use these as criteria to make initial assessments on the level of internationalization present.
Ideas at Work
Tax Dollars Support Levels Are Strong for Family Living Programs
Who is unaware that we are in a time of serious budget constraints? We can be proactive in providing our funding decision makers with quantifiable evidence of taxpayers' support for our research-based educational programs. In a recent four-state study of almost 1,000 Cooperative Extension family living program participants, 92 per cent said, "Yes, I want my tax dollars to continue supporting this type of effort." By incorporating the Tax Dollars Support question into our program evaluation questionnaires, we can help our decision makers ask the right question as they make difficult funding decisions.
Assessing Financial Empowerment through Group Interviews
Focus groups were used to understand program effectiveness of the Women's Financial Information Program (WFIP) in Indiana. Participants in the focus groups indicated a need for clearer statements of program goals as courses were advertised. Also, participants expressed an interest in having additional programs on personal finance that were not necessarily as long or as structured as WFIP. Using focus groups was helpful in making future plans for the program and developing additional programming.
A Juvenile Diversion Alternative
The county agent received Ohio 4-H Foundation money to pilot a Juvenile Diversion Alternative. Ohio Extension offices that currently, or in the past, offered Juvenile Diversion programs were surveyed. The County Juvenile Judge asked Extension about programming available for first time offenders. A program was piloted in March, 1995, serving as one mediation level choice for juvenile court use. The five-session program was presented to 10 first-time offenders ages 11-15. Program planning, teaching, and evaluation was a collaboration of Ohio State Extension and Geauga County Juvenile Court staff. Strengths of the program include: an in-county-accessible program, hands-on approach, multi-agency and parent involvement, use of tested resources, including goal setting and evaluation.
Tools of the Trade
Teaching Animal Agriculture to Young Children
Two educational programs in Georgia expose children to factual information about animal agriculture. Over 5,000 students have participated in the Animal Science First Grade Field Day. Nine different on farm demonstrations are conducted over a three hour period. All children receive classroom instruction prior to the field day. A dairy display and educational program is presented annually at the Georgia National Fair. A tent next to the milking parlor houses the exhibit and provides seating. Children listen to a 15-minute presentation by an extension dairy specialist on the topic of why the dairy cow is our friend. Comments and requests for continuation and expansion indicate the programs were successful.
Coalitions Addressing Problems
Interagency collaboration increases the effectiveness of each contributor in addressing problems. Six factors are essential in coalitions: investment in long-term commitment, establishing respect among contributors, balance of power, clear communication among members, open sharing of information, and institutionalization of the alliance.