October 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 5
An Extension Context
"An Extension Context" talks about why JOE articles must answer the "so what?" question for Extension. "October JOE" highlights two Features and mentions the prevalence of two topics, health and information technology.
How Integrated Extension Programming Helps Market Cooperative Extension: The North Carolina Recommendation
In a contemporary society, Extension educational programming must consider the multiple community systems affected by identified issues. Recommendations based on a 2-year study process in North Carolina demonstrate how integrated educational programming is connected to marketing Extension. Two figures provide a visual of the concepts described.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "How Integrated Extension Programming Helps Market Cooperative Extension: The North Carolina Recommendation"
Using Diffusion of Innovation Concepts for Improved Program Evaluation
Through the diffusion of innovations framework, Extension program planners, evaluators, and researchers can gain a better understanding of the reasons an educational program results in adoption or rejection of a particular practice. In addition to the information on impact of Extension programs available through traditional methods of analysis, this framework yields data on factors influencing adoption or rejection of practices. Such information is essential for understanding the absolute and relative importance of the information presented and the program experience. Survey and statistical methods and procedures can be developed to capture this information.
Use of Computer Technologies by Educators in Urban Community Science Education Programs
This article examines the factors that influence computer use by youth educators working in community-based organizations in urban, low-income communities. Although access to computers technologies is not a limiting factor and educator computer skills are generally adequate, attitudes about the importance of computer use in youth programs and awareness of the content of computer tools and types of applications do appear to limit the use of computers. Extension programs should provide training opportunities for community educators to develop their computer skills and raise their awareness of the diversity of computer and related learning technologies.
Preferred Information Delivery Methods of North Carolina Forest Landowners
The choice of information delivery method used by an Extension educator may have serious consequences for program effectiveness. Some fear that using one information delivery method may alienate those who prefer another. Through a mail survey of forest landowners, the study reported here identified five distinct groups based on their information delivery method preferences. The study also identified associations between delivery method preferences and socio-demographics, land ownership, and management experience of landowners. Connecting these characteristics with landowner preferences for information delivery methods allows Extension educators to identify delivery methods that are most likely to be effective in reaching this audience.
A Preliminary Study of the Meanings Children Attach to Healthy and Unhealthy Lifestyles
The preliminary study reported here explored meanings children attach to healthfulness and unhealthfulness. Focus groups were conducted to collect qualitative data on these topics from 64 children aged 5 to 12 years. Data were analyzed for key themes, and a model of children's logic about healthfulness and unhealthfulness was developed. Among participants, behavioral antecedents related to food intake, exercise participation, and hygiene habits were seen as linked to well-being and appearance outcomes. Findings point to a need for developmentally appropriate educational programming that underscores varied ways to lead a healthy lifestyle and promotes the healthfulness and beauty of diverse bodies.
Preventing Diabetes: You Have the Power to Take Action
This article describes an educational program for preventing diabetes that was designed through collaboration led by Penn State Cooperative Extension. The evaluation revealed that citizens who thought they were at risk for diabetes will come to a prevention program on diabetes, learn among other things, ways to reduce risks, and the symptoms and tests for diabetes. Most participants revealed that as a result of the program, they would take two to three prevention actions within a 3-month period to reduce their risk of diabetes.
Food Choices and Coping Strategies During Periods of Perceived Food Shortage: Perspectives from Four Racial/Ethnic Groups
The study reported here aimed to develop a better understanding of ethnic differences in food choices during times of perceived food shortage. Eight focus groups were conducted with limited income women between the ages of 18 to 35 years--two each with Native American, Hispanic, African American, and White participants. Content analysis of transcripts indicated differences and similarities with respect to food choices and coping strategies. Results of the study have important implications for the development of culturally appropriate and financially realistic nutrition education programming with diverse populations.
Can Cross-Cultural Engagement Improve the Land-Grant University?
Cultural diversity goes beyond political correctness, cutting to the core academic mission of constructing knowledge. Cooperative Extension faculty who develop intercultural competence can be leaders in bringing diverse forms of knowledge to land-grant universities. Engaging people with knowledge that does not correspond to scientific models or worldviews challenges scientific professionals to identify what they take for granted. Examples show how cross-cultural engagement can improve classroom teaching and research.
Quality 4-H Youth Development Program: Belonging
The purpose of the research described in this article was to determine if the 4-H experience meets the developmental outcome that promotes positive youth development, belonging and inclusive environment. Survey respondents tended to agree or strongly agree that they felt a positive sense of belonging and inclusiveness in 4-H. Second, as the degree of 4-H participation increases, 4-H members are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. For 4-H to be a quality youth development organization, it has a responsibility to ensure that programs promote a sense of belonging and inclusiveness among all 4-H members.
Continuing Education Needs in the Last Green Valley: A Natural Resource, Land Use, & Community Design Needs Assessment
A needs assessment survey was conducted by an Extension partnership program, the Green Valley Institute. The survey was designed to assess educational needs and interests relating to land use, community planning and design, and natural resources in a primarily rural region. Extension educators may be interested to see the strong across-the-board interest in learning more about these topics. As people gain a greater understanding of the importance of natural resources, the impacts of growth and the problems that occur when we don't protect our natural systems, the more they want to know and be involved in bringing about change.
Research in Brief
Profitability Benchmarks: A Tool for Cooperative Educators
Financial performance of local cooperatives is important to rural communities. This article summarizes the financial health of cooperatives tracked over a 10-year period. Cooperatives are ranked and categorized by profitability, and the differences between categories are discussed. The source of differences between the highest rated cooperatives and the lowest most often comes from efficient use of assets and control of costs rather than size of the business or access to less expensive financing. Lessons learned from the financial review can guide Extension educational programming providing an incentive to adult learners for improving cooperative performance and highlighting areas of emphasis.
Knowledge of Sustainable Agriculture Practices by Extension Agents in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia
The purpose of the study reported here was to determine the level of knowledge and attitudes that Extension educators possess concerning the numerous dimensions of sustainable agriculture. A descriptive research design was used to collect data from Extension agents in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Extension agents were familiar with and associated terms such as environmental protection, small-scale agriculture, profitability, low chemical input, productivity, and organic farming with sustainable agriculture. Extension agents also expressed a need for training in a number of areas related to sustainable agriculture and its practices.
Citizen Involvement in Water Resources Issues in New England
A survey determined citizen involvement and actions taken about water resource issues in New England. The major findings were: (1) 50% of citizens had changed their yard watering practices in the last few years; (2) 43% had changed their use of pesticides; and (3) 12% indicated that they were actively involved in an environmental protection group. To obtain additional water resources information 55% of respondents indicated they would read printed fact sheets, 43% would read newspaper articles, and 37% would watch a television program. Extension will use these data to increase citizen involvement in water quality issues.
How Do Forest Landowners Desire to Learn About Forest Certification?
A mail survey to identify preferred methods of learning about forest certification was sent to nonindustrial private forest owners in western Tennessee who own 40 or more acres of forest land. New forest landowners, those who are well educated, and those who have received information or advice about forest management in the past showed an interest in learning about certification. A clear picture emerged of how these two groups desired to be educated about certification via both active and passive education methods.
Development and Impact of an Extension Web Site
The Small Grains Web site started in 1995 with the goal to create access to production information for Minnesota's wheat and barley producers. To evaluate the impact of Small Grains, a mail and online survey were conducted in 2003. Small Grains attained a sizeable audience. However, less than a quarter of the potential clientele knows of the Web site. Small Grains improved access to relevant information for 67% and 89% of the mail and online respondents, respectively. The increased access had a positive impact on the producers' production practices and outcomes.
Longitudinal Study of the General Knowledge of 4-H Horse Members
In the longitudinal (3 year) study reported here, a general knowledge exam was used to determine strengths and weaknesses of 4-H youth in six New England states competing at the Eastern States Exposition 4-H Horse Show. One hundred multiple-choice questions were divided into 10 categories with 10 questions in each category and then randomized. Mean exam scores differed based on age, discipline, state, years of attendance, and test category. This method may offer a way to track progress over time of 4-H youth and assess the effectiveness of targeted program planning in states.
Differences in Youth Perceptions of Ohio 4-H Based on Gender
Results from over 1,400 youth in northwest Ohio reveal that 4-H is perceived more favorably by female than male youth. Parents and friends of youth also tend to encourage females to be active at higher levels than they do males. It is important for 4-H to consider youth perceptions in program planning and development. 4-H professionals should consider designing programs to be more attractive to male youth.
Accentuating the Positive: Colorado 4-H Impact Study
The study reported here measured the impact that the 4-H Youth Development experience has had on Colorado's young people. 4-H Youth Development programs must demonstrate their effectiveness with sound data to enhance the rich anecdotal information more easily available. Data were collected from 5th, 7th, and 9th grade students in Colorado. Results confirm that 4-H Youth Development members had higher grades, were more likely to help others, had better relationships with adults, were glad to be who they are, and had a significantly more positive outlook on life and the world around them than did non-4-H Youth Development members.
Ideas at Work
Engagement in English Language Learner (ELL) Latino, Hmong, and Somali Communities
Research documents the importance of engagement between universities and potential learners. Yet more studies are needed to determine community engagement efficacy with underserved communities, especially English Language Learners. This article shares the importance of using various types of engagement. For instance, multicultural students hired by the University of Minnesota Extension INFO-U answer service to work in their respective communities worked with advisory boards, made community visits, and conducted focus groups. All affected the number of INFO-U's callers and Web visitors. Some groups were more likely to use INFO-U's services after engagement. For others, automation was not a cultural fit.
Re-Designing a Master Gardener Training Program to Meet the Changing Needs of Volunteers and Cooperative Extension
A traditional Master Gardener training program was re-designed to meet the changing needs of both volunteers and Cooperative Extension. The re-designed training reduced the number of sessions and travel requirements of participants and Extension staff and increased participants' ability to choose sessions. Interactive teaching methods were emphasized, and distance-education sessions piloted. Program offerings were integrated across three audiences--new Master Gardeners, current Master Gardeners, and the general public--for efficient use of Extension staff time. Weekday scheduling of several sessions selected for participants who would be available for weekday volunteering. Fee increases moved the program closer to financial sustainability.
Land Use and Health: What Role for Extension?
Research has begun to relate adverse health outcomes to the way communities are designed and built. One challenge is determining how to reintegrate health into planning and development processes. The article presents an overview of a community-university partnership known as the Capital Area Land Use and Health Resource Team, located in Michigan's tri-county region. The article argues that Extension agents are well placed to bridge the gap between planning and public health. Agents can facilitate greater community understanding of the relationship between land use and health, and help improve land use decision-making to create environments that support healthier lifestyles.
Creating a 4-H Technology Camp for Middle School Youth
A pilot program for middle school youth focusing on building knowledge and skills in science and technology was planned and delivered by university and community partners in a resident camp setting. In-depth classes were taught by volunteer university faculty and community professionals. The small classes and engaged instructors lead to positive camper knowledge gains. The evaluation showed that campers liked their classes and were interested in learning more about the topics, but were less interested in getting a job that involved the topics. Post-camp evaluation showed 100% of campers were interested in retuning to the camp program in 2007.
Rapid Delivery of Regional Pest Alerts Using an Interactive Internet Site
A Web site/email-based pest alert system was developed to notify people interested in crop production of pest outbreaks or forecasts of outbreaks. When pest outbreaks are confirmed or predicted, an email notification is immediately sent to subscribers. Links to pest management information are included. In 2006, the service had 465 subscribers and 31,000 Web visits. As a result of this service, an average of 11% of subscribers reduced the number of sprays applied to their crops, and 54% of all subscribers increased field scouting to document pest levels. This system has helped increase the adoption of IPM practices.
Tools of the Trade
SAMMIE: Using Technology for a One-Stop Program Evaluation Resource
Whether evaluating impact of community-based programs is new to you, or you are an experienced evaluator, SAMMIE can help you expand your skills. SAMMIE represents Successful Assessment Methods and Measurement In Evaluation. It is a one-stop Web portal to valuable impact documentation resources. Through SAMMIE you can:  Access resources on 21 evaluation related topics;  Read the best literature on the Web related to program evaluation;  Ask an Expert your questions about program evaluation; and  Develop a personalized program evaluation plan. SAMMIE is available free of charge to anyone who has Web access Go to: <http://www.sammie.osu.edu>
Advancing Cooperative Extension with Podcast Technology
Recently, a new form of technology-mediated communication, podcast, has been blooming, and it has been applied in various fields for knowledge distribution. Podcast, which combines the power of radio broadcast and Internet, has a great potential for advancing Extension. This article shares the background on podcasting, analyzes issues and problems in current Extension programs, discusses the attributes of podcast for advancing Extension, and introduces current podcasting programs and future directions of podcasting in Extension.
The Brown County Online GIS: An Example of a Multi-Agency Collaborative Mapping System
One of the benefits of an online Geographic Information System (GIS) is that it allows many different organizations and individuals to utilize a GIS without actually having the software and data on their computers. This article explains how Brown County Kansas and Brown County Extension developed an online GIS to improve emergency preparedness in such a way that multiple agencies and the public could also benefit.
Information Delivery Using an Automated Computer/Telephone System (Or 10,000 Contacts in 10 Years)
A computer/telephone delivery system has delivered timely information for 10 years. Information, updated by university personnel, is timely, research based, and accessible on a 24-hour basis. During the 10-year period, clients have called the system over 10,000 times. Surveys conducted confirm the usefulness of the approach for clients. The flexible nature of the system lends itself to wide applications satisfying a wide variety of needs.
Using Articulate® to Develop On-Line Pesticide Training Modules
All pesticide license holders are required to accrue continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain proper license status. Although CEUs are provided through face-to-face meetings within UF IFAS Extension, attaining sufficient credits can often be difficult. Therefore, we have developed pesticide training modules using Articulate® to add voice narration to existing presentations. These modules have been offered for sale through an on-line bookstore. When the module is purchased, the presentation begins to play automatically. The presentation stops periodically, and the user must answer questions to quizzes embedded into the presentation. The user is then granted CEU credit for successfully completing the training.
Handheld Applications in Fruit Extension Delivery
The Fruit AdVisor project endeavors to use PDAs as Extension delivery tools, specifically for the dissemination of fruit IPM information and other fruit-related issues. Information on pest biology, monitoring methods, current population activity, pest control recommendations, and updated regulatory issues are installed and automatically updated in the user's PDA. Two-way communication is featured, as pest trapping data collected in individual orchards and vineyards may be uploaded to an IPM specialist's computer, facilitating evaluation of data and creating of a trapping data network.