April 1998 // Volume 36 // Number 2
Extension Education Opportunities with Policymakers
An opportunity exists to offer Extension programming on public policy issues for policymakers. In fact, to the extent such programming contributes to a perception of Extension's effectiveness, it may be the best way to ensure our future. Educational programs on tax and spending issues in Nebraska have been well received by members of the state legislature and county commissioners. Factors contributing to success have been objective use of tax and spending data; acknowledgement of community and individual values; and assistance in organizing budget advisory groups to plan for the future.
Creation of a Web Based Accomplishment Reporting System
In recognition of the increasing public demands for accountability, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service embarked on a mission to develop a new reporting/accountability system to meet current and anticipated future accountability needs. These efforts involved a large number of persons in developing a conceptual design for the new system. Focus was placed on being able to capture planned program measures of progress and impacts as well as contacts, and program successes. A computerized World Wide Web graphics based system was developed for entry and accumulation of the reports. The system is now implemented and user friendliness was demonstrated when 97 of 102 units met a reporting deadline that came only one month after final release of the program.
Establishing Effective Mentoring Relationships for Individual and Organizational Success
This article reports findings from a study conducted to explore and describe mentoring relationships in Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension's planned mentoring program based on the perceptions and experiences of proteges and mentors in Cooperative Extension. Factors that facilitate or hinder the mentoring relationship were explored and described by the participants. Also, proteges were asked to describe from their perspectives the qualities of an effective mentoring relationship. Data were collected from a series of in-depth qualitative interviews with mentor/protege pairs
Character Education: Developing Effective Programs
The recent character education movement has spawned many questions related to which methods are the most appropriate approaches to character education. A review of the existing research literature on moral development and character education programs has uncovered several effective and ineffective approaches to character education. Implications for 4-H youth development programs are discussed.
Collection of Information about Farm Management Practices
Researchers need information on best management practices (BMPs) installed by farmers to quantify the effect of BMPs on watershed-scale water quality and to educate farmers on which BMPs are the most suitable to achieve water quality goals. The goal is to provide farmers with educational assistance so they can make informed decisions on BMPs. However, farmers may be unable or unwilling to share the information needed by researchers. Targeting survey efforts to representative farmsteads or study areas is recommended to increase data acquisition success and reliability if assumptions of data transferability are correct. Windshield surveys of crops and review of agency records on cost-shared BMPs are additional ways of supplementing the land use data base to be used in conjunction with monitoring data for model development and verification and evaluation of BMP effectiveness.
Adoption of Financial Management Practices: A Program Assessment
The Women's Financial Information Program (WFIP) utilizes speakers, workbooks, and participation in small groups to encourage participants to take responsibility for financial management decisions. The purpose of this study was to determine which characteristics of a financial management program promote the adoption of recommended financial practices. A sample of 576 participants from three states, who completed both pre- and post-assessments, showed that the number of practices adopted was predicted by participant's age, financial practices completed before WFIP participation, workbook exercises completed both during and after participation in WFIP, and perception of personal financial competency.
Research in Brief
Assessing the Needs of 4-H'ers
This article identifies 4-H program topics of most interest to junior high and high school students. One hundred fourteen students in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, completed a 4-H needs assessment survey. Topics of highest interest among 4-H members and non-members were: coping with unemployment, fashion, dating, computers, and after high school. Members also ranked: teen pregnancy, suicide, and drugs as programs of highest interest. Non-members ranked: fitness, jobs, and health as priority areas. Results from this study have major implications for programming decisions regarding senior 4-H'ers.
Total Quality Management and Effective Extension Teaching
Extension educators use program evaluation as a tool for measuring the effectiveness of teaching. Program evaluation consists of four steps: (a) designing an evaluation instrument to gather data, (b) gathering and analyzing the data, (c) comparing data with standards, and (d) making recommendations for improvement. Program evaluation can provide credible information for decision makers. However, little is said about the variations in the data or about teaching quality. By modifying traditional Extension education evaluation methods to include continuous quality improvement techniques, we can make our evaluation process more appropriate and effective. Statistical quality control charts provide a process for measuring variation, determining sources of variation, and making modifications to improve the quality of teaching. Evaluation data collected about Extension programs always exhibit variation. To improve program quality we must control and reduce the variance that exists among programs. Statistical control charts can be used to monitor these variations. Once measured, appropriate action can be taken to reduce variations and, thus, control and improve quality.
Recognizing Adult Volunteer 4-H Leaders
Volunteer recognition activities consume considerable time and effort of Extension agents who function as volunteer administrators. But what types and sources of recognition do volunteers most appreciate? The purpose of this study was to ask current tenured 4-H volunteers what kinds of recognition they most value. Data were collected from 279 volunteers attending a state recognition banquet. While formal public events were the most frequent components of county recognition programs, 4-H volunteers ranked informal, intrinsic rewards more positively. Therefore, initiatives which emphasize informal, intrinsic and personal recognition of volunteers in combination with public events will enhance the organization's course of action for volunteer recognition.
Ideas at Work
Reestablishing Riparian Vegetation in Grazing Lands
Reestablishing Riparian Vegetation in Grazing Lands describes a research effort to successfully grow trees next to streams in former pasture land. Increased shade is evaluated by measuring light intensity. Techniques for preventing beaver damage are discussed. Efforts like this can alienate some landowners opposed to change, but can establish the Extension Service as an agency that can be part of the solution in sensitive natural resource issues.
Leadership Development Program Serves As a Change Agent in Community Development
This article describes Cooperative Extension serving as a change agent in the community development process. Because of major changes in both demography and rural social dynamics, communities now need alternative ways and approaches of addressing community problems. In order for Extension to continue a good working relationship with communities, Extension must serve as a change agent to present new ideas and techniques to adequately address community problems and break down barriers. The article discusses community leadership, developing teams of leaders to bring about change and new ways to approach community problems.
Utilizing Senior citizens to Teach Cultural Awareness in an Inclusive Classroom Setting
Extension is presented with an additional pool of senior volunteers as the population of older adults increases. Addressing a community need for cultural awareness programs for at-risk youth, a program was designed to engage senior citizen volunteers and at-risk youth in a chile ristra making project. The senior volunteers were taught the history and art of making chile ristras and in turn taught an inclusive classroom of fourth grade students. The techniques utilized by the volunteer coordinators can be used to teach a variety of cultural experiences in classroom settings using senior volunteers. As a result of the program, a continuing partnership was developed with Extension, the local school system, and the senior citizen center as collaborators