August 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 4
What's Wrong with Skimpy References Sections?
"What's Wrong with Skimpy References Sections?" answers that question. "August JOE" skims the surface of another good issue.
Partnerships Evolve Over Time
Traditional partnerships of communities of place and interest evolve to support programs and provide resources. While all Extension is local, the dance with local partners varies greatly. Forming and reforming, these partnerships are vital to Extension's future. Providing the Extension program, building ownership, and "dancing to new music" characterized the University of Connecticut Extension's partnership in New London County. Elements affecting the success of this transition are examined as partners successfully resolved long-term concerns moving to new opportunities. Community partnerships across the country are based on factors identified as leading to successful outcomes in this case study.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Partnerships Evolve Over Time"
Education and Persuasion in Extension Forestry: Effects of Different Numerical Information Formats
We applied to forestry information a finding from cognitive psychology: Simple frequencies (1 in 100) and percentages (1%) are perceived as clearer than absolute frequencies (e.g., 28 million Americans), even as the latter are perceived to be larger quantities. We replicated these findings for numerical information about forestry issues, although the perception of greater value for absolute frequencies worked for low proportions of references class but not for large proportions (e.g., 3 out of 4, or 75%). These results illustrate a tension between the dual goals of education and persuasion in the communication of forestry information.
Connecting Communities: Third Generation Community Network Projects
This article discuss the evolution of the community network movement and provides practical advice about how Extension educators can work with local leaders and community residents to initiate projects that increase diffusion and adoption of information technologies in their communities. Experience in Pennsylvania shows that the community development processes used to develop third generation community network projects increases the diffusion and adoption of information technologies and builds human and organizational capacity useful for addressing a wide variety of community issues. Readers are introduced to "Connecting Rural Communities," a guide to enhancing adoption of technology tools and infrastructure in rural communities.
Youth Involvement in Community Development: Implications and Possibilities for Extension
There is a need for Extension program/policy developers to better understand the role of youth in the community development process. While often seen as suited only for 4-H programs, youth can significantly contribute to a variety of Extension activities. Through active engagement, youth can take on ownership and become lifelong contributors to local well-being. This mixed-methods research reflects data from a survey of 418 Florida youth and 12 in-depth key informant interviews. The findings provide insights into the factors most directly shaping youth attitudes and involvement in their communities. From these, implications for applied use in Extension programs are presented.
Does 4-H Camp Influence Life Skill and Leadership Development?
WV conducted a two-phase study involving over 2,000 campers to learn how 4-H camp affects life skills and leadership development. Camp is at the heart of many states' 4-H programs; however, there is limited research to document the impact. Fifteen counties with 28 individual camps participated in the study, which measured (1) camp experience, (2) targeted Life Skills, and (3) leadership skills. The study found that 4-H experiential learning activities at camp positively affect campers' life skills and leadership skills. Results should be used to guide the future measurement of 4 H camp impact and to strengthen camping curriculums.
An Exploratory Profile of Extension Evaluation Professionals
Extension evaluators serve important roles within our organization, given the increased emphasis on program accountability and renewed focus on program evaluation within the Extension system at all levels. What are the main roles and responsibilities of Extension evaluators? What is the nature and scope of their work? What is their academic preparation? How do they receive continued professional development and training? What is the organizational context in which they work? Prior to the study reported here, little was known about Extension evaluators. The exploratory study provides some insight and, more important, raises significant questions for future study of Extension evaluators.
Consumer Interest in Food Systems Topics: Implications for Educators
To assist consumers in understanding food system issues and to help them make informed choices, educators first need to engage their interests. To identify widely held consumer interests, focus groups informed a random sample survey conducted in the Central Coast region of California. Survey respondents reported the most interest in the safety and nutrition of their food, as well as in the external impacts of how their food was produced. Correlational analysis was used to explore characteristics and behaviors associated with these interests. The results offer strategies for public issues educators to target or structure food system related education initiatives.
Challenges and Information Needs of Organic Growers and Retailers
Growth in consumer interest in organically grown foods has opened new market opportunities for producers and retailers. This in turn implies an increased need for information specific to organic production, processing, marketing, and retail as growers and retailers increase their activities in this market. This article describes a research effort in east-central Kansas to assess the information needs in the organic sector. Data are drawn from focus groups and individual interviews with growers and retailers of organic foods. Implications for research and Extension programs, especially in the central Plains states, are discussed.
A Path to Resolution Regarding the Show Lamb Tail Docking Controversy
Short dock length in show lambs increases health risks and creates animal welfare concerns. The study reported here was conducted to 1) describe a population of lambs that were docked at the distal end of the caudal fold in terms of a linear measurement, and 2) determine the changes in tail length between docking, weaning, and market. A total of 782 lambs docked at the distal end of the caudal fold, comprised the population of lambs in the study. The results provide descriptive statistics to help guide industry leaders and Extension professionals concerned with docking standards at shows and sales.
Research in Brief
Extension Educators' Views of Scholarship and Performance Evaluation Criteria
In response to an organizational goal of increasing scholarship, a survey of faculty and staff in the University of Minnesota Extension Service was conducted to better understand how they define scholarship, its extent of use in their everyday work, and its importance within performance evaluation. While Regional Extension Educators strongly believe they should enhance their scholarship, they also believe that it should not occur at the expense of program management, delivery, and development. In fact, they saw those factors as being more important in performance evaluations than scholarship.
Low Resources in a High Stakes Game: Identifying Viable Rural Community Partners
Extension resources are shrinking, yet community leadership needs are great, and, the consequences of neglecting them are dire. It is difficult to respond to all the requests that are made of Extension faculty and even more difficult to decide which of the communities will benefit the most from programming. This article illuminates these issues by examining contributions from related research. First, a link is forged between community capital theory and community survival indicators. Next, 111 signs are provided that identify community viability. Finally, a guide is proposed for use in Extension to help determine where to concentrate scant resources.
Youth Perceptions of Ohio 4-H
Youth have a variety of extracurricular activities to choose from. For 4-H to continue to remain an attractive and relevant youth development experience, we need to be cognizant of how youth perceive 4-H. Results from over 1,400 youth in northwest Ohio reveal that those youth affiliated with 4-H perceive it more favorably than non-members. Also, as youth age, there tends to be a reduction in overall favorable rating or 4-H. It is important for 4-H to consider youth perceptions in program planning and adapting to the needs of new audiences and older youth.
Ultrasound Technology Helps Youth Raise Industry-Acceptable Market Animals
Ultrasound estimates of carcass data have been collected on over 1,900 4-H market hogs, lambs, and steers at fairs in southeast Idaho from 1999 to 2005. The data were collected as part of an educational program to help youth raising animals for the food chain to understand industry acceptability. The results of the data indicate that market hog loin-eye size increased 1.14 inches while backfat thickness decreased by 27%; market lamb ribeye area increased almost 15%; and the number of steers with adequate IMF to reach the USDA Choice quality grade increased 130%.
Knowledge and Behavior Improvement Through a Skin Cancer Action Approach Exhibit
The purpose of the project reported here was to reduce the risk of skin cancer through an educational exhibit. Educational exhibits including brochures, conversation with Extension agents, wide-brimmed hats, and sunscreen were used to educate agriculturalists. Pre- and post-surveys queried participants regarding sun habits, knowledge of risk factors, perceived risk, and history of skin cancer. The results showed an increased use of wide-brimmed hats (p=0.00), sun-protective clothing (p=0.00), and knowledge of skin cancer risk factors (p= 0.014). A trend toward increasing sunscreen use and decreasing sole use of baseball caps was also seen.
Forest Certification and Nonindustrial Private Forest Landowners: Who Will Consider Certifying and Why?
Nonindustrial private forest owners in western Tennessee who own 40 or more acres of forestland were sent a mail survey to assess their awareness, acceptance, and perception of forest certification. More than eight in 10 participants indicated a willingness to consider certification. Landowners who would most likely consider certifying their forest were typically well-educated new forest owners, and had received advice or information about their forestland. They would certify for both utilitarian and environmental reasons, and they most trust the State Division of Forestry and consulting foresters as potential third-party certifiers.
The Master Well Owner Network: Volunteers Educating Pennsylvania Well Owners
The Master Well Owner Network (MWON) was created to expand the capacity of Penn State Extension by training volunteers who would provide education to rural residents about private water system management. Eight workshops were conducted throughout Pennsylvania, and 243 volunteers representing 55 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania successfully completed the training. MWON volunteer reports have been very positive, with education provided directly to over 7,000 Pennsylvania residents and another 29,000 educated through the mass media. MWON's successes in Pennsylvania may serve as a model for other states that wish to increase outreach to the private water system education audience.
Pest Management in Indiana Soybean Production Systems
As the disparity in farm size continues to increase and university Extension budgets tighten, it is imperative that Extension correctly identifies the specific needs of our clientele. Our objective was to identify clientele educational needs and to provide a framework for directing applied soybean research efforts. This assessment was conducted through a detailed direct-mail survey that was sent to 5,000 (1,330 respondents) Indiana soybean growers. The results of the survey demonstrate differences among grower operation sizes with respect to scouting and pest management practices. Farmers with large operations generally scout and manage pests more intensively than small or mid-size farmers.
Ideas at Work
Sisters Together--Program Increases Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Physical Activity of African American Women
Sisters Together is a nation-wide community-based program that encourages African American women to eat healthier foods and become more physically active. A program was developed in Lincoln, Nebraska to increase the awareness of the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables and to encourage Black women to be more physically active. Pre and post evaluations showed that program participants increased their intake of fruits and vegetables and were more physically active. Further research is needed to determine ways to provide continued support to these women and build program elements into existing community resources.
What Did That Program Do? Measuring the Outcomes of a Statewide Agricultural Leadership Development Program
Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks facing leadership program directors is how to prove what their program accomplished for the participants after they graduate from the program and move on with their lives. One state agricultural leadership program undertook research to determine the outcomes of their program in the lives of their alumni on a personal, business and community level over the last 20 years. Results from this research represent the first attempt to gather three different levels of data on programmatic effects from the viewpoint of the alumni.
Reaching the Small Acreage Audience Through Collaboration: The Small Acreage Conservation Education and Outreach Project
The Small Acreage Conservation Education and Outreach Project is an inter-organization team of natural resource professionals that provides education to the growing audience of exurban and rural small acreage landowners on management of natural resources. This article outlines the effective and extensive collaboration as well as the three-pronged approach to land management education that has been developed. The model may be useful beyond the reported topic.
Delivering Timely Extension Information with the Agronomic Crops Team in Ohio
The Agronomic Crops Team was formed in 1995 to provide an Extension program that linked all disciplines together in an attempt to provide an integrated delivery mechanism designed to address all producer needs in a timely fashion. The team provides a newsletter, Web site, agronomy meetings and workshops, and a satellite broadcast to better serve state clientele. To date, the impact of the Agronomic Crops Team has been substantial, reaching managers of over 2.6 million acres of production ground in the state with an economic impact of over $11 million.
Master Gardeners' Role in Encouraging Water Conservation Using a Rain Gauge Network
Simplicity is the key toward New Mexico residents saving water. Farmers, ranchers, and residents are more likely to learn and adopt irrigation efficient technologies that are convenient and not management intensive. They can receive instruction in one such technology through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network (CoCoRaHS), a community-based network of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation. The implementation and growth of this network in New Mexico began with the Master Gardeners Program. Through the act of routine measurement and spatial comparison of precipitation, participants may gain a better appreciation of their limited water resources.
Tools of the Trade
Negotiating the Complexities of Qualitative Research in Higher Education: Fundamental Elements and Issues--A Book Review
For many of us in Extension, our comfort is in the quantitative research realm, with only forays into qualitative research. Negotiating the Complexities of Qualitative Research in Higher Education, by Susan R. Jones, Vasti Torres, and Jan Arminio, provides readers with valuable guidance and perspectives, and a discussion of key complexities that qualitative researchers must negotiate. It is practical and covers a range of topics that are important for Extension professionals, especially as we seek to improve our scholarship. Add this text to your recommended reading list to strengthen your understanding of qualitative research.
What Makes a Great Science Experience? A Program Planning Checklist for Educators
The Science & Technology Program Work Team at Cornell University wanted to know what constitutes a fun, exciting, and successful science-based learning experience for young people. In 2002, 4-H Educators and youth were engaged in the Concept System process that generated 144 unique ideas. These ideas were distilled into 15 clusters, all of which linked to three principal elements of program design: Content, Context, and Delivery. Those results were translated into a checklist for planning science programs, available at <http://www.hort.cornell.edu/gbl/groundwork/activitychecklist.pdf>. In 2005 and 2006, the team recommended adapting it to other interactive learning experiences and for program evaluation.
The Growers' Roundtable: Encouraging Conversations About Critical Farmers' Market Management Issues
The Growers' Roundtable Meeting provides a forum for open and productive conversations of difficult topics in farmers' market management. Because these ad-hoc groups do not take decisions, participants are free to listen and interact with the intent of learning from each other. The useful ideas that are generated during the meeting will subsequently reappear in many different settings. In a more general sense, getting the right people together to focus on important topics with appropriate conversational rules results in an excellent recipe for success.
Developing and Using Table-Top Simulations as a Teaching Tool
Activities in which participants work through real-world scenarios can enhance their ability to manage complex situations and can encourage implementation of risk management strategies. Practical and credible information presented in a "hands-on" setting is engaging and memorable. This article shows how to develop and use table-top simulations.
Cattle Corral Design--Learning by Doing
Quality Assurance training for adults has placed little emphasis on human injury and carcass defects such as bruising. To reduce the incidence of human injury and carcass defects, people need to understand corral design and animal behavior. An interactive curricula was developed using fence panels big enough to be placed on a tabletop. Participants were able to use the panels to make corral designs. There have been 2,304 people who have participated in the corral design and animal handling programs offered by the author. Evaluations averaged a 9.2 ± 0.58 on a 10-point scale (1=terrible idea, 10=great idea).
Steps to Bolster Your Dairy Farm's Biosecurity: An Introductory Video
The Healthy Farms--Healthy Agriculture video overview of dairy farm biosecurity serves as a stand-alone teaching tool or an introduction to additional resources. The narrated video takes the viewer through the steps needed to build a sound biosecurity program. These steps form the acronym "STAIRS," standing for sanitation, traffic control, assessment, isolation, resistance, and security. Bringing biosecurity to life in pictures makes it easier to teach or reemphasize basic concepts.
Converting a SSURGO Soils Database into a Simple Soils Database for Use in Portable Computer and Web-Based GIS Applications
The SSURGO soils survey is a very useful tool for people in need of soils information. However, the SSURGO soils database is too large and complex for practical use in a geographic information system (GIS). A simplified version of the database was developed and combined with an array of other landscape data to make county based GIS products that are utilized by both portable computer and web-based applications. This allows for wider distribution of the soils information and the ability to take the data to the field.