December 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 6
This month, I invite interested and qualified readers to help JOE and
their colleagues by applying to become JOE peer reviewers. And I also
talk about the three pairs of articles in the December issue that speak to each
other as well as to us.
Using Research Methods to Evaluate Your Extension Program
For Extension practitioners, research is typically considered
an ominous practice reserved for ivory tower academics,
and evaluation is nearly as mysterious. Therefore,
Extension agents often shy away from using scientific
methods to evaluate educational programs. However,
research is simply a methodical way of finding answers
to questions used to discover new information or
prove scientific theories. And research methods
can also be useful to effectively evaluate an educational
program or its participants in the most objective
way. This article presents an overview of research
methods that Extension agents can use in program
evaluation. It includes a bibliography of helpful
Extension's Role in Responding to Community Crisis: Lessons from Klamath Falls, Oregon
Extension has a long history of support
for communities, primarily through programs such
as agriculture and 4-H. When an entire community
faces a crisis, however, the needs of the community
can expand beyond the goals of a specific program.
In the summer of 2001, Klamath Falls, Oregon experienced
a crisis when a federal decision eliminated irrigation
water to over 1200 families farming more than 220,000
acres. The Klamath County Extension Office recognized
the role they could play and organized and facilitated
three countywide meetings to identify needs and
strategies for action. The actions that evolved
from the meetings were substantial, and the Extension
office learned several key lessons about responding
Training 4-H Teen Facilitators in Inquiry-Based Science Methods: The Evaluation of a "Step-Up" Incremental Training Model
A "Step-Up" Incremental Training
Model for teen curriculum facilitators implementing
inquiry-based science activities was designed and
evaluated. This model involves a sequence of three
training workshops that alternate with curriculum
implementations. The model was evaluated using data
from focus group interviews, surveys, and direct
observations. Key elements in the model's design
include: workshop organization; introductory session;
multiple increments; effective modeling and practice;
"safe" environment for reflection and
review. The teens trained during the development
of this model were effective in implementing curriculum
activities with young children. The authors believe
that this method would be transferable to other
teen-led Extension programs.
Adult Volunteer Development: Addressing the Effectiveness of Training New 4-H Leaders
4-H traditionally focuses on positive
youth development, but adult volunteers are the
mainstay of the programs. We evaluated the effectiveness
of 4-H new leader education and its influence on
the skill development of adult volunteer leaders.
Using a retrospective pretest method, we found that
participants in 4-H new leader training increased
their knowledge and readiness to be 4-H leaders.
Skills gained from new leader education were also
being applied outside of the 4-H context. Planning
and carrying out yearly club programs was identified
as an area in which current training could be improved.
A Promising New Role for Extension Educators in a Dynamic Industry: The Cow Sense Project
The environment for Extension is rapidly
changing, but new opportunities are emerging. Extension
can play a unique and important role in helping
managers learn to consistently apply technical knowledge
throughout their organizations. "Cow Sense"
is a successful program that can serve as a model
for progressive programming that combines technical
knowledge with organizational development.
Why People Are Moving to Suburbia (and Beyond): Examining the Pull Factor in the Fox Valley
Communities across the United States
are growing and changing at an unprecedented pace.
The Fox Valley of Wisconsin is no exception to the
rapid population growth and development that often
occurs in an unplanned manner and evokes terms like
"sprawl" and "leapfrog construction."
The rapid suburban, exurban, and rural evolution
is fueled not only by broad economic factors but
also localized characteristics that push residents
from the city and pull residents to suburbia. This
article describes research that investigated the
pull factors in six suburban Fox Valley, Wisconsin
communities and discusses resulting implications
for Extension programming.
Beyond Knowledge: Guidelines for Effective Health Promotion Messages
Knowledge does not always result in
the adoption of recommended behaviors that can prevent
or detect illness. This article synthesizes the
research of psychologists, health advocates, and
other social scientists to identify the factors
other than knowledge that influence decisions regarding
healthful behaviors. The article also presents guidelines
to help Extension personnel optimize messages and
programs designed to encourage preventive health
behaviors based on findings concerning (a) perceptions
of risks; (b) perceptions of self; (c) environmental
conditions, both physical and social; and (d) perceptions
of costs and benefits of recommended behavior.
Research in Brief
Communicating the Handling of Nonresponse Error in Journal of Extension Research in Brief Articles
This article reports a study designed
to describe historical treatment of nonresponse
error in the Journal of Extension. All Research in Brief articles
(N=83) published in JOE (1995-99) were analyzed using
content analysis techniques. Results showed that
not mentioning nonresponse error, not controlling
nonresponse error, or not citing the literature
were the norm and not the exception. It is recommended
that Extension researchers address nonresponse error
when it is a threat to the external validity of
their study. Recommendations for additional study
and adoption of methods for handling nonresponse
Measuring the Ethical Cognition Effects of a Videotape Livestock Show Ethics Education Program
As Extension educators and agriculture
education teachers address the sensitive issues
of livestock show ethics and quality assurance of
the food animals produced and marketed to the public
through the youth livestock program, they must ensure
that their educational efforts are effective. Everyone
has an opinion about what should or should not be
done in order to improve the situation related youth
livestock ethics. This study examines the effectiveness
of a video educational program that has been in
widespread use since its inception in 1996.
Electronic Identification of 4-H Livestock Projects
This article describes the effectiveness
of electronic ear tags placed in 625 sheep and 508
4-H swine projects in five Indiana counties. Electronic
ear tags worked well (>98% readability) in lambs
when the tags were properly placed on the inside
of the animal's ear. Electronic tags were either
missing or failed to respond in 33% of the 4-H hogs
at the Knox county fair, and swine members had a
difficult time visually reading the number on the
tags. Electronic ear tags speed up the check-in
of animals at the county fair and reduce the potential
for human error in transposing numbers.
Measuring the Perceived Effectiveness of Training for the Dairy Option Pilot Program
This article presents the results of
a survey designed to measure the perceived effectiveness
of Dairy Option Pilot Program (DOPP) training. A
pre- and post-training survey was used to see if
the training increases a dairy farmer's perceived
knowledge and understanding of put options. Because
the Risk Management Agency is expanding dairy risk
management, evaluations are needed to measure the
potential success of these programs. Survey results
show the training significantly increased the farmers'
reported comfort level and understanding. The majority
of farmers reported intentions to buy options to
control risk. Undetermined, however, is whether
dairy farmers will consider options after the DOPP
Impacts of Extension Education on Improving Residential Stormwater Quality: Monitoring Results
The project reported in this article
evaluated whether stormwater quality could be improved
by educating homeowners and implementing best management
practices in a suburban neighborhood. Nitrogen,
phosphorus, and bacteria levels from two watersheds
were compared using the paired watershed approach.
Resident surveys, property site assessments, soil
tests, and water quality and quantity monitoring
were conducted. A x2-analysis of survey data indicated
no significant changes in measured behavior. Significant
(p=0.01) reductions in NO3-N and fecal
coliform bacteria concentrations occurred; however,
total nitrogen concentrations did not change significantly.
Ideas at Work
Information Technology Adoption in Agricultural Operations: A Progression Path
Agricultural operations are not taking
advantage of the Information Technology (IT) tools
that exist today. As the agricultural industry continues
to evolve, IT utilization is critical to the continued
competitiveness/survival of individual operations.
A progression path for IT adoption is defined that
takes into account IT tools utilized along with
impacts to operational processes. This path can
be used as a tool to ease farmers into the IT world
without introducing excessive change all at once.
Application of this path in Extension educational
programs could increase IT adoption and retention
in agricultural operations.
Understanding Stepfamilies: Family Life Education for Community Professionals
The author describes the rationale and
the process for developing an educational seminar
based on the current research on stepfamilies for
professionals who work with children and families.
Receptiveness to this program model for "second-tier"
family life education is demonstrated.
Using Agriculture as the Foundation for an Extension Nutrition Education Program
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
is based on the principle that the future success
of our farms is dependent upon the relationships
between farmers and an expanding non-agricultural
population. And, in many ways, the future success
of our communities can be cultivated by strengthening
our connection with our agricultural roots. Building
on this concept, Rutgers Cooperative Extension created
a nutrition and agriculture education initiative
for children ages 3 to 8 called "From Our Farms."
From Our Farms promotes improved nutrition and consumption
of locally grown foods through a series of family-based
activities that are offered through local libraries.
Extension Programs Increased Missouri Cotton Farmer Use of Survey-Based Pest Management
In 1982, only 5% of Missouri cotton
farmers surveyed fields for pests and used this
information when selecting pest management strategies,
i.e., survey based pest management (SBPM). University
of Missouri faculty initiated a program that year
to instruct farmers about the benefits of SBPM.
They provided instruction from 1982 to 1999. During
1999, 3% of Missouri cotton farmers were surveyed
by phone for their use of SBPM. That year, farmers
used SBPM to protect 82% of Missouri cotton acres.
In addition to better yields, the use of SBPM ensured
more efficient use of all pest management strategies.
Tools of the Trade
Tips for Teaching Non-Traditional Audiences
One of the greatest thrills for an Extension
educator is being asked, "When's the next one?"
at the end of a session. To keep that question coming
when teaching non-traditional audiences, these county
educators share their tips for designing programs
that increase the learner's comfort and create a
non-threatening atmosphere. Relationships, cultural
differences, use of time and resources, and finding
new ways to measure learning progress can all influence
Engaging Minority and Culturally Diverse Audiences
Extension's mission is to educate and
disseminate research to all people, but minority
and culturally diverse audiences are often difficult
to engage. The article offers seven ideas to help
Extension professionals engage these audiences.
Learn to understand their culture. Interact with
innovators and key leaders in the community, and
understand the hierarchy. Identify and solve local
issues. Be patient and persistent, and develop early
success stories. Adapt the program to their culture,
keep the message simple, and repeat the message.
Look for win-win situations and financial incentives
to encourage participation. Evaluate, revise, and
repeat the program.
Total Rural Capital: A Model to Engage Extension Faculty and the Public in Rural Community Development
Rural community development is challenging
work. This article introduces a tool that is useful
for scholarship and for working with people in rural
communities. Total rural capital is a multi-disciplinary
model that can help faculty develop scholarship
from their work while helping the public to better
understand the complexity of community development.
Recipe Checklist: A Tool to Aid Development of Recipes for Audiences with Limited Resources
Recipes are popular vehicles in nutrition
education. Significant time and resources are devoted
to identifying, developing and distributing recipes
in Extension nutrition education programs. A qualitative
review of existing recipes found
some recipes to be lacking in standardization. The
authors review previous work about recipe development
for limited resource audiences and present a comprehensive
recipe checklist for Extension staff to better assess
whether a recipe will be effective in programming.