February 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 1
JOE by the Numbers 2006
JOE by the Numbers reports on the 2006 submission rate, acceptance rate, and readership rate and calls attention to one of the most interesting features of the JOE site, the Top 50 Most Read Articles lists. February JOE mentions just six of 29 excellent articles.
Can We Define and Measure Excellence in Extension?
In 2005, Chester Fehlis challenged the Extension system to define and measure Excellence in Extension. The Extension Committee on Policy responded with a task force and work group that identified a matrix based on an academic perspective of universities and an Extension-familiar perspective. Seven criteria were identified as most important, for which definitions and measures were developed. A pocket card was created that lists the uniqueness of Extension and qualities for excellence. Also proposed is a national database for entering, aggregating, and sharing the measures, as well as other data that will standardize comparisons between different Extension institutions.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Can We Define and Measure Excellence in Extension?"
Adult Education Theories: Informing Cooperative Extension's Transformation
As the largest adult education institution in America, Cooperative Extension should ground organizational operations in adult education theory. This connection with theory is especially important as Extension systems work towards organizational transformation to create more participatory and democratic learning. Adult education theories of transformative learning and critical reflection from a critical theory perspective are especially pertinent to inform this type of transformation. This requires that Extension create opportunities for learners to experience disorienting dilemmas, critically reflect on their assumptions, and facilitate how to learn not just what to learn.
The Development and Evaluation of Experiential Learning Workshops for 4-H Volunteers
A series of three Experiential Learning (EL) workshops was designed by county- and campus-based researchers with the goal of improving the understanding and application of EL among volunteers in the University of California's 4-H Youth Development Program. The workshop series was implemented and evaluated using surveys and focus group interviews. Outcome data showed improved participant understanding of EL, the learning cycle, inquiry-based methods, and curriculum development. Additionally, volunteers' competence and confidence in delivering and developing experiential learning opportunities increased.
Development of a Comprehensive New 4-H Extension Agents Training Program Using a Multi-Module Approach and the 4-H Professional Research, Knowledge, and Competencies (4HPRKC) Taxonomy
Following significant budget reductions in 2002, Virginia Cooperative Extension explored strategies to meet the professional development needs of new 4-H Extension faculty and staff. The Department of 4-H Youth Development created a training program to teach youth development competencies consistent with the national 4-H professional research, knowledge, and competencies (4HPRKC) taxonomy. Written and verbal evaluations from participants in the New 4-H Extension Agents Training Program suggested that the training was informative, interactive, and responsive to participants' needs. This program is a potential model for other Extension programs that serve the professional development needs of new 4-H Extension faculty and staff.
The Effectiveness of Extension In-Service Training by Distance: Perception Versus Reality
The study reported here investigated the perceptions of Extension personnel towards Internet-based instruction delivered in two different formats: a minimally interactive online environment and a multimedia-rich, highly interactive online environment. A traditionally face-to-face environment was also studied, and posttest scores were evaluated to investigate the achievement differences between the different learning formats. Results indicate that while the traditional face-to-face instructional environment was perceived more favorably than the Internet-based environment, the multimedia-rich, highly interactive online environment was found to return just as statistically significant posttest results as those found in the more traditional learning environment.
Academic Health Centers and Cooperative Extension Service: A Model for a Working Partnership
The University of Kentucky realized its state health needs and combined resources. The Colleges of Agriculture (COA) and Public Health along with the university Academic Health Center (AHC) partnered to develop the Health Education through Extension Leadership Project (HEEL). As a model for future program development for other states, the process of collaboration is described in detail to inform and promote the creation of new effective health programs. Successful examples of the created partnership are described as well as the process to program planning, program development, and implementation.
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles Among Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in Riverside County
The project reported here sought to increase healthy eating and physical fitness among grandchildren and grandparents using a two-pronged approach: 1) increased fruit and vegetable consumption and 2) increased physical activity. Families consisting of grandparents and grandchildren met at a community center for eight Saturdays to participate in educational activities to increase their knowledge of the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption and increased physical activity. Among the families completing the program, desirable changes were observed in both fruit and vegetable consumption and increased physical activity. However, a larger study involving more participants is needed to confirm these results.
Collaborating with Wheat Producers in Demonstrating Areawide Integrated Pest Management
Focus groups were used to initiate collaborative relationships with wheat producers while learning about their farming history and decision-making. Focus group transcripts illustrate that producers were less confident in evaluating insect management problems compared to weed management. Producers do rely on Cooperative Extension in managing insect problems. Extension educators continue to play an important role in increasing producer's knowledge of simplified field scouting and insect identification technology.
Research in Brief
Extension Education and Volunteer Service: Assessing Motivation and Action
Extension educators who depend on volunteer action to increase program impact need information on volunteer motivation and service. The objectives of the study reported here were to (1) examine volunteer motivation among Extension program graduates; and (2) examine relationships between motivation factors and service. A questionnaire sent to 374 Extension program graduates measured agreement with statements in five motivational domains. We found inconsistency between respondent rankings of factor importance and factors closely tied to level of volunteer service. Extension education coordinators who assess and address motivational factors linked to service may be able to enhance voluntary action.
Strengthening Our Partnering Efforts to Aid Rural, Low-Income Families by Listening to Employer Experiences
Interviews with rural employers were conducted at two points in time to examine employer needs, hiring practices, attitudes about low-income job applicants, and activities with county workforce development organizations. Employer perspectives were consistent over time and emphasized how employees with limited resources appeared unprepared for the workforce. Intangible characteristics, such as work ethic, attendance, attitude, and appearance, matter. When rural employers, social service agencies, and Extension collaborate in helping adults and families with limited resources, more relevant training programs are possible.
Evaluation of a Group Administered 24-Hour Recall Method for Dietary Assessment
A group administered 24-hour food recall was developed by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program of Texas to expedite dietary assessment of clients. The study reported here evaluated the group recall and an individual recall method. Data for one meal collected with the use of dietary recalls, either group of individual, were compared to observational data. Results suggest that the group recall may be at least as effective as the individual recall to estimate dietary intakes of subjects. The group recall method could be used by programs such as EFNEP to simplify and expedite dietary assessment of clients.
Small Businesses and the Community: Their Role and Importance Within a State's Economy
As communities focus on economic development, the common response has been the recruitment of outside industry. Left out has been the support for existing micro businesses and entrepreneurs. The research reported here explored the contributions of these smallest of the small business within the economy. For the study, 1,224 Oklahoma households were included. The research found that more than one in every five households owned and operated such a business. These businesses generated substantial gross income and employed at least one other person. These findings support including micro businesses in a comprehensive economic development plan.
Horse and Human Labor Estimates for Amish Farms
Amish farms are one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. farm community. A 2003 study estimated horse and human labor requirements for Amish farms. A typical Amish crop rotation of 15 acres small grains, 20 acres alfalfa hay, and 15 acres corn was found to have a total labor requirement of only 920 hours/year. Using information from this study and earlier research, a series of crop enterprise budgets for Amish farms was developed. These budgets provide a tool that Extension educators can use with the rapidly growing number of Amish farms across the country.
Effect of Age-at-Weaning and Post-Weaning Management on Performance and Carcass Characteristics of Angus Steers
Recent developments in beef marketing have created more opportunities for producers to reap greater financial rewards based on the carcass merit of the animal. Increased premiums are being offered for animals that excel in the USDA's Quality or Yield Grade scoring systems. There is an increasing focus on beef tenderness with today's consumer. Producers need to understand how on-farm production practices can affect feedlot performance and carcass merit. This study utilized 75 Angus steers to determine the effects of age-at-weaning and post-weaning management on performance and carcass characteristics of steers.
Containerized Table-Top Christmas Trees: Interest Among Pennsylvania Consumers and Attitudes Concerning Care and Handling
Sixty-one percent of 392 consumer-survey participants were aware that containerized table-top Christmas trees were available for purchase. Eighty-seven percent of participants responded that they were likely to actually plant a containerized table-top Christmas tree in their yard after the holidays. In response to post-planting care, 24% felt that they wouldn't be able to properly care for the tree and that it wouldn't survive. Extension personnel need to work with growers to ensure that only cold hardy trees are sold for this purpose and that educational materials are offered that will provide consumers with proper planting guideline and care instructions.
Ideas at Work
Using Nominal Group Techniques for Helping New Extension Agents Understand How to Effectively Involve Advisory Committee Members
Advisory committees are a key component of true grassroots extension programming. Seasoned Extension agents can be very adept at using advisory committee members to multiply their efforts while further enhancing skills among these volunteers. For many new Extension agents, however, this can be a great challenge. Through interactive use of the nominal group technique, new Extension agents at the University of Florida have been able to share many ideas about effectively involving advisory committee members, and they have learned about this innovative group process technique.
Steps for Developing Effective Grant Writing Workshops
Grants can be an important source of funding for new and existing businesses. Yet most business owners have no experience in grant writing and find it intimidating. In this article, we identify steps based on our experiences that Extension educators can take to develop and deliver a successful grant writing workshop.
Creative Solutions for Emerging Child Care Needs
Harnett County has one of the fastest growing populations of families with children ages birth to 5 among rural counties in North Carolina. Collaborative partnerships have addressed this emerging need through the creation of Cooperative Extension's Child Care Resource and Referral Program. This progressive, educational effort meets the unique needs of Harnett County families through six initiatives: comprehensive training; referral line; child care data base; resource library; development of new child care; and newsletters. Results include 11,033 providers trained, 4,707 new child care spaces created, and 81 family child care homes increasing quality indicators.
Physical Activity Programming for Limited Resource Audiences: Get Moving Kentucky!
Low socioeconomic status and limited resources may be a barrier to achieving recommended amounts of physical activity. In Kentucky, 35% of adults are physically inactive. In 1999, 15.8% of Kentuckians were living in poverty. The Get Moving Kentucky! physical activity program provides an innovative design for the achievement of physical activity recommendations by all, despite income and resource availability. The program facilitates a significant increase in physical activity and influences improvements in weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure measurements.
Seeking Environmental Stewardship One Garden at a Time
Master Gardeners and teachers in Anne Arundel County MD partnered to give hands-on educational experiences promoting environmental stewardship, how we treat the environment when nobody is watching. The partnership supports and teaches ecological reconciliation by building and caring for 4964 ft2 (1578 m2) of native plant gardens. This reproducible project encourages environmental stewardship without rhetoric, one spadeful at a time.
Educating Large Landscape Water Users
A workshop series for large water users in the highly populated, urban areas of Utah was developed at the request of several water agencies. The series of full-day workshops covered irrigation maintenance and scheduling, managing plants during drought conditions, irrigation auditing, and a field exercise to determine irrigation uniformity. A written survey and evaluation was distributed at the end of each of the workshops and collected from each participant. Responses to the surveys in 2003 and 2005 were compared to determine program effectiveness.
Pesticide Application Research Demonstrated at a Field Day Event
A field day event was used to demonstrate the value of proper pesticide application methods to turfgrass. A single fungicide was applied through four nozzle-types and four water-carrier volumes targeting a common foliar disease in turfgrass. Most golf course superintendents surveyed use the same nozzle-type for all pesticide applications, but this field study indicated better disease control from the fungicide applied through certain nozzle-types and water-carrier volumes. As a result, most superintendents intended to make improvements to their pesticide application programs, and many had a highly favorable view of including this type of research at future field day events.
Tools of the Trade
Excellence in Extension: Two Products for Definition and Measurement
Two products of the Excellence in Extension effort of ECOP will be useful at every level of the Extension System. The first is a "pocket card." One side describes what makes Extension unique and defines Excellence of Extension, and the other side lists the seven most important criteria to identify Excellence in Cooperative Extension. The second product is the Matrix of Criteria of Excellence in Cooperative Extension. This matrix will assist Extension: (1) To be accountable for invested resources; (2) To continually improve the organization's effectiveness; and (3) To describe its strengths and differentiate itself from other agencies and organizations.
Tips for Developing and Testing Questionnaires/Instruments
Questionnaires are the most widely used data collection methods in educational and evaluation research. This article describes the process for developing and testing questionnaires and posits five sequential steps involved in developing and testing a questionnaire: research background, questionnaire conceptualization, format and data analysis, and establishing validity and reliability. Systematic development of questionnaires is a must to reduce many measurement errors. Following these five steps in questionnaire development and testing will enhance data quality and utilization of research.
Conducting Program Evaluations Using the Internet
Program evaluations are becoming a more important responsibility for most Extension professionals. Despite an abundance of supporting resources, many Extension educators still fail to conduct meaningful evaluations of their programs, presumably because of time constraints and doubts about the quality of input received from evaluations. Web-based evaluations may be a tool to help educators conduct evaluations that are time-efficient and provide better results. Here I discuss my experience with Web-based evaluations and compare their advantages and disadvantages with traditional pen and paper evaluations.
Promoting a Consistent Food Safety and Quality Message to the Dairy Industry: An Updated Resource for Extension Faculty, Veterinarians, and Dairy Advisors
A team from seven western states developed educational resources providing a consistent meat safety and quality message to dairy producers, farm advisors, and veterinarians. The team produced a Web site and CD-ROM, DairyBeef: Maximizing Quality & Profits, consisting of videos, narrated slide sets, and on-farm tools. An additional project translated much of the curriculum into language appropriate for farm labor in both English and Spanish. DairyBeef: Maximizing Quality & Profits will help Extension faculty, veterinarians, and dairy advisors assist dairy producers and their employees in understanding market cattle food safety and quality issues and management practices to address them.
Using a Community-Specific Web Site to Engage Homeowners in Natural Resource Conservation Within Green Communities
"Green" communities or conservation subdivisions offer the opportunity to create environmentally sound and resource-efficient buildings and landscapes. However, environmental responsibility is left to the residents to manage their homes, yards, and neighborhoods. The objective of our project was to develop a tailored Web site that addresses natural resource conservation within a specific residential development. The Web site was designed and implemented for a green community, Harmony, in Florida. Topics covered environmental issues such as water, energy, waste, landscaping, wildlife, and natural/human history. The Web site can be found at <http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/gc/harmony>.
Understanding the Different Phosphorus Indices in Nutrient Management Planning
Terminology in soil fertility and nutrient management Extension programming has evolved with increasing society emphasis on agriculture and environment interactions. Management of nutrient phosphorus (P) is important to agricultural environmental stewardship. Primarily, the term "Phosphorus Index" has two different meanings in nutrient management planning: the traditional use describes categories of plant response in soil test recommendations; the newer use describes a method of ascribing P movement risk in the landscape. Occasionally the term is used differently in soil science than these two examples. Extension personnel, agronomists, and technical personnel should use the appropriate terms to avoid confusing clientele.
Digital Photograph Album Software Review
Digital photography's relatively low cost and easy use encourages educators to build Extension image collections, but image retrieval can become difficult as collections grow. Picasa 2, Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0, Corel Photo Album 6, and ACDSee 8 Photo Manager are four popular photo cataloging software products that function to import, view, sort, assign keywords to, and search for image files. This review synopsizes their functionality and efficiency. ACDSee seems to offer more tools than the other products, although Picasa 2 may be sufficient for smaller image collections.