August 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 4
"JOE Top 50" describes a new feature of our Web site that will let you know which articles get the
most attention from readers. "August 2002 JOE" just "scratches the surface" of a great issue.
What Is Old Is New Again: Cooperative Extension's Role in
Democracy Building Through Civic Engagement
The early history of the Cooperative Extension Service
is rich with examples of the agent's role in building democracy among the
citizenry of a young nation. However, the cold war shifted the focus of the
public university toward the practice of one-way dissemination of research-based
knowledge from the professor to the farmer and homemaker. As public funding
continues to diminish for higher education, self-reflection suggests that
Extension return to its original focus of building democracy through civic
engagement. Suggestions for practice include valuing local knowledge and empowering
citizens to solve their problems through action research projects.
Birth to Three: Extension's Role in the Early Years
Recent research about brain development in infants and young children has raised public awareness
about the importance of the early years, but there is little consensus about what those findings
mean for policy and practice. Extension's community-based network, well-trained staff, strong
community ties, and links to campus-based resources make it uniquely positioned to help families,
communities, and states develop sound research-based responses to ensure a strong start for their
Citizens Developing a Voice at the Table: A Story of Educational Organizing in Contemporary Extension Work
Diffusing and helping people to apply "science-based" information have long been viewed as the
core tasks of Extension educators and specialists. But Extension work also includes a tradition of
educational organizing that develops leadership, builds civic capacity, and facilitates learning
through bringing people and resources together to identify, deliberate about, and act on important
public issues and problems. This article draws from a "practice story" in contemporary Extension
work in order to shed light on the dimensions and significance of educational organizing in
Health Professions and Cooperative Extension: An Emerging
This article reports on the effectiveness of the project
"Health Professions and Cooperative Extension: An Emerging Partnership"
in providing community-based learning experiences for health professions students
and in enhancing efforts of Extension. The grant project was awarded to seven
health professions students in four states. Evaluation of final student reports
and interviews of administrators, specialists, and county agents were conducted
to determine the extent of service-learning benefits to the student, partnership
development in communities, and benefits to Extension. Despite the challenges
to implementing this project for the first time, students, communities, and
Extension benefited greatly.
The Integration of Research and Extension: A Preliminary Study
How are Research and Extension integrated in land-grant
systems throughout the United States? This question was answered by Directors
of Agriculture Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension who completed
an online survey. Ninety-two individuals responded to the survey; 53% were
with AES, and 47% were with CES. Interaction tended to occur through joint
appointments and cohousing of faculty. Best-integrated practices revolved
around a commodity or specific issue such as water quality. Funding was a
common catalyst for collaboration in the form of competitive RFPs, internal
grants, or special accounts.
Needs Assessment Surveys: Do They Predict Attendance at Continuing
Extension educators regularly conduct needs assessment
surveys to identify their clients' education preferences. This study compared
data from a continuing education needs assessment survey of NYS forest resource
managers with attendance records from workshops to learn if survey respondents
attended programs that they indicated a preference for. Our findings suggest
that, although educators can rely on these surveys to assess program feasibility,
only a small percentage of survey respondents who indicate an interest in
a topic will actually attend a program on that topic. Our results illustrate
why educators should consider using additional tools to assess their clients'
Managing for Sustainable Agriculture
The article presents the Agriculture Environmental Management
System (AEMS) as a model for the integration of voluntary agriculture environmental
management systems into agriculture production operations. The model can serve
as guidance for Extension personnel as they assist operators in focusing on
continual improvement of their enterprises' interactions with air, water and
land resources; pollution prevention; effective compliance management; and
owner/operator involvement, using ISO 14001 standard as a baseline.
More Than Cows & Cooking: Newest Research Shows the Impact
This article reports on a statewide survey of students'
use of out-of-school time conducted in 21 Montana counties. Only 17% of youth
reported that they are not involved in out-of-school activities. Active students
are more likely to lead healthier and happier lives than non-active youth.
4-H participants are less likely to shoplift or steal, smoke cigarettes, ride
in a car with someone who has been drinking, or damage property for the fun
of it. These participants are also more likely to develop self-confidence,
social competence, and practical skills; to take on community leadership roles;
and to feel more accepted and listened to by adults.
Ohio 4-H Youth Development Extension Agents' Use of Volunteer
While volunteers are needed for youth development programs, it
is imperative that a sound selection process is in place so that the most
appropriate individuals are selected to work with young people. The article
outlines the results of a research project undertaken to describe the current
use of volunteer selection tools with the Ohio 4-H Youth Development program.
The authors describe the level of use of specific selection tools and the
extent to which specific volunteers are screened prior to placement. The authors
offer recommendations and implications applicable to any Extension program
using volunteers to deliver programs to vulnerable audiences.
Farm Production Analysis Training for Small Farmers
A partnership between Penn State Cooperative Extension and the
Farm Service Agency has developed a successful production training program
for more than 367 farmers. Farmers received training in producing planning
and budgets, partial budgeting, and livestock and agronomic basics. Significant
gains in knowledge occurred in multi-year planning, enterprise budgeting,
and use of the Penn State Agronomy Guide.
Designing workshop material for low-producing farmers proved difficult because
most participants, while finding the topics helpful, also found the material
too advanced. Future focus will encourage greater involvement with private-sector
institutions and coordination between production and management Extension
Research in Brief
Working with Rural Employers: An Interagency Partnership
Extension professionals are uniquely positioned to help employers
understand the needs of families with limited resources and to assist employers
in finding ways to hire and retain employees. Oregon State University Extension
Service, in conjunction with county partners, organized an employer development
program in a small rural community. A large employer event was organized to
learn employer needs and create effective partnerships. Through focus group
and participant evaluations, employers identified hiring and retention challenges
and outlined needed support and services. A program description, reported
outcomes, and current ongoing activities will aid other Extension professionals
in implementing similar programs.
Gauging Perceptions of Farm Programs
As the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRI) is implemented
and producers and others in agribusiness more fully understand its impacts
on agriculture, it will be increasingly important to monitor their perceptions
of FSRI. We present survey results from Kansans who attended an annual Extension
conference regarding their attitudes towards the Federal Agricultural Improvement
and Reform Act (FAIR). Results indicate that respondents generally had positive
views of FAIR and were favorable to retaining some elements of FAIR in new
agricultural policy. Extension educators have the responsibility to compile
similar information during the crop years covered under FSRI.
Food Safety for Healthy Missouri Families: Evaluation of Program
Millions of American families are affected annually by food-borne
illnesses. Many of the problems in food safety education are related to the
general paucity of agricultural awareness. Food safety information often does
not reach segments of the population where poverty is rampant and the need
is greatest. The study reported here sought to determine the level of understanding
about food safety among inner-city Missouri youth participating in a 4-week
summer program. Pre-tests revealed that the youth were not knowledgeable about
food safety and agricultural issues. Post-test results showed dramatic changes
in beliefs. However, topics such as irradiation, eating raw cookie dough,
and perceptions related to grocery stores showed little change.
Meeting the Graduate Education Needs of Minnesota Extension
The study reported here examined the perceptions of Minnesota
Extension Educators regarding their participation in a M.Ed. cohort program
provided by the University of Minnesota-Duluth via distance learning. The
study examined how a cohort experience affected the students' leadership skills
and abilities and their personal growth and the effectiveness of the cohort
model as a collaborative vehicle for earning a graduate degree. A cross-sectional
survey was electronically administered to the target population of Minnesota
Extension Educators. The results showed that the M.Ed. cohort model was successful
and is promising as a learning method for adult learners.
What Personally Attracts Volunteers
to the Master Gardener Program?
The study reported here sought to determine what personally attracts
volunteers to the Master Gardener program. An instrument was constructed,
pilot-tested, validated, and mailed to Master Gardener volunteers. The instrument
sought information regarding social background factors of Master Gardeners
and their responses regarding 19 personal benefits of the Master Gardener
program. Respondents were classified into two groups based on various social
background factors, and their responses were compared. Results indicated that
persons with different backgrounds rated several personal benefits differently.
Data also indicated a positive relationship between volunteer retention and
perceived rating on the personal benefits scale.
Ideas at Work
Linking Strategic Thinking and Project Planning: The Oregon
State University Extension Forestry Experience
Using an enhanced project planning process, Extension forestry
faculty at the Oregon State University strategically allocate Extension educator
staff time to educational program development. An internal review of this
process was conducted. The integrated process resulted in better linkages
between program planning and strategic planning and improved working relationships
within the Extension team and generated new ideas for educational programs.
As a result, the Oregon State University Extension Forestry Team is better
able to focus efforts of campus and county Extension forestry faculty on projects
that meet needs identified in an outreach and Extension education strategic
What Incarcerated Youth Say Would Help Them Succeed: Can Extension
Play a Role?
As the number of incarcerated youth increases, there is a great
need for a variety of programming approaches aimed at helping these youth
succeed. The purpose of the study reported here was to assess incarcerated
youths' opinions of effective programming approaches for both inside and outside
the detention system. A sample of incarcerated youth (n=197) responded to a survey designed to assess perceptions
of the overall facilities, staff, and future programming. Based on youth perceptions
of what programs and activities they thought would help them succeed, there
are several areas where Extension professionals can provide essential programming
and collaborative support.
Junior Pork Day--A Family Experience
Junior Pork Day is a special 1-day workshop held annually at Purdue
University to provide new 4-H swine members and their parents with current
information and hands-on learning to spark their interest in the swine industry.
During this educational workshop, participants rotate individually through
a series of stations that test their skills in the areas of swine evaluation,
parts identification, and other areas of the swine industry. One hundred percent
of the parents responding to an evaluation survey indicated that Junior Pork
Day had been helpful to their youth and that they personally benefited from
attending the program, as well.
Adventure Programming Is an Interactive Way to Improve Leadership
Skills for Junior Fair Board Members
Adventure Programming Initiatives can provide an option for training
Junior Fair Board members to become better leaders through having them actively
participate in the learning process. Sequenced team building initiatives can
develop trust, communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills. Fair
involvement and the initiatives helped build these skills and many others
in a fun-filled way.
Secure Seat (SM): A Safe and Systematic Approach to Teaching Riding
Secure SeatSM is a skill-driven system for teaching riding
that can be used to teach any type of horse and rider combination to work together
in a comfortable, safe, and efficient manner. It provides an effective method
for achieving and maintaining balance with the horse and thereby provides a
more willing and comfortable mount. Extension educators in 4-H and other program
areas who are involved with rider training should investigate this teaching
A Web-Based Cotton Harvesting Cost Calculator
The Cotton Harvesting Cost Calculator (CHCC) is a Web-based program
designed and developed to provide cotton producers with a user-friendly means
to estimate the harvesting cost associated with a specific harvesting equipment
configuration. CHCC calculates the average harvesting cost for a specific
cotton stripper or picker harvesting equipment configuration, as well as compares
costs of alternative harvesting equipment configurations. The data generated
by the CHCC are basically all that are needed for the user to make an informed
decision on how to optimize his or her cotton harvesting operation. CHCC is
a valuable tool Extension staff can use as they work with cotton producers
to help them improve their bottom line.
Tools of the Trade
Working at Home When You Have No Choice: Personal Experiences
What if you couldn't get to your Extension office for several
months because of damage, construction work, or simple inaccessibility? Could
you function productively and continue to serve your clientele? In the wake
of the events of September 11 and periodic high-profile natural disasters,
this is not an idle question. This article addresses ways to prepare to productively
work at home when it is not being done by choice, but out of necessity. The
author shares 10 suggestions based on her personal experiences and those of
Sound Internal Communication Is Crucial in a Crisis Situation
Before the events of September 11, 2001, a crisis had predictable
elements. Now, the scope has vastly broadened. Top managers, including those
in Extension, need to develop a well thought-out workplace crisis response
plan, including where employees should go and what they should do. Managers
need to communicate with their employees quickly and follow up with e-mails
and small group meetings. Critical data must be backed up and secure. It is
also important to convey accurate facts to the media, educate the media about
how to cover your organization in the aftermath of a crisis, and monitor their
Making Program Choices When Resources Are Limited: Using
a Self-Assessment Tool with Stakeholders
Scarce resources require tough choices. A simple evaluation tool
can help with the decision-making process. A rating sheet containing 25 criteria for assessing the value of an Extension program can
be given to a representative group of stakeholders to rate individual programs.
The goal is to maximize a program's strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
The best use of this tool may be the open discussion that it promotes while
raising clientele groups' awareness of the need to offer the most valuable
programs that serve the maximum number of people. Keeping clientele part of
the decision-making process also helps keep the agent out of hot water.
Producing Customized County Reports the Easy Way
Have you ever wanted to create reports for a number of locations
using the same layout and background information but location-specific data?
Traditionally, doing so was a difficult, time-consuming, and error-prone process.
Today's technology, however, makes it easier than ever before. This article
describes how linking data in Excel spreadsheets to Word documents allowed
the authors to create customized Situation and Trends reports for each of
the 105 Kansas counties.
Summer "Hands-On" Pesticide Re-Certification
Do farmers prefer winter classroom meetings or summer, outdoor,
"hands-on" training? Recently, some ANR agents in Ohio decided a
"hands-on" teaching method was needed to assist farmers, helping
them better understanding issues surrounding pesticide use. A summer "hands-on"
training opportunity was provided as an alternative to winter classroom meetings.
A survey was developed to compare this "hands-on" educational method
to traditional winter meetings, and an 80% response rate was achieved. The
summer "hands-on" meeting, on a Likert-type scale, rated 4.70. Extension
agents in this East district cluster also prefer summer training to winter
The Teachable Moment: A SIDS Training Model for Child Care
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remains the leading cause
of death for infants in the United States, with a disproportionate number
of deaths occurring in child care settings. This article describes a collaborative
effort to teach child care providers about SIDS. The success of these workshops
was partially because of the timing. They were held 3 months after a Connecticut
Superior Court found a child care provider liable in a SIDS death of a 2 1/2-month-old
infant. It is a reminder that Extension educators are in a perfect position
to provide SIDS training and that program timing is critical.