June 2004 // Volume 42 // Number 3
"June 2004 JOE" focuses on the three Commentaries in this
issue, particularly on the one from the editor who presided over JOE's
transition from paper to the ether 10 years ago this month. "And We've
Come a Long Way" talks about the JOE site--a possibility that didn't
even exist 10 years ago--and on all of the interesting and useful information
you'll find there (especially if you're a JOE author going up for promotion
Weblogs as a Disruptive Technology for Extension
Over 2 million people already use weblogs (or blogs) to voice their opinions,
brainstorm, update projects, tell stories, and filter knowledge. Bloggers include
journalists, academics, students, librarians, CEOs, and lawyers. Weblogs "underperform" traditional
communication media in terms of layout, editing, design and professional review,
but they provide immediacy, personal voice, and knowledge filtering, which
a growing number of Web users value. Weblogs in Extension offer the potential
to promote trust, create new conversations, filter and disseminate knowledge,
and build strong internal networks. In the process they will also change who
our clients are and how we interact with them.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Weblogs as a Disruptive Technology for Extension"
The Steps for Futuring
Futuring has the potential of providing Extension with options for viable
change using the anticipatory techniques of: 1) scanning and monitoring the
environment; 2) analyzing internal and external assumptions; 3) creating multiple
scenarios around emerging issue areas; 4) developing forecasts; 5) writing
issue briefs; 6) assuring program champions, faculty and staff are ready to
address predicted changes; and, 7) using the results of futuring to inform
continual improvement. Let's have the courage and ambition to change yesterday's
logic and take a look at the steps needed to adopt anticipatory techniques
Celebrating 4-H, Youth, and Technology: The Nebraska 4-H Cyber Fair
The 4-H Cyber Fair was an attempt by Nebraska 4-H to create a new image
at the Nebraska State Fair and to inform members, volunteer leaders,
Extension personnel, and the general public about 4-H technology-based
programs. The event featured more than 12 Web-based and 12 CD-ROM-based
programs developed by and for 4-H. Participants included youth and adults.
Some had never touched a computer before, and many didn't have access
to the Internet. 4-H Cyber Fair was extended to five counties reaching
under-served audiences. Outcomes included observations to assist future
youth-adult technology programming.
Teaching Complex, In-Depth Programs
Changing demographics of rural Extension audiences create challenges to program
delivery, and multiple delivery methods may be needed to effectively improve
skills and knowledge of clients. We examined the effectiveness of different
delivery methods and changes in client skills, knowledge and abilities as a
result of a complex, in-depth program, the Virginia Cow/Calf Management Course.
Almost 500 producers took the 5-month course. Changes were measured from pre-
and post-course surveys. Skills easily employed by the producers were readily
adopted. Experiential learning opportunities and written materials had the
greatest impact on producers, while Web-based information and discussion groups
were marginally effective.
A Framework for Building Technological Learning: Evidence from the New Zealand Dairy Industry
One aspect of the process of technology adoption is "technological
learning" (TL), the way farmers gather "information" and
turn it into "knowledge." In a study of the New Zealand dairy
industry, researchers examined the factors that affect TL. Findings suggest
that the speed with which farmers engage in TL is influenced by the efficiency
of the innovation system, the maturity of the farm system, and the individual
characteristics of the farmer. The article presents a model demonstrating
how these three sets of factors may affect TL that can be used by Extension
agents to help them develop a strategy for engaging farmers in TL.
An Industry-University Response to Global Competition
In 1998, representatives of New Mexico's chile pepper industry approached
New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics for
help in gaining the edge on new global competition. The result was the New
Mexico Chile Task Force, which brought together industry, university, and government
partners to apply the most up-to-date knowledge and technology to industry
problems. Key to the task force's success is the search conference format used
in the initial strategic planning phase. This method, pioneered by Emery and
Trist in the 1960s, brought together parties with divergent opinions and empowered
them to develop strategies to manage change.
Gathering Wisdom from 4-H Youth Development Clubs
The article proposes a series of elements that are essential to a positive
4-H Club experience. It builds on a list previously elaborated by the National
4-H Impact Design Implementation Team but complements and illustrates it with
the testimonies of 4-H members, volunteer leaders, and parents. The qualitative
inquiry was conducted in New York State to draw out the voices of young people
and the wisdom of the adults who work with them. The lessons learned can be
used to stimulate discussion and reflection in other states so as to improve
the quality of clubs everywhere.
Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Elder Financial Abuse Program
Financial exploitation of elders is the fastest growing crime in America,
with telemarketing schemes being the prime methods used. The authors
developed the Striking Back program, which includes a Leader's Guide,
videotape, practice scenarios, and handouts, to make elders aware of
the problem and provide strategies for dealing with solicitors. Pre/post
knowledge tests were used to determine if learning occurred as a result
of the educational program, and a 6-week follow-up evaluation was conducted
to determine whether elders had adopted key practices that deter telemarketers.
This article presents the program design and implementation strategies
as well as evaluation results.
Increasing African-American Participation in Nutrition Education Programs for Low-Income Consumers
This article documents the dramatic decline in African American participation
in the EFNEP and FSNEP programs offered by Los Angeles County Cooperative
Extension, although nutrition-related health concerns among this population
have increased. The authors conducted a series of key informant interviews
and focus groups in African American communities throughout L.A. County
to gain insight on how to increase the participation of African-Americans
in nutrition education classes. Study findings suggest that specific
marketing strategies for African-Americans, including cultural relevance,
support teams, food demonstrations, and de-emphasizing the "low
income" focus, would help facilitate this goal.
Research in Brief
An Initial Assessment of an Interactive Web-Based Extension Curriculum to Engage and Prepare Teens as Volunteer Teachers
The North Carolina 4-H Teens Reaching Youth through Innovative Teams
(TRY-IT!) program utilizes Web-based modules to strengthen and expand
teen volunteerism. The research described here investigated teens'
assessments of two initial TRY-IT! modules. The researchers developed
a written questionnaire based upon eight criteria for evaluating Web-based
training and collected data from a convenience sample of 67 teen 4-H
members. Participants evaluated each component as above average. Based
upon the pilot study findings, TRY-IT! promises to be very effective
in engaging current and potential teens in volunteerism and community
service through the use of Web-based curricula.
Use of Information Technology by County Extension Agents of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Mixed-mode data collection using a dedicated Web site and traditional
paper instrumentation was used to investigate information technology
use by county agents of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
The response to this census was 90.33% (n = 299). Patterns of hardware
and software use on the job and self-rated overall IT skills were examined.
Agents also self-assessed their ability to perform specific tasks using
selected software. Future IT training needs were assessed via a "felt-needs" methodology.
Results include significant differences in self-rated IT skills between
age groups, a high hours/week of computer use, and a hierarchical list
of training needs.
E-Mail Use and Communication Perceptions of University of Vermont Extension Employees
A study was conducted concerning how University of Vermont Extension
employees used and perceived electronic mail as an intra-organizational
communication tool. The results indicated that "broadcast" e-mail
was less likely to be responded to than personalized e-mail, e-mail
tone was considered generally more aggressive than telephone conversations,
and sent messages have often been misinterpreted. A high majority of
respondents reported that e-mail has made their work easier due to
more efficient use of time, increased productivity, and 24/7 access,
but that spam is an increasing problem leading to reduced employee
satisfaction with e-mail.
Effecting Land-Use Changes Through Education and Implementation: Assessing the Effectiveness of the Watershed Stewards Program
Over the past 7 years, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE)
has conducted the Watershed Stewards Program (WSP), a 20-hour lake education
and implementation program. To assess program effectiveness, we studied whether
our program significantly improved program participant knowledge level over
non-participants through quantitative and qualitative measures. An objective,
15-question test was administered to program participants and other people
living in these lake watersheds. Stewards scored significantly (23%) higher
on the objective test than those who had not been involved in the program.
Program participants qualitatively demonstrated much more involvement with
lake governance, implementation efforts, and related activities.
Use of a Randomized, Categorized Exam to Determine Horse Knowledge of 4-H Horse Show Participants
The study focused on using a general knowledge exam to determine strengths
and weaknesses of 4-H youth in six New England states competing at
the Eastern States Exposition 4-H Horse Show. One hundred multiple-choice
questions were divided into 10 categories with 10 questions per category.
Questions were then randomized. Information regarding age, gender,
discipline, and years of attendance were collected and had some effect
on mean exam scores. The mean score results in each category provided
feedback on strengths and weaknesses of each state's 4-H youth. This
method may offer a way to track progress over time of 4-H youth.
Parents' Perceptions of Life Skills Development in the 4-H Cloverbud Program
Life skills are an important component of 4-H Youth Development programs.
The study reported addresses life skill development of 4-H members who
are 5 to 8 years old (also known as 4-H Cloverbuds). The focus was to
explore parents' perceptions of their child's life skills development,
program benefits, and activities. Parents interviewed in this study viewed
the 4-H Cloverbud program as influential in life skill development, particularly
in the areas of social skills, learning to learn, and personal development
(self-confidence, self-care, and self-direction). Parents also identified
health and diversity as important areas. Implications for practice and
future research are discussed.
Diabetes Stepping Up to the Plate: An Education Curriculum Focused on Food Portioning Skills
The Diabetes Stepping up to the Plate program was developed to determine
the effectiveness of food portion based diabetes education. One hundred
fifty-one individuals enrolled in the diabetes series. Food portion
knowledge and skills tests, height, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio
(WHR) were measured pre- and post-program. Data was analyzed through
paired t-tests and correlations. Evaluation showed a decrease in
HbA1C, waist/hip circumference, WHR, and BMI, and an improvement
in food portion knowledge and skills. Seventy-five participants completed
pre- and post-data collection parameters, although more participants
completed all classes in the series. Extension can play a role in
successful diabetes education.
Ideas at Work
Using Evaluation to Guide Program Content: Diabetes Education
Evaluation is a central tenet of the Extension mission. This article describes
a practical application of how evaluation can improve programming by identifying
areas that require more focus. The diabetes education program was quite popular,
and basic knowledge showed statistical improvement, but it was not improved
enough according to the Extension team. Before moving forward to measure changes
in behavior, a good foundation of diabetes knowledge would need to be developed.
So Many Issues, So Little Time: Adapting the National Issues Forum Model for Local Public Issue Forums
After several years of contentious, growth-related public meetings in
the county, the Extension educator and citizen-volunteers adapted the National
Issues Forums model to produce monthly, locally focused public issues forums.
They provide a venue for citizens to learn about and deliberate the emerging
and current issues in a non-threatening environment. As a result, public
issues education has increased many times over, and citizens are better
able to participate in public decision making. Public officials often attend
the forum and are willing presenters.
A Model for Sustaining Participation with Hard-to-Serve Clients: The Learning Continuum
This article reports on a model developed by the Florida Crown Workforce
Board in cooperation with the University of Florida' s Welfare to Work
Initiative. The model proposes a sustained educational experience that
includes a variety of activities to enable welfare transition clients to
become employed and self-sufficient. The concept of a Learning Continuum
is described, and implications for Extension are discussed.
The Union County 4-H Summer Science Program: An Effective Method for Increasing Low-Income Youth's Interest in Science
This article describes the creation of a highly effective program
for increasing children's interest in the study of science as a career and
as a subject. It provides information about the program's operation and cites
evaluation results. In addition, the author offers information on and help
with replicating the program.
Building Basic Living Skills in Youth--Kid's Chef School
Kid's Chef School was created to strengthen personal development of youth
representing the changing diversity of today's families. It was based on results
of county needs assessments indicating a perceived lack of basic living skills
in children. Kid's Chef Schools address these needs by giving children opportunities
to practice skills as they learn. Learning is accomplished through activities
and simulations to teach nutrition, manners, table setting, food safety, hand
washing, food preparation skills, and kitchen safety. Program evaluation includes
participant and parent evaluation indicating knowledge gain and practice change.
Demand for Kid's Chef Schools continues to be strong.
Tools of the Trade
Collecting Research Data Online: Implications for Extension Professionals
This article describes advantages and disadvantages of online research
data collection. Two major advantages are reduced cost and fewer respondent
errors and omissions. Two major disadvantages are biases inherent in
the data collection process and possible security or confidentiality
concerns. Cautions include the need to clearly state limitations in the
generalizability of findings and to obtain university IRB approval for
the collection of data from human subjects.
Using Web-Based Interactive Video to Enhance University of Florida IFAS Extension
University of Florida /IFAS Extension faced with reduced budgets and continued
increase demand for services from clientele turned to the use of Web-based
interactive video to enhance Extension seminars, day to day communications,
and professional development for county Extension faculty and administrative
operations. Extension systems including Texas A&M, Kansas State, and
South Dakota State have developed the use of Web-based interactive video
for Extension programming. Extension in Florida currently operates 30 locations
of interactive video sites and continues to explore additional uses.
The Use of New and Innovative DVD Technology to Teach Competitive Youth Horse Judging Teams
Resources for competitive horse judging programs are necessary on several
levels. While traditional sources such as printed materials and VHS video
have thus far sufficed, the need for more current and technological media
is prodigious. The 2003 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo Horse Judging Contest
DVD is an interactive and educational DVD that provides users with high
quality digital video footage of 10 classes of four horses from the 2003
Rocky Mountain Horse Expo Horse Judging Contest. Additionally, the DVD
contains official placings and sample sets of oral reasons from a national
champion collegiate horse judging team.
Pediatric Overweight Practice Guidelines--Implications for Extension Educators
Organizations have responded to the increasing prevalence of pediatric
overweight by publishing practice guidelines. Pediatric overweight is a
medical condition requiring diagnosis and treatment by competent medical
professionals. However, the medical community may lack the skills and time
needed to help educate parents. Extension education programming incorporating
a "do no harm" approach may help prevent inappropriate weight
management strategies and reduce parenting stress. The application of successful
intervention components helps promote the enjoyment of food and physical
activity. The article includes extensive references.
A Team Approach Enhances Statewide Water Issues Programming
The current drought situation and continued urban development have forced
water issues to the forefront in the West. At Utah State University, a team
composed of five extension specialists and six agents with expertise in soils,
ornamental horticulture, turfgrass, water conservation and quality, and irrigation
engineering was formed to respond to water issues. The team developed a drought
resources Web site, 15 Extension bulletins on water management and conservation,
water auditing workshops and training, and irrigation quality testing information.
The team summarizes its approach and accomplishments to provide guidance for
future issue teams.
Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Training Manual for Group Leaders
With a growing trend in the number of grandparents raising grandchildren
nationally, a demand has been created for professionals to provide
some assistance so that grandparents can navigate their way through
a variety of family issues, including legal and custody, financial,
and parenting skills. Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren:
A Training Manual for Group Leaders, by Carole B. Cox, provides
a 14-session training workshop program for use with grandparents
who are raising their grandchildren. Extension, family life, and
parent educators will find this manual extremely helpful for use
in train-the-trainer programs, support groups for grandparents, and
other community education programs.