June 2004 // Volume 42 // Number 3

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page
"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 and tenure).

Commentary

Weblogs as a Disruptive Technology for Extension
Coates, Deborah
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
Sobrero, Patricia M.
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 for Extension.

Feature Articles

Celebrating 4-H, Youth, and Technology: The Nebraska 4-H Cyber Fair
Fairchild, Patricia; Vigna, Diane; Fassett, Jamie
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
Hall, John B.; McKinnon, Bill R.; Greiner, Scott P.; Whittier, William D.
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
Massey, Claire; Morriss, Stuart; Alpass, Fiona; Flett, Ross
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
Diemer, Joel A.; Phillips, Richard; Hillon, Mark
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
Grégoire, Hélène
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
Guion, Lisa A.; Turner, Josephine; Wise, Dena K.
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
King, Nicelma J.; Turner, Barbara
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
Safrit, R. Dale; Edwards, Harriett C.; Flood, Warren R.
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
Gregg, Jon Austin; Irani, Tracy A.
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
Deziel, Gary
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
Jemison, John M., Jr.; Wilson, Laura; Graham, Judith
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
Nadeau, Jenifer; Alger, Emily McCabe; Hoagland, Tom; Chameroy, Kelly
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
Ferrari, Theresa M.; Hogue, Carrie A.; Scheer, Scott D.
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
Williams, D. Pauline; LeBlanc, Heidi; Christensen, Nedra K.
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
Chapman-Novakofski, Karen; DeBruine, Vance; Derrick, Brenda; Karduck, Justine; Todd, JoAn; Todd, Sara
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
Haaland, Kay E.
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
Bolton, Elizabeth B.; Burford, Robert E.; Chastain, John C.
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
Nichnadowicz, James
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
Clark, Lois; Foote, Ruth Anne
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
O'Neill, Barbara
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
Vergot, Pete, III
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
Denniston, David J.
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
Robinson, Sharon F.
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
Koenig, Richard; Cerny-Koenig, Teresa; Hefelbower, Rick; Mesner, Nancy; Kopp, Kelly; Hill, Robert
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
Bjelde, Kristine
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.