June 2006 // Volume 44 // Number 3
Bad Writing Obscures Good Work
"Words to the Wise" warns that "bad
writing can obscure good work." "June JOE" mentions just six of
the 28 fine articles in the June issue.
The Ups and Downs of the Workplace
Within almost every organization
there is a hierarchy among the employees based on position, title, role,
and function. In some sense, hierarchical distinctions create a class system
in the workplace. Unlike other issues of diversity, class in the workplace
is largely unacknowledged, causing some employees to feel like "somebodies" and
others to feel like "nobodies." While rank is a necessary tool
in the management of organizations, rank-based mistreatment can result in
lower levels of job satisfaction and performance, and lower levels of loyalty
and commitment to the organization. Everyone deserves to work in a climate
of dignity and respect.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Ups and Downs of the Workplace"
Perceptions of Extension's Desirable Future and the Role of IT
A demonstration project studying the perceived
futures for the Washington State Extension system was conducted as a way
to investigate the role of IT in the core activities of the organization.
Six forward-thinking leaders from Washington State Extension were interviewed
using a hybrid methodology known as "Ethnographic Futures Research." Findings
revealed include the themes of communication and mission and the domains
of opportunity, including personnel, organizational structure, community
engagement, and funding. Also discovered were composite descriptions of perceived
barriers to desirable future conditions and areas of influence that can be
leveraged to make an optimistic future more probable for Extension.
Bridging the Digital Divide: An Evaluation of a Train-the-Trainer, Community
Computer Education Program for Low-Income Youth and Adults
This article details the evaluation of a train-the-trainer
program aimed at bridging the digital divide among adolescents, youth, and
adults in poor urban communities within the city of New Haven, Connecticut.
Teens were trained in computer skills and teaching skills to others and then
went into their communities and facilitated training sessions with children
and adults of varying ages and abilities. The evaluation found that teen
trainers experienced increases in computer skills, computer self-efficacy,
and empathy for others and that the secondary participants experienced increases
in computer skills. The article discusses implications for future efforts
bridging the digital divide.
Learning from Latino Community Efforts
The study described here documents interviews with
101 Latino adults identified as either participants or non-participants in
specific activities in five California communities. Both groups were asked
to recommend strategies for organizations that seek to provide programs for
youth and families. Results indicate that the approach to recruiting adults
needs to be reframed in ways that de-emphasize the traditional concept of
a volunteer leader. Findings also indicate that there can be no short cuts
to investing time in building relationships that create trust and a level
of comfort essential to many residents for their participation.
Cooperative Extension and the 1890 Land-Grant Institution: The Real Story
Extension educators are familiar with the story
of the Morrill Act of 1862 and the Second Morrill Act of 1890. However, much
of what is taught is not the entire story. Also, this story is usually taught
from one perspective. The purpose of the study described here was to examine
the people and events that led to the establishment of the 1890 land-grant
institutions, the establishment of Cooperative Extension within the 1890
institutions, the individuals responsible for creating Cooperative Extension
among the 1890's, and the struggles and obstacles in its development.
Mentoring: A Promising Approach for Involving At-Risk Youth in 4-H
An effective way to reach at-risk youth is by establishing
a positive adult/youth relationship through mentoring. Utah's Youth and Families
with Promise (YFP) program combines mentoring with the benefits of structured
4-H. Participants were surveyed using a post-then-pre design. The differences
in mean scores indicated statistically significant improvements in academic
achievement, social competence, and family bonds. Youth reported increased
levels of community attachment, and parents reported increased levels of
parental efficacy. Extension professionals can use mentoring, in combination
with 4-H, to reach and better serve at-risk audiences by introducing them
to the benefits of 4-H as part of their mentoring experience.
Supervisors' and 4-H Youth Development Educators' Perceptions of the Leadership
Practices Employed by Educators
The quantitative study described
here investigated leadership practices being employed by county 4-H educators
in Pennsylvania. Survey instruments, including the Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire (MLQ), the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), and a demographics
questionnaire, were sent to all Extension 4-H educators and their supervisors.
The study found no significant difference between scores of educators and
supervisors for transactional skills. However, there was a significant difference
in scores for transformational skills, leadership outcomes, and each LPI
construct. Recommendations include staff development opportunities that will
specifically address the gaps in leadership skills.
Factors Affecting Program Evaluation Behaviours of Natural Resource Extension
Practitioners--Motivation and Capacity Building
Despite expectations for natural resource Extension
practitioners to measure impacts of their programs, evaluation practices
among this group are highly variable across individuals and states. The study
described here assessed attitude towards evaluation, perceived organizational
commitment to evaluation, practitioner characteristics, and levels of program
evaluation conducted among natural resource Extension practitioners in the
U.S. The study showed that age, years of experience, belief that one's job
performance is assessed on the basis of program evaluation behavior, and
other factors are linked to evaluation behavior. It also investigated factors
in institutional capacity building for evaluation.
A Professional Guide for Parenting Educators: The National Extension Parenting
Effective parenting education is dependent on the
quality of the educator, the curriculum, the educational setting, and awareness
of parent characteristics and needs. This article outlines a framework to
guide professional development in Extension and in the field of parenting
Research in Brief
On-Line Professional Development for Extension Educators
In an environment of widespread budget decreases
for Extension, we examine how interested and capable Extension educators
are for on-line professional development. We also explore which factors are
most important when deciding to participate in a professional development
opportunity and what content areas are of most interest. Results indicate
that nearly all of the participants surveyed are interested in on-line professional
development and find content to be the most important factor. They are most
interested in topics like youth development and risk-behaviors. We discuss
the findings and outline recommendations for offering an effective on-line
Technology Transfer Preferences of Researchers and Producers in Sustainable
The transfer of information from research to producers
is often a weak link in the research process. This study examined the methods
used to transfer sustainable agriculture research technology to producers.
Both principle investigators (researchers) and producers were interviewed
to determine their preferences for technology transfer. Principle investigators
prefer to transfer research information via workshops and periodicals. Producers
prefer to receive information via on-farm trials and periodicals. Producers
value workshops primarily for the dialog with the other producers. On-farm
demonstrations are particularly important for technology that requires a
drastic transition from the methods currently used in the farm/ranch operation.
Farm-Level Human Resource Management: An Opportunity for Extension
This article reports findings from research of
dairy farm employment on large farms in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the article
provides descriptions of duties and required and desired skills and training
for nine distinct job titles. Based on these findings, training opportunities
for managers and workers on dairy farms are suggested, focusing on communication,
supervision and employee management, problem-solving, and computer skills.
These are areas in which Extension educators have opportunities to improve
the productivity of workers and to improve producers' human resource management
skills, all of which may lead to increased farm productivity and sustainability.
Farmer Willingness to Enter into Manure Exchange Agreements: Differences Based
on Age and Farm Size
Reducing nonpoint phosphorus pollution from all
sources, including agriculture, is important in Michigan. Extension educators
can help farmers reduce phosphorus loading into surface waters. One way to
help farmers do this is to encourage manure transfer, or exchange, from livestock
farms to the fields of neighboring crop farms. This study looked at farmers'
willingness to exchange manure from one farm to another based on the farmers'
age and farm size. Results reveal differences between farmers' perceptions
of manure use by age of the farmer and by acreage. Differences in agronomic
considerations were particularly important.
The Effectiveness of a Public Nutrition Education and Wellness System Program
Enrollment of limited resource clientele in public
nutrition education and wellness system programs is expected to produce positive
changes in food preparation, food purchase, and health status. The study
described here evaluated the effectiveness of the Families First: Nutrition
Education and Wellness System (FF NEWS) Program, a nutrition education program
in selected 1890 institutions, in achieving positive changes. Program participation
influenced participants to make positive changes in food-preparation and
food-purchasing practices and resulted in a positive "trend," though
not statistically significant, in health status. The culturally sensitive
curriculum was an important factor in individual participation and positive
The Influence of the Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program on
Nutrition Knowledge and Self-Reported Behaviors of Elementary School Children
A quasi-experimental study was conducted to assess
the impact of the Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program on
3rd and 4th grade children attending Cleveland Municipal schools in Cuyahoga
County, Ohio. Pre- and post-test surveys were used to obtain information
on nutrition knowledge and self-reported behavior from intervention and control
group children. Children in the experimental group increased their nutrition
knowledge. There was no significant change in children's self-reported nutrition
Factors Influencing Career Choices of Adolescents and Young Adults in Rural
Adolescent occupational choice is influenced by
many factors, including life context, personal aptitudes, and educational
attainment. Whether college-bound or work-bound, meeting the challenge of
this developmental milestone is critical in adolescents' lives. The qualitative
study reported here explored factors that play key roles in rural high school
seniors and young adults career choice process. The cultural and social context
of family and community were found to be instrumental in how youth learn
about careers and influential in the choice process. Extension strategies
that target parents and community to increase their involvement in youth
career selection can promote sound career decisions.
Past and Anticipated Community Involvement of Master Gardener Trainees
As one of four focus areas for Texas Cooperative
Extension, community development is an integral part of the Extension system
and should be incorporated into all programming efforts. The purpose of this
study was to determine if the Master Gardener program affected community
development. Descriptive statistics were used to compare participants' past
experiences with their anticipated experiences after completion of the Master
Gardener program. Results indicated that community development activities
were being completed, but the extent and type of development could not be
measured. Suggestions are provided to enhance and use the community development
opportunities related to Extension programs.
An Analysis of Split-Director Administrative Positions Within Ohio State University
Extension organizations across the United States
commonly use County Chairs or Directors in county units to provide leadership
to core administrative function at the county level. A growing trend with
Ohio State University Extension is a team-approach to the County Director
position. This study analyzes these arrangements in Ohio and provides insight
into the effectiveness of the shared Director model for consideration within
and outside of the Ohio State University Extension system.
Ideas at Work
Facilitating the Adoption of an Online Conferencing System--A Recipe for Success
The adoption of an Online Conferencing System by
Texas Cooperative Extension has provided a way to meet challenges of geographic
distance, time, and resource limitations in providing professional development.
Implementation of specific steps throughout the diffusion of online conferencing
has proved to greatly reduce the inherent technology intimidation that can
exist with the adoption of new technologies. While the use of Online Conferencing
Systems offer new and innovative ways to meet needs while reducing travel
time and cost, implementing and gaining acceptance of this technology requires
purposeful and planned efforts.
A Community Approach to Target Inactivity
The project described here shows how Extension
can be a lead collaborative partner of a coalition to improve the health
of the community by addressing the issue of inactivity. A community approach
to increase physical activity was designed through the MAP-IT technique --Mobilize,
Assess, Plan, Implement and Track. A community-walking program using pedometers
was developed. The program was an instant success. Pedometers appear to be
a good motivating tool. Tracking participants past the 8 weeks remained a
Gold Rush: Exploring an Alternative 4-H Livestock Experience
Gold Rush, a new 4-H program involving rearing
and showing goldfish, was conducted as an alternative to traditional, large
animal livestock programs. A field day at the beginning of the project provided
learning stations on the care and maintenance of goldfish and aquariums.
Children reared goldfish for 6 months prior to showing their favorite fish
at the district 4-H event. Learned skills were judged by the condition of
the fish, written test result, project record book, and interview with the
participant. Seventy percent of participants who showed fish wanted to continue
or advance in the program.
Forestry Mini College: A Cost-Effective Way to Educate Non-Industrial Private
This article describes the forestry mini college
(FMC) format as an educational tool that can be used by Extension forestry
personnel to cost-effectively deliver research-based forestry information
to many private forest landowners. A description of an existing forestry
mini college program in Montana provides insight as to the method's effectiveness.
Based on that analysis, the FMC format could be used across the country.
Tools of the Trade
Mobile Wireless Internet Video: Bringing the Specialist into the Field Remotely
The use of mobile Internet video offers an efficient
means for specialist diagnosis of field problems. Costs involved in adoption
of the technology are small. Use of the technology has the potential to reduce
travel expenditures, specialist time required to provide diagnosis, and response
time to clientele.
Mission Thanksabunch: Saying Thank You Makes a Difference
Recognizing contributors is crucial to maintaining
community support for 4-H programs. It is important to recognize all 4-H
patrons regardless of what projects they support. Mission Thanksabunch began
in 2000 to thank market animal sale buyers and has been a great opportunity
for 4-H youth to personally show their appreciation. The number of livestock
buyers at the Minidoka County Fair has increased 31%, and sale receipts have
increased by 104% since the program's beginning. Data indicated that even
in times of depressed economic situations, local businesses and individuals
are willing to support a successful and grateful youth development program.
Tips for Communicating Agricultural Safety to Children
Effectively communicating agricultural safety messages
to children requires an understanding of this audience's unique characteristics,
which are dependent upon their developmental stages. This article identifies
important characteristics for the 4-7 and 8-12 age groups that were used
in developing educational resources for children who participate in farm
safety day camps and in-school programs. Each age group has specific characteristics
that can inhibit communication when they are not considered in designing
content and approach of educational materials. In addition, there are three
comprehensive communication issues that affect the effectiveness of transferring
safety messages to children.
Watershed Learning Activity: Coming to Terms with Geographic
Want better dialogue in your watershed
group? Problems may result from participants' misunderstanding of geographic
scale. The Watershed Learning Activity can foster an understanding of the
importance of geographic scale through group-based experiential learning
that combines aerial photography and conceptual change theory. Try it at
your next watershed meeting.
A Worm in the Teacher's Apple: Protecting America's School Children from
Pests and Pesticides
A Worm in the Teacher's Apple: Protecting America's School
Children from Pests and Pesticides, a book on School IPM (integrated
pest management), is a comprehensive; easy to read, four-part guide with
information applicable to schools of any size in America. This is a valuable
guide for Extension agents involved in School IPM.
Baseline Data for Your Program?
Collecting baseline data is an integral part of
evaluation. Understanding how different Extension programs are designed and
delivered can suggest different sampling plans to collect baseline data.