April 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 2
"For the Benefit of JOE Readers" talks about a new feature available for readers who want a more economical way to print JOE articles and about a planned improvement to our submission guidelines. "April JOE" mentions only a few of many excellent and thought-provoking articles.
Soft Drinks and Children: Where's the Science?
Research is inconclusive regarding sweetened beverages and weight gain. However, sweetened beverage consumption has been associated with increased caloric intake and decreased diet quality. Beverage consumption should not be at the expense of diet quality. Beverage choices may require careful attention to added sugars and solid fats if a healthful diet as described by MyPyramid is to be achieved. Consumption of sweetened beverages should not exceed the discretionary caloric limit for any eating pattern.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Soft Drinks and Children: Where's the Science?"
The Extension Hedgehog
Extension is competing for money, attention, and a place in the future of higher education. It is critical that Extension identify its education niche, specialties, and the value that only Extension adds to learning. Extension must mature in its role by coordinating issues-based education from a total university base. Issues-based education is inherently collaborative and non-hierarchical. Extension should be at the forefront of the modern outreach and engagement movement. But what are we passionate about, what can we be the very best at in the world, and how do we effectively attach our work to its economic drivers?
Applied Research Initiative: Training in the Scholarship of Engagement
Extension scholarship and research have become key issues in the United States. We describe a process that was developed in Northwest Ohio to teach applied research skills to field educators using classes, projects, and mentors. This is followed by an analysis of formative and summative evaluations of participants, including an 18-month follow-up survey. The evaluations indicated a general greater understanding and usage of applied research methods and increased involvement in academic papers or presentations. As a result of the evaluations, the program has been revised and is being offered statewide.
A Practical Theory-Based Approach to Action-Research in Survivor Communities
This article draws on field reports and education theory to: 1. Describe a dynamic in communities living with repercussions of historic events; 2. Describe the potential of action research to overcome this dynamic; and 3. Interpret data from a recent action research initiative. Findings suggest these communities may be defined by their capacity to imagine a better future, that this capacity may be enhanced by action research initiatives, and that this capacity is measurable. These findings offer Extension professionals a quantifiable construct that will allow them to document community need, evaluate results, and generate support for action research initiatives.
Building Social Capital and Community Capacity with Signature Projects: A Case Study of Two Diverse Delta Communities
This article describes action strategies that were planned and implemented by diverse groups of citizens in community development signature projects. Ten values and operating principles to guide successful signature projects are presented. Criteria are presented that Cooperative Extension, regional universities, and community partners can use to plan, fund, implement, and evaluate signature projects that build social capital and community capacity. Signature projects and social capital are defined. The article describes how signature projects worked in small, diverse, rural communities in the Mississippi Delta. The role of signature projects in building social, human capital, and enhancing community capacity is explained.
Local Marketing and Promotional Efforts of Florida Extension Agents
The purpose of the study reported here was to gain a better understanding of what Florida Extension agents do to promote and market programs in their counties. The objectives of the study were to determine the perceptions of current Florida Extension agents as to specific methods or materials used to market Florida Extension programs and activities. A total of 175 Florida Extension agents responded in this study, for an overall response rate of 54.18%. Results indicated that Extension agents would benefit from the development of marketing and promotional tools that would help them to disseminate information to the public.
The Virtual Extension Specialist
This article describes a new view of the Extension specialist for the 21st century--The Virtual Extension Specialist. The Virtual Extension Specialist is vastly different from its human counterpart, yet relies on human interaction and utilization to establish itself in its virtual Extension environment. The story of WoodPro, a living, breathing, virtual Extension specialist, is presented here not only as a view of the future of Extension, but as a wake-up call for the traditional, human Extension specialists still out there.
An International Perspective on Successful Strategies in Forestry Extension: A Focus on Extensionists
Extensionists throughout the world often share ideas and experiences. Learning what works and what doesn't from practicing Extensionists is a common feature of conferences, symposia, and workshops. In 2003 an international conference of Extensionists held in Troutdale, Oregon, led to a compilation of seven "successful strategies" related to Extensionists. A follow-up survey of 500 Extensionists from 70 countries revealed that most of these strategies are used often or sometimes, from 53 to 88%. Only one strategy showed significant difference between regions of the world, and this strategy related to Extensionists being members of a professional society or association.
Research in Brief
Discovering the Legal Concerns of the Tennessee Agricultural Community
New production strategies, changing consumer demand, dramatic revisions to federal programs, and new state programs have expanded the choices and decisions that farm families are faced with on a daily basis. Many of the day-to-day activities of farmers and ranchers involve commitments that have legal implications. Understanding these legal issues can lead to better risk-management decisions. The most successful farmers are now looking at a deliberate and knowledgeable approach to legal risk management as a vital part of their farm plan. An important finding of the study reported here is that farmers often seek educational materials from state Extension programs.
Sustainable Farm Tourism: Understanding and Managing Environmental Impacts of Visitor Activities
Our nation's rural areas are heavily affected both by sprawl and increased recreational use. Agritourism is rapidly being embraced as a strategy to conserve the family farm, increase revenue, and teach the public about authentic farming life. However, the literature reveals little evidence that the environmental impacts of visitors are being considered by farmers, planners, and tourism professionals. The exploratory study reported here evaluated the awareness of visitor impact problem among farm owners and assessed the types of impacts in five farm destinations in North Carolina. Potential management strategies addressing the impacts in different impact zones are discussed.
Comparison of Best Management Practice Adoption Between Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Basin and Southern Rivers Watersheds
Producers in two regions of Virginia (Chesapeake Bay basin and Southern Rivers region) were surveyed to compare farming practices and agricultural best management practice (BMP) adoption. Objectives were to assess farming operations and determine the extent of cost-share and non-cost-share BMP implementation and gain insight into the impact of selected socioeconomic factors on the BMP adoption. Although farming characteristics and producer attitudes toward pollution and water quality were similar, BMP implementation differed between the two regions. Differences in BMP implementation may be due to a more focused, longer-term NPS pollution control educational effort in the Bay basin.
Response Patterns: Effect of Day of Receipt of an E-Mailed Survey Instrument on Response Rate, Response Time, and Response Quality
Are you seeking ways to improve response to e-mailed survey instruments? We examined effects of day of receipt of an e-mailed survey instrument on 1) response rate, 2) length of time lapsed in responding, and 3) quality of response. No significant differences were explained by day of receipt of an e-mailed survey instrument on response rate, response time, or response quality. Two recommendations evolved: 1) use a complement of best practices, including advanced notice and multiple follow-up to increase participation of potential nonrespondents, and 2) understand the audience's preferred modality, organizational values, communication patterns, and medium to elicit information.
The Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program Focuses on the Learner
The study reported here sought to determine how California Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (FSNE) educators are implementing learner-centered approaches. We e-mailed a brief survey to all FSNE educators in California in 2004 (n=67; 69% responded). Most educators felt they were doing "okay" or "very well" in implementing learner-centered techniques. Techniques used less successfully included ground rules, icebreakers, partner activities, and goal setting. Focus group participants (n=15) have tried learner-centered techniques, although not all are universally successful. Learner-centered education requires advanced preparation to implement successfully; educators may need to be more assertive with agencies to achieve results.
Stakeholders' Input on 4-H Science and Technology Program Areas: An Exploratory Study
In an effort to prepare youth for the 21st century workplace, 4-H has placed an emphasis in science and technology program areas. The purpose of the exploratory study reported here was to gather input via a mail survey from 4-H families concerning the development of new science and technology programs. The results of the survey were themed into six main areas: technology, agriculture, science, implementation ideas, self-efficacy, and miscellaneous. Moreover, the results of the survey indicated that new programs should be connected to traditional program areas especially agriculture.
Positive Youth Development: What's Camp Counseling Got to Do With It? Findings from a Study of Ohio 4-H Camp Counselors
The study reported here sought to identify contributions of 4-H camp counselor participation to positive youth development. Researcher-developed questions addressed intensity, duration, and breadth of camp counseling. The Youth Experiences Survey (YES) was used to measure personal, interpersonal, and negative experiences. Data were collected from 779 counselors in Ohio using a Web-based survey. They reported a high level of Teamwork and Social Skills, Initiative, Identity, and Interpersonal Relationships and very low levels of Negative Experiences. The more years teens were camp counselors, the higher their Leadership and Responsibility. The research suggests several important implications for those who work with camp programs.
Ideas at Work
Lessons Learned-Service Learning: A New Initiative in Field Experience and Collaboration between Universities, County Extension Offices and Communities
Need to market your county Extension program in a professional, timely, and cost-effective manner? Service Leaning is a new teaching initiative between universities and communities. A Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio communications class embraced service leaning in a collaborative effort with Ohio State University Extension, Stark County. Results were a successful class, with hands-on experience for students, and a low-cost and effective public relations and advertising campaign for OSU Extension, Stark County. This article highlights lessons learned while exploring the project framework as well as potential rewards for the involved service learning project partners.
Integrating University Service Learning Courses with Community Development Extension Programs
We present a strategy for community development Extension delivery incorporating university service learning classes in the creation and implementation of community development activities. The process of an undergraduate rural development class assisting local community development Extension agents is examined. Results suggest students can be effective in providing research support that will assist local communities making important community development decisions. Extension faculty interested in incorporating university service learning classes into their programs should make sure that the types of activities fit the objectives of the course and the that atmosphere of communities is conducive to a shared learning environment.
Community Directed Leadership Programs in Wyoming
Efforts to increase local support for community leadership programs have led Wyoming to develop a very heavy emphasis on local direction and delivery. The Wyoming concept features programs led by a volunteer steering committee and guided by general parameters.
Experience Economy Strategies: Adding Value to Small Rural Businesses
Many Extension programs designed to enhance rural economic development have focused on development of value-added goods, particularly agricultural goods. The Experience Economy perspective suggests that economic development should also include value-added consumer experiences offered by an array of small rural businesses, such as retail, hospitality, tourism, and restaurant establishments. This article introduces Experience Economy strategies and elements of business offerings that create experiential value and provides a tool to help small business operators assess and enhance their experiential offerings that generate value for consumers.
Competitive Bidding as a Means of Extracting and Demonstrating Farmer Willingness-to-Grow an Alternative Crop
Switchgrass has been identified as a model renewable energy feedstock. This article describes a project to evaluate the feasibility of producing a switchgrass crop in Tennessee dedicated to energy production. An unusual feature of this research/demonstration project is its use of a competitive bidding process to elicit estimates of the willingness of Tennessee producers to displace traditional crops with switchgrass. One goal of this process was to supplement survey data with "real world" information that would increase the credibility of the project's results among potential market participants. This approach may prove interesting to readers faced with dwindling experiment station resources.
Horticultural Therapy: Bringing New Growth to People with Disabilities
Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County, New Jersey, offer an eight-session program, Introduction to Horticultural Therapy, to agencies that serve people with special needs. Objectives of the program are to: introduce administrators to horticultural therapy; teach people with disabilities basic horticultural skills; and provide guidance so that horticulture becomes an on-going activity. Inputs include Extension staff, volunteers, supplies, donations, and a small budget. Outputs are volunteer training, site recruitment, and support and horticultural therapy activities. Increased awareness of horticultural therapy, new career opportunities, and incorporation of horticulture into regular activities for people with special needs are outcomes of the program.
Can Extension Programs Help Communities Educate Older Adults About Age-Associated Memory Loss?
As the percentage of older adults in the population increases, age-related memory difficulties become more prevalent. Assisting individuals, families, and communities in understanding and managing memory-related challenges and differentiating simple forgetting from something more serious may be an informational role for Extension educators. Workshop materials developed in southern Oregon have received strong community interest. There are reports of significant knowledge gains for the participant. The workshop, Memory Difficulties: Should I Be Worried?, received the 2005 MetLife Foundation MindAlert Award.
Tools of the Trade
In Their Own Words--Understanding the Communication Styles of Teens
Technology has become synonymous with communication for teens. Eighty-seven percent of teens ages 12-17 use the Internet, and 75% of on-line teens prefer instant messaging to regular e-mail. One of the more popular ways for teens to communicate is social networking Web sites. Although there are a number of these Web sites, MySpace is currently one of the top ten Internet sites, used by teens to share interests and hobbies, post bulletins, and share messages and comments. Educators should become aware of these current methods of teen communication as well as opportunities for education of teens and their parents.
Positive Psychology and Youth Development: A New Science for a Time-Honored Extension Mission
Extension professionals can play a significant role in building positive psychology in youth programs. The psychology research clearly demonstrates the significant impact of positive psychology. In addition to subject matter related to 4-H and Youth Development, Extension professionals can utilize positive psychology best practices to enhance human capacity, ultimately leading to a greater quality of life. This article explains the three pillars of positive psychology and provides tools that can be used with youth to enhance their 4-H experience. These simple, creative tools do not take a great deal of time to implement, but the impact could be life long.
Public Involvement Tools in Environmental Decision-Making: A Primer for Practitioners
Practitioners are often asked to engage the public with limited resources at their disposal. While scholars encourage the use of more deliberate public participation mechanisms, resource constraints often require practitioners to utilize more limited public involvement tools. This article summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of three public involvement tools: citizen surveys, public hearings/meetings, and stakeholder interviews. This assessment should provide preliminary guidance in utilizing the appropriate public involvement tools when resource and time constraints do not allow for an extensive public deliberation process.
Review of Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED): Leader's Guide
There is a growing need for science-based, effective programs that enhance child-father relationships. This article reviews Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED): Leader's Guide. The authors found FRED to be clearly research-based, to address the need to improve father-child relationships, to have limited empirical evidence of program effectiveness, and to be ready for busy Cooperative Extension agents and other professionals to use. It is recommended that further pretest-posttest, experimental-control group studies be conducted on its effectiveness.
Do Educational Biographies Have a Place in Extension?
Educational biographies and narratives have been the focus of increasing attention in adult education arenas (Rossiter, 2002). As this adult education method continues to grow in popularity, the question should be asked if educational biographies have a place in Extension. There is evidence that the exercise of completing educational biographies assists adults in their learning. Extension educators can apply the process from two perspectives: 1) Personally writing an educational biography and reflecting on their learning experiences and 2) Encourage program participants to complete the process themselves.
Professional Meetings: Planning and Performing Multiple Location Tours for Maximum Benefit and Impact
State, regional, national, and international meetings in agricultural and natural resource professions often include educational tours in or near the host city. Education improves if the tours are well-planned and executed. Contingency planning is integral to the process; plan for bad things to occur. Evaluation planning, implementation, and communication are tools for improving future professional meeting tours.
Forest Resources Digital Information System
Forestry Images, the digitized documented forest health image archive, was developed with the aim to gather, create, maintain, and distribute digital information as tools to enhance and complement information exchange and educational activities. The Forestry Images System exists under the umbrella of Bugwood Network (Bargeron, Douce, & Moorhead, 2000). The increased volume of images and its usage statistics required major changes to enhance the system access, better content management, and security. The enhanced system is standard compliant based on recommendations from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the U.S. government Section 508.