June 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 3
"Bringing the Message Home" discusses the kinds of international articles JOE is looking for. "Engagement, History, Community" highlights several issues engaging authors in the June JOE. They have a lot in common.
Going International in Extension: A Done Deal?
The author describes three previous JOE Commentaries on internationalization in Extension and recounts the lessons he learned through his own experience in Ukraine. He argues that, while not a "done deal," an internationalized Extension is just such a good deal that it will be the norm for the future.
Cooperative Extension and Faith-Based Organizations: Building Social Capital
This article explores the historical relationship between Cooperative Extension and faith-based organizations. Using historical texts, the authors show that since the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, Cooperative Extension has worked with faith-based organizations, such as congregations, to promote community renewal. Extension and congregations--then and now--share a deep commitment to building community. The authors conclude that by remembering its historical roots, Extension can renew a vision for creating a just, democratic society. In this way, Extension can help create healthier communities.
Rousing the People on the Land: The Roots of the Educational Organizing Tradition in Extension Work
Recent calls for "engagement" have land-grant institutions searching for ways to develop "two-way" partnerships between universities and communities for broad civic purposes. The renewal of a powerful but little understood tradition of educational organizing in Cooperative Extension work can help place Extension on the front lines of this important work. In this article, the author traces and discusses the roots of the tradition of educational organizing, shedding light on one of the most inspiring forgotten chapters of cooperative Extension history.
Shaping Communities Through Extension Programs
A community's essence, which is the combination of its identity, purpose, and culture, is dynamic. It is influenced or shaped in part by what the community knows. Extension, through its educational programs, plays a large part in creating community knowledge. This article shows how Extension educators can extend and accelerate the community-shaping process by using action research processes like Appreciative Inquiry. It also describes the Porch Cookie Project, one adaptation of Appreciative Inquiry.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Building Community Among Farmers and Non-Farmers
Conflict at the rural-urban interface may often be due to a lack of social connections or communication between farmers and non-farmers. Extension educators may be at a loss as to how to bring these two groups together. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), or a variation of CSA, may be one avenue for developing connections. Findings from a qualitative study of a Midwestern CSA reveal a number of ways CSA met the goals of participants while also building community among farmers and non-farmers. Extension personnel might promote CSA at the rural-urban interface to build community and support for local agriculture.
Be "Logical" About Program Evaluation: Begin with Learning Assessment
In an effort to build program planning and evaluation capacity in Extension faculty, this article focuses on assessing the learning that takes place in an educational program. Using logic modeling as the basis for meaningful evaluation, specific steps are outlined for measuring learning outcomes. These steps include articulating outcomes, turning outcomes into knowledge statements, and constructing a tool to measure perceived changes in knowledge. Although Extension educators are concerned not just with learning, but with action and social change that also occur, focusing on learning assessment provides a perfect opportunity to build skills in program planning and evaluation.
The Effect of Competitive and Cooperative Learning Preferences on Children's Self-Perceptions: A Comparison of 4-H and Non-4-H Members
4-H stakeholders have argued for years about the merits of individual competition versus team cooperation. Although a 1988 National 4-H Competition Task Force Report called for more research on competition and cooperation, our Journal of Extension search found only two articles with children's empirical data from 1975 to 2001. In this, the first apparent research-based comparison with a large sample of 4-H and non-4-H members in a mountain state, children preferred both cooperation and competition. Furthermore, cooperation rather than competition was the way to build self-worth. Eight practical recommendations are offered to 4-H/youth development program leaders, specialists, volunteers, and parents.
A Successful Portable Computer Lab Training Program
Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania Farm Credit System joined forces to fund a portable computer laboratory. A simplified lab management procedure allowed Extension agents to offer 33 computer operation workshops for 300 participants at minimal participant cost. Participants indicated their future use of computers would focus on farm financial, crop, and livestock management. Although considerable competence was gained, more than 50% viewed themselves with poor to moderate computer skills at the end of the workshops. The lab has enabled agents to contact a preciously under-served population as 54% of the participants had not attended any Extension workshops in the previous year.
Homeowners and Their Choice of Information Sources About Gardening
The Georgia Cooperative Extension Service increases its involvement in educating homeowners in fertilizer and pesticide use to reduce nonpoint source pollution from residential landscapes. A survey of homeowners revealed their current and preferred sources of gardening information. By dividing information sources according to the degree of their accessibility and cost, we determined the differences in the use of various sources according to homeowner gender, age, and education. Females, young homeowners, and those with a high level of education used and preferred more information sources. The Georgia Cooperative Extension Service will use a combination of sources to effectively disseminate best management practices to homeowners.
Research in Brief
Leading Organizational Change: A Comparison of County and Campus Views of Extension Engagement
Feeling pressure from stakeholders, Cornell Cooperative Extension has responded using the Kellogg Commission report on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities as a blueprint for organizational change. Results of interviews revealed both similarities and differences in county and state staff views of engagement. The most significant difference is that county staff view their jobs as the critical link between community needs and university resources, while campus staff view them as implementers of programs. This finding suggests a need to engage all staff in a mutual dialogue of roles and expectation if change based on Extension engagement is to be successful.
Bridging the Generation Gap Across the Digital Divide: Teens Teaching Internet Skills to Senior Citizens
With the intent of closing the digital divide, the Teens Teaching Internet Skills Pilot Project engaged youth from 4-H Technology Teams in six states in training senior citizens to navigate and obtain information from the Medicare Web site. The teens perceived an improvement in working with seniors, project management, teaching, public speaking, and leadership. The workshops had a positive effect on seniors' comfort and skill levels towards technology. This intergenerational experience in leadership and technology training provided learning and skill development for both groups and led to positive changes in attitudes towards the other generation.
Preferences, Perceptions, and Risks Associated with Animal Bedding Materials.
Year 2001 shortages and price increase of wood animal bedding have prompted research in alternative materials. A 1995 NJ survey assessed the use of bedding materials, management practices, and paper as a bedding choice. The survey evaluated bedding use, housing, labor, costs, risks, and interest in and experience using paper. Of the 13% responding, 94% used bedding, but of them 67% never used paper. Much of the concerns with paper were dust related. The primary determinants of bedding material choice are absorbency and the ability to keep animals clean and dry. Respondents indicated that they consider paper bedding only if it is economical and available in a ready-to-use form.
Training Needs of Tourism-Based Businesses
Tourism is a viable economic development strategy for many communities. Wood County, West Virginia has an established industry with potential for additional growth. Interaction with employees is key to the quality of the tourism experience. A survey of local tourism businesses was used to determine such needs. Worker training needs were strongest in customer service and local tourism opportunities, followed by training needs in hospitality, public relations, and first aid. On-site training modules, a First Impressions for Tourism Program, and cooperation with local institutions of higher learning are ways that Extension can help meet training needs.
An Efficient Irrigation Technology for Alfalfa Growers
A trial on the suitability of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) for alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) was conducted on a producer's field. The soil is sandy loam. The treatments included drip tape spacing of 60, 40, and 30 inches, placed at 18- and 12-inch depth. A nearby center pivot sprinkler irrigated plot was seeded to alfalfa as a control. Seedling emergence and yield was adversely affected at 60-inch spacing. The depth of placement of drip tapes (18 and 12 inch) showed no effect. The site served for Extension education and allowed comparison between SDI tape spacing and center pivot system.
Ideas at Work
Choice Dilemmas and Risk Management Education
Differences in attitudes toward risk may result in individuals making different, yet correct, decisions. This article illustrates how choice dilemmas, hypothetical life decision situations, can be used in Extension workshops to help individuals identify their own willingness to assume risk and demonstrate differences among individuals. The agriculturally adapted choice dilemmas also illustrate fundamental risk-return trade-offs and the diversity of risks faced by producers. The willingness to assume risk scale is useful in assisting producers to understand their own risk attitudes and provides a means of incorporating risk attitudes into risk management education programs.
Helping Families Transition from Welfare to Work
Families remaining on the welfare rolls often face multiple barriers to move successfully into the work force. Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Nebraska Health and Human Services System, implemented an educational developmental program, Building Nebraska Families. Building Nebraska Families works one-on-one with Employment First families, Nebraska's welfare reform program, teaching family management and life skills using an individualized, flexible curriculum to help families more successfully transition from welfare to work. The authors share a description of the program, its status, and the strategies for evaluation.
Impacts of a Court Mandatory Parenting Program
University of Missouri Outreach and Extension offered a court mandatory parenting program, Focus on Kids, in cooperation with two judicial circuits. The program reached 1,500 divorcing parents in two judicial circuits in 28 months. Overwhelmed parents felt that the program helped them be aware of their children's reactions to divorce and feelings, stress reduction, and time-sharing. Ninety-three percent of the participants felt the program was worthwhile. Suggestions on how Extension can implement a similar program and work with the court system are discussed.
Youth and Adults Learning Together: Setting Up for Success
Young people and adults learning together as peers is not common, despite research indicating that mutual learning would benefit both groups. A seemingly easy remedy would be to invite both groups to participate in professional conferences as equals. However, a case study using qualitative methods showed that there were differences between the two groups of learners that needed to be addressed. This article describes some of those differences and steps that were taken that made the next conference more beneficial for both groups.
4-H BEST: A New Professional Development Program for 4-H County Extension Agents
4-H BEST(Building Essential Skills and Training) is an educational activity for 4-H professionals. The objectives are to enhance management skills in: program and volunteer development, involving and identifying new audiences, identifying and working with decision makers, resource development, and program evaluation. The uniqueness of this program is the inclusion of out-of-state professional mentors who guide the participants in this self-directed program and share ideas on innovative programming and management concepts that have made the mentors successful in their own programs.
Forages for Horses Workshop Meets the Needs of a Growing Clientele
A growing number of people are purchasing horses for pleasure riding but have very limited knowledge about basic forage production practices. The Ohio State University Extension Forages for Horses workshop was developed by agents and specialists to teach horse owners and stable managers basic forage management concepts. Topics taught in this 2-evening workshop included: anatomy and physiology; plant growth; soil fertility; species selection; pasture renovation; hay storage; and poisonous plant identification. Evaluation of the program was positive, and participants indicated they gained new knowledge as evidenced by pre and post-test scores.
Tools of the Trade
Building Inclusive Communities Through Intercultural Communication: A User-Friendly Handbook for Those Who Care About Self and Others
The article reviews Ann C. Schauber's, Working with Differences in Communities: A handbook for those who care about creating inclusive communities. The user-friendly book is designed so that anyone can open it to any section and learn. Schauber's book will instruct and move readers interested in creating inclusive communities through effective intercultural communication. The focus is on what the individual can do to make communities more inclusive, rather than on what others need to do. The book is perfect for people who care--or have been forced to understand--our multicultural society.
Use of Instructional Rubrics in Cooperative Extension Programming
This article looks at the concept of the instructional rubric as a nonformal evaluation tool. The premise is that educators can obtain evaluation information on short-term programs where formal evaluation design is not desired. Examples of instructional rubrics are given for 4-H, agriculture, and family and consumer science. In addition to the rubric itself, there are implications for educator intervention and retooling the experience.
Brown Bag Lunch Programs: Another Avenue to Access?
Finding ways to "get the word out" is always a challenge for Extension. Developing brown bag lunch programs is a way to reach a new Extension audience. Determining how best to do this in each community can give the Extension educator an opportunity to provide another resource and more opportunities for programming, teaching, and educating. Brown bag lunch programs have been a success for our office in that we have had an audience for all the sessions, and, most important, we have seen new faces, people new to Extension who are becoming more involved with us and our programs.
Pyramid Pizzazz: An Educational Tool for Tracking Food Intake
Do your nutrition class participants need to pizzazz up their lives? If so, we have the teaching tool for you--Pyramid Pizzazz. Pyramid Pizzazz is a teaching tool designed to assist in tracking the daily intake of food. The teaching packet includes a lesson plan, food guide fact sheets, an erasable magnetic board, and a notepad to track daily food consumption. Pyramid Pizzazz helps clients take steps to a healthy way of eating.
The North Carolina Dairy Youth Foundation: A Model for Developing External Funding for Youth Programs
The North Carolina Dairy Youth Foundation is a remarkable success story that can serve as a model for other states to use to develop external funding for youth programs. This foundation has been described as the greatest thing to happen to the dairy youth program in North Carolina. It continues to grow and ensures that funding will be available for the dairy youth program in the future. The article describes how this foundation was formed and how it operates to provide significant funding support for the dairy youth program in North Carolina.