August 2001 // Volume 39 // Number 4
Headings and subheadings help readers and writers of journal articles and other expository prose so much that it's a shame more writers don't take advantage of them.
Leave Home! International Sabbaticals as Unfreezing Experiences
International sabbaticals provide exceptional opportunities for Extension educators to "unfreeze" and transform themselves personally and professionally. But relatively few ever take this type of sabbatical because of the numerous obstacles that must be overcome. This paper discusses why international sabbaticals are so valuable and provides tips and additional resources for the sabbatical planning process. The "leave home" message is that the gains will far exceed the costs.
Diversifying the Volunteer Base: Latinos and Volunteerism
Latino adults represent a significant source of potential volunteers for Extension. Gaining their involvement, however, has proven to be a challenge. In 1999, the Oregon 4-H program conducted a series of focus groups to increase understanding of the Latino culture as it relates to volunteerism and to identify practices that would encourage Latino adults to volunteer with mainstream organizations such as Extension. Volunteer managers drawn from a cross section of community organizations composed the focus groups. This article shares the findings gained from the focus group process and discusses the implications of those findings for Extension.
Public Issues Education: Exploring Extension's Role
Extension educators in all program areas have become increasingly involved with controversial public issues in recent years. Given the nature of these issues and the expectations placed on agents and specialists by the public and by university officials, Extension's continued involvement seems inevitable. This article provides a conceptual framework that identifies potential roles for public officials, the general public, and Extension professionals in dealing with public issues. The article concludes with some specific advice for Extension educators involved with programming that addresses controversial topics.
The World Wide Web: A Training Tool for Family Resource Management Educators
Cooperative Extension has actively explored new technologies as a means to provide education to its own staff and the general public. The study reported here concerned the development of a Web site used for Extension family resource management training. The study found that Extension educators use the Web for information and support using it for training. Educators appreciated having links that could be considered reliable and accurate. The data also suggest that such sites can provide a "refresher" to the in-service material, thus reinforcing the learning experience.
Simple Written Resources and Neighborhood Demonstrations Help Amish Adopt Buggy Safety Recommendations
Highway accidents between automobiles and horse-drawn buggies are a major, life-threatening concern in and near Amish settlements in the United States and Canada. In 1996, Extension worked cooperatively with the fourth largest Amish settlement in the world, on a multi-faceted educational program urging Amish families to add reflective tape to their buggies to improve highway visibility. A 1999 study documented a 78% rate of practice adoption for this specific recommended buggy safety innovation in this community. This study demonstrates that Extension can have meaningful educational impact even in strict religious communities like the Amish.
Consumer Understanding of the Food Guide Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines
The Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines are tools commonly used in nutrition education. The Pyramid has become a highly visible marketing tool, and related consumer awareness is quite high. The study reported here compared perceived consumer awareness of these tools with consumers' ability to relate the information they impart. The results indicate that, although awareness and perceived knowledge of the content of the tools is high (100%), the ability to identify food groups, appropriate number of servings, and dietary guidelines is surprisingly low and not consistent with their perceptions. These findings indicate important areas of emphasis for Extension nutrition education efforts.
Bringing Leadership Experiences to Inner-City Youth
Leadership skills are essential for young people to feel satisfaction and contribute to society. But how do you teach leadership skills to teens who only have a vague concept of leadership? Service learning offers teens the opportunity to practice leadership skills and reflect on the experience. 4-H Youth for Community Action (4-HYCA) is an after school leadership development program targeting teens in inner-city middle schools. The purpose of the program was to provide opportunities for inner city youth to learn and practice leadership skills in a service-learning environment. 4-HYCA participants actively engaged in problem-solving activities that taught decision-making, communication, and cooperation skills.
Building Your Youth Development Toolkit: A Community Youth Development Orientation for Pennsylvania 4-H/Youth Programs
Pennsylvania Extension youth and family educators participated in an experiential inservice program that provided research findings, resources, activities, and teaching strategies to enhance positive community youth development programming in their counties. Participant evaluations showed significant gain in knowledge and understanding of community youth development concepts and the desire to apply these concepts in youth programs. Data from the evaluation provide strong evidence of the importance of developing a common framework and language for youth and family educators related to youth development. An inservice model that includes "booster" information to reinforce concepts after the inservice has application to other program areas.
Research in Brief
Supporting Professional Growth Through Mentoring and Coaching
This article focuses on approaches for mentoring and coaching employees within Extension. Through presentation of research and discussion of current applications, the authors explore mutual benefits and differences between coaching and mentoring. Several examples are shared of processes that have been implemented within the Ohio State University Extension to support these concepts.
Learning How to Connect the Dots: An Assessment of a Community Development Program
Program development models often stress the science of developing programs such as identifying needs, establishing program goals, and measuring outcomes. Although these components are essential for successful programming, educators can easily overlook important connections that require the art of program of development. Understanding the art of program development is critical when designing community development programs. This article offers a conceptual approach for connecting the science and art of program development. An actual community development program is used to illustrate that learning how to connect the dots is a critical component to successful community program development.
Profiling Indiana's 4-H Horse and Pony Leaders
This article profiles Indiana's nearly 600 4-H horse and pony leaders, describes their motives for becoming a leader, and documents the understanding these leaders have of running a 4-H club, teaching various aspects of the horse and pony project, and training hippology, horse bowl, and horse judging teams. The majority (>70%) of Indiana's 4-H horse and pony leaders are white, married women between the ages of 31 and 50. Eighty-eight percent volunteer as leaders because they enjoy working with youth. Over half (54%) of the leaders would like to receive additional training on how to conduct showmanship and horsemanship clinics.
Differences in District Extension Leaders' Perceptions of the Problems and Needs of Tennessee Small Farmers
A survey questionnaire was used in collecting data used in examining differences in Extension leaders' perceptions of problems faced by small farmers in Tennessee. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used in analyzing questionnaire responses. Capital, credit, and appropriate technology were some of the problems facing small farmers. Fear of acquiring additional debt; inability to run large operations; lack of machinery and equipment; and scarce cash constrained expansion of small farms, according to surveyed Extension leaders. Although there were differences across districts, most frequently cited research and educational needs of small farmers were those related to production, marketing, and management.
Colorado Professionals' Concerns, Abilities, and Needs for Land Use Planning
Colorado professionals with agriculture and natural resource managing responsibilities were surveyed on issues of growth. Their greatest concerns were water quality, water quantity, and agricultural profitability. Of least concern were large lot, low-density development, affordable housing, and forestland conversion. Respondents reported the greatest knowledge of fee simple land purchases, zoning, and conservation easements, and the least knowledge of water banking or trusts, "bargain" lands sales, and moratoria. They indicated the greatest interest in an overview of land management tools, conservation easements, and public-private partnerships, and the least interest in educational programming related to moratoria, development timing, and housing land trusts.
Using Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) for Farmland Protection Planning: A Case Study
The Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) system was used in developing a farmland protection plan that identified and described land use variables and agricultural operations associated with development. Using automated property tax data, a baseline model was established that identified field crops, vacant lands, truck cropland, and population as variables positively associated with development, whereas fruit crops had a negative association. Variables associated with development were lowest in profit per acre, whereas fruit crops were higher in profit. LESA and the model provided an objective and innovative approach to identify and recommend agricultural lands for farmland protection planning and implementation efforts.
Ideas at Work
The County Fair-What Has It Done for You, Lately?
Nearly every county has a county fair, in which staff, volunteers, and families invest a great deal of time and money to organize, promote, and run every year. After decades of habit, it's easy to forget or ignore why you're doing it in the first place. Now could be the time to stop and ask, "What has your county fair done for you, lately?" Our question is not a call to turn back from tradition, but to reflect on history and current status and to set a course for the future.
The Family Storyteller: A Collaborative Family Literacy Program
Children who begin school with limited literacy skills are struggling uphill from the first day they set foot in school. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension initiated a collaborative family literacy effort to improve the literacy skills of both parents and their children. A series of six weekly workshops have been provided across Nevada to over 500 families. Pre-post interviews with families have revealed significant increases in the amount of time parents read with their children, their enjoyment of reading time, and their use of specific parent reading techniques. Children have made significant gains in their enjoyment of reading with parents and their understanding of print concepts.
Multi-County Approach to Master Gardener Program in Rural Areas Yields Results
Training and developing Master Gardeners (MG) on a multi-county basis benefited Extension personnel and clientele in an Appalachian region in Ohio. Rural clientele increasingly expect credible, research-based information on horticultural issues. Agents within an Extension district in eastern Ohio organized the first rural-based MG program in the state and developed a curriculum specific for the region. Cooperative development of MG allowed a number of counties to benefit from trained volunteers responding to horticultural questions. Since 1994, 10,000 hours of volunteer time have been documented with over 20,000 individual contacts made. The first Master Gardener of the Year in Ohio was a member of the first rural MG group.
Developing a Program Evaluation Instrument for Texas 4-H: A Work in Progress
The Texas 4-H Program is a continuously growing organization that has identified a major need to implement a standardized evaluation instrument to measure its impact and effectiveness. This article summarizes the development of the evaluation instrument by describing factors that surfaced to measure effective 4-H programs. This instrument will be available from the Texas 4-H Web page for all program coordinators to download and implement. Ultimately, this instrument will allow the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program to become a more accountable organization, adding substance to an increasingly growing program.
Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program
The Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program is a nationally renowned program at the Food Processing Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which helps entrepreneurs introduce food products to the marketplace. The first phase is a one-day From Recipe to Reality seminar that addresses many marketing, business, and technical issues. Following the seminar, affordable fee-based services are available to those participants who decide to launch their own food business. During phase II, From Product to Profit, entrepreneurs receive individualized, step-by-step assistance tailored to their specific business venture.
Tools of the Trade
Small Farm/New Farm: One Agent Meeting Other Agents' Needs
for Research-Based Information Through the WWW
One Ohio Extension agent created a Web site to help Extension Agents, Agriculture, quickly find research-based information to answer the questions of people with new and/or small farms. The site currently contains over 1,300 links to .edu, .gov, and .org sites. Readers with a rural clientele should find the site useful. Others may find inspiration, motivation, and instruction from reading how the site evolved from a group of agents discussing a lack of available resources to a state-of-the-art means to access up-to-date resources. Small Farm/New Farm http://newfarm.osu.edu officially debuted in December 2000 and is being well received by agents, specialists, and administrators.
Delivery Systems-Is the "Latest" Technology the Greatest?
High-tech delivery systems, such as distance-based learning and on-line resources, are increasingly popular among Extension organizations, but are they preferable to traditional delivery systems? In the study reported here, the author surveyed Extension agents (with agriculture and natural resources responsibilities) and natural resources professionals in state agencies to determine which delivery systems were most preferred for wildlife management information. Regardless of the respondent group, printed fact sheets and bulletins were among the most preferred sources of information for wildlife-related topics. These findings illustrate the importance of including traditional printed delivery systems into our high-tech programs.
How to Diagnose Soil Acidity and Alkalinity Problems in Crops: A Comparison of Soil pH Test Kits
Extension agronomists are often asked by farmers to determine why crop plants are stunted or have abnormally colored leaves. Soil acidity and alkalinity are common fertility problems that can cause these symptoms. In a study to measure the accuracy of in-field pH test kits, hand-held pH meters and pH color indicator kits provided fast and reliable results. Soil pH probes gave poor measurements of soil acidity and should not be used by Extension agents. Results by untrained personnel with hand-held pH meters varied by individual. Agents using pH test kits should read instructions carefully before using these instruments.
Selling Timber Without a Timber Inventory: An Exercise for County Agents and Foresters
Standing timber worth millions of dollars is sold by forest landowners every year. It is common for landowners to sell timber without having a timber inventory to guide them on the value they should expect to receive. Accordingly, many landowners do not receive full value for their timber when it is sold. County Agents and Extension Foresters often encourage landowners to use professional forestry assistance and to have an inventory when they make a timber sale but most still do not.
The Southwest Ohio Perennial Flower School-A "Perennial" Winner
The Southwest Ohio Perennial Flower School (The Perennial School) is a successful 1-day seminar on plant selection, garden design, and garden maintenance of herbaceous perennial plants. The Perennial School has been offered each year since 1995 and has featured top local growers and sellers of perennial flowers as exhibitors since 1997. The Perennial School has been a "perennial" winner for 6 years and serves as a great model program for other agricultural and horticultural Extension Agents.