June 2005 // Volume 43 // Number 3
Responding to JOE Reviews
"Responding to JOE Reviews" explains that ignoring reviewers' comments and suggestions is not an option and that there are many ways to respond to them. "June JOE" highlights two of the many good articles in this issue, refers to an earlier article, points to one to come, and reiterates their message.
Decision-Making Styles: A Comparison of Extension Faculty and the Public
We hypothesized that Extension faculty, both on-campus specialists and off-campus agents, have different decision-making preferences than the public. We drew upon data from a previous study and from a national sample to compare the faculty groups and the public. We found agents to be much more like the public in the judging function. We also found both groups of faculty to have a very strong orientation to the S and J preferences. This suggests faculty may be so engaged in data gathering and management that they are unaware of public interests in intuitions, feelings, and action. We posit that faculty should be sufficiently fluent with the MBTI to recognize and work with people having different preferences.
Invisible Force: Farmers' Mental Models and How They Influence Learning and Actions
The ways in which farmers put their visions into action are indicative of their mental models of farming. This qualitative study explored the nature of mental models of farming and their role in farming practices among a sample of small farm operators. Three themes emerged in the data indicating that farmers' mental models of farming are influenced by prior values and knowledge, serve as guides in learning and decision-making, and are unique to each farmer. Educators who consider the mental models of farmers are more likely to succeed in supporting farmers' development of new knowledge and skills.
Cooperative Director Training: Changing the Way Extension Programs Are Presented
Through a survey administered to agricultural cooperatives throughout Colorado and Indiana, it became apparent that cooperative directors could benefit from new Extension educational workshops that help them understand how to run a successful cooperative. Through a newly designed hands-on certification Extension program using cases, interactive exercises, and a simulation, directors have been given many opportunities to interact with members of both their own cooperative as well as other cooperatives around the state. First-year evaluations have been very high, and some cooperatives are requiring that their directors get certified through this program if they wish to remain on their respective boards.
Increasing Educational Impact: A Multi-Method Model for Evaluating Extension Workshops
Extension professionals are increasingly being asked to account for their activities through formal program evaluation. Many models of evaluation have been developed to accomplish the goals of evaluation (judge the merit and worth of a program, improve the program, ensure oversight and compliance, or develop theory). This article presents a unique model that combines formative and summative techniques in addition to Stufflebeam's Context, Input, Process, and Products model to successfully evaluate a series of Integrated Pest Management workshops presented to horticultural professionals. The evaluation process resulted in increased learning among the program providers and more educationally effective workshops for stakeholders.
Burnout: How Does Extension Balance Job and Family?
Avoiding burnout by balancing job and family is a necessity for
Extension employees. This article reviews several state efforts
regarding employee loss and retention. Keys to job satisfaction are
discussed along with the coping skills needed to prevent burnout. Stress
reduction ideas, a review of a successful wellness program, and a
description of the young "Generation X" agent, and their
challenges working for Extension are included. Suggestions for changes
in the Cooperative Extension System to reduce stress and prevent burnout
will challenge the reader.
GIS, GPS, and Remote Sensing Technologies in Extension Services: Where to Start, What to Know
The rapid development and integration of spatial technologies such as Geographic Information Systems, the Global Positioning System, and remote sensing, have created many new tools for Extension professionals, but have also widened the "digital divide," leaving many with little understanding of the technology and potential applications. This article presents examples of Extension-related applications of GIS-GPS-RS technologies and discusses how to go about learning more and determining if these technologies would be useful. Examples and recommendations are taken from the literature and from the authors' own experience.
Assessing the Need for Master Naturalist Programs
We present a focus group-based needs assessment for a Master Naturalist program that would increase environmental education capacity in our state using trained volunteers. This assessment explored the potential benefits, challenges, and structure of the program. We conclude that the program would fill an existing need by providing research-based information on environmental issues; we should collaborate broadly with other environmental education programs; the program must become financially self-sufficient after initial supported development; and we need to work with environmental education professionals in the state to ensure the program does not infringe on their job security.
Research in Brief
Life Skills Development in Youth: Impact Research in Action
Developing life skills is a key element of 4-H programming, but research on the impact of 4-H on life skill development is minimal. 4-H alumni and volunteers were surveyed to explore the question "Does involvement in 4-H Youth Development programs help youth learn and use specific life skills?" 4-H alumni identified life skills learned through 4-H participation from a list of choices and in an open-ended format. Volunteers agreed that life skills were learned, although their assessment of specific skills differed from that of alumni. Findings indicate that long-term impacts of 4-H membership exist and can be measured.
Leadership, Teaching, Self Efficacy, and Networking: Untapped Benefits of Membership in Extension Volunteer Networks
The Cooperative Extension Service has long been aware of the value of Extension service networks for developing women's skills in traditional home and family areas. Little is known about the relationship between leadership skills and these volunteer or service organizations. A study of Extension Homemakers/Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) groups was conducted to determine benefits of membership. Benefits can be categorized into four categories: leadership, teaching, personal efficacy, and networking. These surpass skill and knowledge gained about homemaking and parenting. Results suggest Extension should consider developing service groups throughout the country as "hothouses" for developing the leadership of volunteers, particularly women.
Experiences of 4-H Japanese Exchange Program on Participants: An Evaluative Study
The study described here assessed the 4-H Japanese Exchange Program in terms of arrival and departure orientation programs, 4-H program expectations, host family expectations, program coordination, and school and community experience. Overall, findings indicated that participants rated their exchange experience as "excellent." The service received from 4-H, friendliness, and professionalism were also rated highly by participants. Seventy-one percent indicated that they would recommend the 4-H exchange program to others in their home country. As a result of participating in the 4-H Japanese Exchange Program, participants agreed that they better understand intercultural sensitivity and global perspectives.
Horses and Youth (H.A.Y.): A Not-So-Typical Approach to At-Risk Programming
Life skills development is essential in helping young people acquire the necessary skills that enable them to reach their fullest potential. At-risk youth especially are in need of developing these skills. But what is the best method for improving life skills of at-risk audiences? The study described here examined providing life skills learning through the 4-H horse program, typically a non-traditional program for urban youth, over an extended period of time rather than as a short-term interest project. The study included a comparison group that received life skills development training over a short-term.
County Agents and University Tenure and Promotion Systems
This article presents the results of an email survey on the personnel status, tenure eligibility, and promotion system titles of county agents at different land-grant universities. The survey was sent to the president of the agricultural agent association at each university. The survey results are applicable to all county agents: Agriculture, 4-H, and FCS. County agents are considered faculty at 58% of the universities and are eligible for tenure at 50% of the universities. The most common titles used in promotion systems for county agents are assistant, associate, and full agent. These titles are used at 42% of the universities.
Evaluation of Training Program for Caregivers to Aging Adults
Extension professionals have a wealth of research-based information and expertise in nutrition, activities of daily living, and resource management. This knowledge is the basis for a new Extension program to train in-home caregivers. The purpose of the study described here was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Caregiver Training Program, designed and delivered by Cooperative Extension academic advisors to enhance the skills and knowledge of the in-home supportive service caregivers. Participants report positive changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, interest, and self-confidence. Extension is uniquely qualified and positioned to provide training for caregivers to aging adults.
The Effects of Debt on Newlyweds and Implications for Education
The study discussed here examines the relationship between newlywed debt, selected demographic variables, and newlywed levels of marital satisfaction and adjustment. The study used survey data gathered from 1,010 randomly sampled newlywed couples. The findings from this study indicate that entering marriage with consumer debt has a negative impact on newlywed levels of marital quality. Extension educators are in a unique position to provide local high schools, colleges, and the public with information on debt management and its impact on marriage relationships.
Land Application of Manure: Minnesota Livestock Producers' Practices and Educational Needs
A combination of farmer focus groups and a pre-discussion survey was employed to determine adoption of recommended manure management practices and preferred Extension education methods. Eight focus groups followed a 2-year education program that addressed revised Minnesota feedlot rules and manure application practices. Constraints for practice adoption included uniformity of nutrient application with solid manure, access to spreader calibration scales and record keeping forms, and adequate spreading area away from water bodies. Preferred education topics included manure application related to phosphorus, environmentally sensitive areas, and equipment. Publication was the most preferred information delivery method.
Internet-Based Natural Resource Extension
The growth of the Internet, combined with the shifting demographics of private forest landowners that indicate increasing Internet use, presents great opportunities for natural resource extension. The study described here created two natural resource Web sites. An online survey of Pennsylvania forest landowners, foresters, Extension agents, and natural resource teachers examined their demographics, evaluated Web site effectiveness, and determined what site features the audience preferred. The groups had varied learning interests and would use Web sites in different ways. The Internet is an important addition to the natural resource learning community and must be tailored to suit different users needs.
Wireless Audience Response System: Does It Make a Difference?
Because Extension seminars are costly in preparation and delivery,
questions about the costs and effectiveness of various methods are
important to consider. Interactive devices are becoming increasingly
available to Extension professionals. One such device,
OptionFinder®, utilizes individual wireless remote keypads and a
control station, manned by the lecturer or an assistant. It is believed
to increase audience participation and information retention. The
lecturer can assess the audiences' understanding within seconds by
asking multiple choice or true/false questions. The study described here
examined the cost and value, in terms of knowledge retention, of such a
system compared with other workshop methods.
Ideas at Work
Assessing Stakeholder Needs: Delphi Meets the Internet
Turfgrass specialists and Extension educators responsible for developing educational materials in the Master Gardener Program sought stakeholder input for an innovative curriculum by using innovative data collection methods. County agents, program coordinators, and volunteers from 11 Cooperative Extension Service districts responded to a Web-based, Delphi study. Interactive, online data collection methods provided rapid feedback in the consensus-building process. Extension personnel can use this methodology to develop similar consensus-building activities for other programming issues. Stakeholder input can be achieved, with minimum time and expense, while curriculum developers minimize wasted time in programming development that clientele may not find useful.
Development of the Remarriage Belief Inventory for Researchers and Educators
The Remarriage Belief Inventory (RMBI) was designed to further elicit knowledge about the increased divorce risk for remarriages and to aid educators in program work with couples preparing for or living in stepfamilies. Utilizing a sample of 546 young adults, this article addresses the discriminant validity of the RMBI's five factors. The RMBI is an empirically validated questionnaire that can be used to assess an individuals' level of endorsement of five beliefs about remarriages and stepfamilies. For educators, the questionnaire is offered for application in prevention and intervention programs to raise awareness of beliefs among members of stepfamilies.
Serving the Public: The Academic Library and Cooperative Extension
The article describes the successful design and implementation of various outreach services for Extension at the Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University. It examines the outreach challenges facing an agricultural and life sciences library in an Ivy League institution, which is also part of the land-grant colleges and as such serves an extended New York State community.
Caregiving in the Heartland: Outreach Through Adaptation and Collaboration
Extension programs must often adapt to meet the needs of those they serve. Purdue University's Breaking New Ground (BNG) Resource Center, while focused mainly on the assistive technology needs of agricultural workers with disabilities, realized that the caregivers of these individuals could also benefit from instruction and educational resources. This article describes the development of BNG's caregiver initiative and shares lessons learned from several years of workshop coordination.
Tools of the Trade
Documenting Impact Is Possible When Working with Camp Program Youth Leaders
Showing impact for working with camp youth leaders can be difficult. There is often the idea that Extension faculty at camp are just taking it easy and no real outcomes are being achieved. The leadership program described here has allowed the documentation of impact and show outcomes for time devoted to working with youth. Through a retrospective pre-post survey and open-ended questions, the faculty document the leadership skills knowledge gained based on responses to specific selected leadership traits. Not only can this change in knowledge be documented, the faculty can use the responses to tailor future leadership trainings.
Reaching Farmers--In the Combine
Extension agricultural educators face the challenge of reaching busy business people--farmers. Often we need to discuss new ideas with a farmer or gather information for a project. Other times we would simply like a chance to become more acquainted with various farmers. One way to initiate a meeting is to make a cold call. But, too often, farmers are away from the farmstead conducting their business. Reaching a farmer, during harvest and in the combine, offers a unique opportunity to communicate one-on-one.
Listening to the People--A Strategic Planning Model for Cooperative Extension
The first step in the program development process is planning. In order to properly plan, Extension must listen to the people of their communities to hear their needs. In Texas, this is done through a county forum process that identified needs people are facing in their communities. This article outlines the listening steps Texas Cooperative Extension took to host its Texas Community Futures Forum (TCFF) Process. This includes how TCFF was organized and how each county in Texas held a county TCFF to help identify issues facing Texans.
The University of Minnesota Supplemental Fertilizer Nitrogen Worksheet
The University of Minnesota Supplemental Fertilizer N Worksheet was developed as a simple, quick, reliable, and inexpensive alternative decision aid tool to assess potential fertilizer N losses. The worksheet is a series of three questions with multiple-choice answers. Depending on the answers, numbers are assigned for each question that are summed, and then the recommendation is made for supplemental N applications. It has been used with success for 10 years in Minnesota as a decision aid as well as an educational tool regarding fertilizer N management strategies.
Nutrition Mission--A Multimedia Educational Tool for Youth Grades 4 - 6
Nutrition Mission is a multimedia educational CD-ROM with an accompanying Web site designed to teach 4th - 6th grade students about making healthy food and activity choices. The CD-ROM incorporates a rich learning environment using graphics, audio, video, and interactive animations to excite students and make learning about nutrition fun. The CD includes lessons about the food guide pyramid, food labels, nutrient density, fast foods, snacking, physical activity, and food science experiments. Preliminary data indicates that the majority of youth acquire knowledge and skills related to foods, nutrition, and physical activity.
A Web-Based Resource for Watershed Management in Illinois
The Illinois Watershed Management Clearinghouse (IWMC) Web Site <http://www.watershed.uiuc.edu/> provides access to information on watersheds and their management. The IWMC includes educational materials on a wide range of issues, ranging from urban storm water and best management practices to GIS support and watershed maps. IWMC links watershed groups to allow for sharing of information, materials, and technical tools. The site effectively leverages the resources of Illinois agencies into one organized site to better serve the state. IWMC has a large amount of information pertaining to most aspects of watershed management.