October 2003 // Volume 41 // Number 5
"JOE Is Here to Stay: A Citation Corollary" describes JOE policy on JOE citations. And "October 2003 JOE" highlights the interesting--and useful--Tools of the Trade articles in this issue.
Evaluation of Capacity-Building Programs: A Learning Organization Approach
Major Extension programming, whether in community development, nutrition,
youth development, small business, or other areas, strengthens organizations
by enhancing the capacity of members to work together effectively. Yet
evaluating these impacts is difficult and rarely done in practice. In this
article, we apply ideas from the Learning Organization model to the evaluation
of capacity-building programs. We identify questions that Extension educators
can ask in evaluating the impact of their programming on an organization.
In our view, a Learning Organization approach to evaluation holds promise
in providing Extension educators with tools to demonstrate the value of
their interventions with organizations.
Assessing Extension Internal Organizational Needs Through an Action Research and Learning Process
A participatory action research and learning process was used
to carry out an internal needs assessment for a statewide Extension organization
in a western United States land-grant institution. Focus groups, a written
questionnaire, and employee feedback sessions were utilized as a means of
identifying strategic organizational issues, needs, and resources that the
organization would prioritize based on a 5-year time frame. The research
and learning process, discussion of the results, limitations of the study,
and implications for similar use of this process are discussed in this article.
A Survey-Based Model for Collecting Stakeholder Input at a Land-Grant University
The 1998 Farm Bill (AREERA) called for greater engagement of
land-grant universities with the public by mandating stakeholder input when
setting priorities. The study described here developed a model for collecting
and implementing input from stakeholders. The researchers collaborated with
the Cooperative Extension Service (CES). Data was collected from a randomly
selected group of producers. Findings include data regarding producers' needs
for services and preferred information sources. The model gives the CES a
methodology for gathering input and stakeholders a voice at the program-planning
table, increasing the likelihood that they will use research findings to
Success Outcome Markers in Extension (SOME): Evaluating the Effects of Transformational Learning Programs
Success outcome markers (SOMs), and the process of creating them, offer
Extension a new approach to plan, monitor, and evaluate programs. Generating
success outcome markers helps to carefully determine all partners (including
beneficiaries) who may need to change to accomplish program goals and
identifies steps to continuously track incremental successes. Hard-to-measure
human behaviors become more concrete when success outcome markers are
listed. To successfully use SOMs, one must (a) create a vivid and compelling
vision, (b) list your WHOs, (c) write an outcome challenge for each WHO,
and (d) determine SOMs. Then decide how to monitor and report on each
Opportunities and Challenges for Land Use Planning in the Intermountain West
Land use planning is a persistent challenge for rural communities of the
Intermountain West. A role for Land-Grant Universities in planning activities
is provided through lesson learned in four county projects. Inclusiveness,
reciprocal communication, transparency, and objectivity are illustrated
as keys to success in applied research and outreach programming.
Women's Retirement: Beyond Issues of Financial Security
As increasing numbers of women retire from the U.S. labor force,
Extension educators will be called on to provide programming that (1) emphasizes
women's retirement and (2) addresses the psychosocial components of women's
retirement beyond financial concerns. This article identifies topics of significance
for future retiring women as reported by a sample of 31 professional and
nonprofessional retired women. These "words to retire by" can serve
as a foundation for future program development in the area of women's retirement
as well as further study.
Research in Brief
A Longitudinal Study of the Evolution of Organizational Values of Ohio State University Extension Educators
A 2001 replication of a 1991 study investigated the evolution of OSU Extension
organizational values. For almost a decade, the 1991 values were used by
administrators for decision making and policy development. The authors
used a census and Values Questionnaire to collect data. The authors identified
10 of the 12 original organizational values as current OSU Extension organizational
values. The strength and stability of its organizational values may be
both a source of continuity for OSU Extension during times of rapid social
and fiscal change, as well as a source of frustration for leaders seeking
to reshape the organization's culture.
Concordance Among Extension Workers, Researchers, and Professional Arborists in Rating Landscape Trees
Formulas developed to determine the monetary value of landscape trees
require a species rating value. Polling Extension professionals, researchers,
and arborists is a common procedure to derive species rating value. Due
to differences in professional training and background, and the variability
of landscapes in any given area, professional agreement on the rating of
a species is difficult to reach but is necessary to be useful. The Delphi
method and W criterion were used to determine the strength of concordance
among extension professionals. We hope that other Extension professionals
can use this method in developing species rating in their respective areas.
Logger Training Leads to Improved Market Access but No Price Premium
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Program is a catalyst
to develop or improve state-based logger training programs. SFI characterizes
the role of loggers as the most visible and engaged participants in the implementation
of sustainable forest management. This article discusses the use and compensation
of trained loggers, contrasting SFI wood procurement operations with non-SFI
operations. The results indicate that trained loggers are being used but
are not receiving additional compensations for their training efforts. Logger
training providers, such as Cooperative Extension Forestry Programs, should
be aware that training for loggers may not translate into a price advantage
but is likely to improve access to markets.
Evaluating Mississippi Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners Acceptance of an Interactive Video Short Course
An interactive forest landowner short course was held in Mississippi in
the spring of 2001. Participants evaluated the interactive video versus traditional
short course delivery methods. Ninety-five percent of participants said that
they would attend another interactive program in the future if given the
opportunity. Technical problems were the main reasons cited for not preferring
the interactive video format. Results indicate that several subject areas
not currently covered in traditional short courses were requested for future
interactive programming. Travel costs were significantly reduced. Suggestions
for ensuring the success of future interactive programs are given.
Adult Attitudes About Youth Participation in Community Organizations
Many youth development professionals advocate for youth participation in civic
and community organizations, but how do the leaders of these organizations
feel about inviting youth to become partners in the decision-making process?
A small-scale survey indicated that one-fourth of the responding organizations
in South Dakota currently had some level of youth participation. More than
half of the leaders of the remaining organizations indicated that youth should
be consulted and invited to participate as members of their organizations.
Youth development professionals should be encouraged by these results to explore
potential youth and adult partnerships within their communities.
Value of an Educational Program on Osteoporosis
Cooperative Extension helped initiate a community-based educational program
on osteoporosis prevention and treatment. The program utilized a network of
partners and coalitions. A team approach was taken in presenting the educational
session, offered twice, and answering/discussing participant questions. Statistically
significant differences were observed in the program participants' reported
knowledge of osteoporosis, taking of calcium supplements, eating of a calcium-rich
diet, and performing weight-bearing exercises 1 month after the sessions as
compared to prior. The results demonstrate that Cooperative Extension can play
a leadership role in building partnerships that implement effective programs
that improve the health behaviors of individuals and strengthen the community.
Ideas at Work
Strategies for Extension Specialists with Research or Classroom Instruction Assignments
Many Extension Specialists hold appointments including classroom teaching
and research functions. The article discusses using the classroom to enhance
Extension work, structuring a research program synergistic with Extension,
and developing a focused program consistent with a smaller percentage time
appointment in Extension. Integrating research and classroom teaching with
a meaningful Extension appointment may seem daunting, but it can be done.
The key to success is to creatively assess opportunities for blending the
activities in a synergistic way instead of simply segmenting time across
the three functions.
Using Regional Economic Analysis Tools to Address Land Use Planning Issues
This article presents an example of how Extension economists and local
Extension educators can use local economic information along with readily
available data and tools to provide relevant factual information to help
contextualize problems and evaluate alternative outcomes related to land
use planning (especially land use planning focused on farmland preservation).
The focus of this article is on how such information was developed, delivered,
and used to help local policy makers and citizens make better informed
decisions in a county with highly productive agriculture and heavy pressure
from suburban and rural residential sprawl.
Volunteers: The Key to Expanding Extension Programming for Older Adults
With the rapid growth of the nation's aging population, Extension is trying
to provide useful programming for seniors. Like many other Extension programs,
older adult wellness education is expanding through the use of volunteer
instructors. For the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's Seniors
CAN program, these volunteers come primarily from two groups: peer-educators
who are over 55 years of age, including those from diverse populations,
and the staff of agencies that already provide services to elderly clients.
The inclusion of these volunteer instructors has the benefit of bringing
Extension programming to a much larger and more diverse aging audience.
Parenting from Prison: What Can Extension Educators Do?
The number of children affected by parental incarceration has increased drastically
in the last decade. Many incarcerated parents want to be good parents, and,
while in prison, they can improve on their parenting skills and maintain or
strengthen their relationships with their children. Extension parent educators
can teach parenting skills and present ideas for staying connected while in
prison. Since 1997, 139 mothers and 68 fathers have taken the Parenting From
Prison class. Activities used in the class are described as well as considerations
for modifying existing parenting curricula to fit the needs of incarcerated
Tools of the Trade
Transformative Explanations: Writing to Overcome Counterintuitive Ideas
This article presents a five-step writing tool, called "transformative
explanation," that provides a proven mechanism to promote acceptance
of hard-to-understand concepts. When Extension messages present counterintuitive
information, message consumers are psychologically motivated to reject the
proposition and retain previous understandings. Because gaining perceptual
compliance is often a prerequisite to other communication objectives, transformative
explanations provide an important tool for message designers.
The Community Activeness--Consciousness Matrix
The article presents one generalization about rural communities
and then describes a tool that Extension faculty might find useful when delivering
community development-related programs. This tool, the "activeness--consciousness
matrix," can provide Extension personnel with a speedy assessment of
the levels of activeness and consciousness of a community as viewed from
the local citizens' perspective.
A Tool for Developing Questionnaire Content
CD-DIAL, a community survey unit at Iowa State University Extension,
has developed a process for generating the content of data collection instruments
such as surveys and focus groups. This participative process uses three statements
and the knowledge of community or organization members to identify significant
issues and collect useable data for program development, long range planning,
and evaluation. The goal, the setting, a description of the three statements,
and examples of typical outcomes are described.
A Simple Method to Determine Consumer Preference
Statistically significant consumer preference determinations are possible
by Extension personnel in the field using available clientele and without
complicated statistical analysis. Clientele such as shoppers at farmers'
markets can provide ratings for sensory attributes such as look, feel, taste,
or smell of a particular treatment. The statistical analysis used involves
comparing the rank means of the raw rating data. This procedure factors out
consumer variation. The example given uses SAS to complete the analysis.
Estimation of Attendance at a Large Outdoor Event
Accurately estimating program attendance in large, undefined
areas is difficult. Yet attendance is an important factor in effective impact
assessment and accountability reporting. A simple method, consisting of a
combined activity count and exit poll, can be used to produce reasonable
results with a measurable assurance of accuracy. A case study application
of this method at a major university campus horticulture event is included
to summarize the method.
Developing a Phosphorus Fertilizer Training Program for Golf Course Personnel
A new Extension program has been developed in Minnesota to train
golf course personnel on managing phosphorus inputs in response to recently
passed legislation restricting the use of P fertilizers applied to turfgrass.
This article introduces the P legislation passed in Minnesota, describes
the curriculum, and discusses survey responses from golf course personnel
who have participated in the program. The data presented indicate that respondents
found the program either useful or very useful with respect to the day-to-day
management of P fertilizers applied to turf.
Using a Computer Simulation Game to Teach Agri-Business Management
A computer simulation game is used to teach agri-business management
to undergraduate students, agri-business managers, and agricultural lenders.
A hypothetical farm supply store is used to teach cash flow budgeting, breakeven
analysis, and profitability analysis. Evaluations from both undergraduate
students and Extension clientele praise the benefits received from active
decision-making, competition, and working as a team to facilitate sharing
ideas and experiences.
Target-Audience-Specific Networking Groups: Could They Be Helpful in Your Work?
Networking groups can assist in connecting service providers with their
intended audiences. This article compares and contrasts three groups in
Oregon that focus on the needs of Latino families. Results of a survey
conducted in a local group are shared, and benefits of joining or starting
a networking group are discussed.